Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

BREAKER MORANT (Australia, 1979) Director Bruce Beresford's first films were in his native Australia. Among them, his powerfully black humorous, raunchy "Don's Party" is hardly known in the USA. The charming, unorthodox coming-of-age "The Getting of Wisdom" attracted much attention here. The recipient of many Australian Academy awards, Oscar-nominated (Best Screenplay) "Breaker Morant" actually launched Beresford in this country. Based on a play by Kenneth Ross, it recounts a real event during the Boer War (1899-1902) when three Australian soldiers executed captured guerillas under orders but had to face a trumped-up court martial for the benefit of politics. Very well directed and acted (Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters, Bryan Brown, et al.), tense and affecting, the film is not a whit stagey, says much about war, "raison d'etat," and human nature. Beresford went on to make many films in America. These included "Tender Mercies" with five Oscar nominations and two wins (actor Robert Duvall, writer Horton Foote); and "Driving Miss Daisy" with nine nominations and four wins (Picture, Actress, Screenplay, Makeup). The witty comedy-thriller "Her Alibi," with Tom Selleck in his best ever performance was way underrated. So was the Australian "The Fringe Dwellers" on aborigines. The historically superb "Black Robe" (Australia-Canada) was praised but played little, as did that other excellent satire "Mister Johnson" and the multi-director "Aria" in which Beresford's section was perhaps the best of all. There is much waiting to be rediscovered in Beresford's output. (Edwin Jahiel)