biography

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


13 Minutes

July 25, 2015
Christian Friedel in '13 Minutes' (2015)

For a long time the Germans preferred not to dwell on the nasty facts of the Second World War, but nowadays they are emptying every skeleton out of the closet. In Berlin one may visit a museum called the Topography of Terror on the site of the old S.S. headquarters, while in Nuremberg there is … More


Women He’s Undressed

July 18, 2015
Orry-Kelly played by Darren Gilshenan with cocktail party guests in 'Women He's Undressed' (2015)

Orry-Kelly, the subject of Gillian Armstrong’s documentary, Women He’s Undressed, is one of Australia’s unsung culture heroes. From 1932 to 1963 he designed the costumes for hundreds of Hollywood films, winning three Academy Awards. His credits include classics such as 42nd St. (1933), Jezebel (1938), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), and Oklahoma! (1955). Born … More


Amy

July 4, 2015
Amy Winehouse in 'Amy' (2015)

There is a terrible sense of inevitability about Amy. We know where the story is going before it gets started but this doesn’t lessen the morbid fascination of Amy Winehouse’s descent into the abyss. Watching Asif Kapadia’s documentary is like watching a boxing match where the TKO should have been applied at round six or … More


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