FILM OF THE MONTH

From June 2001
Film Review

Also recommended: Tigerland other May releases

Film Review Hotline
The Dish
4 Stars- Recommended

The Dish

Sleeping satellite

STARS: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Roy Billing
DIRECTOR: Rob Sitch
SCREENPLAY:
Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Rob Sitch
CERTIFICATE: 12 • DISTRIBUTOR & Image copyright: Icon
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 41mins
OPENING DATE (UK): May 11

This soothing cuddle of a movie is one of the un-hyped delights of the year so far. Akin to vintage Bill Forsyth via New South Wales, The Dish raises the spirits with its radiant photography, endearing protagonists, gentle gags and poignant moments of triumph over adversity. Beginning in present day with an elderly Cliff Buxton (Neill) visiting the site of Australia’s biggest satellite dish, the film flashbacks to July 1969, which, historically-minded readers may recall, is when moon-walker Neil Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind.

What a lot of people (this reviewer included) have failed to realize is the role the small town of Parkes played in transmitting the TV images of mankind’s greatest endeavour. Situated in the middle of a sheep paddock, the dish was intended by NASA to be a back-up for their prime receiver in California, but a last-minute flight change by Apollo XI meant that the southern hemisphere would now be transmitting the lunar images. Not by American boffins with PhDs in maths and physics – excepting anxious NASA overseer Al (Warburton) – but by a handful of Aussie blokes who have a general idea of which switches to flick.

Anchored by a sincere, understated performance by Neill as the level-headed man in charge, this deep pan Dish is stuffed with amiably human characters. From super-shy satellite guy Glenn (Long), who’s forever working up the courage to ask out the local girl who clearly adores him, to the mouthy Mayor Bob (the wonderful Billing), who sees this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Parkes on the map, these are people we really warm to.

In many ways the earth-bound flip-side of Apollo 13, with a number of crises overcome by determination, improvization and steely nerves, the slow build-up to transmission is genuinely tense and stirring. Neatly interspersed with the dish dramatics are moments of sheer farce, such as when the Mayor’s attempts at honouring American guests with the Star Spangled Banner turn horribly Hawaii 5-0. It’s a feel-great film that doesn’t force the issue.

Jason Caro

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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4 Stars; Recommended
TIGERLAND • released May 18

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent
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BLOW May 25
BROKEN HEARTS CLUB May 11

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CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN
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CODE UNKNOWN May 25
THE KING IS ALIVE May 11
SPY KIDS April 13
THE TERRORIST May 11
VERY ANNIE-MARY May 25