Free Newsletter sign-up
PM's farewell

Search Justinian
Justinian's news stories

Innovations in fee collection ... Barrister lightly spanked for sending disturbing fee threat to former clients ... "See what happens if you don't pay your bills" ... File leverage ... Agreement not to complain in exchange for the file ... NCAT bares its gums ... Read more ... 

Justinian Columnists

Do nothing in the new utopia ... Policy vacuums ... Private sector leaders are filling voids created by sleepwalking politicians ... Voice to parliament and global warming left in the cold - which, somehow, gets us to the casualisation of the workforce, particularly at universities ... Fly-in, fly-out law school lecturers ... Full Federal Court wrestles with a "casual employee" ... Read more ... 

Justinian's Tweets



Justinian's Bloggers

Time to act on Magnitsky ... Where's our Magnitsky Act? ... An effective way of dealing with corrupt individuals who violate human rights ... Lapsed Bill in the Commonwealth parliament ... The legacy of Russia's abuse of power and the calculated killing of state enemies ... Read more ... 

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    "I am really and truly pleased that I have been vindicated and that the court has preserved the presumption of innocence."   

    Tom Domican, "colourful" Sydney identity, who provided security services to a Kings Cross drug dealer, after settling for $100,000 his defamation case against nightclub entrepreneur John Ibrahim and Pan Macmillan. September 13, 2019 ... Read more flatulence ... 

    Justinian Featurettes

    David Hunt remembered ... Former NSW defamation judge and chief judge at common law ...The List with Socratic case management ... Defamation exotica ... Refinement of pleadings, perhaps over-refinement ... Prodigious worker ... International criminal law ... Tributes from Graham Hryce, David Rolph, Justice Mark Ierace and Judge Judith Gibson ... Read more ... 

    Justinian's archive

    Sentencing terror ... Fabulous sentencing transcript from County Court, Victoria ... Judge James Montgomery and counsel wrestle with the dates and the years ... Pythonesque proceedings ... Court reporter struggles to keep up ... Tears to the eyes ... From the archive, June 2012 ... Read more ... 



    « The dream of life | Main | Ian Collie »

    Decadence: a dish best served cold

    Out of the dark comes Miss Lumière - Justinian's new film critic ... Her debut review is of Julia Leigh's directorial debut, Sleeping Beauty ... Reimagining the boardroom lunch 

    It is tempting to think novelist and first time film director Julia Leigh derived some inspiration for Sleeping Beauty from her brief brush with the law - she qualified, but never practised.

    Certainly there are scenes that could have (imaginatively at least) come straight from the rarefied world of big firm boardroom lunches: over-rich food prepared for too-rich men in richly decorated surrounds and served by S&M style waitresses, complete with labia-matching lippie (I kid you not).

    All more than a bit decadent. Which is what makes this film both intriguing and enervating.

    Like other films that focus on the decadent - Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom come to mind - its pleasures leave one fascinated, but frigid.

    Plot-wise there's not much going on. Young university student Lucy, wonderfully underplayed by Emily Browning, pays her way with a number of part-time jobs, including sleeping with men she picks-up in bars.

    She answers an ad for a job with a very different sort of sexual angle - a high class agency run by the chillingly elegant Clara (Rachael Blake). 

    Emily Browning and Rachael Blake: no penetration

    After serving fine food in her lingerie, Lucy is picked for a special assignment - to be drugged in the presence of various clients, all of them decrepit old men.

    As Clara tells both Lucy and her clients, the only rule is no penetration. 

    Peter Carroll: decadent decrepitudeAfter seeing what three of them (played by veterans Peter Carroll, Chris Hayward and Hugh Keays-Byrne) get up to while Lucy sleeps the sleep of the not-so-innocent, I wish the rule hadn't been obeyed.

    It's spooky and quite unsettling.

    The most memorable is played by Carroll, who perfectly conveys decadence as a search for meaning, perverted.

    His soliloquy to camera - a beautifully written excerpt from a short story - is one of the film's most touching scenes, although it is handled in an oddly disjointed manner.

    Leigh's film suffers the same flaws common to many novice directors.

    While the slow pace and silence have been deliberately employed to suggest the sad as well as the sinister, it feels as if Leigh lacked the confidence to use the full range of tools in her film kit.

    A stronger soundtrack might have added much needed texture to Geoffrey Simpson's gorgeous, moody, sumptuous cinematography.

    Nevertheless, the film intrigues. Browning's Lucy is a reckless, disconnected soul, seeking feeling through experience.

    We get some idea of her real self, as opposed to the perfect angel she presents to the eyes of old men - in her tender relationship with Birdmann, a friend who is dying.

    Ewan Leslie's performance in this enigmatic role is excellent. In fact, all the performances are uniformly good. Leigh clearly has a talent for talent direction, as well as mood.

    What she doesn't quite have yet is a firm grasp of film language.

    Hopefully, that will come with experience. Much like the language of life comes to Lucy at the film's strangely calming end.

    The Guardian called Sleeping Beauty, "an elegant, if occasionally preposterous debut".

    What more do you need?

    Miss Lumière

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
    Editor Permission Required
    You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.