The Grand Budapest Hotel

April 12, 2014
Ralph Fiennes in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (2014)

Walking into a preview of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a colleague wondered aloud if this was the film in which Wes Anderson would overcome his penchant for symmetry. In fact, The Grand Budapest Hotel must be the most maddeningly symmetrical movie ever produced! Frames are composed with a neatness and correctness that feels obsessive-compulsive. The … More

Le Weekend

March 1, 2014
Lindsay Duncan & Jim Broadbent in 'Le Weekend' 2013

To turn from Gloria to Le Weekend is to become conscious of the gulf that separates 58 from the mid-60s. Instead of the problems of being a single mature-age woman, we meet with the frustrations of a couple who have been yoked together for 30 years, to the point where they can hardly imagine themselves … More


March 1, 2014
Paulina Garcia was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Actress at last year's Berlin International Film Festival for her role in 'Gloria' 2013

Over the past few years there has been an increasing volume of films about old people having sex – or thinking about having sex, or remembering what it was like to have sex. What began as an interesting sub-genre now resembles a movement. The trickle has become a torrent. One may only speculate on the … More

The Great Beauty

January 25, 2014
Toni Servillo in 'The Great Beauty' 2013

From one wild party to another. The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) was the opening attraction of last year’s Italian Film Festival. This week it gets a theatrical release, having just been nominated for the Academy Award for the best Foreign Language Film. Whether it wins or not, director Paolo Sorrentino has made a movie … More

The Wolf of Wall Street

January 25, 2014
Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' 2013

With most films if we can’t find any sympathy for the lead characters it’s a bad night at the cinema. The Wolf of Wall Street is the exception to the rule. A three-hour roller coaster ride that keeps us clinging to the handrail from start to finish, this orgiastic vision of greed and excess on … More


January 18, 2014
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Her', 2013

Somebody had to make a film such as Her, and Spike Jonze was a good candidate. His last feature was an accomplished fairy tale, Where the Wild Things Are (2009); the previous one, the clever Adaptation (2002). In between there have been shorts, documentaries, and music video clips. Yet Jonze is a more mature filmmaker … More

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

January 7, 2014
Ben Stiller in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', 2013

Walter Mitty entered the world in 1939, in James Thurber’s New Yorker short story about an aging, hen-pecked husband who escapes into his daydreams. One minute Mitty is steering an “eight-engined Navy hydroplane” through a fearsome storm. In quick succession he is a renowned surgeon saving the life of an important patient; a crack shot … More

August: Osage County

January 6, 2014
Meryl Streep in 'August: Osage County' 2013

A Hobbit movie gives little scope for method acting but August: Osage County offers the kind of roles that set actors salivating. Tracy Letts’s play won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was brought to Australia by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago in 2010. The year before had seen a production by the … More

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

December 21, 2013
Will Ferrell in 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' 2013

It has been a whopping nine years since Will Ferrell starred in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). This is an eternity compared to the speed with which Hollywood usually serves up sequels, although the delay may simply be due to the huge volume of film and TV work the hyperactive Ferrell has undertaken … More

American Hustle

December 14, 2013
Christian Bale in 'American Hustle' 2013

There’s something irresistible in a wellmade film about con artists, who are invariably portrayed in a sympathetic light. Perhaps there’s not much difference between them, actors and directors. Filmmakers set out to con the viewer by creating an illusion, setting false trails and expectations. We, in turn, are happy to be conned. There are plenty … More