Film Reviews

The Wolf of Wall Street

January 25, 2014
Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' 2013

With most films if we can’t find any sympathy for the lead characters it’s a bad night at the cinema. The Wolf of Wall Street is the exception to the rule. A three-hour roller coaster ride that keeps us clinging to the handrail from start to finish, this orgiastic vision of greed and excess on … More


January 18, 2014
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Her', 2013

Somebody had to make a film such as Her, and Spike Jonze was a good candidate. His last feature was an accomplished fairy tale, Where the Wild Things Are (2009); the previous one, the clever Adaptation (2002). In between there have been shorts, documentaries, and music video clips. Yet Jonze is a more mature filmmaker … More

Inside Llewyn Davis

January 18, 2014
Oscar Isaac in 'Inside Llewyn Davis', 2013

In The Folk Song Army the satirist Tom Lehrer took aim at the folk revival that swept the United States in the early 1960s. “You have to admire people who sing these songs,” he said. “It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out … More

The Book Thief

January 11, 2014
Sophie Nélisse in 'The Book Thief', 2013

Last month, for the first and only time in my experience, the author of the book behind the film was present at a preview. Markus Zusak has a German father and an Austrian mother, but he grew up in the Sydney suburbs. Zusak published his first young-adult novel, The Underdog (1999) at the age of … More

Short Term 12

January 11, 2014
Brie Larson in 'Short Term 12', 2013

I’ve been in two minds this week about a second review: whether to go with Jonathan Teplitzy’s The Railway Man and its maudlin “true story” of an aging train-spotter who compulsively relives the nightmare of imprisonment by the Japanese in World War Two; or Short Term 12, an American indie about a young woman who … More


January 7, 2014
Judi Dench in 'Philomena', 2013

Stephen Frears is one of the most versatile of British filmmakers, although the standard price of versatility is inconsistency. It’s hard to think of a truly great Frears film but there have been some very good ones. More of a tradesman than an artist, he has the ability to get an outstanding performance out of … More

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

January 7, 2014
Ben Stiller in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', 2013

Walter Mitty entered the world in 1939, in James Thurber’s New Yorker short story about an aging, hen-pecked husband who escapes into his daydreams. One minute Mitty is steering an “eight-engined Navy hydroplane” through a fearsome storm. In quick succession he is a renowned surgeon saving the life of an important patient; a crack shot … More

August: Osage County

January 6, 2014
Meryl Streep in 'August: Osage County' 2013

A Hobbit movie gives little scope for method acting but August: Osage County offers the kind of roles that set actors salivating. Tracy Letts’s play won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was brought to Australia by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago in 2010. The year before had seen a production by the … More

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

January 6, 2014
Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' 2013

J.R.R.Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings is reputedly the second bestselling novel of all time – after A Tale of Two Cities! A trilogy of some 1,800 pages, it is the sequel to The Hobbit, the fourth bestseller of all time, which clocks in at a mere 270 pages. Yet both stories have been turned … More

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

December 21, 2013
Will Ferrell in 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' 2013

It has been a whopping nine years since Will Ferrell starred in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). This is an eternity compared to the speed with which Hollywood usually serves up sequels, although the delay may simply be due to the huge volume of film and TV work the hyperactive Ferrell has undertaken … More