Night Moves (2013)

Night Moves mostly slipped under the radar in 2014. Despite the presence of Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard and a marketable premise – an ecoterrorism procedural – it attracted little buzz and didn’t even receive a proper release in Brisbane (though I should acknowledge that the always-excellent Schonell Theatre screened it sometime after…

When Animals Dream (2014)

Like Ginger Snaps before it, When Animals Dream repurposes the werewolf myth as a feminist howl into the night. Marie (Sonia Suhl) manifests her lycanthropy as coarse hair in surprising places, bloody nails. She’s told that she’ll “change emotionally and be short-tempered and aggressive.” The opening scene surveys her clinical examination by an elderly male…

Wild (2014)

In the mid 90s, Cheryl Strayed hiked over a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. Her book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, published in 2012, described both the challenges of her external journey and the traumas that drove her to the trek: her mother’s death, her divorce, her drug…

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

There’s a tendency for debut directors to treat their first films as a highlight reel, collecting every great shot they’ve ever imagined, referencing every great film and emphasising this is what I can do over this is what I have to say. Ana Lili Amirpour occasionally falls into this trap in A Girl Walks Home…

American Sniper (2014)

In my recent piece on the accuracy/truth of Oscar season biopics, I consciously avoided digging into the topic of Chris Kyle and American Sniper to avoid spiralling out into many thousands of words. My article landed in the general vicinity of “it’s more important to stay true to the spirit of your subject than stress…

Foxcatcher (2014)

In many respects, film criticism is about finding an intellectual justification for an emotional response. Take Whiplash, for example, one of my favourite films of last year. I saw the film twice, and each time was overcome by a visceral, physical response; but to simply record that response as a review felt somehow inadequate. Instead,…

Still Alice (2014)

One of the unfortunate consequences of Australia’s long-delayed exposure to Oscar contenders is that the critical narrative around these films has coalesced long before they screen here. So it is with Still Alice, which the majority of critics have described as some variation of overly sentimental Alzheimer’s weepy that will win Julianne Moore the Oscar.…