The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Such a shame it never came up in a theatre

with 16 comments

I may be a bit naïve and I may not understand what’s sellable and not sellable on the film market. Nevertheless I’m going to start this post whimpering a little. I just don’t get it.

Why is it that Animal Kingdom never came up at a theatre in Sweden (with the exception for Stockholm film festival which doesn’t count)? Why is it that the theatres in my city week after week show movies such as Johnny English Reborn, Popper’s Penguins, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Final Destination 5? Is there something wrong with people? Or perhaps I should rather ask: is there something wrong with me?

My family probably thought there was as I watched it on my own on DVD one night last week. After finishing I felt this urge to tell everyone else about what I’d just been through.

“This movie was SO awesome!” “You really, really need to watch it!” Please listen to me, it was so GREAT!”

I was probably quite unbearable. To my defense I need to say that it’s not my usual behavior. But this movie pulled me in so completely that I needed an outlet.

Actually this reaction took me a little by surprise because normally I don’t pursuit dark crime movies that contain a shitload of violence. They make me feel sick. But there was something about this Australian film that clicked with me.

It wasn’t just a movie about a bunch of criminals and their brutal confrontations with the equally brutal police squad.

It was equally much a movie about the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and the inner turmoil of the 17 year old J, who is the centre of this story. While he doesn’t say very much and his face most of the time is about as expressionless as the one of Alex in Paranoid Park, we can sense the pressure he’s under and his increasing agony as he’s squeezed between two equally brutal forces and can’t see any way to get out the trap.

There are a few unexpected twists and turns in the events taking place in this movie, so I won’t say too much about the plot. But don’t let yourself be deceived by the slow opening. It takes a while for the tension to build up, but once it was there, it was breathtaking.

I can’t say that I’m particularly familiar with the Australian film scene. While I love Muriel’s Wedding and Picnic at Hanging Rock, I’d find a hard time to spontaneously come up with an Aussie actor. Once upon a time everyone knew about Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee, but it’s been a while and I didn’t even like him very much.

The good thing about this lack of knowledge is that it contributed to the feeling of freshness. There wasn’t one single familiar face. No actor carried the burden of association to other movies or roles. They felt real and natural, almost as if it had been a documentary. Among several great acting performances, Ben Mendelsohn deserves a special mentioning. He gave me chills down my spine with his portray of a psychopath, reminding me a little of Gary Oldman in Leon in terms of creepiness.

Animal Kingdom never made it into the theatres. But perhaps I can persuade someone more to watch it on DVD, and for a blogger, that’s all you can hope for.

Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, AU, 2010) My rating: 4,5/5

PS I’ve been reminded that actors I know about such as Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett,   Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson originate from Australia. This is true, but I tend not to think of them as Australians, since they’ve been in so many international productions. I guess it’s a sign of the fact that movies nowadays are made across the borders.

Written by Jessica

October 12, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in Animal Kingdom

16 Responses

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  1. I absolutely loved it Animal Kingdom. Such a fantastic film from beginning to end. I fully endorse this film as well!!


    October 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

  2. Oh My Gosh, I blooming well love this film. Such a great Ozzie film, and very very Australian in the way the characters are portrayed.

    It is also great to see the stars doing so well since this, Edgerton the most but also Sullivan has been excellent in the TV Series Strike Back Project Dawn.

    Lovely post Jessica

    Scott Lawlor

    October 12, 2011 at 11:51 am

    • No idea why your comment got stuck in my spam filter. Anyway – here it is. It’s nice to hear someone more falling in love with this movie. Also pleased to hear that they’ve done well afterwards!


      October 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  3. Haven’t heard about this one (but now I will definitely look it up!) but if your appetite for Aussie movies is whetted I can truly recommend Gettin’ Square. Try to ignore Sam Worthington and focus on the excellent David Wenham instead 😉


    October 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    • I really suggest you to watch it. It’s admittedly pretty depressing, but the script and the acting is amazing. We do need some tragedies from time to time, don’t we? Already Shakespeare knew that. Or the Greeks.

      Thank you for your tip! I’ll see if I’ll find that somewhere…


      October 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

  4. Annoyingly I commented on this one yesterday, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up…. (maybe in your spam box?)

    Anyway I love this film, maybe a little TOO much. But it truly is a cracker

    Scott Lawlor

    October 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

    • I found it in my spam box and approved it! look a bit further above! This movie can’t be enough endorsed. 🙂


      October 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm

  5. […] it would appear as though The Velvet Cafe just wrote a dvd review of ANIMAL KINGDOM. But as you read her train of thought, she brings up some thoughts I’ve had myself about wondering why intelligent offerings […]

  6. I really, really, really love this movie. So much so that I went out and bought the fancy steelbook DVD version of it which cost way more than the normal one. But it was just brilliant, from Weaver’s performance to Mendelsohn’s creepiness and that killer end. Just amazingly brilliant!


    October 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

    • I approve of that purchase. It’s a high class, totally re-watchable movie.


      October 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

  7. Animal Kingdom is indeed a very good movie. It’s everything a good mafia movie needs to be. As for being Australian, I didn’t even realize it while watching, I thought it was an American big budge movie.

    And it’s bothered me too that they show the shittiest movies in the mainstream theater while ignoring the actually good movies. To its defense, Kung Fu Panda 2 has got some good reviews so I’ll have to watch that one 🙂

    Following your enthusiasm, I now feel inclined to promote another crime movie, the brilliant Cell 211. It’s a Spanish gem which is well worth watching.


    October 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

    • I recognize the name but haven’t watched that one. I’ll see if I can find it somewhere. Thanks for the idea!


      October 16, 2011 at 8:50 pm

  8. Glad you dug the film! It’s definitely one of the finest efforts to come out of the Aussie film industry in the last few years. If you’re interested in more Australian films, try checking out SAMSON & DELILAH, MARY AND MAX, THE CASTLE, TWO HANDS and CHOPPER. They’re just a few of my favourites.

    P.S. Found your blog thanks to Ryan at The Matinee. Great stuff 🙂

    Tom Clift

    October 23, 2011 at 2:16 am

    • Hi there and welcome! I’m glad Ryan sent you here. Please have a cup of coffee and make yourself at home!
      Thank you for your suggestions. I definitely need to expand my Australian movie knowledge. Not many of them make it to this side of the world.


      October 23, 2011 at 8:21 am

  9. […] 6. Animal Kingdom This Australian crime drama had some amazing acting performances. Strangely enough it never made it into a theatre in Sweden outside of the festival scene. […]

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