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.
Australia is certainly at the arts end of the world, put on the global creative cartography by Brett Whiteley, and James Bogle’s brilliant documentary is completely deserving of Brett’s talent. WHITELEY may well be the best Australian film of the year.
Writer/director James Bogle and co writer, Victor Gentile, have fashioned a fine feature film from Whiteley’s own voice, and the voices of his muse and ex wife, Wendy, either captured on archival footage or recreated from notebooks and interviews over four decades.
Like most artists, this larrikin painter subordinated his life to the overwhelming needs of his art. It is a selfishness, but a selfishness that creates great and enduring art.
This May Palace Cinemas once again brings the best of American independent film to Australian screens with American Essentials.
Twenty films make their Australian premiere at the three-week festival, celebrating the latest indie treasures in narrative feature and documentary, together with newly restored American classics.
Thirty-one films curated by Artistic Director Richard Sowada reflects the remarkable breadth of contemporary independent cinema produced in the US, proving a richness far greater than the same old, same old studio pictures inherent in the Hollywood machine.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? meets The Stepford Wives in this creepy anthropological and psychological sleeper hit.
Like Sidney Poitier, Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris is invited by his white girlfriend to meet the folks. Like Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are upper middle class liberals, brimming with bonhomie. He is a neurosurgeon and she is a psychiatrist. And they both want to play in, and with their daughter’s intended’s brain. Continue reading GET OUT : MUCH MORE THAN A BLACK AND WHITE STORY→
The original title for Anne Fontaine’s THE INNOCENTS was Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God.The Holy Ovine who is supposed to take away the sins of the world, God’s gamboller who will grant peace and mitigate mercy.
The film is based on a true story, on events that occurred at the end of World War II. As the Nazi’s were withdrawing from Poland, the Russians advanced and occupied and pillaged Poland. Rape was considered a reward and Soviet soldiers were responsible for the insemination of several nuns.
My Mum’s mantra about modern movies is “Why don’t they make films like they used to?”
Well, guess what, Mum? They still do.
At least Lone Scherfig’s latest film, THEIR FINEST, is about how they made films back in the Forties, and so finely made is it, that it does, in fact, feel like a picture made back then.
In the midst of the Second World War, the population of England and her allies were in need of something uplifting they could relate to, to help raise the spirits of the nation during this bleak time.
Going to the pictures became more than just an exercise in entertainment, but an excursion into hope and optimism.
Gemma Arterton stars as Catrin Cole, a creative copywriter who catches the eye of the Government section that produce propaganda feature films. She is employed to create engaging scenarios and write female dialogue, to tap into the emotions and imaginations of the fast growing women’s workforce, to stroke the heart, stoke the hearth, and keep the home fires burning.Continue reading THEIR FINEST : A MOVIE LIKE THEY USED TO MAKE→
A slap in the vagina with a piece of veal to vegans and vegetarians, RAW is about a couple of cannibal sisters who certainly like their meat rare.
These self same samplers of human flesh and sinew are veterinarian science students at a well heeled university, where fees cost an arm and a leg.
This is the alma mater of their parents, so they are carrying on an alpha tradition.
Another tradition that runs deep in the family is their dedicated veganism, so when initiation rituals include meat eating and blood splattering, we know we are in for some extreme angst, conflict and life altering experience. Continue reading RAW : IN YOUR FACE FILMMAKING→
Colossal entertainment of a bent and skewed kind awaits audiences with COLOSSAL, Anne Hathaway’s brave heart take on domestic violence, male manipulation and the canker of unrequited hanker.
COLOSSAL is a film in which a recognisably universal story is manipulated through a monster mash of genres – part rom com, part creature feature – and it works a treat in a meteoric, metaphoric euphoria.
The plot follows Gloria who has lost her high flying job and fiance due to being a tragic hostage in the battle for the bottle. She is the very opposite of her name.
One cannot help muse that the defiant, deluded Holocaust denier, David Irving, must have been duped into thinking the case he brought against Penguin Books and their author, Deborah Lipstadt, was going to be heard by Jewry rather than a jury when he agreed that the matter be adjudicated by a judge alone.
Of course, the truth of the matter is brilliantly argued in the astonishingly gripping court room drama, DENIAL.
Forty four years on and THE DAY OF THE JACKAL is still as taut, tense and terrific as it was when released in cinemas in 1973.
Helmed by master craftsman Fred Zinnemann this original adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s best selling book is 143 minutes of precise methodical planning, suspenseful in a cool, measured way that reflects the cold calculating calm of the assassin code named The Jackal.
In a precision piece of police procedural, the movie painstakingly maps the trajectory of the hiring of the hitman to the cat and mouse chase and capture.
Remember when the ownership of a Holden or a Ford was tribal? The same kind of one car nation or the other raises its quaint and parochial head in the Swedish episodic comedy, A MAN CALLED OVE.
Curmudgeon sexagenarian Ove is a Saab man through and through, with unmitigated disdain for Volvo drivers, although that at least is better than Audi, – “four zeros on the grille and one behind the wheel” is his disparaging default.
Recently widowed, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door, the self appointed and opinionated neighbourhood watchman, with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave.
When suddenly retrenched, Ove decides that life is finally not worth living. He decides to commit suicide, but after a series of attempts, it appears that life is not ready to give up on Ove. Continue reading A MAN CALLED OVE→
A matriarch with a Messiah complex, Anne Hamilton-Byrne was a glamorous yoga teacher whose charismatic aura amassed a cult following and spawned a surrogate family of illegally sourced children, under the auspices of The Santiniketan Park Association.
Rosie Jones’ documentary, THE FAMILY, is an investigation into the cult and the dogged detective work of policeman, Lex De Man, longest serving member of Operation Forest, which sought to prosecute Hamilton-Byrne.
Altogether 28 children spent time under the strict regime of Anne, self proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and The Aunties, Anne’s apostles, disciples in strict and restrictive discipline; a core group of 14 believed they were Anne and her husband Bill’s biological children and bore the Hamilton-Byrne name. Continue reading THE FAMILY : A NEW DOCUMENTARY BY ROSIE JONES→
If you think the Sydney lock out laws are Draconian, consider the Queensland State Government’s Alcohol Management Plan affecting the town of Doomadgee – a first offence penalty for possessing a full strength alcoholic beverage is a fine of $44,175 or incarceration if unable to pay.
Imagine that imposition to the beer swilling burgers of Sydney. The weekend paralytic would be apoplectic, yet this appalling apartheid prohibition is levelled at the indigenous inhabitants, further pathetic paternalism by a white society.
Back in 1930, white Christian missionaries thrashed indigenous culture out of the locals, now there is a concentrated effort to claw it back. Out of a population of a thousand, there were fourteen suicides in twelve months, due partly to alcohol and drugs which is part of the problem of dissociation that prevails in these communities. Continue reading ZACH’S CEREMONY : A NEW FILM BY AARON PETERSEN→
One of the best films of the year, LAND OF MINE, is the cinematic cousin, or soul mate of The Hurt Locker and The Hill.
In a nutshell, this bombshell of a movie is set in the days following the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945, when German POWs held in Denmark were put to work by the Allied Forces. With minimal training in defusing explosives, they were sent to remove in excess of two million of their own landmines from the Danish west coast.
The film begins with our introduction to Sergeant Rasmussen, military moustached veteran of the Nazi occupation, going berserk at the sight of a soldier, part of a column of vanquished Germans soldiers filing down the road, draped in a Danish flag.
I saw LOVING back in November and loved it. I saw LOVING again last week and loved it even more.
As good as Emma and Natalie and Isabel were, I was fervently rooting for Ruth Negga to win the Academy Award for her beautifully poised performance as Mildred Loving, a black woman who had the temerity of accepting a marriage proposal from a white man, Richard Loving, in the state of Virginia, United States of America, 1958.
The United States of America, contrary to its appellation, was not united in everything, as the Appalachian state continued with a miscegenist law about marriage. It was the state of Virginia, where the appropriately named Loving’s were making their home and starting a family, that first terrorised and humiliated them, then jailed them and then banished them for defying its law against interracial marriage. Continue reading LOVING : AN EXCEPTIONAL FILM BY JEFF NICHOLS→
Knocking the Who Do You Think You Are? concept out of the ring, THE PANTHER WITHIN is a winning technical and emotional knock-out of a film.
In a tag team bout of several suspenseful rounds, film-maker Edoardo Crismani and his mother Barbara embark on a search to unravel the mystery surrounding Barbara’s father Joe Murray, an indigenous boxing champion who danced and sang vaudeville, and married a blue-eyed blond white woman in 1930s Australia. Astonishing!
On the ropes as far as reliable historical documentation regarding Joe Murray, mother and son journey across the land, from Adelaide to Mildura, Melbourne and Ballarat. They trawl through libraries, meet with researchers, historians and Aboriginal elders, delving into the hidden heritage of the man known as The Black Panther, trying to piece his story together. Continue reading THE PANTHER WITHIN : A STRIKING NEW AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY→
Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Sam Neil, Judy Davis, Jackie Weaver, Rachel Griffiths, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown and Eric Bana. To name a few. That’s the incredible line-up amassed for DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE.
A film critic can sometimes unearth an audience for a film that does not have the vast advertising techniques and budget that ensures a mass audience for a major movie, usually from a studio in Hollywood.
Such an excavator is David Stratton whose exuberance for the wide exhibition of quality films, especially those made in Australia, is extolled in this brilliant exultation of local films, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE. Continue reading DAVID STRATTON : A CINEMATIC LIFE→
We’ve all probably done it. Pressed the intercom key release indiscriminately, thinking the caller is someone expected.
That’s what Rana does, expecting her husband as she prepares to take a shower.
The upshot is a devastating seismic incident, a potent aftershock to the earthquake that begins THE SALESMAN, this years recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
This Iranian bombshell explodes into an exploration of a couple imploding. School teacher Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) need new digs when their home is devastated by an earthquake.
The couple are also actors in an amateur Tehran production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and a member of their troupe arranges for them move into a new apartment, until recently occupied by a mysterious young woman. Continue reading THE SALESMAN→
EIGHTH BLACKBIRD send you to musical seventh heaven with their Musica Viva set which includes the world premiere performance of a work by home grown composer Holly Harrison.
Named from a Wallace Stevens poem that talks about lucid, inescapable rhythms, EIGHTH BLACKBIRD is a sizzling sextet originally hailing from Ohio celebrating twenty-one years performing new works that defy easy classification. True to say, there’s no pigeon-holing the EIGHTH BLACKBIRD.
JASPER JONES is based on the best-selling Australian novel by Craig Silvey. The novel has received broad critical acclaim and commercial success including being short-listed for the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2011 and short-listed for the Australian Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2010.
Pic opens with schoolmates Charlie and Jeffrey debating the attributes of the super hero, and how Spiderman is an urban superhero who would be out of his comfort zone in their small, rural town.
For Jeffrey Superman and Spiderman are the supreme embodiment of a superhero, but for Charley it’s Batman, whose super power is not supernatural like the kid from Krypton, but courage like the caped crusader.
Courage is at the forefront of JASPER JONES, and author Craig Silvey has courageously adapted his novel with Snowtown scribe, Shaun Grant.
Idle banter about bantering idols and childish choices like “Would you rather wear a hat made of spiders or have a hand with fingers replaced by penises?”, give way to more pressing matters when Charlie answers a midnight summons from town outcast, Jasper Jones.
Charlie accompanies Jasper to a billabong where the body of a 16-year-old girl, Laura Wishart, hangs from an eucalypti tree. She was Jasper’s girlfriend, his only friend, and now she is dead. Charlie immediately wants to contact the police but Jasper is adamant that they cannot, as he will be blamed because he is Aboriginal and explains that he already knows who is the killer; it’s Mad Jack Lionel, the town recluse and former abattoir worker who is rumoured to have slaughtered a woman several years ago. Continue reading JASPER JONES→
First there is opportunity, then there is betrayal. This the repeated refrain of TRAINSPOTTING 2, a sequel that is not skeletal like so many sequels are.
There’s meat on the bones and dramatic marrow as well as the band get back together twenty years later to deal with old wounds and then largely fuck up all over again.
First there is opportunity to recapture the rapture of the original film, reuniting director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, source author Irvine Welsh and most of the original cast. Then there is betrayal of the fans who count Trainspotting as a seminal film of the twilight of the Twentieth Century.
There’s no disputing the good writing and deserved bestsellerdom of books like Gone, Girl and Girl on a Train, just as there is no disputing the good writing and deserved bestsellerdom of Australian fiction that conjures comparison with these international blockbusters.
I recently waxed lyrical over Emily McGuire’s An Isolated Incident (run the search on this site), and I unequivocally wax the same lyricism for Jane Jago’s THE WRONG HAND.
Featured image – talented, versatile author Mick Herron.
In prose and dialogue drier than a perfect Martini, SPOOK STREET may have a double O in its title but its tone is more Le Carre and Deighton than Fleming, although there’s the odd nod to Bond, in a sly “What would James do?” way.
These spooks are not strictly MI 5 or MI 6, this bunch is MI sfits and MI istakes.
“Slough House was a branch of the service, certainly, but ‘arm’ was pitching it strong. As was ‘finger’, come to that; fingers could be on the button or the pulse. Fingernails, now; those, you clipped, discarded, and never wanted to see again.”
TONI ERDMAN is a nigh on three hour cinematic humoresque, about the powerful protectiveness of the paternal and the universally acknowledged truth that parents are put on earth to embarrass their children.
The film leaves an early calling card about its deliriously laconic pace in the opening scene where a delivery man is kept waiting a wee while to have his door knocking answered.