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He remains unbroken. Universal Pictures

Unbroken tries but fails to reassure during difficult times

Recently, Angelina Jolie announced her retirement from the acting profession so that she could take up writing and directing full time. Which is an error, if her latest directing endeavour Unbroken is…
Black holes aren’t black. Warner Bros.

Interstellar gives a spectacular view of hard science

Note: this article has spoilers. In Interstellar’s near-ish future, our climate has failed catastrophically, crops die in vast blights and America is a barely-habitable dustbowl. Little education beyond…
In Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey plays the protagonist, Cooper, who wears many hats: everyman farmer, laconic space hero, grieving father. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Interstellar: Nolan’s flawed masterpiece

At about the midway point of Interstellar, a spacecraft descends into the atmosphere of a pristine white planet. Gliding downwards, the tip of the craft brushes against a cloud, and the cloud shatters…

Belaboring the Big Black Brute

It was a matinee screening in a small town in Massachusetts. I’d stayed for the credits, feeling an odd need to confirm that I’d heard Dido on the soundtrack. Only one other person had been in the cinema…
Blues singer Marlene Cummins is the subject of Rachel Perkins' latest film, Black Panther Woman. MIFF

A blues song to break the silence: Black Panther Woman at MIFF

I sing this song. I sing it for my sisters. For I feel the backbone of our struggle in this country, Trying to keep it together. Koori Woman – Marlene Cummins Rachel Perkins’ latest documentary, Black…
Jodorowsky saw Dune as a chance to bring 1970s avant-garde ideas to mainstream audiences. MIFF

Jodorowsky’s Dune: an acid trip without the acid at MIFF 2014

One of the big attractions at the Melbourne International Film Festival this year is Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013). The film retells the story of cult Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s…
By telling the stories of Boni, Titi and Ho, Jalanan brings to the screen the hardships and precarious lives of marginalised people in one of the most economically promising Asian countries. Courtesy of Jalanan Movie Team

Jalanan: Busking and dreaming in the city

Daniel Ziv’s documentary feature Jalanan (Streetside), currently screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, is a film that seeks to move its audience. Documentaries sometimes invite viewers…
Australian poet and dramatist Christopher Barnett is the subject of These Heathen Dreams, a documentary screening at MIFF. MIFF

These Heathen Dreams: rage and tenderness at MIFF 2014

I met the Australian poet Christopher Barnett in Nantes in 2009. He strode the narrow streets in his long leather coat, occasionally crossing the road in front of cars, staring drivers down. When I asked…
New Indian documentary cinema: Children of the Pyre. MIFF

Death begets life in Rajesh Jala’s Children of the Pyre

Rajesh Jala’s Children of the Pyre (2008) is one of seven documentary features in the India in Flux: Living Resistance strand at the 2014 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). The film is a finely…
A still from Pablo Mazzolo’s Photooxidation, one of the films on the Experimental Shorts program at MIFF. MIFF

Seeing sounds, hearing images: Experimental Shorts at MIFF 2014

The nine films that comprise the Melbourne International Film Festival’s Experimental Shorts program confront viewers with questions about image, form and genre. The Experimental Shorts program is an annual…
Marion Cotillard stars in Two Days, One Night, currently screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival. MIFF

Two Days, One Night: working hard for the Dardennes brothers

Audiences familiar with Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes won’t need any recommendation to see their latest film, Two Days, One Night, which is on the program of the Melbourne International…
Rinko Kikuchi stars in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, currently screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival. MIFF

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter enchants at MIFF 2014

For the most part we live in disenchanted times: everyday life and the political landscape seem increasingly dried of their magical possibilities. Instead they are filled with dross and drone, the relentless…

This is a summer of truly awful blockbusters

I’m trying to figure out why I’m so disheartened with the movies this summer. It’s true that the season began badly. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a disappointment. The aerial sequences at the…
Brave New Clan presents the “X-factor” us mob see among ourselves all the time to a wider audience. Foxtel 2014

Indigenous Australia is deadly – and Leah Purcell shows it

Urban skyline, as seen from inside a medium-density apartment block, opens Australian director Leah Purcell’s Who We Are: Brave New Clan (2014), which was broadcast on Foxtel’s Bio Channel last night…
Guy Pearce plays Eric, alongside Robert Pattinson as Reynolds, in Australian director David Michod’s second feature film The Rover. Sydney Film Festival

The Rover brings unremitting fury to the Sydney Film Festival

The Sydney Film Festival Offical Competition this year has featured a range of male (and a few female) protagonists who are either without domicile, or whose domicile is severely threatened. I have already…
It’s impossible to overstate the way this kind of viewing makes Altman’s ouevre newly accessible. 3 Women, Sydney Film Festival

Framing Robert Altman at the Sydney Film Festival

For me the most exciting way to negotiate the ample program of the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) is to focus on its retrospectives, and this year the lens is on the American film directors Robert Altman and…
The differing depictions of ‘captaincy’ play key roles in the film. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Captain Phillips finds depth in human detail

This article contains spoilers. Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips advertises itself as little more than a tense, claustrophobic thriller – a dramatic re-telling of the 2009 incident in which Somali pirates…
Unsimulated sex often breaks the natural flow of fiction, disrupting our enjoyment. Magnolia Pictures/ Christian Geisnaes

Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac and the oddity of real sex on screen

According to the American actor Shia LaBeouf, instead of having an audition for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, he was asked to email a photograph of his penis. While Labeouf supposedly leapt at the opportunity…

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