Dogs in Space

This ground-breaking cult Australian film, directed in 1986 by Richard Lowenstein (who produced John Safran’s brilliant Music Jamboree and vs. God TV series), is a terrific, gritty exploration of the new-wave/punk scene in Melbourne around the late 1970s and early 1980s. INXS’ Michael Hutchence plays the lead singer in the band of the title, and the viewer is plunged, aurally and visually, into the jittery, grungy world of drunken parties, gigs, sex and drugs he and his twenty-something flatmates occupy.

The film looks and feels a lot like the films of Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy)—particularly in a hallucinatory day-glo scene toward the end—and recalls the work of Nicolas Roeg, whose 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth also had a musician (David Bowie) its lead role. Anticipating Richard Linklater’s seminal 1991 film Slacker, the freewheeling camera—whose fluid movements were almost completely improvised—floats around the grimy urban surroundings, bumping into and then just as dramatically departing from character to character, eavesdropping on snippets of conversation. Though unlike Linklater’s film, which never really congeals around even a loose conglomerate of figures, there’s a cohesive narrative here centered on three of the flatmates. Much of the film feels so real that it’s hard to believe the filmmakers didn’t just go along to parties and gigs with their chosen actors, get drunk and film life in all its awesome mid-’80s new-wave glory.

The sturdily-packaged double-disc special edition features a fully-restored picture and sound track and myriad extras, including three audio commentaries by the filmmakers, numerous trailers and test shots, bits and pieces of behind-the-scenes footage, music videos, interviews, and on-set rehearsal footage.

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