romance

My Cousin Rachel

June 14, 2017
Young Philip Ashley explores the grassy paddocks of Cornwall with his cousin Rachel

Daphne Du Maurier (1907-89) is one of those writers destined to be forever suspended between literature and pulp fiction. Her work has echoes of the great Victorian novelists but also a tinge of Gothic horror. She may not have beeen deep but she knew how to tell a fabulous, gloomy story. It’s the pulp aspect … More


Rules Don’t Apply

May 5, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 9.29.51 am

Does anybody remember Howard Hughes? Rules Don’t Apply, Warren Beatty’s fictionalised portrait of the eccentric billionaire, was reputedly decades in gestation. In the meantime we’ve had The Aviator, Martin Scorsese’s bio pic of Hughes’s early life, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning five. Thirteen years … More


Passengers

January 13, 2017
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Writing in the 1920s Aldous Huxley denounced the joyless “Good Time” that had made people into passive consumers of art and entertainment. Huxley regretted that the cinema had killed off amateur theatrics, while music making at home had been supplanted by the gramophone. He believed this indulgence in instant entertainment led to a crippling sense … More


Captain Fantastic

September 10, 2016
'Captain Fantastic' (2016)

We all know mum and dad can really inflict damage on a child’s psyche, even though they may have only the best of intentions. Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic is a film about a father whose love for his children might be ruining them for life, even as he prepares them to meet every conceivable challenge. … More


Arab Film Festival

July 28, 2016
'Halal Love' (2015)

This week found me at the opening of the Arab Film Festival in Parramatta for a Lebanese movie called Halal Love. The place was packed with a noisy, bustling crowd estimated by the festival directors as 70 percent Muslim, 30 percent non-Muslim. As a celebration of the strength and diversity of Arab culture in Sydney’s … More


Love & Friendship

July 22, 2016
Kate Beckinsale in 'Love & Friendship' (2016)

On the occasion of her 19th birthday Jane Austen’s father bought her a mahogany writing desk. Today it might have been a new laptop, but the intention was the same: to encourage his daughter’s literary hobby, which seemed quite harmless. He was less relaxed about her growing tendency for flirting with young males at the … More


A Month of Sundays & Pawno

April 29, 2016
Anthony LaPaglia in 'A Month of Sundays' (2015)

‘Fun’ is not a term one associates with contemporary Australian cinema, which has mistaken humourlessness for high seriousness. I’m not pining for slapstick comedy, only for films that can hold an up-tempo mood for more than a minute at a time. The Dressmaker came close last year, while Last Cab to Darwin – a film … More


Spanish Film Festival 2016

April 14, 2016
'Nothing in Return' (2015)

In the days of the infamous Motion Picture Production Code, which stretched from 1930 until the 1960s, Hollywood’s movie makers were constrained from producing any film that might lower the moral standards of its audience. This meant crime could never pay, while law-breakers always suffered for their sins. Innocence and goodness were invariably rewarded. For … More


45 Years

February 19, 2016
Charlotte Rampling in '45 Years' (2015)

It’s with some reluctance that I turn to Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years as the second review for this week, as it’s hard to recommend a film that is little more than a slow, grinding, self-absorbed portrait of old age and its miseries. There are, at least, a few psychological subtleties to be unravelled, whereas my … More


Brooklyn

February 12, 2016
Saoirse Ronan in 'Brooklyn' (2015)

Brooklyn has arrived at the cinema at the same time as new a Nicholas Sparks romance, appropriately titled The Choice. Yes viewers, if you are partial to a bit of romantic drama there is a clear choice. On one hand the clichéd, cardboard-cutout world of The Choice, with characters that would have been rejected from … More