38 Celia

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What A Disgrace
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38 Celia

#1 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:28 am

Celia

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Set in mid 1950s Australia, with the fear of communism in the air and the country's farmlands overrun by a plague of rabbits, the film depicts a long hot summer seen through the eyes and over-active imagination of nine year old Celia.

Shaken by the death of her beloved Grandmother, Celia finds herself adrift between the cruel games and rituals of childhood and the incomprehensible world of grown-ups. With monstrous creatures stalking her dreams by night, those imagined terrors blur by day with the banal brutality of the adult world and lead to tragic and shocking consequences.

Ann Turner's refreshingly unsentimental debut feature is a dark fable of childhood's end. An enthralling film to rank alongside Lord of the Flies, The 400 Blows and Stand By Me.

Special Features
- Newly filmed interview with director Ann Turner
- New anamorphic transfer from original materials, supervised by the director.
- Booklet featuring:
New essays by writer and film historian Michael Brooke / author and historian Professor Joy Damousi.
‘The Hobyahs’ – a traditional folktale featured in the film.
- Optimal quality dual layer discs
- Photo gallery
- Available for the first time on DVD.

Perkins Cobb
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Re: Celia

#2 Post by Perkins Cobb » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:43 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:March 30, 2009

MovieMail lists the following extras:

* New filmed interview with director Ann Turner
* Booklet essays
* 'The Hobyahs' story that featues in the film
* All new director-approved digital transfer from original negative materials, with restored picture and sound.
Perfect timing -- I've just been getting into Australian New Wave (and post-New Wave) cinema, and importing boatloads of Umbrella DVDs. But this is one that's not on DVD anywhere, and David Stratton writes approvingly of it in The Avocado Plantation. Excellent choice.

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GaryC
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Re: Celia

#3 Post by GaryC » Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:30 pm

I picked up The Avocado Plantation last year - it's as good a book as its predecessor, The Last New Wave (which remains my bible for 70s Oz cinema). Stratton does tend to become a character in his own story - one film comes about because he recommends a book to its director, the leading actress in another film meets the director and gets cast at the launch party for the earlier book, and the producer of another film blames Stratton's negative review in Variety for the film's banning in Malaysia.

Avocado Plantation came out in 1990, right as the decade it describes ended. It's a pity Stratton hasn't gone on to cover the 90s and 00s, as quite a few fine films came out in those decades.

I saw Celia when it played the London Film Festival. Ann Turner has not done anything as good since. Hammers Over the Anvil featured in a UK TV show called Before They Were Famous because of its scene of a young Russell Crowe nude on horseback. I'm looking forward to this DVD.

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#4 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:14 pm

It's a terrific little film that really hasn't had its due - largely because distributors tended to bill it as a horror film (in the US it was even retitled Celia: Child of Terror, to Ann Turner's disgust), thus turning off its target audience and disappointing the horror crowd. So it's perfect for Second Run's line-up, as it's exactly the sort of neglected gem that needs a decent revival.

Perkins Cobb
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Re: Celia

#5 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:25 pm

Stratton is always a character in his own story, and a rather prickly one, but I wish every "New Wave" had a chronicler as thorough. My only major complaint is that The Avocado Plantation is disastrously structured - by genre - so that a director's early films may end up being discussed not only separately but after the later ones. I too wish Stratton would do a third volume covering the past two decades, although in the interim a friend has recommended his memoir, I Peed on Fellini (still only published in Oz, I think).

Anyway, I hope Celia sells well enough to keep Second Run foraging around Down Under. If they're using the Stratton books as a guide, there are at least two dozen important 70s-80s titles with no DVD release at all, or only a full-frame, OOP Australian disc.

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Zazou dans le Metro
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Re: Celia

#6 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:34 pm

Perkins Cobb wrote:Anyway, I hope Celia sells well enough to keep Second Run foraging around Down Under. If they're using the Stratton books as a guide, there are at least two dozen important 70s-80s titles with no DVD release at all, or only a full-frame, OOP Australian disc.
Seconded - if only to get some decent R2 versions of some Paul Cox titles like Man of Flowers Lonely Hearts and Cactus.

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GaryC
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Re: Celia

#7 Post by GaryC » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:09 pm

Zazou dans le Metro wrote:
Perkins Cobb wrote:Anyway, I hope Celia sells well enough to keep Second Run foraging around Down Under. If they're using the Stratton books as a guide, there are at least two dozen important 70s-80s titles with no DVD release at all, or only a full-frame, OOP Australian disc.
Seconded - if only to get some decent R2 versions of some Paul Cox titles like Man of Flowers Lonely Hearts and Cactus.
And thirded. Lonely Hearts is available in an open-matte, barebones Australian disc, but I'm pretty sure 4:3 is not the correct ratio, although I've not seen the film in a cinema. I did see Golden Braid in a cinema (with Cox present and doing a Q&A afterwards), and it certainly shouldn't be in Academy Ratio.

Cox has fallen off UK distributors' radar completely: after having most of his 80s work distributed here, the only one since to get a (limited) release was Innocence. Much of his work isn't on DVD even in Australia.

Tartan, when they were in existence, did release some contemporary Australian films, but too many don't appear at all. Even AFI award-winners like The Black Balloon go straight to DVD, or not even that, such as last year's Best Film winner, Romulus, My Father.

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Re: Celia

#8 Post by Perkins Cobb » Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:36 pm

Let me guess: are the US Image discs of Cox's films (Lonely Hearts, Man of Flowers, Cactus) open-matte PAL conversions?

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Cinetwist
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Re: Celia

#9 Post by Cinetwist » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:08 am

Perkins Cobb wrote:Let me guess: are the US Image discs of Cox's films (Lonely Hearts, Man of Flowers, Cactus) open-matte PAL conversions?
I really hope this isn't the case. I was just about to order the R1 of Man of Flowers.

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#10 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:19 am

Getting back on topic, I rewatched Celia earlier this year for the first time in nearly twenty years (I've written one of the Second Run booklet essays), and it stood up amazingly well - it's certainly one of the better Australian films of the 1980s.

The advantage of it being set in the late 1950s is that it hasn't really dated at all, and there were lots of things I appreciated about it this time round that I wouldn't have noticed before - not least the complexity of the relationship between Celia and her father Ray. (I argue in the booklet piece that you have to be either a daughter or a father of one to appreciate just how convincing it is).

And Rebecca Smart's performance in the title role is quite astonishing: right up there with Eamonn Owens in Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy in terms of getting right inside an emotionally damaged child's psyche and bringing it to uncomfortably convincing life.

I'm greatly looking forward to this release: when doing background research I dug out the original British reviews, and they were almost all as good as I remembered. Hopefully this long overdue reissue will give the film another chance to be discovered, as it certainly deserves to be much better known than it currently is.

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#11 Post by MichaelB » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:36 am

It's up on Amazon, but that cover art is definitely temporary.

If my memory doesn't deceive me, that's sourced from the UK poster, which made it look like a child-in-peril exploitation film. I don't know what route Second Run are going to go down: last time I spoke to them (Thursday) they told me they were well aware of the dangers of misrepresenting the film, but hadn't yet come up with a suitable graphic that summed it up.

Oh, and as far as I'm aware the extras are:

12-minute video interview with writer-director Ann Turner;
plus the usual Second Run booklet featuring:
- an essay by me (general intro to the film and its production history);
- an essay by Australian academic Joy Damousi (more in-depth analysis, with lots about the 1950s Australian social and political context);
- the complete original folktale 'The Hobyahs', as prominently featured in the film.

...but details are still being finalised, so I don't know how definitive that is.

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Re: Celia

#12 Post by Bikey » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:26 am

First review of the DVD - a lovely 4-star review from Ian Freer appearing in the latest issue of Empire

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#13 Post by MichaelB » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:37 am

Here's the original Empire review from when it came out - also four stars, and very much in line with the other British reviews of the time.

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#14 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:54 am

Play.com has the new cover artwork - as ever, radically different from previous posters/ads, and with rather more necessity this time since previous campaigns demonstrably didn't work!

Bikey
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Re: Celia

#15 Post by Bikey » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:50 am

Here it is:

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#16 Post by MichaelB » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:47 am

The Celia page has gone live.

And it's no. 38, in case any of the mods wants to update this thread title.

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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#17 Post by MichaelB » Sat Mar 28, 2009 4:37 am

...and here's the first review (Beaver) from someone with a copy of the final release version.

rs98762001
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Re: Celia

#18 Post by rs98762001 » Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:04 pm

Seems to be getting extremely strong reviews so far. I'm very much looking forward to picking this up. I vaguely remember the film from my childhood, think I may have even seen it, since the tale of the Hobyahs seems familiar to me - but can't wait to reinvestigate this.

Second Run's releases seemed to have slowed to a trickle over the last 12 months, but the quality of stuff they are putting out is better than ever.

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luridedith
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Re: Celia

#19 Post by luridedith » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:03 pm

Looks beautiful, like an Australian Company Of Wolves but more original. Its unbelievable that this hasn't been released here in Australia already. I'm going to order it in when I get a little more money and get it together with Daisies when its released. Love Second Run!

Perkins Cobb
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Re: Celia

#20 Post by Perkins Cobb » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:39 pm

Cinetwist wrote:
Perkins Cobb wrote:Let me guess: are the US Image discs of Cox's films (Lonely Hearts, Man of Flowers, Cactus) open-matte PAL conversions?
I really hope this isn't the case. I was just about to order the R1 of Man of Flowers.
This probably should be in a separate thread, but anyway: I rented these over the weekend. Cactus is definitely a bad PAL->NTSC transfer, and also 4:3. Man of Flowers, on the other hand, is 16:9, and to my eyes it seemed to be a native NTSC transfer, albeit from a pretty battered source element. In any case it's definitely the superior of the two Image/Paul Cox discs.


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MichaelB
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Re: Celia

#22 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:22 am

I'm thrilled that it's getting reviews like that - and such lengthy ones too.

It feels a bit like déjà vu (or rather lu) for me - as Bikey already knows, I worked on the original UK theatrical release (which is why I got the booklet essay commission), and read all the original cinema reviews at the time.

The film is still something of a benchmark for me, as I can't think of another release I was involved with where there was such a huge gap between the enthusiasm of the reviews (overwhelming) and the subsequent performance at the box office (dismal), so I'm really hoping that it'll start to narrow significantly over the next few weeks.

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Zazou dans le Metro
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Re: Celia

#23 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:28 am

MichaelB wrote:The film is still something of a benchmark for me, as I can't think of another release I was involved with where there was such a huge gap between the enthusiasm of the reviews (overwhelming) and the subsequent performance at the box office (dismal), so I'm really hoping that it'll start to narrow significantly over the next few weeks.
That's very sad and strange I saw it in a packed NFT introduced by Marina Warner. Didn't know she had so much pulling power!

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Re: Celia

#24 Post by Bikey » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:40 am

Gary Couzens' review at DVD Times: http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content/id/70404/celia.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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tavernier
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Re: Celia

#25 Post by tavernier » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:38 am

I saw this at MOMA as part of its New Directors/New Films series and was blown away. However, it never got a U.S. release so I didn't think I'd get a chance to see it again. Thanks, Bikey!

Here's Janet Maslin's perceptive review from March 1990.

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