This wryly observed documentary is set in a tiny mining town somewhere between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Two Finnish girls on working visas, Lina and Steph, head to this remote spot for a three-month stint behind the bar of the local pub. It's a tough gig. The girls contend with drunkenness, relentless sexual advances, and a belittling, bullying boss. The booze-addled patrons rant about failed relationships and female duplicity; it seems the girls' only ally is the toothless, odorous local, Canman. The barmaids struggle to negotiate this unhealthy environment, with little by way of distraction.
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★★★½ review by Doug Dillaman on Letterboxd
Did a Q&A with the director, Pete Gleeson, who showed his observational bona-fides by namedropping the Maysles alongside an Aussie doc I'd never heard of, RATS IN THE RANKS. Looking forward to what's next. In the meantime, check this out if you're in New Zealand or Australia - it's showing at Rialto in Auckland, for one - as while it's not the highest fidelity image, it deserves the big screen for the communal audience discomfort.
★★★★ review by Andy Diep on Letterboxd
A tip for the Australian Government: instead of spendingmillions of taxpayer money on anti-immigration online campaigns and telling everyone you're gonna stop the boats...
Just show them Hotel Coolgardie
★★★★★ review by Matthew Murray on Letterboxd
Every bit as fascinating as it is terribly uncomfortable, Hotel Coolgardie offers a unique insight into the behaviour of the sexually starved, oafish men of a small Australian mining town.
These men are gross. The feelings of repulsion quickly give way to pity, however, as the doco slowly reveals the extent of their desperation and loneliness. That same pity then shifts straight back to repulsion ss the residents behaviour gets worse. I was genuinely fascinated by this one, though there is often an uncomfortable tension that comes with watching two young women navigate through a territory full of unashamed brutes.
I'd definitely recommend this, as long as you can handle a little glimpse into uncivilised civilisation.
★★★★ review by michail on Letterboxd
In a sentence, I could smell the beer breath while watching this film. It was so uncomfortable to see the girls get harassed as much as they were (even though there were some really nice moments). But I think the best quality about this film is that it's so personal and up close, with seemingly invisible camerawork. A really great example example of observation documentary that made me feel like I was there with these girls on their journey. So engaging because it was just so real.
★★★½ review by Alastair Tye Samson on Letterboxd
Awfully uncomfortable and difficult to watch content-wise, but to a worthy and thought provoking end. A few years ago I would've given any observational doco a break for its lack of technical polish, however, THE GROUND WE WON exists now, and that masterpiece has set impossibly high expectations for the aesthetic of the genre.
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