A Small Tribute To John Clarke

ANDREW JOHNSTONE, like so many New Zealanders, was a huge fan of John Clarke, RIP.

 

Witchdoctor’s television critic was one of the last journalists to get a long, wide-ranging interview with John Clarke (see link below) and in 2015, he wrote this previously unpublished review of Clarke in one of his last film roles, just for the hell of it.

 

A Month of Sundays FILM REVIEW (2015)

Rating = 7/10

A freshly divorced real estate agent struggling with the loss of his mother is limping along until a mistaken phone call inadvertently offers him a way out of the blind alley in which he has parked himself. As with all stories it’s just a beginning and A Month of Sundays ends up being a heartfelt (though never sentimental) tale about what it means to be an Aussie bloke. It’s about male relationships: with mothers, colleagues and friends but mostly it’s about fathers and sons and no, it ain’t heavy, it’s more like a gentle glide down a softly flowing river on a boat sheltered from the heat of the day by the bittersweet tones of passing time.

Otherwise there is John Clarke, and for the uninitiated Mr Clarke is something of an icon back in his home country of New Zealand, especially for those of us who were kids in the 1970s and who grew up listening to his LPs and watching him on television.

A satirist specialising in what Americans describe as ‘droll’ humour and what Aussies and Kiwis call ‘the piss-take’, Clarke pops up here as Phillip Lang, owner of Phillip Lang Real Estate, and does his usual pithy turn, adding a little dancing light to the overall texture of the production.

Yes, I am an unbridled and ever admiring fan but I must not let this get in the way of acknowledging Anthony LaPaglia’s deft turn in the lead role. Frank Mollard turns out to be a beautiful man, in a very understated Aussie bloke kind of way, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he created Mollard over a few or six beers with Clarke. Yep, Mollard is that kind of character.

A wise and warm little film that reminded me of the importance of kindness and decency and left me feeling a little bit better about everything, and isn’t this what movies are supposed to do? Among many delightful scenes my favourite was watching Clarke and LaPaglia negotiate a water sprinkler. That’s worth the price of admission alone.

 

Andrew’s interview with John Clarke can be heard here:

https://www.nzonscreen.com/interviews/john-clarke-a-bit-of-a-dagg

 

 

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