Aussies love Australian sports, beaches and beer. But movies? Animal Kingdom is a great choice.
Here at Digital Fox, we’re patriotic as fuck.
The stigma held by most Aussies that Australian movies categorise as ‘foreign’ riles us up nearly as much as long lines and other first world problems, like accidentally opening a Whatsapp message.
We have an awesome film industry right in front of us, but we turn instead to the big budgets of Hollywood, assuming instinctively that Aussie films suck.
Well, you suck. I suck. We all suck. Because Australian movies rock. And I’m not just talking about Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max. Real, mainstream Australian movies.
Lion has made us proud, rocking the largest opening weekend for an independent Aussie movie ever.
It may even be on its way to Oscar success. But there are more great Australian movies than we hear about. So, in order to repay our country back for its cool sports and nice weather and shit, we’re going to start recommending you some local movie goodness.
Animal Kingdom: Plot
Animal Kingdom follows seventeen year old Joshua ‘J’ Cody. He’s a tall, quiet, awkward teenager who tries his best to act cool and fit in with his friends and family. The only issue is, his family just so happens to be one of the most notorious criminal families in Australia.
Joshua finds himself caught between a loyalty for his family and an aching moral compass that pushes him in the direction of a caring girlfriend and a detective who wants to use him as a pawn to bring them to justice.
This is a crime drama through and through, and Animal Kingdom pulsates with high stakes action and violence. It’s, like, really cool (sentence of the year).
Why should you watch?
Given that “because it’s really good and I told you so” probably isn’t reason enough to persuade you stubborn buggers, let me elaborate on why you should add Animal Kingdom to your ‘to watch’ list.
There’s something gritty about Australian movies. They feel authentic in a way you can’t quite attain from a Hollywood blockbuster. This is due to a few reasons.
The first and most obvious reason is, budgets are smaller. Instead of being able to rely on big casts and bigger explosions, Australian movies – and foreign films in general – pay greater attention to dialogue and character development. Scenes take place in simple settings and build drama through the dialogue. You become heavily invested in the characters, and almost seem to feel like you understand them on a deep level. Animal Kingdom does this as well as anyone, in both a disturbing and brilliant manner.
Another reason – and this should be reason for you to watch more Aussie films in general – is because they take place in Australia.
I know this sounds obvious, but it’s actually a massive point. These films are Australian. The slang the characters use, the suburbs they visit, the style of the police uniforms and the colours of the taxis – they’re all ours. We experience this cinematic reality every day. So how does this work in practise?
Well, when you’re watching a police chase in Animal Kingdom take place in the back streets of Melbourne, it doesn’t feel like a fantasy. The story takes on more of a documentary style than that of the surreal Hollywood. Essentially, the madness of Animal Kingdom is heightened because it just feels so possible.
I should also give credit to the acting performances. And while everyone is exceptional, credit should be given to Jacki Weaver as Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, aka the mum of the family. Oh, but I’m not really the first to acknowledge Jacki’s incredible performance. She was also nominated for an Oscar for the role. But whatever.
What it’s similar to…
This is England
Although it isn’t Australian (you can probably guess where it’s from by the title), This is England shares many of the same themes as Animal Kingdom. It follows a young boy who gets caught up in the criminal world of skinheads in the 1980s. It’s so good it probably deserves an article for itself.
City of God
The story of two boys who grow up in a rough neighbourhood of Rio De Janeiro. One becomes a photographer, the other a violent drug dealer. If City of God was a food, it would be a burger with an onion ring inside – that’s how incredible it is.
American History X
Edward Norton is a neo-Nazi who does some pretty fucked up shit and then realises he was kind of a dickhead and tries to steer his brother from the same path. It also has some incredible movieness in between.
Okay, okay, this isn’t a movie, it’s a TV series. What it is though is an incredible true portrayal of the crime wars that shook Australia in the late 1990s early 2000s. You would recognise some familiar faces and names from the news, such as Tony Mokbel and Carl Williams. Pretty hectic stuff.