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Reckoning

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DIRTY DEEDS

SYNOPSIS:
Sydney crim Barry (Bryan Brown) operates a healthy racket, milking illegal poker machines around some of the unregulated clubs in the late 60s. He has Detective Ray (Sam Neill) on the payroll, and a mistress, Margaret (Kestie Morassi) on the side. But his smarter-than-she-looks wife (Toni Collette) has his number. When his innocent nephew Darcy (Sam Worthington) returns from a tour of duty in Vietnam, it happily coincides with the arrival of a couple of Chicago mobsters (John Goodman, Felix Williamson) who want in on Barry's action. Young Darcy is sent to greet them in the first move of a welcome routine that shows the Yanks what an unfair go looks like. Meanwhile, Darcy and Margaret get together behind Barry's back - as do some of his so called loyal followers
.

Review by Louise Keller:
The opening credits roll like a poker machine, and what a jackpot David Caesar has pulled!
Absorbing and wickedly entertaining, Dirty Deeds is a juicy, black thriller with a delectable twist and a cast full of aces. Set in the days when pokies were called 'one armed bandits' and you actually pulled a lever each time a coin was inserted (5 cents in 1969!), Caesar has created a satisfying and complete work that's gritty and very funny. At first glance it seems totally different from his earlier films Greenkeeping, Idiot Box and Mullet. But in each case, Caesar excels at his trademark of enveloping us into the story's fabric. Darkly comic with an array of wonderfully colourful characters that buzz with life, we are immediately drawn into the time and place, when flower power was erupting, the musical Hair was playing, and eyeliner, oversize sunglasses and bouffant hairstyles were the rage. Everyone's crooked, and we love them all - these distinctive characters that have been so splendidly conceived on the page. The film looks and sounds great with a ripper of an upbeat soundtrack, plus some tunes that will take Baby Boomers back. Simply revelling in the role of Barry, a two-bit hood with a cowboy-like approach to crime, Bryan Brown plays mean and nasty with plenty of bite. With the downward curl of the lip and his piercing steely blue eyes that don't miss a thing, Brown is a knockout; his Barry is even better than his impressive Pando from Two Hands. I love every moment of John Goodman's screen time - his traditional Mafioso hood is at a loss when confronted by Barry's laid-back Aussie-style thuggery. There are some magical moments indeed, none more than those offered by Toni Collette, whose seemingly innocent housewife keeps her husband well and truly in line. Yes, indeedy, there's real wile and finesse in the way she manages his infidelity! Sam Neill's unabashed crooked cop brings corruption to new ludicrous lows, while Sam Worthington and Kestie Morassi are appealing as the young lovers. The contrast of the backstreets of Kings Cross with the vast, red dusty outback makes a great juxtaposition, and things really hot up when Barry decides to teach the mafia 'big boys' a lesson or two. Don't be afraid to dig in - Dirty Deeds is dynamite indeed!

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's not entirely clear on the evidence whether David Caesar set out to make a comedy, a crime movie or a darkly funny drama, which is perhaps why he has ended up with a film that combines all three. And that's not surprising, given that the screenplay developed through a combination of factual research and creative script writing, with various character-forming challenges and changes along the way. And I don't mind the fact that we are kept a little on edge about the comedy when things get serious, or that we laugh dryly when the humour shoots through a dramatic scene. For me, humour and drama are natural twins in real life, and as long as I can engage with the characters in a compelling story, I don't care what genre or movie style they are in. With Dirty Deeds, David Caesar has stepped into the mainstream of filmmaking with an assurance worthy of international acclaim and with every cinematic tool well under his control - driven by a natural sense for what works on screen. Step into 1969 and see for yourself, as Bryan Brown returns to the streets of Sydney as a crim, only this time he is much darker and more complex than Pando in Two Hands. He's as funny as Chopper was, and for the same scary reasons. In fact, the film's tone is closer to Chopper than either Two Hands or The Hard Word, both of which play with the same sort of genre. Except for the period setting, of course, which adds a layer of nostalgic fun to the film. Toni Collette develops her character beautifully and with an angular strength that balances Bryan's Barry, while Sam Worthington and Kestie Morassi are outstanding in crucial support roles, as are Goodman and Williamson playing the two very different but credible mobsters. The script zings, the cast sings and the music rocks; what more can you ask of a Saturday night at the movies?



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BRYAN BROWN and DAVID CAESAR talk to Andrew L. Urban over a beer.

SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

TRAILER

DIRTY DEEDS (MA)
(AUS)

CAST: Bryan Brown, Toni Collette, John Goodman, Sam Neill, Sam Worthington, Kestie Morassi, Felix Williamson, Andrew S. Gilbert, William McInnes

PRODUCER: Deborah Balderstone, Bryan Brown

DIRECTOR: David Caesar

SCRIPT: David Caesar

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoffrey Hall

EDITOR: Mark Perry

MUSIC: Paul Healy

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris Kennedy

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 18, 2002







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