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Ten films that got us thinking in 2015

16 December 2015 | Tim Kroenert

From the drama-filled mind of a pre-teen girl to the homes of former Indonesian death-squad members; from a day in the life of a transgender sex-worker to a grim and sublime new rendition of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays; from one actor's immense ego to another's fading relevance to an allegedly doomed writer's captivating self-effacement, Eureka Street's resident film buff Tim Kroenert revisits the characters and themes of some of the best and most conversation-worthy films of 2015.

Partial portrait of a doomed artist as a young man

09 December 2015 | Tim Kroenert

The End of the Tour is most compelling as a consideration of the relationship between journalist and subject, which is a strange kind of beast, glorified in the sprawling feature profiles of Rolling Stone and its ilk. At its best the relationship is marked by intimacy generated through dialogue, but at its worst or it is mutually exploitative. Scenes from this year's Amy Schumer press junket revealed how bad things can go when an interviewer thinks they are going to befriend their celebrity interviewee.

Human faces from Indonesia's killing fields

02 December 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Adi was born after the 1965 atrocities, but his older brother Ramli was killed during them. He watches filmed interviews in which the perpetrators laughingly detail Ramli's murder, before going to confront and question them. These encounters are emblematic of a new generation of Indonesian seeking enlightenment from a former generation who find it less painful, or simply more beneficial, to forget. But Adi doesn't seek to humiliate or denigrate. He seeks the seeds of reconciliation in shared humanity.

Abuse survivor's other superpowers

1 Comment
18 November 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Following its whitewashing of 'wife-beater' Ant-Man and the Black Widow slut-shaming debacle, Marvel has a long way to go to show it is not one big boys club. Alias, basis of the new series Jessica Jones, is one example of a modern day Marvel comic that, in the words of pop culture critic Roz Kaveney, offers a 'rebuke to the convenient pieties of the comic book', by proving that comics can be thematically rich, and can take serious issues — such as the physical and sexual abuse of women by men — seriously.

Eviction porn has ethical foundations

1 Comment
11 November 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Against the backdrop of the crash of the US housing market, we linger on the lurid details of families' removal from the brick boxes that have been their homes for decades. We can only watch as they cycle through stages of denial, bargaining, fury and grief. These are well meaning people who have innocently fallen foul of a system that deals in laws and dollars, not humanity. It is a system so corrupt it turns the exploited into exploiters; where its desperate victims embrace corruption in turn as a means of survival.

A Taliban bullet didn't keep her down

05 November 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai came to international prominence in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, for her advocacy for girls' education. He Named Me Malala ponders whether her father shares indirect responsibility for the shooting, as he encouraged her advocacy. The question of exploitation is relevant whenever a child enters the public gaze, but here it threatens to undermine Malala's own agency, as a young woman who can think, speak and act powerfully on her own behalf.

Monsters of marriage

28 October 2015 | Tim Kroenert

The Loners are not merely hapless prey, but represent a kind of ideological resistance. They enforce singleness as brutally as The Hotel does couplehood, and a night-time raid on The Hotel has strong overtones of terrorism. It's another layer to Lanthimos' kaleidoscopic allegory — a commentary on radicalisation, with this brutal underground existing as a direct result of the oppression enacted within an equally brutal mainstream. They are two faces of the same violence.

Soft sympathy and hard redemption for scarred chef

21 October 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Brilliant but volatile chef Adam humiliates and physically assaults a female colleague, Helene, over the heinous crime of mis-cooking a piece of fish. The encounter ends with Helene telling Adam to keep his hands off her and storming out. Yet clearly her justified indignation has its limits: in the very next scene she is shown madly rehearsing cooking the dish whose mangling sparked the incident. The glossing over of this abuse reinforces the notion that creative genius somehow excuses arsehole behaviour.

The man who gave the Twin Towers their soul

1 Comment
14 October 2015 | Tim Kroenert

In 1974 eccentric French acrobat Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the recently completed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He and his team of accomplices, aware of the illegality of what they were doing and the complex physical challenges of rigging a cable between 400-metre-tall skyscrapers (let along walking on it), spent months scheming in secret. On the day, any number of unforeseen circumstances could derail the intricate plot. The Walk recreates the feat in vertiginous detail.

Devil worship on Boston's mean streets

07 October 2015 | Tim Kroenert

A Black Mass is a travesty of the Catholic Mass in worship of the devil. In this instance it is a metaphor for FBI agent Connolly's devotion to violent criminal Bulger, due in part to the social benefit he attains through his association with this powerful criminal, but running all the way back to a formative childhood encounter that is hinted at but not articulated in detail. Of the flatly villainous Bulger and the morally complex, wilfully compromised Connolly, the latter is the more palpably evil.

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