crime

Black Mass

October 9, 2015
Johnny Depp in 'Black Mass' (2015)

How many dud movies does it take before one can be over an actor? With his roles in films such as Mortdecai (2015) and Tusk (2014), Johnny Depp has been sailing close to the wind. It’s been a long time since he has worked harder on a character than he does with Boston gangster, James … More


Cut Snake

September 25, 2015
Sullivan Stapleton in 'Cut Snake' (2014)

It’s a chilling prospect but we seem to be in the midst of a seventies revival. A growing number of new films are either set in the seventies or draw upon the music of that era. The latest is Tony Ayres’s Cut Snake, which takes us on an anti-nostalgic journey through the Australian suburban sprawl, … More


Dope

August 22, 2015
Shameik Moore in 'Dope' (2015)

Dope is the surprise of the year. One might be excused for expecting an updated blaxploitation film, a mawkish coming-of-age saga, or a typically vulgar, sentimental teen comedy. Instead, Rick Famuwiya has given us a movie that is fast and funny, with a clever plot and crisp dialogue. Why can’t Australian directors make films like … More


Mr. Holmes

July 25, 2015
Ian McKellen in 'Mr. Holmes' (2015)

One of the most enduring characters in popular literature, Sherlock Holmes has been played by several generations of actors. Basil Rathbone (1892-1976) remains the archetypal Holmes, setting a lean and angular standard perpetuated by most of his successors. Robert Downey Jr. is the exception, although his two Holmes movies could never be expected to please … More


The Mafia Kills Only in Summer

July 4, 2015
Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif) in 'The Mafia Kills Only in Summer' (2013)

To make a romantic comedy about the depredations of the Mafia in Sicily sounds like a recipe for cinematic oblivion. Could this be anything other than a grave error of taste and judgement? It might even prove dangerous if today’s crop of crime bosses took offence. Pierfrancesco Diliberto, better known as Pif, has attempted this … More


Marshland

June 6, 2015
Raul Arevalo in 'Marshland' (2014)

Anyone desperately seeking filmic distraction would be better advised to track down Alberto Rodríguez’s Marshland, a gripping mystery-thriller set in a desolate part of southern Spain at the end of the Franco era. The problem is that this movie will only score a limited release while Aloha screens in every multiplex. A pair of ill-matched … More


Inherent Vice

March 14, 2015
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Inherent Vice' (2014)

Anyone who complains that the plot of Inherent Vice is confusing has obviously never read a novel by Thomas Pynchon. Confusion, or rather paranoia, is the standard condition of most of Pynchon’s characters, and perhaps readers, – which may explain why Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is the first attempt to bring this elusive author’s work … More


A Most Violent Year

February 28, 2015
Oscar Issac in 'A Most Violent Year' (2014)

Oscar Isaac does his best to channel Al Pacino in A Most Violent Year, while director, J.C.Chandor acts as the medium by which the late Sidney Lumet gets to direct another film. These flashes of déjà vu don’t spoil a slow burning thriller that smoulders but never quite blazes. Despite the title, A Most Violent … More


Nightcrawler

November 29, 2014
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Nightcrawler' (2014)

Lou Bloom is a true believer in the American Dream – self-motivated, ambitious, unfailingly polite and well-spoken. By his own assessment Lou is a fast learner, a self-improver, a small businessman prepared to take risks to achieve his long-term goals. “Good things come to those who work their asses off,” he chirps. He is also … More


Kill the Messenger

November 1, 2014
Jeremy Renner in 'Kill The Messenger' (2014)

One might assume the public is willing to believe anything bad about the CIA, which has become a byword for clandestine criminality in the modern world, but Kill the Messenger suggests otherwise. It tells the true story of Gary Webb, an investigative reporter on the San Jose Mercury News, who breaks a once-in-a-lifetime scoop about … More