Far From the Madding Crowd

June 27, 2015
Carey Mulligan in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' (2015)

Screen adaptations of great novels are like retrospectives of great artists. They come around every generation, recalibrated to suit the expectations of a younger audience. As one of the definitions of a classic is that it seems relevant to each successive generation, problems arise when directors (or curators) force an ‘innovative’ new reading onto the … More


June 6, 2015
Vincent Cassel in 'Partisan' (2015)

With a brutal civil war, followed by three decades of dictatorial rule, there’s no denying Spain’s sufferings, but nowadays the Spaniards are making great movies. I wonder if Australian cinema, conversely, is showing the symptoms of decades of peace and prosperity. Compared to the wars and political upheavals that have beset other countries, Australia has … More

SFF & Aloha

June 6, 2015
Emma Stone in 'Aloha' (2015)

Preparing for the 62nd Sydney Film Festival, with its 12 days of screenings from morning till night, is a bit like training for a marathon. I’m prepared to watch four movies a day but many people think this is madness. Don’t they all run into each other, becoming an indistinguishable mess? I can only answer … More

Wild Tales

May 30, 2015
Érica Rivas in 'Wild Tales' (2014)

“What does cinema know, that we don’t?” That’s how this column started a fortnight ago, with a quotation from German director, Rüdiger Suchsland. The same line seems even more relevant in discussing Damían Szifrón’s Wild Tales, a portmanteau film featuring six short stories about ordinary people being driven to the brink by “inequality, injustice and … More

Gemma Bovery

May 30, 2015
Gemma Arterton in 'Gemma Bovery' (2014)

Emma Bovary is one of the most enduring characters in world literature, but many would argue no screen adaptation has ever captured the spirit of Flaubert’s masterpiece – even with directors as distinguished as Jean Renoir, Vincente Minnelli and Claude Chabrol. Within a few months there will be a new Madame Bovary, directed by Sophie … More

A Royal Night Out

May 23, 2015
Bel Powley in 'A Royal Night Out' (2015)

“God save the Queen. She ain’t no human bean!” sang Johnny Rotten in the Jubilee year of 1977. “Oh yes she is,” say the makers of A Royal Night Out – a movie designed to convince us the British Royal Family are not only human but adorable. For director, Julian Jarrold, this film is even … More

Clouds of Sils Maria

May 15, 2015
Juliette Binoche in 'Clouds of Sils Maria' (2014)

Clouds of Sils Maria is not a title to attract teenage thrill-seekers on a Friday night. Those with a philosophical bent may know this was the town in the Swiss Alps where Friedrich Nietzsche went to breathe the mountain air and wrestle with his concept of the Eternal Return. Since the days of Aristophanes philosophers … More

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

May 2, 2015
Rinko Kikuchi in 'Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter' (2014)

To get the most out of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter it helps to have seen Fargo – the Coen brothers’ movie of 1996, not the TV series. One of the loose ends in that film was a briefcase full of money left buried in the snow by a hapless Steve Buscemi. As the credits roll … More

The One Eyed Girl

May 2, 2015
Tilda Cobham-Hervey in 'One Eyed Girl' (2014)

It’s becoming tautologous to say “a disappointing Australian film.” While I never expect a masterpiece, it would be nice to find a local movie that manages to cover more than a narrow slice of the emotional spectrum. The usual bill of fare ranges from angst to misery and back again. A disproportionate number of new … More

Testament of Youth

April 25, 2015
Alicia Vikander in 'Testament of Youth' (2014)

Lest we forget it’s Anzac Day here’s another movie about the First World War, albeit far from the shores of Gallipoli. Testament of Youth is based on the war-time memoirs of Vera Brittain (1893-1970), first published in 1933, 15 years after the end of hostilities. Having begun the project as a novel Brittain struggled with … More

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