Music

Paths to Stardom:

February 14, 2015
Michael Keaton as Riggan in 'Birdman' (2014)

Birdman, the new film by Alejandro González Inárritu, tells us everything we need to know about the ever-changing path to stardom. Riggan, played by Michael Keaton, is an actor who has become famous for playing a comic book superhero, but craves the prestige and ‘authenticity’ conferred by the Broadway stage. In the twilight of his … More


Keep On Keepin’ On

January 17, 2015
Justin Kauflin and Clark Terry in 'Keep on Keepin' on' (2014)

Palace has found the perfect companion for Life Itself, in Alan Hicks’s Keep On Keepin’ On, a documentary about the great jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry. While Life Itself begins with Roger Ebert in his hospital bed, Keep On Keepin’ On introduces us to Terry on his 90th birthday. He may be old and sick with … More


Whiplash

November 1, 2014
J.K Simmons & Miles Teller in 'Whiplash' (2014)

A movie about a young man studying to be a jazz drummer may sound like an entirely resistible proposition, but Whiplash is no lame musical comedy. Rookie writer-director, Damien Chazelle, has said he wanted to make a film about music that was more like a horror or gangster movie. Without including a single ghoul or … More


We Are the Best!

September 20, 2014
Sofia Sabel, Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and Liv LeMoyne in We Are the Best! (2013)

It’s quite an adjustment to leave Frank Miller’s Sin City and arrive in Sweden, where three 13 year-old girls are trying to start a punk rock band. The only point of comparison is that Lukas Moodyson’s We Are the Best!, was based on a comic book produced by his wife, Coco. Moodyson is known for … More


20,000 Days on Earth

August 23, 2014
Nick Cave in '20,000 Days on Earth' (2014)

Perhaps the strangest fact one discovers about rock star, Nick Cave, in the documentary, 20,000 Days on Earth, is that he spends most of his time doing a good impersonation of a middle class accountant. It never seemed likely when I stood in the audience of those Birthday Party gigs in Sydney, where Cave would … More


The Broken Circle Breakdown

May 17, 2014
Veerle Baetens & Johan Heldenbergh in 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' (2012)

Belgians have a reputation for pursuing individualism to the point of eccentricity. The Broken Circle Breakdown will confirm that reputation, but the film has a lot more to offer than mere quirkiness. Viewers who enter the cinema in one piece may emerge trying to reassemble the fragments, having experienced alternating extremes of exhilaration and tragedy, … 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


Inside Llewyn Davis

January 18, 2014
Oscar Isaac in 'Inside Llewyn Davis', 2013

In The Folk Song Army the satirist Tom Lehrer took aim at the folk revival that swept the United States in the early 1960s. “You have to admire people who sing these songs,” he said. “It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out … More


Great Expectations & Performance

March 16, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 11.51.37 PM

In making the umpteenth version of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, British director, Mike Newell, resisted doing something ‘bold and audacious’ just for the novelty value. So far, so good, because the greatest crimes against the classics are committed when directors allow the preoccupations of our own age to disfigure those stories that have become part … More


Paul Kelly: Stories of Me

November 3, 2012
Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 2.50.07 PM

Archie Roach reckons Paul Kelly is Australia’s “bard”. It’s what people used to say about Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson back in the days when poetry was a popular art. But for every man-in the-street who could recite parts of The Man from Snowy River in the 1890s, there must be thousands today who can … More