Radio National Final Cut: Sydney Film Festival Roundtable, 2016

sff2016-1Talking Sydney Film Festival movies—including Certain WomenAquarius and No Home Movie—on ABC Radio National’s Final Cut, with Jane Mills, Conor Bateman, and Jason Di Rosso. Continue reading

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The Driver: Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson”

patersonThe first of many poems we encounter in the new Jim Jarmusch film involves an ode to matches. “So sober and furious and stubbornly ready to burst into flame,” goes a line of verse, lovingly describing the title character’s attachment to his favourite Ohio Blue Tips. It could just as easily be applied to a certain strand of the filmmaker’s work. Rekindling the rhythm of his trademark fringe-dwellers in movies like Dead Man and Ghost Dog, Jarmusch has delivered a consummately satisfying piece that’s also deceptively gentle—beneath the sweetly droll surface there’s a restless energy, maybe even a quiet fury, ready to catch fire at any moment. Continue reading

Berlinale Review: “Fassbinder—To Love Without Demands”

fassbinderloveGiven Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s reputation as a giant within auteur cinema, there’s a surprisingly small cache of documentaries devoted to exploring his work. Hans Günther Pflaum’s I Just Don’t Want You To Love Me (1993), included in Criterion’s BRD trilogy box set, remains perhaps the best introduction to its subject, while Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1977 (1977), Fassbinder in Hollywood (2002) and Wolf Gremm’s Last Works (1982) are all useful glimpses into the more specific. Though hardly a completist work, the new documentary Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands—which screened as part of the 65th Berlinale—offers an engaging personal reflection on writer-director Christian Braad Thomsen’s friendship with Fassbinder, while providing some curious insights into the German iconoclast’s creative process. Continue reading

Berlinale Review: “B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 1979-89”

bmovieBoombox in tow, a young musician stands on a West Berlin street, framed by newspaper headlines that scream “Fassbinder Dead in Front of TV”. It’s a neat, resonant image – burgeoning creativity haunted by the spectre of death – and the sort that’s everywhere in B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin 1979-1989, an engaging documentary of a musical subculture that plays as a collision of the individual and the socio-political. Assembled from hours of archival footage and interspersed with uncanny recreations, this explicitly personal recollection from British writer-narrator Mark Reeder is indispensable as a capsule of a radical artistic period. For fans of German avant-garde, dance and post-punk sounds – and beautifully bleak Cold War vistas—it’s also rich ear and eye candy. Dieter from Sprockets would have loved it. Continue reading

Review: Frederick Wiseman’s “National Gallery”

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Aside from Jean-Luc Godard, it’s hard to think of an octogenarian auteur who remains as vital and intellectually playful as 84-year-old documentary master Frederick Wiseman. Both are having banner years: first Godard with his astonishing, form-bending Goodbye to Language, and now Wiseman, whose National Gallery whips up its own rigorous dialogue on art and the ways of perceiving it. An immersive, 3-hour tour of the venerable British art institution, it’s the rare film that not only explores rich ideas on screen, but sparks conversation with its audience about the nature of perspective—both on the art and, by extension, the filmmaking itself. Continue reading