David Stratton: A Cinematic Life – BFI London Film Festival Review

Focussing on British born, Aussie film critic, David Stratton, this is a loving tribute to Aussie royalty. In its retelling of Stratton’s career, it provides a welcome journey through Australian film.

This documentary came about when a multi-part television show was being put together, Stories of Australian Cinema. In structuring that television show’s arc, one of its stars, Stratton’s story was shaping to compliment the roll call of famous films.

Director, Sally Aitken brings a new perspective to one of Australia’s favourite sons. In a poignant conversation, Aitken delicately draws parallels between Stratton’s overbearing father and his love of film. Aitken successfully utilises actor testimony and film clips to pull the story together.

Moving to Australia on a working holiday in his early 20s, Stratton was soon involved in the Sydney Film Festival. After becoming director of that same festival, Stratton began to dabble in televised reviews. Stratton became one half of Aussie telly royalty with fellow film critic, Margaret Pomeranz. Their first incarnation, The Movie Show, ran for 20 years. Their second, At the Movies, ended in 2014, after a further 10 successful years.

For 30 years, this iconic duo duelled each other, sometimes with polar opposite film reviews, clashing fashion and cheeky banter. If an Aussie wanted to know which new release was worth their hard earned pay cheque, it was these two you turned to.

Australian box office receipts tend to indicate that Aussie’s aren’t paying to see their own films. However this journey through films will find classics that are rewatched over again. With new and exciting Australian cinema in 2017, this retrospective might encourage you to support Aussie film. Some worth looking out for include Ali’s Wedding, Three Summers, Hounds of Love and Alone in Berlin.

Looking at Stratton’s fascinating life results in an pleasant film journey, a look at the Aussie film industry and its most iconic and fascinating films

Having only ever refused to score one film, Romper Stomper, Stratton now reviews online for an independent cinema.

Nowhere better demonstrates Stratton’s passion for film than his encyclopaedic review catalogue of almost every movie he’s ever seen. Starting at the tender age of around seven, Stratton was writing reviews. The expansive filing system crowds its own room. A true joy, celebrating the power of film.

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