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into the Australian way of life: : THE LOCAL ANGLE

Film Industry Makes Respectable Showing

September 19, 2000|VALERIE GUTIERREZ

Don't fret if you can't visit Australia, just go to the video rental store and bring a part of it home. But be warned, Australian comedies have an offbeat sense of humor, according to Times movie critic Kenneth Turan.

One of Turan's favorites is "Muriel's Wedding," a cult film about a frumpy girl from a dysfunctional family who has big dreams, is stopped at every turn but never gives up.

"Breaker Morant," a 1980 release, was Australia's biggest box-office success at that time. Director Bruce Beresford won his country's top prize for best film and an Oscar nomination for best screenplay. "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975) is an early work of director Peter Weir, who has received three Academy Award nominations. "The Last Wave," "Crocodile Dundee," "Babe," "Strictly Ballroom" and "Mad Max," a classic post-apocalyptic road movie starring Mel Gibson, all have drawn considerable attention. "Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is a story of three drag queens from Sydney making their way to the interior of Australia. "Shine" is based on the real-life story of a child prodigy pianist, and "Love Serenade" is about two love-starved sisters living in the fictional Australian town of Sunray.

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