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:: The Dish

Having been acclaimed for their fine work with “The Castle”, the meticulously minded Working Dog Production team bring us a touching and humorous story with “The Dish”. Set in Parkes, NSW in July 1969, it tells of a satellite dish installation that was to serve as a relay between NASA and the Apollo 11 mission, to bring pictures of man’s first walk on the moon.
  Upon viewing the film, one will wonder why Australians have never been fully educated as to the historic course of action that occurred from this seemingly innocuous dish sitting on a sheep paddock. Right from the first few minutes, as the old Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill) goes down memory lane in remembering his historic moment, the pattern is set for a glorious story of depth and warmth.
  Cliff is one of four scientists who operate the dish. That is the “serious side” of the story, while the supporting cast reflect the hopes and character of the rural landscape that surround the monumental event. Cliff’s team comprises Al (Patrick Warburton), a man from NASA, Mitch (Kevin Harrington) and Glenn (Tom Long). We see them have fun (eg playing cricket on the dish) and also witness the emotional tide sweeping their work ethic. When a power failure threatens to throw their involvement into doubt, ie losing contact with the Apollo 11 craft, frantic efforts are made to retrieve the link, particularly when the other link, based in California, breaks down.
On the other hand, the excitement in the local Parkes community brings some heartfelt emotions and funny moments as the small town prepares to host VIPs, including the US Ambassador. There is great pride and soul to the townspeople, and the acting is to be commended.
“The Dish” penetrates the mind with a big dose of satisfaction because it has a brilliant script, a great sense of timing, and it’s rewarded with terrific acting performances. Comedic actors come to the fore with the producers because they are people who are finely tuned to act out dramatic roles. This gives the film much spring. Sam Neill is like a statesman on screen, showing his great talent of indicating much without actually saying things. He is perfect for the central role. The support cast is strong, giving a true Australian perspective to a world event, and they have the freedom to express themselves exquisitely. As such, director Rob Sitch provides a well-crafted piece of filmmaking, charmingly funny and sentimental. It has the right ingredients to succeed in global terms and it’s a blueprint for fellow Australian filmmakers to observe. Highly recommended.