comedy

David Brent: Life on the Road

August 25, 2016
Ricky Gervais in 'David Brent: Life on the Road' (2016)

Almost everyone who has worked in an office will have thought from time to time it would make a great comedy series. So when Ricky Gervais gave us The Office in 2001, I felt he must have had a spy at the National Gallery of Australia. The similarities between that institution and the fictional world … More


Sausage Party

August 19, 2016
'Sausage Party' (2016)

In Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel, White Noise, two professors from a Mid-western University roam around a supermarket with their shopping trolleys. Murray, from the Department of Popular Culture, analyses the experience and decides it’s like being in a Tibetan temple. “Look how well-lighted everything is…” he says, “sealed off…timeless… Dying is an art in Tibet…Chants, … More


Truman

August 12, 2016
Ricardo Darín in 'Truman' (2015)

Following Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we now have a film from Spain that might credibly be called Death and Friendship. In fact it’s called Truman, after a maudlin old pooch kept by a lead character, but death is a constant presence in this story. We see such an astonishing quantity of death at the … More


Arab Film Festival

July 28, 2016
'Halal Love' (2015)

This week found me at the opening of the Arab Film Festival in Parramatta for a Lebanese movie called Halal Love. The place was packed with a noisy, bustling crowd estimated by the festival directors as 70 percent Muslim, 30 percent non-Muslim. As a celebration of the strength and diversity of Arab culture in Sydney’s … More


Love & Friendship

July 22, 2016
Kate Beckinsale in 'Love & Friendship' (2016)

On the occasion of her 19th birthday Jane Austen’s father bought her a mahogany writing desk. Today it might have been a new laptop, but the intention was the same: to encourage his daughter’s literary hobby, which seemed quite harmless. He was less relaxed about her growing tendency for flirting with young males at the … More


Everybody Wants Some!!

June 23, 2016
Blake Jenner in 'Everybody Wants Some!!' (2016)

A drama about five Turkish girls oppressed by their narrow-minded relatives is hardly the ideal preparation for a consideration of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! – a breezy time capsule set in 1980, featuring a group of jocks who have come to college to play baseball, seduce girls, and possibly attend a few lectures. Not … More


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

May 26, 2016
Julian Dennison in 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' (2016)

I’ve never wished I was a New Zealander except in the middle of one of Taika Waititi’s movies. There’s so much local colour, so many gags that only a Kiwi would understand, that I always feel I’m missing something. In What We Do in the Shadows it was funny to see the vampires strolling down … More


The Nice Guys

May 26, 2016
Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe in 'The Nice Guys' (2016)

Take Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, a sassy blonde teenager, and a salacious story that revolves around the Los Angeles porn industry circa 1977, and you have The Nice Guys. It’s not so much a formula film as half a dozen formulas that director, Shane Black, has mixed together to create a surprisingly fizzy cocktail. … More


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

May 12, 2016
Tina Fey in 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' (2016)

If The Martian can be classified as a comedy in last year’s Golden Globes, I suppose the same applies to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa strive mightily to keep the tone light in a film in which there is a significant amount of carnage and bloodshed, but it’s never laugh-out-loud material. … More


Florence Foster Jenkins

May 6, 2016
Meryl Streep in 'Florence Foster Jenkins' (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) entered my consciousness in the early 1990s when I first heard her rendition of the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. This shrieking, tuneless performance of one of the most challenging pieces in the soprano’s repertoire is the stuff of high comedy. In 2003 Naxos issued an album … More