Having been rightly admonished for not taking the ‘short’ part of this blog’s remit seriously in recent posts, here’s a ‘back to basics’ initiative with which to end the month …
The Peter Temple Jack Irish book series pretty much defines what the term ‘Aussie Noir’ means: a solitary private investigator/debt collector walks the mean backstreets of Melbourne, Australia and gets involved in murders that ultimately unravel complex political and business conspiracies in which literally no one can be trusted, but only after Jack himself has been chased, shot at, blown up and beaten up along the way. Raymond Chandler with an Australian accent then; but actually extremely good and surprisingly original for all that.
The two 90-minute TV movie adaptations of Temple’s books (two more are in the works for 2013) are engaging on pretty much every level, thanks to some really intelligent scripting and good performances from all, most notably from Guy Pearce (who forsakes Hollywood and returns home to Oz for pretty much the first time since he starred as Mike in Neighbours in the 1980s) as Jack Irish. Pearce makes him both a likeable normal bloke that you’ll enjoy hanging out with for the duration, while also adding sufficient shading to make him the haunted, driven investigator needed to take the plots work. Best of all is the authentic-feeling Aussie street-life colour and the band of vivid old-school characters with whom Irish surrounds himself, relics of a now-lost Australia from decades ago who contrast well with the modern slick, corrupt politicians and businessmen that Irish is up against.
Both TV movies aired on the FX (now Fox) channel in the UK just before Christmas, but I’ve only just got around to watching them both; and by coincidence, it turns out they’re now being released on DVD this week. It’s well worth a purchase and is warmly recommended to fans of crime noir.
The two Jack Irish movies are out on a single DVD release from Monday, 28 January 2013.