comedy

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Ladies in Black

September 20, 2018

“Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!” lamented Shelley. He wasn’t referring to the Australian film industry but his words could hardly be more apposite. The number of local films I’ve watched in recent years that inspired even the faintest twinge of delight might be counted on the fingers of one hand. Finally, the drought … More


Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2018

September 14, 2018

In 2014 Paolo Sorrentino won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for The Great Beauty, a movie that updated Fellini’s La Dolce Vita for the age of Silvio Berlusconi. The headliner at this year’s Lavazza Italian Film Festival is Sorrentino’s Loro, a bio pic of the former Italian Prime Minister, that paints a … More


Crazy Rich Asians

August 23, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians arrives on a wave of hype that would put Hokusai to shame. We are told with great fanfare that it’s the first Hollywood film to feature an all-Asian cast since Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club (1993). It’s seen more broadly as an antidote to Hollywood’s phobia about using Asian actors, which … More


The Breaker Upperers

July 21, 2018

The Breaker Upperers, which screened on opening night of this year’s Sydney Film Festival, got a riotous reception on an evening when everybody was in the mood for a party. Will it survive more sober assessments? It’s crude, vulgar and slapdash, so don’t go along expecting the Lubitsch touch. The film is a two-hander for … More


Isle of Dogs

April 12, 2018

It may be the Year of the Dog but the Japanese are definitely cat people. Until recently Fido held his own against Kitty as a domestic pet but now the cats are in the ascendency and are surging ahead. It could hardly be otherwise with the ubiquitous Maneki Neko (“Hello Kitty!”) waving its paw in … More


The Other Side of Hope & Paul: Apostle of Christ

April 6, 2018

In pre-Enlightenment days ‘history’ was a mass of tall stories, myths and rumours. Authors were happy to recount tales of miracles and supernatural events, readers were happy to believe them. In the mid-1800s it was still scandalous when writers such as David Strauss and Ernst Renan began to challenge the historical basis of the Bible, … More


The Death of Stalin

March 30, 2018

It’s conservatively estimated that 20 million people were murdered during Joseph Stalin’s reign.“So why were they all killed?” asks Simon Sebag Montefiore, in his devastating book, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Nadezhda Mandelstam, who lost her poet husband, Osip, gave a succinct answer: “for nothing”. Montefiore suggests that under Stalin the supreme offence … More


The Square

March 9, 2018

As another Sydney Biennale looms one wonders why there aren’t more satires on contemporary art. The reason perhaps, is that reality routinely exceeds the wildest imaginings of the satirist. The beauty of Ruben Östlund’s The Square, which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year, lies in its understatement. It presents one bizarre scenario after … More


Alliance Française French Film Festival 2018

February 23, 2018

Every year at the opening of the Alliance Française French Film Festival we gasp with excitement at the news that this is the biggest festival of French films in the world, outside of France. Unless we think of Cannes as a “French Film Festival” this probably means it’s the biggest in the world. Australia’s love … More


Lady Bird

February 16, 2018

It’s long been apparent that Woody Allen’s best films are those in which he doesn’t make an appearance. One day we may be applying the same standard to Greta Gerwig. Her ‘goofy girl’ routine still had its charm in Frances Ha (2012) but by the time of Mistress America, only three years later, it was … More


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