drama

Lucky

November 17, 2017
'Tell me the one about the tortoise again..' Harry Dean Stanton in 'Lucky'

If films were pieces of music the standard Hollywood blockbuster would be a symphony of the most bombastic persuasion. Lucky is a sonata for harmonica. The film is the directorial debut for character actor, John Carroll Lynch, familiar from movies such as Fargo (1996) and The Founder (2016). He’s chosen to begin with something small … More


Detroit

November 10, 2017
Welcome to Detroit. Have a nice day

If ever a film were poised on the edge of the great divide that exists in the United States today, it’s Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. Like Ava DuVernay’s Selma (2015) it draws on the turbulent history of American race relations to make a not-so-subtle point about the present. After almost two-and-a-half hours, one leaves the cinema … More


Loving Vincent

November 2, 2017
Not quite Vincent...

Loving Vincent is one of those films that leans heavily on its novelty value. Alan Crosland’s The Jazz Singer was the first talkie; Alexander Sokurov’s The Russian Ark was the first feature to be shot in a single take; Thor:Ragnarok is the world’s first Kiwi superhero comedy; Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted … More


Russian Resurrection Film Festival 2017

October 27, 2017
Tonight, the ballet... Valery Todorovsky's ''The Boshoi

Why Russian Resurrection Film Festival? Is it a reference to Tolstoy’s famous novel, or to the revival of the Russian film industry in the post-Soviet era? A bit of both, I imagine, as the 14th RRFF is preocuppied with history and the literary classics. This year’s festival features a retrospective of films by Andrei Konchalovsky … More


Thor: Ragnarok & The Snowman

October 20, 2017
Thor & his buddy

At the beginning of this week I was looking forward to The Snowman, based on a gripping crime novel by Norway’s Jo Nesbø. I had fewer expectations for another Scandinavian saga – Thor:Ragnarok, the third installment of the popular Marvel superhero franchise. By the end of the week my expectations had been trashed so effectively … More


Blade Runner 2049

October 13, 2017
How advertising works in 2049

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) is the epitome of a cult classic. It didn’t set the box office on fire at first appearance, but with every year its grimy vision of the future reappears in one film after another. If Scott had kept possession of the original sets he could be running a useful little … More


The Final Portrait

October 6, 2017
Smile for the camera, James & Alberto

In Paris in 2006 I dined with James Lord in the restaurant of L’Hotel in rue des Beaux Arts. It’s the hotel in which Oscar Wilde had expired in an upstairs room, losing his final battle with the wallpaper. Many years after Wilde’s departure, Lord established himself in an exquisite apartment on the other side … More


Battle of the Sexes

September 30, 2017
What we did in the 70s.. Billie Jean & Bobby

It’s strange to watch Battle of the Sexes from an Australian perspective, remembering how we barracked for Margaret Court in her rivalry with America’s Billie Jean King. Forty years on, Margaret Court looks like the most dreadful sourpuss – an outspoken homophobe, and allegedly an apologist for Apartheid. Billie Jean King has taken a very … More


Mother!

September 21, 2017
Mother! The poster says everything & nothing

For want of a better term one would have to call Darren Aronofsky’s bizarre, polarising Mother! a ‘horror movie’, but he has really invented a new kind of film that offers several strong lines of interpretation under the umbrella of a grandiose cosmic vision. Most horror flicks have a pretty basic structure: those who offend … More


Victoria and Abdul

September 15, 2017
The Monarch and her Munshi

One marvels at the undying appeal of Queen Victoria for latter-day filmmakers. Along with two features: John Madden’s Mrs. Brown (1997) and Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Young Victoria (2009), there are dozens of movies in which the Dear Old Queen makes an appearance. She’s usually portrayed as a stern but lovable grand dame who strikes an … More