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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.

Gone Girl promotes conversations about misogyny

08 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl'If we strapped a bunch of Men's Rights Advocates to beds and downloaded their nightmares, I don't think we'd come up with stuff half as ridiculous as this plot,' wrote one blogger. Dogged by charges of misogyny since the release of her novel (and now film) Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn nonetheless maintains her right to create interesting, complicated female villains.

Self-absorption dressed up as romanticism

01 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

'Wish I Was Here' PosterIt is almost impossible to sympathise with Aidan and his flailing ‘dream’. He decides to take the kids’ education into his own hands. He calls this ‘home schooling’, but it pretty much consists of taking them for trips into the desert or conning the salesman at a luxury car dealership into letting them take a car for a spin, while spouting trite platitudes about life, death and the getting of wisdom.

David Walsh's Catholic guilt

25 September 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

'The Bone of Fact' coverA Bone of Fact is one part love letter and two parts plea bargain. That’s how Walsh can take a stab at Catholicism one minute and the next admit that in the 'thrall' of Michelangelo’s Pieta he loses all faculties. And for someone who’s gleamed much from betting, gambling gets short shrift.

No one gets you like family

24 September 2014 | Anthony Morris

Perhaps the trickiest relationship to show on-screen is the one between siblings, and it’s not just about finding actors who look alike. What The Skeleton Twins tries to tell audiences about damaged people is solid but uninspired: don’t deny your heart, you have to deal with your past rather than bury it… But it’s the chemistry between the two that makes this something special.

Navigating the maze of young adulthood

17 September 2014 | Anthony Morris

The Maze RunnerIn The Maze Runner, a group of teenage boys find themselves dumped in the middle of a giant maze. Lacking the freedom to do what they like, faced with rules and laws that seem arbitrary while struggling with deep changes on a physical level, teenagers’ personal problems have proven to be ripe material for dystopian novels and films. 

Disconnected landscapes

10 September 2014 | Anthony Morris

Jesse Eisenberg in Night MovesAs with her previous films, Kelly Reichardt is interested in people moving through and reacting to their landscape. In Night Moves, the drama comes from the way the characters' reaction to their environment cuts them off from the world around them. This refusal to connect turns toxic.

Timely liberation

03 September 2014 | Anthony Morris

Scene from Richard Linklater's film BoyhoodWhile not everything always turns out for the best in Boyhood, the stakes aren't high in any traditional sense. Instead, time gains power from its sheer passage on the screen. For Mason, the central character, it is a liberation. 

Bogan Jesus

28 August 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

The Songs of Jesse Adams coverCasting Christ as a bogan will rub theological feathers awry; a larger linguistic burden for many readers, however, is the unrelenting Strine and hoary cultural references. High art? No. Engaging? Highly. Jesse Adams is on about peace; an inclusive peace that includes social outcasts.

The shock of the news of Kennedy and Nixon

14 August 2014 | Brian Matthews

Nixon resignation speechLast week, when I heard a Margaret Throsby interview with Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean, I immediately remembered in startling detail where I was forty years ago. It was high summer, a beautiful warm day in Oxford. I was strolling along the banks of the Thames through a leafy camping ground; a voice, tragic yet culpable, retrieved from an unseen radio on 8 August 1974 in another country.

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