REVIEWS


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Blood and the Bard

4 Comments
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

5 Comments
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

4 Comments
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'.


Spiritual enlightenment on the transplant waitlist

1 Comment
02 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

In part, these hallucinogenic, metaphysical digressions are a product of Robert's medically-altered state of consciousness. Chemotherapy brings a sense of disorientation, which often leads patients' minds to wander in directions they wouldn't have otherwise. Through this, Robert discovers an Eastern spiritual and cultural approach to death that informs his own confrontation of mortality.


Rock star Streep and the uphill battle for Hollywood diversity

26 August 2015 | Tim Kroenert

There's a running gag that in Hollywood there are few roles for women over a certain age, unless you are Meryl Streep. Of course it isn't really a joke, if you consider the consistently dire statistics regarding gender, age and race diversity in mainstream American films. Whatever you make of this deplorable inequality, there can be little doubt that Streep is an actor singularly dedicated to her craft, who works hard and throws herself with aplomb into the wide range of roles that come her way.


Former Xavier students' love transcends AIDS horror

25 Comments
19 August 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Timothy Conigrave's memoir Holding the Man is a classic of contemporary Australian queer literature. Originally published in 1995 a few months after Conigrave's death from AIDS, it is an account of his relationship with John Caleo, whom he met in 1976 when they were both students at the Melbourne Jesuit private boys school Xavier College. Conigrave and Caleo were together for 15 years until Caleo's death (also from AIDS) in 1992. This film adaptation of their story is nothing if not bold.


Teen girls learn the language of love and violence

12 August 2015 | Tim Kroenert

The characters, black and poor, inhabit a world where violence is as an expression both of material want and of dignity. One scene sees Marieme and the members of her all-girls soccer team walking home after dark. The girls are garrulous. But in the shadows of the flats, male voices utter vaguely threatening suggestive remarks. The chatter dissipates to silence as the group dwindles to individuals. It's a quietly harrowing picture of women's too-frequently justified fear of violence from men.


A euthanasia parable in the outback

3 Comments
05 August 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Michael Caton in Last Cab to DarwinDismayed by the prognosis that he has only three months to live, Broken Hill cabbie Rex abandons his work, home and mates and sets out for Darwin to seek the help of prominent euthanasia advocate Dr Nicole Farmer (a fictional Dr Philip Nitschke). The story is as much about the journey as the destination, although there are those who would argue that its pat 'choose life' message just feels too easy.


Skank-shaming Amy Schumer

4 Comments
29 July 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in TrainwreckIt's not hard to see why Amy Schumer was offended. Last week, Melbourne KIIS FM breakfast co-host Matt Tilley earned the ire of the proudly feminist comedian by suggesting one of her characters is a 'skank'. The sleight comes not just from Tilley apparently missing the fact that the story is semi-autobiographical. It sits far too easily in a tradition of harmful double standards regarding male and female sexuality.


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