Oh my lordy lordy, what a voice that Mavis Staples has, and what a sweetheart she is, as we see in the uplifting documentary about her 60 year career, “Mavis”. I have admired Mavis Staples for many years, and had the pleasure of seeing her at Byron Bay some years back, but knew little about her life. This documentary is full of archival footage of the Staple Singers, interviews with fellow musicians and footage of Mavis now. The music is great, the history of her music and the influence of her dad, Pops, on her and others, is fascinating and the woman herself is a delight. We even learn that there was some ‘smooching’ between a young Mavis and a young Bob Dylan!
The next movie was hardly uplifting but it was engrossing – “The Daughter”, an Australian feature film debut from Simon Stone, which he adapted from his wonderful 2011 production of The Wild Duck (which played here at the Malthouse). This film ticked all the boxes for me – great acting (Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill are in it, but so too are Miranda Otto, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider and a terrific young woman called Odessa Young), gorgeous cinematography, and a story that drags you in. You care about these people, you worry about the outcome (which you know will not be good), you share their pain. I thought it was terrific, and hope it gets the success it deserves.