Pepe's View:

Mad Bastards is an Australian film in the "tradition" of Samson and Delilah and Ten Canoes.  The film by first time director Brendon Fletcher pays homage to the aboriginal culture and to the real people hidden inside the "Mad Bastards".
Set in the Kimberley region and filmed in glorious widescreen, the film is a visual delight.  The scenery of the Kimberley juxtaposed with the brutality and confusion of the lives of the aboriginal cast living in the town creates a cinematographic experience not easily forgotten.
The director manages to subtly and carefully reveal to us the close attachment the aboriginal people have with their land and how the loss of this connection has caused a lingering feeling of discontent and anger.  When young Bullett, played wonderfully by Lucas Yeede, is sent out to a "reform" school in the bush where he and some others are brought closer to their land and their traditional culture, we see a maturing in him and a realisation that there is a different life to the one he is living.  While Bullett is walking through the Kimberley becoming reacquainted with his heritage, his father whom he has never met is travelling from Perth where his traditional lands have been covered by freeways and buildings to also become reacquainted with the land.  There are beautiful scenes of the characters under the stars and at one not only with themselves but with their world.
TJ, played by Dean Daly-Jones is superb as the brooding volcano who is trying desperately to connect with his family and in particular with his son after a life spent on the margins of white society.  The local policeman (Greg Tait) is totally believable in the role - probably because he spent 16 yrs as a policeman in the area. 
The most amazing aspect of this film is that all the actors are total amateurs.  Not one of them has been to acting school or appeared in a movie before.  Their performances though come from the heart - they are the people they depict.  There is no artifice, just raw emotion and this gives the film a feeling of truth so often lacking in films attempting to tackle similar themes.  It is to the credit of the director that he could extract such truthful performances from this cast.
The music performed often live by the "Pigram Brothers",  real musicians from the Kimberley, is a feature of the film and although not traditional aboriginal music it seems to fit with their modern culture.

This is a fantastic movie in all respects.

My Score:  8.5/10

Ma's View:

Yes indeed, I just loved this movie!  There is no shying away from the very real problem of alcoholism and disconnectedness endemic in Aboriginal society but there is no whinging or blaming either.   Instead, there is a lot of hope in this movie as there was in Samson and Delilah because the real backbone of Aboriginal culture is evident - the magnificent Australian outback and their deep affinity with it.

The title refers to the "mad bastard" withing each character which fills them with anger and violence, often fuelled by alcohol, and resulting in anti-social behaviour.  In contrast, we see tribal elders and leading members of the tribe playing a pivotal role in guiding their people back to their roots.  The gentleness and wisdom of these older Aborigines is inspiring.   The film carries a wonderful message to young indigenous Australians and the Director and the actors should be justly proud of their achievement.  Underpinned by a wonderful musical score from the Pigram Brothers, this movie is a story of redemption that will have a ripple effect throughout the culture.

My Score:  (9/10)


Ma's View:

Set in an unnammed middle-eastern country, Incendies is an immensely powerful film with a plot that unfolds like that of a Greek tragedy.  Director Denis Villeneuve has made this vivid adaptation of the play by Lebanese-Canadian playwright, Wajdi Mouawed, which examines the brutality and futility of religious hatred.  The film opens with the death of Nawal (Lubra Azabal) now living in Canada and the terms of her will whereby her twin children must set out to find who she was and who they are, by tracking down the father they never met and the brother they never knew they had.  The scene shifts from present to past as first Joanne (Melissa Desormais-Poulin) and then her twin brother, Simon, (Maxim Gaudette) retrace the mother's steps in the middle east.  We learn that Nawal was born a Christian, fell in love with a Muslim, tried to change society by peaceful and then by violent means before herself being subjected to imprisonment and torture.  The film is even handed in its approach and we are shown that both sides in the conflict are just as brutal and inhuman as each other and that in the end it is only love that will heal.

Filmed in Jordan, the cinematography is spectacular and evocative, providing a wonderful background to the tension as the terrible secret of the twin's origin is gradually unfolded.  All of the characters are excellently portrayed but special mention must be made of Lubra Azabal who plays the mother from a young girl of 18 or so, through to a woman of 60 - a woman who undergoes much suffering and has to remake herself over and over.

Full of mystery and complexity, the plot could be accused of being a bit far-fetched at times, but then it is war and this is a Greek tragedy after all.

A film not to be missed!  One that is particularly relevant in the present time and which will give you plenty to think about.

My score:  9/10

Pepe's View:

We saw this movie on the day that Osama Bin Laden was found and killed by US troops.  What a remarkable coincidence!  Incendies is about exactly what the killing of this person represents - revenge.  The mother in the movie (Nawal) has every reason in the world to feel bitter and seek revenge for the treatment she received both at the hands of her Christian family and villagers and at the hands of the Anti Christian (Muslim) extremists. That she chooses ultimately to offer forgiveness instead of revenge and teach her children the value of forgiveness in the process as the only way to end such hatred in the world, is the movie's theme.
The acting by all those involved in this "Greek Tragedy" is brilliant and the direction is taut setting the scene for the horrors as they unfold without undue sensationalism or showing support for a particular point of view. The setting in this unknown middle eastern country provides a perfect backdrop to the desolation experienced emotionally by Narwal.
Some of my favourite scenes involve a fire fight when all that is in focus are the rifles held by militia with the only indication of their loyalty is the Christian picture of the Virgin Mary on their gun barrel or the treatment of the daughter by the villagers when she goes to her Mother's old home in search of her story as they show that they still harbour hatred from events that occurred a generation before.

This is a gripping revealing movie that stays with you long after the final credits and by setting the story in a non existent country provides the opportunity to see the wider perspective.

My Score: 8.5/10