Film Reviews

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Sydney Film Festival 2018: Fashion Documentaries

May 31, 2018

This year the Sydney Film Festival turns 65 but has no thoughts of retirement. On the contrary, with more than 250 films being screened over a mere 12 days, the SFF is operating at the peak of its powers. Arriving at a time of year when good new releases are scarce it offers something for … More


Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 25, 2018

If you’ve ever wondered what Han Solo did before the first Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story provides all the details. It seems he spent a lot of time flying spaceships and shooting at amazingly incompetent enemies with ray guns. Wow! That was a surprise. One never expects a Star Wars movie to … More


German Film Festival 2018

May 18, 2018

There have been occasions when the German Film Festival has chosen to kick off with an echte deutsche Komödie. This allowed many iterations of that lazy gag about German comedy being a contradiction in terms. This year the Germans have returned to more familiar territory: earnest dramas, with perhaps a touch of Olympian irony. This … More


Tully

May 11, 2018

Last time you saw Charlize Theron she was probably looking glamorous in tights and leather. Now, less than a year after her stunning, if slightly ridiculous, appearance as a secret agent in Atomic Blonde, she’s back! As a frumpy, depressed suburban mum. Theron has added 22 kilos in one of those body transformations that have … More


Breath

May 4, 2018

With literature everybody has their blind spots. Tim Winton is one of mine. For decades I’ve listened to apparently rational people raving about his books but whenever I’ve dipped into a novel I’ve found it so banal, so relentlessly uninteresting, that I dipped right back out again. It reads like literature for underachievers, for those … More


Loveless

April 26, 2018

“Do you think the world is about to end?” one of the characters in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless asks a workmate. “Definitely!” comes the reply. It’s as close as this ruthless portrait of contemporary Russian life gets to comedy. Zvyagintsev’s enemies accuse him of taking a “negative” view of Russia, but what are the positives? Thirty … More


Spanish Film Festival 2018

April 20, 2018

A lot of agua has flowed under the bridge since 1992 when Bigas Luna made Jamón, Jamón, with the 22-year old Javier Bardem and 17-year old Penélope Cruz. The Movida Madrileña (The Madrid Scene) – a new wave of post-Franco art, film, music and literature – had been raging for more than a decade. Pedro … More


Isle of Dogs

April 12, 2018

It may be the Year of the Dog but the Japanese are definitely cat people. Until recently Fido held his own against Kitty as a domestic pet but now the cats are in the ascendency and are surging ahead. It could hardly be otherwise with the ubiquitous Maneki Neko (“Hello Kitty!”) waving its paw in … More


The Other Side of Hope & Paul: Apostle of Christ

April 6, 2018

In pre-Enlightenment days ‘history’ was a mass of tall stories, myths and rumours. Authors were happy to recount tales of miracles and supernatural events, readers were happy to believe them. In the mid-1800s it was still scandalous when writers such as David Strauss and Ernst Renan began to challenge the historical basis of the Bible, … More


The Death of Stalin

March 30, 2018

It’s conservatively estimated that 20 million people were murdered during Joseph Stalin’s reign.“So why were they all killed?” asks Simon Sebag Montefiore, in his devastating book, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Nadezhda Mandelstam, who lost her poet husband, Osip, gave a succinct answer: “for nothing”. Montefiore suggests that under Stalin the supreme offence … More


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