Film Reviews


February 22, 2014
Joel Kinnaman in 'RoboCop' 2014

RoboCop redux generates seriously diminished expectations. How could one expect anything but a travesty of Paul Verhoeven’s original RoboCop of 1987? The big budget remake of Verhoeven’s Total Recall was possibly the most execrable Hollywood production of 2012, so one could only brace for the worst. It is with relief and surprise that I can … More

Dallas Buyers Club

February 22, 2014
Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in 'Dallas Buyers Club' 2013

It was startling enough to see Christian Bale porking up to play a middle-aged conman in American Hustle, but this seems like a piece of cake – or perhaps lots of cake and donuts – alongside Matthew McConaughey’s drastic transformation for Dallas Buyers Club. Anyone can pile on the kilos but it takes extraordinary discipline … More

Blue is the Warmest Colour

February 15, 2014
Léa Seydoux as Emma in 'Blue is the Warmest Colour', 2013

Queen Victoria allegedly saw no reason for criminalising lesbianism because she couldn’t understand what such women actually did. Although this old story is almost certainly false, on the very slim chance there is anyone today feeling similarly bewildered, Blue is the Warmest Colour offers a most comprehensive demonstration. This film, which goes by the catchy … More

The Past

February 15, 2014
Bérénice Bejo as Marie in 'The Past', 2013

To the best of my knowledge there is not a single ten minute lesbian sex scene in the entire corpus of Iranian cinema. For films made in Iran even the simplest questions about sex, religion or morality can fall foul of the censors. The paradox is that these strictures have produced a body of work … More

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

February 8, 2014
'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' (2013)
Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela

There is a special tone reserved for the bio-pic of some major historical figure. Such films tend to be stately, respectful, almost in awe of their subject. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a textbook example of the genre. Despite the obligatory disclaimer that it will show us the hero as we have never seen … More

A Touch of Sin

February 8, 2014
Actor Wu Jiang stars in the film 'A Touch of Sin' (2013)

For this week’s second film I’m going to depart from the mainstream and discuss Jia Zhang-ke’s A Touch of Sin, screening throughout February at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. To give a first viewing to important movies that have yet to find a distributor in this country is one of ACMI’s … More

12 Years a Slave

February 1, 2014
Chiwetel Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave', 2013

It used to be commonplace for directors to cut their teeth in the theatre before moving on to the cinema. In the future it seems likely there will be more directors who begin their careers at art school making videos and installations before progressing to full-length features. Steve McQueen is currently the most prominent example … More

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

February 1, 2014
Andrew Jacobs in 'Paranormal Activity: The Markes Ones', 2014

Paranormal Activity has become one of those franchises that seems destined to drag on forever, with each new installment introducing a few small innovations to keep the fans interested. The original Paranormal Activity of 2007 was a low budget sensation. Reputedly made at a cost of US$15,000, it has grossed more than US$100 million since … More

The Great Beauty

January 25, 2014
Toni Servillo in 'The Great Beauty' 2013

From one wild party to another. The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) was the opening attraction of last year’s Italian Film Festival. This week it gets a theatrical release, having just been nominated for the Academy Award for the best Foreign Language Film. Whether it wins or not, director Paolo Sorrentino has made a movie … More

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