An intimate documentary on the life of legendary Tina Turner from her early years with Ike Turner through to happiness and 30 years of marriage living in Zurich, Switzerland.

As an icon of a woman redefining herself in her late 40s having escaped a violent and abusive marriage, Tina Turner has few equals. As the first woman to sell out concerts in huge football stadiums (including 180,000 in Rio, a then world-record attendance), Tina Turner has no equal. She is also one of the best-selling recording artists of all time (approximately 150 million records). All was achieved after a rancorous split from Ike Turner.

Tina is an up close and personal exploration divided into chapters. Inevitably, time is spent on those early years but the majority of the documentary as directed by Daniel Lindsay & TJ Martin (Undefeated, LA92) focuses on her phoenix-like emergence from Las Vegas cabaret to rock superstardom. With archive footage and interviews with the likes of husband Erwin Bach, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, music critics alongside Tina herself, Tina may avoid recent health problems and some of the more personal controversies with the schism between her and four sons, but it remains a fascinating crowd pleaser of triumph over adversity.

Rating: 70%


Raw and honest yet suffused with humour, Still is a moving portrayal of actor Michael J. Fox’s personal battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosed with the incurable ‘old person’s disease’ at the height of his fame and months shy of his 30th birthday, Michael J. Fox went public a decade later in 2000 and, in founding the Michael J. Fox Foundation, has raised more than $2 billion for research. But Still, as directed by Davis Guggenheim (He Named Me Malala, Waiting For Superman) is the story of the more personal battle as Fox, along with wife Tracy Pollan and their (now adult) kids, come to terms with the progressively debilitating effects of the disease.

The charm of Still is Fox himself. He matter-of-fact talks of pain management and the black eyes and broken limbs during the making of the documentary, the result of falling over in domestic places such as the kitchen. Through interviews and the interweaving of archival footage from early television and film hits with playing more recent television characters openly suffering from Parkinson’s, Still creates an unexpectedly warm tale of a quite and quietly extraordinary person.

Rating: 74%


Fifty years ago, the worst prison riot in American history – a five day standoff that gripped the nation – resulted in the deaths of 29 prisoners and 10 hostages.

Interviews with former inmates, family members of guards, newsmen, lawyers and official observers along with archive footage provide an insight into the unfolding chaos that took place over those five days. With the sense of frustration and anger from prisoners – 70% Black and Latino – in one of the toughest prisons in the system with its 100% white guards and administration, Attica was a tinderbox. On 9 September 1971, tensions boiled over as more than 1,000 prisoners seized 39 guards as hostages.

It’s a harrowing piece of filmmaking which highlights, by today’s standards, mostly perfectly reasonable demands. But authorities were not having a bar of it, particularly after the death of one of the guards. In spite of extended ongoing negotiations, the Home Guard was being mobilised and behind-the-scenes discussions reached not only the Governor’s office but went all the way to the White House and Richard Nixon. The retelling of the storming of the prison – and horrific, inhumane reprisals against inmates – highlights how little has changed in this tense and chilling (albeit occasionally repititive) documentary from Traci Curry and Stanley Nelson (Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Freedom Riders).

Nominated for 2022 best documentary Oscar.

Rating: 68%

‘One of Us’

Engrossing, sad documentary of three individuals who break away from their Brooklyn Hasidic community and the consequences they face in doing so.

Etty is a young mother of six children abused by her husband. Luzer, a young father, simply loses his faith. Teenage Ari is something of a lost soul, uncertain of the world he finds himself a part of. Each have their own tale to tell and directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, Endangered) interweave the three personal stories over the 90 minute duration of the film.

The entire community, including her own mother, turn against Etty as she battles for her children. A sanguine Luzer moved to California but is not allowed to see his children: he did not speak to his mother for seven years. Ari is equally lost in the secular world: an intervention by his family sees him placed in rehab and, on his release, finds himself on the periphery of his former community testing the waters.

One of Us is a deeply affecting film of a closed community and the extent it will go to keep people in and everyone else out. But in the case of Etty, the film also highlights how little the law supports her in spite of constant emotional and physical threats.

Rating: 68%

‘Tripping With Nils Frahm’

Mesmerising ambient and neo-classical sound from one of the greatest contemporary musicians around, Tripping With Nils Frahm is a wholly immersive concert experience filmed in the legendary Funkhaus Berlin.

Intimate in performance, soaring in sound, director Benoit Toulemonde (TV’s Une soirée de poche) perfectly captures the close-up of fingers caressing piano keys through to emotive, trance-like reverence of audience members. The music may not be to everyone’s taste, but sound and image are beautifully complemented in a sublime hypnosis of a 90 minute concert film.

Rating: 78%

‘The Great Buster’

A homage to one of the great stars of the Silent era – Buster Keaton – as celebrated by director Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Mask), himself a former renowned critic and film historian.

It’s a glorious entertainment of restored material and interviews from Tarantino to Herzog, Mel Brooks to Johnny Knoxville as the importance of Keaton as actor, producer, comedian is discussed and highlighted. And while Bogdanovich as narrator can occasionally over egg the pudding with film critic commentary on a sight gag that needs no words, The Great Buster dishes out a plethora of delight, from the classic The General to lesser known shorts.

But, in spite of all the slapstick highlights (the stunts of which he did himself), what lets Bogdanovich’s film down is that it’s more concerned with anecdotes and often apocryphal tales more than it is with details of Keaton’s life. Whilst it provides the key events from birth to death, somehow little is learned of Keaton the man.

Rating: 66%

‘The Cult of The Family’

Disquieting yet disjointed and at times unclear, this three part miniseries expands on the story of the Melbourne-based The Family cult lead by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, a woman who conviced her followers she was Jesus reincarnated.

Active predominantly in the 1960s through to the ’80s, Hamilton-Byrne and husband Bill dominated and controlled her followers – including more than 30 children, many of whom she claimed to be her own. Charming and well-connected (including high ranking police officials, lawyers, medical profession), the two were virtually untouchable – in spite of reports of physical, mental and sexual abuse, isolation, starvation and administration of LSD to adults and children alike.

It’s a tragic tale as surviving children, now adults, talk to the camera of their pre-teen traumas and the lack of support from the authorities along with a system that allowed new born babies of single mothers to be adopted almost immediately after birth. The subject of many investigative reports as far back as the 1960s, achieved little in terms of change. Former police detective Lex de Man talks of the years of struggle to bring justice to the children and his own personal acceptance of the failure of the system.

Whilst The Cult of the Family ultimately raises too many unanswered questions, it does raise the moral judgement of the cult members who sat idly by or took a passively active role in the abuse of so many children. As well as a system that failed.

Rating: 54%


An unexpectedly gripping documentary, in part due to the significant geopolitical changes in eastern Europe since its making, Navalny is an incredulous tale of Alexei Navalny, popularist leader of the opposition to Vladimir Putin.

With an attempted assassination through poisoning by the Russian goon squad going desperately wrong, Navalny and his entourage eventually find themselves in Berlin. With access to the dark web through investigative journalists including Bulgarian Christo Grozev, the team track responsibility for the poisoning back to the Kremlin and a president who will not publicly even give a name to Navalny. After several months in exile, Navalny returns to Moscow in January 2021 to a potential hero’s welcome. But the authorities step in…

A handsome charmer of a hero, lawyer Navalny is committed to exposing corruption and abuse of power in Russia, resulting in a documentary, directed by Daniel Roher (Once Were Brothers), of bold substance and human touches as his family (wife Yulia and two teenage children) remain supportive and by his side throughout.

Winner of the 2023 Oscar for best documentary.

Rating: 74%

‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal’

Strange to watch the three part miniseries without knowing much about the ongoing court case that was fast approaching the jury’s verdict.

Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal looked to the upstanding South Carolina Murdaugh family, bastions of respectability in the Lowcountry area of the State. Until recently, that is. The family which, from 1920 to 2006 provided consecutive district attorneys, now found itself in very unwanted national and international headlines. Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal exposes secret after secret of a current day dynasty that believed itself to be above the law.

From drunk driving and embezzlement to manslaughter, unlawful death and murder, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal features it all – and more.

Episode one looks almost exclusively to the 2019 boating accident that led to younger son, Paul, being charged with the the death of friend Mallory Beach whilst driving a boat three times over the legal blood alcohol limit. But the family tale becomes complicated when investigations lead to the unravelling of patriarch Alex Murdaugh. One result is the reopening of the cases into two unsolved deaths, one on Moselle, the Murdaugh property itself. And then, if that’s not enough, Paul and his mother are shot dead on the property days before the boy was to appear in court. There’s a litany of the overlooked and circumstantial, evidence that would have likely been further investigated had it not been related in some way to the family.

In devoting so much time to the boating accident, the docuseries may be guilty of drawing out its material. But the advantage is that it lays the foundation to understand the position of the family in the social history and culture of Hampton, South Carolina. We are also introduced to a number of key individuals – including the four emotionally scared survivors of that boat crash – who openly comment about the Murdaughs, the favourable treatment dished out to Paul after the accident and their opinions on older son, Buster.

But detail gives way to broad brushstrokes, supposition and unsubstantiated assumption in episodes two and three as we move into the investigations of Alex Murdaugh.

More shocking information is revealed about the death of housekeeper Gloria Satterfield in 2018: Buster is implicated in the reported hit and run death of classmate Stephen Smith in 2015. And it is revealed that Maggie Murdaugh filed for divorce prior to her death. All in their own right deserved more investigation as well as the murders of wife and son – but with Alex Murdaugh in court facing criminal charges, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal proved to be too soon a documentary.

The result is a wholly disatisfying three part docuseries with little reflection legally allowed to be included. Whilst less senasationalist, episode one and the boating accident proves to make a better documentary simply because there’s three years between the event and the film. At the time of its making, Alex Murdaugh was imprisoned awaiting trial.

Rating: 50%

(In March 2023, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the murders of his wife and younger son, Paul and given life in prison).

‘This Much I Know To Be True’

A companion piece to the earlier 2016 film One More Time With Feeling, director Andrew Dominick returns to the studio to explore the creative partnership between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Austere and graceful with a focus on the lyrics and transportative music, Dominick (Blonde, Killing Them Softly), shooting predominantly in a stripped back palette, allows his film to record and unfold. As cameras track and glide in circular motion band members and backing singers, so Cave’s vocals soar. Interspersed is the occasional reflection by the two men of that creative relationship – and a (short) guest appearance by Marianne Faithful.

It’s cathartic, it’s mesmerising, it’s hypnotic – enigmatic yet revealing, intimate but public. Beautiful and, like the earlier film, majesterial.

Rating: 80%