DAVID CAESAR: AN UNDERAPPRECIATED AUSSIE GEM?
by Satish Viswanath
New South Wales native David Caesar has consistently delivered critically acclaimed films and TV shows since coming to prominence in the 1990s. Across all screenplay mediums, Caesar has captured the attention of audiences but still finds himself without the wider reach that many feel that he deserves.
There's still time and opportunity for Caesar to break through into the international mainstream, and he's more than capable as a talented director and writer. If you've never had the chance to sit and watch any of his work, here's the top three we suggest you take a look at to get a feel for his style, combining drama and comedy as well as the ability to engage and move you.
This was Caesar's first feature film for eight years and features the protagonist, Thomas, who is chasing his dream of owning his own prime mover, but ultimately his desire to reach this goal leads him in to some sticky situations. It's that aspirational nature that keeps Tihomas going, but he struggles to correlate it with reality and doesn't listen to those who try to keep him in check. Cue an entertaining story of dreams, love and conflict.
Dirty Deeds (2002) is again typical of Caesar, catching you with both the wit and action, not too far removed from the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Richie. As the underworld of Sydney is changing from outside pressures, Barry Ryan looks to hold on to his lucrative slot machine empire, with the pokies bringing him considerable wealth but also the eyes of American incomers. In this world of money and violence, Ryan fends off the foreign intruders as best he can.
2001's Mullet earned Caesar a slew of award nominations and wins, and is regarded as arguably his finest moment. It won him the 'Best Screenplay' from the Film Critics Circle of Australia, 'Best Director' at the Shanghai International Film Festival and was very highly regarded. Eddie returns to his hometown after disappearing three years prior. He's not welcomed upon his return and the film deals with the change in relationships, whilst taking an intriguing look at the more subtle struggles in this kind of scenario. It's understated and humorous. The characters are true and you can tell this is based close to Caesar's heart. The setting is probably not too far from home and that's exactly why he nails the community and the people in it.
As well as his films, Caesar is an experienced television director - his 'Dangerous' series only ran for one season but could well tickle your taste buds if you enjoy the three films above and want to check him out further. The more recent Underbelly taps into many of the existing themes, too, so there's plenty to explore.
Published May 30, 2015