Film Reviews

Café Society

October 21, 2016
Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively in Café Society (2016)

It’s become apparent that Woody Allen’s films are better when he’s not actually starring in them. This doesn’t mean these movies are quarantined against his invasive presence, merely that we don’t have to endure the same neurotic persona that seemed tremendously funny circa 1977. If Allen can’t be seen, he will still be heard, either … More

Joe Cinque’s Consolation

October 14, 2016
Maggie Naouri in 'Joe Cinque's Consolation' (2016)

Notably absent from Sotiris Dounoukos’s film, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, is the voice of Helen Garner. In the best-selling book about the death of 26-year-old Joe Cinque and the murder trial that followed, we see everything through Garner’s eyes. She makes us party to her own fears and recriminations; her battles to be fair to Joe’s … More

Early Winter

October 7, 2016
Suzanne Clément & Paul Doucet in 'Early Winter' (2015)

After watching almost four-and-a-half hours of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage, in the TV broadcast version, Clive James declared it the Higher Trash. The verdict owed something to the dubbing and translation, but he ultimately found that Bergman’s grinding portrayal of a marital breakdown was soap carved into the shape of art. One wonders … More

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

October 6, 2016
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Tim Burton is Hollywood’s greatest celebrant of non-conformity. This is partly a reflection of his own battles with studios to make the movies he wants, the way he wants. Throughout his career one can feel the ebb and flow of that drive as he wins some rounds and loses others. My favourite Burton films are … More


September 22, 2016
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Snowden' (2016)

Snowden belongs to a peculiar new genre: the fictionalised re-make of the successful documentary – in this case, Laura Poitras’s award-winning Citizenfour (2014). The question for viewers is whether director, Oliver Stone, has brought anything new and vital to the mix that was not canvassed in the real-life film. The answer is ‘no’, unless we … More

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

September 16, 2016
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (2016)

Apart from a one-off appearance on the rooftop of their London offices in 1969, the Beatles played their last gig at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on 29 August 1966. It was a shambles, coming at the end of a tour that had destroyed the group’s appetite for live performance. They had become tired of the … More

Captain Fantastic

September 10, 2016
'Captain Fantastic' (2016)

We all know mum and dad can really inflict damage on a child’s psyche, even though they may have only the best of intentions. Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic is a film about a father whose love for his children might be ruining them for life, even as he prepares them to meet every conceivable challenge. … More


September 2, 2016

Smaller than Ben-Hur! Hollywood’s most celebrated epic has been trimmed by an hour and forty minutes. Gone are the lengthy Overture and Entr’acte in which Miklos Rozsa’s bombastic music boomed against a detail of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but the new film also trims episodes deemed essential to the earlier adaptations of the story made … More

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