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Neophytes and neon lights

Threat advisory: Guarded - General risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Imagine if the world was a little different...

A world where teleportation replaced air travel, urine therapy was proven to aid longevity, nicotine was an illegal narcotic and colour TV was still a fantasy.

In the middle of this are thrown a rag tag group of petty crims: Turner, Astro, Shade, Atari and Sedge. They meet and greet arriving tourists at Sydney's teleport station as part of their Work For The Dole scheme. They meet the tourists all right, one hand points them in the right direction and the other steals their wallet.

Turner's the new bloke trying hard to prove himself. He's willing to do whatever it takes to show he's committed to his new friends. Astro, the leader, believes there's been foul play within the group and sets out to even the score. When the ferry driver disappears tensions are escalated and wild assumptions abound. All eyes are now cast at Fagan, an eccentric traveller with a manic devotion to his luggage.

As the characters battle through power struggles, paranoia, suspicion and back-stabbing we are taken on a journey into the very core of social conditioning.

Starring Matt Doran, Morgan O'Neil, Sam O'Dell, Malina Hamilton-Smith and Alan Cinis. Written and directed by Shane T Hall.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Crap. Neophytes and neon lights is an adolescent attempt at creating something which is far beyond the ability of the filmmakers to create. The script is flaccid, the dialogue is stilted, the acting is mostly of the "producer's girlfriend" variety, the make-up is heavier than a drag queen's, the costumes are tawdry, the continuity is dodgy, the editing is epileptic, the cinematography is third rate and the direction is sad. You don't need a million dollars to make a good film, just look at Silent partner, but you do need someone who knows what they're doing. Shane needs to go back to film school and finish second semester.

The guy who plays Turner can often act but is restricted by the script and direction. He reminds you of a young Simon Baker (formerly Simon Baker-Denny) although is not as cute. Matt essentially plays the same character as he did in The Matrix although he's a lot funnier here and has a much better idea of characterisation than any of his neophyte performers. Shade, like Turner, occasionally does some good stuff but the guy who plays Astro was horrendously miscast. Astro (why did Shane lumber the characters with such try-hard names?) should be a dark, edgy, dynamic leader who controls his crew with a mixture of love, passion, success and just a little bit of fear. Unfortunately he comes across as someone on their way to their year 11 formal.

Budding filmmakers should see Neophytes and neon lights so that they know what not to do. The public should treat it like road kill and just leave it alone.

FYI: A neophyte was originally a person new to Christianity but is now extended to mean any new participant in some activity. This obviously refers to Turner, even though the title uses the plural. I think that "neon lights" was picked just because it rhymes and has the same number of syllables because there are no neon lights in the film. In fact, there are hardly any lights at all as the film takes place during the daytime.

Security censorship classification

*

Surveillance time

* minutes (* hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 21 July 2001

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