Sophie Henderson in Fantail (2013)

Fantail (2013)

New Zealand drama Fantail is quite similar to this year’s excellent British film The Selfish Giant. Both address the metaphorical prison constructed by modern-day poverty and each is a loose adaptation of an old story; the latter takes inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s short story, while Fantail is based on the Maori myth of the mischievous…

Ida (2013)

Ida (2013)

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is a contemplative experience defined by its restrained emotionality, cool black-and-white photography and its static, reflective mise en scène. The film tells the tale of Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a young novice nun who’s lived with sisters for her entire life, who’s sent to visit her aunt, Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Former Stalinist prosecutor…

Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Zero Dark Thirty was one of the best films of 2013 (going by Australian release dates), but its relentlessly American point-of-view is arguably a failing. I don’t think that Bigelow’s film unambiguously views Bin Laden’s murder as a success, but the controversy/conversation that developed regarding the film as “pro-torture” was predicated on that very assumption.…

Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg inThe Double

The Double (2013)

The Double is a thoroughly unpleasant cinematic experience. Whether or not that makes it a bad flm is a more complicated subject. Amongst the most affective films I’ve seen are films mired in misery – Requiem for a Dream or Irréversible – so I’m not prepared to dismiss a movie simply because it can’t be…