There have been Hollywood movies filmed in Melbourne over the years, and even though they’ve tried to appear to be some American city, plenty of what’s in those movies are dead giveaways to Melbournians. One in particular that cracks me up was the 2009 Nicholas Cage flick Knowing, where him and Rose Byrne are having a good old American cup of Joe with what’s supposed to be Boston in the background, but not only are the buildings obviously Melbourne, but a train with the word “Connex” stamped on it can be clearly seen moving in the background. Even Hollywood’s expert trickery is no match for Melbourne’s uniqueness.
But what about movies both filmed and set in Melbourne? We all know the mere thought of an Australian movie often makes people groan, but that’s stupid and completely unfair. There are plenty of Aussie gems, and some of them were made right here in our own city. But with all the movies pushed onto us, many movies get forgotten about through the passage of time. Sure, some have maintained popularity, with both Mad Max and Chopper having long lasting cult followings, and Animal Kingdom getting much acclaim and getting Jacki Weaver gigs in America, but still.
The following are only a handful of movies made in Melbourne, there are plenty more of them out there, but these are ones I can personally vouch for.
Angel Baby (1995)
The tale of two star crossed schizophrenic lovers is an uplifting, but sad film. The somewhat stable Harry (John Lynch) and kooky Kate (Jacqueline McKenzie) are said lovers who meet at a therapy session. Things get crazy (no pun intended) from there, as Kate claims she’s been told through an episode of Wheel Of Fortune that they must have a baby (yep). They decide to stop taking their medication, and disaster ensues. Directed by Michael Rymer of Battlestar Galatica fame, this truly is one of the great, forgotten Aussie gems. It absolutely stormed the 1995 AFIs, winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Cinematography!
Bad Eggs (2003)
Directed by Tony Martin, you could consider this to be a Melbourne version of Beverly Hills Cop. Mike Malloy and Bob Franklin play bumbling detectives that get demoted and are out to prove there’s a conspiracy with Malloy’s ex-girlfriend journalist played by Judith Lucy. A film poking fun at cops acting like the ones on American movies, corrupt cops and politicians, conspiracies, and plenty of sarcasm, Bad Eggs is very much a black comedy and a bloody funny one at that. One standout one-liner from Bill Hunter’s hardarse chief: “Yep, I smell fuckwits”.
The Bank (2001)
Anthony LaPaglia stars as the (obviously) greedy CEO of a bank who hires David Wenham’s mathematician to create a computer program to predict the movements in the stock market. It might sound dull, but it’s a conspiracy thriller where good, honest people have been wronged by the bank and Wenham helps makes things right. Using NetBank is thankfully never this intense, and it will certainly hold your “interest” (hehe).
The Big Steal (1990)
One of my favourite movies, The Big Steal is a bloody crack up. It’s a great cautionary tale to youngsters getting their first car to be wary of dodgy car salesmen, and how these teens get even. Besides featuring plenty of great Melbourne scenery, it stars both Ben Mendelsohn and Claudia Karvan in very early roles.
Dogs In Space (1986)
Filmed in Richmond, Dogs In Space depicts the Melbourne punk scene of the late ’70s and the stoners, wannabe musicians and party freaks who thrived in that scene. Starring Michael Hutchence of INXS fame as the lead singer of film’s band Dogs In Space, this is a must see for those in love with Melbourne’s live music scene and how crazy it used to be.
Metal Skin (1994)
Filmed around Broadmeadows and South Melbourne, this film combines car racing with devil worshiping. Think of it as The Fast And The Furious meets Rosemary’s Baby, and set in Melbourne (what a combo!). As silly as that might sound, Metal Skin is a truly dark, creepy film about dickhead revheads with no direction in life and the impact of having abusive, psycho parents can have on you.
Take Away (2003)
You can’t get much more Aussie than fish n chips, and it took until 2003 for a movie about it to be made. Filmed around Alphington, Bayswater, Darebin and Altona (all around town!), Take Away depicts two rivals who run fish n chip shops on the same block of shops, played by Vince Colosimo and Stephan Curry, who have to put aside their differences to fight against the big corporate burger joint that’s moved in across the road (cough, McDonalds, cough).