David Stratton: A Cinematic Life: renowned movie expert ready for critics to critique his work


David Stratton on the set of his documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life. Picture: Mark Roberts
David Stratton on the set of his documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life. Picture: Mark Roberts

MOVIE expert David Stratton gets “quite nervous” if he doesn’t get his regular film fix.

Since retiring from At The Movies in 20014, which he co-hosted with reel rival Margaret Pomeranz from 2004 (after they faced off for 18 years on SBS’ The Movie Show), Stratton gets to be pickier with his choices but still tries to see at least one film per day.

“It’s an aspiration and it could be anywhere; in the cinema, on DVD, a screener,” he said.

“I get quite nervous if I don’t see films fairly regularly.

“One of the good things about giving up At The Movies was I don’t have to see a lot of the stuff that was really starting to bug me, like so-called comedies that think farting and pooing is funny.

“That sort of thing really depressed me and most of the superhero films are the same.”

Known for decades as a reliable encyclopaedia of film knowledge and recommendations, Stratton still gets stopped on the street for film feedback, even in Perth, where he recently attended an early screening of his documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life.

“I quite often find myself being stopped; today I was in David Jones in Perth and the salesman recognised me and wanted to know my thoughts on what would win the Oscar,” he said.

Speaking to communitynews.com.au the day before the Oscars ceremony and the epic Best Picture hiccup, Stratton said it was hard to predict a winner in such a strong category.

“I’ll be on a plane to Brisbane so I’m going to miss them,’ he said.

“I’d love to see either Manchester by the Sea or La La Land get the (Best Picture) Oscar.

“I have a feeling it might be Moonlight; it’s a very strong year.”

Talking about his documentary, which explores his love for films, his childhood and relationship with his Dad, Stratton said he was unaware it would reveal so much about himself that he didn’t even realise.

“I didn’t know it would be quite so emotional,” he said.

“And the thing that really came out of the film, what the director Sally Aitken really brought out in a very skilful way, because I was unaware what she was doing, was the links between my life and some of the films that I loved.

“She does this several times during the course of the film (and) it’s really quite fascinating to me that I never made those connections before.”

After a career spanning three decades reviewing other people’s film work, Stratton said he was prepared for this documentary to be reviewed by others.

“You become involved in a film or you write a book, and you have to be prepared for negative criticism and that’s inevitable,” he said.

“So far, touch wood, the two reviews that I have seen have been of the four star variety, which is nice, but I’m steeling myself for the negative ones, I’m sure it will come.

“I will read them.”

The answer to the biggest question on most people’s lips though, whether he and Pomeranz will ever do another film review show together, is short, sharp and definitive.

“No,” he said.

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life is in cinemas March 9.