drama

Snowden

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


Truman

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


Demolition

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


Mustang

June 23, 2016
Günes Sensoy in 'Mustang' (2015)

Put five teenage sisters together in one household and it’s a recipe for chaos. Put them into a provincial household in Turkey and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. First-time director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, has made a film that sums up the violent contradictions that face a young generation of Turks growing up in a … More


Miles Ahead

June 17, 2016
Don Cheadle in 'Miles Ahead' (2015)

In a week in which all the talk is about America’s bloody love affair with firearms, it’s remarkable to see three movies that show the devotion that Elvis, Hank Williams, and Miles Davis felt for their guns. The portrayal of Miles Davis brought to us by Don Cheadle, who both directs and stars, is on … More


Sydney Film Festival 2016

June 17, 2016
Pedro Almodóvar's 'Julieta' (2016)

This is the closing weekend of the Sydney Film Festival and I’ve managed to see 22 out of 254 films. A paltry score, but enough to get the general flavour of proceedings. Some of those films such as Goldstone, Everybody Wants Some!!, Demolition and The BFG will be released in the near future, so it … More