47 FILMS: 37. THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS

In our continuing series of  ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Peter Weir’s debut feature film The Cars that Ate Paris.

One of the many, many joys of Mad Max: Fury Road was the appearance of the porcupine spiky cars that turned up early in the chase scene. An obvious nod to compatriot Peter Weir’s debut comedy/horror The Cars that Ate Paris which featured a VW Beetle that looked like Herbie’s bad-ass bastard brother.

The story of the film reads like a  Twilight Zone episode penned by J. G. Ballard. Paris is a pleasant pastoral town in rural Australia with more than a passing resemblance to Hobbiton, but it hides an awful secret. The town folk engineer car accidents which they then profit from. Arthur Waldo (Terry Camilleri) and his older brother, George Waldo (Rick Scully) are two such victims when they crash near the town with their caravan. Survivors of the crashes are usually lobotomized by the town surgeon with power drills, but Arthur is spared and befriended by the Mayor of Paris, Len Kelly (John Meillon). The young men of the town use the spare parts to soup up and weaponize their own vehicles, becoming increasingly resistant to the authority of their elders. Weir’s brilliant twist is to never quite reveal who is the most dangerous. Are the hooligans in their cars really more dangerous than the elders who have clinically set up a murderous cottage industry while still maintaining a parody of gentility in their daily lives?

Weir’s film is darkly funny, but never commits fully to the silliness of its B-movie Oz-ploitation origins. Death Race 2000 retooled the same model in a much more exuberant manner. Weir would progress to the wonders of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Gallipoli, and later Hollywood fame with Witness, Dead Poets Society, Master and Commander and The Truman Show. But already with The Cars that Ate Paris, the topic of a closed world with its own strict rules is there, and will fascinate the Australian director for years to come.

For more of our 47 Films to see Before you are Murdered in your Dreams’ Click Here.

FULL CANNES LINE-UP INCLUDES ONLY FILMS FROM 1970S

PARIS – This morning 11 am Paris time, the full line-up for the 68th Cannes Film Festival was announced, which will break with tradition by only featuring films made in the 1970s.

Outgoing president Thierry Frémaux said that usually the film festival shows exclusively new films:

The whole raison d’être of Cannes is to promote world cinema in its current form, but recently we’ve been looking around and it’s pitiful. So we decided in order to ensure ten days of creme de la creme cinema we thought why not use films that we know are good for sure.

The full list contains The Conversation, Chinatown, Deliverance, Taxi Driver, Barry Lyndon, Aguirre Wrath of God, Dog Day Afternoon, Days of Heaven, Le Cercle Rouge, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Big Bus, Solaris and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Pierre Lescure, the new Cannes president, said that it was an exciting time for Cannes:

We’re really pleased to have such outstanding film-makers such as Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick included in this year’s competition. Hopefully one of the famous recluses will make a surprise appearance!

Defending the lack of women directors in the list, Lescure shrugged and blew air through his lips.

C’est la vie! It was the seventies.

Cannes will take place from the 13th to the 24th of May, 2015.