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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Monkey Grip (1982)

Monkey Grip (1982)

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Released 23-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio-Only Track-Interview With Writer Helen Garner
Music Video-All The Boys In Town - The Divinyls
Gallery-Photo Montage
Theatrical Trailer
Notes-Monkey Grip - The Novel
Notes-Helen Garner Profile
Trailer-Malcolm, Puberty Blues, We Of The Never Never
Trailer-Travelling North
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 97:43 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ken Cameron
Pavilion Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Noni Hazlehurst
Colin Friels
Alice Garner
Harold Hopkins
Candy Raymond
Michael Caton
Tim Burns
Christina Amphlett
Don Miller-Robinson
Lisa Peers
Cathy Downes
Justin Ridley
Pearl Christie
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Stephen McIntyre
Bruce Smeaton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Monkey Grip is one of those Australian films which I knew of by name but had never seen, like Alvin Purple or The Man From Hong Kong. I wanted to see it and was glad to have gotten the opportunity. I am not sure whether I actually knew of it more as a film or because of The Divinyls' soundtrack album. Anyway, I have now seen it and am glad to have done so.

    The film is a gritty drama about an obsessive relationship between two people which they know is not really getting them anywhere, however, they cannot drag themselves away from it. The protagonists in this relationship are Nora (Noni Hazlehurst's AFI Award winning performance), a single mother and writer and Javo (Colin Friels), an actor and heroin addict. The story is set in Melbourne (although filmed in Sydney for budget reasons) in the 1970s amongst a bohemian group of artists, writers, actors and musicians. Other important characters include Gracie, Nora's daughter (Alice Garner), Martin (Tim Burns) the boyfriend Nora dumps to take up with Javo, and Angela, a singer friend of Nora's (Christina Amphlett). Michael Caton also appears in a small role as Clive.

    The story is based on a novel by Helen Garner (mother of Alice Garner who appears in the film). The very revealing audio interview with her included in the extras indicates that she is not a big fan of the film and considers it to be a 'period piece' despite the fact that her daughter appears in it. Having not read the book it is difficult for me to say what the differences are.

    I found this film interesting to watch but somewhat depressing. I also felt that by the end of the film, very little had really occurred. The film is well acted and well made despite its obviously small budget. It was nominated for four other AFI awards besides the one won by Noni Hazlehurst.

    Personally, I would not want to own this film, however, if you are a fan or have an interest in Australian film history, this DVD is well worth your money.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good but afflicted by film artefacts.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced. I do not have any information about the original theatrical ratio, unfortunately.

    The picture was generally clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was reasonable with some detail available in darker scenes. Light grain was present throughout.

    The colour was quite good throughout although a little washed out, however, the colours were free from colour bleeding.

    There were significant film artefacts on show constantly during the film including black specks, lines & hairs. They are not overly distracting despite their constancy. There was a spot of pixelization which I could not shift, despite cleaning the disc, at 5:26. I noticed some very minor aliasing on piano keys at 40:00 and little bits of edge enhancement here and there.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at the end of chapter 8 according to my PC (at 64:48), however during the actual play of the film I could not pick it up.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is good but very front and centre focused.

    This DVD contains one audio option, a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there were no issues with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Bruce Smeaton does not play a huge part. The stand out part of the musical presentation are the songs by The Divinyls which feature on the soundtrack.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu includes music and photos from the film plus a scene select function.

Aqua Profunda - 2004 Interview with Producer, Pat Lovell, Director Ken Cameron and Alice Garner (25:05)

    Discussion of funding, budgetary issues, locations, casting and writing the screenplay. Interestingly, they play up Helen Garner's role which she plays down in her interview. Also they mention that Doc Neeson, lead singer of the Angels was originally cast as Javo. Interesting. 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Interview with Novelist Helen Garner (Approx 15 mins)

    This is an audio only track with no time clock available. Helen discusses the novel, how it was based on her own experiences, that she had very little to do with the film and has only seen it once. She expresses her like for Noni Hazlehurst's performance but mentions that she didn't like lots of other things about the film. If you are interested in the film, this is well worth a listen.

Video Clip - All the Boys in Town (2:53)

    A live clip of The Divinyls performing this song, some time after the film was made. Presented in 4x3.

Photo Montage (3:23)

    Behind the scenes photos of the production set to The Divinyls. Presented in 4x3.

Theatrical Trailer (2:55)

    A reasonable summation of the film in 16x9.

Monkey Grip - The Novel

    Text based page on the novel and 5 pages of biography of Helen Garner.

Umbrella Propaganda

    Trailers for Malcolm, Puberty Blues, We of the Never Never & Travelling North.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I cannot find any evidence of this film being available outside Region 4.


    This disc contains a gritty Australian drama about obsessive love.

    The video quality is good but has some issues.

    The audio quality is good.

    The disc has a good selection of relevant extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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