Destroyer review

As it neared the ending, I had a thought that 'Destroyer' (2019) was a kind of remake of 'Bad Lieutenant' (1992)

It’s not that simple and not quite as harrowing, but Nicole Kidman rivals Harvey Keitel in her performance as a bad cop. 

As Detective Erin Bell she shows occupational hazards, including alcoholism and distant family and corruption.

Part of the appeal of watching this film was the frumpy twist on the usual icy Hitchcock-blonde-type role Kidman might normally inhabit. Here that aloofness is like a wounded animal.

Another part is Karyn Kusama’s direction, which draws on a long tradition of noir-style LA police thrillers.

When I read Kusama had a mentor in John Sayles, I better understood the seamless way her films can shift from past to present (particularly 'The Invitation' (2015)). 

(Sayles’ film 'Lone Star' (1996) has a wonderful style that uses pans between scenes to underscore the relationships between characters and their histories.)

The uncertainty of whether a scene is past or present is part of the storytelling in 'Destroyer' and, like many detective movies, the audience follows the lead character in attempting to get to the centre of a mystery.

In this case the detective is bleary-eyed and trying to piece together fragments from between gaps in memories, like 'Memento' (2000).

The result is somewhat disorienting but the strength of Kidman’s character kept my interest and the sense of how stresses hollow-out a stone made her performance memorable. 

8/10

The Merger review

'The Merger' is a local film that's now finding a new audience on Netflix and I regret not seeing it with an audience and sharing their recognition of the Riverina

The plot follows interpersonal politics of a small-town football club as they resolve grief and regret, as well as avoid losing their identity.

Their season is saved by recruiting new players from the migrant community, after recognising their diverse skills and desire to be part of the town.

Working with a predictable collection of characters, this film is a nuanced representation of masculinity as the plot follows a series of emotional arcs framed by sporting scenes.

'The Merger' is really creative in showing character development and kinda conflicts with memory of a news story from that region, where a team was taken to court for urinating on the main street of a neighbouring town.

It was also disorienting that Ganmain was often filmed from the opposite side of the train tracks, so there was an element of going into a 'looking glass' and seeing a reversed image of local landmarks.

I realise now the crux of the film is inverting local binaries by comparing experiences of personal loss. This film has an incredible heart, as well as mild and good-natured humour.

9/10