Movies – 300

Alone in Berlin

Maybe it’s a sign of our times, but there’s been resurgence of interest in books and films about Nazi Germany recently. Based on the seminal 1947 novel by Hans Fallada, writer/director Vincent Perez’s Alone in Berlin is at its most vividly terrifying when its shows us everyday life in a place where vigilant community groups hector their neighbours into holding “correct” opinions, and all news is fake news.

Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson play Otto an Anna, an ordinary working class couple in Berlin who, at the height of the German war machine’s success in Europe, have lost faith in their authoritarian state. Their secretive acts of rebellion are seemingly pointless – they distribute small propaganda messages in strategic public places – and it isn’t long before a determined police investigator (Daniel Brühl in a brilliantly nuanced performance) is on their tail.

Their fate may be unsurprising – but their heroism and defiant spirit – both inspiring and so necessary now, not pointless at all.

M from Mar 2. View trailer

Thanks to Icon Films we have 5 double passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.


Miss Sloane

After The Donald, who needs political fiction to keep us thrilled and perpetually appalled? Then again, a House of Card-ish tale of a devious, and ruthless Washington DC lobbyist, written by Jonathan Perera (clearly channelling The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin), might just do the trick. Especially if it stars the un-extinguishable Jessica Chastain, who is absolutely on fire here as Liz Sloane – the most sought after and formidable political operator in town.

She’s known equally for her cunning, formidable dertermination and her track record of success. But after taking on the gun lobby,  heinous sell-outs, paybacks and backstabbing follow, and she eventually finds that winning may come at too high a price.

Directed by John Madden and co-starring Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy and John Lithgow Miss Sloane is a wild rollicking ride through the corridors of power. It may not do much for your political cynicism, but it will always entertain.

M from Mar 2. View trailer

Thanks to Roadshow Films we have 5 double passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.


David Stratton: A Cinematic Life

Few film lovers will need an introduction to David Stratton, and as readers of his oddly titled memoir I Peed on Fellini* will know, he’s pretty good at spinning a yarn too – especially as they relate to his encyclopaedic knowledge of Australian and world cinema. In this generous and immensely entertaining doco by director Sally Aitken, he shares a lifetime of his memories and insights, while weaving some surprisingly poignant personal revelations into an always fascinating narrative.

He is touring the country now with a series of special previews and Q&As, and you can meet David with his old sparring partner Margaret Pomeranz at Cremorne Orpheum Tuesday 28 Feb  at 7pm, and (without Margaret) at Palace Norton St on Wednesday March 1 at 7.15.

*Just bad aim, nothing more! But maybe don’t stand next to him in the men’s room…

CTC.  View trailer

Details for the Palace Norton St Q&A here

Thanks to Transmission Films we have 5 double passes for the season from Mar 9. See our Giveaways page for details.


T2 Trainspotting

It’s hard to remember just how exhilarating and fresh the original seemed in 1996. It told us a truth, then unspoken, that drugs are fun. Then (and this is so obvious it hardly needed saying) they will righteously fuck your lives up – several times over. So in the age of meth we need to be told again?

Apparently many users of so-called “recreational” drugs still do… Anyway, ignore that as you probably will – just know this is a really worthwhile sequel, with Danny Boyle reuniting Spud, Sick Boy, Begbie and Renton (all the same actors, Ewan Bremmer, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewan McGregor), twenty years later, only Spud still seriously using.

Though there’s less of the frenetic energy and political undercurrents of the earlier groundbreaking work, there is still enough edgy humour and slyly subversive “life-lessons” to more than satisfy nostalgic fans. The gang are all middle aged now, and as does happen (sigh) – cynicism, melancholy and regret have replaced youthful rebellion.

The script, loosely based on one of Irvine Welsh’s sequels, Porno – still speaks the truth. And it is both hilarious and painfully sad.

R18+ from Feb 23. View trailer


Hidden Figures

Last year’s lily-white Oscars’ furore means there’s no shortage of films about African-Americans in contention this year. Moonlight should be the one that scoops up the awards, but it’s such a challenging film, so it may not…

Self-described as “inspirational” (so prepare to be uplifted), Hidden Figures is Moonlight‘s exact opposite, though coincidentally features two of the same actors: The world’s nicest drug dealer (Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali) becomes the world’s most chivalrous suitor, while his girlfriend in that movie (Janelle Monáe) has a similarly heroic role as one of the sassy (“you go, girlfriend!”) mathematicians at NASA.

White actors (most noticely Kirsten Dunst, who has a particularly thankless role) are not so lucky – they’re just unpleasant ciphers. Though Kevin Costner as the clever gals’ boss does get to smash racism with a crowbar in one of the movie’s more unlikely scenes.

PG on now. View trailer


Reviews: Russell Edwards