documentary

Sherpa

March 31, 2016

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

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

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

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 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, 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


Amy

July 4, 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

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

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

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