drama

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


Dope

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


Far From Men

August 1, 2015
Viggo Mortensen in 'Far from Men' (2014)

Albert Camus’s fiction is often set in Algeria, where a dry, barren landscape is used as an appropriately bare stage for existential dilemmas to be played out. These episodes are related in deadpan fashion but may be a matter of life or death. Each story is precisely conceived, so it’s a dangerous exercise to take … More


Mr. Holmes

July 25, 2015
Ian McKellen in 'Mr. Holmes' (2015)

One of the most enduring characters in popular literature, Sherlock Holmes has been played by several generations of actors. Basil Rathbone (1892-1976) remains the archetypal Holmes, setting a lean and angular standard perpetuated by most of his successors. Robert Downey Jr. is the exception, although his two Holmes movies could never be expected to please … More


13 Minutes

July 25, 2015
Christian Friedel in '13 Minutes' (2015)

For a long time the Germans preferred not to dwell on the nasty facts of the Second World War, but nowadays they are emptying every skeleton out of the closet. In Berlin one may visit a museum called the Topography of Terror on the site of the old S.S. headquarters, while in Nuremberg there is … More


Ruben Guthrie

July 18, 2015
Patrick Brammall in 'Ruben Guthrie (2015)

If you’ve ever harboured uncharitable thoughts about the guys who do the ‘creative’ stuff in advertising agencies, Ruben Guthrie will satisfy your prejudices. There’s not much chance of warming to any of the lead characters, especially the eponymous hero, possibly the least sympathetic protagonist in an Aussie flick since Mick Taylor started terrorising backpackers in Wolf Creek. Ruben, … More


Madame Bovary

July 11, 2015
Mia Wasikowska in 'Madame Bovary' (2014)

Madame Bovary is the book that changed the novel forever. Before Gustave Flaubert published his masterpiece in 1857, readers had become accustomed to characters that were either good or bad, with well-defined roles in a story. But unless you’re Tony Abbott, life is not like that. “No monsters, and no heroes!” Flaubert proclaimed in a … More