37768979a1cba1a83e162e13c6a6a44b8dc65591Sally Aitkin’s documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life is as charming, touching, erudite and opinionated as its subject. The veteran film critic’s life story (or at least, a bare-bones, greatest-hits version of it) is interspersed with about eight extremely interesting close examinations of Australian feature films that Stratton finds seminal, and, to a lesser but totally fun degree, a long lunch of seafood and white wine with Stratton’s long-time TV co-host Margaret Pomeranz (who deserves her own one of these!) I wished it were longer; the audience I was with applauded at the end. ****

 

 

359207_m1469233525DreamWorks Animation’s Boss Baby lacks the magic, charm and humour we so routinely get in films from Disney, Pixar and some younger French upstarts. Its central conceit, of a “little brother” baby who’s literally a suit-wearing boss voiced by Alec Baldwin, is a misfire; Baldwin is an adult entertainer and his persona crosses into the body of an infant very uncomfortably. **

 

The-FamilyThe Family, from writer/director Rosie Jones, recently won the Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Feature Documentary Award. It’s the disturbing story of the creepy cult, known as The Family, lead by Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The children within the cult – some illegally adopted – notoriously wore identical, freakishly blonde bobs, making them resemble the children from Village of the Damned. Jones interviews many of those children who are now scarred adults, as well as the chief investigator who essentially spent his career trying to bring Hamilton-Byrne to justice. Although the film relies too much on an uninspired score and unconvincing re-creations, the core material, and the interviews, are urgent, essential records of an astonishingly awful Australian story. ***

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