In any case, it’s a delight to meet young Monty (Clarence John Ryan), resplendent in his afro, flares and platform shoes. He’s spinning vinyl at the Albion Charles Hotel, a rough northern-suburbs pub where the locals walk in angry (“Especially when Collingwood lose,” our hero explains).
For Monty it’s a fun gig – albeit one with certain occupational hazards – but it’s clear that the Albion Charles is a waypoint on a much longer journey.
Wrong Kind of Black is perhaps at its most affecting when it takes us back to 1960s Queensland, where the much younger Monty (Nilbi Yasserie) and his little brother, Paul (Christopher Ketchup), are learning to embrace their indigenous identity in an exceedingly dangerous white man’s world.
Though their parents (the ever-endearing Tom E. Lewis and Lisa Flanagan) provide the boys with an abundance of love and the best protection they can, such is the terror of predatory white police that indigenous locals would just as soon jump into the sea and risk being killed by a crocodile as they would acquiesce to being arrested.
From the Albion Charles, though, the story takes Monty on to Perth and a history-making racial-discrimination case, back to Melbourne and a joyful reunion with the grown-up Paul (Aaron L. McGrath), then on to a tragedy and, eventually, healing.
The principal cast are all terrific talents who give assured, judicious performances, and award-winning director Catriona McKenzie (Satellite Boy) deftly steers things through big changes in mood and circumstance.
It’s nice that there’s a coda involving the real-life Pryor and his ongoing work to introduce indigenous culture to schoolchildren from all backgrounds.
“If us blackfellas lose our spirituality, our culture, then you lose it too,” he says. It’s a pity that the importance of indigenous culture still has to be couched in terms that appeal to white self-interest, but there it is.
Witches: A Century of Murder
A compelling and terribly sad two-part documentary in which British historian Suzannah Lipscomb takes us through the witch panic that gripped Britain 400 years ago.
It was, Lipscomb explains, “a century of legalised murder” during which hundreds upon hundreds of women were tortured and executed after being accused of performing witchcraft.
It’s apparent from the outset that it’s not going to be easy viewing. The reenactments of the torture of Gillis Duncan – whose forced confession led to the infamous North Berwick witch trials of 1590 – provide a shocking glimpse of the horrors of the time.
Lipscomb herself is particularly evocative in describing how the smell of burning human fat would have clung to the hair and clothes of those who gathered to watch witches being burned – though she hastens to add that most were probably killed by garrotte before being set alight.
The second episode focuses on the rise and bloody reign of self-styled “Witchfinder-General” Matthew Hopkins, who made an exceedingly lucrative business of torturing false confessions out of unwanted women.
Better Call Saul
The new season has started off grim in the wake of that fateful fire, but there have been fun little spots of playfulness – particularly with Mike (Jonathan Banks) and his infiltration of the Madrigal warehouse.
In the episode arriving on Tuesday there’s also a bit to grin about as Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) goes into motormouth mode at a job interview.
There’s horror, too, as Nacho (Michael Mando) finds out that Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) is not to be trifled with. Catnip for fans.
Businessmen vs. Aliens
Amazon Prime Video
It’s bizarre fun as six ordinary Japanese nobodies find themselves shanghaied to a secret base on the moon, where they must hold negotiations with a procession of alien races intent on invading the Earth.
Why have these schlubs been chosen for such a delicate task? Because they have a rare kind of alien-repelling body odour, of course. The aliens – who look rather like Japanese actors wearing rubbery monster costumes – are equally put off by the negotiators’ preoccupation with trivial earthly matters.
Find It, Fix It, Flog It
British “upcycling genius” Simon O’Brien, petrol-head Henry Cole and their respective offsiders are raiding people’s sheds, barns and garages in search of things they can polish up and sell for a quick profit.
Some things undergo minimal transformation – an old church pew, for example, remains very much an old church pew – but anything from an old dynamite box to a wooden wheel from a Model T Ford can form the base of a unique bit of furniture. Great inspiration for the Gumtree crowd.
Not Quite Hollywood
A rollicking ride through the blood-soaked Australian genre films of the 1970s and ’80s, as recalled by those who made, starred in or just survived such classics as Mad Max, Razorback and Howling III: The Marsupials.
Director Mark Hartley’s feature-length retrospective isn’t an exercise in self-congratulation, though: Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper and Ozploitation-obsessive Quentin Tarantino provide foreign perspectives, while long-serving industry prime-mover Phillip Adams is among those who supply rather frank criticism of certain works.
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