REVIEWS


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Vera Brittain's elegant anti-war ode

5 Comments
22 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Alicia Vikander in Testament of YouthVera, a latecomer to the gathering, interjects. She has worked as a nurse, has had her hands warmed by the blood of the maimed and the soon-to-be-dead of both sides of the conflict. She has lost loved ones, too — a brother, a friend, a fiancé — and the grief of their loss will be with her always. But how can violent conflict ever be truly redeemed through the trauma of more violent conflict? The German soldiers who died in the war left behind loved ones, too.


Abuse victim's post traumatic horror

15 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Maika Monroe and Lile Sepe in It FollowsThe manner in which Hugh drugs and binds Jay has strong overtones of 'date rape'. More than this, though, there is inherent violence in his having had sex with her at all, knowing that her consent hinged on her ignorance of the real consequences. Now, to be fair, there are men in the film who suffer, too. But the objectification of women by the male gaze and the predatory dynamic this entails is too pervasive to ignore.


This boy's life on the autism spectrum

2 Comments
08 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Asa Butterfield in X+YNathan was diagnosed when he was young, and was encouraged by his parents to view the diagnosis as a gift rather than a curse. It manifests in part as a prodigious talent for mathematics. Nathan finds patterns soothing, and so mathematics becomes a refuge as much as an academic interest. He shares a close bond with his father, but his mother, despite her best efforts, struggles to connect in the same way.


Family's bipolar drama is a laughing matter

01 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Mark Ruffalo and Imogene Wolodarsky in Infinitely Polar BearCameron's illness is severe enough that he has been institutionalised at least once. He is on lithium but tends to neglect it, preferring to self-medicate with alcohol. His sensitive but strong-willed daughters do not make his life easy, but neither are their mother's absence and their father's illness easy on them. Still, there is a good reason why these events are viewed with nostalgia, and a good deal of humour.


Protestant and Catholic corruption in 1971 Belfast

2 Comments
25 March 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Jack O'Connell in '71At the height of the Troubles in Belfast, a young British soldier becomes separated from his unit and spends a night lost in one of the city's most dangerous locales. The city is fractured along numerous lines: it's not merely Catholic versus Protestant; the radicalised youths of the Provisional IRA are at odds with their established forebears. Rarely have the Troubles been so grippingly portrayed.


Ode to the death of hippie idealism

2 Comments
18 March 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent ViceIn 1993 Joaquin Phoenix's brother, River, died of a drug overdose, in front of a club owned by Johnny Depp. Depp later starred in an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's drug-addled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, prompting one film critic to wonder how Depp could see much humour in the material. One might now be tempted to ask the same question of Phoenix, who was present during his brother's fatal overdose.


God's bikie trashes New Age feelgoodism

5 Comments
12 March 2015 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

A new book by counter-cultural warrior and Christian God Squad motorbike club founder Rev John Smith says that feeling good about yourself may not actually be that good for you in the long run. It's not that he wants you to be depressed, but rather let your discomfort prompt self-reflection.


A larrikin look at sinful sugar

2 Comments
11 March 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Damon Gameau doused in sugarGameau's quest takes him to the Northern Territory, where the prevalence of high-sugar beverages has taken a dire toll upon Indigenous communities, whose access to nutritious foods has been stymied by government policy. Also to America, where he yarns with food industry spin doctors and witnesses the excruciating dental procedure a Kentucky teenager endures to reverse the effects of 'Mountain Dew Mouth'.


The dark side of a migrant's American Dream

04 March 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent YearAbel's life is pointedly contrasted with Peter's, a young truck driver who has been the victim of several violent assaults on the job. Peter idolises Abel, for whom the Dream has apparently come true — if Abel can make it, so too can Peter. The problem is that Abel's Dream stands on the backs of ordinary workers like Peter. Peter is a tragic antihero coming to learn that for many, the Dream will remain just that.


Birdman or (The Totally Expected Sin of Hollywood Narcissism)

28 February 2015 | Michael McVeigh

With Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) winning the Best Picture Oscar, a lot of people are pointing out the fact that three of the last four Best Picture winners are about movies, or the act of making them. That's not including 2011 winner The King's Speech, which was about the art of performance. That Hollywood loves itself a little too much is an obvious, and probably valid, conclusion to draw. But the deeper question to ask is why films like Birdman resonate so strongly. Read more


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