REVIEWS


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Angst and insecurity in public school battle of wills

08 June 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Vice-principal Rickard claims the credit for having lifting the status of the once struggling public school, and sees in the smart but troubled new student Mark both the potential to do well and a danger to his own legacy. For his own part Mark, who was previously kicked out of the private school to which he had earned a scholarship, sees in Rickard a misguided do-gooder and, later, something a little more dangerous: an ambitious man whose ego is the flipside of insecurity.


Foster kid finds healing in the New Zealand wilderness

2 Comments
01 June 2016 | Tim Kroenert

It's the last chance for Ricky, who has been through a lot of other foster homes before winding up at Bella and Hector's. We don't know the detail of these experiences, but it is telling that the natural nurturer Bella's smallest gestures - cooking breakfast for Ricky, or putting a hot water bottle in his bed at night - are kindnesses like none he has ever known. It contrasts with the child welfare worker''s mantra of 'No child left behind', which on her lips becomes menacing, or at best a bureaucratic inanity.


Not-so-nice guys have sexist cake and eat it too

25 May 2016 | Tim Kroenert

As is the time-honoured tradition of Hollywood PIs, Holland has long bound the wounds of some unresolved grief in alcohol and cynicism. Notwithstanding individual tastes that are by no means aligned with gender, this is the kind of movie that can tend to appeal to puerile male interests while diminishing respect for women. In this regard Shane Black, a mainstream filmmaker who is more self-aware than most, tries to have his cake and eat it too, by both drawing and subverting the objectifying male gaze.


Inside Nauru nightmare

4 Comments
18 May 2016 | Tim Kroenert

With PNG's Supreme Court finding last month that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional, the shamefulness of Australia's border protection policies was once again laid bare. Advocates will be familiar with the facts and arguments that Chasing Asylum articulates. What sets it apart is its wealth of hidden camera footage caught within the grim confines of the centre on Nauru, and Orner's conversations with detainees and social workers who bore witness to the dire daily reality there.


Neglecting and reconnecting with elderly parents

2 Comments
11 May 2016 | Tim Kroenert

The film explores the dynamic between men and their ageing parents, as Frank, trying to make up for neglecting his relationship with his own dead mother, clashes with Sarah's neglectful adult son. Essential to this sifting of family and belonging as central to the identity of suburban males, is a rumination on houses as homes versus property. As a real estate agent, Frank is repeatedly chastised by a young father who feels increasingly priced out of the market.


Changed by faith in a miraculous child

05 May 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Despite its epic scope it is also deeply intimate and, dare I say, spiritual. Roy regards his son with a mixture of stern, protective love, and helpless wonder. They are joined in their quest by Roy's childhood friend Lucas, a state trooper converted to Alton's cause after literally seeing the light in his eyes. Also by Alton's mother, Sarah, who of all the cohort has the most direct experience of the 'sense of awe' that ultimately unfolds from the 'mystery' of Alton's story.


Sad story of a tragic opera wannabe

3 Comments
20 April 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Socialite and amateur operatic soprano Marguerite cuts an intriguing and tragic figure, devoted to her craft but oblivious to her lack of talent. Yet the joy she gains from believing she is a great singer doesn't depend on the reality or otherwise of that belief. Is it right or wrong for those who care for her to allow her to continue in her delusion? The question echoes the concept of a life-lie, invoked by Henrik Ibsen to argue that human beings are sometimes better off living in at least partial ignorance of reality.


Singing and subverting White American history

1 Comment
13 April 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Lin-Manuel Miranda in HamiltonThe show's implicit subversiveness runs deep. It is embodied in the fact that its cast consists of mostly Black and Latino performers portraying White characters, using a vernacular and musical styles popularly associated with these cultural groups. It thus stands as a riposte to the history of black/brownface and whitewashing in popular entertainment. Crucially, in a show about 'founding fathers', it is the story's women who not only provide its emotional core but are also the most fundamentally heroic.


Icelandic farmers like rams to the slaughter

06 April 2016 | Tim Kroenert

When a remote valley in the north of Iceland is struck by an outbreak of scrapie - a fatal, degenerative disease that affects sheep - Gummi, Kiddi and their farmer neighbours must face the prospect of conducting a mass slaughter. This is very much a communal crisis, and a consideration of the socioeconomic hardships of traditional Icelandic sheep farmers in modern times. But it's also a teasing-out on the personal level of Gummi and Kiddi's emotional and practical responses to this turn of events.


Sherpa Spring challenges Western privilege on Everest

30 March 2016 | Tim Kroenert

If Peedom was expecting to find signs of a growing sense of self-agency behind the docile facade of the legendary 'Smiling Sherpa', she couldn't have predicted a rawer or more tragic scenario against which it would play out. Predictably the turn of events does not sit will with the Western climbers and tour operators, who feel that the outlay of time and money, not to mention the 'bucket-list' imperative to conquer the peak, entitle them to proceed. Polite facades peel away to reveal ugly attitudes.


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