REVIEWS


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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.


Quietly uncovering a Church scandal

4 Comments
27 January 2016 | Jim McDermott

Not long ago a priest visiting from abroad told me that the story of Spotlight doesn't really apply to his country. 'We don't have that problem here.' It's a comment you get somewhat regularly from some parts of the world. Would that it could only be true. Without a much greater willingness on the part of the institutional Church to let itself be broken and changed by what we have learned since January of 2002, it's more likely a sign of disasters still to come.


The time to look away from abuse crisis has gone

18 Comments
27 January 2016 | Richard Leonard

Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo in SpotlightThis is one of the angriest films you will ever see. In the Bible we hear about righteous anger, where God or humanity realises something is so wrong and sinful that 'holy anger' is the first and right response. At its best in the scriptures this anger leads to justice, making things right. Spotlight is an occasion for holy, righteous anger and every adult Catholic should see it.


Racist Oscars need to lift their game

2 Comments
20 January 2016 | Tim Kroenert

It's less than a year since we lamented the lack of non-white faces among 2015's Oscar nominees. This year the situation is even grimmer, with not one non-white face among 20 nominees for acting awards, despite a raft of clear contenders. It is ironic, because at first glance, concepts of empowerment and inclusion seem to have been at the forefront of Academy members' minds. The theme of bringing marginalised or oppressed groups into the centre, or of restoring power and dignity to vulnerable individuals from whom it has been stripped, run through many of this year's nominated films.


2015 in review: Burning Scientology

13 January 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of BeliefIf you're going to apply a blowtorch to an institution as wealthy and litigious as the Church of Scientology, you might best be advised to first apply a magnifying glass. Alex Gibney details the dark side of the movement: its dubious tax-exempt status; allegations of psychological and physical abuse of current members and harassment of former members. But he is equally interested in unpacking the nature of belief in Scientology: what draws people to it, and also what drives them away.


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