Category Archives: Rural noir

MIFF report back #5: Downriver

DOWNRIVER1170Grant Scicluna’s debut feaure, Downriver is a dark tale of secrets and redemption set in a small rural town. Although, I haven’t seen Scicluna stress the theme anywhere, it is also a film largely dominated by gay male relationships.

The film opens with eighteen-year-old James (Reef Ireland) being confronted upon his parole by the mother of a child whose death by drowning was the reason for his lengthy incarceration. The body of the boy has never been found, a fact that particularly haunts the mother. James suspects his childhood friend Anthony (Thom Green), who was also present when the child died, hid the body but he was never charged.

Once free, James is obsessed with finding the boy’s body. He defies his parole officer and his mother (Kerry Fox) and goes to stay at the caravan park near to the river where the death took place. James confronts Anthony, who claims to know nothing more than he has already told the police. He befriends Damien (Charles Grounds), an impressionable young man also staying at the caravan park, and who turns into an ally of sorts in James’ mission.

It becomes apparent very quickly that Anthony’s silence is bound up in a much larger and darker conspiracy involving the boy’s death and Anthony’s extremely dangerous family.… Read more


strangerland-poster-cinema-australiaInitial impressions can be deceiving in Kim Farrant’s debut feature movie, Strangerland.

On the surface it appears to be another version of the women-and-children-in-danger-plot-line so popular at the moment (think Gone Girl, Top of the Lake and half the crime novels that have been published in the last few years). But the film boasts some interesting twists and bravely examines themes you won’t see in many of the similar films.

The Parker’s have just moved to Nathgari, a spec of a town (‘population 1048’), surrounded by a seemingly endless expanse of beautiful but inhospitably sun blasted outback. The family unit – Catherine (Nicole Kidman), her highly-strung husband, Matthew (Joseph Fiennes), daughter Lily (Maddison Brown) and young son, Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) – is clearly under pressure. Tommy, in particular, is intensely resentful about the move.

It becomes obvious fairly quickly that whatever it is that they’ve had to flee is connected to Lily and her burgeoning sexuality. Despite being a minor, she is sexually active and this has caused problems in the past, clearly sign posted when Matthew tells his son: ‘Don’t let her out of your sight, ok?’

It is no surprise then when both kids go missing. Indeed, Matthew watches from one of the windows of their home, as they leave in the middle of the night.… Read more

My top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014

Time for me to present Pulp Curry readers with the list of my best reads for 2014. As is customary, I will start off by admitting, yet again, I feel I have not read nearly as much as I should have. My reading this year has been dominated by books for work, including material for freelance articles and the various literary festival panels I’ve been involved in. A considerable amount of my attention has also been directed to reading related to the non-fiction book I have been co-editing, Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, which is scheduled to be published in October 2015.

With all that said, here’s the top ten books I read in 2014. I’ve split my list in two this year – fiction and non-fiction.

My top fiction reads are as follows:


Escape, Dominique Manotti 

I have long been interested in the political history in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the so-called ‘years of lead’, when left wing paramilitary groups and right wing extremists in the military and police were locked in a shadowy, violent conflict. Dominique Manotti’s Escape is set in the late eighties and deals with the aftermath of that conflict. Filippo is a common street hood that shares a prison cell with Carlos, a charismatic former Red Brigade member.… Read more

Wake In Fright: Dusty and Thirsty in the Outback

WAKE-IN-FRIGHTIf the popularity of writers such as Donald Ray Pollock, Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell and Frank Bill is anything to go by, rural noir is a big deal in the United States.

While it may not be anywhere near as well-known, for my money, the 1961 novel Wake In Fright by Australian writer Kenneth Cook is up there with the best of them. The film adaption of Wake In Fright hit Australian cinemas in 1971. Forty-three years later and it’s hard to think of comparable piece of cinema that has come out of the country.

Wake In Fright was a blistering take on three of the central features of the 1960s white Anglo Saxon culture in Australia: mateship, the romance of the outback, and drinking. Especially drinking.

You can read the rest of this review here at the Criminal Element site.

My year in books: Kristin Centorcelli aka My Bookish Ways

Next in the ‘my year in books’ series, I’m thrilled to welcome one of the coolest, nicest and most eclectic books reviewers around, Kristen Centorcelli, the woman behind the great site, My Bookish Ways.

Her site is a must read for fans of urban fantasy, horror and dark crime and suspense. The content is always good, her book selections are always varied and it’s a wonderful looking site, too.

Read her top five fiction reads for 2013 below and then head on over and check out her site.

Welcome Kristin.

Three Graves Full, Jamie Mason

It’s been about a year since Jason Getty killed a man and buried him in his backyard, and it’s eating him up inside. When two bodies are discovered on his property by his lawn service, two bodies that are not the man he buried, he’s not only shocked, but he feels like it’s only a matter of time until his dirty secret will certainly be revealed. Two detectives are on the case, and a woman whose fiancé recently disappeared is determined to find out what happened to him. All is connected, in the most terrifying ways. A quirky, fast paced, excellent read.

The Panther, Nelson DeMille

I’m a huge fan of DeMille’s John Corey series, and The Panther was not only an excellent read, but it was a riveting look into a country constantly on the brink. … Read more