With new AVOD (advertising VOD, not unlike Tubi and SBS on Demand) streaming service Brollie about to launch, offering quality cinema, with a leaning towards Australian content, Alexei Toliopoulos – who is hosting brand new podcast Sunburnt Screens: The Australian Cinema Odyssey – suggests a handful of titles that should be on your essential list once you fire up Brollie.
Head On, Ana Kokkinos, 1998
Not just one of my very favourite films, Head On, was in fact the first film I ever wrote anything meaningful about back in high school. It spoke so much to my own identity twisting between my Greekness and masculinity, trying to figure out who the frick I was. The way Kokkinos adapts the stream of conscious internal monologue that the novel is built on into an external landscape with colour, light and sound still astounds me. Alex Dimitriades and Paul Capsis, as queer Greek cousins, are two of the very best performances ever captured by Australian celluloid. A provocative piece of art and one of the great encapsulations of life in a diasporic community.
The Last Days of Chez Nous, Gillian Armstrong, 1992
Gillian Armstrong is the great humanist filmmaker of Australian cinema. She finds these really enlightening access points that build powerful empathy between audience and subject, that only a filmmaker that drifts between documentary and narrative can discover. In this respect, The Last Days of Chez Nous is no exception. There’s this easy naturalism that balances the connective drama. Most of all, it is one of my favourite portraits of Sydney. It looks just beautiful here.
Bad Boy Bubby, Rolf de Heer, 1993
The rare example of an experimental film where the experiment is a complete and unequivocal success. De Heer mucks around with so many techniques and conventions, from every scene being shot by a different cinematographer to the sound being recorded binaurally through microphones stuck to Nicholas Hope’s head. It’s all in aid of bringing you into Bubby’s life, taking him from a claustrophobic world of cruelty, and sending him on a journey of building humanity. A challenging film but through the challenge it lands in transcendent empathy.
The Man from Hong Kong, Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1975
One of the best action films ever made. One of the best martial arts films ever made. The best Dirty Harry/James Bond film that never got made. Beyond a ripper. The unbeatable wild pairing of director Brian Trenchard-Smith and stunt master Grant Page. Watching this is with friends is one of the best times you can have sitting down, although it’ll probably get you standing up a few times too.
Pusher 1, 2, & 3, Nicolas Winding-Refn, 1996 – 2005
A high benchmark in international gangster cinema, Nicolas Winding-Refn’s breakthrough films set in Copenhagen’s underworld have been oddly obscure and difficult to track down in the streaming era. Gritty and raw, it’s so unlike Drive and the other films of visual precision that would later characterise the director’s work. The way the trilogy builds, with each successive film led by a supporting character from the previous, feels like the kind of world-building exploration more films should attempt.
Brollie launces on 23 November 2023. Viewers will be able to access it through the Apple and Google Play Store, through Apple TV, Google TV and Android TV, through Chromecast with Google TV and on browser at www.brollie.com.au