war

The King’s Choice

August 25, 2017
Jesper Christesen dodges a bullet in The King's Choice

Scandinavian history may not be a pressing concern for most Australians, but we can all recognise the importance of political courage – if only by its absence in Canberra. The King’s Choice deals with the dilemma that beset King Haakan VII of Norway when his country was invaded by the Germans in April 1940. Erik … More


Frantz

April 8, 2017
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer in 'Frantz' (2016)

Towns don’t get much more German than Quedlinburg. Nestled in the heart of Saxony it has about 20,000 inhabitants, but calls itself “the first capital of Germany” because King Heinrich was crowned there in 919 CE. Throughout the years of division its medieval buildings were preserved intact by the poverty of the East. Quedlinburg is … More


Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

December 2, 2016
Joe Alwyn in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016)

It takes a confident director to run with a title like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but we know that’s the case with Ang Lee – a fearless all-rounder who has worked in a wide range of genres since his debut in 1992. To keep the title is really a mark of respect for the … More


Hacksaw Ridge

November 4, 2016
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge has been widely touted as a “redemption” for Mel Gibson after his spectacular fall from grace that began in 2006. If there is any truth in this rather glib idea, Mel hasn’t taken the meek-and-mild route. In fact there are two Mel Gibsons at the helm of this movie – the old-fashioned Hollywood … More


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

May 12, 2016
Tina Fey in 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' (2016)

If The Martian can be classified as a comedy in last year’s Golden Globes, I suppose the same applies to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa strive mightily to keep the tone light in a film in which there is a significant amount of carnage and bloodshed, but it’s never laugh-out-loud material. … More


Eye in the Sky

March 17, 2016
Aaron Paul in 'Eye in the Sky' (2015)

“Something inherent in the necessities of successful action,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in Nostromo,’ carried with it the moral degradation of the idea.” He could be describing the contemporary ‘war on terror’, in which the efficient use of drones makes a mockery of the idea of the nobility of armed conflict. There’s nothing romantic about sending … More


Phoenix

December 4, 2015
Nina Hoss in 'Phoenix' (2014)

While Ron Howard gives us adventure on the high seas, Christian Petzold takes us to a seedy, broken-down Germany in the wake of the Second World War. Phoenix is an advance on Petzold’s previous feature, Barbara (2012), which was set in East Germany during the 1980s. Both movies share the same female and male leads, … More


Macbeth

October 2, 2015
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth' (2015)

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the great political dramas. It demonstrates all of Machiavelli’s ideas about attaining and using power, but also explores the moral and psychological consequences of one man’s ruthless pursuit of the crown. Macbeth begins as a loyal retainer whose head is turned by the prophecies of three witches. Goaded on by … More


Far From Men

August 1, 2015
Viggo Mortensen in 'Far from Men' (2014)

Albert Camus’s fiction is often set in Algeria, where a dry, barren landscape is used as an appropriately bare stage for existential dilemmas to be played out. These episodes are related in deadpan fashion but may be a matter of life or death. Each story is precisely conceived, so it’s a dangerous exercise to take … More


Anzac Shows, New Zealand

May 2, 2015
The Great War Exhibition, Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Buckle St, Wellington April 23, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/ mark tantrum.com)

Australia is allegedly spending $325 million on the commemoration of the First World War. This figure, we are told, is more than twice what the British have allocated, and 20 times the budget for events in New Zealand. Some will see this is a waste of money at a time when the government is preaching … More