ABR Arts Film

By the Grace of God 

Nicholas Bugeja
Monday, 25 November 2019

‘By the grace of God, the statute of limitations has expired’, pronounces Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (François Marthouret), the Archbishop of Lyon, at a 2016 press conference. He is, of course, referring to the historical child abuse crimes committed by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley). The press corps is understandably shaken. A journalist rises, indignant: ‘Excuse me, do you realise how shocking that is?’ Barbarin tries backpedalling, to no avail. The words are etched in history, signifying a rare moment of truth nestled among the lies, prevarications, and confidentiality agreements that the Catholic Church has often deployed to salvage its tainted reputation. Yet these tactics have had the opposite effect, further plunging the Church into a profound legal and moral crisis.

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Judy and Punch 

Anwen Crawford
Monday, 18 November 2019

The fictional town of Seaside is ‘nowhere near the sea’, state the opening credits of Judy and Punch. Fine, but where or even when this film is set remains a puzzle throughout. The two titular characters, puppeteers Judy (Mia Wasikowska) and Punch (Damon Herriman), speak with an Irish lilt. The rest of the townsfolk – who come bedecked in grimy pirate shirts and motley, corseted gowns – possess an array of Scottish and English accents. The film opens with the medieval spectacle of three accused witches being stoned to death, and yet Seaside also boasts a uniformed police constable. Enough eucalypts are glimpsed in the background to alert any attentive viewer to the fact that, wherever Seaside is meant to be, this film was shot in Australia – in Eltham, Victoria, as it happens. Yet no reference is made to Australia at any point.

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The Irishman 

Aaron Nyerges
Wednesday, 06 November 2019

Martin Scorsese, as the world well knows, makes movies about Italian restaurants. Sure, he makes bloody crime films, too, but at some level he seems to be asking: what’s the difference? In Goodfellas (1990), a man crashes into a pizzeria, one hand shot to pieces, bleeding all over the place. He’s kicked out, and the film cuts to a platter of deli meats surfing through a crowded eatery. The gambling mastermind at the centre of Casino (1995) masquerades as a ‘Food and Beverage Manager’. Meanwhile, the film’s trigger-wild tough, played by Joe Pesci, opens up a classy night spot.

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Pain and Glory 

Richard Leathem
Friday, 01 November 2019

Pedro Almodóvar has often infused his work with a certain amount of autofiction. In his début, Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), the Spanish auteur presented us with the burgeoning La Movida Madrileña, the cultural explosion that emerged in Madrid following General Franco’s death in 1975. This was the world in which he lived, and by offering us a glimpse inside, he set the tone for his career. 

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Anne Frank: Parallel Stories 

Tali Lavi
Friday, 11 October 2019

Earlier this year, not being able to find my childhood copy of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl for my eldest daughter, I bought another one. It seemed bigger than I had remembered, but the cover had the same recognisable photo of the demurely smiling Anne gazing somewhere into the distance – a wisp of a girl with distinctive dark features that would have made it highly unlikely for her to ‘pass’ as anything other than Jewish. The book bore a label that seemed to be making a dubious claim: ‘The Definitive Edition’. Was it more definitive than the journal I had read when I was a similar age to the girl who wrote it, as my daughter is now?

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Dilan Gunawardana
Tuesday, 01 October 2019

Since his creation in Batman #1 in 1940, there have been many attempts to flesh out the psychological make-up of the Joker, chief antagonist to the (arguably more) heroic Batman, in vario ...

The Dead Don't Die 

Aaron Nyerges
Monday, 23 September 2019

The Dead Don’t Die is – in a manner of thinking – Jim Jarmusch’s second zombie film. Technically, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) is a vampire film, but its central character, the depressively immortal Adam (Tom Hiddleston), lords it over ‘the zombies’, his term for the human population, whose ignorance he resents and whose degradation of Earth he fears ...

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Felicity Chaplin
Monday, 16 September 2019

The fashion documentary is a subgenre of a larger wave of films about fashion that have proliferated in recent years, including biopics such as Coco Before Chanel (Anne Fontaine, 2009) and Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello, 2014), documentaries such as Lagerfeld Confidential (Rodolphe Marconi, 2007) and ...

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Jack Callil
Monday, 26 August 2019

Matteo Garrone likes to peel back Italy’s skin to expose what writhes beneath. The director’s earlier breakout film Gomorrah (2008), an unforgettable sprawling epic, explores the Camorrah crime syndicate from its bottom-feeding wannabes to its corrupt political élite. Reality (2013), a satirical tale of a fishmonger going to desperate lengths to ...

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Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood 

Patrick Boyle
Thursday, 15 August 2019

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most innovative living auteurs in English-speaking cinema. The films that made him – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, and Kill Bill: Volume. 1 and 2 – are triumphs of hyper-stylised violence. Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood, Tarantino’s ninth film, though, is an outlier ...

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