October 2, 2015
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth' (2015)

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the great political dramas. It demonstrates all of Machiavelli’s ideas about attaining and using power, but also explores the moral and psychological consequences of one man’s ruthless pursuit of the crown. Macbeth begins as a loyal retainer whose head is turned by the prophecies of three witches. Goaded on by … More

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

September 25, 2015
Bel Powley in "The Diary of a Teenage Girl' (2015)

“I had sex today. Holy shit!” Welcome to The Diary of a Teenage Girl – a film that throws us into the deep end with its opening line. The place is San Francisco, the time 1976, and the narrator, 15-year-old Minnie Goetz – a precocious schoolgirl who confides everything to her tape recorder. Minnie recounts … More

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

September 19, 2015
Sundance Favorite 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'  featuring Thomas Mann & Olivia Cooke

Many viewers will be touched, charmed, moved and seduced by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Hey, it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, so it must be doing something right. There is a lot to like about this film, but also a … More


September 12, 2015
Dane DeHaan & Robert Pattinson in 'Life' (2015)

Cinematic highlight of the week was Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President, which opened the Persian International Film Festival in Sydney. Despite its grand title and the massive turn-out on opening night, the Festival only lasts for four days, which makes it impossible to review. This is partly because it is still early days for this event, … More

Force of Destiny

September 12, 2015
Shahana Goswami & David Wenham in 'Force of Destiny' (2015)

Paul Cox’s Force of Destiny is another film that straddles the twilight zone between life and art, but this is because the story is so closely based on the director’s own battles that it becomes an oblique autobiography. In 2009 Cox was diagnosed with liver cancer and given only a short time to live. Towards … More

A Walk in the Woods

September 5, 2015
Robert Redford as Bill Bryson in the film, 'A Walk in the Woods' (2015)

If they made a movie of your life, which actor should play you? In this old game it’s almost obligatory to say: “Brad Pitt” while friends offer less flattering suggestions. Not so long ago a chap might have suggested: “Robert Redford”, and received an equally derisive response. Travel writer, Bill Bryson, is in the flattering … More

Irrational Man

August 29, 2015
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Irrational Man' (2015)

“Our time, said Max Scheler, is the first in which man has become thoroughly and completely problematic to himself.” The line comes from William Barrett’s Irrational Man (1958), a book often credited with introducing Existentialist philosophy to an American audience. I have a well-thumbed paperback, and so does Woody Allen – one imagines. In Allen’s … More

Ricki and the Flash

August 29, 2015
Meryl Streep in "Ricki and the Flash' (2015)

It often seems Woody Allen can’t make up his mind whether he wants to make a feel-good film or a feel-bad one. No such indecision characterises Jonathan Demme who, in Ricki and the Flash, has created a movie to make middle-aged audiences believe all hope is not yet lost. It is a film that owes … More


August 22, 2015
Shameik Moore in 'Dope' (2015)

Dope is the surprise of the year. One might be excused for expecting an updated blaxploitation film, a mawkish coming-of-age saga, or a typically vulgar, sentimental teen comedy. Instead, Rick Famuwiya has given us a movie that is fast and funny, with a clever plot and crisp dialogue. Why can’t Australian directors make films like … More

Last Cab to Darwin

August 8, 2015
Michael Caton in 'Last Cab to Darwin' (2015)

When every new Australian movie seems obsessed with death, one might see a story about euthanasia as a step in the right direction. At least it’s a humane death. One could even make a case for Jeremy Sims’s Last Cab to Darwin as a film that salvages a life-affirming message from tragedy. Michael Caton plays … More

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