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comedy | John McDonald

comedy

Isle of Dogs

April 12, 2018
Atari and friends ride the dumpster in 'Isle of Dogs'

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
Khaled meets the team, in 'The Other Side of Hope'

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
What do we do now? The fallen idol & his disciples

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
A fundraiser gone wrong in 'The Sqare'

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
Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 1.05.09 pm

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
Glamorous costumes on display in Greta Gerwig's 'Lady Bird'

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


I, Tonya

February 2, 2018
Skating to oblivion, Margot Robbie in 'I,Tonya'

Tonya Harding, my star Well this world is a cold one But it takes one to know one And God only knows what you are Sufjan Stevens claims to have spent 25 years trying to write a song about Tonya Harding. In the ballad that finally appeared late last year he still can’t seem to … More


Downsizing & Call Me By Your Name

December 30, 2017
Floral tribute.. Downsizing

Last week saw a drought of reviewable films but Boxing Day always brings the deluge. The two most attractive, for me at least, are Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, and Call Me By Your Name by talented Italian director, Luca Guadagnino. The former might be called a comedy of ideas, the second is an unconventional, deeply intimate … More


The Disaster Artist

December 2, 2017
Oh, Hi Mark.

Tommy Wiseau was not your standard Hollywood male lead. With long black hair, an accent that sounded like Count Dracula, and about six studded belts, he looked like an aging refugee from a heavy metal band. In his mind, however, Tommy was right up there with Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio. He was horrified to … More


Russian Resurrection Film Festival 2017

October 27, 2017
Tonight, the ballet... Valery Todorovsky's ''The Boshoi

Why Russian Resurrection Film Festival? Is it a reference to Tolstoy’s famous novel, or to the revival of the Russian film industry in the post-Soviet era? A bit of both, I imagine, as the 14th RRFF is preocuppied with history and the literary classics. This year’s festival features a retrospective of films by Andrei Konchalovsky … More