Royal Opera House Live : The Royal Ballet perform Sir Peter Wright’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Featured photo- Alexander Campbell and Francesca Hayward.

You can tell it is Christmas as we have revivals of THE NUTCRACKER again.

This was another revival of the much loved production with some cast changes for some of the principals to the version I saw earlier this year.

It is a lavish, opulent, incredibly detailed production – a quite traditional and enchanting rendition , seeking to keep to the original Petipa/Ivanov , with some technically amazing dancing, particularly in the second act. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, led enthusiastically and energetically by maestro Barry Wordsworth played magnificently. Continue reading Royal Opera House Live : The Royal Ballet perform Sir Peter Wright’s ‘The Nutcracker’


Blistering, bold, no holds barred, bah humbug festive season buster starring Willem Dafoe as the super of a block of Orlando apartments, THE FLORIDA PROJECT is the story of precocious six year-old Moonee, a stunning juvenile performance by Brooklyn Prince, and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with childhood pranks, possibility for misadventure and a sense of opportunity.

Living at a motel in the shadow of Disney World, Moonee is seemingly oblivious to the struggles of adults around her, including mother Halley, brilliantly played with brittle bravura by Bria Vinaite, and motel manager/father-figure Bobby, the type cast defying, Willem Dafoe.

US Highway 192, one of the main arteries leading to the throbbing heart of the Florida economy that is Walt Disney World. The Interstate is an artery hardened by economic downturn, the plaque of corroded civility creating less-than-magical living conditions right on the outskirts of Disney’s doorstep.

Motels line the road on both sides of the strip, many of them exploiting the Disney mystique, infused with such motifs as pirates and castles. A decade ago they were filled with tourists. Now, many of the motels do not contain tourists, but families.  In this pastel coloured world, designed to look like Fantasyland but housing the habitues of a harsh Realityland, a habitat of hustlers, grifters, drifters, those who fall through the cracks, we find the best and worst of humanity..

More Dickens than Disney, the characters here are vivid in their verisimilitude, astonishing in their ordinariness, endearing in their endurance of the struggle for life.

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens talks of people as fellow passengers to the grave, the great leveller and common thread that all of us share. THE FLORIDA PROJECT invites us to share vicariously in the journey of one sassy, in need of a slap little girl, a kid who could really benefit from some seriously responsible parenting, whose mother is no more than a child herself. Halley is more like senior sibling to Moonee than mother, bestowing delinquency rather than discipline.
Yet what could have been a bleak house tale of despair rises as a touching, strangely enchanting story.

Directed by Sean Baker and co written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, THE FLORIDA PROJECT sees an unleashing of the pair’s enthusiasm for the human, the humane and the humorous that enhances all.

Its honesty in writing and playing, its brilliance in cinematography and editing, makes THE FLORIDA PROJECT a Frontierland that augers well for a better Tomorrowland.  In a market where the barely competent bring home the box office bacon, this strikingly gifted film forbids to indulge in the kind of Kitsch that may guarantee it a hit.


Disney is deliberately rejuvenating the year-end holiday box office for the third year in a row, by Lucasfilm Limited releasing its annual Star Wars movie. Disney has released the second epic science-fiction saga in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (Movie Number Eight), which is called “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”.

Rey took her first steps into a larger world two years ago, in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), and now with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker, she continues her epic journey. Writer-director Rian Johnson has asked everyone, including accredited reviewers at the première, to not write about the movie’s key plot points. However the most important information, is that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is very entertaining and well worth seeing multiple times, especially in the just stunning 3D version, or even better in the IMAX 3D version. Finally Disney has spent money wisely, that will easily ensure a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), is initially a young padawan, but of course she is the last remaining Jedi. As seen at the end of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” she had piloted the Millennium Falcon to where the last remaining Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) maintained his secret island hideaway. Unlike a previous Star Wars title “ROGUE ONE – A STAR WARS STORY”, there are  amazing and spectacular lightsaber battles and duels, those sequences are well worth watching again.

State-of-the-art believable CGI effects galore, with loads of inspired action sequences, millions of dollars extremely well spent, including the just simply adorable Porgs. The John Williams music is just perfect, together with the  movie’s extremely well-written character-driven script, and its brilliant ensemble cast; and yes there is huge amount of new material to work with in the future. The script also provides complex character arcs, that throughout quickly delivers the very necessary, strong character development. A new generation of stars to expand the existing Star Wars franchises, into new and exciting “galaxies far, far away …. ”

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran.

Director: Rian Johnson

Producers: Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman.

Australian Classification rated M (Science fiction violence)

Running Time is a very fast moving 152 minutes.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Official Trailer)

Also screening in 3D at selected Cinemas in Sydney – – –




















Could this the last installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise?! I suppose a Box Office success would be a determinant but it is subtitled Last Call Of The Pitchers.

In an unusual occurrence at a film’s premiere nearly all the cast’s principals; Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp walked the Red Carpet at the Entertainment Quarter on the 29th November.

The two Australian stars, Wilson and Rose, have recently been in the media spotlight however despite this fact they, as well as the rest of the cast, were happy to mingle with fans and give relaxed interviews to the media.

PITCH PERFECT 3 opens in cinemas on January 1, 2018.

Featured image – Tegan Martin. Pic by Ben Apfelbaum.



Nashen Moodley, Emily Avila, Goran Stolevski, Lara Kose, Thomas Baricevic, Vin Naidoo
Lexus ; Sydney Film Festival Short Film Fellowship Announcement.
Photo: Belinda Rolland                                                                                                                                            Banner Image: Lexus Aus Short Film Fellowship – 2016 FELLOWS

Sydney Film Festival and Lexus Australia are encouraging all up and coming Australian filmmakers to enter the Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship through Sydney Film Festival, with submissions accepted from 4 December 2017 until 29 January 2018.

The Fellowship is the largest cash prize for short film in Australia, offering $50,000 each to four filmmakers to produce their next short film. Continue reading LEXUS AUSTRALIA SHORT FILM FELLOWSHIP


Banner Image: Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Photo by Merrick Morton – © 2017 – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Moonlight Cinema opened in style last night with a film which is already being whispered about in Oscar terms.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI has star turns from Woody Harrelson,  Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell and a suppoprting cast including Peter Dinklage and Australian Abbie Cornish.

It is a gripping drama which is helmed by McDormand in a highly internalised performance.  It’s a complicated film in that no-one is really likeable and it’s impossible to decide who to root for.  They are all pretty unpleasant and the dark, very dark, humour that comes from their behaviour is extremely entertaining to watch.

MOONLIGHT CINEMA has a fantastic line-up of films this season and family films are firmly on the agenda.  To celebrate the first day of the summer school holidays Moonlight Cinema, presented by NAB, is hosting a Teddy Bear’s picnic and advanced screening of PADDINGTON 2  on Saturday 16 December, 2018.

Being a BYO event, Moonlight Cinema is a low-cost, easy night out for everyone. If you’re too busy to BYO don’t stress, Moonlight can provide you with everything you need – hot food, drinks, snacks and bean bed rental. For a luxury experience, Moonlight’s Gold Grass offers reserved bean beds in a premium viewing location and waiter service.

With superb weather last night, the crowd watched a lovely sunset over Centennial Park before the film and the vista of building lights and circling planes during the movie.  Stars and stars.

For more information about MOONLIGHT CINEMA and their current program visit:


It’s been a big year for the bruin.

Earlier we had a scene stealing bear in the woods in Logan Lucky, then the bizarrely beautiful Brigsby Bear, and more recently the appearance of Pooh in Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Now we have a year capper with PADDINGTON 2, that rare beast, a sequel as good, if not better, that the original – a sequel among equals.

Pint sized Paddington may look like an Ursa minor, but his courage and kindness makes him an Ursa major, a selfless bear bearing bonhomies with bare faced good will.

Exquisitely voiced again by Ben Whishaw, Paddington is that splendid blend of nobility and naivety, a scrupulous Peruvian of impeccable courtesy with a benign gift for catastrophe. The road to hilarity is paved with good intentions and Paddington’s good intentions lead him to be incarcerated after being wrongfully found guilty of bear handed burglary.

Paddington’s imprisonment puts him in close proximity to a career crim, Knuckles McGinty played with utter glee by Brendan Gleeson. Knuckles is the prison’s cook and gives new meaning to the term Knuckle Sandwich, but he is soon charmed by the affable bear, and incorporates Paddington into his planned jail break.

Meanwhile, Paddington’s adoptive family, the Browns, are furiously trying to find the real culprit and clear their erstwhile ursine’s name.
In the first movie, Nicole Kidman was superb as the ice-cold Millicent Clyde, who wanted to catch, kill, and stuff Paddington and put him on permanent exhibition. The character was a wee bit scary for some younger audience members, so the new villain has been toned down with Hugh Grant playing vainglorious actor, Phoenix Buchanan, master of disguise, and purloiner of Paddington’s freedom by framing him with bare faced lies.

PADDINGTON 2 boasts the all-star returning cast of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi as the nasty, neighbourhood watchman, Curry, with notable newbies such as Joanna Lumley, Noah Taylor, Ben Miller and Jessica Hynes. Brill!

Appropriately for a bear bearing the name of a famous train station, PADDINGTON 2 features a thrilling train chase that’s full steam ahead in thrills and laughs.

VFX and CG Supervisors, Andy Kind and Glen Pratt and Animation Director, Pablo Grillo, along with the huge VFX team at Framestore, are again charged with the stunning challenge of making this “real”, a challenge met superbly in a glorious homage to early silent screen comedy.

Many of the creatives from the first film are back to ensure the further adventures of Paddington Bear live up to the quality achieved in the original film, and the care taken for this care bear shows in every frame.

Check out the clobber by Academy Award Winning costume designer, Lindy Hemming, and Gary Williamson’s stunning production design.

Charming beyond belief, PADDINGTON 2 is a perfect holiday movie, a great big bear hug of a film. Grin and bear it? More like guffaw and bare it!


Bold , striking and original this is a sensational reworking of JM Barrie’s PETER PAN as part of the NT Live series .It was a co-production with the Bristol Old Vic , as directed by Sally Cookson. It is enchanting and is at times childlike and playful, vibrant and colourful, at others quite melancholy ,or dark and sinister . The ending is extremely moving . There is a haunting sense of loss and of the wearing away of innocence.  Continue reading NT LIVE:PETER PAN IS STRIKING AND ORIGINAL


Light on laughs but colossal in its homage to American theatrical drama of the 2oth century, Woody Allen‘s WONDER WHEEL is a dark carnival attraction bathed in golden light by wondrous cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro.

Channelling Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, and funnelling his own septuagenarian sensibilities through the prism of nostalgia, WONDER WHEEL tells the story of four characters whose lives intertwine amid the hustle and bustle of the Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s.

Ginny (Kate Winslet), a melancholy, emotionally volatile former actress now working as a waitress in a clam house. The world was once her oyster, now she’s shackled to the shucked, and Humpty (Jim Belushi), her shambling and dishevelled carousel operator husband.

Ginny meets Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a handsome young lifeguard who dreams of becoming a playwright and embarks on an affair. Meanwhile, Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty’s long-estranged daughter, appears and asks for sanctuary and succour from her dumb sucker of a gangster husband. Continue reading WONDER WHEEL : WHEN MOURNING BECOMES ECLECTIC



Last summer, St.George OpenAir Cinema welcomed more than 78,000 guests to the world’s most beautiful cinema, sharing some wonderful films and sunsets against the extraordinary harbour backdrop.

St.George OpenAir Cinema today unveils an extraordinary line up of films for its 22nd season, taking place at Mrs Macquaries Point from 7 January to 17 February 2018.



I can see the producer’s pitch huddled together at the Bar Humbug after too many eggnogs – or Martinis, olive or twist…
Let’s do yet another Scrooge story, this time an origin story, where we get the inception of the miserly monster fermented from the fevered brain of a writer’s blocked Charles Dickens.

A Christmas Carol and Scrooge and even Scrooged have been used thus far as titles in this merry go round roll over of remakes and reimaginings, so what the Dickens shall we call it??  I know, let’s call it something imaginative, innovative and festive, like THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. Continue reading THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS: A DICKENS OF A STORY

The Royal Ballet in Alice in Wonderland


Bold, bright, colourful and exotic this is a wonderful revival by the Royal Ballet of Christopher Wheeldon’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND first seen in 2011. It is part of the Royal Opera House 2017/18 Live Cinema Season. Visually stunning it showcases some fabulous theatrical effects, wonderful dancing, and Wheeldon’s inspired, outstanding choreography. The work feels, at times, perhaps a little dominated by set and visual design values but it is a stunning visual feast and full of delightful whimsy.

Continue reading The Royal Ballet in Alice in Wonderland


What a sweet little movie SURVIVAL FAMILY (Sabaibaru famirî) is.  It played as part of the Japanese Film Festival in Sydney and has one more showing for the Melbourne season of the JFF.

Classified as a comedy/drama, it is much more than that.  This is a heart-warming, zero to hero, feel good film that not only tells the survival story of the Suzuki family as they tough it out post-apocalypse style but gives a real sense of the beauty of modern rural Japan.  Because it is quite the road movie as well. Continue reading SURVIVAL FAMILY: A SWEET FILM PLAYING AT JFF


What could have been a pile of poo, GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN bears up rather well.

It begins on rather a sombre note during WWII and then flashbacks to the Somme and the mire, the mud, the maggots, a world far removed from the sunny, honey days of Pooh Bear.

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a great story about success and its consequences, which is always an interesting subject.  A.A. Milne was phenomenally and unexpectedly successful, Continue reading GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN: MORE THAN JUST A PILE OF POOH


Add a touch of Home Alone and a tincture of When A Stranger Calls and a pinch of Rope and Psycho you have the best genre picture made in Australia since I dunno when.

You better watch out for this film, to miss it will make you cry.  Better not pout, you’ll probably shout, certainly scream, I’m telling you why it is as fun as a scary clown.

If you’re making a list and checking it twice, trying to find out which film’s naughty and nice, then let me tell you, BETTER WATCH OUT is comin’ to town.

You won’t see it when you’re sleepin’, cause it’s gonna keep you starkly awake.

You’ll know it’s badly good Because it’s good for badness sake.

Oh! You better watch out, will make you sigh, I’m telling you why, it’s the best Christmas slay ride since I can’t remember when.

With little sharp shocks, and little twists and turns, rooty toot toots and homicidal home runs, BETTER WATCH OUT doesn’t let you down.

Australian starlet, Olivia DeJonge plays Ashley, regular baby sitter to twelve year old Luke, who harbours an unrequited crush on the comely carer. He has diabolic designs to be her stocking filler this Christmas. But it looks like his carnal plans may not go to, well, plan, because the house seems besieged by home invaders.

Rising Aussie star, Levi Miller jettisons his Jasper Jones gentle juvenile and embraces his darker side in his seriously sinister study of a silver spoon psycho.

Equally ascending Aussie star, Ed Oxenbould, similarly succeeds as his spirited side kick, Garrett, a willing accomplice but unwitting patsy to his fiendish friend.

Emerging Australian screen candy, Aleks Mikic and Dacre Montgomery round out the local contingent as would be wooers of the distressed damsel, making a macabre melange of a menage a trois.

There’s a couple of Yanks thrown into the mix – Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen play Luke’s lacklustre parents – but the picture belongs to the Aussies in performance and production values.

The writer/director, Chris Peckover may be Canadian by birth but has an Australian spirit and an American eye for Hollywood film making. Not content with mashing a slasher open slay, he pays due diligence to master craftsman of suspense, the most notable homage to Hitchcock.

Cinematographer is Australian Carl Robertson and he lights the film up like a killer Christmas tree, a conflagration of a rolling Yule tide log.

BETTER WATCH OUT is like a nativity play gone native, with the babysitter verging on Mary, an immaculate conception of girl power tested by palpable peril and the boy child more demonic than angelic, and a crib surrounded by three wise guys.

Better watch out  Bad Santa , BETTER WATCH OUT is after top slot in recent Christmas themed cult classics.




Condemnation comes much easier in THE TEACHER where a seemingly passionate and kind teacher uses her pupils to manipulate their parents for her own personal benefit, whether for material gain or even the promise of a romantic affair. Concerned about the school performance of their beloved children, most parents succumb to the pressure and provide the teacher with various services and gifts.

Three families, however, decide to take a stand and try to remedy the situation together with the school head teacher at a clandestine parent meeting.

Although set in the early 1980s, THE TEACHER tells a universal story that could happen any time and anywhere… at least as long as corruption, pettiness, and selfishness still rule the world.

“All adults and most children have experienced the feeling where something that might benefit you now might also be the wrong thing to do. Or the other way around: that following your conscience or moral code may be difficult or very disadvantageous. That’s why this story is understandable to everyone,” says director Jan Hřebejk. Continue reading THE TEACHER

British Museum Presents : Hokusai : After The Great Wave


This latest film as part of the British Museum Presents/strong> series is a fascinating look at the life and times of Katsushika Hokusai , who is often regarded as Japan’s greatest artist , in the exhibition that was in London at the British Museum May 25 – August 13 2017.

It concentrates specifically on the last 30 years of his long life in the great, bustling metropolis of Edo, modern Tokyo .We see both Hokusai’s prints of Edo and today’s Tokyo . Eagerly introduced by arts presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon, the film features interviews with artists David Hockney, Grayson Perry and Maggi Hambling, we learn about his life and influences and the various woodblock techniques used .

The documentary focuses especially on two works – THE GREAT WAVE and RED (PINK) MOUNT FUJI  It concentrates on works he produced in the last 30 years of his life from his 60’s (when he considered life began again) to his death at 90.

Hokusai produced hundreds of impressions of his most famous works in woodblock prints and some prints vary slightly because the woodblock suffers from wear and tear.

The film uses extremely detailed close-ups and pioneering 8K Ultra HD video technology, where Hokusai’s paintings and prints are examined by world experts who are at the forefront of digital art history.  Hokusai spent his life studying and celebrating our common humanity ( think of his drawings of various workers) as well as deeply exploring the natural and spiritual worlds, ( frogs, fish , waterfalls, dragons , ghosts , demons and gods etc – eg Shoki and Kohada Koheiji from One Hundred Ghost Tales, ) and how he used the famous volcano Mount Fuji as a protective presence and potential source of immortality ( there is his major work 36 Views of Mount Fuji of which The Great Wave is one) .

We also see his drawings of drunken poetry competitions, of kabuki stars, of courtesans and everyday life in Edo.

Hokusai’s life is set in context with references to ’The Floating World’. We learn how he knew much tragedy, was struck by lightning (which he considered changed his life and enabled him to become a great artist, answering his prayer) and lived for years in poverty, but never gave up his constant striving for perfection in his art. Hokusai in a way created modern art in Japan , is an artist who influenced Monet, Van Gogh , Seurat and other Impressionists, produced illustrated novels , is regarded as the father of manga ( comic books) and is the only painter with his own emoji.

Commissioned by the Dutch East India Company (known as the VOC) in 1822 to produce a series of scenes of everyday Japanese life, he produced a group of innovative paintings striking because of their inclusion of deep European style perspective and simultaneously abstraction as well as the use pf Prussian Blue pigment which made the work more attractive to foreign audiences.

The self-described ‘Old man mad about painting’ was known by at least thirty names during his lifetime and was renowned for his at times eccentric behaviour. He travelled and moved his studio and home regularly, finding inspiration for his unique style through close observations of nature and interactions with ordinary people. We also learn that he was a Nichiren Buddhist, and that there were profound religious reasons for this constant renewal.

Graham-Dixon is extremely enthusiastic in a David Attenborough way and we have interviews with major Hokusai experts and various artists who talk about his influence and also fascinatingly about his daughter Eijo and her struggles to be acknowledged as an artist in her own right.

Most of the screening is an examination of his life and times, placing the artist in context but we also get to see the exhibition – featuring lots of exquisitely hung long scrolls and so on from various galleries and museums around the world in a rare chance to see these works all in one place. We are privileged to see all these as we are reminded that because of the fragility and possibility of light damage mostly the works are kept rolled up away from light for years at a time.

A fascinating exploration of this great artist’s life and times but I would have liked to have seen more of his earlier works as well.
Running time allow 90 minutes no interval.

Hokusai : After the Great Wave screens at selected cinemas from 18 November 2017


THE STAR : Opens in cinemas November 30

This image and banner from STAR
© 2017 CTMG

In Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

Cast: Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Keegan-Michael Key, Kelly Clarkson, Aidy Bryant, Ving Rhames, Patricia Heaton, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Plummer with Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE : Opens wide in cinemas December 26


In the brand new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring an all-star cast – Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan – four unlikely friends get sucked into the perilous world of Jumanji, and are transformed into avatars with unique skills. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in Jumanji forever…

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME: Opens in select cinemas December 26 with Sneak previews December 23 & 24

©2016 CTMG

WON – Audience Award – Melbourne Int’l Film Festival

Nominated – Best Feature Film – Berlin Int’l Film Festival

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, the new film by Luca Guadagnino, is a sensual and transcendent tale of first love, based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman.

It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman, a precocious 17- year-old young man, spends his days in his family’s 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia.

Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father, an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella, a translator, who favour him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. While Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart.

One day, Oliver, a 24 year-old American college graduate student working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendour of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois

For more information visit:


As a young boy I was besotted with the television show, The Samurai.  I was eager to follow Shintaro, Tombe the Mist, and the adventures of the Iga ninjas. It was an entrée into an exotic and esoteric world of swords, star knives and stunning acrobatics.

Small screen samurai was superseded by big screen samurai, with epics like Seven Samurai and Ran. The latest in fantastic samurai spectacle is BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL and it’s a stunner.

Takuya Kimura stars as Manji, a highly skilled samurai  cursed with immortality by a witch in the woods who introduces bloodworms into his system.

He thinks he’d be better off dead as he’s despatched his sister’s lover an act that has driven her out of her mind. To make matters worse, she is killed by bounty hunters after his head. But the universe wants him alive so he can wreak revenge on behalf of Rin, who reminds him of his deceased sibling. Continue reading BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL


Photos by Helen Maybanks

This updated production (it is set now, or perhaps in a possible near future) as directed by Andrew Jackson emphasizes the politics and bloody battles. It is beautifully spoken and a play of contrasts: this is a production where patricians wear dinner jackets, the plebeians wear hoodies and the tribunes are as sleek as TV presenters. Political speeches are contrasted with whirling violent battle scenes .
Jackson’s version of CORIOLANUS opens with a forklift truck shifting bags of corn away from the ordinary denizens of Rome. It is staged with some thrilling lighting effects and some bloody battles and some blistering , tense wordy political scenes in the Forum.

Stark grey metallic grille shutters rise and fall throughout the whole play as scene dividers. They are coolly neutral and suggest a life completely different to that of Coriolanus’. To indicate Rome and the forum there is a statue of a rearing horse, Volumnia’s palace is graced by a refined statue of Venus. The public marketplace is indicated by steel seating and podiums that rise from the floor. Interior scenes have curtains to soften the lines.

To summarize the complicated plot : Caius Martius forces open the gates of the city and joins the leader of the Roman army, Cominius, to defeat Tullus Aufidius, commander of the Volscian army. In recognition of his great deeds, Caius Martius is renamed “Coriolanus” . Yet the common people turn against him for his arrogant attitude, and he ends up seeking refuge in exile with his old foe Tullus Aufidius, who was previously defeated, but not killed.Together they plan to attack Rome, but at the last minute Volumnia makes Coriolanus repent his treachery, and a peace treaty is speedily worked out between Rome and the Volscians. Tullus Aufidius kills Coriolanus for his duplicity.

Sope Dirisu as Coriolanus is distinctly ‘other’ from the outset.He is portrayed as a valiant ,worthy warrior General of the army leading to many victories , but proud and arrogant , unsympathetic as well as being a real Mummy’s Boy .He regards himself as above the common people , who he despises and is awkward when running for office ( uncomfortably wearing the cloak of humility and white cap) as consul or indeed with any dealings with ordinary men and women.

Volumnia , Coriolanus’ mother is played very strongly by Haydn Gwynne . Tough and manipulative , fiercely intelligent she is elegant , proud and aristocratic, and advises her son carefully as she cannot rule in her own right .The famous pleading for Rome scene is intense and gripping, tightly performed.

Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia , tall cool and patrician , overly dominated and intimidated by Volumnia , was elegantly played by Hannah Morrish.

Menenius, genial, complacent and urbanely avuncular, is terrifically played by Paul Jesson , seemingly unaware that there is festering revolt beneath the surface mask of everyday life in Rome but revealing himself to be very brave in a crisis and a sharp negotiator.
Aufudius leader of the Volscians is brilliantly portrayed by James Corrigan . His scheming Aufidius, shows that it is possible to combine the art of a master swordsman and gracious formal diplomacy. When Coriolanus appears at his house in Antium he is stunned and disbelieving then thrilled . Is he in fact double crossing Coriolanus ?There Is also much hinting at a possible ‘bromance’ developing between Aufidius and Coriolanus and the murder of Coriolanus is quite shocking .

Cominius , who we first meet as commander of the Roman army is excellently portrayed by Charles Aitken.The two tribunes Brutus and Sicinius here portrayed by women Jackie Morrison and Martina Laird are strongly presented. The first half in particular seethes with tension and rage in the forum scenes.

A cold ,sharp brutal and violent production excitingly staged with a terrific cast .

Running time – allow 3 & ½ hours including interval. Includes short behind the scenes ‘making of ‘ documentaries and interviews during interval.

Screenings of the Royal Shakespeare’s Coriolanus are at selected cinemas 18-19 November 2017 and at Riverside Parramatta 25-26 November 2017


Images from My Mother’s Lost Children and Rebel in the Rye

From Australian documentaries The Last Goldfish and My Mother’s Lost Childrento intimate Yiddish drama Menashefascinating biopic Rebel in the Rye, and award-winning hits In Between and Keep the Changethe JEWISH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL is back for another year of outstanding Jewish cinema from all over the world.

With 65 films from 26 countries, the Festival builds on a 28 year long history of bringing the best of Jewish cinema to Australia, presenting 38 features and 23 documentaries to audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. The Festival will also screen films by the inaugural recipients of the JIFF Short Film FundDream House and Still Alive.

“I am thrilled with the incredible creativity and diverse storytelling of our films in the line-up this year. With the first commercial release Yiddish language film in over 50 years, and fantastic events including a live jazz night and a collaboration with Sydney Writer’s Festival, we’re extremely proud to present our 2017 program,” said Jewish International Film Festival Artistic Director, Eddie Tamir.

Highlights of the 2017 program include: moving drama In Between, following three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv balancing traditional and modern culture, and winner of the Best Feature at Tribeca 2017, Keep the Change, a charming romantic comedy about the blossoming relationship between two people at a support group.

Not to be missed is Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story, narrated by Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) and featuring interviews with Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), the eye-opening showbiz documentary shines a light on Hollywood queen Hedy Lamarr.

The Festival is also a great chance to catch poignant screwball rom-com The Wedding Plan, and Ben-Gurion, Epiloguea rare, recently unearthed 1968 interview with Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, with director Yariv Mozer taking part in an audience Q&A post-screening.

Showcasing the best of local Jewish filmmaking, the Festival will screen The Last Goldfish, an autobiographical documentary by Sydney’s Su Goldfish as she searches for her lost family, from Australia to Trinidad and WWII Germany. Rich with archival images, the film echoes through all those touched by forced migration. Goldfish will also engage in audience Q&As after screenings.

The Festival will also screen two films from Melbourne filmmaker Danny Ben-Moshe: My Mother’s Lost Childrenan uplifting documentary following Ben-Moshe’s own family, when two children, stolen from them, reappear after 40 years; and Shalom Bollywood: the Untold Story of Indian Cinemaa fascinating look into the overlooked influence of Jewish women in Bollywood – the first dance, kiss, talkie and colour film. Ben-Moshe will take part in an audience Q&A for both films.

Closing the Festival will be The Rebel in the Rye, starring Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past). A fascinating biopic on the infamously-reclusive author JD Salinger, the film covers everything from Salinger’s Jewish upbringing and his WWII service, to the completion of his iconic novel The Catcher in the Rye.

JIFF has generously offered 3 double passes to a film of your choice.  To enter email using JIFF COMP as the subject by 5pm Friday 17th November.  Only winners will be notified.

For more information about the JEWISH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL which is now playing at  Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction and the  Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne  visit :


Sam Shepard said of Harry Dean Stanton, “His face is the story.”
Shepard sure as shit got that right.  Just point the camera and shoot and the Harry Dean visage gives a narrative.

Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja‘s script for LUCKY utilises that face effectively, affectingly and affectionately in the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist known as Lucky and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town.

Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment.

Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, LUCKY is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.

Lucky is a man of ritual, arising at the same time every morning, doing his callisthenics while simultaneously enjoying a cigarette.
Recreation at home is doing cross word puzzles and watching game shows.  He breakfasts at the same diner every day, gets his smokes from the same grocery store, and walks to the same bar, Elaine’s, to drink bloody Marys.

Much of the action of LUCKY takes place in the bar where he interacts with a variety of regular barflys, the bartender and the publican.  One of his best buddies, Howard, is fretting over the disappearance of his ancient tortoise, Roosevelt, a pet he has had since time immemorial. David Lynch’s performance as the bereft reptile fancier is a beautiful rendition of loss and hope.

David Lynch‘s appearance, other than supplying a virtuoso performance, conjures comparisons that LUCKY has with Lynch’s directorial work, especially the often overlooked and underrated The Straight Story, which, incidentally, featured Harry Dean Stanton.

LUCKY also has a Twin Peaks moment when a fellow barfly played by James Darren accompanies him to a lane way outside Elaine’s where a cosmic light show plies them with mystical wonder.

LUCKY works as a quasi screen biography of Harry Dean Stanton – the desert town location and Mexican music – he gets to sing and play harmonica- are redolent of Paris Texas, Tom Skerrit‘s turn as a fellow veteran recalls their teaming in Alien, and so it goes.

LUCKY is full of zinger lines made all the zingier played deadpan – “One thing worse than awkward silence is small talk”.
The one line from LUCKY that sums up the picture best is “I’m a nothing with everything, isn’t that something?”

We should feel so lucky that we had actors like Harry Dean Stanton gracing our screens making indelible contributions to classic films – The Godfather Part II, Alien, Paris Texas, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, The Missouri Breaks, the list goes on.

You should be so lucky to ferret out this fine, fine life affirming film.
Funnier than a comedy, laden with special affects rather than special effects, LUCKY lives up to its title and makes one feel lucky to have seen it.



This image: Alexander Campbell as The Nutcracker, Francesca Hayward as Clara in The Nutcracker © ROH, 2013 Photographed by Tristram Kenton
Top Image: Meaghan Grace Hinkis as Clara in The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet © ROH Tristram Kenton, 2013. Image by AKA © ROH 2016

Event Cinemas and Village Cinemas in partnership with Trafalgar Releasing will exclusively screen The Royal Opera House THE NUTCRACKER  this December at nineteen cinemas across Australia as part of the Royal Opera House 2017/18 Live Cinema Season.

Featuring filmed performances from the world-renowned Royal Opera House in London, the program presents the very best opera and ballet from the iconic venue, captured in jaw-dropping detail for Australian audiences to enjoy as if they were there themselves.

Danced to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, the beautiful classical ballet will take audiences for a wonderful Christmas adventure alongside Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll.

 A firm family favourite with Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score, a Christmas tree that magically grows, a battle between toy soldiers and an Army of Mice, and the famous role of the Sugar Plum Fairy danced by Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb with her Prince, Principal dancer Steven McRae, this event presented by Darcey Bussell is not to be missed.           Continue reading THE NUTCRACKER SCREENS THIS CHRISTMAS