history

Detroit

November 10, 2017
Welcome to Detroit. Have a nice day

If ever a film were poised on the edge of the great divide that exists in the United States today, it’s Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. Like Ava DuVernay’s Selma (2015) it draws on the turbulent history of American race relations to make a not-so-subtle point about the present. After almost two-and-a-half hours, one leaves the cinema … More


Lore of the Land: Songlines

October 27, 2017
Traditional custodian, Stanley Douglas

Under a blue, cloudless sky the road is one long strip of red earth, hemmed in by expanses of dry, tufty grass and scrub. The dominant colour is a pale yellow-grey, offset with the faintest tinges of green. The major landmark is Mount Conner, a long flat-topped monolith of reddish rock overshadowed by Uluru’s celebrity. … More


Russian Resurrection Film Festival 2017

October 27, 2017
Tonight, the ballet... Valery Todorovsky's ''The Boshoi

Why Russian Resurrection Film Festival? Is it a reference to Tolstoy’s famous novel, or to the revival of the Russian film industry in the post-Soviet era? A bit of both, I imagine, as the 14th RRFF is preocuppied with history and the literary classics. This year’s festival features a retrospective of films by Andrei Konchalovsky … More


Anri Sala: The Last Resort

October 20, 2017
Anri Sala, drum beats over Sydney Harbour

Historians can never agree about the so-called “Age of Enlightenment”. The narrow definition has it beginning with the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and ending with the French Revolution in 1789. The long version begins somewhere in the late 1600s and fizzles out in 1815 with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. As the dates are … More


Battle of the Sexes

September 30, 2017
What we did in the 70s.. Billie Jean & Bobby

It’s strange to watch Battle of the Sexes from an Australian perspective, remembering how we barracked for Margaret Court in her rivalry with America’s Billie Jean King. Forty years on, Margaret Court looks like the most dreadful sourpuss – an outspoken homophobe, and allegedly an apologist for Apartheid. Billie Jean King has taken a very … More


The King’s Choice

August 25, 2017
Jesper Christesen dodges a bullet in The King's Choice

Scandinavian history may not be a pressing concern for most Australians, but we can all recognise the importance of political courage – if only by its absence in Canberra. The King’s Choice deals with the dilemma that beset King Haakan VII of Norway when his country was invaded by the Germans in April 1940. Erik … More


Frantz

April 8, 2017
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer in 'Frantz' (2016)

Towns don’t get much more German than Quedlinburg. Nestled in the heart of Saxony it has about 20,000 inhabitants, but calls itself “the first capital of Germany” because King Heinrich was crowned there in 919 CE. Throughout the years of division its medieval buildings were preserved intact by the poverty of the East. Quedlinburg is … More


Hidden Figures

February 24, 2017
Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures is yet another movie “based on a true story” that exercises Hollywood’s time-hallowed right to improve on the truth. The time-line for the events portrayed has been subject to a cut & paste job, while real-life characters have been given a makeover – or in the case of Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, stitched … More


Silence

February 17, 2017
Andrew Garfield in Silence (2016)

Religion is a dangerous subject for any filmmaker, but for Martin Scorsese it’s an obsession. Silence is his third religious movie after The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kundun (1997), but almost all of Scorsese’s films have been religious at heart. One has only to count the number of crucifixion scenes. Like so many … More


The Founder

November 24, 2016
Michael Keaton in The Founder (2016)

There are characters that can’t be made sympathetic no matter how many hardships they endure. One such is Ray Kroc, the “founder” of the McDonalds fast-food empire. In almost any other film we would warm to this story of a 50-something battler who succeeds in making it big through his commitment to unstinting hard work … More