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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 73:37)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 4 Teaser trailer - The Bank, The Boys, Innocence, Mullet
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews - Dorothy Porter
  • Film highlights - 5 Samples of the Soundtrack

The Monkey's Mask

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . R . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The Broken Hearts Club is a gay male romantic comedy. Now The Monkey’s Mask is a lesbian themed drama/thriller from Australian director Samantha Lang. This film stars the stunning Susie Porter (Two Hands, Mullet and an episode of The Secret Life Of Us) who plays Jull Fitzpatrick, a private investigator working on a missing persons case. A poetry student, Mickey (Abbie Cornish from Life Support), mysteriously goes missing after a reading at a club. As Jill’s first lead, she goes and sees Mickey’s lecturer Diana (Kelly McGillis) and falls for her instantly. Is she dropping hints? But isn’t she married? Yep, to both questions. But as the story unfolds how distracting will Diana be? Can Jill figure out this case? Only time will tell.

"I know the world as it really is
endless war, my heart in flames
but I can smell the sweetest water
when I swim in that water
I am an angel"

The cast is interesting with many "where-have-I-seen-you-before?" actors such as Deborah Mailman (The Secret Life of Us, Rabbit-Proof Fence) and Abbie Cornish and Brendan Cowell both from Life Support.

Lang’s style involves pivoting the camera around the actors on screen. Whilst keeping the actors relatively still, the camera moves around them, panning the backgrounds. This film has been beautifully shot by cinematographer Garry Phillips and features some great framing. An example of this is with each ‘part’ of the film. The film is divided into ten chapters, each a part of the verse novel. For example, the chapter named ‘The New Job’ has a title screen saying this. This looks superb as the cinemascope frame allows so much to be seen. On one side is an eye, or a nose, and the other the text. It may look unbalanced, but it sure looks great. The entrance into and out of Sydney for the opening and closing ‘parts’ looks superb. The framing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge looks great, with the bright blue sky in the background and the moving supports over the top of the image. It just has to be seen to be believed.

The style is great with Jill’s internal monologue being laid over the top. This isn’t a toned down monologue, it is a full-on thought train – no holding back!

The score, by Australian outfit Single Gun Theory, is so funky and moody. The closing credits piece, Illusion, is a moving tune with a poem by Mickey laid over the top. The score is driving and intense and suits the mood and tone of the film. It is moody and dark yet bright and uplifting at the same time.

This film has been classified R, and rightly so. It features several fairly hardcore scenes between two of the women and strong coarse language. The opening two minutes feature some of the harshest language without a severe brutality behind it. Don’t let this turn you off, just put up with it and watch it. It will be worthwhile in the end.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in the cinemascope aspect of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Overall the image looks superb, except for one recurring problem. Aliasing takes place throughout on doors, buildings and blinds at 10:48, 42:26 and 50:45 respectively. These are just some examples, there are plenty more! It gets to a point where it just gets very irritating. Text is another element in this film that is prone to suffering from aliasing.

The blacks are very solid and feature some good shadow detail, but not great. Some of the colours shimmer, yet they remain stark and bright. However they are limited by the colours of the architecture, but are otherwise rendered nicely.

There are no film artefacts or grain of any sort, showing that this was nicely cleaned up and a clean print to start out with. There are a few small examples of MPEG artefacts such as at 10:48 on the red door or 16:14. The warm red tones seem to be more prone to problems on this disc than the other colours.

The layer change occurs at 73:37 and is very quick, yet disturbing as the surrounds are always so busy a clear break can be heard. It does occur in a camera angle change, so looks good, but doesn’t sound so good.

  Audio
Contract

There is one audio track on this disc – in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Dialogue is clear throughout the feature, and the levels are great. This comes from the centre channel only.

The soundstage that is created sounds great, with a busy left and right stage and an incredibly busy surround stage. These carry their own discreet signals and sound fantastic. A great example is a thunderstorm during the opening sequence. The score sounds so rich as it is carried through all speakers, including the subwoofer. The subwoofer adds a clean richness to the sound and gives it so much depth.

There is one slight problem, and that is at 84:27, during the closing credits, there is a skip in the music for approximately two seconds. A very bizarre pause, yet very disturbing as it occurs during a great piece of music.

  Extras
Contract

As with other Madman DVDs, the extra features are plentiful.

Audacious: This is a 25:47 short film from Samantha Lang. It is presented in the aspect of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It has Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. A great thing about this feature is that it is divided up into chapters. It follows the story of Stella, who has a sexually dud husband so she goes to a website called Audacious where she tells them her fantasies and gets sent videos of these erotic fantasies. Quite funny in its way. Dorothy Porter interview: This is a 28:41 interview with the verse novel’s author Dorothy Porter. It is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect and is not 16x9 enhanced. It features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It is quite interesting, and it is disappointing that there is no audio commentary as it would be very intriguing.

Dorothy Porter reading: This features a quick description of the novel, and a 4:49 reading of the novel by Dorothy Porter. Soundtrack samples: Five audio clips are sampled here, each for 45 seconds. They offer a closer look at the beautiful score of the film. Biographies: These are stock standard biographies on Samantha Lang, Dorothy Porter, Susie Porter and Kelly McGillis. Theatrical trailer: This runs for 1:31, and is incorrectly framed. It should be framed at 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 but instead it is 2.35:1 so everything is squashed. It features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Madman Propoganda: This is four trailers for other Madman releases. The numbers in brackets refer to the length of the trailers followed by the aspect. They all feature Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The trailers are: The Bank (1:58, 1.78:1), The Boys (1:44, 1.78:1), Innocence (2:46, 1.33), Mullet (1:57, 2.35:1).

The main menu is animated and features a piece of the score. The other menus are static. All of these are easy to navigate through.

  Overall  
Contract

This is a great piece of alternative Australian cinema and should be watched if this is your cup of tea. Similar to Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho, to get the most out of it you must look beyond what is right in front of you and read between the lines. The video is nice with slight aliasing problems, and the audio is enveloping. The extras are packed with detail and are nicely presented. Overall, rent it by all means, but it may only appeal to some of you.


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      And I quote...
    "An enthralling Australian film with its fair share of twists and turns that includes a unique style which looks so good on screen."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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