STANDING ON GUARD

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Jack Irish: Set 1

Release Year:         2013
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; Widescreen; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
Running Time:         202 minutes
DVD Release Date:         October 1, 2013
Screenwriters:         Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron
Directors:         Jeffrey Walker
Actors:         Guy Pearce, Marta Dusseldorp, Aaron Pedersen, Roy Billing
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
Emmy winner Guy Pearce (Memento, Iron Man 3) is Jack Irish, the brooding antihero of Australian writer Peter Temple’s award-winning novels. Reeling in the wake of his wife’s murder, the former lawyer has reinvented himself as a part-time private investigator and full-time alcoholic, intent on drowning his demons.

When an old client dies after leaving Jack several frantic voicemails, the PI realizes he can’t outrun or out drink his past. Jack returns to the world that took everything away from him–a seedy place of lowlifes, corruption, violence, and retribution. In these two feature-length mysteries, Bad Debts and Black Tide, Pearce delivers a “mesmerizing” performance (Daily Record, U.K.), imbuing Jack with world-weary gruffness and a dash of dark humour. As much as he tries to break away, the underworld is where he thrives–and the only place he can find redemption.

BONUS Behind the scenes of “Black Tide” (17 min.)

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
Guy Pearce is an English-born Australian movie star of considerable international appeal and regard. His father, a test pilot, died when Pearce was nine years old. This made Guy very close to his mother, and with the inherent responsibilities of helping her run a deer farm and the opportunity to attend private school in Australia, Guy found the perfect outlet for his experiences and natural talent as part of the Geelong College Junior Drama Players. He also participated in bodybuilding (winning Junior Mr Victoria–Victoria, Australia being the city where he lived since the age of three) and fencing; both sports that require discipline and focus. His first big acting gig came at the age of 17, and soon he was appearing in Australian TV shows and films.

And, like any actor who has “made it” in the world market, Pearce likes to do Australian projects when they come up. JACK IRISH is such an endeavour.

Based on the books by Peter Temple, the source material fits Pearce to a T. Part thriller, part redemption story, these first two episodes have a definite film noir feel at times. Characterizations are particulary effective, from the old boys in Irish’s local pub, to one of his contacts on the police force who is constantly eating junk food, to the sexy journalist he meets who just might help him to heal from the murder of his his beloved wife, to his “business associates” who stand with him when the going gets tough. One particularly effective performance comes from German character actor Vadim Glowna, who died shortly after the second episode was filmed. Acting as mentor of sorts to Jack, his Charlie Taub is a furniture maker who allows Jack to be his apprentice. From Charlie, Jack learns patience, craftsmanship and basically how to relax. It’s without a doubt a form of therapy for Jack and appears to be working. This is one of the stand out features of JACK IRISH; yes, he’s been through hell and has suffered accordingly, but we see him slowly beginning to make progress out of the pit of despair. Sometimes with these “burnt out cop” type of shows, nothing can extradite the hero from his flaws and that can be a little bit tiresome. Not so with Jack. He makes a little bit of progress each episode (presumably with more to come in the anticipated next set of cases). This makes Jack easy to root for, even though he has made some self-destructive (though understandable) choices.

There’s a lot of bad language throughout, and some pretty racy sex, both of which are not necessary. We’re not in Disneyland, true, but it does remind of the old question, just what, exactly, is entertainment? We can enjoy MIDSOMER MURDERS, GEORGE GENTLY and POIROT and others without being subjected to such things which might turn off some viewers. It’s always worth mentioning in reviews that certain content may not appeal. Having said that, there is far more to enjoy in JACK IRISH than there is to condemn.

For those who welcome JACK IRISH as the latest in Acorn Media’s phenomenal output of great television, there are two more JACK IRISH books currently being adapted for production, and a fifth novel in the works.

And judging from the great behind the scenes featurette, Guy Pearce wants to continue. Now nobody can complain about that.

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