Category Archives: Australian crime film

The noir genius of Mr Inbetween

Late year I chaired a panel in which several American crime writers discussed their most memorable discoveries in terms of noir television and film during the various COVID lockdowns we have all endured. As the moderator I did not get any time to discuss my own discovery, but if I had it would have been the Australian/American television production, Mr Inbetween.

My first piece for the US CrimeReads site for 2023 is a love letter to one of my favourite Australian television shows, Mr InBetween. You can read it in full on their site at this link.… Read more

Wake in Fright is a Christmas film

As we dive into the Yuletide season, this is just a quick reminder that Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 film Wake In Fright definitely qualifies as a Christmas film.

I recently took part in a discussion on Kotcheff’s amazing film for the Journey’s Into Darkness film discussion group in the US. I talked about what Wake In Fright says about Australia in 1971 and now, conceptions of masculinity, and urban Australians uneasy relationship with the outback and our bloody colonial past. We also discussed how the film functions as a crime film, and outback noir and an Australian folk horror. You can watch the talk in full on Youtube here.

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Spaces available in my online clinic for emerging crime writers

There are a few places remaining in the Writers Victoria online clinic that I am running for emerging crime writers in the second half of 2022, which starts next week.

If you’re keen to start a writing crime novel or short stories but you are unsure where to start, or if you are part-way through a manuscript and need help to finish or polish it, this online clinic will provide deadlines and support as you do so, pushing through blockages and problem passages. Participants will receive individualized feedback, including on structure, setting, pace, character and dialogue. This online course actively encourages sharing of your work with your cohort as well as with the tutor.

This is a completely safe space for you to submit drafts and have commented on by me, and/or to ask those burning questions you may have that you have never been able to get answered.

There is discount for members of Writers Victoria and other state writers organisations in Australia, but because the course is online you do not have to be in Melbourne – indeed, you don’t even have to be in Australia – to take part.

You can find all the information you need by going to this link at the Writers Victoria site here.Read more

My cultural highlights of 2021

In past years, I have always tried to conclude the writing year with wrap up of my top fiction/non-fiction reads. But this year I want to do something a little different and look more broadly at the culture that has sustained me in what has been another difficult and stressful 12 months, dominated, as it has for so many of us, by the Covid pandemic.

Film

As was the case in 2020, Covid meant that I spent far more time than I would’ve liked at home. So, most of the movies I watched had to be on the small screen. One of the standouts for me was a 1953 Argentinian retelling of Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic, M, called El Vampiro Negro or The Black Vampire. Helmed by one of Argentina’s most famous mid-century directors, Roman Vinoly Barreto, the story focuses the panic that engulfs Buenos Aires as children are stalked and murdered by a paedophile. Barreto particularly focuses on a nightclub singer and mother, played by Argentina’s equivalent of Marilyn Monroe, Olga Zubarry, who is the sole eyewitness to the child killer and who fears her daughter may be the next victim. Proof positive that classic noir was not just a North American phenomena, El Vampiro Negro is a powerful film, stunningly restored by the US Film Noir Foundation.… Read more

Phoenix: down Melbourne’s 1990s means streets

The recent inclusion of the 1995 Australian true crime mini-series Blue Murder as an offering on Netflix Australia provided an opportunity for many critics, present company included, to once again laud it as our best piece of true crime television made so far. While not walking back on this claim, there is another show that I would argue gives Blue Murder a run for its money in terms of being a gritty, true life depiction of policing, which I watched recently – the thirteen-part 1992 Australian Broadcasting Commission series, Phoenix.

A lot of 1990s Australian popular culture exists in a rather liminal space for me due to the fact that I spent a large chunk of the decade working in Southeast Asia. I don’t think I saw any episodes of Phoenix when it first came out, but I am pretty sure I caught parts of the first series (there were two) on VHS tapes that my partner’s mother sent us in the post when we were living in Hanoi, Vietnam. I am not even sure if Phoenix has as a current DVD release, as the discs I found were second hand and seem to have been released at least a decade ago.

Phoenix focuses on the Major Crimes squad, an elite group of Victorian cops.… Read more