‘F*CKING ADELAIDE’ (Topic)

This series started out as a web-only venture from the Australian Broadcast Corporation — or ABC — and that’s why each of the six episodes is only 15 minutes long. As such, you can finish it up in one night, though you’ll wish there were at least five times as many episodes.

Circling around a family that is returning home in order to take apart their homestead. Mother Maude (Pamela Rabe) has called her three children back home to Adelaide to take what possessions they want because she is going to sell the family house. Mystified at their mother’s sudden decision, the three get to work and, while doing so, watch all the old wounds of family history being unearthed in the process.

Each episode focuses on a specific character and so it starts with Eli (Brendan McLean), a struggling musician in Sydney who watches his life fall apart and gives into his initial resistance to following his mother’s direction to return. At home is Kitty (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), the youngest sister and daughter of Maude’s second husband. Also arriving is oldest sibling Emma (Kate Box) and her family. Emma can’t seem to stop working and also can’t seem to let old wounds remain healed as she frequently acts upon hostility toward Kitty’s father and uses mundane moments as motivation to confront Maude.

“F*cking Adelaide” lives up to its quirky family dysfunction vibe by offering the exact opposite as part of the mix — compassion for its characters and a sense of their emotional depth. Any series that puts Box and Rabe together — easily two of the most impressive actors on Australian television — is definitely worth watching, and their stories offer a particularly affecting mix of sting and sentiment. The series goes out with a tour de force — one shot for 15 minutes that combines the grotesqueries of family tragedy with the comedic absurdities that ensue — and ties up the themes of this story about a family that can’t quite stay together, but must.

‘FUNNE — SEA DREAMING GIRLS’ (Amazon)

In these troubling times you could do a lot worse than to spend some time with the 10 squabbling old ladies of the Funne club, located in the village of Daone in Northern Italy, and the subject of this documentary.

They’ve been getting together for years and are struggling to find an appropriate way to celebrate an upcoming anniversary. When a trip to the beach is brought up as a suitable celebration, the club tries to figure out how to raise the money for the trip. The logic behind it is that so few of the women have ever seen the ocean, but what happens, as they work through various fundraising ideas that they hash out at chaotic meetings, is that it becomes unclear that all of them hold the dream of seeing the sea with the same importance.

As their effort moves along, club dynamics come to the fore, with some strong-willed members trying their best to motivate the more timid ones to not confine themselves to routine, but to reach for something different. Their methods of fundraising at times challenge their comfortability and aesthetics, as well as their energy, but having been close friends for decades, each attempts to rise to the challenges in the name of group solidarity.

“Funne — Sea Dreaming Girls” offers viewers their choice of feisty Italian grandmas to embrace, and the film is propelled by their energy and quick quips. It’s a charming documentary that doesn’t raise overwhelming issues, but instead elevates those of everyday life, of aging, and of personal goals in old age that aren’t hard to place within context of your own life and family.

 

John Seven is a writer in North Adams who has never been satisfied by movies and television that are easy to come by. He likes to do some digging. Find him online at johnseven.me