Film Reviews

Son of Saul

February 25, 2016
Géza Röhrig in 'Son of Saul' (2015)

Son of Saul is not the kind of film that will draw large, admiring audiences. Set in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, it is the latest manifestation of the cinema’s morbid fascination with the Holocaust. It’s a topic that generates a pre-emptive sense of emotional fatigue, as there is only so much horror … More


Hail, Caesar!

February 24, 2016
George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!' (2016)

“Comedy deserves to be taken seriously,” wrote Aldous Huxley, in 1924, before going on to denounce those “lesser exponents” of the genre who specialise in “triviality, ugliness and vulgarity.” Three years later The Jazz Singer ushered in a new era of ‘talkies’ that would change the way Hollywood made comedies, as slapstick and sight gags … More


45 Years

February 19, 2016
Charlotte Rampling in '45 Years' (2015)

It’s with some reluctance that I turn to Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years as the second review for this week, as it’s hard to recommend a film that is little more than a slow, grinding, self-absorbed portrait of old age and its miseries. There are, at least, a few psychological subtleties to be unravelled, whereas my … More


Trumbo

February 18, 2016
Bryan Cranston in 'Trumbo' (2015)

It doesn’t require a philosopher to point out discrepancies between the law and justice. This was born out last week – as Trumbo hit the cinemas – by the convulsions over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia. By all accounts this is a game-breaker in the bitter conflict between Left and Right … More


Brooklyn

February 12, 2016
Saoirse Ronan in 'Brooklyn' (2015)

Brooklyn has arrived at the cinema at the same time as new a Nicholas Sparks romance, appropriately titled The Choice. Yes viewers, if you are partial to a bit of romantic drama there is a clear choice. On one hand the clichéd, cardboard-cutout world of The Choice, with characters that would have been rejected from … More


Steve Jobs

February 12, 2016
Michael Fassbender in 'Steve Jobs' (2015)

In his documentary of last year, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Alex Gibney analysed the worldwide outpouring of grief that followed the death of the tech guru in 2011. It seemed remarkable that so many people were in tears for a man they’d never met. “I think we were weeping for the loss … More


Spotlight

February 4, 2016
Michael Keaton in 'Spotlight' (2015)

For a brief but terrible moment this week, I thought I might have to review Dirty Grandpa as my second film. I remember saying beforehand: “Don’t worry, it won’t be like Bad Grandpa, it’s got Robert De Niro.” That much was true: Dirty Grandpa made the Jackass team’s Bad Grandpa seem like an Ernst Lubitsch … More


Anomalisa

February 4, 2016
Charlie Kaufman's Stop Motion 'Anomalisa' (2015)

It gets progressively harder to argue with Ecclesiastes 1:9: “there is no new thing under the sun”, but Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have shaken my faith, with Anomalisa. It is the story of a dour, middle-aged Englishman named Michael Stone who has lived in the United States for many years without losing his accent. … More


Looking for Grace

January 28, 2016
Odessa Young in 'Looking for Grace' (2015)

Looking for Grace is yet another Australian feature that makes a virtue out of vagueness. A small, quirky film, it unfolds like a detective story that never builds up dramatic momentum. The script is permeated with deadpan comedy that echoes the disjointed, inarticulate way so many Australians interact, but there are no great insights to … More


Room

January 28, 2016
Brie Larson in 'Room' (2015)

At the same time Room was being shown in preview there was a news story about a doctor in Sweden who kidnapped a woman and held her in a purpose-built bunker for a week. Her ordeal would have lasted longer if the kidnapper hadn’t lost his nerve and taken his victim to a police station … More