drama

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


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


Partisan

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


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