history

Mr. Turner

January 12, 2015
Timothy Spall in 'Mr. Turner' (2014)

“Turner’s thoughts were much deeper than ordinary men can penetrate,” said his friend, George Jones, “and much deeper than he could at any time describe.” He might have been reviewing Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, which captures all the quirks and contradictions of Britain’s greatest artist. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), was a giant among landscape … More


Once My Mother

July 26, 2014
Once My Mother (2014)

Sophia Turkiewicz’s Once My Mother is the story of great resilience in the face of overwhelming odds – and I’m only talking about securing funding. Having been knocked back twice by the ABC and twice by SBS, Turkiewicz and her experienced producers, Rod Freedman and Bob Connolly, began passing the hat around Polish community groups … More


Beatriz’s War

July 19, 2014
Irim Tolentino as Beatriz in 'A Guerra da Beatriz' (2013)

Having finally managed to see Beatriz’s War, I almost wish I hadn’t. This first-ever feature from Timor-Leste is a rite of passage; a catharsis for the wrongs endured during the Indonesian occupation. One suspects it will be a long time before the East Timorese are producing comedies and musicals. There’s too much pain and trauma … More


Ida

May 24, 2014
Agata Trzebuchowska in 'Ida' (2013)

Pawel Pawlikowski left Poland in 1971 at the age of 14, and settled with his family in England. In a peripatetic career as a filmmaker he completed a series of offbeat documentaries before making an acclaimed “quintessentially English” drama, My Summer of Love, in 2004. With Ida not only has he returned to his Polish … More


Afghanistan

April 26, 2014
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul Ribbed bowl

“After Akcha,” wrote Robert Byron, in his legendary travel book, The Road to Oxiana (1937) “the colour of the landscape changed from lead to aluminium, pallid and deathly, as if the sun had been sucking away at its gaiety for thousands and thousands of years; for this was now the plain of Balkh, and Balkh … More


Dallas Buyers Club

February 22, 2014
Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in 'Dallas Buyers Club' 2013

It was startling enough to see Christian Bale porking up to play a middle-aged conman in American Hustle, but this seems like a piece of cake – or perhaps lots of cake and donuts – alongside Matthew McConaughey’s drastic transformation for Dallas Buyers Club. Anyone can pile on the kilos but it takes extraordinary discipline … More


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

February 8, 2014
'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' (2013)
Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela

There is a special tone reserved for the bio-pic of some major historical figure. Such films tend to be stately, respectful, almost in awe of their subject. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a textbook example of the genre. Despite the obligatory disclaimer that it will show us the hero as we have never seen … More


Elvis at 21

February 8, 2014
On train, New York to Memphis July 4, 1956 © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved, NPG

In 1956 the United States had plenty to think about. World War II lingered in popular memory; the Cold War was in full swing; and in Montgomery Alabama, black citizens were boycotting the local buses in one of the first great campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. But the subject causing consternation in the mass … More


12 Years a Slave

February 1, 2014
Chiwetel Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave', 2013

It used to be commonplace for directors to cut their teeth in the theatre before moving on to the cinema. In the future it seems likely there will be more directors who begin their careers at art school making videos and installations before progressing to full-length features. Steve McQueen is currently the most prominent example … More


Twenty Feet from Stardom

November 23, 2013
Lisa Fischer in the film "Twenty Feet From Stardom," directed by Morgan Neville.       NYTCREDIT: Graham Willoughby/Sundance Film Festival

One of the features of world cinema over the past decade has been the resurgence of the feature-length documentary. Two outstanding new examples are getting theatrical releases this week: 20 Feet From Stardom, which looks at the careers of some of the leading back-up singers in popular music; and Blackfish, which examines the lives of … More