Say G’day to the New Hardboiled Sheriff in Town, Mate
October 15, 2020 4:43 PM   Subscribe

The movie “Mystery Road” introduces us to Detective Jay Swan. Portrayed by Aaron Pederson (and written for him by director Ivan Sen), Detective Swan is an indigenous Australian cop who navigates not being fully trusted by his fellow servants of The Crown for being “a blackfella”, and not being fully trusted by the indigenous communities for being a cop and a servant of the Crown. Swan constantly code-switches between modes of speaking (or not) depending on who he’s talking to, and which community they are from. Over the course of season 1 and season 2 of the TV show “Mystery Road” followed by the movie “Goldstone”, we get a look at issues of race, money, history, resource exploitation, drugs, corruption, and life in sparsely populated small-town/rural Western Australia, the landscape of which is almost a character itself.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (28 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Mod note: Fixed a link, deleted a couple comments about fixing it. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:05 PM on October 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Aaron Pedersen is a great actor. Absolutely stacked cast in this series as well.
posted by awfurby at 5:05 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Goldstone was awesome.
posted by valkane at 5:08 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

the landscape of which is almost a character itself
For non-Australians—this is an important bit of context about this (extremely well-received) series. That the landscape itself is a character in narrative, is one of the oldest & recognised tropes of Australian literature and film; it's one of the most consistent continuing aspects of Australian fiction and film and poetry. Typically it's a threatening, unknowable, hostile presence (think Picnic at Hanging Rock or Wake in Fright or Wolf Creek, but going right back to Lawson and Patterson). Typically non-Indigenous characters either explicitly or implicitly can't relate to place, or have their relationships changed by it, and that sense of uncanny non-belonging drives the plot—and, as text or subtext, thinking about colonial past and relationship with the present.

One of the things Sen and the other directors are doing with this series is subverting that typical character relationship of unease with the landscape.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2020 [17 favorites]

I've seen the first season and really liked it. I'm looking forward to being able to see the second.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:33 PM on October 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Loved Season 1, bit sad that no women appear to feature prominently in season 2 - but will certainly watch it as well as the two movies if i can get my hands on them on DVD!
posted by mollymillions at 6:38 PM on October 15, 2020

Justwatch tells me this is available on amazonprime and hoopla (so free with your library card in the US), so yay!
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:50 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Here are some 160-bit numbers that I personally find quite fascinating.

posted by flabdablet at 7:38 PM on October 15, 2020 [8 favorites]

Just got done with season one of this, which is free this month on Amazon Prime. Pedersen's performance is quite good. He does his variation on the taciturn-sheriff thing really well - I'd be interested to watch him do other stuff, too - and of course Judy Davis is always solid.

Having seen a fair number of American westerns, it's interesting to see the Australian versions of familiar tropes (or their equivalents) being used (though there were a few times I had to rewind and turn on the subtitles to make out exactly what was said).

Will be on the lookout for a way to watch season 2 and the movie, now that I know they're out there.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:52 PM on October 15, 2020

Series 2 is currently on BBC iPlayer, if you have access to that.
posted by Fuchsoid at 11:51 PM on October 15, 2020

And perhaps if you installed a reliable BitTorrent client, you might find certain 160-bit numbers as fascinating as I do.
posted by flabdablet at 12:51 AM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is on my list to watch, but my relationship to this show is primarily through the "Curiosity Cul-de-sac" parodies on Mad As Hell, in which grizzled character actors warned each other that acting jobs for prestige Australian dramas are dangerously precarious.
posted by Merus at 6:25 AM on October 16, 2020

If you like Pederson in this, see if you can get hold of The Circuit. Similar character note of being between two cultures, but with more courtroom drama. I love his work and am so glad to see him gain wider recognition.
posted by harriet vane at 9:02 AM on October 16, 2020

TIL: Handheld chemical spectroscopy is now a thing. It's used at about 1:46 of Mystery Road.
Not a spoiler: The Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) in Edinburgh, UK, quickly saw the potential of Sors when Ellis presented preliminary test results at a conference. Subsequently collaborating, the SWRI and Manchester researchers showed that Sors could distinguish brands of Scotch whisky, rum, gin and vodka in closed glass containers, including 40 simulated counterfeits
posted by Mitheral at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

So, the movie Goldstone is from 2016, so it should be watched before season 1 and 2 ? Not after ?
posted by Pendragon at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2020

Watching order:
— *Mystery Road*, the movie
— “Mystery Road: TV” Season 1
— “Mystery Road: TV” Season 2,
— “Goldstone”, the movie
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:17 PM on October 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

No spoilers, but “Goldstone” VERY MUCH takes place after the events of the first movie and both TV series. You can watch it as a stand alone movie, it’s that well done.

But character-wise, Jay Swan has been on a LOOONG character arc by the time he gets to “Goldstone”.

“Mystery Road: the movie” is Jay Swan’s very first homicide case fresh out of detective school.

“Goldstone” is the DAYUM, that man has seen a WHOOOOOLE LOT of BAD SHIT in his day, and it shows Jay Swan.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:24 PM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just found:
Mystery Road: Behind the scenes
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:27 PM on October 16, 2020

My favorite exchange from the entire opus is from”Goldstone”:
COP: “He’s a blackfella”.
MAYOR: “Indian-black, or African-black?”
COP: “Nah; blackfella-black”
That sounded like the most deep rural Australian thing I have ever heard, like something from a down-under version of Letterkenny.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:42 PM on October 16, 2020

I know this is a minor thing....

Considering the tv show in question isn't jokey or stereotypical, was there really a need to do a "lol Australia g'day mate" title?

It doesn't make non US mefis feel very welcome.
posted by daybeforetheday at 4:13 PM on October 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the viewing order comments.
posted by Pendragon at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

re: Title —

What I was going for was 

There’s a new sheriff in town/mid-century American western meets hardboiled detective/neo noir meets Australia
I’d seen a couple of interviews with Sen and Pedersen where they explicitly discuss how MR resonates with traditional westerns involving a gun-toter with cowboy hat and boots and a badge coming to town. But it’s not New Mexico, it’s Western Australia.

MR also resonates with the hard-boiled detective story format about the one honest detective in a city of the corrupt and violent and powerful who don’t want him making waves. But that traditionally urban setting and character relationships is transposed to a profoundly rural Australian one.

I didn’t experience the title as especially jokey, though I’ll cop to “deploying not a particularly imaginative Australian signifier” while attempting to juxtapose tropes.

I may have considered using the word “Outback” at one point. I ended up with the title we have instead.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:59 PM on October 16, 2020

This is right up my preferences alley but I just watched the trailer and really struggled to understand a lot of the dialog because of the accents and the lack of dialog volume.

So I switched on the auto-generated YouTube closed captioning....and it was even worse than my hearing! I guess they don't train on Australian accents or dialect.

Still, I'll give it a go.
posted by srboisvert at 6:41 PM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

The prime closed captioning is very good.
posted by Mitheral at 9:08 PM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love the setup of this, but the trailer of the movie has one dead woman and one woman who looks like she's been beaten up. If I hate watching scenes where women are raped and/or beaten up, should I avoid this movie?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2020

Guys shooting each other is the only violence on screen. There are views of victims of violence but none of the crimes being committed. Even the visuals of the shootings are mostly clinical? implied?. IE: there aren't any views of heads exploding or big sprays of blood or anything like that.
posted by Mitheral at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've watched several episodes of the series on Prime now.

It's is very good.

Also the audio is fine (none of the problems I experienced with the trailer on YouTube)
posted by srboisvert at 8:56 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just in response to molly millions above - I watched season 2 knowing nothing about the series and loved all the good female characters - so much so that I didn’t realise it was meant to be all about Jay
posted by melisande at 1:49 PM on October 24, 2020

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