Category Archives: Movies 2017

Movie: Viceroy’s House

Some may find it hard to believe, but I’ve never watched Downton Abbey, and so my credulity was not stretched in seeing Hugh Bonneville play Lord Mountbatten in this film. I would have scoffed at Gillian Anderson’s cut-glass accent too, until I remembered the sound of Queen Elizabeth’s piping and flutey voice when she first took the throne.

This is a very pro-Mountbatten film, which portrays him as the unwilling pawn of dastardly Colonial Office operators. The story of the partition of India is big enough in itself that it didn’t need the Romeo-and-Juliet story amongst the two younger characters superimposed onto it.  Still, if you stick around for the credits at the end of the film, it’s perhaps not as far-fetched as I thought.

Good, but the book Midnight’s Children was better!

My rating: 3.5 stars

Movie: ‘Their Finest’

I really enjoyed this brilliantly cast movie. I’m always attracted to films set in the Blitz, and this had it all- laughter, a little tear, some feminist bolshyness and a good sense of fun about propaganda, images and the meaning of life.  Not deep and meaningful, but good fun

My rating: – hang it all! 4.5 stars

Movie: ‘Whiteley’

A friend recommended this, and I was wondering how I’d like it as she is very art-minded and I’m not.  The late Brett Whiteley has been in the news recently because of a courtcase which rested on whether some paintings of his were fakes or not. I hadn’t realized what a prolific and edgy artist he was, and how famous he was right throughout his life, right from when he won a prize to go to Paris on an art fellowship as a 21 year old.  Of course, there’s far more video footage of him later in his life, and so it’s been supplemented with re-creations and voiceovers, and Monty Pythonesque treatment of early images. I hadn’t realized, either, how beautiful Wendy Whiteley was as a young woman and how articulate she is now, too. It’s an interesting exploration of her role as muse too.  It captures well the insularity of Australian culture in the early 1960s and of course, Robert Hughes gets a look in. Well worth seeing, even if you’re not art-minded either!

My rating: 4 stars.

Movie: Moonlight

Well, I know that I always leave it late to catch movies but I excelled this time, with catching the very last showing on the very last day at Cinema Nova.  I knew that this won an Academy Award for Best Picture, but the trailer left me cold. Frankly, I knew very little about the film before seeing it.

I didn’t realize that it was a coming of age story, set in Miami but not Miami as I think of it. There’s not a white person to be seen in this Miami, a place of poverty and drug addiction. I didn’t realize that it involved a gay main character, who even before he knew what the term meant, asked ‘Am I a faggot?’. The movie is told in three parts, as Chiron grows up from a neglected, bullied child to a hesitant, searching teenager, and then a muscle-bound, intimidating ex-prisoner drug dealer.

I didn’t find it particularly easy to watch with jerky, handheld camera shots, and very-difficult-to-understand dialogue. But it was beautifully filmed, and it told a story that stays with you.

But if it’s no longer showing at the Nova, you know it’s really over and time to look for the DVD.

My rating: 4.5

Movie: ‘Lion’

It’s been around for a while, and still going strong. Based on a true story, Saroo is separated from his brother, ends up lost in Calcutta and is adopted by an Australian family. Google Earth comes to the rescue as he decides to look for his Indian family. A terrific story, although the dream sequences were a little tedious near the end. Stick around for the end of the movie where you learn ‘what happened next’.


Movie: Things to Come (L’avenir)


(French, English subtitles)

I liked this movie- a lot. My 88 year old father hated it. Nathalie is a middle-aged university philosophy lecturer, fully immersed in the academic life of teaching, reading and writing text-books. Her long-standing series of academic texts is hauled in for ‘refreshing’ by young marketers and instructional designers, and this is just one of the changes she faces, as she deals with her increasingly frail mother and flat marriage.  Neither of these situations are of her choice, and the film follows her as her world of ideas is challenged by a more mundane, draining reality.  Not a lot happens here, but perhaps I am just the right age and milieu to enjoy it.

8/10 for me (1/10 for my father!)

Movie: The Innocents

“So, what are you off to see today, Janine?” they asked. Nobody suggested joining me when I told them that I was going to see a movie about Polish nuns being raped after WWII.

It was just as grim as it sounds. One day a young female French Red Cross doctor based in Poland is importuned by a nun to come to the convent. When she finally agrees, she finds a young novice giving birth. She learns that Russian soldiers had ransacked the convent three times, raping the sisters. The rapes were not just physical, but spiritual and existential as well.

The film is based on a true story (follow the link in this story to a translated interview with the real-life doctor’s nephew) although I don’t know if the ending – which I found a bit too easy – was true or not.

The cinematography is just breathtaking. The convent is surrounded by a bare forest in the snow, setting off the black-and-white habits of the nuns. But it feels almost callous to think of beauty in a story which is anything but beautiful.

Once again, it’s just about to leave Melbourne cinemas within the next few days.

My rating: 4 stars

Movie: “A Man Called Ove”

It seems that recently I’ve read seen several books (Extinctions; Our Souls at Night; Reading in Bed) and movies (45 Years; I, Daniel Blake) that deal with older characters. Is this the demographic pressure of Baby Boomers who prefer to watch movies on the big screen, I wonder?  Nonetheless, here’s another movie about a crusty old widower who ends up with a bigger heart than it might seem as first. I was rather horrified that he was only supposed to be 59 which seemed rather young (especially as I am older than 59!) however, he makes up in gruffness what he might lack in chronological years.

I laughed and I cried at this very human movie, which tells the story of Ove’s life and marriage in  multicultural, urban Sweden. Yes, it’s been done before with other gruff men like Jack Nicholson, and the multiple manifestations of Wallender, but I thought that this was just lovely. I came home wanting to hug my dad, my son and my curmudgeonly husband (who I think wanted to see it to get some tips, although he said that Ove was even too brusque for him!).  And of course, true to form with my movie reviews, it’s just about to finish, so either hurry or look for it on DVD.

My rating: 4.5 stars

Movie: Manchester by the Sea

A nuanced and bleak view of masculinity.  Lee Chandler left Manchester By the Sea many years earlier to work as a janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts.  He lives alone and he is a coiled-up ball of trauma, grief and aggression.  When his brother dies unexpectedly, he is called upon to move back to Manchester to act as guardian to his nephew.  He is resentful, grudging and gruff, and as the film goes on we learn why. I felt rather depressed by the whole thing

And it’s only on for about another five minutes.

My rating: 7.5 / 10

Movie: Denial

It’s not often that historians are the stars of a movie, but they are here in ‘Denial’, based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book History of Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.  It has an stellar cast (Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall)- and look! Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) from Sherlock.  They are all excellent.

Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books were sued by British holocaust denier David Irving who, although not attached to any academic institution, has published prolifically on Hitler’s Germany throughout his life.  Because the case was held in Britain, the burden of proof lay with the defendant and, given Irving’s claims, the stakes were high. Irving, who defended himself, clashed in court with eminent Third Reich historian Richard J. Evans in a 28 hour cross-examination. Aware of the implications of a loss, Lipstadt’s legal team resisted debating Irving’s claims, but instead looked at his history-writing.

Historians as heroes! That’s what I like to see!

My rating: 9/10 (I confess to some possible bias, but both Dad and my husband enjoyed it too)