Four very different politicians choose four very different films for the return of Pollies Present, a short season of favourite films of local pollies.
Tammy Franks, Greens member of the South Australian Legislative Council
Film: Faraway, So Close
You’ve chosen a sequel, Win Wenders’ Cannes-winning follow-up to Wings of Desire, Faraway, So Close, for Pollies Present. Do you prefer the sequel over the original and why?
I love them both. Wim Wenders’ movies were some of the first arthouse films I ever watched. I immediately thought of Wings of Desire because I wanted to revisit the wonder of that first viewing, but the Mercury had already screened it earlier this year. Faraway, So Close is a close second. Instead of Nick Cave there’s Lou Reed and there is all the same lyrical longing of angels watching over humans never quite able to connect. Really, as the black clad angst-y teen I was, film didn’t get much better than this!
When did you discover Faraway, So Close and why did it connect with you?
When it originally came out, it had been years since Paris, Texas, and Wings of Desire had both rocked my world so Faraway, So Close certainly didn’t disappoint. It connected with me because I felt a lack of connection in my world and the film conveyed that lack of connection, even in a crowded cinema. It’s a beautiful, beautiful film with a great soundtrack.
Is Wim Wenders a favourite director of yours?
This era of Wenders’ work was wonderful, but Until the End of the World not so much; it was overblown and squandering all the goodwill built in the other films. However, I still have a special place for a Wenders film in my heart, even three hours in… The heart of that black clad angst-y teen who could not believe that Nick Cave, Peter Falk (Columbo), Lou Reed and Mikhail Gorbachev were all cast so seamlessly was both astounded and appeased by a Wenders’ epic, even today.
Tammy Franks presents Faraway, So Close at Mercury Cinema on Thursday, November 2.
John Gardner, Shadow Minister for the Arts, Education and Multicultural Affairs
Film: His Girl Friday
Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday is a classic screwball comedy. When did you discover it and why does it resonate with you?
I first saw His Girl Friday when I was at uni. On a direct level it made me laugh and I enjoyed the relationship between the main characters. But it also dealt with themes that are contemporary – when I saw it 20 years ago and today – such as the role of the media as an active participant in political debate, not to mention the deep divisions in American society over the death penalty. His Girl Friday remains a fresh film to watch. It isn’t as famous as some of the other films from the ‘40s and ‘50s, but nearly 80 years after this film came out it is still accessible for modern audiences and when I have shared it with friends they have invariably enjoyed it!
Aside from His Girl Friday, are films from the golden age of Hollywood – or ones directed by Hawks and/or starring Cary Grant – ones that you enjoy more than any other era?
The first Cary Grant film I ever saw was North by Northwest. A film-buff friend hired a cinema for his 21st and made us all watch it. I was 18 and had no idea what to expect but I loved it, and I decided I wanted to see more films from the period. I started with Hitchcock and especially loved Dial M for Murder and Vertigo. My father is a big Gregory Peck fan and introduced me to films like On the Beach and To Kill a Mockingbird. They were all terrific but my favourite star from the period remains Cary Grant. He exudes charisma and dominates the screen. Some of the films are dated but His Girl Friday stood out to me as one that holds up well.
His Girl Friday is one of the great comedies. Is it your favourite comedy?
The truth is that my favourite comedy is The Big Lebowski. But His Girl Friday is fun, funny and interesting – and in my experience it’s not a film many people have seen so I thought it would be a good choice to share with a new audience.
John Gardner presents His Girl Friday at Mercury Cinema on Monday, November 6
Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Nick Xenophon Team Senator for South Australia
Film: Red Dog
Red Dog is a classic Australian crowd-pleaser. When did you first watch this film and why did it connect with you?
I am a huge dog lover (and proud owner of an 11-year-old beagle called Gracie) so when I saw this film advertised I knew it was for me. My husband, Simon, and I went to the cinema to see it together and let me tell you, I think I didn’t stop sobbing for the last 30 minutes of the film. Thank goodness for the happy ending. The bond between human and animal is so special and for me it’s unsurprising that this film resonates with audiences young and old.
Is this a film you can go back to and watch again and again?
Absolutely! I have the DVD at home which has been watched many times. I even watch the film when it’s on TV, too.
Aside from Red Dog, what are some other Australian films that you enjoy?
Muriel’s Wedding is right up there with Red Dog as one of my favourite movies of all time. I remember going to see it in the cinema with my mum when I was little. We loved ABBA so the soundtrack was right up our alley. The Dressmaker is also a terrific film because it had it all: great cast, fantastic costumes and an enthralling plot.
Skye Kakoschke-Moore presents Red Dog at Mercury Cinema on Thursday, November 9.
Jack Snelling, Member for Playford
In 2015, you selected Luchino Visconti’s immortal The Leopard for Mercury Cinemas’ Pollies Present and this year you’ve picked Casablanca, another classic. Are there some parallels you can draw between the films?
I think there are some interesting parallels between The Leopard and Casablanca. Both are set against a background of war and, as a result, the characters must make difficult choices. The two heroes, Rick and Prince Fabrizio are cynical and somewhat flawed but we get the sense that this is a mask that conceals a deeper nobility. Rick and Prince Fabrizio are both torn between expediency and duty.
When did you first discover Casablanca and why does it continue to be an important film for you?
I was introduced to the film by a friend about 25 years ago while I was at uni. What I love about the film is its theme of redemption through sacrifice. The audience is kept in suspense, but finally Rick gives up Isla and in doing so atones for his suspicion and mistreatment of her. Likewise Isla gives up Rick, remaining true to her husband and the cause for which he fights. In an age where ‘self-fulfillment’ is seen as the ultimate good, it is a counter-cultural film. Its message, though, is timeless.
Casablanca is full of classic lines. Do you have a favourite?
There are so many great lines it’s hard to choose. I think the funniest is Rick, when asked why he came to Casablanca says, “My health, I came to Casablanca for the waters.”
“The waters! What waters? We’re in the desert!”
Rick’s droll reply: “I was misinformed.”
Jack Snelling presents Casablanca at Mercury Cinema on Monday, November 13.