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Andrew S. Gilbert
As a long term fan like myself, getting to see At the Movies host and renowned Australian film critic David Stratton back on screen is a joy in itself and that Sally Aitkin's affectionate documentary about the esteemed film lover and Australian film at large is such an insightful accompaniment is a lovely bonus to once more getting to hear Stratton talk film and its many memorable incarnations.
A condensed version of the 3 part ABC series titled David Stratton's History of Australian Cinema, A Cinematic Life offers an insight into Stratton's life as a long time film fan, a watcher of over 20,000 movies and an Australian immigrant and also acts as a thoroughly enjoyable account of the local films that have not only shaped our cinematic landscape, but Stratton's life as a foreigner to our fair shores.
Those seeking a deep and expansive delving into of Stratton's personal life may be disappointed but Aitkin's does a great job of exploring the key moments of Stratton's life from his childhood affiliation with movies, exploration of Australia as a tourist to becoming director of the Sydney Film Festival, right through to Stratton's famed time as a well-known critic and host of SBS's turned ABC's show At the Movies.
It's a life well lived and Stratton's exemplary knowledge of films of all shapes and sizes is as strong as ever and having the passionate film fan walk us through the Australian film cannon from ground-breaking originals to modern day masterpieces such as Animal Kingdom is a pure joy as a cinephile.
Stratton has always had an incredible ability to confidently explain films merits and importance and in particular why certain films have a power over us as works of art and each film Stratton discusses through A Cinematic Life comes alive thanks to his passion and carefully considered analysis.
It offers us further understanding as to why Stratton's regard in the industry long ago moved away from a mere critic to a campaigner and ally to filmmakers from our industry and from all over the world, a respectable voice to pieces of art that deserve to be seen and heard and a critic not afraid to stand-up for his beliefs.
Final Say –
For anyone with even a passing interest in Australian film A Cinematic Life is a pure unbridled pleasure to watch, while for Stratton aficionados like myself, getting to spend time with and learn more about the life of Australia's all-time great film critic is a delightful experience, with the added bonus of getting to be a part of a wonderful lunch date with one-time partner in crime Margaret Pomeranz (insults and arguments included).
4 wine throwing directors out of 5
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