romance

Crazy Rich Asians

August 23, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians arrives on a wave of hype that would put Hokusai to shame. We are told with great fanfare that it’s the first Hollywood film to feature an all-Asian cast since Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club (1993). It’s seen more broadly as an antidote to Hollywood’s phobia about using Asian actors, which … More


The Shape of Water

January 20, 2018

With the passing of time it’s possible to look back on any period with nostalgia. Stephan Elliott proves the point in Swinging Safari, a time capsule of the 1970s that’s advertised as a comedy, but may be the greatest Australian horror film since Wake in Fright. It’s more common for moviemakers to feel nostalgia for … More


My Cousin Rachel

June 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘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

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