Film Reviews

The Salesman

March 17, 2017
Taraneh Alidoosti in The Salesman (2016)

It seemed inevitable that Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman would win this year’s Oscar for best Foreign Language Film. When the Iranian director cancelled his trip to America in response to Donald Trump’s travel ban he touched the fickle hearts of Hollywood’s finest, with his physical absence proving more eloquent than any acceptance speech. The irony, … More


French Film Festival 2017

March 10, 2017
Soko in The Dancer (2016)

Whatever inventions Australians may boast about (Vegemite?), it’s best to keep quiet in Paris, because the French invented the cinema. Every year, in antipodean acknowledgement of this feat, Australians turn out in vast numbers for the Alliance Française French Film Festival. The organisers never tire of telling us that it is the biggest French film … More


Miss Sloane

March 3, 2017
Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane (2016)

Last year there were more than 11,000 registered lobbyists in the Washington DC. US$11 billion was spent on this makeshift industry, with some large firms retaining more than a hundred operatives. This well-supplied army is engaged in a continuous assault on a mere 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators. That’s roughly … More


Hidden Figures

February 24, 2017
Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures is yet another movie “based on a true story” that exercises Hollywood’s time-hallowed right to improve on the truth. The time-line for the events portrayed has been subject to a cut & paste job, while real-life characters have been given a makeover – or in the case of Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, stitched … More


Silence

February 17, 2017
Andrew Garfield in Silence (2016)

Religion is a dangerous subject for any filmmaker, but for Martin Scorsese it’s an obsession. Silence is his third religious movie after The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kundun (1997), but almost all of Scorsese’s films have been religious at heart. One has only to count the number of crucifixion scenes. Like so many … More


Toni Erdmann

February 10, 2017
Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller in Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann is a film destined to reignite that old question about the German sense of humour: “Do they have one?” It’s a stereotype Germans themselves like to joke about, in a not-very-funny way. On the evidence of Maren Ade’s long, unorthodox film it seems German humour is alive and well, although some viewers may … More


Manchester by the Sea

February 2, 2017
Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Patriotism demands we all get excited about Lion and its Oscar chances. Political correctness requires us to be appalled that a notorious sexual harasser such as Casey Affleck, has received a Best Actor nomination for Manchester by the Sea. If only life were so simple. By any standard, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea is … More


Lion

January 27, 2017
Dev Patel in Lion (2016)

There are two kinds of exotic in Lion – exotic India, all poverty and squalor; and exotic Tasmania with its rugged scenery and sporty lifestyles. Middle-class audiences in America and Europe can indulge in a double whammy: feeling sympathy for the Indians and envy for the Tasmanians. This is a first feature for Australian director, … More


Jackie

January 20, 2017
Natalie Portman in Jackie (2016)

Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot. In an interview with Theodore H. White of Life magazine one week after her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy insisted that no-one should forget Camelot. It was the song Jack loved most, the lines he … More


Passengers

January 13, 2017
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Writing in the 1920s Aldous Huxley denounced the joyless “Good Time” that had made people into passive consumers of art and entertainment. Huxley regretted that the cinema had killed off amateur theatrics, while music making at home had been supplanted by the gramophone. He believed this indulgence in instant entertainment led to a crippling sense … More