Film Reviews

Irrational Man

August 29, 2015
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Irrational Man' (2015)

“Our time, said Max Scheler, is the first in which man has become thoroughly and completely problematic to himself.” The line comes from William Barrett’s Irrational Man (1958), a book often credited with introducing Existentialist philosophy to an American audience. I have a well-thumbed paperback, and so does Woody Allen – one imagines. In Allen’s … More


Ricki and the Flash

August 29, 2015
Meryl Streep in "Ricki and the Flash' (2015)

It often seems Woody Allen can’t make up his mind whether he wants to make a feel-good film or a feel-bad one. No such indecision characterises Jonathan Demme who, in Ricki and the Flash, has created a movie to make middle-aged audiences believe all hope is not yet lost. It is a film that owes … More


Dope

August 22, 2015
Shameik Moore in 'Dope' (2015)

Dope is the surprise of the year. One might be excused for expecting an updated blaxploitation film, a mawkish coming-of-age saga, or a typically vulgar, sentimental teen comedy. Instead, Rick Famuwiya has given us a movie that is fast and funny, with a clever plot and crisp dialogue. Why can’t Australian directors make films like … More


Fabergé – A Life of its Own

August 22, 2015
The Caucasus Egg, Fabergé, 1893. The pearl, diamond and red enamel egg.

And now, a word from our sponsor. That could be the opening line of Fabergé: A Life of its Own, an overview of a fascinating subject that manages to sound like an extended advertisement for the brand. The film is credited to no fewer than seven countries – the home nations of leading Fabergé collectors. … More


Unity

August 15, 2015
'Unity' (2015) from the writer and director of 'Earthlings'.

There are many definitions of what “it truly means to be human”, and Shaun Monson’s Unity tries out most of them. One of my own definitions is that it is truly human to feel a sense of creeping irritation when we find our own, most banal opinions being fed back to us as revelations. If … More


Iris

August 15, 2015
Iris Apfel in 'Iris' (2015). PHOTOGRAPH BY KARSTEN MORAN/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

Iris Apfel is one human being who doesn’t want to be like everybody else. At the age of 93 she is the most stylish woman in New York. Yet it is an idea of style that has nothing to do with understated elegance, or even beauty, but is more like a full-blown assault on the … More


Last Cab to Darwin

August 8, 2015
Michael Caton in 'Last Cab to Darwin' (2015)

When every new Australian movie seems obsessed with death, one might see a story about euthanasia as a step in the right direction. At least it’s a humane death. One could even make a case for Jeremy Sims’s Last Cab to Darwin as a film that salvages a life-affirming message from tragedy. Michael Caton plays … More


Trainwreck

August 8, 2015
Amy Schumer in 'Trainwreck' (2015)

American comedy nowadays seems to consist largely of gross sexual scenarios and toilet humour. Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck is pretty gross, but if it rises above the competition it is almost entirely due to Amy Schumer, who wrote the screenplay with herself in the starring role. That character, also called Amy, closely mirrors many aspects of … More


Far From Men

August 1, 2015
Viggo Mortensen in 'Far from Men' (2014)

Albert Camus’s fiction is often set in Algeria, where a dry, barren landscape is used as an appropriately bare stage for existential dilemmas to be played out. These episodes are related in deadpan fashion but may be a matter of life or death. Each story is precisely conceived, so it’s a dangerous exercise to take … More


Self/less

August 1, 2015
Ryan Reynolds in 'Self/less' (2015)

Tarsem Singh’s Self/less is another movie that strives for profundity but has no qualms about including the special effects, car chases and combat scenes discerning viewers seem to expect nowadays. Even allowing for these concessions to public taste the film has copped a hiding in the United States. It may have something to do with … More


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