Belle

Review by Jane Freebury A portrait of the woman who inspired this film, the daughter of an English sea captain and a black woman held in slavery, was painted around 1780. The canvas hangs today in a Scottish castle. It isn’t any wonder that the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle has finally arrived on screen, … Read more

Hannah Arendt

Review by Jane Freebury This could have gone wide as a more conventional life story of influential 20th century philosopher, Hannah Arendt, the first to write on the Third Reich in the context of western civilisation. Instead director and co-writer Margarethe von Trotta has homed in on the four-year period that brought about the phrase … Read more

Tracks

Review by Jane Freebury Exactly what possessed a young woman to decide she was going to trek with camels across Australia may be something we’ll never quite understand. The author Robyn Davidson recalls that 40 years ago she was fed up with the self-indulgent negativity of her generation. Yes, we get that. And that she … Read more

Noah

Review by Jane Freebury A big screen treatment of the life of a key prophet of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is one helluva big undertaking, destined for controversy. Noah has already run into a bit of trouble in its international release. It has been banned in Indonesia and certain Muslim Gulf nations. Who knows what … Read more

Le Week-End

Review by Jane Freebury It’s some time into this remarkable film about a lived-in relationship that we actually find out what the couple who’ve been married for ever actually do. He’s a philosophy professor, she’s a teacher. Not that we couldn’t have guessed, but it says something about how irrelevant the trappings are in relationships. … Read more

The Past

Review by Jane Freebury Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has a gift for offering an apparently simple premise only to tease it apart, strand by strand, and reveal it in all its glorious complexity. Two years ago, A Separation wowed audiences and earned Farhadi some glittering international awards, including an Oscar for best foreign language film. … Read more

Enough Said

Review by © Jane Freebury One of the best things about this mid-life romantic comedy from writer-director Nicole Holofcener is the way it’s told. There’s wry humour, insight and a generosity that is kind about the light and dark in all of the characters, including its fumbling mature-age leads. Another good thing is the presence … Read more

Diana

Review by © Jane Freebury It can take an outsider to reveal what we cannot see for ourselves. So the news that German film director Oliver Hirschbiegel was making a film about the people’s princess, weak link in the British royal chain, sounded more than promising. That Hirschbiegel had succeeded with other material best left … Read more

Gravity

Review by © Jane Freebury The vast emptiness of space is now lodged in our collective imagination as a pretty unsettling concept. Maybe even harder to accept than extra-terrestrial monsters or alien forms of life. The idea that we may be alone in the void, with only a few microbes buried in soil some millions … Read more

Stories We Tell

Review by © Jane Freebury Former child actor Sarah Polley made her fiction feature debut with distinction in 2006 when she directed Julie Christie as a woman with Alzheimer’s in Away From Her. Her new film, a distinguished debut in the documentary genre, is also about a woman whose absence has left an emptiness for … Read more

Blue Jasmine

Review by © Jane Freebury The opening credits are unexceptional before we get down to business but it’s impossible not to feel excitement about seeing the work of two great talents on screen, Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett. How will he use her gifts? A sashaying jazz score draws you in and you know you … Read more

Mary Meets Mohammad

Review by Jane Freebury It’s got such a biblical ring to it yet Mary Meets Mohammad is as 21st century as you can get. How else would it be possible but in a shrinking world for a 70-year-old woman, a member of a knitting circle in Tasmania, to cross paths with a 26-year-old Hazara refugee? … Read more

Before Midnight

Review by © Jane Freebury In Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the first two films of what has become an exquisite trilogy, time was of the essence. Money too. In the first brief encounter between Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) in Vienna, it kept them on the streets, and talking, always talking. Second … Read more

The Loneliest Planet

Review by © Jane Freebury Trekking through the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia with the one you love may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. Fine, though, if you have a well-honed sense of adventure, are strong and fit, and don’t mind sleeping on slopes in a flimsy tent. Russian filmmaker Julia Loktev explores … Read more

Searching for Sugar Man

Film review by © Jane Freebury Born in the same year as Jimi Hendrix, singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez turned 70 this year. The music careers of both men burned briefly in the 1970s however Rodriguez’s has miraculously come back to life and is the subject of this remarkable musical detective story by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul. … Read more

The Sessions

Review by © Jane Freebury Is it possible to get to know a woman in the biblical sense? That’s quite a question from a man whose encounter with polio at 6 had left him a quadriplegic confined to an iron lung. The question is directed at his priest, and quite an ask of him too, … Read more

You Will Be My Son

Review by © Jane Freebury A picturesque French vineyard on rolling hills sets the scene for this taut family drama. It’s a glorious setting where you might expect to see languid lunches on sunny days to celebrate the ripening fruit, but pretty soon it’s clear this isn’t going to happen. The tension builds slowly, pacing … Read more