WHEN: First Friday night of each month (except Jan)

WHEN: 8pm [Doors open 7.20pm]

WHERE: The Gerringong Town Hall, Fern Street, Gerringong.

Cost: $10 per person or buy a personal subscription - 11 films for $60! 10-film multi-tickets also available for $75 - to share or use for yourself!

Any questions? Email us at picsandflicks@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2012




 Review by David Stratton
Jonah, RYAN KWANTEN, lives in an inner-city house with friends Stevie, SARAH SNOOK, and Gus, RYAN CORR. They earn spare cash by hosting parties at weekends and Jonah, particularly, lives a hedonistic lifestyle, though he misses ex girlfriend Ava, BOJANA NOVAKOVIC.

One night his latest girlfriend, KATHRYN BECK, discovers a lump the size of a pea in a very intimate place - it's diagnosed as testicular cancer, and requires treatment as soon as possible. But that means Jonah will be sterile and he suddenly decides he needs to be a father.

What lifts this Australian romantic-comedy above the level of most of its Hollywood counterparts is the reality of the characters and the situations and the honesty of the film's approach. Once you accept the fact that Jonah has this strong desire for parenthood, everything falls into place. Based on a screenplay by Michael Lucas, based in part on his own experiences, the film adroitly mixes intimate drama and comedy. It's a fine job from first-time feature director Peter Templeman whose short film, THE SAVIOUR, was an Oscar nominee a while back.

Ryan Kwanten has already proved in the underrated RED HILL and GRIFF THE INVISIBLE that he's a talented young actor, but the revelation here is Sarah Snook who is radiant as Stevie, the loyal and helpful house-mate. I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Further comments

DAVID: Did you, Margaret?

MARGARET: I did and it's a genre that Australians do attempt but very rarely succeed at.

DAVID: That's true, yes.

MARGARET: And funnily enough, when I talked to Peter Templeman, I said it's basically a romcom and he went, well, no, I think it's far more based in reality than that and, in fact, that comes through, I think, really nicely. I agree with you about Sarah Snook. I think she is so talented, that girl. She's a real Emma Stone lookalike.

DAVID: Yes. Yes.

MARGARET: She's got that same presence on screen. Not classically beautiful but the camera adores her.

DAVID: Yes. Yes.

MARGARET: And she just knows how to treat it.


MARGARET: I think this is a lovely debut feature. I think Ryan Kwanten is fabulous in his loyalty to filmmaking in this country after establishing such a success for himself in America in TRUE BLOOD.


MARGARET: And, as you say, with RED HILL and GRIFF THE INVISIBLE and this is the third film he's made back here.

DAVID: And he's doing another one, I think.

MARGARET: And he's lovely onscreen playing this loser slacker.

DAVID: Yes. It's an unlikely sort of hero because he's not the most obvious protagonist that you could warm to.


DAVID: And yet you do because it's such a lovely performance.

MARGARET: Yes. And the party scenes are done well too.

DAVID: Yes, they really are.

MARGARET: And the music's great.


MARGARET: No, there's a real sense of achievement with this film that I responded to. I'm giving it four stars.

DAVID: I'm with you, Margaret. I'm giving it four as well. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Pics and Flicks

4 Star- Margaret Pomeranz

The Danes are riding high on the international film scene at the moment with MADS MIKKELSEN winning best actor in Cannes recently. He stars in a new release here, A ROYAL AFFAIR, about a possibly little-known historical event in Denmark in the 18th Century. A young English princess, Caroline - ALICIA VIKANDER - travels to Copenhagen to be married to the Danish king Christian - MIKKEL BOE FOELSGAARD.She's horrified to discover that her young husband is mentally unstable. When Johann Struensee, Mikkelsen, is appointed to be his personal physician, a dangerous closeness develops between the young Queen and the doctor.

When the Queen and Struensee become involved in politics, trying to reform some of iniquities in Danish society, they enter even more dangerous territory.This has been beautifully directed by Nikolai Arcel from a screenplay he wrote with Rasmus Heisterberg, the duo that brought us the first and the best of the Stieg Larsson adaptations, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. It's not only a grand romance, it's also an insight into the dangers of personal and political hubris. MADS MIKKELSEN is wonderful as Struensee as is ALICIA VIKANDER as the Queen, but it's the performance of MIKKEL BOE FOELSGAARD as the King that is stunning, he brings a beautiful pathos to his demanding role. It is quite a conventional film in many ways, but it's been done intelligently, it is an engrossing work.

R2 hr. 13 min.
Art House & International, Drama
 Nikolaj Arcel
 Lars von Trier

Further comments


DAVID: Isn’t it interesting? You see I didn’t know this story from Danish history.


DAVID: But at almost the same time, certainly in the same century, the 18th century, exactly the same thing was happening in Russia with Catherine The Great, who was, I think, an Austrian princess, who married the czar only to discover that he was bonkers and...

MARGARET: It’s all this inbreeding in European royalty.

DAVID: It is, isn’t it? That’s right and how fascinating that this is another story. I don’t think - this is not done as well as Josef von Sternberg did THE SCARLET EMPRESS, I must say.

MARGARET: Oh, David.

DAVID: It’s a sumptuously made, attractive people, all of that, but quite a conventional film, I think. It’s got an interesting subtext, this hubris thing, as you said. That is interesting and it told me some things about Danish history that I didn’t know so that was interesting too but I don’t think it’s a great film particularly.

MARGARET: But it’s also interesting to see how far we’ve come in not a very great period of time. The censorship issues then.


MARGARET: The treatment of the poor, of prisoners.

DAVID: Oh, yes, sure.

MARGARET: Torture was sanctioned by the state.


MARGARET: All of this horrible stuff that he tried to reform with her.


MARGARET: He was an enlightened human being.

DAVID: Absolutely, yes.

MARGARET: But politically not very astute.

DAVID: Just a bit up himself really.

MARGARET: Oh, David, I wish you wouldn’t do that. No, he’s not but I actually was really impressed by this and interested. I’m giving it four stars.

DAVID: I’m giving it three and a half.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

(due to council elections)


CREDITS: Directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith and starring Teresa PalmerJoel Edgerton,Felicity Price and Antony Starr.
DETAILS: (MA15+), 89 mins, In Cinemas 26 April 2012, Australia, English
SYNOPSIS: Four friends lose themselves in a carefree South-East Asian holiday. Only three come back. Dave and Alice return home to their young family desperate for answers about Jeremy's mysterious disappearance. When Alice's sister Steph returns not long after, a nasty secret is revealed about the night her boyfriend went missing. But it is only the first of many. Who amongst them knows what happened on that fateful night when they were dancing under a full moon in Cambodia?
GENRES: DramaMystery

In Kieran Darcy-Smith’s compelling directorial debut, an evening of reckless abandon sets in motion a tragic chain of events that unravels a well-to-do family’s very existence. 

The character actor-turned-filmmaker exhibits a master’s touch in handling a complex script (co-written with his wife and in-sync leading lady, Felicity Price) that asks deep moral questions of its characters while structurally bouncing them to and fro from the hedonistic world of Cambodian night-life to a beachside suburb in Sydney. At once a murder-mystery, a study of the decaying consequences of infidelity and a heart-tugging domestic drama, Wish You Were Here is further indication (after Animal Kingdomand The Square) that the Australian film industry is capable of telling thrilling contemporary stories with world-class dexterity.

Central to the blurry morality is Joel Edgerton’s upper-middle-class dad, Dave. Very early on, we learn that the trip he took to South East Asia with his wife Alice (Price), her younger sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and Steph’s charming new beau Jeremy (Antony Starr) holds dark secrets beyond their frivolous indulgence in the local party-drug culture. Jeremy disappeared late one particularly wild night, and the other three have returned to Sydney to try and restructure their lives to accommodate their shared guilt/secrets/despair.

The scenes in Cambodia create tension superbly. Dave, about to expand his brood with a third child, is clearly farewelling his younger party-guy self, embodied by the mysterious Jeremy; the situations he puts himself in are no place for an ageing family man. Alice and Steph are happy sisters, but sibling rivalry bubbles whenever either utters a judgmental word. The film’s first 15 minutes offer expertly-crafted character definition as good as any Australian film of the last decade. Several international reviews stemming from the film’s premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival have justifiably likened Wish You Were Hereto Ray Lawrence’s Lantana in its confident reliance on character arcs over an obvious narrative thread to convey tension.

Darcy-Smith’s steadfast commitment to spotlighting the darkness inside them throughout most of the film, though, is ultimately why the final scenes feel so deflating. There is a specific moment, involving Dave, a steering wheel, and a sunset, when Wish You Were Here should end; Edgerton’s teary-eyed stare creates an ambiguity that extends to all of the characters’ futures. Unfortunately, the subsequent scenes neatly wrap up the family’s fate; it’s the only point in the film that Darcy-Smith dictates to, rather than engages, his audience.

Teresa Palmer’s Steph is also a little undercooked (though the actress is as captivating as ever) and ultra-sensitive types may rally against the depiction of Cambodia’s village men as one-dimensionally criminal and wholly deranged. But Darcy-Smith, his producer Angie Fielder, and especially his editor Jason Ballantine, have generally offered up a calling-card film as good as any from anywhere in the world.  

Friday, July 20, 2012


LE HAVRE (French subtitles)

In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight. (Rotten Tomatoes)
4 out of 5 stars says The Guardian

"a wonderful blend of beautiful framing/lighting/cinematography blended with Tati-esque comedy and Fassbinder-type acting create a surreal world where problems are always around the corner... with the solutions never trailing too far behind. Also a celebration of film, actual film that is, not digital. The film's color palette and graininess seem impossible in digital filmmaking." Manny's blog

Margaret and David say:

Review by Margaret Pomeranz
Aki Kaurismaki, is the Finnish filmmaker with a distinctive style. He makes simply lovely films, always with great heart. His latest, LE HAVRE, is set in the port city in Normandy where shoe-shine man Marcel Marx, ANDRE WILMS, is plying his trade in an ever-increasing world of sneakers. His wife Arletty, KATI OUTINEN, becomes ill, is diagnosed with what one assumes is cancer and is not expected to live. When the doctor assures her that miracles do happen, she replies 'Not in our neighbourhood'. But actually that is exactly what happens.

When Marcel runs across a young illegal immigrant Idrissa, BLONDIN MIGUEL, he hides him from the authorities and rallies the locals to help the boy get to his mother in England. Hard on the heels of the boy is Inspector Monet, JEAN PIERRE DARROUSSIN.

The droll stylization of this working class world is like naïve art as it tells this fairy tale. The design, the performances, the dialogue are all unmistakably Kaurismaki. His affection for his idiosyncratic characters is obvious. And it is a fairy tale, the real world seems to have little of the kindness, the humanity shown in this film.

The response to it in Cannes last year, where it screened in Competition, was extremely warm and that's exactly how you respond to it, it embraces you and you want to hug back.

Further comments


DAVID: And in fact it won the International Critics Award, the Fipresci Award, as best film in Cannes last year.

MARGARET: That's right. Well, it was tipped as one of the potential Golden Palm winners too.

DAVID: Yes. Look, I agree with you too about this film. I love Kaurismaki's films and particularly this one, which is really not about the world as it is but about the world as it ought to be, where people are kind to one another and generous to one another and it's really - it's such an anachronism. You're quite right to use the word "naïve". It's such a deliberately naïve world because, although it's supposed to be taking place today, it looks much more like a whole other era. There's no mobile phones. People use old dial up phones. The modern bar where he drinks, it was probably modern in 1932.


DAVID: And the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the locals, they're all from maybe the thirties even. I don't know. It's just a beautiful, beautiful story.

MARGARET: Well, these are people that don't have very much in material terms in their world but they have this wonderful generosity about them.

DAVID: Yes, they have a spirit, a neighbourliness. They are lovely.

MARGARET: Oh, it's so beautiful, this film.

DAVID: And the dog, let's have a word for Laika, the dog, too.

MARGARET: But, even talking about it I, sort of like, can feel tears welling up in my eyes.

DAVID: Yes. It's an emotional film.

MARGARET: Because it's sort of like - it's just so beautiful.

DAVID: Yes, it is.

MARGARET: I'm giving it four stars.

DAVID: I'm giving it four and a half. I love it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The ARTIST    Friday July 6 at 8pm

The Artist, an utterly beguiling silent, black-and-white celebration of early Hollywood won Best Picture at the Oscars 2012.

5 out of 5 stars

PG cert, 100 min
Dir: Michel Hazanavicius; starring Jean Dujardain, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell
It turns out they do make ’em like they used to. 
The Artist, the final film to be released in 2011 and also the most heart-swellingly joyful one, is a silent movie, screened in black and white and projected in the old-fashioned boxy Academy ratio, with its occasional lines of dialogue printed on intertitle cards.
It falls into the long tradition of movies about the movies, and centres on an established film star and a beguiling young actress in late Twenties and early Thirties Hollywood, during the rise of the talkies. But, while the plot and setting instantly bring to mind Singin’ in the Rain, this film pulls in the opposite direction to Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s visually and sonically ravishing screen musical. Rather than being a celebration of colour and sound, it’s a eulogy for monochrome and silence; less a showcase of what film can do than a reminder of what it can be.
Like Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist begins with a premiere. We’re in a sumptuous Twenties picture palace where movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is screening his latest film, a Douglas Fairbanks-style swashbuckler, to a rapturous reception. Valentin, and by extension Dujardin, is every inch the silent-movie icon: his hair is slick, his eyebrows meticulous, his moustache a horizontal curly bracket, his jawline a perfect trapezium.
Following the premiere, George is pictured with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a gamine hoofer who wins a small role in his next film, despite irking the cigar-chomping studio boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman). Like their historical half-namesakes, Rudolph Valentino and Bebe Daniels, Valentin and Peppy’s overpowering charm is amplified by the silence: it’s a pleasure just looking at them.
Then the talkies arrive: an innovation that proves to be the making of Peppy but George’s undoing. Audiences can’t get enough of Peppy’s voice (although we don’t find out why, because we never hear it) and her star soars. Meanwhile, George remains silent, and he falls from favour. “If that’s the future, you can have it,” he sneers at producers after watching and listening to some test footage — and of course it is, and they do.
Director Michel Hazanavicius is well-versed in spoofery (his two previous projects with Dujardin were the OSS 117 films; colourful send-ups of mid-century spy romps), but The Artist is no pastiche. While Hazanavicius exploits all the most effective conventions of silent cinema, you can’t help but feel he does so only because they’re effective.
A scene in which George sits down to eat with his faithful Jack Russell terrier (played by Uggie, a dog whose IQ seems to be higher than that of most actors of any species) is a sparkling comic routine that wouldn’t be out of place in a Chaplin film — but it entertains because of its wit and timing, not its period accuracy.
That said, The Artist is drunk on the history of cinema and art, and culture buffs will get giddy on it. An early skit in which George watches Peppy’s legs dancing behind a partially-raised studio backdrop playfully harks back to the work of Rodin and Magritte. A later moment in which George confronts his shadow riffs on Jung. A passing-of-time montage is lifted wholesale from Citizen Kane. A late scene in which George gazes at his reflection in a tailor’s window, his own face hovering over a tuxedo-clad dummy, is pointedly backed by Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo score.
Even the film’s best moment – a piece of business with a glass and a dressing room table that’s too ingenious to give away here – is indebted to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, that other great French-produced fable about Hollywood, the town where dreams can come true.
I could go on but I won’t, because it would risk making The Artist seem like hard work, and it isn’t. Unlike Martin Scorsese’s thematically similar Hugo, this film wears its cineliteracy lighter than an ostrich feather, and an audience that knows nothing about the history of film will be just as bowled over by its beauty and wit as anyone else. The film’s final sequence, which legitimately resolves all of the foregoing drama with a dance number, sums up in three minutes everything that cinema is capable of that no other art form can touch.
Drained of noise and colour, The Artist might just be moving pictures, but pictures are seldom as moving as this one.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Screening Friday June 1
Doors open 7.30pm
Movie shows 8pm

A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.

Margaret: five stars David: five stars

Asghar Farhadi's film A SEPARATION arrives in this country with a reputation, a good one. This multi-award winning film begins with a couple addressing the camera . Simin, LEILA HATAMI, is seeking a divorce from Nader, PAYMAN MOADI, because he won't leave his Alzheimer-afflicted father to live overseas on a visa that is rapidly running out.

Denied a divorce, she goes to live with her mother while he returns home to his father and their daughter Termeh, SARINA FARHADI. Into their household comes Razieh, SAREH BAYAT, a woman from a conservative, religious working class background. She arrives each day with her daughter to help look after the old man.

An incident happens and Nader finds himself in a legal battle with Razieh and her excitable husband Hodjat, Shahab Hosseini.

This exquisite film begins slowly but soon grabs you by the throat as it explores the fine line between truth, honesty, loyalty and justice. There are moral issues at stake here and all are taken into consideration with the utmost compassion. Farhadi's style of filmmaking, although handheld, seduces you into this world of domesticity and dilemmas. It is truly moving on occasions.

The performances are all outstanding but the young woman playing Termeh, Sarina Farhadi who is the director's daughter, is just heart-wrenchingly excellent. There are no simple answers and Farhadi doesn't offer them. It's certainly a film for grown-ups despite its PG rating.

Further comments


DAVID: It’s a wonderful film.


DAVID: On one level again, it’s so simple. But right from the very beginning, the very first shot where the camera is placed, so the audience is placed, where the judge is sitting at this divorce hearing so that the actors are talking directly to us, the audience, explaining the differences between them and why she wants to leave Iran for the sake of her daughter, take her daughter for presumably a better life, she doesn’t spell it out, but that’s the…

MARGARET: And that’s disapproved of, her saying that.

DAVID: Sure. And he understandably doesn’t want to leave because his father is not well and he doesn’t want to abandon his father. And so straightaway you can see both sides of the argument, and that’s the way all the way through. You can see where every character is coming from, you can sympathise and you can struggle with these dilemmas yourselves as an audience.

MARGARET: I love the little insights, going to the petrol station, he makes her go get the change from the attendant because he didn’t actually fill the tank, it’s such a little insight in his character. These insights into the legal system in Iran, which are so interesting and textured because it is a completely different system from ours. But aiming at the same thing, aiming at ultimate justice. I just, I love this film, I love… really love it. I’m giving it five stars, it’s rare for me, but I just embraced it so wholeheartedly.

DAVID: I’m going to join you and embrace it too. I’m giving it five stars, it’s a wonderful film.

MARGARET: Oh, David, great.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Friday May 4, 8pm: 
Best of Australian

Sat May 5, 5.30pm: 

Sat May 5, 8pm: 
Best of International

$10 adult per session/ $5 child 5-7 (under 5 free)
Free entry for Pics and Flicks members 

“Bite Size Chunks Of Great Cinema”
Celebrating 21 years of short film excellence Flickerfest Australia’s leading short film festival will be presenting another award winning programme of the best of Australia’s and the worlds short films. Flickerfest remains Australia’s only Academy® Accredited and BAFTA recognised short film festival ensuring that we continue to present an A-list class short film competition recognised amongst the best in the world.
A record 2200 entries were received for Flickerfest 2012, and a selection of the top 100 shorts were selected in official competition, all handpicked to represent the most innovative, creative and cutting edge short films being produced in the world today. This impressive and unprecedented number of contenders from all round the world confirmsFLICKERFEST’s reputation as Australia’s largest and most respected short film competition.

See list of films:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

OF GODS AND MEN - Screening Friday April 13, 2012

Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay... come what may. This film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996.

The Guardian Review: "A profound and immaculately acted movie explores the eternal questions of faith and human strengths and weaknesses."

Margaret: three-and-a-half stars 
MARGARET: I'm giving it three and a half stars. I think there's some wonderful stuff in it.

David: four-and-a-half stars 
DAVID: I think it's a marvellous film. I'm giving it four and a half. This was, for me, the best film screened at Cannes last year.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


(French with English Subtitles)

Friday March 2, 2012, 7.30pm for 8pm start.

Review by Margaret Pomeranz
Fabrice Luchini is a French actor that always engages, although his ability to play contained uptight men who meet their own comeuppance is fast becoming a cliché. In this he is a stockbroker, Jean-Louis, who adheres to a rigid schedule of a perfectly cooked egg before he sets off to work. His wife Suzanne (Sandrine Kiberlain) is running up against their maid, a left-over from the regime of his mother who died only a short time ago. In the dust-up the old maid quits which leaves this bourgeois house devoid of anyone to do the real work. Suzanne's friends recommend one of the many Spanish women who are floating around Paris in the early 1960's, refugees from Franco's oppressive regime. No sooner are Jean-Louis' eggs cooked perfectly by Maria (Natalia Verbeke) than he becomes involved in the lives of the serving women who live on the 6th floor in his building, where the plumbing is appalling and all sorts of matters need the intervention of a good-hearted bourgeois, which Jean-Louis becomes, mainly because of the charms of Maria.

This is very superficial, crowd-pleasing fare with a large dollop of sentimental paella thrown in for good measure. Almodovar stalwarts like Carmen Maura and Lola Duenas feature in the maid's quarters but it is Luchini and Kiberlain who ground this film in some sort of 1960's reality. They are both meticulous in their performances.

It is enjoyable on a certain level but the simplistic representation of these warm-blooded women cracking open the frigidity of the French middle class becomes a bit hard to swallow after a while. Jean-Louis' succumbing to their charms is occasionally discomforting. You are left with a degree of sympathy towards Suzanne but try as you might it's hard to want the best for Jean-Louis. It's even harder to embrace the feel-good contrived ending.

Margaret: three-and-a-half stars David: three-and-a-half stars

Sunday, February 5, 2012




Pics and Flicks is assisting Transition Towns Kiama to bring this highly acclaimed documentary to the community.

Starts 7.30pm Gerringong Town Hall 

Entry is by gold coin donation. Pics and Flicks membership does not cover this film.
Coal Seam Gas Extraction has become a major issue worldwide as this form of mining spreads rapidly in rural and residential areas. This issue has immediate relevance for Kiama and the Illawarra as extensive Gas Exploration leases cover much of the Illawarra area.  "GasLand' presents the effects of coal seam gas mining and how this impacted on certain American communities.

THE DOCUMENTARY: The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the US. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudia Arabia of natural gas". But is gas drilling safe? 

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. 

This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown, this film is an eye-opening insight into an industry that is currently spreading through regional Australia.

In association with the screening, speakers will discuss CSG exploration and extraction in our region, as well as the progress on renewable alternatives.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 3: This Australian film received fourteen nominations for AACT awards and won the cinematography award.


Rated M
Review by David Stratton
Martin David, WILLEM DAFOE, a modern-day soldier of fortune, rendezvous in Paris with a mysterious man, Jacek Koman, who hires him to travel to Tasmania and attempt to locate a Tasmanian Tiger - although the animal is believed to be extinct, there are rumours that one has been sighted - and its DNA, whether the animal is dead or alive, represents a fortune to vested interests.

In a remote part of the island state, Martin moves into a room in the home of Lucy Armstrong, FRANCES O'CONNOR, mother of two small children; Lucy is still grieving over the fact that her husband, Jarrah, went missing some time ago. While Martin sets about methodically setting traps for the tiger, Lucy and her children are watched over in a possessive way by their neighbour, Jack Mendy, SAM NEILL.

Based on a novel by Julia Leigh, director of the recent film SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE HUNTER is a compelling and beautifully made film from director Daniel Nettheim. You could describe this as an environmentalthriller, but don't expect a fast-moving one; Nettheim rightly takes his time to establish the methods and skills of Martin as he methodically sets about laying traps for an elusive, possibly non-existent, Tasmanian Tiger.

It's a pity, in a way, that an Australian actor couldn't have been cast in this role, but Willem Dafoe is, as always, very effective, and Frances O'Connor and Sam Neill are excellent in support. Young Morgana Davies proves that her stellar performance in THE TREE was no flash in the pan - she's a very talented child star as is Finn Woodluck who plays her uncommunicative brother. But the real star of this quietly gripping film is Tasmania itself, an extraordinary wilderness landscape gloriously photographed for the wide screen by Robert Humphreys.

Further comments

DAVID: Margaret?

MARGARET: He's done a fabulous job with this film and so has Daniel Nettheim.

DAVID: Yes, I think they have.

MARGARET: Daniel has been working in television for a long time after making his first film, ANGST, and he comes up with this and it's so assured. It's just lovely to see and I defend Willem Dafoe. I really love him and I think he's great in this role.

DAVID: I think he's good but I always think it's a shame when a leading role in an Australian film can't be played by an Australian actor.

MARGARET: It's the pragmatics of the industry. That and it's sort of like...

DAVID: I never quite understand that.

MARGARET: No, it's tough but, for me, it works because it's almost like Dafoe's face is a reflection of this wilderness. He's got that sort of face.

DAVID: The film is very good, yes.

MARGARET: But, it's an emotional journey too, because this is a man removed from humanity in a way. A real loner and this contact with the family is the other subtext of the film. I think it's really beautiful. I'm giving it four stars.

DAVID: I like it very much too. I'm also giving it four stars.