REVIEWS


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Refugee children process trauma through drama

1 Comment
20 September 2016 | Tim Kroenert

At a Sydney school, a group of teenage refugees come together to share their stories, first with each other, and then with their friends and families via a live theatrical performance. Treehouse Theatre is run by three dedicated teachers, who facilitate the sharing, and help transform the children's stories into scripts that can be performed. Their stories are yet another reminder of the human cost of conflict, and of policies that exclude and further traumatise those who are fleeing from it.


Heroes and humanity in Hudson River plane miracle

1 Comment
14 September 2016 | Tim Kroenert

On 15 January 2009, US Airways pilot Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger successfully executed an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in New York, after both engines on the passenger jet he was flying were disabled following a collision with a flock of geese shortly after takeoff. Miraculously, and thanks largely to the veteran pilot's razor instincts and resourcefulness, all 155 passengers and crew on board escaped the ordeal all but unscathed. In Sully the incident itself is portrayed in near forensic detail (aviophobics might best stay away). But it is the human touches that really make it soar.


Fraught existence of a fantastic family

2 Comments
07 September 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Don't mistake this for an idyll. Incongruently, the youngest child has built a bone shrine to Pol Pot. The father oversees a rigorous physical exercise regime; later he will boast that they have the fitness levels of elite athletes. Yet during a rock climbing expedition, Ben is unsympathetic when one of them injures himself, insisting the boy draw on his personal resources to extricate himself from very real peril.


New adventures in David Brent's theatre of cruelty

31 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

There are hints of darkness behind the laughs. We learn Brent spent time in an institution some time after the original 'documentary' aired. He is shunned by his band members, who see themselves as reluctant employees rather than friends. What emerges is a rather affecting portrait of a man whose self-identity is at total odds with reality, and threatening to come crashing disastrously down.


Antiheroes of the Bush-Cheney arms boom

24 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

War Dogs is the latest in a string of films from the past few years that are custom made for our cynical times; deeply ironic black comedies and dramas featuring antiheroes who profit to the point of excess off the misery of others. Where those films dealt with the finance industry and gained relevance from the backdrop of the Global Financial Crisis, this one shifts focus to the grimier world of arms dealing, in the context of Bush era conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Dying with dignity in Madrid

6 Comments
18 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

The film's quiet humour leaves open many spaces for reflection on getting older, and on mortality. Tomas is uncomfortable with the subject of death, but Julian is determined to confront it with honesty and dignity. His activities during those four short days reveal he possesses a well formed conception of his own humanity and mortality that is not short of admirable. We are as sympathetic to Paula raging against her cousin's resignation, as we are to Tomas' growing acceptance.


Food for thought in atheist inspired animation

1 Comment
11 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

There's a bagel character, coded as Jewish, and a lavash (Armenian flatbread), coded as Palestinian, who clash because they have to share an aisle. 'Isn't the aisle big enough for both of you?' asks Frank. In this and other ways the film points to the destructive power of religious belief corrupted by self- or socio-political interest. On the other hand it ignores the role religion can play in developing robust ethical thinking about the ways in which we can interact meaningfully with others and the world.


Alfred Hitchcock's Catholic guilt

04 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

The interviewees regard Vertigo with awe, waxing lyrical about its psychosexual subtext; but not a word is said about the inherent misogyny of a film that is explicitly about a man's objectification of a woman. The film's most interesting segment however concerns the pre-eminence of guilt in Hitchcock's films, and the role it plays in shaping human activity. This, says Martin Scorsese (a filmmaker similarly preoccupied with guilt and sin), may define Hitchcock as an essentially Catholic filmmaker.


The quiet torture of unspeakable grief

1 Comment
29 June 2016 | Tim Kroenert

This strange and engrossing Italian film proffers an unsettling rumination upon the rituals of mourning, and upon a mode of grief which itself is a kind of death. It opens with a sweeping close-up of an imposing crucifix, and the fine musculature of a graven Christ. A mass of mourners is then revealed, and before them a woman, immobile and weeping silently. The camera angle cuts to calf level, to reveal a trail of urine more copious than her tears, running down her leg to her shoes.


Feminist parable's message for Eddie McGuire and co.

7 Comments
22 June 2016 | Tim Kroenert

That McGuire, eventually, and presumably under pressure from the club's board and a major sponsor, offered what seemed to be a sincere apology, barely diminishes the fact that the comments were made in the first place, compensates for the lack of real repercussions, or excuses the time and effort that was required to get the incident on the agenda at all. Like a good parable, Mustang illuminates the ethical deficit of such a scenario, where women can so readily be bulldozed by powerful male voices.


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