REVIEWS


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Best of 2013: On Seamus Heaney's turf

1 Comment
09 January 2014 | Peter Gebhardt

Seamus Heaney seated at a deskTen years ago, my wife and I went to Dublin. Upon our arrival at the hotel there were three notes waiting from Seamus; the first suggested a meeting, the second drinks, the third 'Heigho, we'll have some scrags'. He picked us up in a Mercedes Benz. I said something about a poet and such a car, 'Never mind it's got a broken window'.


Abused kids meet with Grace

18 December 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Brie Larson in Short Term 12Grace is both a character and a state of being. As the lead supervisor of a foster care facility, she oversees her charges with a combination of firmness and friendship. She strictly enforces rules and protocols while remaining unerringly empathetic, easily glimpsing the pain and trauma that lies just beneath the hostile or eccentric facade. But her power of empathy has its roots in past experience that threaten to smother her present.


Catherine Deveny's happy diversions

3 Comments
12 December 2013 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Cover of Catherine Deveny's 'The Happiness Show' features a loveheart-shaped balloonDeveny has made a career out of bungee jumping between the chasms of good taste, good writing and good sense. She's never been content to accept societal hypocrisy, and that's an occasional strength in her novel The Happiness Show. It becomes increasingly hard though to separate the author from her lead character, Lizzie. Thanks to an overly generous sprinkling of sex scenes, this quickly goes from disconcerting to downright awkward.


Children of the revolution

04 December 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Clément Métayer watches Lola Créton in a scene from After MayAs high school students they are too young to have begun the cultural revolution. But they try to fan its flames and bring its ideals to bear. Their idealism is at times tested against the cynicism or jaded moral certitude of older revolutionaries, one of whom chastises them for entertaining legitimate doubts about the means employed by Mao Zedong. There clearly is a gulf between healthy skepticism and wilful blindness.


Corrupt cop's crack at redemption

27 November 2013 | Tim Kroenert

James McAvoy looking harried and angry in FilthPolice detective Bruce Robertson is corrupt, violent, misogynistic, and a depraved drug addict. But he is not entirely inhuman, and Filth spends much frenetic energy trying to map the ghastly inner wounds that bleed greenly into his outer corruption. But just how do you build sympathy for a character whose near-to-first on-screen act is to sexually assault the underaged girlfriend of a murder suspect?


Sad life of a serial killer whale

1 Comment
20 November 2013 | Tim Kroenert

OrcaI was grateful that I had my back to my colleagues. My tears were occasionally due to sadness, but just as often they were a result of outrage. Blackfish finds much ground for moral outrage in its consideration of the suffering endured by trained orcas. It is an impassioned riposte to a commercial model in which death and suffering, human and cetacean alike, are merely the byproducts of profit.


Ricky Ponting's homilies

3 Comments
14 November 2013 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Ricky Ponting in baggy greenPunter is a bloke's bloke, 'brung up' in a limited but nurturing suburbia of cricket, cricket, golf and cricket. I was genuinely touched by his acknowledgement of the role his wife, Rianna, and their daughters have played in his maturation. Yet while life experiences invariably expanded young Ponting's mind, it's fair to say that there remains something of the awkward teen in the man.


Troubled Belfast's rickety punk prophet

13 November 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley throws his fists in the air amid the audience at a punk gigIn a city riven by violent hatred between Catholic and Protestant, non-religious and charismatic music lover Terri Hooley managed to stand outside and above the conflict. He became a kind of rickety prophet to Belfast's disaffected youth, as godfather of the city's burgeoning punk music scene. If any community had a reason to embrace the rage and unity of punk culture, it was Terri Hooley's Belfast.


Sex and haikus

6 Comments
06 November 2013 | Philip Harvey

'Australian Love Poems 2013' cover features title surrounded by ornate patternSaying we love someone can take all our courage, our wisdom, our foolishness. Often we don't know how to say it. When we do get to say we love someone, sometimes we reach for the pitch known as poetry. Of all the art forms, poetry and song relay love most immediately. A new book of Australian love poems shows how poetry can stretch the message to screaming point, or say it all in a few seconds.


Would-be nun's Holocaust history

2 Comments
30 October 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Agata Trzebuchowska in costume as young nun Ida peers out through a car windowOn the eve of taking her vows as a nun, 18-year-old novice Ida learns that she is Jewish. This sets her on a journey of self-discovery as she seeks to, literally, uncover the bones of her past, which has its roots in the Holocaust. It is timely to reflect on these matters in the wake of last weekend's anti-semitic violence in Bondi. It is better to grasp the bones of truth than walk in pious ignorance past the mass graves of history.


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