REVIEWS


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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.


Eye on the messy ethics of drone warfare

5 Comments
23 March 2016 | Tim Kroenert

With more than 30 dead in Brussels just a few short months after the horrors in Paris, the Western world again confronts an assailant in ISIS who deals in fear and bloodshed. In contemplating our responses to such attacks we recognise the historical and current geopolitical realities that have bred the ideologies that fuel them. This messiness is the stuff of a new British film that arrives in Australia this week, which explores the plight of those who might be 'collateral damage' in the hyper-technological 'war on terror'.


Great white filmmakers can't dismiss diversity

6 Comments
09 March 2016 | Tim Kroenert

When questioned about diversity in his films recently, Joel Coen replied: 'You don't sit down and say, "I'm going to write a story that involves four black people, three Jews, and a dog".' The answer is disingenuous at best. Filmmakers choose what stories to tell and how; with a few exceptions, the Coens tell stories about white men. Just as Quentin Tarantino ought to continue discussing the role violence and misogyny play in his films, the Coens should engage meaningfully with questions of diversity.


Humanity found in ritual amid death camp horror

02 March 2016 | Tim Kroenert

In the history of the Second World War and the deathly screed of the Final Solution, the Sonderkommando cuts a pitiable figure. These Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz and other death camps who were forced to perform the logistics surrounding mass murder - the carting and disposal of dead flesh - though patently victims, were viewed by some as collaborators. Son of Saul provides an immersive and impressionistic extrapolation of this ethical and actual horror.


Marriage interrupted by a life-lie disrupted

24 February 2016 | Tim Kroenert

As Kate plans a party for their 45th wedding anniversary, news arrives that the body of Katya, Geoff's long-dead first love, has been discovered in a Swiss glacier. The 'life-lie' that emerges turns out to be not so much a concealment but rather a minimisation of truth. The disruption it causes to an ostensibly happy marriage comes not in the form of shocking revelation, but slow-dawning realisation; not that Geoff isn't the man he purported to be, but that Kate may not be what she believed herself to be, to him.


Harper Lee and the death of moral certainty

7 Comments
21 February 2016 | Ellena Savage

Go Set A WatchmanMy friend Z lives in Detroit and is rocked by the racial segregation she's exposed to there. When we were 15, she and I bonded over the passionate conversations Mockingbird inspired. 'I was in awe of Atticus,' she recalled as we reflected on Lee's death. 'I desperately wanted him to save the accused black man. Maybe if I had read it at my age now, I'd substitute the black man for the hero.' She articulated what I couldn't: that as moving a piece of rhetoric Mockingbird is, it is no longer adequate.


Gentle view of an Irish-American migrant experience

1 Comment
17 February 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Eilis' profound homesickness is evoked by the letters she composes for and receives from her long distant sister and mother. Her sense of awe at this new world is revealed in her interactions with the other, more brazen boarders; and at work, where she is chided by her manager for being too shy with customers. Gradually, familiarity and opportunity allow her to grow in confidence. Her coming-of-age is defined as gradual self-empowerment through the making of small, and sometimes large, choices.


Puppets' portrait of privilege and pathos

10 February 2016 | Tim Kroenert

As screenwriter for comic such oddities as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, Kaufman delineated a particular type of over-educated, middle-class, white male character. His protagonists are artists whose alienation and self-loathing is at odds with their social privilege, and whose creative drive entails a winnowing for authenticity or immortality that leads them inexorably down the rabbit hole of their own navels: the search for meaning as the ultimate act of self-absorption.


The problem of privilege in transgender stories

11 Comments
03 February 2016 | Tim Kroenert

As a white, middle-class, straight, cisgendered man, I am conscious of the extent to which the chips of social privilege have been stacked in my favour. As such there are some public conversations that I am patently unqualified to enter. One of these is the sometimes fierce debate that exists between some feminists and some members or supporters of the transgender community. One of the pitfalls of telling a story about marginalisation from a perspective of privilege is that you can overlook ethical nuances.


Kidnapped woman's post-traumatic love

31 January 2016 | Tim Kroenert

For seven years, Joy has been held prisoner in the garden shed of a suburban maniac. During this time she has raised a son, Jack, who is now five, employing elaborate and imaginative methods to nurture and educate him, while protecting him from the reality of their existence. Room is remarkable for its capacity to transmit the bleakness of Joy's situation via the wonder-full gaze of Jack, for whom this makeshift prison is the entire world, bursting with possibilities for recreation, rest and learning.


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