Never forget Tibet is the story of how Tenzin Gyatso – the 14th and current Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet into India. He was Tibet’s head of state from 1963-1991. Although he was world renowned as an advocate of peace and spirituality, China still considers him an enemy of the state. 

It is directed by Jean Paul Mertinez and narrated by actor Hugh Bonnerville. The highlight of the film for me was the one on one interview with journalist Rani Singh who managed to get this interview because her uncle Harmander Singh was a politician who helped guide the Dalai Lama, when he escaped as a refugee to India. The Dalai Lama narrates the story in his own words. The interview is peppered with his characteristic humour which enables him to see the glass half full despite all the pain he has endured. One notices the air of reverence that surrounds the Dalai Lama during Singh’s interview. She obviously is spellbound and fascinated by what he has to say and she collects an impressive list of close friends and relatives to talk and to give us a clearer idea of this very holy man.

It is important to remember that the Dalai Lama remains in exile in India to this day and is considered an enemy of China. Tenzin Gyatso is believed to be a re-incarnation of the previous Dalai Lama and according to Tibetan folklore is a manifestation of the Buddha of compassion. Once you see the film one realises that the Dalai Lama embodies all the goodness and love that he talks about.

Environmental journalist Nitin Cocoa who was interviewed for this film talks about how the Tibetans in China are still persecuted and are under surveillance. He also states that the droughts in India are due to the Chinese government cutting off large bodies of water during the construction of the Great Wall. The Dalai Lama feels that although technology has made rapid advances in the world, the damage to the environment is the greatest threat.

Another fascinating fact that was revealed by the film was that the Dalai Lama was a close friend of Mao and at one point he was thinking of joining the communist party. However, he was dissuaded from doing this by a friend. It was not long after this that China invaded Tibet.

This documentary is a good history lesson for anyone who does not know anything about this benevolent, beautiful human being.


This film about the writer of “Wuthering Heights” is Frances O’Connor’s sensuous spine tingling feature debut. The film is punctuated with fades to black to accentuate its fairy tale dream quality.

The film refers to the young Bronte sisters and their delight with which they share their stories. Charlotte has decided she wants to be a teacher, while strange Emily finds delight in walking across moorland and rolling and falling in the grass with her beloved brother Branwell ( Fionn Whitehead). We are also introduced to her widowed father ( Adrian Dunbar) who preaches judgement from the pulpit.

Emily is panted to be a recluse who suffers from depression and possibly other mental health issues. Frances O’Connor does not treat Emily’s mental challenges as obstacles. They are just parts of this deep feeling and sharply critical character who funnels her sadness and perspective on human behaviour into Wuthering Heights. It is a very sensitive and passionate of the author. She appears to be the black sheep of her family, both berated and neglected by her father, a widower and parish priest. A sequence in which Bronte claims to speak for her dead mother through a mask – an artefact the Bronte sisters actually possessed is an interesting study in hysteria.

However Frances O’Connor has definitely shown real feel for the texture and tenor of the Bronte sister’s lives as she sets out a bustling intellectually vibrant house for the three sisters – Charlotte (Alexander Dowling) Emily (Emma Mackay) and Anne ( Amelia Gething).

The love story that develops between William Weightman( Oliver Jackson Cohen), the vicarage’s new curate and Emily gradually moves from vague hostility to true connection. The affair does not sit comfortably with the known facts of Emily’s life but as a piece of screen fantasy it has real emotional impact.

The films strong point is its focus on this rather odd little family and their extraordinary achievements. It is an must see film if you have read “Wuthering Heights”  ot intend to do so in the near future.


his incredibly moving story is not about funny psychedelic experiences or an indictment on the pharmaceutical industry. Believe it or not it is a very human love story that could happen in anyone’s life.

It follows this lovely lady Laurie through difficult health news and important decisions that have to be made. We see her eventually decide to turn to psilocybin-assisted therapy to help her make peace with her own death. The movie not only follows a woman who has cancer but also her husband and her kids who play a major role in her healing journey.

I am not sure if you can call Laurie desperate or extremely brave. She said to a recent screening of Dosed 2 that the paperwork to gain the right to have this medicine was onerous and definitely made it very difficult for the normal person to access it. But she was determined to try everything before she threw her hat in the ring.

This film is a call to action for our politicians to hear and realize that a lot of good can come from taking magic mushrooms when there is a need. It opens our eyes to the healing powers of plant medicine. It shows us in a very emotionally raw, beautiful and vulnerable way the importance of embracing life authentically.

Although it is educational it is not heavy and the visual depictions of Laurie’s psychedelic trips were extremely colourful and captivating. The film helps us dive into a very touching story.

There are not many films that portray the experience of psilocybin. This film does a great job of explaining and showing us how psilocybin can be used for emotional healing, curing anxiety and spiritual experiences.

I would like to end with the words of Bailey Brooks who sums up my feeling so succinctly. “What else can be said! This film is amazing! It’s so well done and tells the story so well. Not only Laurie’s story, but the story of the healing potential of psychedelics for any one facing any kind of depression (be it facing your own impermanence, feelings of unworthiness, or ptsd, plus so much more!). It brought me to tears. It’s such a beautiful film. I recommend it 10/10 whether you are intrigued by psychedelics or are against them. WATCH THIS FILM!!!!”     

An important footnote from Luna Palace “Dosed 2 QA and panel discussion has sold out for tonight but are delighted to announce that there will be encore screenings from Dec 8-14 at 100pm & 87.00pm at Luna Leederville. Do not MISS this highly informative emotional film.

A Hero

Farhadi’s Movie “ A Hero” is a  great, thoughtful, realistic movie about the moral relativism we all employ in our lives every day. It shows us the film-maker’s deft hand at showing everyday Iranians and the similarities of their culture to Western cultural mores Who is more likely to be honest in a given situation? Are omissions, half-truths and shadings all ‘permissible’ lies? Is there ever a good reason to lie and who determines that justification? How much of our lives is based on the little lies we tell to smooth our paths? How would our paths be altered if everyone told the absolute, unvarnished truth at all times, even to their own detriment? These are hard ethical questions Farhadi builds into everyday situations showing just how interconnected and dependent upon each other we are and how some situations move us inexorably toward a direction without virtually any of our input. He makes universal stories for anyone who loves observing people and solving complicated puzzles. There are no throwaway lines or glances without meaning and somehow Farhadi manages to avoid cheap coincidences, telegraphed emotions and outlandish happenstance to move his plots forward.

The movie made me feel all sorts of emotions because it exposes the faults in society. We believe it is our moral duty to be good and selfless and we want society to perceive us as heroes but do we know if we are being judged for better or for worse.

The film also references social media and its negative and positive effects. We see very graphically how one false video clip can make or break a family.

The screenplay was the focal point of the film. At times it appeared to be a bit repetitive and long-winded but the story was an emotional roller coaster that was masterfully layered and the characters were highly relatable as well.

 I would like to conclude by saying this man is a master of his craft. It's a bittersweet social drama with a protagonist that packs a powerful performance and writing that could be seen as flawless. Rest assured, it has an ending that will hopefully resonate with you on moral and ethical relativism.

After a 3 month pandemic layoff, Luna

re-boots with a delicious, lightweight treat.

Love Sarah

an attractive romantic comedy that

delivers a sugar high but little substance

Mimi (Celia Imri) preparing to open the shop in Love Sarah

U.K. : 97 mins : CTC : 3/5

With an international reputation for baking excellence, Sarah herself (Candice Brown, in a brief appearance) sets up the storyline of director, Eliza Shroeder’s debut feature, Love Sarah, when she’s about to open her own cake shop in London but meets with a fatal (but well-flagged) accident, just after the opening credits have finished.

And so begins an inter-generational tale of three women who come together to fulfil Sarah’s dream – Sarah’s daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) who was the main instigator, Isabella (Shelley Conn), her best friend and business partner and Sarah’s estranged mother, Mimi (Celia Imri, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who is guilt-stricken at her refusal to help finance the project when her daughter was alive.  Introducing a male chef, Matthew (U.K. heart throb, Rupert Penry-Jones) neatly offsets the female-dominant cast but also adds a note of mystery about his motives.  We soon discover that he was the late Sarah’s ex-lover and what he refers to as ‘unfinished business’ was that he could, in fact, be the father of her daughter, Clarissa.

Writer, Jake Brunger, has given each of the characters a romantic sub-plot – Isabella jumps into bed with Matthew (tepid and unconvincing); Mimi latches onto Felix, an elderly, eccentric inventor (U.K. veteran, Bill Paterson) while Clarissa has the matter of her relationship with Matthew, to be decided by a paternity test, although neither of the two seems overly concerned about it. Although amiable, these plot-contrivances are not particularly engaging and they’re outshone by the real stars of the film – the cakes themselves.  Originating from all corners of the globe (so adding a multicultural thread) they come in all shapes, sizes and colours and they look gorgeous – with the camera lingering long and lovingly over their making and presentation.

Within the limitations of the material, the performances are all solid, with Celia Imrie’s as a flinty, insular senior, beginning to open up to people, being the strongest.  In fact, you may feel a rare tweak of the heart when her Mimi mulls over a card that she wrote to Sarah, but which her daughter never got to read.

Foodies and followers of Master Chef should be attracted to Love Sarah.  In fact, it would not be surprising to find some of its international recipes being sought after on Google.  It’s one of the few films to showcase food since Chocolat did, some twenty years ago.

phil. 14.06.20.

Love Sarah will screen at Luna Leederville, Luna SX and Luna’s The Windsor and also at Event Cinemas from July 2.  Check or or the press for details.


a striking, confronting film of juvenile guerrillas

Doctora (Julianne Nicholson) in the hands of the Monos

COLOMBIA/U.S.A. : 103 mins : MA15+ : 4/5

Monos, directed by Alejandro Landes (and co-written with Alexis Dos Santos), is a visually striking, fictionalised feature of armed, juvenile guerrillas, training under the command of a man known as ‘the messenger’ (Wilson Salazar), atop a jungle-clad mountain in remote Colombia.  The small group of young people of both genders, are referred to by their nicknames – Bigfoot, Lady, Rambo, Smurf, Dog and their leader, Wolf and hold a captured woman as hostage, referred to as Doctora.  Landes was inspired by the novels, Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness and the influence of both is very much in evidence.  It is a tale of anarchy, of primitive and violent forces and of the destabilising effects of power in the hands of the young.

In spite of lacking details about the conflict, Monos could be happening in one of many tropical regions in the world.  It’s a convincing and highly disturbing film, with the Monos movement requiring young people to die for an ideological cause, in the manner of today’s ‘radicalisation’ of young people being carried out by terrorist organisations.

In a non-professional cast, who all play physically demanding roles, Julianne Nicholson is outstanding in the gruelling role of the hostage, Doctora, while the film itself took off the top award at the Sundance Film Festival.  Cameraman, Jasper Wolf, received acclaim for the film’s arresting and, at times, breathtaking, cinematography.

Monos is an exciting film, a heady mix of brutality and beauty, full of tension and visceral thrills as the young soldiers are put to severe tests of honesty, loyalty and bravery.  But it’s not escapist fare.  Unlike his namesake (who never dies on screen) Rambo and his cohorts face death, on a daily basis, both from the dangers of the natural world or being hit by an enemy bullet.  It’s a sobering prospect which will leave an indelible impression.

phil.  18.02.20.

Monos opens at Luna Leederville on March 26 and will also screen at Luna Outdoor.  Check or the press for details.



in this powerful, BAFTA winning doco

the horrors of Aleppo are almost unbearable to watch

Waad and her baby, Sama, in the war-ravaged streets of Aleppo


U.K./U.S.A./SYRIA : 100 mins : documentary : MA15+ : 5/5

In the Syrian city of Aleppo, its inhabitants were terrorised by the onslaught of the brutal Assad regime in its attempt to end the bloody Civil War that raged for five years, with conflict continuing to the present day.  For Sama began as a personal record, by Aleppo resident, twenty-six year old Waad Al-Kateab, to explain the actions of herself and her husband, Hamza (one of the few doctors left in the city) to their baby daughter.  But, while having the feel of a home video, the film developed into a devastating documentary (with a rare female point of view) that took off the top award in the 2019 BAFTAs and gained a nomination for the Best Documentary in the 92nd Academy Awards.

News footage, in this PBS Frontline/Channel 4 News/ITN production is confronting enough.  But, as film directors, Waad and Edward Watts take us back and forth between 2012 and 2016, Waad’s intimate coverage puts us in the midst of family and friends and their terror and heartache have an overwhelming sense of tension and urgency.

Suddenly, in a deliberate hit on civilian targets, a bomb explodes in the hospital where Hamza works frantically to cope with the tide of casualties and the air is filled with smoke.  Children covered in blood lay dead or dying on the floor.  More of the injured, with broken bones and twisted limbs are rushed into the building.  The scene is chaotic and the despair is heart-wrenching.

But amidst the death and destruction, there’s a defiant show of resilience.  For Sama gives us not only tears but laughter and song and, unbelievably, tells the personal love story of Waad and Hamza themselves, their marriage and the birth of their daughter.  But, even more than most, their lives hang by a thread.  Both have posted criticism of the regime on social media and both are personally targeted.

While concentrating on the strengths of this extraordinary film, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Waad Al-Kateab discovered a natural gift for photo journalism which has brought her film to the screen.  With screams of anguish ringing in her ears, like a seasoned professional, she continued to film.

For Sama is exceptionally hard to watch. But it offers crucial insight and is one of the most profoundly intimate depictions of the Syrian conflict ever filmed.

phil. 07.02.20.

For Sama will have advance screenings on February 8 and 9 at Luna Leederville.  Check or the press for details.


an all-female crew sails their yacht

around the world and strikes a thrilling blow for gender equity

Tracey Edwards and crew member at the start of the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race in Maiden.

U.K. : 97 mins : CTC : 4/5

In 1989, offshore yacht racing was very much a male preserve.  In Maiden, the documentary, writer and director, Alex Holmes, makes it clear that the first-time entry of an all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race was considered either of novelty interest only or extremely foolhardy.  But they weren’t to know of the courage and resolve of the skipper – a young Tracey Edwards who was hell-bent on proving them wrong.

Losing her beloved father at ten years of age, the physical abuse Tracey suffered at the hands of her step-father, welded an anger and hatred onto the already pugnacious and rebellious personality – an abhorrent but effective preparation for defying the odds.

After finding a fifty-eight foot aluminum yacht, Tracey looked to assemble a crew of nine females to fit the various roles necessary to sail her.  Childhood friend, Jo Goodall, was an obvious starting point and one which proved invaluable when she brought aboard a home cine camera.  Without that, there would have been no documentary.

While Holmes’ doco. neglects the details of Tracey’s navigational training (which was critical in those days of ‘old-school’ skills of using compass, sextant and dividers), it covers, comprehensively, the biggest problem of finding sponsors.

Sexist comments aside, such as referring to Tracey’s yacht as ‘a tin can full of tarts’, nobody was interested in financing an entry that most thought would not even complete the first leg to Uruguay, let alone finish the race.

Holmes’ treatment of the film is refreshingly simple and linear.  While Tracey and her crew members, now almost thirty years older (plus an assortment of men associated with the race at the time) speak direct to camera, archival and crew-shot footage tell their own tale.  Grainy images show mountainous seas, sub-zero temperatures when the boat is covered in snow, as well as periods of flat, windless ocean.  Even for those uninterested in sailing, it’s an incredible tale of human perseverance.

While Tracey Edwards didn’t start with any deliberate feminist agenda, she admits to being converted during the nine month’s passage.  When Maiden arrives to a tumultuous welcome at Southampton, there is a sense, among the crew, not just of jubilation but almost euphoria.

Maiden is that rare filmic creature – one that’s enthralling on its own terms but which can also be the source of inspiration for women everywhere.  While the only word they may have heard was ‘no’, Tracey and her indomitable crew have answered with a thrilling, emphatic ‘yes!’

phil. 27.02.19.

Maiden will open at Luna Leederville and Luna’s The Windsor on October 17.   Check or the press for details.Maiden first screened in the 2018/19 Perth Festival, Lotterywest Film Programme.

Here’s a film that has caused a stir.  Some have found it a little hard to stomach and there have been walk-outs.  It’s a tough watch, even as the director admits but it needed to be.

​​ See you in the dark, phil.


a tale of rape and murder

in Colonial Van Diemen’s Land

is such a ghastly song for a pretty bird to sing

Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) and Clare (Aisling Franciosi) in The Nightingale.

AUSTRALIA : 136 mins : CTC :  4/5

Towards the end of Jennifer Kent’s film, The Nightingale, there is a fascinating reversal of narrative primacy.  Her follow-up to the horror film, The Babadook, is the bloody, revenge tale of Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Irish female convict in Tasmania in the 1820’s who was brutally abused by a British Officer by the name of Hawkins (Sam Caflin).  At a critical point, the secondary narrative, of the Aborigine, Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), who Clare enlists to find Hawkins on his bush trek to Launceston, suddenly swaps places with that of Clare, as Billy takes control and Clare recedes into the background.  Is this Jennifer Kent’s admission of Clare’s defeat against impossible odds?  Or is she calling a halt to Clare playing a revenge role traditionally reserved for men?

There is an overpowering sense of helplessness in The Nightingale, by anyone not part of the British military.  Native Aborigines (referred to as ‘Blacks’) were considered little better than vermin – of some value as physical labourers, trackers or (if female) of an ‘interesting’, alternative sexual experience.  In spite of Billy sharing Clare’s hatred of the British, Clare, herself, buys into the hierarchical power-play by addressing him as ‘Boy’.  While violence, in The Nightingale is graphic and abundant, its historical authenticity justifies it, providing much to fuel Jennifer Kent’s volcanic sense of outrage.

Much of The Nightingale’s imposing tone is owed to cinematographer, Radek Ladczuk, who portrays (in claustrophobic square format) a hard, austere landscape, of pallid colours, skeletal trees and granite outcrops, far from the lush, welcoming greens of a travel brochure.  Clare’s a cappella rendition of the titular song is the only music to grace the soundtrack and every shot is deliberately filmed in deep cloud cover, mist or rain – only in the final frames, does a redemptive sun flood the screen with light.

But, through the couple’s torturous journey, the down-to-earth Billy (played with an impish sense of humour by Ganambarr) grows in dignity and spiritual depth as he closes in on his birthplace. And, by degrees, there’s a reconciliation – the pale hand of the white ‘Nightingale’ is finally clasped in that of the black ‘Mangana’ (Billy’s tribal name, meaning ‘Blackbird’).

The Nightingale is courageous and disturbing, with much to admire rather than enjoy.  Baykali Ganambarr is impressive and provides some comic relief.  But Aisling Franciosi is mesmerising, with a palpable sense of rage that takes the audience with her to the moment of exacting the final revenge – when she falters and leaves a tantalising question mark hanging in the air.

phil.  18.08.19.

The Nightingale opens on August 29 at Luna Leederville and Luna SX.  Check or the press for details.


this is a film that debates Australia’s endemic racism but welcomes the winds of change

The premiere was sold out.

‘Civilization did not begin in Australia until the last quarter of the eighteenth century.’ – the opening sentence of acclaimed Historian, Manning Clark’s A History of Australia (in six volumes).

AUSTRALIA : 109 mins : DOCUMENTARY : MA15+ : 4.5/5

After The Final Quarter (which also had a tv screening), there was understandable confusion when another film arrived, shortly after, also featuring former Australian Rules Footballer, Adam Goodes and his stand against racism.  But, while still using Goodes as its focal point, writer, Stan Grant and director, David Gordon, have gone beyond the footballer’s personal demise to canvas the wider issue of racism itself.  This is why their film is not called Adam Goodes’ Dream but The Australian Dream.

In 2015, Adam Goodes finally gave in to the abuse he faced and left the game in which he was honoured as one of its great players.  But when he took a stand, his story became a crucible for the whole notion of what racism is (and suggested that many Australians didn’t even recognise certain language and behaviour as racist).  Both Adam Goodes and Stan Grant are given extensive screen time and come across as moderates.  But while Goodes is the heart of the story, Stan Grant is the voice.  Drawing on an extensive background of journalism and public speaking, he’s a natural spokesperson.  And, between them, their integrity and passion make them a formidable duo.

Though skimming over some fairly meaty issues, the film has some telling interviews and voice-overs by a host of former sports stars such as Nathan Buckley, Paul Roos, Nicky Winmar and Nova Peris – and most are supportive.  But even though commentators Andrew Bolt and Sam Newman attempt to justify or to trivialise vilification, in the end, whether positive or negative, they all help to hold a mirror to the Australian public.  And much of what they see isn’t easy to stomach.

The story of the Australian Aborigine, as told in The Australian Dream, is one of official non-recognition (Manning Clark summarily ignored their presence in his six-volume history of Australia), an assimilation programme that tore children away from their families and finally, a grudging recognition of their existence, as long as they kept quiet and maintained their invisibility.  Adam Goodes changed all that when he uttered a howl of anguish that reverberated around the country and opened up the debate.

Most of the audience, having been moved, perhaps to sadness, frustration and anger, will be uplifted by the conclusion of The Australian Dream.  But, most of all, they may find it impossible to leave the debate at the cinema door.  And that’s not a bad result for a film as important and timely as this.

phil. 13.08.19.

The Australian Dream opens on Thursday, August 22 at Luna Leederville.  Check or the press for details.


Following a sell-out Perth Premiere last night, Monday 12 August, at Luna Cinemas Leederville – which saw over 450 people attend a fundraiser screening for the Wirrpanda Foundation, Madman Entertainment is pleased to announce the benefactor support will continue across the opening weekend of The Australian Dream, with 10% of the WA Box Office donated to the Indigenous Players Alliance (IPA).

“On behalf of all those who worked on the production, we recognise the important work the IPA is doing and this is a wonderful opportunity to walk together,” says Paul Wiegard, Managing Director Madman Entertainment.

Established in late 2018, the IPA is the peak body in Australia supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in football and beyond. Formed to provide a coordinated approach to enable the AFL industry to establish better recruitment, retention and transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players who are current and/or previous players, the IPA works with both the AFL and AFLW.

Board members include former Fremantle Docker and Brisbane Lion, Des Headland (chairman); former West Coast Eagle, Fitzroy and Brisbane Lion, Kevin Caton; former Essendon and Port Adelaide players Che Cockatoo-Collins and Gavin Wanganeen and former Sydney Swan Michael O’Loughlin (who features in The Australian Dream).

The IPA provides past players with a support network, advocacy, women’s research as well as financial education for players and their families.

“The Indigenous Players Alliance welcomes the resources The Australian Dream will donate to us from the screenings, as a fledgling organisation we are striving hard to improve the situation many indigenous players, both past and present, face during their journeys playing and post career,” says Chairman Des Headland.

Previous financial support of the IPA has come from a range of sources including Indigenous Business Australia and the AFL.

Madman Entertainment will donate 10% of gross ticket proceeds of the box office from opening weekend in Perth (Thursday 22 August – Sunday 25 August) at the following WA cinemas screening the film:

Luna Palace Cinemas; Leederville and SX
Palace Cinemas; Raine Square
Event Cinemas; Innaloo and Whitfords
Ace Cinemas; Midland and Rockingham

A documentary that uses the remarkable and inspirational story of Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes as the prism through which to tell a deep and powerful story about race, identity and belonging, The Australian Dream is essential viewing for all Australians.

For the first time, Adam reveals his profoundly emotional journey in his own words and asks fundamental questions about the nature of racism and discrimination in society today. Walkley award-winning journalist Stan Grant and BAFTA award-winning director Daniel Gordon join forces to tell this remarkable story of one of the most decorated and celebrated players in AFL history. A man who remains a cultural hero; the very epitome of resilience and survival, who continues to fight for equality and recognition.

The Australian Dream officially lands in cinemas August 22.


Here’s the hot film of the moment and it’s outstanding in all departments – a must-see.

See you in the dark with Parasite.  phil.

PARASITE (Gisaengchung)

Bong Joon ho’s Palm d’Or winner is

a shattering commentary on South Korea’s social inequity

The Ki-taek family in Parasite.

SOUTH KOREA :132 mins :MA15+:R.T.98% : 4.5/5

Even though Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer (2013) was science fiction, yet it featured the inequities of social stratification that are the real-life subject of his latest, most accomplished work.  Parasite, which he directed and co-wrote (with Han Jin-won), became the first Korean film to win the coveted Palm d’or at Cannes.  Spanning the full spectrum from laugh-out-loud comedy to tragedy on a Shakespearian scale, his film shows a level of mastery, unlikely to be surpassed this year.

                          ‘the brilliant screenplay… twists and turns in breathtaking ways

With an unerring eye for symmetry and repetition, it is, literally, an upstairs/downstairs tale.  The Ki-taek family of four, crammed into a subterranean tenement, make a minimal living from folding boxes for a pizza delivery company, while the Park family (also of four) live in a luxurious town house with all amenities.  There are many scenes, shot through the respective windows of the two houses – the Ki-taeks, with their window at street level, look out at the detritus of the city while the Parks have a panoramic vista of a lush garden flooded with sunlight.

When Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), Ki-taek’s son, is recommended by a student friend as his replacement tutor to Mr. Park’s daughter, the two families collide in ways nobody could have anticipated.

While the Ki-taeks show extraordinary resourcefulness and attention to detail in planning the unqualified Ki-woo’s acceptance by the Park family, is their duplicity, in creating fake credentials, justified by belonging to Korea’s vast number of those with virtually zero employment prospects?  This question becomes exponentially more desperate as, not just Ki-woo but each of the four members of the Ki-taek family is inveigled, one by one, into the Park household, raising concerns, also, for the welfare of the ousted employees.  Not just the daughter’s tutor but Mr. Park’s chauffeur, the young son’s art teacher and the family’s housekeeper – all fall victim to the Ki-taeks’ stratagems, including the nefarious use of a pair of used panties and the skins of a bowl of peaches.

But, apart from Mr. Park referring to the Ki-taeks’ odour (the ‘stench of poverty’) as ‘offensive’, Parasite is careful to show the Parks as undeserving of such deceit (or of their tragic demise), for the film has a broader target than one specific family.

While the ensemble cast is in complete control of the black humour, Parasite’s brilliant screenplay twists and turns in breathtaking ways, gradually developing white-knuckle tension, before a spectacular explosion of simmering rage.

phil 23.06.19.

Parasite opens at Luna Leederville on June 27.  Check or the press for details.

For a long time, Never Look Away was something of a mystery.  It was one of the 5 foreign films nominated for an Oscar – Roma, Cold War, Caphernum, Shoplifters and Never Look Away.  But nobody in the West had seen it.  Now, it’s surfaced to almost universal acclaim. It was worth the wait.

​​ See you in the dark, phil.


a riveting epic of inspiration and ideology

Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) works on a painting in Never Look Away

GERMANY:188 mins : M : 4.5/5

At a running time of over three hours, writer/director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away would seem to demand an intermission.   But such is the craftmanship of the film maker (The Lives of Others, Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, 2006) that to do so in this artist’s biopic (loosely based on the now 87 year-old Gerhard Richter but disavowed by him) could be deemed the equivalent of running a Stanley knife across one of the painter’s canvasses.

Full of unforgettable images, this chronicle, spanning thirty years of the life of (the re-named) Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling), begins in Nazi Germany, with a small boy staring in awe at his young, eccentric and naked aunt Elisabeth as she sits at a piano, playing a Bach cantata.  ‘Never look away’ she tells the boy, for in truth there is beauty (a simplification which excludes the ugliness, some of the most horrific being revealed in von Donnersmarck’s film).

Saskia Rosendahl is wonderful as the whimsical but tragic Elisabeth, whose hint of schizophrenia ultimately attracts the attention of a physician, the duplicitous Professor Carl Seeburg (Sebastian Koch, who hides a diabolical malevolence behind a bland exterior) a supporter of the Nazi regime and its horrific eugenics policy.  While Elisabeth is an enduring memory for Kurt, the name itself becomes a central motif, as von Donnersmarck weaves (on many occasions) the most savage irony into the narrative fabric – Elisabeth is also the name of Kurt’s lover and future wife.  But, an even more devastating truth, though revealed to the audience, is yet to be discovered by her husband.

While following Kurt’s progress, Never Look Away delivers a compelling lesson in the latter-day history of art.  The Nazi regime referred to the emergence of modern art as ‘degenerate’ and Kurt is initially called on to produce works of social realism to promote its ideology.  But his talent soon takes him into mixed media and abstract art and, finally, to the original union of photography and painting, which brought him fame.  It’s here that the film’s original title,Werk ohne Autor (Work Without Author) is fully realised as the artist himself insists that he has no personal connection with the source photographs  – a ruse which keeps his distance and hides his deepest secrets.

It’s only in the middle act that Never Look Away suffers from its overlength.  For the rest, it has a breathtaking intensity and freshness of vision. For Gerhard Richter, it seems that the painter who, in real life, took shelter from the trauma of his troubled past and who embraced the anonymity of ‘work without author’, could only countenance a film with a fictitious painter.  It’s not hard to see why.

phil. 10.06.19.

Never Look Away opens on June 20 at Luna Leederville, Luna on SX and The Windsor.  Check or the press for details.

From the Spanish Film Festival, this cracker of a political thriller has been plucked for a run at Luna Leederville.  Thanks to Luna for the screening.

​​ See you in the dark, in the kingdom of crime. phil.


a power house performance drives this

political thriller of high-level corruption

Antonio de la Torre is Manuel, in The Realm

With:Antonio de la Torre, Monica Lopez, Jose Maria Pou, Nacho Fresneda, Ana Wagener,

Barbara Lennie, Luis Zahera, Francisco Reyes, Maria de Nati, Paco Revilla, Sonia Almarcha, David Lorente, Andres Lima.

SPANISH : 132 mins : M : 4/5

Director Rodrigo Sorogoyen says little that is new in The Realm (which he co-wrote with Isabel Pena), a film about systemic corruption in political and government circles.  While the setting is Spain, its tale of nepotism, money laundering and backhand deals could have happened anywhere in the civilised world.  But it’s not often that the subject has been treated with such skill and tension or with a performance as dynamic as that of Antonio de la Torre as Manuel, at the centre of its web of corruption.

The film opens with some incriminating disclosures in the media.  Manuel, an assertive, fast-talking, high-profile politician, who confides none of his business deals with his wife Ines (Marion de Nati) or his adult daughter, feels a twinge of anxiety that his luxurious life-style of wining, dining and corporate trips may be threatened. His fears are confirmed when he’s fired by his political party in a bid to make him, hopefully, the only casualty in the scandal.

La Torre delivers a tremendous performance as Manuel, who turns from scapegoat to whistle blower with ferocious determination to dig up some dirt on his colleagues – Cabrera, Bermejo, Gallardo and Fernando.  Desperation spreads like wildfire amongst his associates as secret journals and confidential files are unearthed and lives put at risk.  In a moment of extreme irony, Cabrera, one of Manuel’s corrupt cronies, finds that his office is bugged and asks vehemently “What kind of shitty country is this?”

While Sorogoyen has his foot firmly on the accelerator, he builds tension with total control of the film’s pacing.  Some blistering dialogue probes Manuel’s composure time and again, but, even though he’s crushed with despair, it fails to find a conscience or even a hint of guilt.

The Realm is an exciting meld of political fireworks, thriller and action that moves at breakneck speed towards a cliff-edge climax.  With production values that have the high sheen of polished steel, its style and the audacity of its disclosures may take your breath away, especially as it all feels uncomfortably close to home.


phil. 15.05.19.

The Realm opens at Luna Leederville on Thursday, May 16th.  Check or the press for details.

2019 Art Series Celebrates The World’s Greatest Artists EXHIBITION ON SCREEN Launches New Season in Cinemas Across Australia: Five Films in Cinemas Nationwide


EXHIBITION  ON  SCREEN,  the pioneering series of gallery and artists films for the cinema, returns for a sixth season from June 2019, featuring three brand new feature films celebrating art masters Degas, Picasso and Van GoghProviding access to the world’s greatest art and artistic institutions, each  film  offers  a  cinematic  journey into the personal and creative lives of history’s  best-loved  artists.

The new films in Season Six will reveal the story behind Degas’ obsessive pursuit for perfection; how Picasso’s lesser-known early years shaped his rise to international fame; and the profound influence of Japan on the work of Van Gogh. Meanwhile Rembrandt will return to screens marking the 350th anniversary of the artist’s deathSince  being  launched  in 2011 by filmmaker Phil Grabsky, EXHIBITION ON SCREEN has  released  19  films  which  have  been shown in more than 60 countries across the globe.

Phil Grabsky, Executive Producer & director, comments:
“My team and I are delighted to give viewers behind-the-scenes access to some of the world’s greatest galleries and museums and to tell the stories of history’s most influential artists. I hope these three new films inspire viewers to continue discovering the lives of artists who have shaped our cultural heritage, and will continue to do so for many years to come.”

This film journeys from a superb exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, whose extensive collection of Degas’ works is the most representative in Britain, to the streets of Paris. It tells the fascinating story of Degas’ obsessive pursuit for perfection through both experimentation with new techniques and lessons learnt from studying the  past masters. Using written accounts by friends and commentators, and the narration of letters written by Degas himself, this film reveals a darker truth behind one of the most influential French artists of the late 19th-century  and  serves as an exploration of the complex workings of Degas’ artistic mind.

Directed by David Bickerstaff
Running time: Approx. 85’

The interview was done with Phil Grabsky – the director and producer of the film. The interview was done by Malti Elliott.

This film is a challenge.  It’s an independent biopic, made on a shoestring but with something valuable to say. It’s a raw, unglamourised portrait of an artist who shot to prominence when he won the Archibald prize for portraiture in 2000.  Adam Cullen was a complex, disturbing character and Daniel Henshall (Snowtown) gives a brilliant performance.

​​ See you in the dark, phil.


a stunning portrait

of the late Adam Cullen –

a brilliant artist who lived life on a knife edge

Daniel Henshall is Adam Cullen in Acute Misfortune

AUSTRALIA : 91 mins : MA15+ : R.T.83% : 4.5/5

Incisive.  Hypnotic.  As scary as a rattlesnake – director Thomas M. Wright’s debut feature, Acute Misfortune, is a biopic of the late Adam Cullen, concentrating on the artist rather than his art. Co-written by Wright and Erik Jensen and based on Jensen’s biography, Acute Misfortune:The Life and Death of Adam Cullen, it features a riveting performance by Daniel Henshall as the besieged painter.

Gaining international prestige in 2000 when he won the Archibald prize for portraiture, Cullen battled a list of complaints (including bipolar disorder) plus some that were self-inflicted.  Henshall, bald and bushy-bearded, with eyes that pierce like laser beams, conveys an unnerving sense of constant mental volatility.  A low-grade drug user, guns proved a greater intoxicant for Cullen (he owned a small arsenal).  There’s an edgy tension about his presence, as if violence is always about to erupt, enhanced by some eerily atmospheric music from Evelyn Ida Morris.  And as he admits, ‘People are afraid of me’.

‘To get close to Cullen … is to look into a deep well… of anger, pain and uncertainty…’

The film begins in the final phase of Cullen’s life, when he invited a nineteen year old journalist to be his biographer.  But Erik Jensen (Toby Wallace) had no idea that he was about to get drawn into a bizarre, symbiotic relationship, suffering abuse and constant danger. Surprisingly, Jensen stuck it out and became one of the artist’s few friends and only confidant.

Toby Wallace is tremendous as Jensen – the very opposite of Cullen.  He’s tight-lipped, dogged and controlled and he’s a rock for the artist.  When he’s not scribbling shorthand notes in his pad, he’s looking after Cullen, dragging him off to the hospital or getting him out of jail.

Acute Misfortune is as raw and uncompromising as the work of the artist itself and one of the qualities that elevates it is its very refusal to soften the image.  Cullen’s talent (and his medical conditions) made him not only a complex person but a discomforting one to be around.  To get close to Cullen, as Wright invites the audience to do, is to look into a deep well, not just of creativity but of anger, pain and uncertainty, with the final sticking point being Cullen’s own, seemingly unstoppable urge to self-destruct.

This beautifully made and powerful film is a remarkable debut and is likely to haunt viewers for days afterwards, perhaps with questions about what type of art and artist we should celebrate and whether we can love the art but also whether we can accept the artist without judgment.  If Acute Misfortune does that, it will have succeeded in being more than just an interesting watch.

phil. 06.05.19.

Acute Misfortune will screen at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX from May 16.  Check or the press for details.

Five or six years ago, Gloria was a highlight of the Perth Festival programme.  It was something quite unusual – a film that shone a light on the mature female and treated her with a sense of exuberant fun.

Sebastian Lelio has re-worked the film in English, joining the ranks of the few directors to re-make his own film (Alfred Hitchcock did it with The Man Who Knew Too Much).

​ See you in the dark, phil.

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