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Film Reviews | John McDonald

Film Reviews

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Alliance Française French Film Festival 2018

February 23, 2018

Every year at the opening of the Alliance Française French Film Festival we gasp with excitement at the news that this is the biggest festival of French films in the world, outside of France. Unless we think of Cannes as a “French Film Festival” this probably means it’s the biggest in the world. Australia’s love … More


Lady Bird

February 16, 2018

It’s long been apparent that Woody Allen’s best films are those in which he doesn’t make an appearance. One day we may be applying the same standard to Greta Gerwig. Her ‘goofy girl’ routine still had its charm in Frances Ha (2012) but by the time of Mistress America, only three years later, it was … More


Happy End

February 10, 2018

When Michael Haneke calls a film Happy End, one anticipates a thoroughly miserable experience for everyone concerned. Forewarned is forearmed. If you go into this movie expecting a withering indictment of the cold-hearted French bourgeoisie you might even squeeze out a snicker or two at the sheer awfulness of the dramatis personae. It’s to be … More


I, Tonya

February 2, 2018

Tonya Harding, my star Well this world is a cold one But it takes one to know one And God only knows what you are Sufjan Stevens claims to have spent 25 years trying to write a song about Tonya Harding. In the ballad that finally appeared late last year he still can’t seem to … More


Sweet Country

January 25, 2018

Sweet Country is Warwick Thornton’s contribution to the Australia Day debate. It’s an issue that returns every year with growing force as left-wing moralism locks horns with the forces of right-wing populism. The polarisation is particularly disturbing in light of a recent survey that revealed 56% of the population couldn’t care less whether Australia Day … More


The Shape of Water

January 20, 2018

With the passing of time it’s possible to look back on any period with nostalgia. Stephan Elliott proves the point in Swinging Safari, a time capsule of the 1970s that’s advertised as a comedy, but may be the greatest Australian horror film since Wake in Fright. It’s more common for moviemakers to feel nostalgia for … More


The Post

January 12, 2018

Steven Spielberg is to the cinema as Volvo is to the world of automobiles. Everyone recognises that a Volvo is an excellent, well-made car. It’s safe, reliable, high quality… but it will never get your pulse racing. With Spielberg we can be confident that each new feature will be a quality product. He’s too experienced, … More


All the Money in the World

January 5, 2018

Everything has a price. That’s the philosophy of life put forward by J.Paul Getty – not simply the richest man in the world in 1973, but allegedly the richest man that had ever lived. Getty applied the same principle when he sought to beat down the ransom demands of the gangsters who had kidnapped his … More


Downsizing & Call Me By Your Name

December 30, 2017

Last week saw a drought of reviewable films but Boxing Day always brings the deluge. The two most attractive, for me at least, are Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, and Call Me By Your Name by talented Italian director, Luca Guadagnino. The former might be called a comedy of ideas, the second is an unconventional, deeply intimate … More


2017: My Year in the Cinema

December 23, 2017

Cinema is like painting. Every year it’s said to be in terminal decline but new talents keep emerging and attendance records keep climbing. It could be argued that with both painting and film the greatest success is enjoyed by the most spectacular and gimmicky of products, but has it ever been any different? Public taste … More


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