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Uncategorized | John McDonald

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Ray Hughes 1946 – 2017

December 15, 2017

With the death of someone truly unique it seems the only words that leap to mind are clichés. I’m already counting the number of times I’ve heard that Ray Hughes, who died last week at the age of 72, after a bout of pneumonia, was “larger than life”, a “legendary” art dealer. Such epithets may … More


Miss Sloane

March 3, 2017

Last year there were more than 11,000 registered lobbyists in the Washington DC. US$11 billion was spent on this makeshift industry, with some large firms retaining more than a hundred operatives. This well-supplied army is engaged in a continuous assault on a mere 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators. That’s roughly … 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


Learning to Drive

October 9, 2015

Learning to Drive is one of those films that spin an entire story around one simple metaphor. For a middle-aged woman, learning to drive is an act of self-determination, a way of taking control of one’s life. Having entered one’s fifties as a passenger there is a profound sense of affirmation in finally getting behind … More


Blue Jasmine & Mood Indigo

September 14, 2013

There are directors who enjoy a special rapport with actors, being able to coax memorable performances from the most unpromising talent. On the opposite side of the ledger are those such as Baz Luhrmann, who can assemble an all-star cast and turn everyone into a cardboard cut-out. Woody Allen is the joker in the pack. … More


The Bling Ring & Beyond the Hills

August 10, 2013

Sofia Coppola says she didn’t grow up in Hollywood and has never been a part of the subculture she anatomises in The Bling Ring. Yet Coppola, who has been in the film industry since birth, may be the perfect director to explore a notorious crime spree in which celebrities’ homes were burglarised by a group … More


Amour & Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

February 23, 2013

As a Valentine’s Day promotion this year, Madman Entertainment put together a package of eight DVD releases intended to take the “guesswork” out of finding a gift for one’s nearest and dearest. The selection was decidedly off-beat, including A Declaration of War, about a couple whose child has cancer; A Royal Affair – an historical … More


Picasso to Warhol

September 29, 2012

Australia’s economy may be one of the most robust in the world, but our art markets, and attendances at public galleries, lag far behind Europe and the United States. It is a cultural problem: a general feeling that visual art is not an essential part of life, merely a sideline or a luxury. This is … More


Lore

September 29, 2012

Cate Shortland enjoyed such extravagant success with Somersault, her debut feature of 2004, that it is no surprise she has taken her time to come up with film number two. The surprise is that she has made a German movie, not an Australian one. Although Shortland has drawn on Australian production skills and funding, Lore … More


Love

September 8, 2012

To imagine that a great cinematographer should make a great director is rather like saying a first violin should make a great conductor. Jack Cardiff had a long career as a leading cinematographer, but what did he leave us as a director? The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) – one of the most pretentious, and … More


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