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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

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

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.

Dark descent to ethics-free journalism

26 November 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Jake Gyllenhaal on blood stained stairs with cameraThe 'intervention dilemma' is a perennial consideration for journalists and those who pay them and ought to be dictated by robust personal and institutional ethics. Louis Bloom is an example of what happens when ethics are stripped away and replaced with the bottom line. He raises himself from petty thief to the rank of nightcrawler — a cameraman who specialises in shooting the aftermath of accidents and crimes, and selling the footage to news networks.

Richard Flanagan sorts suffering from virtue

20 November 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Book Cover - The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthWinning the prestigious Man Booker prize has given Richard Flanagan's 2013 novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North precious new shelf life. I've long considered Flanagan an alchemist - giving everyday words an unmistakable verve and turning a phrase until it takes flight. But he's also a proud Tasmanian storyteller who now has the world's ear. 

Grieving women rock immutable Islam

19 November 2014 | Tim Kroenert

The sisters and their mother on a sofa in Rock the CasbahThe three recently reunited sisters are immersed in whispered conversation, during the second day of mourning at the house. In the next room, older men in ceremonial garb chant a mourning ritual. Suddenly, the sisters get the giggles, only to be angrily shushed by one of the men in the next room. But grief can't be stage managed, and it seems only natural that the process should be guided by normal human interaction.

Male spirituality in Kiwi portrait of mental illness

12 November 2014 | Tim Kroenert

'Dark Horse' stillNew Zealand filmmaker Robertson’s latest feature has been described as a cross between modern antipodean classics Once Were Warriors and Shine. Like Warriors, Dark Horse considers masculinity, violence and spirituality in the lives of urban Maoris. Like Shine, it offers a moving portrait of a character whose mental illness appears to be the dark reflection of esoteric, obsessive genius.

Good guy alienated from God

05 November 2014 | Tim Kroenert

James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy in The DropBob dutifully attends Mass but never takes communion. He's a fundamentally decent working man, as generous as he is taciturn. He is not the kind of man to, say, turn a blind eye to the plight of an injured dog. But Bob has sinful secrets that he feels alienate him even from God.

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