Bobby Kills Gillian Armstrong

April 14, 2008

Here is a review of the new Gillian Armstrong movie Death Defying Acts from intrepid cinematic truth speaker – Bobby Galinsky.

I’ve never been overtly fond of Armstrong’s work and her rise to prominence in the Australia film industry almost heralded the death nell for the excitement of the Oz cinema Renaissance of the 70’s. Some of her early features are good, especially My Brilliant Career, but in recent years what I have seen of her work has been a bit dull.

I have not seen Unfolding Florence, but think I would like that movie having seen and admired the film subject’s erotic art over the years. I’ll find it on DVD.

Anyway, Bobby’s review is entitled: “My Not So Brilliant Career”.

Over to you Mr.Galinsky:

Okay, it’s official: Gillian Armstrong is dead. After meandering through an marginally interesting but ultimately disappointing and highly overrated two decades of film making after MY BRILLIANT CAREER, she tippy-toed through a semi-groovy doco (UNFOLDING FLORENCE) a couple of years ago–convincing government bodies around the world that she was still alive—and truly could take one more grand dive at ruining a great premise and ensure that Rohypnol was just the liquified version of 99% of her films. DEATH DEFYING ACTS is the hat-trick, the triptych of local rubbish that completes the double-act that HEY HEY IT’S ESTHER BLUEBERGER and THE BLACK BALLOON started the year with. No small accomplishment here!


Ok, here’s how it works! Take Harry Houdini, one of the most riveting characters in the last 150 years. Now add Catherine Zeta-Jones, one of the most beautiful and accomplished leading ladies. Ooops, Houdini is dead so get Guy Pearce, who is hands-down one of the grooviest actors on the planet and put him with CZ-J. Ok, that’s better. Now, totally ignore any of the seventy billion groovy stories you could take from the history books (including the ones Tony Curtis used in George Marshall‘s iconic 1953 puncher) , and wave your alchemist’s wand and ‘POOF‘ …. Armstrong makes any possible screen chemistry disappear faster than Claudia Schiffer in David Copperfield‘s bedroom. There is more chemistry in a Hell’s Angels meth lab in Campbelfield after a raid than there was anywhere up there on the screen.

The script, which is like navigating the Kokoda Trail blindfolded at night on crutches, was not much of a help to her but that’s okay; because with somewhere near $20m without a lot of change left, there obviously wasn’t enough time or money to create even a semblance of atmosphere, or a couple of brief shining moments in the darkness. Not unlike waking up in a hotel in Adelaide and realizing you don’t have a ticket back to civilization. Fortunately, though—the film did end. After 3 faux endings and too many close ups of Timothy Spall‘s teeth, which is not what you want to have in your head when you venture out in the darkness of the Melbourne CBD.

So, I hope I’m done sledging the local films for the next year, because I feel like I’m criticizing my own family at a Christmas dinner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…and it would be Hanukkah, instead of Christmas, but you get the point… but when you are forced to slap your family, you want them to know it’s for their own good. Even though for some of them it’s too late. – Robert Lewis Galinsky


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