Beginners

Review by © Jane Freebury While the studios compete for audiences, outdoing each other with bigger and noisier SFX extravaganzas, along comes a small film that really has something to say, and does it simply with an excellent script, inventive direction and sensitive performances. It’s…

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Red Dog

Review by Jane Freebury Based on a tall tale with a bit of truth to it, this is a home-grown version of the story of the dog that will follow its master anywhere, and he really did exist. There’s a statue of him in Dampier,…

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Mad Bastards

Review by Jane Freebury ‘Mad bastard’, that familiar Aussie expression, describes the bloke who’s brave to the point of being mad. In this new film set in Indigenous Australia, more about being mad as in angry, than it is about being mad as in crazy,…

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The Round Up

Review by © Jane Freebury In the archival footage that opens The Round Up there’s the small but telling detail of two gendarmes giving the salute to Hitler as he drives past on a tour of the French capital. It is the French police and…

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Incendies

Review by © Jane Freebury What do we know about the lives that others leave behind when they arrive in their adopted country? Migrant cultures like ours or Canada or the US will be brimming with such stories, simmering below the surface, waiting to be…

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Another Year

Review by © Jane Freebury In less sensitive hands, this story of a married London couple and friends could have included some sex, a smattering of drugs and for good measure a spiteful, blazing row. There’s a brutal rant near the end from a young…

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The King’s Speech

Review by © Jane Freebury It is good to see—if this marvellous film gets it right—that the Australian Lionel Logue had a healthy disregard for the English class system when he was a speech therapist in Harley Street. Brought to life, and to our attention,…

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Red Hill

Review by Jane Freebury It’s one helluva first day at work for a young policeman who has moved to a quiet country town to improve his wife’s health during her pregnancy. His first call is to a property where a horse lies disembowelled, the farmer…

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The Loved Ones

Review by Jane Freebury At 84 minutes, The Loved Ones is on the short side for a feature, however pace and economy are not the only virtues in this taut teen horror flick. It is smart, savvy, confident and has some of the artiness you…

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Summer Coda

Review by Jane Freebury There’s a lot happening just below the surface in this romantic drama set in the orange groves of Sunraysia. Fruit is ripening ready for a-picking, and feelings are a-stirring as two people hover near to each other wondering whether it might…

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Eat Pray Love

Review by © Jane Freebury Eat Pray Love, the book an American journalist and author wrote about a year she spent overseas, was in the US top 10 bestselling list for more than three years. Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal story became, with a bit of help…

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Dinner for Schmucks

Review by © Jane Freebury The received wisdom that foreign language Hollywood remakes are a pale imitation of the original is usually true, but not always. An exception to the rule is always refreshing, especially if you had been expecting the worst on account of…

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Father of My Children

Review by © Jane Freebury Out-of-office doesn’t mean that much anymore, thanks to the mobiles and blackberries and other culprits. The film producer trying to orchestrate life and work in this family drama from France is constantly on his mobile, and seems more like a…

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South Solitary

Review by Jane Freebury Even at the best of times lighthouse keeping would have to be a tough call. The isolation on an inhospitable outcrop in the ocean, with only mutton birds for company. A life without creature comforts that would suit only the hardy…

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I Am Love

Review by © Jane Freebury There’s something about Tilda Swinton. The way she looks and the characters she plays have an ethereal quality, like something from far away or long ago. With her alabaster skin and dark green eyes fringed by pale brows and lashes,…

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Review by © Jane Freebury In our anti-heroic age, the girl with a dragon tattoo is a perfect heroine. She is the rank outsider, an asocial girl geek with sleek black hair, nose rings, platforms and attitude in spades. For those who get really close,…

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Van Diemen’s Land

Review by Jane Freebury The Tasmanian tourism industry won’t be thanking our film industry for its interest in an Irish convict called Alexander Pearce who was hanged in Hobart in 1824 for murder and cannibalism. Then again, maybe it will. After all, watching either of…

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Mao’s Last Dancer

Review by Jane Freebury You have to like a film with a good story to tell. Granted, this is based on a personal memoir, Li Cunxin’s book of the same name, but this is good old-fashioned movie blockbuster material. To begin with there’s a lifestory…

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Balibo

Review by Jane Freebury This is an out-of-date news story, but it’s my guess there’s life in it yet. Though it’s hard to credit why it’s taken so long to tell in a country like ours. At last the story of how five Australian journalists…

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My Year Without Sex

Review by Jane Freebury There aren’t many mainstream feature films made in Australia that have made mention of sex in their title. Jonathan Teplitsky’s Better Than Sex was one and there was Libido too a long while back, but it’s safe to say our films…

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