Film Reviews

Snowden

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


Ben-Hur

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


Truman

August 12, 2016
Ricardo DarĂ­n 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