Film Reviews

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


Miles Ahead

June 17, 2016
Don Cheadle in 'Miles Ahead' (2015)

In a week in which all the talk is about America’s bloody love affair with firearms, it’s remarkable to see three movies that show the devotion that Elvis, Hank Williams, and Miles Davis felt for their guns. The portrayal of Miles Davis brought to us by Don Cheadle, who both directs and stars, is on … More


Sydney Film Festival 2016

June 17, 2016
Pedro Almodóvar's 'Julieta' (2016)

This is the closing weekend of the Sydney Film Festival and I’ve managed to see 22 out of 254 films. A paltry score, but enough to get the general flavour of proceedings. Some of those films such as Goldstone, Everybody Wants Some!!, Demolition and The BFG will be released in the near future, so it … More


Sydney Film Festival 2016

June 10, 2016
The Childhood of a Leader (2015)

Whoever puts together the official program for the Sydney Film Festival should be given responsibility for the city’s urban redevelopment. The minds behind such a masterpiece of cross-referencing, indexing and organisation might have thought twice about the over-expansion of Green Square, the stealthy growth of Barangaroo, the tree massacre on Anzac Parade, and the ludicrous … More


Queen of the Desert

June 3, 2016
Nicole Kidman in 'Queen of the Desert' (2015)

Werner Herzog has made some great movies in the course of a career of more than 50 years, but Queen of the Desert isn’t one of them. In this biopic – a virtual masterpiece of miscasting – the “waif-like” Gertrude Bell is represented by the towering form of Our Nic; James Franco struggles with a … More