All posts by Richard Cotter

As a child, Richard loved going to the pictures. He is still getting over the advent of the talkie which set cinema back a century but still sounds off on radio ABC, 2GB and 2UE etc about the state of cinema whenever invited. As well, Richard has been a theatre practitioner for the past 35 years and has been resident director for Big Splash Productions for the past 10 years.

UNCLE DYSFUNCTIONAL : UNCOMPROMISING ANSWERS TO LIFE’S MOST PAINFUL PROBLEMS

“In the lacunae of language men and women understand different things about personal boundaries. What men call privacy, women know as secrecy. For men, privacy means not being told stuff that would hurt. For women, secrecy is having stuff go on behind your back.”

This is just a snippet in the well of wisdom that is UNCLE DYSFUNTIONAL, a collection from Esquire’s advice columnist, the late, great, acerbic abolisher of bosh, A A Gill.

Unhaltingly hilarious and unfalteringly funny, unflinchingly unflattering to the foolish followers of the fashion of political correctness, Gill is more likely to sneer and scorn as smile and sympathise, but his scathing analyses of what ails modern humankind is sublimely sage. Continue reading UNCLE DYSFUNCTIONAL : UNCOMPROMISING ANSWERS TO LIFE’S MOST PAINFUL PROBLEMS

A MONSTER CALLS : A TRIUMPH OF IMAGINATIVE FILM MAKING

A film that defies easy definition is a film to cherish in these days of flaccid franchise.
A MONSTER CALLS sounds like a horror movie, but it’s not really.

With a pre-teen protagonists it could be pathetically pigeon-holed as a teen movie, but it is not in the prevailing pen of kiddie gross out pictures.

A MONSTER CALLS is a wholly original film that deals with the monsters that come a calling throughout our lives, the monster of bullying, the monster of illness, the monster of separation, the monster of dealing with the death of a loved one.

Continue reading A MONSTER CALLS : A TRIUMPH OF IMAGINATIVE FILM MAKING

LALLY KATZ’S ‘NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH’ @ THE MONKEY BAA THEATRE

Featured image – Christine Greenough, Anne Wilson and Gertraud Ingeborg. 

Gertraud Ingeborg swoops to conquer in Iluminate Educate’s encore production of Lally Katz’s NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH, leading a cohort of fellow conquerors whose craft retools a familiar blueprint.

Ingeborg plays Ana, octogenarian Hungarian, World War II survivor. Recently widowed, she has relocated to another street in her suburb with her dog, Bella, a German Shepherd with a pinch of Pinscher.

Ana is the eyes of the street, the veritable neighbourhood watch, an imperious curmudgeon inquisitive of other people’s secrets, always ready to impart her vast well of wisdom and pool of opinion.

She takes under her wing a young woman who lives in the street, Catherine, a struggling actress sharing a house with aspiring writer, Ken.

Catherine is emotionally crippled by a past relationship and Ana appoints herself as Catherine’s emotional rescuer, whether Catherine wants rescuing or not. Continue reading LALLY KATZ’S ‘NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH’ @ THE MONKEY BAA THEATRE

THE LATE SHOW : MICHAEL CONNELLY’S LATEST THRILLER

The Late Show is LAPD parlance for the night shift and it’s been appropriated as the title of Michael Connelly’s latest thriller.

Eschewing Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller his seemingly perennial serial protagonists, Connelly has created a new lead character, Renee Ballard, an Hawaiian transplant pulling the late show out of Hollywood.

THE LATE SHOW is a slow burn of a page turner, a police procedural that sees Ballard pick up a trio of cases she wants no part of but cannot bear to part with.

The first of the three appears to be a benign case of credit card theft. But it brilliantly builds the base of Ballard’s philosophical foundation of seeking justice for a victim no matter the felony, whether it’s petty theft or first degree murder. Continue reading THE LATE SHOW : MICHAEL CONNELLY’S LATEST THRILLER

A COUPLE OF COPPOLA GEMS AWAIT YOU AT A CINEMA NEAR YOU

Your cinematic cup runneth over in July with a couple of Coppola pictures that are a cut above the pack.

Forging away from father and husband Francis, daughter Sofia and wife, Eleanor, have each made a film that entertains, enchants and engages in both narrative and image.

THE BEGUILED

Sofia’s choice is THE BEGUILED, the latest in the crinoline and corset carousel that’s merry go rounding our cinemas at present.

Often one will see a film and be inspired to track down its source material.

This was the case when Sofia Coppola finally caught up with Don Siegal’s Clint Eastwood starrer, The Beguiled.

Instead of doing a remake she wanted to shoot a re-imagining of Thomas Cullinan’s novel of the same name, a bit like the Coen Brothers did with True Grit a spell ago.

Laced with elements of a taut psychological thriller, the tale unfolds in 1864 – three years into the Civil War – and is tightly concentrated in and around a Southern girls’ boarding school in Virginia.

Sofia Coppola weaves some Peter Weir-ness in this Southern Gothic, with a haunting hitch of the petticoat nod to Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Coppola’s version begins with a young student of the school out foraging for fungi when she comes face to face with a not much fun guy, a fearful and almost fatally wounded infantryman. He’s an Irishman in a Yankee uniform. He might as well be the Devil in blue dress, but Christian benevolence suffered by little children determines the little girl to bring the soldier back to the school fore succour and sanctuary.

The girl brings him back to the school where the headmistress ministers his wounds. As she and the French teacher and the remaining students provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

Think Misery out of Picnic at Hanging Rock and you get the picture.

Nicole Kidman is at her recent best as the school principal, Miss Martha. Prim and proper but with a perceptible impishness, she is a deliciously decisive den mother with a nuanced sense of propriety mixed with a suitably appropriate sense of humour and irony.

Kirstin Dunst is her dignified French teacher, Edwina, seduced by the soldier’s courtly charm.

Elle Fanning is the precocious senior student, Alicia, intent on seducing the soldier and satisfying the curiosity of her own burgeoning sexuality.

The soldier is played with rat cunning charm by Colin Farrell. When he tries to get a leg over, he comes a cropper.

Among the younger students, watch out for rising Australian star, Angouri Rice as Jane.

Sofia Coppola’s script is succinct, suspenseful, sexy and very funny, and the look of the film is to die for.

Draped in Southern Gothic, Costume Designer Stacey Battat brings a stately gorgeousity to the film that is beguiling and bewitching as the narrative.

PARIS CAN WAIT

Departing the historical Southern states of America for the byways of contemporary France, Sofia’s mother, Eleanor Coppola, delivers a delicious and delightful road movie PARIS CAN WAIT, her first narrative feature that benefits from her documentary film making experience.

Basted biographical, PARIS CAN WAIT had a six year gestation from its genesis. In 2009, Eleanor Coppola found herself with a bad head cold which prevented her from flying. She had accompanied her husband, Francis, to the Cannes Film Festival with an expectation of continuing on to Eastern Europe, where he had business. What now?!

The dilemma was quickly solved by her spouse’s long-time business associate, a Frenchman, who was driving back to Paris right then. He suggested she come with him. She accepted. By nightfall she’d be sleeping in the Coppolas’ Paris apartment. And, when his meetings were over, Francis would join her for a short vacation.

Weeks later, after returning to her home in Northern California, Eleanor regaled a friend with colorful anecdotes about her jaunt from Cannes to Paris with a cuisine-obsessed Frenchman who took her on a “trip” in more ways than one. A seven-hour sojourn stretched to forty before his gasping vintage Peugeot took its final breath and was exchanged for a rental. “That’s a movie I’d like to see,” her friend said, laughing.

PARIS CAN WAIT is that movie. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola, it is a wry contemporary comedy, starring Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin as the fictionalized film couple, “Anne and Michael Lockwood.” , with French writer director-actor Arnaud Viard portraying the irrepressible “Jacques.” , Anne’s sheer chance chauffer.

PARIS CAN WAIT reflects both the pleasures and vexations which stem from hours of close contact between an American woman at something of a crossroads in her life, and a charming Frenchman who oozes charm and erudition to camouflage life “issues” of his own.

It’s a road movie and a culinary adventure, much like the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon Trip movies, but without the self consciousness.

Jacques knows all the best off the beaten track sights and restaurants and Anne, at first frustrated by the meanderings and barely muted amour of Jacques, becomes fascinated with the journey and her guide.

Anne, like Eleanor, has a fine eye and constantly snaps away with her camera, capturing the many moods and foods encountered on this epicurean and emotional epic.

Anne is also frock conscious and Coppola has had the great good sense to employ costume designer Milena Canonero, four time Oscar winner, for Barry Lyndon, Chariots of Fire, Marie Antoinette and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Adding to the sumptuous look of the picture is production designer, Anne Seibel, who was the art director on Sofia’s film, Marie Antoinette.

PARIS CAN WAIT is worth the price of admission for the travelogue aspects alone. The drive from Cannes to Paris with its sublime stopovers, including Lyons, is a scenic spectacular.

The narrative may seem to take a back seat but it drives the movie in a deceptively simple way.
Diane Lane is perfect as Anne, graceful, articulate and strong, a luminous presence, the complete antithesis of the Ugly American, while Arnaud Viard relishes the sometimes stereotypical “Frenchness” of Jacques.

PARIS CAN WAIT is well worth a look – don’t wait.

BABY DRIVER

A bona fide instant cult classic, BABY DRIVER turns up the heat with cool: cool script, cool cast, cool wardrobe and cool music. Hot!

This full throttle thoroughbred is a mash up masterpiece – think Drive out of LA LA Land, a motor musical, a heist feist pedal to the metal toe tapping genre fender bender!

A good kid and a devil behind the wheel, Baby is a getaway driver for criminal mastermind, Doc.

Suffering tinnitus after a tragic traffic event that left him orphaned, Baby is permanently plugged into an Ipod, of which he has an array. On any given caper, he chooses his own personal soundtrack that fuels his feel with the wheel and gets his engine running. Continue reading BABY DRIVER

DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM : THE STORY OF RADIO BIRDMAN

DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM is the warts and all, no holds barred story of groundbreaking Sydney band Radio Birdman.
Written, directed, edited and co-produced by filmmaker Jonathan J Sequeira, the documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the band – from the vibrant music scene they created, to the legions of bands they influenced in their wake.

The ascent into the maelstrom began in 1974 at a house in Kensington, where band members met up and decided to play together. Two of them, Deniz Tek and Pip Hoyle, were med students.

From their first gig at the Exelsior Hotel IN 1974, where the quintet outnumbered the audience, through to 1978, Radio Birdman’s uncompromising, high-energy ethos inspired a ‘New Race’ of disaffected youth, ready for a change, while their DIY attitude and self-released records were the prototype for the indie music scene.

It was a fraught four years with break -ups and bust-ups fuelled by a brutal combustibility, somewhat a Catch 22 as this unstable chemistry created the explosive energy of the band’s music and persona.

Radio Birdman’s volatility as a unit came to a head on their UK tour, where emotionally and economically stressed, their touring vehicle, a Kombi, became known as the van of hate. Continue reading DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM : THE STORY OF RADIO BIRDMAN

THE DARK LAKE : MELBOURNE AUTHOR SARAH BAILEY’S DEBUT NOVEL

Featured pic. Author Sarah Bailey.

These violent delights have violent ends says Shakespeare in Romeo & Juliet.

He loved a good warning to set the scene. Perhaps these days he’d be writing crime fiction sensations like THE DARK LAKE, the debut novel from Melbourne based author, Sarah Bailey.

Bailey has harnessed her tale of regional town homicide to the work horse of Shakespeare, and of Romeo & Juliet in particular, complete with teenage suicide, parental displeasure, and a victim called Rosalind.

When the body of high school drama teacher, Rosalind Ryan, is found in the lake the morning after the triumphant opening night of her student’s production of Romeo & Juliet, ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny, as local cop, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, uncovers a ‘storm’ of Shakespeare like dimension.

Woodstock was a contemporary of Ryan and vied for the attention and affections of the same boy at school. That boy’s much younger brother is now Ryan’s star student, cast as Romeo in her brash, bold and brilliant re imagining of the classic tale of star crossed lovers. Continue reading THE DARK LAKE : MELBOURNE AUTHOR SARAH BAILEY’S DEBUT NOVEL

CHURCHILL : JONATHON TEPLITZKY’S COMPELLING BIO PIC

CHURCHILL follows Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days before the D-Day landings in June 1944. As allied forces stand on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s decision on whether the invasion will actually move ahead.

After stirring the British through the blitz and the Battle of Britain, poor old Winnie is knackered and someone clapped out. A lush and slightly demented

An impulsive, sometimes bullying personality and bulldog stubborn – fearful, obsessive and hurting – he is fearful of repeating, on his disastrous command, the mass slaughter of 1915, when over 500,000 soldiers were killed on the beaches of Gallipoli. Continue reading CHURCHILL : JONATHON TEPLITZKY’S COMPELLING BIO PIC

LADY MACBETH : FILMMAKER WILLIAM OLDROYD TAKES ON ONE OF SHAKESPEARE’S DARKEST CHARACTERS

We are experiencing a copious cinematic cascade of crinoline and corsets led by the currently screening My Cousin Rachel and A Quiet Passion. The latest entry, LADY MACBETH is, quite simply, lady magnificent, trumping the current crop with performance, power and precision.

William Oldroyd’s beguiling film begins with a wedding. In a beautifully framed and composed shot, the focus is on the bride, veiled in virginal white. There is no sign of a groom. The feel is more like a funeral than nuptial celebration.

Later, in a joyless bedroom, the groom appears and orders her to take off her nightie. She dutifully obliges. He has a gander but is not up for goosing, and leaves the chamber with the marriage unconsummated.                   Continue reading LADY MACBETH : FILMMAKER WILLIAM OLDROYD TAKES ON ONE OF SHAKESPEARE’S DARKEST CHARACTERS

I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD : A FEROCIOUSLY FUNNY SATIRE OF THE WORLD OF FASHION

Featured image- Pic of author by Dennis Drenner.

A fission and fusion of fashion and crime fiction, Barbara Bourland’s I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD is a ferociously funny satire of the gloss and goss industry.

Rip the dust jacket from the binding and wear it with pride, you’ll want to devour this delicious banquet of a book in one sitting, gutsing the glorious barbs and bon mots, characters and situations.

Plot thickens, narrative ripens under the impressive prose of Ms Bourland, with this scathing, coruscating and laugh out loud novel. Continue reading I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD : A FEROCIOUSLY FUNNY SATIRE OF THE WORLD OF FASHION

A QUIET PASSION : TAKES US INSIDE THE WORLD OF THE SUBLIME EMILY DICKINSON

Keith Carradine plays Emily’s loving father.

Featured image – Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle in A QUIET PASSION.

Emily Dickinson was first featured in Terence Davies cinematic ode to Liverpool, Of Time and The City, which contained his recitation of “I reason, earth is short and anguish absolute, and many hurt, but what of that? I reason we could die – the best vitality cannot excel decay. But what of that? I reason that in Heaven, somehow it will be even, some new equation given. But what of that?”

With A QUIET PASSION he has delivered a fully fledged bio-pic of the sublime poet, but what of that?

A portrait of a morbid, obsessed recluse needs careful handling and for the most part Davies’ picture is a fascinating and enthralling character study of people, time and place.

Born into privilege in 1803, Emily Dickinson spent most of her life on her parents estate in Amherst, Massachusetts. In her youth, as finely depicted by Emma Bell, Emily is a fiercely intelligent young woman, feisty in forthright opinions on life, art, love, religion and gender equality. This exasperated her teachers at Holyoke Female Seminary to the point of her expulsion. But what of that?

Sent home to the bosom of her family, she jousts with father, a perfect picture of paternal affection and frustration from Keith Carradine, and parries with sister, a sincere and sparkling turn of sibling simpatico from Jennifer Ehle.

As time passes, the mature Emily is taken up by Cynthia Dixon, in a performance that is rightfully being praised as a career best. But what of that?

Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography is exemplary with both exteriors – Antwerp doubling for Amherst – and interiors having a definite 19th century feel.

The authentic look of the film is further enhanced by Merijn Serp’s production design and Catherine Marchand’s cossies. But what of that?

A QUIET PASSION does live up to it’s title – there is a passionate quiet at the core of the film, that now and then rudely bubbles to the surface. The results are exquisite. However, the film’s quiet passion verges on scuttling the sublime by shots that are excessively held, exhausting interest and rendering scenes enervating rather than exhilarating. But what of that?

KEDI : THIS FILM WILL MAKE YOU PURR LIKE A KITTEN

Istanbul should be renamed Catstandenobled after viewing KEDI, a purrfectly affectionate catumentary about the feline inhabitants of the pearl on the Bosphorus.

KEDI could be renamed as well. May I suggest, The Mognificent Seven, as Director Ceyda Torun catalogues a septet of cats and their nine lives.

The film begins with a bird’s eye view of Istanbul – or Catsaresonoble – as gulls hover over the Bosphorus, then swoops down to street level to take in the arCATecture. Apologies for the catachresis). Continue reading KEDI : THIS FILM WILL MAKE YOU PURR LIKE A KITTEN

CAN I BE ME? : WHITNEY’S REFRAIN THAT WE NEVER HEARD

Houston , we have a problem.

Nick Broomfield’s documentary about Whitney Houston, CAN I BE ME?, is such a slow burn affair that interest for the general view may well splutter before it ignites.

It begins with the 911 call triggered in response to her unresponsiveness, the emergency call that first alerted the world that Whitney Houston had exited this life at the age of 48.

Over the radio voices, another voice intones that Whitney Houston died of a broken heart. Continue reading CAN I BE ME? : WHITNEY’S REFRAIN THAT WE NEVER HEARD

THAT’S NOT ME

It looks a million dollars but THAT’S NOT ME cost a mere $60,000.

THAT’S NOT ME begins with the picture’s protagonist, Polly, sitting on the toilet clutching an air freshener and delivering an Oscar acceptance speech.

Polly is an aspiring actress, the twin sister of another aspiring actress, Amy. She is a serious minded thespian, biding her time for a shot at stardom working at a cinema selling tickets, popcorn and choc-tops.

When her agent suggests her for a role in the popular soap, Summer Street, she baulks at the idea of playing an albino, perceiving whitening up as repugnant as blacking up.

Amy takes the gig instead, is a success, lands a role in an HBO show and starts dating Jared Leto.

A disastrous trip to LA does little to help matters, but the unbearable situation becomes a little better when Polly discovers that she can use her sister’s celebrity to her advantage to get free clothes, free booze and casual sex.

There’s not a dud note in THAT’S NOT ME thanks to a solid foundation in a script by Alice Foulcher and Gregory Erdstein, and anchored by a winning lead performance by Foulcher and Helmed with an assured hand by Erdstein.

The support casting is impeccable with a mix of the well known and the unknown. Andrew S. Gilbert and Catherine Hill are perfect as Polly’s parents and Isabel Lucas is ferociously good as Polly’s drama school pal, Zoe, who has transplanted to Hollywood and deliciously pays out on the studio who has dissed her.

Andrew O’Keeffe serves up a sparkling cameo as a soap star and the director, Gregory Erdstein sends the self important director caricature into cauterised comic cuts.

Cinematography by Shelley Farthing-Dawe is first class as is the rich production design of Sally Addinsall.

What could have been cheesy has been kept bright and breezy in this very funny film of awkward ambition, shallow celebrity, sibling rivalry and playing the real.

DATES FOR THE DIARY: 

THAT’S NOT ME plays Sydney Film Festival Saturday June 10 6.30 pm at Event George, and Sunday June 11 8.30 pm at The Ritz, Randwick, and Monday June 12, 6.30 pm at the Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne.

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL DOCOS : TWO OF THE BEST

Invariably, the great surprises and sincere sensations of the Sydney Film Festival come from documentary film makers shining cinematic spotlights on our past, present and futures, rectifying the forgotten by elevating remembrance, examining the individual and celebrating the universal.

Two such gems are part of this year’s Festival line up. For some it will be an education. For aficionados it will be an edification. Link Wray, Mildred Bailey, Charley Patton, Jimi Hendrix, and more make up this stomping tribute to Native American musicians who have heretofore gone unheralded in their cultural contribution to world music.

This Sundance winner kicks off with the thumping riffs of Shawnee guitarist Link Wray’s 1950s classic Rumble; the tune that gives the film it’s irrepressible name and sets its fascinating rhythm. Continue reading SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL DOCOS : TWO OF THE BEST

DAVID LYNCH : THE ART LIFE

It’s forty years since Eraserhead fixed David Lynch into the cultural landscape. We know what he’s been doing since then, especially lately with the new episodes of Twin Peaks, but what came before?

DAVID LYNCH : THE ART LIFE goes some way in defining Lynch’s formative years. Although directed by a trio of aficionados, Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm, DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE is pretty much a self portrait, with Lynch narrating anecdotal stories of his childhood, school days, early days and film work right up to the shooting of Eraserhead.

Lynch  talks of an idyllic upbringing, with early memories of sitting in a mud hole with a pal. Into adolescence, he recalls what most boys would identify with,- “I was real busy doing things my mother didn’t want me doing.” Continue reading DAVID LYNCH : THE ART LIFE

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE

Currently in competition at The Sydney Film Festival, THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE will not be in line for any award Peter Dutton might lend his name to.

Khaled, a young Syrian refugee who has lost virtually all of his family, drifts to Helsinki as a stowaway passenger on a collier to seek asylum without great hopes for his future life. Honourable and honest, he reports to the local police, not wanting to be considered an illegal.

Simultaneously, Wikström, a travelling salesman of about fifty representing mainly men’s shirts and ties, becomes a refugee from a broken marriage, walking out on his alcoholic wife and selling his entire stock of cravats and collars. Going for broke personally and professionally, he stakes his stash on a poker game in which he cleans up.

With the winnings he buys an unprofitable restaurant at the far end of an inner court along a back street in Helsinki. Along with the venue, he inherits a trio of eccentric employees – a cook, a maitre d’ and a waitress. Continue reading THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE

LIBERATION DAY : A BIZARRE AND BRILLIANT DOCUMENTARY

“Our only responsibility is to remain irresponsible” is the motto of Laibach, the Slovenian band invited to appear in North Korea, a tour documented in the bizarre, beguiling and brilliant documentary, LIBERATION DAY.

Famous for their art rock interpretations of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, and their emblematic logo of the Cross and the Cog, Laibach’s inverse Orwellian motto “All propaganda is art” must have appealed to the powers that be in Pyongyang.

The invitation was too “out there” to refuse, the implications of their visit was even more out there when they were out there!

Confronting strict ideology and cultural differences, the band struggles to get their songs through the needle’s eye of censorship before they can be unleashed on an audience never before exposed to alternative rock’n’roll. Continue reading LIBERATION DAY : A BIZARRE AND BRILLIANT DOCUMENTARY

‘UNA’ AND ‘THE TEACHER’ : TWO OUTSTANDING FILMS AT THIS YEAR’S SFF

Two very different films about child abuse are among the picks of this year’s Sydney Film Festival (7-18 June).

Benedict Andrews first feature film, UNA, is a taut tale of sexual obsession.

Based on David Harrower’s play Blackbird, the screenplay has been written by the playwright.

The events of the summer when Una was thirteen still exert a tremendous, magnetic pull on her, thirteen years later.

Thirteen years ago, the thirteen year old Una waited for the much older Ray in a hotel room. Ray was her next door neighbour and Una had run away with Ray, they had sex for the first time, and the he appeared to have loved and left her.

Now, thirteen years later, Una tracks Ray, now known as Peter, to his workplace, neither to condemn or condone, but to confront.

What happened between Ray and Una should never have happened, but what happened transformed and shattered their lives. They are left to piece together their broken lives and to reflect on how their lives might be repaired. True to life, there are no easy answers.

The main characters names bear special significance in this film. Ray got to change his – he’s now called Peter- but Una has lived with hers. Una, translated from the Latin, means one.The core question for Una, throughout the course of her journey in the film is…Was I the only one?” Continue reading ‘UNA’ AND ‘THE TEACHER’ : TWO OUTSTANDING FILMS AT THIS YEAR’S SFF

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

Many critics thought Julian Barnes much too good to win the Booker Prize, but then he did, a half dozen years ago, with The Sense of an Ending.

Many thought that the book, a very internalised view of memory, would be impossible to turn in to a beautifully textured film, but then playwright Nick Payne, author of the stupendous stage play, Constellations, wrote an adaptation and the acclaimed director of The Lunchbox, Ritesh Batra agreed to be the helmer, and so we have the graceful film, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING.

Here’s a sense of a beginning: Tony Webster leads a reclusive and quiet existence until long buried secrets from his past force him to face the flawed recollections of his younger self, the truth about his first love and the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago. Continue reading THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

NERUDA

Pablo Larrain’s picture of the  larrikin poet, NERUDA, is as ambitious, ambiguous and audacious as his anti biopic, Jackie.

Man and myth, icon and hedonist, a champagne Marxist with the heart of a poet and a predilection for pulp, Larrain’s Neruda, personified in performance as a portly proletariat potentate by Luis Gnecco, is a delicious super imposed study of a popular hero, who’s hallowed legacy is harrowed by the blunt edge of a fallen halo.

Writer Guillermo Calderon and director Pablo Larrain have invented a world, just as Neruda invented his. The film is more a “Nerudian” film than it is a film about Neruda. Continue reading NERUDA

THE GIRL BEFORE : A DEBUT NOVEL BY J.P. DELANEY

A dream house becomes a nightmare dwelling in J P Delaney’s uber impressive debut novel, THE GIRL BEFORE.

Stick Girl in the title these days and you’re assured a bestseller it seems, but THE GIRL BEFORE is bound to sweep away Gone, Girl and Girl on a Train on equal merit and not just marketing spin.

“Sometimes I have a sense that this house- our relationship in it, with it, with each other -is like a palimpsest or pentimento, that however much we try to over paint Emma Matthews, she keeps tiptoeing back: a faint image, an enigmatic smile, stealing its way into the corner of the frame.” Continue reading THE GIRL BEFORE : A DEBUT NOVEL BY J.P. DELANEY

THE VICEROY’S HOUSE

“Makes Buckingham Palace look like a bungalow”, Lady Mountbatten opines as she surveys her new digs in THE VICEROY’S HOUSE, the latest picture to depict Partition and the creation of Pakistan.

The dwelling was designed by Lutyens and took 17 years to build. Its imposing architecture was an expression of Imperial power, intended to intimidate. It was completed in 1929, as Wall Street crashed, but few could have imagined that in less than 20 years it would become the home of the first President of India. Interestingly, it remains the largest residence of any head of state anywhere in the world.

Back in 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last British Viceroy of India, a Horay Henry of the Last Hurrah of the Raj, and this film depicts him as much a hapless pawn in the machinations of the British Government at the time as the creator and administrator of the divvy up.

Director Gurinder Chadha, probably best known for her breakout film, Bend It Like Beckham, split’s the film’s narrative fairly evenly between the political wrangling of the real historical figures upstairs in the seat of Colonial power and the emotional downstairs scenes, centred on the fictional romance between Jeet, a Hindu personal valet to Mountbatten, and Aalia, a Muslim
translator for Mountbatten’s daughter Pamela, and it’s as cheesy as a naan laced with rennin. Continue reading THE VICEROY’S HOUSE

DON’T TELL : A BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM

Above : Jack Thompson plays the silkiest of silks, Bob Myers. Featured photo- Sara West plays the gutsy main character, Lyndel.

DON’T TELL is the kind of film that makes audiences “do tell” and strong word of mouth should launch this splendid court room drama into the box office success it so richly deserves.

Sara West is superb as Lyndal, a young woman at crisis point, desperate to be heard and needing to be believed. A decade ago, she was sexually abused by a teacher at a school run by the Anglican Church.

The vile experience together with the bottled up anger, guilt, and fear has derailed a life on track for a stable and productive life.

After ten years of troubled existence, Lyndal must tell of her experience, must publicly dispel her appalling sentence of silence to have any semblance of a normal life. Continue reading DON’T TELL : A BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM