Lucky Country (2009)

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Released 2-Dec-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Kriv Stenders, Kristian Moliere and Andy Cox
Deleted Scenes-Six scenes with optional commentary from the above people
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-Lucky Country - Video Diaries
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Five Interviews
TV Spots-Webisodes
Theatrical Trailer-Lucky Country
Teaser Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 91:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kriv Stenders
Studio
Distributor
Footprint Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Aden Young
Toby Wallace
Hanna Mangan-Lawrence
Pip Miller
Neil Pigot
Eamon Farren
Robert Menzies
Helmut Bakaitis
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music Tom Schutzinger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

     Australian director, Kriv Stenders has shown great aptitude with his three previous films, The Illustrated Family Doctor, Blacktown and Boxing Day. With his fourth feature, Lucky Country, he again displays the ability to engage an audience with thought provoking and intelligent filmmaking.

     In the early days of Australia's federation, a young family struggles with life on their remote homestead. For twelve-year-old Tom (Toby Wallace) and his older sister, Sarah (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence), the isolation is further compounded by the recent and sudden death of their beloved mother. Their father Nat (Aden Young) believes that God will provide for them, but his faith and indeed his sanity will soon be cruelly tested.

     Out of the harsh bushland, three men arrive at the homestead on horseback. One of the men is very ill and close to death. Although Nat is very suspicious at first, he welcomes the men into his small abode and soon believes their arrival may be some kind of divine providence. As the sick young man, Jimmy (Eamon Farren), recovers the other two strangers help with tasks around the property. The older of the men, Henry (Pip Miller), has a charismatic, grandfather-like personality, which is alluring to young Tom. The other man, Carver (Neil Pigot), has a much harder persona and his cold demeanour unsettles Sarah. Gradually over time their presence at the homestead becomes more sinister and menacing. When Jimmy reveals a dark secret to Sarah, the men's purpose becomes apparent and the stakes become increasingly more lethal.

     Jules O'Loughlin's haunting cinematography contributes appreciably to this underrated psychological thriller. So too, the performances from the small ensemble cast deliver a potent combination of menace and innocence with great conviction. It's worth singling out the acting debut of young Toby Wallace - an amazing achievement in a very difficult role.

     Lucky Country is a largely undiscovered Australian film which definitely deserves a look. This two-disc set from Madman does the film great justice and is a worthy inclusion to any collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lucky Country is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

     The image is hard to fault, especially in daylight scenes. There is some film grain evident during some of the darker scenes, but this is almost certainly inherent in the source material. Blacks were strong and shadow detail was excellent. The colour palette is mostly cold and dingy; this accurately reflects the sombre tone of the film. These colours are very nicely balanced, with no adverse issues.

     There were no MPEG artefacts evident. Film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were not an issue.

     There are no subtitles available on this edition.

     The first disc (the movie disc) is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change is well placed and occurs at 44:14. The second disc contains the bulk of the extras and is a DVD 5, single layer disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio tracks available; English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

     Dialogue quality was mostly fine and there were no apparent issues with audio sync.

     The original music score by Tom Schutzinger perfectly enhances the sinister ambience of the film, without ever becoming overwhelming.

     This is a sensible audio mix. The surround channels carried mainly music and ambient sound. I didn't notice much in the way of direct sound placement. The nature of the film doesn't warrant such activity in any case. The subwoofer came to life with gunshots, but in general, it was used minimally.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is 16x9 enhanced, animated and features a sample of Tom Schutzinger's score.

Disc One Extras:

Audio Commentary - Kriv Stenders (Director), Kristian Moliere (Producer) and Andy Cox (Writer )

     A fairly interesting commentary full of relevant information and anecdotes. It's obvious that this trio has a good rapport and they are proud of their achievements with Lucky Country. The discussions cover virtually every aspect of the production with humour and very little waffle.

Theatrical Trailer - Lucky Country (1:52)

Madman Propaganda

  • Balibo (2:30)
  • My Year Without Sex (2:07)
  • Last Ride (1:57)
  • Wake In Fright (0:41)

    Disc Two Extras:

    Deleted Scenes - with optional commentary by Kriv Stenders, Kristian Moliere and Andy Cox.

         I recommend viewing these scenes twice - first without the commentary, then again with the commentary to get the explanation behind each scene's exclusion. Of particular interest is the ten minute alternative opening, which is quite different from the one used in the final cut.

  • Alternative Opening (10:41)
  • Tom & Nat - The Boer War (1:16)
  • Carver's Story (3:55)
  • Jimmy & Sarah - Making Soap (0:38)
  • The Pig Hunt (0:46)
  • The Last Supper (1:17)

    Featurette - Behind-the-scenes (8:42)

         This rather brief but informative piece features on set interviews with cast and crew. It also contains plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.

    Featurette - Lucky Country: The Video Diaries (36:15)

         This is my favourite of all the extras. This candid behind-the-scenes look at the production of Lucky Country is fascinating from start to finish. We get to see the creative processes involved in constructing various scenes in the film. This footage is then juxtaposed with the completed final cut of the relevant scene. This piece also features some brief but relevant comments from many cast and crew members. Recommended viewing.

    Cast & Crew Interviews

  • Kriv Stenders - Director (10:00)
  • Andy Cox - Writer (3:59)
  • Aden Young - 'Nat' (4:56)
  • Kristian Moliere - Producer (5:02)
  • Lisa Stonham - Production Designer (2:31)
  • Webisodes (11:05)

         A wide collection of short promotional grabs intended for internet display.

    Madman Propaganda

  • Ten Canoes (2:05)
  • Romulus, My Father (2:03)
  • The Bank (2:05)
  • Look Both Ways (0:35)

    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of writing this review there is no Region 1 edition of Lucky Country available.

    Summary

         Lucky Country is an underrated, brooding psychological thriller set in the early days of Australia's federation. Performances from the small ensemble cast are all excellent, as is the haunting cinematography of Jules O'Loughlin.

         The video and audio transfers are very good.

         The selection of quality extras does great justice to the overall presentation.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Saturday, August 28, 2010
    Review Equipment
    DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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