Something wonderful happened to Australian television in the early nineteen nineties. Two beautiful souls entered the hearts and minds of the nation and would endure for more than twenty wonderful years. I’m sure I am not the only one when I say many of the great films I witnessed from the comforts of Australian, and sometimes European and American silver screens came at the recommendation of David and Margaret, a highly likeable duo who hosted The Movie Show on SBS and then, At The Movies on the ABC. Together, they made it worthwhile turning on the television to acquire knowledge of the latest Hollywood, foreign and art house films to catch. Rarely would David or Margaret’s suggestions fall short.
As a teenager, the world of cinema gave me an escape from the perils of the problems I faced in the real world. It was a chance for me to escape into another world. This is also where I learnt the fine art of being comfortable in my own skin. You see, I’m that guy you see sitting on his own down near the front of your local with eyes firmly fixed to what is unfolding on the big screen. Once upon a time, I was self conscious of going on my own but I soon grew to love the experience and have not tired of it to this day. In fact, this year I am aiming to see 100 films at the cinema before the curtain falls on 2017.
Last night was a once in a lifetime chance to hear David Stratton talk about his life for a while then become engrossed in a truly unique and engaging experience not just about Stratton’s life as a film critic, but a wonderus look back into the history of cinema in Australia. It’s been a long and winding road, championed for the best part by David Stratton himself. The opening sequence alone is worth the admission price as David shows us his own unique way of documenting his life watching films. He instantly reassures you that being a bit of an outsider or geek is perhaps, the only way to live.
As we follow his pathway, you are allowed a rare and intimant look into a side of Australian cinema never before seen with stellar contributions from the likes of Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Henry Miller, Russel Crowe and Claudia Karvan to name a few. They all hold an enduring respect towards David and you are left with the impression that the film industry in Australia owes a great debt to a man who has always done what he loves.
David Stratton: A Cinematic Life is the must see production of 2017. You will be much worse off should you miss out on catching not just a documentary but a history lesson from one of, if not, the best cinema critic you could ever wish to meet. The man truly is part of the Australian landscape and we would be a great deal worse of without him in our lives. He may be British born but David Stratton is an Australian treasure!