Top ten films

7. <i>Hairspray</i>.
7. Hairspray.

1. PSYCHO (108 minutes) M

Janet Leigh plays a guilt-ridden secretary driving to California and Anthony Perkins is the shy owner of the remote motel where she stops on the way. Ideally, that's all the uninitiated should know about Alfred Hitchcock's legendary 1960 shocker – a brilliant technical exercise, an oddly intimate character study, and the ultimate variant on the premise "boy meets girl". Digitally projected. Astor, tomorrow, 2pm and 7pm. Double feature with The Birds.

2. BAMBI (67 minutes) G

This 1941 fable about a young deer and his forest friends saw Walt Disney and his team largely setting aside cartoon shenanigans in favour of an idealised, even mystical view of nature. For better or worse it's an animation landmark – and no film has ever been more ruthlessly engineered to make children cry. Digitally projected. ACMI, today and tomorrow, 3pm. Tickets $6 or less.

3. CLAY (60 minutes) M

It's astounding that Giorgio Mangiamele – an Italian immigrant starting out from the tradition of neo-realism – should have been making films in 1960s Melbourne at all, more so that they should show such purity of spirit. This existential romance from 1965 involves a mysterious fugitive (George Dixon) and a yearning sculptor (Janina Lebedew). 35-millimetre print. ACMI, today, 4.30pm.

4. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (114 minutes) MA

John Travolta set new standards for working-class swagger as a Brooklyn youth who works in a paint-shop and transforms into a disco legend after dark. With its roots in 1950s-style Method realism, John Badham's 1977 smash hit is more old-fashioned than its reputation suggests, but there's no denying the magnetism of its star. Digitally projected. Shadow Electric (Abbotsford Convent), today, sundown (around 8.45pm).

5. WRECK-IT RALPH (108 minutes) PG

Fizzy, colourful and packed with in-jokes, Rich Moore's 3D cartoon does for vintage video games what Who Framed Roger Rabbit did for the Golden Age of Animation. John C. Reilly heads a terrific voice cast as a hulking 8-bit villain in the Donkey Kong mould who sets out to prove that bad guys have feelings too. General.


Probably only former Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam could have adapted Hunter S. Thompson's threnody for the psychedelic 1960s – and only Johnny Depp could have played Thompson's drug-addled alter ego Raoul Duke, slinking like Groucho in aviator sunglasses, weirdly chipper all the way along the path to self-destruction. Digitally projected. Rooftop Cinema, today, 9.30pm.

7. HAIRSPRAY (116 minutes) PG

Much bigger and splashier than John Waters' original 1988 movie, Adam Shankman's 2005 musical ranks among the best recent screen adaptations of Broadway hits. The zany benevolence of the storyline – about the battle to end racial segregation on a 1960s TV dance show – seems embodied in John Travolta's larger-than-life yet totally committed turn as a heavyset Baltimore housewife. Special sing-along screening. 35-millimetre print. Astor, today, 7.30pm.


Positioning Wonder Woman at the head of the pop tradition of action heroines, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan's feminist documentary gets through a lot of material in a brisk hour, even if the focus remains exclusively on the US. Talking-head commentators include Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hanna, and (all too briefly) Buffy writer Jane Espenson. Digitally projected. ACMI, today 6.30pm, tomorrow 2pm and 5pm.

9. THE RUM DIARY (119 minutes) M

Writer-director Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I) returns with another comic ode to bohemian squalor, this time adapting an early Hunter S. Thompson tale of an unpublished novelist (Johnny Depp) working for a failing newspaper in sunny Puerto Rico. Alcohol abuse and various forms of corruption figure heavily in a meandering story that radiates a pure, unlikely happiness. Digitally projected. Rooftop Cinema, tomorrow, 9.30pm.


A meek British sound engineer (Toby Jones) is summoned to Italy to work on a gory horror film and finds himself at the mercy of its bullying director (Antonio Mancino). Swaddled in layers of film buff allusion, Peter Strickland's claustrophobic psychological thriller recalls classics ranging from Brian de Palma's Blow Out to Roman Polanski's The Tenant. Digitally projected. ACMI, today 2pm and 7.45pm, tomorrow 3.15pm and 6.15pm.

This story Top ten films first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.