Parkerville Amphitheatre: Sets, Bugs and Rock N Roll
Parkerville Amphitheatre: Sets, Bugs and Rock N Roll will warm the cockles of any Revelation Perth International Film Festival attendees’ heart this season.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Review by Tom Munday
Still from trailer for Parkerville Amphitheatre: Sets, Bugs and Rock N Roll
Much-anticipated Western Australian documentary Parkerville Amphitheatre: Sets, Bugs and Rock N Roll tells the overwhelming true story of one of the state and country’s best kept secrets. Opening in 1971, Parkerville Amphitheatre, located within the Shire of Mundaring just outside Perth, was considered a linchpin of Australian music, alternative art, theatre, and community spirit. Despite complaints from the council and neighbours, its founder’s (John Joseph Jones) never-give-up attitude and bright ideas made Parkerville an awe-inspiring landmark. The venue, having closed in 2001, is now a decaying shadow of its former self.
Directors Jenny Crabb and Susan Conte have spent the last several years bringing Parkerville back into the spotlight. Playing at this year’s Revelation Perth International Film Festival, the documentary aims directly at WA’s 40+ arts and entertainment crowd. Fuelled by nostalgia, the project covers everything associated with the venue’s conception. Broken into four parts, it effectively details its development, operation, downfall, and slow, painful destruction. Crabb and Conte’s vision, aided by everyone involved, provides a delicate balance of optimism and poignancy.
Crabb and Conte, restrained by the lack of recording and video footage, give each interviewee free reign. Focusing on John’s wife Derry and eldest son Lawrence, the documentary pays tribute to John’s extraordinary achievements. In addition, interviews with local musicians, theatre buffs, writers, and family friends craft a glorious and unique account of WA’s Woodstock. Now, as Perth’s live music scene is undergoing significant transformations, this documentary speaks directly to the state’s undying determination and artistic ingenuity.
Parkerville is a small production powered by the gargantuan support of Perth’s art and entertainment hub. This relevant and invigorating documentary is a sure-fire Rev. highlight.
Sat 11th July, 4pm – Cinema Paradiso
Sun 12th July, 12:00pm – Luna SX
What goes up must come down. Although the basic laws of physics supposedly didn’t apply to legendary motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel, they had a profound impact upon his life according to this insightful documentary from director Daniel Junge.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Review by Rhys Graeme-Drury
Still from Being Evel
Detailing Evel Knievel‘s zero to hero and back again story from humble origins to worldwide stardom, Daniel Junge’s film is an entertaining and well-researched examination of the complex man behind the star-spangled cape whose feats captured the imagination of a generation.
Junge rigidly adheres to a conventional doco template, but his mixture of different storytelling techniques keep the film cruising along at a good pace. A range of interviews with family members (Evel’s wives and children) and celebrity admirers (Johnny Knoxville, Travis Pastrana, Robbie Maddison) flesh out the impact Evel’s exploits had, as well as the legacy he has left behind.
Archive footage of his hare-brained stunts is both exhilarating and confronting; the shocking footage of Evel’s fateful Caesar’s Palace jump where he is tossed across the tarmac like a ragdoll is used for maximum effect.
The narrative does veer dangerously close to unrelenting jingoism in the first half, but Junge ensures that every shade of Evel is covered during the 99-minute runtime. His loveable tearaway image is slowly peeled back to reveal a more sinister and ugly side to the icon; his blatant disregard for authority gradually morphing into arrogance, chronic adultery and borderline insanity.
Being Evel is a warts and all depiction of an American icon, albeit one that does feel tonally uneven at times. Come for the stunts, but stay for the substance.
Fri 10th July, 6:30pm – Luna SX
Sun 12th July, 5:15pm – Luna Leederville
Best of Enemies
It’s Buckley vs. Vidal in the verbal match of the century; perhaps history’s most famous and influential televised arguments of deeply intellectual, political and social context. The winner? Television and the media itself…
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Review by Corey Hogan
Still from Best of Enemies
Making its debut at this year’s Revelation Perth International Film Festival is Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) and Robert Gordon’s cerebral, politically-fuelled documentary Best of Enemies, an unexpectedly entertaining and, at times, emotional chronicle of the famous series of public debates between two intellectual heavyweights. In the conservative corner – author William F. Buckley Jr., right wing commentator and editor of the magazine National Review. In the liberal corner – patrician Gore Vidal, writer of countless plays, screenplays and novels (including the classic satire Myra Breckinridge). The two went head to head 1968, appearing in ten consecutive verbal disputes televised across the nation and defining civic discussion in the media itself for years to come. Punctuated with biographies of the pair, and the impact and outcome of each debate on the era, Neville and Gordon’s film makes for a compulsive and vital history lesson in media discourse.
It’s interesting to delve beneath the façade of opinions and wry words for a raw and visceral look at these two very different men; as each debate explodes it becomes clearer that Buckley and Vidal undoubtedly despised each other, yet always possessed a mutual respect, even amidst the increasing threats of violence. The Catholic Buckley disapproved of Vidal’s openly sexual and provocative notions, and vice versa, but most powerful are the final few debates, when the pair realise their escalating rivalry has become a product of the media; was genuine, passionate hatred merely entertainment? The film stumbles a little in its attempt to relate the impact to modern society, but for enthusiasts of political history this is a prudent and poignant relic.
Sun 12th July, 2:15pm – Luna Leederville
Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival, Susie Conte & Jenny Crabb, Madman Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures & Participant Media