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HAIRY BIRD, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Odie (Gaby Hoffmann) is a moody teenager who has been whisked off to Miss Godardís Prep School for Girls. The year is 1963, and a traditional all-girls boarding school seems a bleak and dismal institution. Nevertheless, Odie is soon recruited into an inner-circle that calls itself the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Ravioli). The D.A.R. organise regular clandestine gatherings to consume cold ravioli straight from the can and share their dreams. The girls are convinced that if they donít make a concerted effort to express their individualism they are headed for the inevitable husband, 2.1 kids, a dog and a picket fence existence. When they hear of a plan to merge Miss Godardís with an all boys school some of the girls fear that everything will change and their free-spirited expressiveness will be crushed.

"Fresh and energetic, The Hairy Bird is an entertaining glimpse of school life for girls in the 60s Ė a sort of St Trinians/The Trouble with Angels meets Dead Poets Society. Thereís passion, dreams and schemes, plots and mischief and a common bond of friendship within the secret society where the girls formulate their future aspirations. There are no pretensions here; itís a bit like an old fashioned film whose entertainment value is derived from the characters, and the little things in life. Sarah Kernochan has chiselled great depth to her characters Ė gutsy teenage girls who attack life with gusto and fire. The performances are tops Ė Gaby Hoffman is compelling as the outsider who finds herself in this structured but chaotic environment; Kirsten Dunst, appealing as Verena and Lynn Redgrave is super as the compassionate headmistress. In fact, it is interesting to look at all the young castís bio details Ė each has surprisingly extensive experience, despite tender years. Despite its 60s setting, thereís much that is relevant today Ė teenage fantasies, raging hormones, brown-nosing, rebellion against authority and love of mischief. Liberally doused with charm, The Hairy Bird is bright and breezy, entertaining, amusing and captivating."
Louise Keller

" The Hairy Bird seduces one with its vibrant humour, winning performances and depth of script and character. From the outset, it resembles a female Dead Poets Society, in that four young women, rebellious individuals, meet secretly to discuss their hopes, ideals and passions. But from then on, the film takes on an unexpected direction, exploring typical teenage issues, such as friendship, first love, sexuality and peer pressure, yet it also looks at the status of women and their uniqueness at a time [the early 60s] when political individuality in young women was not looked on with reverence. It's a thematically dense film, far more so than one would expect. First time feature director Sarah Kernochan has created some of the richest roles for young women in recent American filmdom, and her wonderfully etched characters have been realised by a stellar cast. Gaby Hoffmann is a revelation as Odie, the least likely political activist you're likely to meet, while the beautiful Kirsten Dunst gives an assured and intelligent performance as the initial man-hating Verena. Other young actresses who shine are Heather Matarazzo, brilliant as Tweety and Lynn Redgrave who gives a meticulous performance as the tough, but vulnerable headmistress. Fluently and intelligently directed, with a sharply observant script, The Hairy Bird manages to contain a liberal dose of audacity to give it an unexpected air of originality."
Paul Fischer

"The girls at Miss Godardís Prep School prefer to be inspired by cold ravioli from a can than Dead Poets, and their personal ambitions have all the verve of pre-processed pasta. One girl wishes to become a famous 'actress/slut', another a glam magazine peddler and our leading protagonist yearns to become an 'ex-virgin'. Apparently, becoming an ex-moron is out of the question. A planned merger with a boys school initially provokes a frenzy of leg shaving and hormonal excitement, but concerns soon develop that the girlsí extraordinary dreams might sink into oblivion with the influx of testosterone. If the tension sounds too great, fear not, a masterly plot is afoot. Not only will it solve their problems, but as a catalyst for narcolepsy I found it an absolute ripsnorter. No need for the Valium after all. One scene does provide tremendous entertainment for those seeking a graphic demonstration of ipecacís effectiveness as an emetic (although ipecacís got nothing on a video-copy of ĎHairy Birdí and a VCR set to loop). Meanwhile, R.S.P.C.A.-enthusiasts will no doubt be thrilled by the filmís male heroes: a fine bunch of lads with a roadkill-victims fetish. A commendable performance by Lynn Redgrave as the alternately droll and passionate headmistress canít redeem this drivel. The film has been released overseas as Strike, which seems more apropos: 'Three minutes in and itís: 'Three strikes youíre out . . . cold!' All the appeal of a very stale can of ravioli."
Brad Green

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0
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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

See Paul Fischer's interview with
GABY HOFFMAN

THE HAIRY BIRD (M)
aka STRIKE (UK)

CAST: Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffman, Heather Matarazzo, Rachel Leigh Cook, Monica Keena, Tomy Guiry

DIRECTOR: Sarah Kernochan

PRODUCER: Ira Deutchman, Peter Newman

SCRIPT: Sarah Kernochan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Janelli

EDITOR: Peter Frank

MUSIC: Susan Jacobs

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Kasarda

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 3, 1998

Video Release: June 23, 1999
Video Distributor: Becker Home Entertainment







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