W. – Oliver Stone’s latest film has just come out on DVD. It’s a biopic of George W. Bush, focusing on the family dynamics that – in this story at least – pushed him into wanting to be president and into invading Iraq. Stone’s take is that Bush was haunted by his early mess-ups, his drunkenness and occupational failures, and wanted to prove himself to his disproving father, who always preferred older brother Jeb. I found it interesting for its attempt to dramatise such recent history and the uncanny moments of resemblance to their real life counterparts in the different actors’ performances. But it lacks bite; it never touches the profound and never seems to resolve just what tone it is capturing or what it is trying to say. A good, watchable film, when I half expected something brilliant. 3/5

Last Ride – an Australian film currently showing in arthouse cinemas, it tells the story of a man on the run with his son somewhere between Port Augusta and Adelaide. The narrative tension is strong even as things move slowly, as pieces of their past are unfurled and the police close in. It is a visually interesting – at times beautiful – film with a good script and great performances. But it made me think that I like best films with articulate heroes and transcendence, not the inarticulate hero and bleak, full sun realism. 3.5/5