25 September 2023

Margaret & David: 5 Stars

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Major essay by Sandy George, edited by Amanda Duthie, Wakefield Press, $19.95.

Arguably two of Australia’s well-known critics, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton are said to “love movies to the point of obsession”.

In this book, Australian filmmakers, critics, distributors and festival directors pay tribute to Australia’s most loved critics.

Pomeranz and Stratton are described as “leading lights of Australian screen culture”.

Highly successful, award-winning Australian director Fred Schepisi (The Devil’s Playground, Evil Angels, Six Degrees of Separation) says, “how fortunate we Aussie filmmakers are to have two such champions for our movies”.

Major essay by Sandy George has contributions from Geoffrey Rush, Fred Schepisi, Jan Chapman, Cate Shortland, Gillian Armstrong, Andrew Bovell, Al Clark, Richard Kuipers, Jay Weatherill, Andrew Mackie, Sandra Levy, Nashen Moodley, Warwick Thornton and Kath Shelper.

You’ll form a definitive picture of this duo as you learn about their cinematic favourites. So different, yet so perfect together, they were the perfect foil for each other.

Over 28 years, on The Movie Show and then on At The Movies, Margaret and David shaped the way Australians saw and talked about cinema – and themselves.

Internationally renowned Australian film director Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Starstruck) reiterates some commendable descriptors about these presenters:

“…Together they formed a lively, fiery, passionate, laughter-filled partnership. Yes, David, you fired up too when Ms Pomeranz stirred you into complete exasperation! The conflict worked, making the reviews more alive and insightful. It became a warm and entertaining, often hilarious, balancing act. And it connected with us all, whether filmmakers or mums and dads at home…”

Stratton and Pomeranz hosted the popular weekly review program At the Movies, which ran on the ABC from 2004 to 2014. Before that, however, the two cinephiles belonged to a different network: SBS.

From reading these essays, one gets a sense of how different Margaret and David are, but one thing they have in common is their fascination with cinema. A general picture also emerges about the respect they command from their peers from across the world.

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