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Other Writing | John McDonald

Other Writing


June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-03 at 2.20.44 PM

It’s sheer coincidence that both this week’s films are by female directors with French connections who play a role in their respective features. The difference is that Polisse, by Maïwenn, has all the drama, the humour and the acting that one misses in Where Do We Go Now? While the latter has a story that … More

Where Do We Go Now?

June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-01 at 5.38.47 PM

“A pretty silly film,” said my spouse, as we left the theatre. This was a damning verdict, as Where Do We Go Now? is essentially a chick flick with political pretensions, designed to appeal to educated, middle class women of a small-l liberal persuasion. When the target audience declares the movie a failure this makes … More


June 23, 2012
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Do the Russians make teenage slob films? I had this thought as I was watching Elena, the new production by Andrei Zvyagintsev, while reflecting on the preview I had attended the day before – That’s My Boy. It’s fairly obvious which movie will achieve the biggest box office, but it’s also a depressing thought. That’s … More

A Royal Affair

June 23, 2012
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There’s something well made in the state of Denmark. A Royal Affair is one of those films that never seems to lose its way, or take flight. Danish director, Nikolaj Arcel, has gone about his task with consummate professionalism, for which one might be thankful in light of the awful mess Sofia Coppola made of … More

The Chef

June 16, 2012
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With a film about food and cookery, a director can hardly fail. Whatever the deficiences of the script, the acting or camerawork, the subject has such an intrinsic attraction an audience will keep watching just to see the next dish. Daniel Cohen’s The Chef is better than that – a slick French farce as predictable … More


June 16, 2012
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No film this year has arrived with such high expectations as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the long-awaited prequel to Alien – a movie that spawned a franchise and a cult. I attended a preview at the iMax in Darling Harbour on a night when the wind and rain were causing mayhem all over Sydney. The place … More


June 9, 2012
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Frankenstein is one of those rare stories that seems to grow more meaningful with every passing year. Written by the eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley, in 1816-17, it has the distinction of being both a literary classic and the ancestor of the two popular genres we know as horror and science fiction. It has always been recognised … More

The Duel

June 9, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-25 at 3.03.10 PM

Ivan Andreyevich Laevsky is a superfluous man (lyishniy chelovek) – one of a breed of indolent, selfish characters that haunt the pages of 19th century Russian novels. A minor civil servant by profession, Laevsky has run off to the Caucasus with Nadia, another man’s wife, where their illicit relationship can blossom in close proximity to … More

Declaration of War

June 2, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-23 at 4.38.44 PM

Declaration of War may be the most peculiar, most polarising film of the year. A controversial choice for the opening night of the 2012 French Film Festival in Sydney, it divided the audience between those who felt touched and moved, and those who saw it as a monumental act of self-indulgence. As a general rule … More

Get the Gringo

June 2, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-23 at 4.26.30 PM

South of the border, down Mexico way. We’ve been here before, but never in the company of Mel Gibson, working to restore a reputation that has taken a dive in recent years. There have been slight problems with alcohol, domestic violence, and anti-Semitic pronouncements delivered to officers of the law. “Sick to his empty core … More