It’s almost the weekend, and that means you should book in another movie night. Kick back, relax, and enjoy some of the best pieces of Aussie cinema around.
We’ve re-jigged our existing Netflix Movie Night series, and brought in Australia’s other popular subscription video on demand services — Stan and Presto — to give you a broader selection of movies and TV shows to enjoy. On all three services, you can watch from your tablet or smartphone, on your PC or laptop, through your Smart TV, or through a media streaming dongle like the Google Chromecast, although specifics can vary. Stan costs a flat $10 per month, Netflix can cost from $9 to $15 per month, and Presto is $10 to $15 depending which package you choose.
We’d love any feedback you have on the new Movie Night layout, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
Wolf Creek is the one film that I’d show to anyone thinking of visiting Australia. It’s full of beautiful sweeping vistas of the amazing and gorgeous Australian outback, and shows what life is like in the red centre of the country. It’s almost an instructional film, if you’re a backpacker or hitchhiker, on how to travel our amazing country and meet new people. Watch it now on Stan.
Stan: WARNING: FEATURES HIGH IMPACT VIOLENCE. Stranded motorists fall prey to a murderous bushman (John Jarratt) who offers to fix their vehicle, then takes them captive. How can you be found when no one knows you’re missing?
Frontline is the most perfect parody of the Australian media that is possible. Frontline is a competitor to Today Tonight and A Current Affair — complete with Media Watch segments criticising its news coverage — and it’s all about ruthless producers hunting for stories wherever possible, sacrificing any friends and family to get there. Edit it… there. Watch it now on Stan.
Stan: Set in the ratings-obsessed world of television news, Frontline offers a satirical look behind the scenes of a current affairs program at the egos, the practices, and the hypocrisy of a medium that purports to objectively present public affairs.
Chopper is undeniably Aussie icon Eric Bana’s best role, purely because it’s so clearly based upon the real life and times of Chopper Read — you know, the notorious criminal and underworld figure. The guy that made someone cut his ears off so he could get transferred to the mental wing of a gaol. The guy that says he’s killed 19 people. This is an amazing character study. Watch it now on Stan.
Stan: WARNING: FEATURES HIGH IMPACT VIOLENCE. Based on the true story of a vicious killer who became a celebrity and best-selling author in Australia.
Hamish and Andy seem like great guys, and Stan has a bunch of different TV series where they run around and have a bit of fun. What’s not to like about these Aussie larrikins? You can watch a couple of seasons of Gap Year, where the boys visit different countries and continents to avoid actually working, or the Caravan of Courage road trip adventure TV specials. Watch it now on Stan.
Stan: You know how people usually take a Gap Year when they’re 18 years old? Hamish & Andy finally got around to it when they were 30, and to kick off this massive adventure they relocated to New York City.
These Final Hours asks an important question — what would you do with your last day on Earth? Would you go to a massive, incredible, literally-best-ever party, or would you help someone make their life better? When faced with that choice, a young man makes the right decision, and helps a young girl find her father as the minutes tick away to the end of the world. Watch it now on Stan.
Stan: A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Their relationship ultimately leads him on the path to redemption.
The Tunnel was one the early successes of crowd-funding, selling individual digital frames of the movie through the “$135K Project”. 90 minutes, 135,000 frames, one dollar each, and a $135,000 filming budget. What emerged was a great Australian horror flick in the tradition of The Descent and other claustrophobic, dark, downright creepy monster thrillers. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: After the government abandons plans to revamp old railway tunnels, a journalist and her crew discover that something menacing is haunting the depths.
Rake is great — Richard Roxburgh at his best as Cleaver Greene, the utterly antiheroic attorney at law apparently based loosely upon the real life of Charles Waterstreet, himself one of the series’ producers. It’s smart, funny, witty and gloriously irreverent, and it’s just about the most Australian TV show that you’ll find on any streaming service out there. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: While Cleaver Greene is a brilliant and driven attorney, he’s also an ex-druggie, a current gambling addict and loathed by many of his colleagues.
The Loved Ones is gory, rough, brutal and one of the best Australian horror flicks of the last decade. With just a touch of the spine-tingling rural cringe that makes films like Wake In Fright and Wolf Creek work, The Loved Ones is more a demonstration of unhinged characters, teenage angst, and what happens when you give a schoolgirl inadequate parenting and a power drill. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: A high school student’s plans for prom go awry when his secret admirer and her father kidnap him for their own macabre evening in this spine-chiller.
Rabbit-Proof Fence tells a simple story, but does so in an incredibly powerful way; it is the heart-breakingly real-life story of Aboriginal children stolen from their parents by force and relocated to distant orphanages, where they are taught to become servants. Three girls escape this ignominy, and set out to return home — following thousands of kilometres of rabbit-proof fence that criss-crosses the country. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: During Australia’s aboriginal integration program, three girls who were torn from their families and placed in an abusive orphanage vow to get home.
Animal Kingdom follows the great Aussie tradition of gritty urban crime in cinema — like Two Hands and Chopper — in following a family intricately tied into the underworld, and the people whose lives they affect. The movie has a star-studded Australian cast, but the entire film is stolen by Jacki Weaver’s excellent performance as the family’s matriarch. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: A teenager finds himself drawn into the clutches of a diabolical criminal family until a good-hearted detective tries to change the boy’s fate.
Summer Heights High is one of Chris Lilley’s best works, a mockumentary TV series covering the lives of a public high school’s students and staff for an entire term. It follows three memorable, inimitable characters in “Director of Performing Arts” Mr G; former private school student Ja’mie, and vulgar Tongan student Jonah. If you can handle an overwhelming dose of Australian cringe, then Summer Heights High is for you. Watch it now on Presto.
Presto: The life of a public school epitomized by disobedient student Jonah Takalua, self-absorbed private school exchange student Ja’mie King, and megalomaniac drama teacher Mr. G.
The Babadook is sweeping through the Australian arts awards scene, and for very good reason. As well as being a genuinely great horror film — I never want to read a children’s book again — it does some groundbreaking and important work in exploring mental health in parenting, and the deleterious effect that overwork and stress can have on an entire family. Watch it now on Presto.
Presto: After the violent death of her husband, Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence in the house, slowly dawning on her that the monster her son has been warning her about may be real.
Upper Middle Bogan is another great series that started life on ABC, but you’re now able to stream it online wherever you are. How would you feel if your privileged, white-bread upbringing and current life was all a lie, and that your birth family was a little more… down to earth? Watch it now on Presto.
Presto: When Bess Denyar, a successful doctor with an architect husband, an overbearing mother and twin thirteen year olds at a private school, finds out that she is adopted, she is stunned. Even more so when she is reunited with her birth parents.
Mystery Road has a nearly unanimous approval rating on movie site Rotten Tomatoes, and for very good reason — it’s a gripping thriller following the murder of a girl in the outback, and it uses the disconnect between an estranged Aboriginal detective, the blackfellas of the community that he left behind, and the white-dominated police force to reinforce the tension of its plot. Watch it now on Presto.
Presto: Australia. An Aboriginal detective investigates the murder of a teenage girl in an outback town. A mesmerising thriller with a fine cast that includes Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving and Jack Thompson.
The Slap is based on the book of the same name by Christos Tsiolkas; it’s an eight-part drama miniseries that focuses on the effects that one seemingly small event can have upon the relationships and complexities that exist within a group of family and friends. It’s incredibly acted, incredibly written and grippingly produced. Watch it now on Presto.
Presto: A provocative and compelling eight-part drama series that traces the shattering repercussions of a single event upon a group of family and friends.
Disclosure: Stan is a 50/50 joint venture between Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media. Allure Media, the company which publishes Gizmodo Australia, is also owned by Fairfax.