Hollywood Costume

July 27, 2013
A costume worn by Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey, 1936

In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a turning point arrives through a change of costume. James Stewart, playing the damaged cop, Scottie, sees a girl who closely resembles the dead woman who haunts his thoughts. That woman, Madeleine, is on Scottie’s conscience and in his heart. In Judy, a shop girl from Kansas, he recognises Madeleine’s double … More

Total Recall

September 1, 2012
Screen shot 2012-09-19 at 12.13.10 PM

Philip K. Dick’s brief science fiction story, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1965) has travelled a long way since it was adapted for Paul Verhoeven’s film, Total Recall in 1990. In Dick’s original version, Doug Quail visits a business called Rekall that promises to provide its clients with a false memory superior to … More

The Bourne Legacy

August 25, 2012
Screen shot 2012-09-12 at 1.41.57 PM

One wonders what a cultural theorist such as Slavoj Zizek would make of the Bourne films? Beyond the lashings of action, suspense and skullduggery they are textbook lessons in the repressive power of the state, guaranteed to appeal to conspiracy theorists of both left and right persuasions. The world in which Jason Bourne, and new … More

Forever Marilyn

August 4, 2012
Screen shot 2012-08-28 at 8.26.26 AM

Exactly fifty years ago, on the night of 4 August 1962, Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose of barbituates. The world’s greatest sex symbol, the most idolised actress of her age, was dead. Now 20th Century Fox has decided to commemorate this tragic event in the way they know best: by cashing in. Marilyn may … More

The Dark Knight Rises

July 28, 2012
Screen shot 2012-08-25 at 2.09.55 PM

To say Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is “dark” is a dismal understatement. It is pitch-black, numinous. Christian Bale’s Batman appears to be permanently depressed, wracked with guilt and self-loathing. Gotham City, which he strives to rescue from one apocalypse after another, is so corrupt and ugly it is barely worth saving. With Heath Ledger’s death … More


June 16, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-27 at 6.05.12 PM

No film this year has arrived with such high expectations as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the long-awaited prequel to Alien – a movie that spawned a franchise and a cult. I attended a preview at the iMax in Darling Harbour on a night when the wind and rain were causing mayhem all over Sydney. The place … More

Get the Gringo

June 2, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-23 at 4.26.30 PM

South of the border, down Mexico way. We’ve been here before, but never in the company of Mel Gibson, working to restore a reputation that has taken a dive in recent years. There have been slight problems with alcohol, domestic violence, and anti-Semitic pronouncements delivered to officers of the law. “Sick to his empty core … More


May 26, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-19 at 4.14.53 PM

Hollywood has never made a more difficult, more expensive movie than Cleopatra (1963). It reputedly cost between US$35-$40 million, which is approximately US$300 million in today’s money. Avatar, in comparison, has been costed at US$280 million. The shooting of Cleopatra was hardly less epic than the Roman empire itself, with a cast that qualified as … More

The Dictator

May 19, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-14 at 12.05.13 PM

For a riotous comedy about a North African dictator imagine a documentary about Colonel Gaddafi’s 42-year reign in Libya. Were he still around to see The Dictator, Gaddafi might have felt flattered by the number of features that Sacha Baron Cohen has borrowed from his glorious regime. There are the costumes, of course, and the … More

The Descendants

January 28, 2012
Film still of George Clooney, Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants

Less than a month out from this year’s Academy Awards, George Clooney is favourite in the Best Actor category for his role in The Descendants. It’s a big year for Clooney as he may also be nominated as Best Director for the political drama, The Ides of March. Do these awards stand for anything apart … More