Film Reviews


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

Kill Your Darlings

December 21, 2013
Daniel Radcliffe in 'Kill Your Darlings' 2013

Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr. The first three were among the most famous writers of their generation, the last worked for 47 years as a news editor for United Press International. Yet in the formative years of the Beat Generation, Lucien Carr was the hippest of the hip. This brief, glittering … More

The Met: Captured Live in HD/National Theatre Live

December 14, 2013
Anna Netrebko and Ambrogio Maestri in 'L'Elisir d'Amore. Photographed by Nick Heavican

For those who hesitate to keep up a subscription at the opera or the theatre the live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the National Theatre Live from Britain, are a pure pleasure. For less than $30 one can sample the very best these cities have to offer, getting ringside seats for shows … More

American Hustle

December 14, 2013
Christian Bale in 'American Hustle' 2013

There’s something irresistible in a wellmade film about con artists, who are invariably portrayed in a sympathetic light. Perhaps there’s not much difference between them, actors and directors. Filmmakers set out to con the viewer by creating an illusion, setting false trails and expectations. We, in turn, are happy to be conned. There are plenty … More

Night Train to Lisbon

December 7, 2013
Jeremy Irons in 'Night Train To Lisbon'.

In Jack Cardiff’s Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), which marries pretension and sexploitation in a way that only the 1960s could conceive, Marianne Faithfull abandons her boring schoolteacher husband and roars off to Switzerland on a big Harley-Davidson for a romantic assignation with Alain Delon. Most girls might think this sounds like a perfectly logical … More

The Darkside

December 7, 2013
Warwick Thorton's 'The Darkside' 2013

Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside is one of those rare films that defies categorisation. It is being called a “documentary” for want of a better word, but it’s also a drama and a horror movie at one remove. A succession of wellknown actors tell us stories about ghosts and supernatural occurrences. These stories are word-for-word renditions … More