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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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The current strength of Australian cinema is reflected in the six feature films unspooling in the Melbourne Film Festival's ‘Australian Showcase’. Jan Epstein reports

a well-plotted, good-looking, high octane thriller-road movie

Bill Bennett returns to form with Kiss or Kill, a well-plotted, good-looking, high octane thriller-road movie, which stars Frances O’Connor and Matt Day (both from Love and Other Catastrophes) as two lovers on the run across the Nullabor after a routine scam goes wrong. Bennett based his suspenser on the premise that we don’t know each other as well as we think we do, and went into production with only a sixty page breakdown of scenes, expecting his talented cast which includes Chris Hayward, Max Cullen and Barry Otto, to improvise.

stylish and fresh

Also stylish and fresh is Chris Kennedy’s Doing Time For Patsy Cline. Matt Day plays a young Country and Western ‘wannabe’ with his sights set on Nashville, who hitches a ride to Sydney with a smooth conman (Richard Roxburgh) and his attractive girlfriend Patsy (Miranda Otto), only to wind up in a country jail. Good-natured and lots of fun, the film has an attractive C & W music score, and many colourful characters played by familiar faces (Tony Barry, Gus Mercurio, Betty Bobbitt).

a sophisticated moral fable

Cherie Nowlan’s entertaining debut feature Thank God He Met Lizzie is a sophisticated moral fable about a young man in his thirties (Richard Roxburgh), searching for the ‘perfect woman’ (Cate Blanchett), who discovers on his wedding day that the grass on the other side always looks greener. Frances O’Connor gives a standout performance as the ‘other woman’.

Also screening in the Showcase are Sue Brooks’ The Road to Nhill, which closes the Festival, Craig Lahiff’s Heaven Burning, and Bill Mousoulis’ My Blessings.

Other films recommended

Other films recommended for Fest-goers include Amol Palekar’s The Square Circle, a ground-breaking film from India about gender-crossing, Nadav Levitan’s No Name on the Doors, about the impact of changing values on people living in a modern kibbutz in Israel, Albino Alligator, Kevin Spacey’s morally ambiguous take on the heist-gone-wrong/hostage drama, and Happy Together, Wong Kar-Wai’s most accessible film to date, about star-crossed gay lovers in Buenos Aires.

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See Jan Epstein's complete report on the Melbourne Film Festival in FEATURES

Matt Day and Frances O'Connor in Kiss or Kill

Bill Bennett

Richard Roxburgh and Miranda Otto in Doing Time For Patsy Cline

Matt Day in Patsy Cline

Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett in Thank God He Met Lizzie

"Frances O'Connor gives a standout performance"

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