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Film Reviews | John McDonald

Film Reviews

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Dope

August 22, 2015

Dope is the surprise of the year. One might be excused for expecting an updated blaxploitation film, a mawkish coming-of-age saga, or a typically vulgar, sentimental teen comedy. Instead, Rick Famuwiya has given us a movie that is fast and funny, with a clever plot and crisp dialogue. Why can’t Australian directors make films like … More


Fabergé – A Life of its Own

August 22, 2015

And now, a word from our sponsor. That could be the opening line of Fabergé: A Life of its Own, an overview of a fascinating subject that manages to sound like an extended advertisement for the brand. The film is credited to no fewer than seven countries – the home nations of leading Fabergé collectors. … More


Unity

August 15, 2015

There are many definitions of what “it truly means to be human”, and Shaun Monson’s Unity tries out most of them. One of my own definitions is that it is truly human to feel a sense of creeping irritation when we find our own, most banal opinions being fed back to us as revelations. If … More


Iris

August 15, 2015

Iris Apfel is one human being who doesn’t want to be like everybody else. At the age of 93 she is the most stylish woman in New York. Yet it is an idea of style that has nothing to do with understated elegance, or even beauty, but is more like a full-blown assault on the … More


Last Cab to Darwin

August 8, 2015

When every new Australian movie seems obsessed with death, one might see a story about euthanasia as a step in the right direction. At least it’s a humane death. One could even make a case for Jeremy Sims’s Last Cab to Darwin as a film that salvages a life-affirming message from tragedy. Michael Caton plays … More


Trainwreck

August 8, 2015

American comedy nowadays seems to consist largely of gross sexual scenarios and toilet humour. Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck is pretty gross, but if it rises above the competition it is almost entirely due to Amy Schumer, who wrote the screenplay with herself in the starring role. That character, also called Amy, closely mirrors many aspects of … More


Far From Men

August 1, 2015

Albert Camus’s fiction is often set in Algeria, where a dry, barren landscape is used as an appropriately bare stage for existential dilemmas to be played out. These episodes are related in deadpan fashion but may be a matter of life or death. Each story is precisely conceived, so it’s a dangerous exercise to take … More


Self/less

August 1, 2015

Tarsem Singh’s Self/less is another movie that strives for profundity but has no qualms about including the special effects, car chases and combat scenes discerning viewers seem to expect nowadays. Even allowing for these concessions to public taste the film has copped a hiding in the United States. It may have something to do with … More


Mr. Holmes

July 25, 2015

One of the most enduring characters in popular literature, Sherlock Holmes has been played by several generations of actors. Basil Rathbone (1892-1976) remains the archetypal Holmes, setting a lean and angular standard perpetuated by most of his successors. Robert Downey Jr. is the exception, although his two Holmes movies could never be expected to please … More


13 Minutes

July 25, 2015

For a long time the Germans preferred not to dwell on the nasty facts of the Second World War, but nowadays they are emptying every skeleton out of the closet. In Berlin one may visit a museum called the Topography of Terror on the site of the old S.S. headquarters, while in Nuremberg there is … More


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