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Missing girls expose town's threadbare soul

10 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Detectives from MarshlandWorld-weary detectives Juan and Pedro arrive in an agrarian township on Spain's Guadalquivir Marshes to investigate the disappearance of two teenage sisters. But their investigation among the town's various innocents, eccentrics and reprobates uncovers a much larger, sinister burr within the very soul of the town. The smell of fascism lingers thickly in the air.

Child assassin's slow escape from cult corruption

03 June 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Jeremy Chabriel in PartisanThe children, their mothers and overseer inhabit a world all their own, morally as well as geographically. They know little but the rustic textures of life inside the compound; where every Friday they paint their faces like jungle animals and sing karaoke as a reward for a good week's killing. Even during their bloody errands, the urban landscape evokes a Martian dereliction. Only Alexander has started to smell danger.

Seeking restitution for Nazi art theft

27 May 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann in Woman in GoldMaria's aunt was the subject of one of Austria's most famous artworks, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, by the painter Gustav Klimt, which was stolen from Maria's family by the Nazis during the Second World War. Maria's story raises questions about the means and consequences of individuals and nations coming to terms with difficult histories, and of what constitutes 'ownership' of cultural artefacts with a high level of national significance.

Rollicking ruminations on rage and revenge

1 Comment
20 May 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Érica Rivas in Wild TalesA man sets in motion an elaborate scheme to get back at everyone who has ever done him wrong. This maniacal anthology of short cinematic stories earned an Oscar nomination this year along with a bundle of other accolades in its native Argentina and beyond. The darkly comic 'Little Bomb' shows a man's life and mind unravel as he rages against the perceived injustice of a parking infringement penalty.

Stage legend's age rage

13 May 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Kristen Stewart and Juliet Binoche in Clouds of Sils MariaFamous actor Maria Enders finds herself cast in a new production of the play that kick-started her career. The play explores the tempestuous relationship between a businesswoman, Helena, and her much younger assistant, Sigrid. Back then, Maria played Sigrid. Now, she is to portray the older woman. Through her engagement with the material she probes her own ambivalence and insecurities about getting older.

Women exploited on the road to human extinction

1 Comment
06 May 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Alicia Vikander in Ex MachinaNathan has been able to refine Ava's software thanks to his unmitigated access to internet users' search data, as well as to their telecommunications. Caleb, too, wonders if his attraction to Ava is due to her design being based on a review of his internet pornography profile. It is no coincidence that Ava replicates an idealised version of the female form. Nathan's and even Caleb's relationship to her is fundamentally exploitative and voyeuristic.

Kids fight exploitation in one of the world's most dangerous cities

29 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Rickson Tevez and Gabriel Weinstein in TrashThe boys possess the steel and resourcefulness that must come from living on the streets of one of the world's most dangerous cities, along with the fragility and artlessness that are hallmarks of youth. It is heartbreaking to witness the ease with which they are exploited or degraded, and inspiring to see the fervour and ingenuity with which they are able to fight back.

Vera Brittain's elegant anti-war ode

22 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Alicia Vikander in Testament of YouthVera, a latecomer to the gathering, interjects. She has worked as a nurse, has had her hands warmed by the blood of the maimed and the soon-to-be-dead of both sides of the conflict. She has lost loved ones, too — a brother, a friend, a fiancé — and the grief of their loss will be with her always. But how can violent conflict ever be truly redeemed through the trauma of more violent conflict? The German soldiers who died in the war left behind loved ones, too.

Abuse victim's post traumatic horror

15 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Maika Monroe and Lile Sepe in It FollowsThe manner in which Hugh drugs and binds Jay has strong overtones of 'date rape'. More than this, though, there is inherent violence in his having had sex with her at all, knowing that her consent hinged on her ignorance of the real consequences. Now, to be fair, there are men in the film who suffer, too. But the objectification of women by the male gaze and the predatory dynamic this entails is too pervasive to ignore.

This boy's life on the autism spectrum

08 April 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Asa Butterfield in X+YNathan was diagnosed when he was young, and was encouraged by his parents to view the diagnosis as a gift rather than a curse. It manifests in part as a prodigious talent for mathematics. Nathan finds patterns soothing, and so mathematics becomes a refuge as much as an academic interest. He shares a close bond with his father, but his mother, despite her best efforts, struggles to connect in the same way.

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