Palm Beach - screener

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Palm Beach

The ultimate Surf movie by Albie Thoms

Year: 1979, 88 mins
Code: AT-Palm
ISBN: 978-1-922007-39-1

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Four characters, all misfits of a sort, cross paths over one weekend on the northern beaches of Sydney. Leilani (Amanda Berry) is a runaway 16-year-old; Larry (John Flaus) is a Bondi private eye who’s looking for her; Joe (Ken Brown) needs to score some LSD to get him out of trouble. Paul (Bryan Brown) is unemployed and broke, until he steals a gun.

"Palm Beach is an innovative and underrated film — a low-budget feature with a formally complex structure, but a very open, loose feel. It combines various genre elements – the detective novel, the surfing movie, the documentary, the polemic — with the kind of experimental risk-taking that has rarely been possible in Australian cinema.

Indeed, the film’s attempts to get funding were regularly refused over five years, largely because director Albie Thoms — one of the founders of Ubu Films, Sydney’s pre-eminent experimental film groups of the 1960s — insisted that much of the script be improvised by the actors. The film was eventually shot on a low budget and on 16 mm, and money to blow it up to 35 mm was only granted when Thoms could demonstrate he had made a coherent film.

The film consists of only 115 shots, many of long duration, a difficult technique to bring off, but its most daring strategies are with sound. Thoms uses multiple layers of dialogue, often three streams at once, continuing the sounds from one scene through the images of a different scene, using a continuous drone of commercial radio and television to critique and satirise the action. The effect is dizzying and confusing, but it adds a restless energy to the action, much of which is deliberately low-key. The improvised acting is arguably less successful, which leaves some scenes feeling amateurish. At its best, though, the film has a great feeling of contemporary reality, and the connectedness of individual lives." Paul Byrnes

Producer, director, script, editor: Albie Thoms
Photography: Oscar Scherl
Sound: Michael Moore, Rick Creaser,
Dubbing Mixer: Julian Ellingworth
Music: Terry Hannigan
CAST:  Nat Young - Nick Naylor, Kenneth Brown - Joe Ryan, Amanda Berry - Leilani Adams, Bryan Brown - Paul Kite, Julie McGregor - Kate O'Brien, John Flaus - Larry Kent, Bronwyn Stevens-Jones - Wendy Naylor, David Lourie - Zane Green, Peter Wright - Rupert Roberts, John Clayton - Eric Tailor, Lyn Collingwood - Mrs. Adams, Adrian Rawlins - David Litvinoff, P.J. Jones - Detective Sgt., Robinson Mick Eyre - Magazine Editor, Jim Roberts - Art School Dean, Cathy Power - Art School Student, Mick Winter - Board Polisher, Tony Hardwick - Boardshop Owner, David Elfick – Projectionist

Read more about Albie Thoms:

“Palm Beach is perhaps one of the outstanding Australian films of recent years. It is masterful filmmaking breaking a lot of the conventional rules with great effectiveness” – CANBERRA TIMES

“A film that can be truly tagged Australian...a creative often intriguing film that adds a new dimension to cinema” – HOBART MERCURY

“Strong, aspiring, well worth mentioning...a quasi documentary fiction film about the surfer milieu around Sydney...a concise description of everyday life.” – COLOGNE STATE NEWS

A fast-paced thriller of the most commercial kind....Tech. credits are all commendable, but standout is Terry Hannigan’s music....a quick slick flick.” – VARIETY NEW YORK

“A brilliant achievement in Australian cinema...a small masterpiece of social exploration, technical innovation an pure cinematic will...sharply analytical, overwhelmingly realistic and endlessly amusing...the most exciting, far-sighted and courageous Australian film to appear in a long time.” -SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“An original, flamboyant and thoroughly entertaining film.” – ROLLING STONE

“A thoroughly entertaining and dramatic tale of life in modern Sydney.” – RAM

A penetrating look at youth...a welcome relief from the nostalgia trip most Australian directs have been taking in the past decade.” – WEST AUSTRALIAN

“Head and shoulders above the ordinary run of Australian films...possibly our highest achievement in truly national cinema...perceptive, inventive and brave in its use of everyday elements to cut so deeply into the youngish yet already slightly wizened Australian heart.” – ABC BROADBAND


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