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Arts Reviews

Posted 24 Jan 2017 @ 12:02pm

★★★

 

The great Martin Scorsese’s first feature since The Wolf Of Wall Street could not be more of a departure, except in its comparably intimidating length. But the director fails to stick to his titular focus in a disappointing denouement that makes the preceding hours feel laboured and dogmatic.

 

Two Portuguese priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 5:28pm

★★★

 

Along with another Sydney Festival show, The Season, Which Way Home is a funny and poignant dramedy showcasing indigenous family life.

 

Written and performed by Katie Beckett, the semi-autobiographical plot focuses on the relationship between single father and daughter.

 

On a road trip from Ipswich to the family’s original home in Lightning...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 5:08pm

★★★★

 

I went to see The Season by coincidence on the same day MLA released its annual Australia Day lamb ad; our country both simultaneously proud and up in arms over the way our national holiday is represented, with indigenous suffering at the centre of its debate.

 

Following a day spent in the online opinion vortex, a spirited indigenous family comedy was the...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 4:54pm

Reviewed at Dendy Newtown, Thursday November 24 – Sunday December 4

 

For the tenth year running, an unseasonal darkness descended over Dendy Newtown in November, and in that darkness what horrors dwelt. The annual A Night Of Horror/Fantastic Planet Festival once again offered indie genre filmmakers an opportunity to mingle with their more macabre colleagues, and a rare union of...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 4:37pm

★★☆

 

On paper, Jackie seems to have made all the right choices as a work of biographical drama. 

 

It’s an impressionistic snapshot of a historical figure at a key moment in her life rather than a straightforward biopic, attempting to convey a sense of her fraught subjectivity rather than prosaically illustrating the history surrounding her. Its director is Pablo...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 12:18pm

★★★☆

 

Future D. Fidel’s narrativisation of his own childhood displacement is a profound and impactful story that makes a bold statement as Belvoir’s first production for the year.

 

Congolese refugee Isa Alaki (Pacharo Mzembe), AKA Steve ‘The Killer’, is prepping for his biggest boxing match yet, to win the title of Australian Light Heavyweight Champion. But his...

Posted 17 Jan 2017 @ 11:42am

★★★★

 

Stepping into Measure For Measure, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect… which was fine, because what Cheek By Jowl showcased was something entirely unpredictable, anyway.

 

On one hand, delving into a Shakespeare play I was mostly unfamiliar with was always going to be refreshing. What better way to sink into The Bard than to step away from the page and see...

Posted 23 Dec 2016 @ 5:07pm

Reviewed at the Sydney Opera House, Saturday December 17 - Sunday December 18 (photo by Daniel Boud)

 

The Sydney Opera House’s newest inaugural festival is perhaps the least expected thing to happen at the venue since rock gigs – a series of panels, podcasts and performances dedicated to the dank and crispy world of internet obsession.

 

Less still could we expect...

Posted 20 Dec 2016 @ 12:00am

★★

 

French film Rosalie Blum is a new adaptation of the graphic novels of the same name by Camille Jourdy. It’s a quirky dramedy told across three separate parts, taking in the different viewpoints of three separate characters.

 

In act one we are introduced to Vincent Machot (Kyan Khojandi). He is the king of predictability, a man who lives with his overbearing...

Posted 19 Dec 2016 @ 7:32pm

★★★★☆

 

The overwhelmingly humble Lion is the story of one man’s emotional and inspiring plight to find his natural family after getting lost as a child in Kolkata, 1600 kilometres from his village in India – and what a story it is. 

 

Director Garth Davis opens your eyes to some very raw experiences of longing, sorrow and joy, pinning you down to experience the...

Posted 19 Dec 2016 @ 7:14pm

★★★★

 

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a real trash fire of a year. As we finally slip into the silly season, Babes In The Woods offers a very welcome haven of hilarity and frivolity, counterbalancing a season at the Old Fitz that’s been crammed with heavy-hitters.

 

Written by Phil Rouse, the play is based on Tom Wright’s pseudo-colonial pantomime Babes In The Wood....

Posted 19 Dec 2016 @ 12:00am

★★★★

 

‘Feel-good’ films slot into their own distinct subgenre nowadays. 

 

The phrase is a marketing tool more than anything, designed in no small part to pigeonhole films that sweep award ceremonies and pack out multiplexes – films concerned with the triumph of the little man and the beating of unbeatable odds.

 

In that way, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson...

Posted 19 Dec 2016 @ 12:00am

★★★★

 

A United Kingdom could be renamed Politics And Prejudice. This film tells the extraordinary true story of when Seretse Khama, the King of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), fell in love with and married a determined English woman named Ruth Williams in 1948.

 

The film stars David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) as the two lovers in this biracial...

Posted 12 Dec 2016 @ 1:31pm

★★★☆ 

 

Dancer, the documentary offering by director Steven Cantor, is a gripping insight into the world of breathtaking artistry. The film examines the life of Sergei Polunin, who at age 19 became The Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer. 

 

Cantor’s film leaps and bounds through what is to be found off stage – in the wings, rehearsal spaces and family...

Posted 12 Dec 2016 @ 1:20pm

★☆

 

If a film could be held up by Kate Beckinsale in black leather, and an unapologetic case of hipster balayage, then Underworld: Blood Wars would have had a fighting chance.

 

Unfortunately, most filmgoers these days have a thirst for decent plots, well executed fight scenes and un-clunky dialogue. Bless, Blood Wars is so low on any meaty components, we’re all at...

Posted 6 Dec 2016 @ 2:06pm

★★★★☆

 

Perfectly capturing nostalgia, the drama of adolescence and the passing clarity of dreams, Girl Asleep makes a triumphant return to the stage after its seamless transition to the screen.

 

Turning 15 is difficult enough, but thanks to the move to a new school and the meddling of her parents, Greta’s worst nightmares are swiftly coming to life. That is, until...

Posted 6 Dec 2016 @ 12:35pm

★★★☆

 

A Hollywood director returns to his roots, and to the stories that defined a nation, in this tale of bitter family rivalry, the passion of the young, and the vicious sting of the past.

 

Simeon Mahana (Akuhata Keefe) is full of questions, but his inquisitiveness puts him at odds with his stern grandfather, Tamihana (Temuera Morrison), the patriarch of their...

Posted 21 Nov 2016 @ 12:19pm

★★☆

 

A sci-fi thriller unlike any other, Morgan addresses the humanity to be found in artificial creation, the relationships possible between the creator and their experiments, and the strains those relationships bring with them.

 

Kate Mara plays Lee Weathers, the stern risk assessment consultant who takes on a mutant science project created by scientists at the...

Posted 16 Nov 2016 @ 4:18pm

★★★★★

 

Ken Loach’s latest unvarnished meditation on Britain’s working class is his second film to pick up Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or, and deservedly so, for there could not be a more timely and resonant drama to emerge in the wake of 2016’s populist political disasters. Loach captures with unflinching temerity the trials faced by those most deserving of a nation’s...

Posted 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:50pm

★★★★ 

 

It broke open the Japanese box office, and to delight of Japanophiles across Australia, it’s made its way to our big screens.

 

For those with no experience in anime, Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) would be an excellent starting point, given its romantic vibrancy, its awing flights of fantasy, and its minimal reliance on the young adult genre’s more annoying...

Posted 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:27pm

★★★★

 

Returning to the wizarding world of Harry Potter may feel like a cynical cash-grab, but it’s clear from the offset of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them that the creatives behind the franchise had serious things they needed to say. Though we may not need the inevitable sequels to come, this new instalment brings back the magic in broadly appealing and darkly prescient...

Posted 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:59pm

★★★☆

 

Industry produces wealth, it is said; God speed the plow. 

 

David Mamet’s 1988 three-hander of morality, power and corruption within the Hollywood film industry has aged rather well, and in a month that has seen the election of Donald Trump, also feels oddly portentous. The adage that lends the play its title is indeed quite fitting: this is sharp and...

Posted 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:41pm

★★★★

 

From Hollywood blockbusters to quirky comedies like Attack The Block, science fiction filmmaking often boils down to a set of very familiar tropes and beats. 

 

Even films acclaimed for their subversive elements like District 9 fall into the same trap. Sci-fi can be about anything the imagination can muster, but the realities of Hollywood studios mean that...

Posted 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:24pm

★★★☆

 

Darlinghurst Theatre Company closes out its season with a gentle love letter to the theatre; a delight that stokes the passion of those who consider the stage their home while reminding us of their strange existential position and the prospect of going forever unappreciated.

 

John (Akos Armont) and Robert (John Gaden) are at opposite ends of their acting...

Posted 14 Nov 2016 @ 8:00am

★★★★

 

The Founder, the latest creation from director John Lee Hancock, sees us journey through the rise of the most pervasive food empire the world has ever seen, McDonald’s. 

 

Smack bang in the midst of it all is the story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and how this over the hill, 52-year-old milkshake machine salesman conquered more territory than the Roman Empire...

Posted 11 Nov 2016 @ 10:04am

★★★★

 

In light of the last few days, it may feel to those on the progressive side of politics that we’ve seen and heard enough; that our fragile, empathetic hearts couldn’t possibly take another blow.

 

Balls to that, say Murray Lambert and co., blustering in on a tragicomic dervish so galling that, had its knife-edge gallows humour not been performed with such...

Posted 7 Nov 2016 @ 9:44am

★★★★

 

For the first time ever, Australian audiences had the chance to bear witness to the mind-boggling mastery of Steven Frayne.

 

Thanks largely to the success of his own show Dynamo: Magician Impossible, the world has become familiar with Dynamo’s ability to shock and amaze.

 

Whether you’re one of the six million people who have seen the...

Posted 24 Oct 2016 @ 6:23pm

★★★☆

 

Elle is a whodunnit in which the main character doesn’t particularly care who done it.

 

The film opens with a horrific act of sexual violence, played for dark laughs and committed against video game developer and icy matriarch Michele (Isabelle Huppert in a typically brilliant turn). Rather than tell her dopey son or the police about the incident, she...

Posted 19 Oct 2016 @ 1:56pm

★★★

 

Hacksaw Ridge tells the very true story of a man who simultaneously acted as a conscientious objector and a genuine war hero, and therein lies its inherent contradiction: as a film, it both glorifies and condemns, pushing forward for the genre while remaining entrenched in its more unpalatable conventions.

 

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is the son of a Great...

Posted 18 Oct 2016 @ 2:38pm

★☆

 

Ever felt like you’re watching great artists totally phone it in for the sake of cashing a cheque?

 

The director of Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon takes on the world’s most profoundly inventive vision of hell and somehow manages to make the hunt to stop a plague feel like two hours in purgatory.

 

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in hospital,...

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