Rats, Cats and the Crucified

May 15, 2008

Just got home from the Rats and Cats Premiere at the Sun Cinema in Yarraville. Great comedy. One of my favourite Australian Comedy features of this decade, I’d say.

It starred Adam Zwar and Jason Gann from Wilfred and was directed by Tony Rogers. It is about a faded Australian movie and TV star Darren McWarren (Jason Gann) living a very odd life on the fringes of a strange town called Merickvillie (or something like that). Film Industry reporter Ben (Adam Zwar) comes to town, to do an in depth story on McWarren, falling into his strange and eclectic crew and world. The charismatic pairing of Zwar and Gann from Wilfred is again a hit in Rats and Cats. These two are funny in just about every scene, as the film explores the out of control ego’s of the film world, small humorous details of McWarren’s life and the shoddy reality of most TV ‘stars’. There is a great scene with the two scuba diving, that is a treat. Also, the Father Roger gags are suitable politically incorrect and sick. Not only is Rats and Cats funny, the film has an excellent mise en scene, in this strange village, that looks like some seaside shanty town, only with McWarren as its hero. Filmed partly at Avalon beach, a truly weird location, where Mark Savage shot part of Defenseless with me, the locations generally are bizarre, original and well chosen. McWarren plays in a crap local band (ala Russell Crowe) and is fucking the town bikes, but really is in love with the local massage girl, Cindy. At Ben’s behest, a more serious relationship is pursued. The film is oddly affecting in its tale of a fallen star. The mood of the film is almost Lynchian surreal and odd, that moves the film from that of light comedy, to that of art, as well. It really is excellent.

It premiered at MIFF last year as a rough cut, which I missed, but this new version is a winner. It’s the best Australian movie I’ve seen at the cinema, so far this year. It had no government money and a budget of around 300 K. It’s criminal that expensive crap like Esther Blueberger gets 6 million $ lavished on it, while this film with established and award winning comedy actors, gets made with no government funding… and has to be self distributed theatrically!

This film could easily be a Kenny in the making, if it finds the right audience. If you dug Wilfred, you’ll really dig this! Thanks to producer Jen Livingston for inviting my good self, David Thrussell and Kristen along to the red carpet event.

The after party was cool, too. Caught up with many people as we all got mildly sauced. Jason Gann is a nice bloke in person, his performances was top notch in Rats. He would make an excellent gangster or crim in a film, he has this strange way of intimidating people on screen that is funny, mildly scary and real. I also had a good chat to Aran Michael, manager of some top local actors, who reminded me about how he acted in my short Off Season, from the late eighties. I congratulated Tony Rogers on his film and his daring to make a comedy with edge in this country. Spoke to some of the excellent supporting cast and to Adam Zwar, who has got to be Australia’s answer to Simon Pegg, don’t you think? Adam appeared in MUFF hit Narcosys, back in 2000, directed by Mark Bakaitis and we had a good chat about his time on that film.

Rats and Cats other Producer Jason Byrne came up to me and asked me if I knew him. I’d seen his face around, but I said I couldn’t name him, no. He said we went to school together (Ivanhoe Grammar) and that he was the year below me, with Craig Knuckey and others. He also said he remembers an incident when some school bully’s apparently crucified me to a statue with rope(!) and threw eggs at me. I said I have absolutely no memory of that event, but he was sure it was me. I was bullied at Ivanhoe, a hot bed of teenage sadism in the 80’s, but not too bad from memory. I escaped from Ivanhoe for various reasons, in 1984, at the end of year ten. To go to a coed school with Media Studies classes (and girls!), but couldn’t remember this incident. I wondered if I had repressed it or buried it?

But hey, if you ever wonder why I am, the way I am, you may now have one of the small keys as to why. Maybe, that’s where I get my God complex from. Hehe.

Psychic TV had a live LP titled from the late 90’s “Were you Ever Bullied at School? Do you want Revenge?”. My answer (in my mind) to that album, whenever I see it, has always been, “Yes”.

Rats and Cats opens next week at Cinema Nova in Melbourne and across Australia on selected screens.

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