Film Reviews

Mary Magdalene

March 23, 2018
From here to Eternity, with Jesus & Mary

Of all the figures in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene has been the most misunderstood. This is partly because early commentators found it hard to distinguish between Mary of Magdala, Mary of Bethany, and the ‘sinful’ woman in the Gospel of St. Luke, who anoints Jesus’s feet in Simon’s house and dries them with her … More

Human Flow

March 16, 2018
Ai Weiwei takes another selfie in 'Human Flow'

Human Flow is a relentless film about a relentless problem. There have always been refugees – people displaced from their homes by war, persecution or natural disaster – but we are living through an era when this activity has accelerated in many different parts of the world. Ai Weiwei takes us on a global tour … More

The Square

March 9, 2018
A fundraiser gone wrong in 'The Sqare'

As another Sydney Biennale looms one wonders why there aren’t more satires on contemporary art. The reason perhaps, is that reality routinely exceeds the wildest imaginings of the satirist. The beauty of Ruben Östlund’s The Square, which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year, lies in its understatement. It presents one bizarre scenario after … More

A Fantastic Woman

March 2, 2018
Daniela Vega practises her blank expressions in 'A Fantastic Woman'

Imagine being born on the wrong side of the gender divide, living as a woman in a man’s body or vice versa. We’ve come to view so-called ‘identity politics’ as social theatre but for every transgendered person who strikes a militant pose there must be hundreds who simply crave normality. Marina, the protagonist in Sebastián … More

Alliance Française French Film Festival 2018

February 23, 2018
Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 1.05.09 pm

Every year at the opening of the Alliance Française French Film Festival we gasp with excitement at the news that this is the biggest festival of French films in the world, outside of France. Unless we think of Cannes as a “French Film Festival” this probably means it’s the biggest in the world. Australia’s love … More

Lady Bird

February 16, 2018
Glamorous costumes on display in Greta Gerwig's 'Lady Bird'

It’s long been apparent that Woody Allen’s best films are those in which he doesn’t make an appearance. One day we may be applying the same standard to Greta Gerwig. Her ‘goofy girl’ routine still had its charm in Frances Ha (2012) but by the time of Mistress America, only three years later, it was … More

Happy End

February 10, 2018
A friendly family get-together in Michael Haneke's 'Happy End'

When Michael Haneke calls a film Happy End, one anticipates a thoroughly miserable experience for everyone concerned. Forewarned is forearmed. If you go into this movie expecting a withering indictment of the cold-hearted French bourgeoisie you might even squeeze out a snicker or two at the sheer awfulness of the dramatis personae. It’s to be … More

I, Tonya

February 2, 2018
Skating to oblivion, Margot Robbie in 'I,Tonya'

Tonya Harding, my star Well this world is a cold one But it takes one to know one And God only knows what you are Sufjan Stevens claims to have spent 25 years trying to write a song about Tonya Harding. In the ballad that finally appeared late last year he still can’t seem to … More

Sweet Country

January 25, 2018
Rough justice in 'Sweet Country'

Sweet Country is Warwick Thornton’s contribution to the Australia Day debate. It’s an issue that returns every year with growing force as left-wing moralism locks horns with the forces of right-wing populism. The polarisation is particularly disturbing in light of a recent survey that revealed 56% of the population couldn’t care less whether Australia Day … More

The Shape of Water

January 20, 2018
Elisa meets the creature of her dreams in 'The Shape of Water'

With the passing of time it’s possible to look back on any period with nostalgia. Stephan Elliott proves the point in Swinging Safari, a time capsule of the 1970s that’s advertised as a comedy, but may be the greatest Australian horror film since Wake in Fright. It’s more common for moviemakers to feel nostalgia for … More