Set in Indonesia, The Year of Livingly Dangerously is based on the real events that occurred in the country in 1965. The story revolves around Guy Hamilton, who has arrived in Jakarta on his first overseas posting for the Australian Broadcasting Service. Having had no time to build relationships or contacts, he stumbles around the city, attempting to cover the political tensions that are daily increasing. He is eventually taken under the wing of a small but well-connected Chinese-Australian cameraman, Billy Kwan, who recognises great potential in Hamilton. Hamilton is groomed by Kwan, who then sets up exclusive interviews for him while also engineering a romance with Jill Bryant, the young assistant at the British Embassy. Bryant warns Hamilton that violence is about to break out between right-wing factions and the Communist Party of Indonesia, but he pursues the story anyway. Billy Kwan, disheartened by all the people he once believed in, decides to make a public protest against President Sukarno. When the situation eventually escalates into violence, Hamilton is caught between his career ambitions, his conscience, and his feelings for Jill Bryant.
'Many films of the Australian New Wave (or Australian film renaissance) of the 1970s and 1980s can be defined as gothic, especially following Jonathan Rayner’s suggestion that “Instead of a genre, Australian Gothic represents a mode, a stance and an atmosphere, after the fashion of American Film Noir, with the appellation suggesting the inclusion of horrific and fantastic materials comparable to those of Gothic literature” (25). The American comparison is revealing. The 400 or so film productions of the Australian New Wave emerged, not in a vacuum, but in an increasingly connected and inter-mixed international space (Godden). Putatively discrete national cinemas weave in and out of each other on many levels. One such level concerns the reception critics give to films. This article will drill down to the level of the reception of two examples of Australian gothic film-making by two well-known American critics. Rayner’s comparison of Australian gothic with American film noir is useful; however, it begs the question of how American critics such as Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris influentially shaped the reception of Australian gothic in America and in other locations (such as Australia itself) where their reviews found an audience either at the time or afterwards. The significance of the present article rests on the fact that, as William McClain observes, following in Rick Altman’s footsteps, “critics form one of the key material institutions that support generic formations” (54). This article nurtures the suggestion that knowing how Australian gothic cinema was shaped, in its infancy, in the increasingly important American market (a market of both commerce and ideas) might usefully inform revisionist studies of Australian cinema as a national mode.' (Introduction)