Joe Cinque’s Consolation

October 14, 2016
Maggie Naouri in 'Joe Cinque's Consolation' (2016)

Notably absent from Sotiris Dounoukos’s film, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, is the voice of Helen Garner. In the best-selling book about the death of 26-year-old Joe Cinque and the murder trial that followed, we see everything through Garner’s eyes. She makes us party to her own fears and recriminations; her battles to be fair to Joe’s … More

Early Winter

October 7, 2016
Suzanne Clément & Paul Doucet in 'Early Winter' (2015)

After watching almost four-and-a-half hours of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage, in the TV broadcast version, Clive James declared it the Higher Trash. The verdict owed something to the dubbing and translation, but he ultimately found that Bergman’s grinding portrayal of a marital breakdown was soap carved into the shape of art. One wonders … More

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

October 6, 2016
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Tim Burton is Hollywood’s greatest celebrant of non-conformity. This is partly a reflection of his own battles with studios to make the movies he wants, the way he wants. Throughout his career one can feel the ebb and flow of that drive as he wins some rounds and loses others. My favourite Burton films are … More


September 22, 2016
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Snowden' (2016)

Snowden belongs to a peculiar new genre: the fictionalised re-make of the successful documentary – in this case, Laura Poitras’s award-winning Citizenfour (2014). The question for viewers is whether director, Oliver Stone, has brought anything new and vital to the mix that was not canvassed in the real-life film. The answer is ‘no’, unless we … More

Captain Fantastic

September 10, 2016
'Captain Fantastic' (2016)

We all know mum and dad can really inflict damage on a child’s psyche, even though they may have only the best of intentions. Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic is a film about a father whose love for his children might be ruining them for life, even as he prepares them to meet every conceivable challenge. … More


August 12, 2016
Ricardo Darín in 'Truman' (2015)

Following Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we now have a film from Spain that might credibly be called Death and Friendship. In fact it’s called Truman, after a maudlin old pooch kept by a lead character, but death is a constant presence in this story. We see such an astonishing quantity of death at the … More

Embrace of the Serpent

August 4, 2016
Nilbio Torres in 'Embrace the Serpent' (2015)

There can’t be many films in which the lead actor has never actually seen a movie before, let alone starred in one. This unique achievement belongs to Nilbio Torres, an Amazonian Indian who plays a lead role in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, the first Columbian film to have been nominated for an Academy … More

Arab Film Festival

July 28, 2016
'Halal Love' (2015)

This week found me at the opening of the Arab Film Festival in Parramatta for a Lebanese movie called Halal Love. The place was packed with a noisy, bustling crowd estimated by the festival directors as 70 percent Muslim, 30 percent non-Muslim. As a celebration of the strength and diversity of Arab culture in Sydney’s … More

Love & Friendship

July 22, 2016
Kate Beckinsale in 'Love & Friendship' (2016)

On the occasion of her 19th birthday Jane Austen’s father bought her a mahogany writing desk. Today it might have been a new laptop, but the intention was the same: to encourage his daughter’s literary hobby, which seemed quite harmless. He was less relaxed about her growing tendency for flirting with young males at the … More


July 15, 2016
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Demolition' (2015)

Eighteenth century writers gave us the novel of sentiment, and a character known as ‘the man of feeling’ – which was the title of a best-seller of 1771 by Scotsman, Henry Mackenzie. The man of feeling responded readily to misfortunes and joys of others, and this display of sensitivity was seen as profoundly moral. Readers … More