REVIEWS


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Living and dying for Martin Luther King's dream

1 Comment
18 February 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Oyelowo as King with protestorsThe theme song from Selma references Rosa Parks and Ferguson in the same breath. Indeed this is a powerful period drama that resonates loudly in a modern age where the injustice against which Martin Luther King raged continues to haunt Black America. Oyelowo's King is charismatic and proud, but plagued by doubts and capable of great sadness when even one of his followers falls in the midst of the struggle.


Helen Garner's 'Best Essays' triumph

12 February 2015 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Cover of The Best Australian Essays 2014The Best Australian Essays 2014 finely illustrates the unnervingly unclear line between essay and short story, but no-one plays with form quite like the indomitable Helen Garner. She offers such a brooding, aching ode to her mother. Proof again that good writing is an inexorable, spiritual exercise that seers itself into the reader's memory. How does she do it?


Oscar Romero's cinematic sainthood

6 Comments
11 February 2015 | Tim Kroenert

The late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who as of this month is one step closer to beatification, has long been regarded as one of modern history's great champions of the poor. In 1989 he was 'canonised' on celluloid. The production has not aged well but is elevated by the late Raul Julia, whose conflicted, heroic portrayal of Romero is surely as iconic as the man himself.


Linguist's life and language lost to Alzheimer's

2 Comments
04 February 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Julianne Moore in Still AliceThe brilliant linguistics professor Alice Howland and her biologist husband, John, sit down to break the news to their adult children: Alice has early-onset Alzheimers. At first Alice maintains a fragile, trembling stoicism. But when she tells them the disease may be passed on genetically, the façade slowly implodes. 'I'm sorry,' she weeps, horrified by the prospect of what she clearly sees as a betrayal.


Grieving pilgrim's wild days in the wilderness

1 Comment
28 January 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Reese Witherspoon in WildCheryl Strayed is haunted by her past — by her own sins, and by tragedies that have befallen her. As she walks, she hums, and the music she hears in her head leads her in and out of the past. Her solo 1600-plus km trek along America's Pacific Crest Trail is a metaphor for her life: each hardship she overcomes brings her a step closer to facing down the fierce regrets that gnash at her heels.


Doomed actor's devastating ego trip

21 January 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Michael Keaton in BirdmanRiggan's ego is immense. The action takes place backstage during the days leading up to the premier of his latest vanity project, and onstage during a series of previews. Riggan is out of his depth, prone to humiliating blunders, including one that results in a near-naked dash through the crowds of Times Square. But his resolve to affirm his greatness in the eyes of a media and public that has dismissed him is maniacal.


Paul Collins illuminates sectarian divide in Australian history

4 Comments
18 December 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

'A Very Contrary Irishman – The Life and Journeys of Jeremiah O’Flynn' coverThe chasm between Catholics and Protestants is thankfully unknown to my children. Paul Collins' new book A Very Contrary Irishman - The Life and Journeys of Jeremiah O'Flynn is a labour of love that presents a very driven man of the colonial era whose actions - and attributed actions - changed lives and helped shape our culture.


Ten films that will get you talking

8 Comments
17 December 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Matthew McConaughey in InterstellarIt's December, and film writers everywhere are putting together their lists of the best films of 2014. But best-of lists are so subjective, so here's our take: ten films from 2014 that are guaranteed to get you thinking, and talking!


Drug mule's poo strike stymies bad cops

10 December 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Angus Sampson, The MuleDuring an end-of-season trip to Bangkok, impressionable country footy dork Ray is badgered by one of his teammates into turning drug mule. He is picked up in Melbourne, where a couple of nasty cops detain him under supervision for seven days, waiting for him to pass the heroin-filled balloons he ingested. Ray is beset on all sides by systemic corruption, which makes his refusal to poo — fuelled not by greed but by a kind of everyman nobility — seem truly heroic.


Films a blind man loves

1 Comment
03 December 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Tommy EdisonTry watching slasher parody Scream 4 with your eyes closed and see how much sense it makes. On the other hand, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and Kevin Smith's Clerks, with stories driven by strong characters and dialogue, offer up cinematic pleasures even a blind person can appreciate. Welcome to the world of America's Blind Film Critic, Tommy Edison.


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