Wednesday, June 18, 2014


1978, Australia, directed by Phillip Noyce

Newsfront feels like two films uneasily stitched together: a compelling portrait of the Australian newsreel teams of the postwar, pre-television era that is interspersed with a schematic set of domestic interactions that introduce moments of melodrama on a predictable schedule. The domestic dramas are sometimes used to provide some commentary on the broader social changes at work in Australian society (such as the challenges of reconciling Catholic values with new social mores, or the uneasy relationship with the United States), but on other occasions they feel trite and distracting from the real meat of the film. The most engaging moments are all related to the actual business of making the newsreels: Noyce intercuts actual footage with some remarkably well-staged recreations, particularly of the 1955 Maitland floods, but also, in a more light-hearted vein, the long-distance Redex motor trials or the coming of television, which surely must have been seen as a greater threat than the film suggests given that the Australian newsreel industry would have been well aware of the medium's impact in the US.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States