Film Reviews

The Volcano

July 12, 2014
Dany Boon & Valérie Bonneton in 'The Volcano' (2013)

For the second review I’d hoped to be writing about Beatriz’s War, the first ever feature from Timor-Leste. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prevent me seeing the film last week, so I’m falling back on a new French farce, The Volcano. One always goes to see a comedy with a sense of anticipation. It should be … More

The Lunchbox

July 12, 2014
Irrfan Khan in 'The Lunchbox' (2013)

India is by far the world’s largest producer of feature films, but very few of them make their way into our cinemas. For westerners it seems surreal when a Bollywood drama suddenly erupts into an elaborate song and dance routine that would leave Busby Berkeley gasping. For Indian audiences the opposite applies. Without the songs … More


July 5, 2014
Brendan Gleeson in 'Calvary' (2014)

Calvary arrives with a big rap, and a raging battle between fans and detractors. In England it has been hailed as possibly the greatest ever film from Ireland, but there are plenty of Irish cinema-goers angered by John Michael McDonagh’s savage parody of a broken, disfigured society. Either way, it’s compulsive viewing, thanks to a … More

JFF Encore

July 5, 2014
Takako Matsu in a scene from "Confessions"  (2010)

With film festivals increasing in number every year, and existing festivals getting bigger, it’s easy to miss the stand-out items in any program. The Japan Foundation has found an innovative way of addressing this problem with the Japanese Film Festival Encore screenings. From 9-13 July, the Foundation will be running a “Japan Academy Awards Edition” … More

Yves Saint Laurent

June 28, 2014
Pierre Niney in Yves Saint Laurent (2014)

Behind every great man, as we learn in Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, there’s a great man. More than any designer of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) revolutionised the world of fashion, but his genius for haute couture may never have been fully realised without the business acumen of Pierre Bergé. This conventional, … More

Two Faces of January

June 28, 2014
Viggo Mortensen in 'The Two Faces of January' (2014)

Some authors do not lend themselves to a cinematic adaptation, others write books that run through the reader’s mind like images on a screen. In the former category think of those tortuous psychologists of the Zeitgeist such as Proust, Mann and Musil. In the latter, close to the top of the list, stands Patricia Highsmith … More


June 21, 2014
Michael Fassbender & Domhnall Gleeson in 'Frank' (2014)

Frank is a movie that makes a fiction out of a difficult truth. The model for the lead character, who spends almost the entire movie walking around with a large papier-maché head lodged on his shoulders, was Frank Sidebottom, the creation of Chris Sievey (1955-2010), a wannabee rock star who found that wearing a different … More

The Rover

June 21, 2014
Guy Pearce in 'The Rover' (2014)

After the success of his debut feature, Animal Kingdom (2010), David Michod should have been in a position to make any film he liked. One imagines promising scripts and stories piled high on his desk; offers and ideas arriving by post, phone and email. Or maybe not. The movie industry seems glamorous to outsiders but … More

Sydney Film Festival 2014

June 14, 2014
Ellar Coltrane in 'Boyhood' (2014)

Sydney’s passion for cinema is beyond dispute, but the annual Sydney Film Festival is as close as this hedonistic city gets to a religious experience. For two weeks diehards will submit themselves to four, possibly five films a day. It’s a luxury for those who don’t have to turn up at the office on Monday … More

Grace of Monaco

June 7, 2014
Nicole Kidman in 'Grace of Monaco' (2014)

In every photograph, French director, Olivier Dahan, is shown wearing a hat. Sometimes it’s a beret, but more often a baggy, brimmed affair that makes him look like a fashion-conscious engine driver. Although I’m no style guru, it seems a rather silly affectation. In theory a director’s dress sense shouldn’t have any relevance to the … More