romance

Learning to Drive

October 9, 2015

Learning to Drive is one of those films that spin an entire story around one simple metaphor. For a middle-aged woman, learning to drive is an act of self-determination, a way of taking control of one’s life. Having entered one’s fifties as a passenger there is a profound sense of affirmation in finally getting behind … More


The Diary of a Teenage Girl

September 25, 2015

“I had sex today. Holy shit!” Welcome to The Diary of a Teenage Girl – a film that throws us into the deep end with its opening line. The place is San Francisco, the time 1976, and the narrator, 15-year-old Minnie Goetz – a precocious schoolgirl who confides everything to her tape recorder. Minnie recounts … More


Force of Destiny

September 12, 2015

Paul Cox’s Force of Destiny is another film that straddles the twilight zone between life and art, but this is because the story is so closely based on the director’s own battles that it becomes an oblique autobiography. In 2009 Cox was diagnosed with liver cancer and given only a short time to live. Towards … More


Last Cab to Darwin

August 8, 2015

When every new Australian movie seems obsessed with death, one might see a story about euthanasia as a step in the right direction. At least it’s a humane death. One could even make a case for Jeremy Sims’s Last Cab to Darwin as a film that salvages a life-affirming message from tragedy. Michael Caton plays … More


Trainwreck

August 8, 2015

American comedy nowadays seems to consist largely of gross sexual scenarios and toilet humour. Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck is pretty gross, but if it rises above the competition it is almost entirely due to Amy Schumer, who wrote the screenplay with herself in the starring role. That character, also called Amy, closely mirrors many aspects of … More


Ruben Guthrie

July 18, 2015

If you’ve ever harboured uncharitable thoughts about the guys who do the ‘creative’ stuff in advertising agencies, Ruben Guthrie will satisfy your prejudices. There’s not much chance of warming to any of the lead characters, especially the eponymous hero, possibly the least sympathetic protagonist in an Aussie flick since Mick Taylor started terrorising backpackers in Wolf Creek. Ruben, … More


Madame Bovary

July 11, 2015

Madame Bovary is the book that changed the novel forever. Before Gustave Flaubert published his masterpiece in 1857, readers had become accustomed to characters that were either good or bad, with well-defined roles in a story. But unless you’re Tony Abbott, life is not like that. “No monsters, and no heroes!” Flaubert proclaimed in a … More


SFF & Aloha

June 6, 2015

Preparing for the 62nd Sydney Film Festival, with its 12 days of screenings from morning till night, is a bit like training for a marathon. I’m prepared to watch four movies a day but many people think this is madness. Don’t they all run into each other, becoming an indistinguishable mess? I can only answer … More


Gemma Bovery

May 30, 2015

Emma Bovary is one of the most enduring characters in world literature, but many would argue no screen adaptation has ever captured the spirit of Flaubert’s masterpiece – even with directors as distinguished as Jean Renoir, Vincente Minnelli and Claude Chabrol. Within a few months there will be a new Madame Bovary, directed by Sophie … More


A Royal Night Out

May 23, 2015

“God save the Queen. She ain’t no human bean!” sang Johnny Rotten in the Jubilee year of 1977. “Oh yes she is,” say the makers of A Royal Night Out – a movie designed to convince us the British Royal Family are not only human but adorable. For director, Julian Jarrold, this film is even … More