All posts by Tom Kavanagh

MIFF Review: Little Men (USA, 2016) reaffirms Ira Sachs’ gift for understated human drama

Little Men begins with Jake Jardine (Theo Taplitz) sitting quietly amidst anarchic scenes in a teacher-less classroom. Later that day, home from school, he takes a call from an old friend of his grandfather who, assuming that Jake knows more than he does, clumsily inquires about arrangements for Jake’s grandfather’s funeral. The juxtaposition of these first two scenes hints at director Ira Sachs’ focus here on that betwixt and between state of being – early adolescence.... Continue Reading

MIFF Review: Elle (France, 2016) is sensationally subversive

Elle, the latest from Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, is sensationally subversive. Part unnerving psychosexual thriller, part searing familial comedy, the film commences disturbingly with the sounds of the violent rape of the film’s protagonist, Michèle LeBlanc (Isabelle Huppert), in her Parisian home.... Continue Reading

MIFF Review: Toni Erdmann (Germany, 2016) is a meandering delight

Written and directed by Maren Ede, Toni Erdmann is a meandering delight. By turns hilarious and poignant, it concerns the ageing Winfried Conradi’s frequently maladroit attempts to re-establish some sort of a meaningful relationship with his adult daughter, Ines, in the course of a spontaneous trip to visit her in Bucharest, the Romanian capital.... Continue Reading

Melbourne International Film Festival Review: Mississippi Grind (USA, 2015)

Mississippi Grind commences with a fixed camera shot of a pastoral landscape, a glorious rainbow stretches across the horizon in the background. Yet, when Ben Mendelsohn’s Gerry remarks on the spectacle with wonder around a local casino poker table later that evening, he is seemingly the only player to have witnessed it.... Continue Reading

Film Review: I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story (USA, 2015)

Like the titular feathered character, I am Big Bird: the Carroll Spinney Story is big-hearted, filled with love and curiosity. This documentary by Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker explores the life and times of the man inside the big yellow bird that has been a joyful part of an inestimable number of childhoods over the past forty-odd years since Sesame Street first graced television screens way back in 1969. Despite creating one of the most loved and recognisable characters across the world, Spinney himself is little known outside professional circles. LaMattina and Walker, with the incredible video archive of Spinney and his wife, Debra, at their disposal, set about painting a loving portrait of the man inside the bird.... Continue Reading