Movies – 287

Embrace of the Serpent

Nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars, Ciro Guerra’s journey up the Amazon is the sort of movie that leaves critics stunned, falling over themselves to find reasons to give it six stars (out of five).

It deserves all six at least – Embrace of the Serpent is the sort of intoxicating art movie that grips like a thriller. Two dramas weave backwards and forwards over several decades, and in both, western explorers and adventures (Jan Bijvoet and Brionne Davis) enlist the help of a native shaman (Nilbio Torres and Antonio Bolivar) to guide them up the river, though their motives (especially in the later story) are as murky as the mighty river’s waters itself.

Along the way the effects of colonialism on tribal life and the destruction wrought by extractive industries are observed, though this is far from a simple sermon. Leading to dream-like sequence of mind-expanding beauty (the only scene in colour), it could just be the most audacious and powerful film you’ll see all year.

M from July 28.

Thanks to Palace Films we have five double in-season passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.



“You’re a real scumbag, Anthony,” a heckler yells. “Takes one to know one, jackass!” he replies. Now why didn’t we get exchanges like during our long boring election campaign?

Maybe because we don’t have pollies like Anthony Weiner, the charismatic left-liberal firebrand and onetime rising Democrat star of Congress. In 2011 he was caught sexting pics of his erect bulging undies and had to resign. But two years later he’s running again, this time for Mayor of New York, and that’s where Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s superbly entertaining fly-on-wall doco begins.

He’s doing well, topping the polls, his sensationally attractive wife by his side… She’s Huma Abelin, one of Hillary Clinton’s aides, but wow, poor Huma… Both seem to forget the cameras, and when Anthony is outed doing the same thing again, they’re together, her long silent stare at her husband seemingly lasting forever. It’s a relief when she finally says, “Can we turn this off?”

There are more excruciating moments of political insanity later, for Anthony never gives up. Look, just go out and find this jaw-dropping exposure. It’s getting one Sydney screen somewhere, hopefully Dendy Newtown.

M from July 28.


When Adelaide photographer Taryn Brumfitt posted an unorthodox before-and-after photograph in 2013, it was seen by more than 100 million worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy.

This crowd-funded doco, well, crusade really, is the result – it turned her into campaigner against the curse of body loathing.

Now I’ve got a confession: For years I worked on a weight loss magazine. None of us saw it this way, but it was our job to make women feel bad about themselves and sell them product. Which didn’t work, but that just meant our advertisers could sell them more. Was I guilty of hate crime? Yep, the verdict is in, and my sentence is to watch Taryn’s film.

She travels around the globe talking to lots of body image activists, all inspiring, even the bearded lady in London. But perhaps the wisest words come from ex-Cosmo editor Mia Freedman: “Vote with your wallets,” she says – meaning stop buying stuff, stop believing the crap you’re told. And I’ll add this: Stop judging other women.

CTC from Aug 4.

movies-love-friendshipLove & Friendship

“Fresh and deliciously rotten,” said Time Out about this Walt Stillman adaption of an early Jane Austen novella.

It’s witty and hilariously droll for sure, and laugh out loud funny – proving that you don’t need to dig up the undead (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, ouch!) to bring 18th century costume dramas to modern audiences in the mood for a joke.

Kate Beckinsale plays Lady Susan, a first class schemer whose calculated intrigues are helped by an American friend (Chloë Sevigny). The fatuous and fatheaded men (Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennett) don’t stand a chance.

PG on now.

Reviews – Russell Edwards