Film Reviews

David Brent: Life on the Road

August 25, 2016
Ricky Gervais in 'David Brent: Life on the Road' (2016)

Almost everyone who has worked in an office will have thought from time to time it would make a great comedy series. So when Ricky Gervais gave us The Office in 2001, I felt he must have had a spy at the National Gallery of Australia. The similarities between that institution and the fictional world … More


Sausage Party

August 19, 2016
'Sausage Party' (2016)

In Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel, White Noise, two professors from a Mid-western University roam around a supermarket with their shopping trolleys. Murray, from the Department of Popular Culture, analyses the experience and decides it’s like being in a Tibetan temple. “Look how well-lighted everything is…” he says, “sealed off…timeless… Dying is an art in Tibet…Chants, … More


Truman

August 12, 2016
Ricardo Darín in 'Truman' (2015)

Following Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we now have a film from Spain that might credibly be called Death and Friendship. In fact it’s called Truman, after a maudlin old pooch kept by a lead character, but death is a constant presence in this story. We see such an astonishing quantity of death at the … More


Embrace of the Serpent

August 4, 2016
Nilbio Torres in 'Embrace the Serpent' (2015)

There can’t be many films in which the lead actor has never actually seen a movie before, let alone starred in one. This unique achievement belongs to Nilbio Torres, an Amazonian Indian who plays a lead role in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, the first Columbian film to have been nominated for an Academy … More


Arab Film Festival

July 28, 2016
'Halal Love' (2015)

This week found me at the opening of the Arab Film Festival in Parramatta for a Lebanese movie called Halal Love. The place was packed with a noisy, bustling crowd estimated by the festival directors as 70 percent Muslim, 30 percent non-Muslim. As a celebration of the strength and diversity of Arab culture in Sydney’s … More


Love & Friendship

July 22, 2016
Kate Beckinsale in 'Love & Friendship' (2016)

On the occasion of her 19th birthday Jane Austen’s father bought her a mahogany writing desk. Today it might have been a new laptop, but the intention was the same: to encourage his daughter’s literary hobby, which seemed quite harmless. He was less relaxed about her growing tendency for flirting with young males at the … More


Demolition

July 15, 2016
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Demolition' (2015)

Eighteenth century writers gave us the novel of sentiment, and a character known as ‘the man of feeling’ – which was the title of a best-seller of 1771 by Scotsman, Henry Mackenzie. The man of feeling responded readily to misfortunes and joys of others, and this display of sensitivity was seen as profoundly moral. Readers … More


Goldstone

July 8, 2016
Aaron Pedersen in 'Goldstone' (2016)

In Goldstone, Indigenous director, Ivan Sen, explores a new cinematic sub-genre. Let’s call it Outback Noir. Instead of darkened rooms and night clubs, the action takes place in the blazing Australian desert. Sen’s characters don’t sit at a bar with shadows from a Venetian blind falling over their faces, they squint in the glare of … More


Everybody Wants Some!!

June 23, 2016
Blake Jenner in 'Everybody Wants Some!!' (2016)

A drama about five Turkish girls oppressed by their narrow-minded relatives is hardly the ideal preparation for a consideration of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! – a breezy time capsule set in 1980, featuring a group of jocks who have come to college to play baseball, seduce girls, and possibly attend a few lectures. Not … More


Mustang

June 23, 2016
Günes Sensoy in 'Mustang' (2015)

Put five teenage sisters together in one household and it’s a recipe for chaos. Put them into a provincial household in Turkey and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. First-time director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, has made a film that sums up the violent contradictions that face a young generation of Turks growing up in a … More