Film Reviews

Birdman

January 17, 2015
Michael Keaton in 'Birdman' (2014)

Mexican director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, has a reputation for dark and difficult films but Birdman is a philosophical black comedy that holds us from first to last. It’s a story about the theatre that examines the changing nature of fame, the difficulty of human relationships, the splendours and miseries of the actor’s life. It’s also … More


Mr. Turner

January 12, 2015
Timothy Spall in 'Mr. Turner' (2014)

“Turner’s thoughts were much deeper than ordinary men can penetrate,” said his friend, George Jones, “and much deeper than he could at any time describe.” He might have been reviewing Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, which captures all the quirks and contradictions of Britain’s greatest artist. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), was a giant among landscape … More


The Water Diviner

January 10, 2015
Russell Crowe in 'The Water Diviner' (2014)

In the 1960s Anzac Day was routinely criticised as a celebration of war and a debased, drunken spectacle. Nowadays, in a country of far greater ethnic diversity, April 25 is treated with reverence. Indeed, to voice those criticisms that were commonplace in the 60s would be to risk being branded with the ultimate insult: “un-Australian”. … More


St. Vincent

January 10, 2015
Bill Murray in 'St. Vincent' (2014)

Sentimentality looms dangerously over Theodore Melfi’s comedy-drama, St. Vincent, which tells the tale of an aging misanthrope who becomes baby-sitter for a precocious little boy. I can hear the alarm bells ringing already. “It’s not that snotty little creep from Love Actually, is it?” Fortunately, no. The boy, Oliver, is played by 11-year-old Jaeden Lieberher, … More


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

January 10, 2015
Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' (2014)

If Mr. Turner finds a director at the top of his game, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the work of a mad scientist defeated by a monstrous machine of his own devising. This third and final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, following on from the hugely popular Lord of the Rings … More


Annie

December 20, 2014
Quvenzhané Wallis in 'Annie' (2014)

This time of year the main choices for a critic are between movies for children and movies for childish adults. I’ve yet to see the film about Paddington Bear the Asylum Seeker but I’d recommend going soon before Scott Morrison slaps a ban on it. That leaves Annie – a film of wasted opportunities. The … More


Exodus: Gods and Kings

December 20, 2014
Christian Bale in 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' (2014)

Exodus: Gods and Kings was always going to be a spectacle on a grand scale but the challenge for director, Ridley Scott, was how to deal with the larger-than-life characters of Moses, the Pharaoh Ramses, and err.. God. He has made some bold choices, not the least being the casting of 11-year-old Isaac Andrews as … More


The Green Prince

December 13, 2014
Mosab Hassan Yousef in 'The Green Prince' (2014)

Nadav Schirman’s feature-length documentary, The Green Prince, has the makings of a great espionage thriller. It’s impossible not to think of those films made from John Le Carré’s novels, but in this instance it is reality that resembles fiction. For ten years Mossab Hassan Yousef was the prize recruit for the Israeli secret intelligence agency, … More


Folies Bergère

December 13, 2014
Isabelle Huppert in 'Folies Bergères' (2014)

Isabelle Huppert has the rare ability to conjure up a character while remaining almost completely impassive. Some actors undergo an expressive transformation from one role to the next, but Huppert’s style is that of a minimalist. The straight face gives an impression of hidden depths, and this may be why – although far from conventionally … More


A Thousand Times Goodnight

December 6, 2014
Juliette Binoche in 'A Thousand Times Goodnight' (2013)

When a film begins as powerfully as A Thousand Times Goodnight, the danger is that everything that follows will be anti-climactic. The problem for Norwegian director, Erik Poppe, is to balance the movie’s brief action sequences against long periods of domestic drama in which Rebecca, a leading war photographer, weighs up conflicting commitments to work … More