A discussion with the Australian film icon

BY TRAVIS GREEN

In 2019 the NFSA had the pleasure of hosting David Stratton at our headquarters to discuss the release of his book 101 Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed.

In a 45-minute conversation with Meg Labrum from the NFSA, Stratton talks about some of the films he selected for the book, hidden gems in Australian film history, and highlights of his career as a film critic:

This talk was co-presented with the Australian National University and the Canberra Times Meet the Author series.

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One of Australia’s most highly regarded film critics, David Stratton’s life has been all about the cinema. Born in England in 1939, he migrated to Australia in 1963 and has become a bedrock of the Australian film industry.

He directed the Sydney Film Festival from 1966 until 1983, but is most widely known for co-hosting The Movie Show on SBS with Margaret Pomeranz (1986–2004), before they moved to the ABC to co-host At The Movies (2004–14).

We celebrated the silver anniversary of this dynamic duo working together in 2011, with a recap of their career.  

Stratton’s contribution to the Australian film industry has been acknowledged widely, and in 2015 he became a Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours.

Celebrating the life and work of David Stratton, Sally Aitken's 2017 documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life features interviews with Stratton and numerous actors, directors and film producers celebrating his contributions to the Australian film industry since the 1960s.

It is available for streaming from Transmission Films.

Stratton’s most recent book, 101 Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed is available from the publisher.

And if you are looking for recommendations for great online viewing while staying in, below are some Australian titles that Stratton awarded 5 stars when he originally reviewed them, followed by some marvellous movies he refers to in his book. You can find available streaming options for these titles via JustWatch.

5 star Australian Films 

 

Evil Angels (1988) | Fred Schepisi | 121 mins 

Evil Angels chronicles the case of Azaria Chamberlain, a nine-week-old baby girl who disappeared from a campground near Uluru in August 1980 and the struggle of her parents, Lindy (Meryl Streep) and Michael (Sam Neill), to prove their innocence to a public convinced that they were complicit in her death. 

Listen to animal wrangler Evanne Chesson talking about dogs doubling for dingos and working on Evil Angels.

Watch Margaret and David’s review on The Movie Show.

 

Idiot Box (1996) | David Caesar | 85 mins 

Kev (Ben Mendelsohn) and Mick (Jeremy Sims) are bored, reckless young men living in Australian suburbia, spending their days drinking. They decide to pull a bank heist, but as they plan, a more professional ring of crooks knocks off their intended target. Unfortunately, Mick and Kev arrive at the scene just in time to run into the detectives investigating the case. 

Watch an interview with director David Caesar.

See more from Caesar, and read David’s written review.

 

The Piano (1993) | Jane Campion | 121 mins 

After a long voyage from Scotland, pianist Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) and her young daughter, Flora (Ana Paquin), are left with all their belongings, including a piano, on a New Zealand beach. Ada, who has been mute since childhood, has been sold into marriage to a local man, Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill). Making little attempt to warm up to Alisdair, Ada soon becomes intrigued by his Maori-friendly acquaintance, George Baines (Harvey Keitel), leading to tense, life-altering conflicts. 

Read about director Jane Campion and her work.  

Watch Margaret and David review The Piano on The Movie Show.

Four Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed