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Malcolm Fraser whacks lackey Australia

15 May 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

'Dangerous Allies' by Malcolm FraserFraser was a ruthless, conservative political animal who today is one of our most prominent human rights champions. The elder statesman is quite the angry young man in print. He delights in telegraphing his haymakers and following through with a well-placed elbow or two. Put bluntly, Fraser suggests we need to shed our lackey status. 'We need the United States for defence,' he argues, 'but we only need defence because of the United States.'

Seeing double in Hockey's dystopia

14 May 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Two Jesse Eisenbergs in The DoubleThe Double proffers a nightmare vision in which the human spirit is no match for the corrupt and corrupting power of a society obsessed with productivity and material achievement. In a week where we have seen an Australian Budget that gives favour to economic rationalism and the wellbeing of the wealthy, over that of some of our society's most needy citizens, such cynicism resonates powerfully. That is a tragedy.

Hugo Weaving's grief and healing

07 May 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Hugo WeavingWeaving's latest character is inspired by a real-life minimum-security prison officer whose daughter had died. This man helped develop a program for rehabilitating injured raptors, that would be overseen by prisoners as part of their own rehabilitation. 'The program encapsulated the positive side,' says Weaving, 'of someone trying to deal with their own grief, and healing himself by setting up a kind of living memorial to his daughter.'

Dangerous, sensual young love and sex

30 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Marine Vacth in Young & BeautifulDuring the summer of her 17th birthday, Isabelle manufactures the circumstances of her first sexual encounter. Not long afterwards, she finds herself working as a prostitute. By making men pay her, Isabelle exerts control over the manner and circumstances of her objectification. These are drastic and tragic measures that condemn the everyday exploitation of women by men, from pop culture to pornography.

My pop's Anzac nightmares

23 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Silhouette of a soldier playing a bugleAs a stretcher bearer, he tended to two landmine victims, including one who had lost his leg. He spent the night darting between the two men, providing physical aid, and whatever comfort and assurance was possible. Turns out he was lucky that he didn't end up laid out alongside them: the next morning he discovered that the entire narrow ridge was riddled with mines. 'That was fairly close,' he admitted. It was an understatement.

Exploitation in gay adoption story

16 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming in Any Day NowCloseted gay lawyer Paul operates under a well-founded fear that his sexuality will imperil his career. He and his partner, drag queen Rudy, find that their status as a gay couple is used against them as they fight to retain custody of Marco, an abandoned teen with Down syndrome. This is a story marked by grave injustice, though we are expected to accept on face value that Marco will be better off with Rudy and Paul than in foster care.

Punk's holy fools still putting it to Putin

10 April 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Cover of Masha Gessen's Words Will Break Cement features members of Pussy Riot in balaclavas dancing Journalist Masha Gessen describes the members of Pussy Riot as 'Putin's ideal enemies'. In recent months, their nemesis has hosted the Olympics, taken control of Crimea and clamped down on media. For a group born out of 'the repressions of a corporate political system that directs its power against basic human rights', Pussy Riot still has much to roar about, even if its signature 'punk prayer' sounds more than ever like a plea.

Nightmares and daydreams about women and power

1 Comment
09 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Stacy Martin in NymphomaniacSex addicted woman Joe's story is marked by innumerable sexual encounters with random men. Often it is explicit, and thoroughly unpleasant. It culminates in a pointed statement about societal double standards regarding gender and sex. By contrast, Carol's story about trying to get ahead in a man's world is affirming and uplifting at every turn. Both stories are about women and power, but ultimately Carol's is the more empowering.

North Korean propaganda pans Australian miners' might

02 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Aim High in Creation actors hold aloft a large photo of Kim Jong-ilAn intriguing insight into the North Korean film industry, whose strangely beautiful films have been used to obfuscate serious human rights abuses. Offbeat documentarian Broinowski acknowledges this fact too lightly, approaching her subjects simply as humans, who are part but by no means the sum of a much larger corrupt system. She learns the tricks of their trade, looking for clues about how she might shut down a gas mine to be built near her inner-Sydney home.

Quiet rage against Saudi sexist cycle

26 March 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Waad Mohammed inspects bicycle in WadjdaWadjda is innately political. It is the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first to be made by a female Saudi director, and concerns itself with the pressures women experience in this rigidly patriarchal society. But it is primarily a film not about politics but about humanity. Its characters find self-empowerment and connection not in rabble-rousing but in small acts of rebellion against oppressive social norms.

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