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AUSTRALIAN CINEMA HAS NEVER BEEN particularly interested in making films that appeal to a youth audience. There are exceptions here and there of course, and interestingly they are often the ones that do well at he box office. Two Hands (Gregor Jordan, 1999), Looking for Alibrandi (Kate Woods, 2000), Mad Max (George Miller 1979)--all of these are genre films, but more importantly they are aimed squarely at the demographic that visit the cinema more than any other. However, when I attempt to define current Australian cinema, films like these feel atypical. Our industry has gradually backed away from the vulgar entertainment of the early 1990s and into the niche of elitist storytelling.
As Hollywood chases the youth crowd, we have psyched ourselves into thinking that we must provide some kind of antidote, and thus our stories become more esoteric and spurn the mainstream. It's not an entirely fair characterization, but it's getting pretty close, and while it's nice to get a respectable review on At the Movies, it's nicer still to acknowledge that there's a generation of cinema-goers under the age of twenty-five.
The upshot of this is that Under the Radar seems almost audacious in a landscape of middle-aged, vaguely arty movies. It comes as little surprise that it's the sophomore effort of Evan Clarry, the director of Blurred (2002), and I'll admit that …