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Why Marvel was wrong to whitewash 'wifebeater' Ant-Man

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22 July 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Hank Pym Ant-Man strikes his wife Jan Van Dyne/The WaspIt is the most kid-orientated of the recent Marvel films — so maybe not the right forum for deconstructing the domestic violence sins of a key character's past. Still, considering the whole Black Widow/slut-shaming debacle that followed The Avengers: Age of Ultron (and that film's alleged gendered stereotyping of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow), it is not a good look to note that Marvel president Kevin Feige last year literally laughed off the prospect of spousal abuse being touched on in Ant-Man.

Love and violence in Thomas Hardy’s England

15 July 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding CrowdEnglish literary journalist Lucasta Miller noted that Hardy's title, Far From the Madding Crowd, with 'madding' taken to mean 'frenzied', is an ironic nod to idyllic perceptions of rural life; Hardy 'disrupts the idyll'. At the heart of the story is Bathsheba, a proud and independent young shepherd who becomes the new proprietor of her late uncle's farm. Her story unfolds against stunning rural landscapes that provide a sublime stage for violence both physical and emotional.

Confessions of a news junkie who hides the news from his kids

09 July 2015 | Barry Gittins

Child media junkie cartoonFielding questions about the latest shark attack or car crash, or government culling of charities, is relatively straightforward. But not the horrific patricide committed by Cy Walsh, son of Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh, and the wounding of his wife Meredith. It baffled my family and I couldn’t come close to explaining it.

Carefully burning Scientology

08 July 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of BeliefIf you're going to apply a blowtorch to an institution as wealthy and litigious as the Church of Scientology, you might best be advised to first apply a magnifying glass. Alex Gibney details the dark side of the movement: its dubious tax-exempt status; allegations of psychological and physical abuse of current members and harassment of former members. But he is equally interested in unpacking the nature of belief in Scientology: what draws people to it, and also what drives them away.

Who killed Amy Winehouse?

01 July 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Amy WinehouseThere are early signs of the substance abuse that would later see her become a target of gleeful media scorn, and ultimately cause her death at the age of 27. But during one interview from the dawn of her career she reflects that if she was famous, she would go mad. She was painfully aware of the gap between the persona painted by a spiteful media and fickle public, and the preternaturally talented working-class girl from London who just wanted to sing.

Inside the trauma of childhood change

24 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Riley in Inside OutPete Docter was inspired to tell this story after observing changes in his preteen daughter's personality. His research included consultation with psychologists specialising in emotion, including University of California professor Dacher Keltner, whose insights included the role of sadness in strengthening relationships. The story is an exploration on the effects on children of loss and change, and the role of pain.

Dubious revolutionary Russell Brand takes it to the banks

17 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Russell Brand in The Emperor's New ClothesFew would deny the comedian and self-styled revolutionary has fire in his belly. He wonders why, in the wake of recent financial crises, more bankers have not gone to prison. These are salient questions, and Brand doesn't baulk. But there is a touch of Bono about Brand: wealthy and egotistical, you have to wonder how much of his invective against 'the one per cent' is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Missing girls expose town's threadbare soul

10 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Detectives from MarshlandWorld-weary detectives Juan and Pedro arrive in an agrarian township on Spain's Guadalquivir Marshes to investigate the disappearance of two teenage sisters. But their investigation among the town's various innocents, eccentrics and reprobates uncovers a much larger, sinister burr within the very soul of the town. The smell of fascism lingers thickly in the air.

Child assassin's slow escape from cult corruption

03 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Jeremy Chabriel in PartisanThe children, their mothers and overseer inhabit a world all their own, morally as well as geographically. They know little but the rustic textures of life inside the compound; where every Friday they paint their faces like jungle animals and sing karaoke as a reward for a good week's killing. Even during their bloody errands, the urban landscape evokes a Martian dereliction. Only Alexander has started to smell danger.

Seeking restitution for Nazi art theft

27 May 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann in Woman in GoldMaria's aunt was the subject of one of Austria's most famous artworks, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, by the painter Gustav Klimt, which was stolen from Maria's family by the Nazis during the Second World War. Maria's story raises questions about the means and consequences of individuals and nations coming to terms with difficult histories, and of what constitutes 'ownership' of cultural artefacts with a high level of national significance.

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