Lucky Miles (2007)
Featurette-Live Recording at the Sydney Film Festival
Featurette-The Background to Lucky Miles
Short Film-Flying Over Mother
DVD-ROM Extras-Study Guide
DVD-ROM Extras-Complete Storyboards
|Year Of Production||2007|
|Running Time||101:20 (Case: 105)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Michael James Rowland|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It is 1990 and an Indonesian fishing boat has dropped twelve men off the north coast of Western Australia. The boat's captain, Muluk (Indonesian rock star Sawung Jabo), tells the men to climb over the sand dune in front of them. There they will find a road where a bus will come and take them to Perth. The men scramble up the hill in two distinct groups, six Cambodians and six Iraqis, as the fishing boat putts away. The men find themselves stuck in the outback once over the dune. No road. No bus. The Cambodians head one way, the Iraqis the other.
As they hunt for civilisation, one Iraqi (Rodney Afif) and one Cambodian (Kenneth Moraleda) become separated from their respective groups only to find one another. A short while later they meet one of the fishermen that dumped them in the desert (Sri Sacdpraseuth), now stranded having accidentally sunken his uncle's boat. The fisherman promises his previous, rather disgruntled, cargo that he can get them to Broome in a couple of days walk and so the three mismatched men set out into the sunset. Meanwhile, three army reservists are out on a search and rescue operation for the lost men and follow their erratic journey into the middle of nowhere with their own misadventure.
2007 was a weak year for Australian film, but amidst the trickle of tired dramas and clumsy thrillers that bore the "Australian Made" tag there were a couple of genuinely worthwhile films. Lucky Miles was by far the standout. Roping together a handful of strong characters, it tells an entertaining tale of survival and it tells that tale well. Not only is it a great story, but it is told in a manner that makes superb use of its medium. The film is beautifully photographed and uses this visual aspect help tell its story.
Many first time feature directors cobble together wordy exposition to drive their stories, something that may work on stage but seems awkward on-screen. Writer/Director Michael James Rowland wisely avoids this trap, but disguises the sharpness of his dialogue by penning it into colloquial chatter and keeping a laid-back pace.
Lucky Miles avoids any temptation to soapbox on the political aspect of asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and post-9-11 paranoia by setting itself in 1990, a relatively arbitrary point in recent history that is far enough back to avoid modern tensions but recent enough to seem immediately relevant to a modern audience. Avoiding the "big picture" issues allows the movie to concentrate on the human experience of the characters, which makes for a much more appealing story. Removing any post-9-11 malice from the story allows the film to adopt a friendly tone, which in turn lightens the humour and makes for a much more accessible film.
One other point worth noting is the film's ridiculous 'MA' classification, which has been earnt solely for a handful of cusses uttered throughout the movie (nothing a 12 year old wouldn't hear every day in the playground). It is absurd that a film is rated so harshly for the use of naughty words, particularly when none are directed with malice or sinister intent, yet stylised violence is acceptable in films with much lighter ratings.
Lucky Miles is a unique and very entertaining buddy picture.
The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio but is not 16x9 enhanced. Lack of 16x9 enhancement on any recently transferred widescreen film is a travesty and in the case of Lucky Miles this travesty is an outrage. The film has been beautifully shot and makes great use of vast landscape photography to enhance the story (indeed the filmmakers go so far as to call the desert landscape itself a character in the film). The reduced resolution that results from this lack of 16x9 enhancement genuinely deteriorates the visual aspect of the film.
Aside from the lack of 16x9 enhancement the video looks very good. The image is sharp. Shadows and blacks look quite good. There is no sign of undue film grain at any point in the film. A very mild degree of low-level noise is visible throughout the film, but it is never really distracting.
The photography makes great, though quite subtle, use of colour and contrast to stylise scenes of the film. This look has translated very well to DVD, particularly the burnt orange dusks and deep blue desert sky.
There are no signs of MPEG artefacts or film artefacts in the transfer.
Stylised, white, burnt-in subtitles are present for the non-English parts of the film (which make up perhaps a third of the overall dialogue). Yellow English subtitles are available for the English portions, which appear to be accurate and well timed based on the portion I sampled.
The film itself is on an RSDL disc. The layer break occurs between scenes at 53:07 and was not noticeable on my equipment.
Though the cover slick boasts English, Khmer, Gumatj, French, Arabic and Indonesian "Languages", in reality the film features a Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio track. Each track is predominantly in English, but features portions in which characters speak in their native tongues. This disc is only worthwhile for viewers who can understand English.
The audio tracks are a little soft, but sound very good when the volume is set to a good level.
The film features a great complement of, mostly quite sparse, world music. The music has been marvellously selected to complement the sparse landscapes of the film.
The surrounds are put to fairly good use, particularly for the music and subtle environmental noise. The subwoofer is put to surprisingly good effect throughout the film, both to enhance particular audio effects and for key drum points in the music.
|Surround Channel Use|
The package includes an extensive set of extras that are pitched at both the film enthusiast and a school audience. Unfortunately, like the featurette itself, virtually all these features are widescreen but are not 16x9 enhanced (the one exception being the At The Movies interview).
A rather dry, but fairly informative commentary that meanders along with whatever pops in the director's head as he watches the movie through. Though there does not seem to be a great deal of focus to the commentary, Rowland is never short of information, be it technical or humanitarian.
A 111 page PDF document containing a scan of the complete set of original, hand-drawn storyboards for the film. This is an incredibly unusual extra and one that will score well with fans and would-be filmmakers.
A 15-page, full-colour study guide for the film, pitched at students studying the plight of refugees as depicted in the film. The guide contains background information on refugee situations, migrations, maps of Western Australia and learning activities.
Nine rather inconsequential deleted scenes. Some are extended versions of scenes in the film, others are unnecessary additions and detours.
An incredibly extensive making of featurette. The layout is rather scattershot, but the featurette itself covers pretty much everything you could think of; what the movie is about, motivations, the development process, real refugees consulted in the production, the actors (even the minor ones), makeup effects, stunt work, camera and editing tricks.
The last thirteen minutes of the film, recorded at the Sydney Film Festival. The video is a bit shaky and the film's audio is barely listenable. The sole purpose seems to be to let people hear a bunch of strangers chuckle and clap at the film. I can imagine there being a degree of pride for the filmmakers derived from hearing an audience enjoy their film, but to anybody else this featurette will be excruciating to sit through. Couldn't the director have mailed a copy of this to his friends and spared the rest of us? Worst "Extra" Ever.
This is basically a "light" version of the "making of" featurette, even including several of the same clips featured in the complete "Making Of" featurette. As the title suggests, this mainly focuses on the background to the film; the stories and anecdotes on which the film is based and interviews with cast and crew on how the film was prepared.
Michael James Rowland's student short film, made in 1997. It tells the tale of why a particular cosmonaut wanted to be a cosmonaut.
The complete interview Margaret Pomeranz conducted for the review show At The Movies, including a lot of material that never went to air. This is a very interesting interview.
The film's theatrical trailer, which plays up the humorous side of the film.
Trailers for Home Song Stories, Ten Canoes, Kenny, Noise and Romulus, My Father.
This film is not currently available in Region 1.
A buddy movie about three disparate men trekking the Australian outback. Lucky Miles is a beautiful movie with a positive sense of humour amidst its drama. It avoids any comment on the politics of refugees, instead looking at the human story of three blokes lost in the desert.
The video is significantly marred by not being presented in a 16x9 enhanced format, but otherwise looks good. The audio is very good.
This disc features an excellent package of extras that will appeal to educational audiences as well as home audiences (despite featuring the one extra that I honestly consider to be the worst extra that I have ever encountered).
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|