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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.

Kabul love story

1 Comment
29 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

decorated eyeOrphan Abdul loves Fatemeh, but her father is demanding a prohibitive dowry for her hand. The financial wrangling between Abdul's guardian Mahboba and Fatemah's father Nik, and all this implies about the ways in which young women's futures can be sold and traded as part of an archaic cultural norm, seems crass and is more than a little disturbing to witness.

Australian history through the eyes of a dirt digger

23 October 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Cover of Girt The Unauthorised History of AustraliaSatirist David Hunt's best-selling Girt The Unauthorised History of Australia prompted Joe Hockey to offer him a job as speech writer. There’s plenty of dirt. Australia was the place to be, writes Hunt, 'unless you were black. Or a woman. Or gay. Or suspected of being Irish. Or even worse, all of the above'.

Journalist martyr's war on drugs

1 Comment
22 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb in Kill the MessengerIn 1996, US journalist Gary Webb claimed in the San Jose Mercury News that the CIA and US State Department had supported the smuggling of crack cocaine into the US, as a way to help fund Contra rebels against the revolutionary government of Nicaragua during the Reagan era. This 'dark alliance', Webb claimed, contributed significantly to the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, and fuelled the War on Drugs that Regan himself famously escalated.

Same-sex marriage on trial

15 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Sandra Stier, Kristin Perry, Jeffrey Zarillo and Paul KatamiMothers-of-four Kris and Sandra had wed before a contingent of family and friends, only to be later advised by post that their marriage was void. Paul and Jeffrey refused to embrace an alternative form of legal recognition of their relationship that would render them as 'second-class citizens'. Their conservative lawyer Ted Olson argues that marriage is a fundamentally conservative institution that would only be strengthened by extending it to same-sex couples.

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