“You know what the bush is about? It’s about massive trees that have been standing there for thousands of years… And bugs that’ll be dead before the minute’s out. It’s big trees and pissy little bugs. And everything knows its place in the scheme of things.”
As far as feature film debuts go, you could a lot worse than writer / director David Michod. When I wrote about The Rover, his second movie, I had to set it in context with his freshman effort, Animal Kingdom. I said, “To be an Australian whose debut movie gets Oscar attention is all but unheard of.” While I’d seen Animal Kingdom when it first came out and while I really liked it, I never felt compelled to see it again. But when I was recently on a plane and saw it on the in the in-flight entertainment, and having also just seen and loved The Rover a few weeks prior, I had to revisit Animal Kingdom.
Josh “J” (James Frecheville) is sitting on the couch next to his dead mother, watching Deal or No Deal. When the paramedics arrive, we learn she’s died of a heroin overdose. Alone, J resorts to calling his estranged grandmother (Jacki Weaver in her Oscar nominated role as Janine ”Smurf” Cody). Soon, J is brought into her fold, along with his several bank robbing uncles. There’s Joel Edgerton as the cool headed Barry, Sullivan Stapleton as the cocaine fuelled loose cannon Craig, Luke Ford as the fresh faced, Darren, and Ben Mendelsohn as the sociopathic Andrew, AKA “Pope”. (more…)