A long time on, the silver display nonetheless shines for Dougal

Film reviewer Dougal Macdonald… “My life in reviewing has been sitting in a cinema then serving to readers to make their go or no-go choices about what to see.” Photograph: Belinda Strahorn

He has fearlessly sat via the nice, the dangerous and the ugly, and written  1000’s upon 1000’s of film critiques for greater than half a century. It’s time Dougal Macdonald took a star flip. Reporter NICK OVERALL places him within the highlight.

DOUGAL Macdonald may very nicely be Australia’s oldest, most-experienced movie reviewer and “CityNews” couldn’t be prouder of him. 

The poster for “Girl of Straw”… the primary movie Dougal reviewed in 1965.

The 88-year-old Bungendore native has been sharing his sharp-witted observations of the silver display for some 57 years – longer even than celebrated movie critic Roger Ebert wrote for the “Chicago Solar-Occasions”.

“The primary movie I reviewed was in 1965 and right here I’m,” says Macdonald, who nonetheless will get to the cinema twice per week.

“There’ve been loads of good movies, just a few dangerous ones and the variety of stars is my language for expressing good, dangerous or detached.”

Initially from Queensland, Macdonald nonetheless remembers his first journey to the films as a younger boy that will spark his curiosity within the huge display for many years to return.

“My mom took me to see ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ within the early Forties and that’s the place it began,” he says.

The cel-animated musical was primarily based on Jonathan Swift’s traditional novel and one which on the time excitedly promoted itself as being “in technicolor”.

The movie’s impression on Macdonald would play a small half in what would at some point grow to be greater than half a century of writing on movie – a enterprise that began with “The Canberra Occasions” within the mid ‘60s.

“I really first reviewed books for 4 or 5 years after which a reader wrote to the editor saying there’s no info on the films being proven apart from info equipped by the makers of the films,” says Macdonald. 

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“That’s a little bit of a bias isn’t it?

“From there I gave the ebook critiques up and went with the films. The primary movie I reviewed had Gina Lollobrigida, Sean Connery and Ralph Richardson in a thriller referred to as ‘Girl of Straw’.”

From then on Macdonald would discover a new ardour for writing in regards to the photos, one that will flip into him typically seeing as much as 5 movies per week.

When requested what number of films he thinks he’s seen over all of the years Macdonald says it’s a determine he’s by no means even tried to rely.

“Put it this fashion, it’s three computer systems in the past that I began,” he says.

In newer years, Macdonald’s critiques have grow to be a well-liked staple of the “CityNews” Arts and Leisure part for his or her droll method and no holds barred model.

Take his latest breakdown of “High Gun: Maverick”, probably the most standard movies of 2022 that Macdonald unapologetically panned as “twaddle”.

“What fool would experience a robust motorcycle bare-headed – no helmet – and carrying Levis, not leathers? Maverick would!,” Macdonald wrote of Tom Cruise’s iconic character.

He’s been unafraid to label a few of right this moment’s most beloved franchises such because the Marvel Cinematic Universe as “juvenile nonsense”, the James Bond saga as a “seen one, seen all” type-deal, and even declared that he fell asleep for many of “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

“I don’t write what anybody expects me to jot down, I’m writing what I believe,” he says.

The unrestrained method has made Macdonald’s reward of these uncommon, particular movies all of the extra significant.

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Take his five-star evaluation of final 12 months’s sci-fi satire “Don’t Look Up”, a movie Macdonald noticed as “a message film firmly grounded on the current time, populated by individuals who could also be fictional however whose provenance and functions we recognise in our every day media food regimen”.

One other to not too long ago garner Macdonald’s rare five-star rubber stamp was the Australian movie “The Drover’s Spouse” – an adaptation of Henry Lawson’s well-known quick story that he described as “a masterpiece of nearly each component of the filmmaker’s craft.”

A poster for 1939’s “Gulliver’s Travels”… Dougal Macdonald’s first movie as a child.

“As a author, Dougal Macdonald is a ache within the arse,” says “CityNews” editor Ian Meikle, with a smile. 

“He writes brilliantly; like he’s knitting phrases and when typically there’s a necessity to abridge his copy due to, say, an area drawback, it’s a nightmare to winkle them out.  

“Get it fallacious and also you get a name or worse, an e-mail… in purple letters guiding you again to the straight and slim! 

“However he’s a masterful wordsmith and writes with the adjectival ardour of a 30-year-old – he’s naughty and nuanced, and has this fixed, cheeky marketing campaign to plot a context that may beat me into permitting him to make use of, shall we embrace, colloquialisms which may make an editor blush. 

“And don’t get him occurring why he’s not a critic…” 

Too late: Macdonald says: “A critic analyses, a reviewer describes. My life in reviewing has been sitting in a cinema then serving to readers to make their go or no-go choices about what to see,” he says.

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“I see what’s coming and decide these with little accompanying fanfare.”

When requested what he thinks will be the biggest movie of all time, Macdonald doesn’t imagine there’s a solution.

What he can say although, is that he’s fast to know when he’s seen a movie that’s worthy of that uncommon, five-star seal. 

“It’s one which sends me out figuring out that I’ve seen one thing that touched in right here,” he says, pointing to his coronary heart.


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Ian Meikle, editor