documentary

Amy

July 4, 2015
Amy Winehouse in 'Amy' (2015)

There is a terrible sense of inevitability about Amy. We know where the story is going before it gets started but this doesn’t lessen the morbid fascination of Amy Winehouse’s descent into the abyss. Watching Asif Kapadia’s documentary is like watching a boxing match where the TKO should have been applied at round six or … More


Going Clear

June 20, 2015
Alex Gibney 
(dir.) 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' (2015)

After last week’s interview with Alex Gibney I received my obligatory email from Vicki Dunstan, President of the Australian chapter of the Church of Scientology, warning me about the filmmaker’s one-sided approach in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Gibney makes “outrageous claims”, peddles “blatant falsehoods”, and refuses to consider the documentation the … More


The Emperor’s New Clothes

June 20, 2015
Russell Brand in 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (2015)

This is a particularly strong period for documentaries, which are filling the gap left by the decline of quality investigative journalism in the print media. There are as many different styles of documentary as there are filmmakers, but anyone who feels Alex Gibney is lacking objectivity, should take a look at The Emperor’s New Clothes, … More


Sydney Film Festival 2015

June 13, 2015
The Tribe (2014)

A first glance the program for the annual Sydney Film Festival is like dipping into a voluminous menu written in a foreign language. You know there are lots of good things in there but it’s not easy to identify them. Experience dictates that films which sound like non-events may turn out to be masterpieces, and … More


Alex Gibney Lunch

June 13, 2015
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Meeting Alex Gibney for High Tea is almost too civilised. This is the fearless documentary maker who gave us a devastating portrait of a rogue multinational – Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Since that ground-breaking film of 2005 Gibney has directed more than twenty feature-length documentaries and worked on many smaller projects. He … More


The Salt of the Earth

April 18, 2015
Sebastião Salgado in 'The Salt of the Earth' (2014)

When we’d finished watching The Salt of the Earth, my spouse said: “That film should be screened free of charge and everyone encouraged to see it.” This pretty much summed up my feelings as well, although I can’t imagine the Abbott government wanting everyone to view a film that speaks so poignantly about the poorest … More


Dior and I

April 4, 2015
Raf Simons in 'Dior and I' (2014)

Fashion is usually considered a frivolous business, but at the top end it can get very dark indeed. Last year saw the release of two bio-pics of Yves Saint Laurent, in which the great designer’s mental and physical decay was charted in forensic detail. Closer to the present we have seen John Galliano go completely … More


Citizenfour

February 20, 2015
Edward Snowden in 'Citizenfour' (2014)

It’s a coincidence that a wayward comedy such as The Interview is sharing cinema bills with two other movies with strongly political themes: Laura Poitras’s documentary, Citizenfour, which gives us a close-up view of US whistleblower extraordinaire, Edward Snowden; and Rosewater, which tells the real-life story of Maziar Bahari, a journalist imprisoned by the Iranians … More


Life Itself

January 17, 2015
Roger Ebert in 'Life Itself' (2014)

Roger Ebert is the only film critic with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s curious to think that a critic can be a star, but Ebert (1942-2013) had a following that would make any actor proud. He became the unofficial dean of American movie reviewers by virtue of sheer hard work, and … More


Keep On Keepin’ On

January 17, 2015
Justin Kauflin and Clark Terry in 'Keep on Keepin' on' (2014)

Palace has found the perfect companion for Life Itself, in Alan Hicks’s Keep On Keepin’ On, a documentary about the great jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry. While Life Itself begins with Roger Ebert in his hospital bed, Keep On Keepin’ On introduces us to Terry on his 90th birthday. He may be old and sick with … More


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