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Freak Flag Flix- ‘Starstruck’ (1982) is Totally Radical to the Max

Welcome the 2nd installment of Freak Flag Flix, where we will take a little walkabout through some of the obscure/surreal/freaky films found on Netflix’s instant watch.

Today’s wackiness is a stylish New Wave (the 80′s music genre, not the French Film Movement) musical made in Australia … Starstruck

Jackie Mullins (Jo Kennedy, doing her own new wave singing) is an aspiring star who just has to sing. And with her cousin Angus on her side, stardom might not be too far off. The two team up with a local band, The Wombats, to take their big shot at fame, fortune and celebrity — all the while trying to save the family pub. Gillian Armstrong directs this quirky movie filled with 1980s hairdos and kangaroo costumes.-Netflix

jo kennedy in starstruck

Youthful Aussie quirk from a female director*, Gillian Armstrong, who went on to direct Oscar and Lucinda, Little Women, and Charlotte Gray.  Where those are pretty serious dramas in her later career, this one is pure camp. It opens with an impeccably choreographed New Wave audience all dancing in sync to Jackie’s (the heroine) first time singing on a stage.  The 1st 15 minutes of this movie will determine if you are instantly in love with it or it’s not your cuppa tea. Jackie is no ingenue even though she is naive to the ways of the music biz; she is a pretty punk with a Cyndi Lauper vibe who is all about having a good time while trying to make it big as a singer. Her strange younger stylish cousin is her manager and he is totally entertaining.

star struckThe dance scenes are off-the-wall weird and the characters are batty. The accents are thick and the Aussie slang is endearing. Jo Kennedy as Jackie is charming if a bit hyper. The character has the verve to carry the modest story line of the picture.

PS Geoffrey Rush has a bit part as some kind of stage manager for a music hour tv show. Not a very impressive role but it’s funny to see him young, slim and gangly.

If you like bodacious 80′s flicks or cult musicals try this completely care-free comedy. Check it out on Netflix or it’s also on Amazon Instant Video.  And let me know what you think in the comments.

*(Why does Australia produce so many more and such great female directors? Do they support women in film more there?)

About the author

Joe Martinez

NERD! Documentary enthusiast. Independent and foreign cinema and historic theater booster. UC Santa Barbara Film Studies graduate. Homebase in Portland, Oregon. Top 10 Films (of this moment) 1. City of Lost Children 2. Black Cat, White Cat 3. Rivers and Tides 4. Sans Soliel 5. Stop Making Sense 6. Big Lebowski 7. Brick 8. 8 1/2 9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 10. Waking Life