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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.

Blood and the Bard

30 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Lady Macbeth is left somewhere in the realm of caricature, her 'Out damned spot' soliloquy oddly decontextualised and the circumstances of her death diminished and confused. That said, the conflation of the Macbeths' conspiracy to commit regicide with an act of discreet marital sex is a potent image of their moral codependency. This faithful adaptation by Australian director Justin Kurzel is grimmer even than Polanski's 1971 version, which it is set to displace as the standard-bearer adaptation.

Grace and quiet rage in David Gulpilil's country

23 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Gulpilil measures the distance to Ramininging from Darwin by the number of river crossings, and defines its rough edges by the points at which traditional values clash with the imposed or inherited Western trappings. Through him we meet a man who found Christianity while in prison, and who now on Easter Sunday leads an epic reenactment of the Passion through the town's dirt streets. In the degradation of his trial and execution, says Gulpilil, Jesus is neither God nor leader; 'He is black. He is one of us.'

Transgender sex worker fights back from the margins

16 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

When Sin-Dee rants about the 'fish' with whom her pimp boyfriend has been cheating, she is a transgender woman using a derogatory term for a person who is socially and biologically female. Her story does not merely transgress traditional gender binaries; it assumes the perspective of marginalised characters to reveal through their lived experiences the ways in which gender is both an individual and social construction.

The amazing grace of Joan Baez

09 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Folk legend and renowned human rights activist Joan Baez's fire hasn't dimmed. Today she rages at the 'disgusting' state of race relations in America — 'police violence, mass arrests of people of colour, torture in prisons' — half a century on from the Selma civil rights marches, in which she took part. Yet amid these horrors, Baez still finds herself able to be moved by examples of 'amazing grace'.

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