documentary

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

September 16, 2016
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (2016)

Apart from a one-off appearance on the rooftop of their London offices in 1969, the Beatles played their last gig at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on 29 August 1966. It was a shambles, coming at the end of a tour that had destroyed the group’s appetite for live performance. They had become tired of the … More


Highly Strung

May 19, 2016
Scott Hicks director of 'Highly Strung'.
Photograph: Adelaide Film Festival

In the rarefied world of classical music the blood-letting is not so obvious, but it can still get nasty, as shown by Scott Hicks’s documentary, Highly Strung. This film has at least four different narratives that don’t always interact smoothly. The first is a portrait of the Australian String Quartet, beginning in late 2013, when … More


Wide Open Sky

April 14, 2016
Wide Open Sky (2015)

It would be a shame not to mention a new Australian documentary released this week. Lisa Nicol’s Wide Open Sky, follows the indomitable Michelle Leonard, as she rounds up country children to take part in her annual choir project, the Moorambilla Voices. It’s a completely hands-on activity that sees Leonard not only conducting the choir, … More


Where to Invade Next

April 7, 2016
Michael Moore in documentary 'Where to Invade Next' (2015)

Donald Trump says he will make America great again. Michael Moore has plenty of suggestions about where to start. In the fanciful opening to Where to Invade Next, it’s not Trump that asks Moore for advice, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are concerned that they’ve bungled every engagement since 1945. They need a … More


Sherpa

March 31, 2016
'Sherpa' (2015)

One wonders if our addiction to the ludicrous disaster fantasies of superhero films makes us more or less susceptible to real disaster stories? Jennifer Peedom’s documentary, Sherpa, was filmed one year before the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, but it shows a community that had already endured its share of trauma. Peedom … More


How to Change the World

September 19, 2015
'How to Change the World' (2015). Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival

There are some big egos and life-changing traumas on display in How to Change the World, a documentary about the early years of Greenpeace, which focuses on the group’s first leader, the late Robert Hunter. For the most part Jerry Rothwell’s film celebrates the idealism, and surprising successes, of a group of young people who … More


Fabergé – A Life of its Own

August 22, 2015
The Caucasus Egg, Fabergé, 1893. The pearl, diamond and red enamel egg.

And now, a word from our sponsor. That could be the opening line of Fabergé: A Life of its Own, an overview of a fascinating subject that manages to sound like an extended advertisement for the brand. The film is credited to no fewer than seven countries – the home nations of leading Fabergé collectors. … More


Unity

August 15, 2015
'Unity' (2015) from the writer and director of 'Earthlings'.

There are many definitions of what “it truly means to be human”, and Shaun Monson’s Unity tries out most of them. One of my own definitions is that it is truly human to feel a sense of creeping irritation when we find our own, most banal opinions being fed back to us as revelations. If … More


Iris

August 15, 2015
Iris Apfel in 'Iris' (2015). PHOTOGRAPH BY KARSTEN MORAN/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

Iris Apfel is one human being who doesn’t want to be like everybody else. At the age of 93 she is the most stylish woman in New York. Yet it is an idea of style that has nothing to do with understated elegance, or even beauty, but is more like a full-blown assault on the … More


Women He’s Undressed

July 18, 2015
Orry-Kelly played by Darren Gilshenan with cocktail party guests in 'Women He's Undressed' (2015)

Orry-Kelly, the subject of Gillian Armstrong’s documentary, Women He’s Undressed, is one of Australia’s unsung culture heroes. From 1932 to 1963 he designed the costumes for hundreds of Hollywood films, winning three Academy Awards. His credits include classics such as 42nd St. (1933), Jezebel (1938), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), and Oklahoma! (1955). Born … More


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