January 18, 2014
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Her', 2013

Somebody had to make a film such as Her, and Spike Jonze was a good candidate. His last feature was an accomplished fairy tale, Where the Wild Things Are (2009); the previous one, the clever Adaptation (2002). In between there have been shorts, documentaries, and music video clips. Yet Jonze is a more mature filmmaker … More

Kill Your Darlings

December 21, 2013
Daniel Radcliffe in 'Kill Your Darlings' 2013

Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr. The first three were among the most famous writers of their generation, the last worked for 47 years as a news editor for United Press International. Yet in the formative years of the Beat Generation, Lucien Carr was the hippest of the hip. This brief, glittering … More

Night Train to Lisbon

December 7, 2013
Jeremy Irons in 'Night Train To Lisbon'.

In Jack Cardiff’s Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), which marries pretension and sexploitation in a way that only the 1960s could conceive, Marianne Faithfull abandons her boring schoolteacher husband and roars off to Switzerland on a big Harley-Davidson for a romantic assignation with Alain Delon. Most girls might think this sounds like a perfectly logical … More

Stoker & The Best Offer

August 31, 2013
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There was a moment in the 1980s when Australian directors such as Bruce Beresford, Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong heard the siren call of Hollywood and went to make films in the United States. It seems this alluring melody is now drifting towards South Korea, with directors such as Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Bong Joon-ho (The … More

Behind the Candelabra & What’s in a Name?

July 27, 2013
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It is almost impossible to explain Liberace to anyone under thirty. A walking Christmas tree decked out in rhinestones, sequins, furs and ostrich feathers, with a bouffant wig the size of Uluru, Liberace had millions of fans who never suspected he was gay. When newspapers dared make such slanderous accusations he sued them and won. … More

The Great Gatsby & Happiness Never Comes Alone

June 1, 2013
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It has become a cliché to call Baz Luhrmann a director of video clips rather than motion pictures, but like so many clichés this one has the ring of truth. The Great Gatsby – long-awaited, much-talked-about, supremely overhyped – has arrived. It shows Luhrmann demonstrating his gift for lavish spectacle and his lack of almost … More

The Place Beyond the Pines & Tabu

May 11, 2013
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Although I’m not much interested in the celebrity circuit, it was surprising to read, late last year, that Bradley Cooper had been named The Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. By all accounts the most outraged constituency were fans of Ryan Gosling, the other Hollywood pin-up boy of our era. If it achieves nothing else, … More

Trance & Rust and Bone

April 6, 2013
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In a recent poll sponsored by HMV, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996) was voted the best British film of the past 60 years. Although such surveys have an unhappy resemblance to those ‘Greatest Hits of All Time’ polls run by commercial radio stations, Trainspotting deserves the kudos. It was a brilliantly original movie which sealed Boyle’s … More

Amour & Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

February 23, 2013
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As a Valentine’s Day promotion this year, Madman Entertainment put together a package of eight DVD releases intended to take the “guesswork” out of finding a gift for one’s nearest and dearest. The selection was decidedly off-beat, including A Declaration of War, about a couple whose child has cancer; A Royal Affair – an historical … More

Gangster Squad & You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

January 19, 2013
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Rarely has a film ‘based on a true story’ seemed more like a fairy tale than Gangster Squad. If you go looking for the book behind the movie, as I did last week, then head for the True Crime section. Veteran journalist Paul Lieberman has penned a racy account of the real Gangster Squad – … More