Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bastard Boys

I’m interested in what other peoples thoughts were of Bastard Boys?

Personally, I’ve been loving all the criticism heaped on program. There have been the predictable bias claims coming from Michael Duffy, Andrew Bolt and other conservative running dogs. Apparently depicting unionists on television is a sign of bias, no matter the light in which they are depicted.

Duffy claimed that the humanity of the unionists is highlighted by frequent depictions of them in domestic and intimate situations, whereas Corrigan is depicted as a scheming, heartless soul. Bolt thinks that there should be more depictions of unionists bludging.

The movie covers all sides, there are allusions to union thuggery, the nick and the dark old days. There are references to the uncompetitiveness of the Australian docks. The film covered all these issues. I think the fundamental problem these columnists have with the movie is that it depicts unionists at all, and that it depicts unionists as capable of heroism, despite their flaws.

Then there is Bill Kelty who points out that he wasn’t consulted over the film, and that the film is not strictly historically accurate as a result. It was his threat of litigation that resulted in the disclaimer at the start of the program. Kelty’s wig is an absolute classic for those who haven’t seen the film yet.

From my perspective, the film was as balanced as it needed to be. I don’t buy into the criticism that the show was pro-union at all. If anything it revealed the faults and flaws in all sides. The conservatives just have a problem that some on their side were portrayed as being human, and capable of error and miscalculation as well. Josh Bornstein came out of it looking like a conceited jerk, Burnside a doddering old duffer, Combet someone who struggle with balancing his work and family commitments, Corrigan as someone who was unwilling to negotiate constructively with the Unions to reach a practical solution.

I think the only person who came out of the movie looking better than they did at the time was Coombes. Even although it was ten years ago, I can still remember him being a bit of a bumbling old duffer. Bastard Boys makes this figure of fun and derision into the hero of the story. Colin Friels portrayal of Coombes depicts him as younger, more vital, more coherent and more heroic than I can personally remember him. But then again, away from the cameras he may have been a star performer, I cannot say.

In terms of the dramatic merits of the production, I thought it was pretty poor. I thought the actors hadn’t studied their roles very carefully, or failed to really come to grips with the characters they were depicting. The Coombes character, as I have already stated, was miles away from the real John Coombes. Rhys Muldoon wasn’t convincing as Burnside, nor the bloke who played Combet. The Corrigan character was the strongest performance.

Some of the dialogue was terrible. I burst out laughing when Lucy Bell, playing Combets German girlfriend says ‘Come home and I will read you Das Kapital in German’, and Combet responds ‘I’m getting hard just thinking about it’. There was some appalling dialogue in the movie, and it was the flaws in the writing and depiction of the characters that I believe deserve more of a bollocking than the alleged bias.

At the end of the day the public have stopped listening to the culture warriors as they have stopped listening to John Howard. Quite simply, everyone has moved on leaving the usual suspects squabbling over historical truth.

All in all, an entertaining, yet flawed depiction of the waterfront dispute. But we need more Australian drama of this variety that creates debate and interest in the political process. Any movie that manages to fit in The International, Solidarity Forever, The Red Flag and There is Power in A Union into four hours of television is a must! Our rights at work have to be fought for and won, and the bosses will not give an inch without a struggle.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched it for an hour on monday night. Might watch it again when on DVD.

From what I saw it showed everyone in a good light... but maybe the camera was on the unions for longer... if thats a bias?

Anyways, thought the fake interviews they kept cutting away were annoying, as well as the crap dialog. ABC should be getting bashed for that, not the politics.

-AJ

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched it for an hour on monday night. Might watch it again when on DVD.

From what I saw it showed everyone in a good light... but maybe the camera was on the unions for longer... if thats a bias?

Anyways, thought the fake interviews they kept cutting away were annoying, as well as the crap dialog. ABC should be getting bashed for that, not the politics.

-AJ

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn Tim... not allowed to cyber bully you anymore... gonna have to go back to regular bullying...

-Alex

2:27 AM  

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