biography

Testament of Youth

April 25, 2015
Alicia Vikander in 'Testament of Youth' (2014)

Lest we forget it’s Anzac Day here’s another movie about the First World War, albeit far from the shores of Gallipoli. Testament of Youth is based on the war-time memoirs of Vera Brittain (1893-1970), first published in 1933, 15 years after the end of hostilities. Having begun the project as a novel Brittain struggled with … More


The Salt of the Earth

April 18, 2015
Sebastião Salgado in 'The Salt of the Earth' (2014)

When we’d finished watching The Salt of the Earth, my spouse said: “That film should be screened free of charge and everyone encouraged to see it.” This pretty much summed up my feelings as well, although I can’t imagine the Abbott government wanting everyone to view a film that speaks so poignantly about the poorest … More


Big Eyes

March 21, 2015
Amy Adams in 'Big Eyes' (2014)

When New York Times art critic, John Canaday, wrote a scathing attack on the directors of the 1964 World’s Fair for choosing to hang a gigantic picture of 100 big-eyed children as a “theme painting”, the offending item was quickly removed. Those were the days! Art criticism (and the New York Times) were taken seriously. … More


Rosewater

February 20, 2015
Gael García Bernal in 'Rosewater' (2014)

Jon Stewart’s Rosewater can hardly fail to conjure thoughts of Peter Greste’s 400 days spent in an Egyptian prison for no apparent reason than having done his job as a journalist. Maziar Bahari suffered a similar fate, being imprisoned by the Iranian government from June to October, 2009, on trumped-up charges of espionage. Stewart, as … More


Selma

February 14, 2015
David Oyelowo in 'Selma' (2014)

Selma would be a powerful film even without the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. Arriving hard on the heels of that incident, this story of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement takes on a relevance that no member of the audience can ignore. It seems that the racialist attitudes that divided the United … More


Foxcatcher

January 31, 2015
Steve Carell in 'Foxcatcher' (2014)

Sport in film is invariably used as a way of exploring human ambitions, the dizzy heights of success and the misery of failure. The game is always the game of life with its inevitable winners and losers. There have been sports dramas, comedies and musicals, but Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is a rare phenomenon: a sporting … More


The Theory of Everything

January 31, 2015
Eddie Redmayne in 'The Theory of Everything' (2014)

Stephen Hawking must be the most unlikely romantic lead ever featured in a mainstream movie. It’s hard enough to imagine a gripping film about a mathematics boffin whose greatest thrill is to solve another equation. When that boffin is struck down by a degenerative motor neurone disease that leaves him paralysed, the required level of … More


American Sniper

January 24, 2015
Bradley Cooper in 'American Sniper' (2014)

Clint Eastwood’s gung-ho endorsement of Mitt Romney in the last Presidential election campaign left no-one in any doubt about his politics. Eastwood, now in his 84th year, is a believer in old-fashioned American values. He also seems to believe that Americans should be prepared to fight to death to preserve their basic liberties, whether it … More


Wild

January 24, 2015
Reese Witherspoon in 'Wild' (2014)

American Sniper shows us a man who sees it as his moral duty to defend what is good, even if it means making vast personal sacrifices on behalf of his colleagues and his country. Wild is the story of a woman who seeks to find herself after screwing up her life big time. Chris Kyle … More


Life Itself

January 17, 2015
Roger Ebert in 'Life Itself' (2014)

Roger Ebert is the only film critic with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s curious to think that a critic can be a star, but Ebert (1942-2013) had a following that would make any actor proud. He became the unofficial dean of American movie reviewers by virtue of sheer hard work, and … More