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Australian film | John McDonald

Australian film

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[CENSORED]

June 15, 2018

One of the most intriguing entries in this year’s Sydney Film Festival was a documentary called [CENSORED]. It consists of 63 minutes of footage stitched together from bits cut out of films by the Australian censorship office from 1958 to 1971. Director, Sari Braithwaite, rummaged through almost 2,000 clips preserved and digitised at the National … More


Breath

May 4, 2018

With literature everybody has their blind spots. Tim Winton is one of mine. For decades I’ve listened to apparently rational people raving about his books but whenever I’ve dipped into a novel I’ve found it so banal, so relentlessly uninteresting, that I dipped right back out again. It reads like literature for underachievers, for those … More


Sweet Country

January 25, 2018

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


Whiteley

May 13, 2017

It’s a happy fluke that the release of James Bogle’s documentary on Brett Whiteley coincides with an exhibition by Vincent Van Gogh at the National Gallery of Victoria. Of the many artists Whiteley idolised and copied, Van Gogh was his all-time favourite. They were on first-name terms, with Whiteley always referring to his hero as … More


The Daughter

March 10, 2016

Being only an occasional theatre-goer, I’ve not been able to form an opinion on the productions of local Wunderkind, Simon Stone, who has made his reputation rewriting classic plays by figures such as Chekhov and Ibsen. The one play I did see – based very loosely on Gogol’s The Government Inspector – was a pretty … More


Sydney Film Festival 2014

June 14, 2014

Sydney’s passion for cinema is beyond dispute, but the annual Sydney Film Festival is as close as this hedonistic city gets to a religious experience. For two weeks diehards will submit themselves to four, possibly five films a day. It’s a luxury for those who don’t have to turn up at the office on Monday … More


Mystery Road & Exposed

October 19, 2013

Before Mel Gibson got a real American accent, the film Mad Max (1979) was dubbed to make it acceptable to a United States audience. Is that Australian twang still a barrier to international success? Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road should answer this question. The accents could hardly be more Australian but the film is pitched firmly … More


Paul Kelly: Stories of Me

November 3, 2012

Archie Roach reckons Paul Kelly is Australia’s “bard”. It’s what people used to say about Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson back in the days when poetry was a popular art. But for every man-in the-street who could recite parts of The Man from Snowy River in the 1890s, there must be thousands today who can … More


The Sapphires

August 11, 2012

It has been a long time since the Australian film industry has produced anything so uplifting, so irresistible, as The Sapphires. After an extended run of murder, mayhem, bad dialogue, and simple embarrassment, we have produced a feel-good film that actually makes one feel good – as opposed to feeling as if one is drowning … More


I Am Eleven, The Curse of the Gothic Symphony

July 21, 2012

Screening opportunities are limited for Australian filmmakers, let alone documentary makers who may only expect to recoup their costs through TV and DVD sales. Two new efforts, I Am Eleven and The Curse of the Gothic Symphony, are currently enjoying the novelty of limited releases in cinemas around Australia. I Am Eleven by rookie film-maker, … More


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