Film Reviews

Jurassic World

June 27, 2015
Chris Pratt in 'Jurassic World' (2015)

Far From the Madding Crowd may have induced feelings of melancholy, but I felt grief stricken upon reading that Jurassic World had broken all box office records in its first weekend. The revenue is now over a billion dollars, and rising, which speaks volumes about the state of popular cinema. Just because Jurassic World is … More


Far From the Madding Crowd

June 27, 2015
Carey Mulligan in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' (2015)

Screen adaptations of great novels are like retrospectives of great artists. They come around every generation, recalibrated to suit the expectations of a younger audience. As one of the definitions of a classic is that it seems relevant to each successive generation, problems arise when directors (or curators) force an ‘innovative’ new reading onto the … More


Going Clear

June 20, 2015
Alex Gibney 
(dir.) 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' (2015)

After last week’s interview with Alex Gibney I received my obligatory email from Vicki Dunstan, President of the Australian chapter of the Church of Scientology, warning me about the filmmaker’s one-sided approach in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Gibney makes “outrageous claims”, peddles “blatant falsehoods”, and refuses to consider the documentation the … More


The Emperor’s New Clothes

June 20, 2015
Russell Brand in 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (2015)

This is a particularly strong period for documentaries, which are filling the gap left by the decline of quality investigative journalism in the print media. There are as many different styles of documentary as there are filmmakers, but anyone who feels Alex Gibney is lacking objectivity, should take a look at The Emperor’s New Clothes, … More


Sydney Film Festival 2015

June 13, 2015
The Tribe (2014)

A first glance the program for the annual Sydney Film Festival is like dipping into a voluminous menu written in a foreign language. You know there are lots of good things in there but it’s not easy to identify them. Experience dictates that films which sound like non-events may turn out to be masterpieces, and … More


Marshland

June 6, 2015
Raul Arevalo in 'Marshland' (2014)

Anyone desperately seeking filmic distraction would be better advised to track down Alberto Rodríguez’s Marshland, a gripping mystery-thriller set in a desolate part of southern Spain at the end of the Franco era. The problem is that this movie will only score a limited release while Aloha screens in every multiplex. A pair of ill-matched … More


Partisan

June 6, 2015
Vincent Cassel in 'Partisan' (2015)

With a brutal civil war, followed by three decades of dictatorial rule, there’s no denying Spain’s sufferings, but nowadays the Spaniards are making great movies. I wonder if Australian cinema, conversely, is showing the symptoms of decades of peace and prosperity. Compared to the wars and political upheavals that have beset other countries, Australia has … More


SFF & Aloha

June 6, 2015
Emma Stone in 'Aloha' (2015)

Preparing for the 62nd Sydney Film Festival, with its 12 days of screenings from morning till night, is a bit like training for a marathon. I’m prepared to watch four movies a day but many people think this is madness. Don’t they all run into each other, becoming an indistinguishable mess? I can only answer … More


Wild Tales

May 30, 2015
Érica Rivas in 'Wild Tales' (2014)

“What does cinema know, that we don’t?” That’s how this column started a fortnight ago, with a quotation from German director, Rüdiger Suchsland. The same line seems even more relevant in discussing Damían Szifrón’s Wild Tales, a portmanteau film featuring six short stories about ordinary people being driven to the brink by “inequality, injustice and … More


Gemma Bovery

May 30, 2015
Gemma Arterton in 'Gemma Bovery' (2014)

Emma Bovary is one of the most enduring characters in world literature, but many would argue no screen adaptation has ever captured the spirit of Flaubert’s masterpiece – even with directors as distinguished as Jean Renoir, Vincente Minnelli and Claude Chabrol. Within a few months there will be a new Madame Bovary, directed by Sophie … More


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