TOP PICK \ Film
JACKPOT \ Opens August 2, MA15+, 90 min
The sole survivor of a sex-shop shootout becomes the prime suspect in this Norwegian thriller. Oscar Svendson is a hapless factory worker, drawn into violence after winning big in the football pools. As he tells his tale to quirky detective Solør (Henrik Mestad), we enter a tangled web of greed, betrayal and Cheesy Puffs. But is Oscar telling us the truth?
Scandinavian crime drama is in boom at the moment. The Killing, Wallander and the Millennium trilogy have proven there’s an audience for complex, gritty and melancholic fiction. Jackpot is something different, however. While it takes a similar, stark approach to the dark side of human existence, it doesn’t stint on laughs.
Jackpot is written by Jo Nesbø, whose Headhunters made for a grim pleasure when it hit cinemas earlier this year. His approach to crime drama seems to owe more to Guy Ritchie than Stieg Larsson. At times here, there’s a distinct whiff of In Bruges, the film walking a similar line between the brutal and the batty.
In the latter camp is the de facto star of the piece, Solør. Quiffed, cowboy-booted and equipped with X-ray eyes, Mestad’s detective is the sort of character whole crime franchises are based on. Sadly, he’s never quite allowed centre stage, with the story instead focusing on a hopeless bunch of ex-cons. But even if we can’t bring ourselves to root for its anti-heroes, this is a snappy, surprising and thoroughly enjoyable Nordic thriller.
David Mitchell, Rob Brydon & Lee Mack
WOULD I LIE TO YOU?
ABC1, Wednesday August 1, 9.40pm
Two weeks ago we called Would I Lie To You? the funniest panel show currently in production and complained it wasn’t airing here. Now it’s been suddenly catapulted onto the schedules. We’re gratified, obviously, and will think very carefully about what to request next.
The premise behind the show is straightforward. Guests are handed cards, the contents of which they need to pass off as the truth, even if it’s an outrageous falsehood. Two teams, led by comedians David Mitchell and Lee Mack, brutally interrogate each other to get to the truth – which is frequently as unlikely as fiction.
The savage, class-based rivalry between Mitchell and Mack is the stuff of which gag writers dream. Surprising, nasty and achingly funny, this is a rare treat.
Dappled Cities (Inertia)
It takes a particular brand of confidence to open a record with its best track. But, on the basis of their fourth album, Sydneysiders Dappled Cities aren’t short of bravado. Album opener Run With the Wind is one of those rare songs that manages to be at once experimental and accessible. With its layers of dizzy synths, itchy drums and shouty vocals, the track seems destined to dissolve into messiness but instead builds into catchy, MGMT-style pop grandeur. It’s big, bouncy and beautiful.
While it’s certainly the album’s peak, there’s little sign of a downhill slide. The Leopard is bright and energetic, Work in the Mould is slinky and danceable, and Born at the Right Time is breathless disco pop. Closer The Weekend is epic enough to ensure there’s no sense of anticlimax.
Dappled Cities have been around for 15 years, which could explain a few nostalgic twinges in this listener. Certainly, there’s a hint throughout of early-2000s stars Pnau and the Sleepy Jackson. But there’s nothing wrong with looking back when you’re also busy pushing forwards. Lake Air is the work of a band joyously tinkering at the edges of their comfort zone. Fresh, bold and endearing, this is an irresistible pop album.
MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
If you’re a hardcore MIFFite, no doubt you’ve already booked your tickets after frantically comparing schedules with your fellow cinephiles. But for those of us who don’t need to watch Moonrise Kingdom a fortnight early, there are a few tricks to making choice picks. One is avoiding titles that, like Wes Anderson’s latest, are soon to see general release. At current count, that crosses off about 90 of the festival’s 300-plus films. So no On the Road, Holy Motors, Wuthering Heights or Bully for us. MIFF is better spent exploring the unseen than sneaking ahead with the big hitters.
We’re particularly excited about this year’s Next Gen program. Offering a selection of films with appeal to young ’uns, its highlights include British crime drama Wild Bill, Dutch rites-of-passage tale Kauwboy and American adolescent doco Only the Young – none of which features on the forthcoming release schedules. The ’70s New Hollywood Comedy retrospective, featuring classics such as The Fortune and Take the Money and Run, is equally enticing.
Watching \ Callan. Hard-hitting British spy drama gets a long-awaited DVD release.
Gigging \ Ride’s Mark Gardener stops in at the Corner for a shoegaze revival (August 5).