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21 February 2017 |
It is the story of two 17th century Portuguese Jesuits who travel to Japan to locate their former mentor, who is said to have renounced his faith, and to spread Catholicism. They find the local Christian populations have been driven underground, under threat of torture and execution. The lesson they come to learn against this fraught backdrop is that the living out of religious faith and the strengths and limitations of ordinary humanity cannot be considered in isolation from each other.
13 February 2017 |
There's a gag about sitting in the back of the bus, the realities of segregation dismissed with a giggle; references to university sit-ins and firebombings come via the eyes of a cartoonishly earnest character. Meanwhile the White characters are either the object of contrived sympathy, or too thinly drawn to invoke genuine menace. Accusations of 'cultural appropriation' might be uncharitable, but the short shrift given to the real, continuing hardships of Black experience raises questions about objectives and authenticity.
07 February 2017 |
The Academy, it seems, has listened. After the #whiteoscars furore of past years, three of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Moonlight, Fences, and Hidden Figures, are films with predominantly (if not entirely) Black casts, and focused on the experiences of Black characters. Cast and crewmembers from all three have been nominated in various categories. To be fair, all three films would have demanded attention, with or without the recent controversy around awards season racial bias.
31 January 2017 |
The chaos embedded in these characters' world is made clear through physical symbols - Chiron flees from bullies into an abandoned drug den, where he finds a used syringe and holds it up to the light like a talisman - and by the camera, which trails and circles the characters, or locks onto their faces, a conduit for their grief or desperation or lust or rage or joy. Bursts of actual violence or dramatic confrontation are rare. Where they occur it is their emotional content that is most confronting.
17 January 2017 |
The perspective is Jackie's at all times; JFK himself rarely appears onscreen, and often is just a shoulder or a jaw glimpsed in profile at his wife's side. Portman's is a fine portrayal, displaying at all times an abiding grace and dignity, whether she is washing her husband's blood off her face, or facing down the questions of an astute journalist who may or may not be on her side. In the making of the Camelot myth, Jackie models the presidential funeral on Abraham Lincoln's, by this very process rejecting her brother-in-law Robert's doubts that the Kennedy presidency ultimately amounted to much at all.
13 December 2016 |
Amid the noise of Batman battling Superman, the Avengers turning against each other, and middle aged fanboys whingeing about the Ghostbusters franchise being revitalised with an all-female lead cast, 2016 has actually been a pretty solid year for movies, both in and outside of Hollywood. We haven't had time to see them all (we have a magazine to publish, after all) but nonetheless here is a list of our ten favourite films reviewed in Eureka Street this year.
06 December 2016 |
Families can be sites of great love and nourishment, and also of pain and trauma - often, all of these things, to varying degrees. The Family Fang focuses on the lives of adults bearing the mental and emotional ramifications of what can fairly be described as an abusive upbringing. It provides an illuminating counterpoint to Little Men, in which the close and sincere friendship of teenage boys comes under strain from their parents' 'grown-up' problems.
22 November 2016 |
The welfare system Daniel experiences is a bureaucratic nightmare, populated by condescending Health Care Professionals, shadowy and calculating Decision Makers, managers who loom over their clients like stern parents, and caseworkers who stifle any human compassion for their desperate supplicants. He is grilled by a welfare officer about every aspect of his health except the only relevant one, his heart. Later, he runs afoul of the agency's 'online by default' processes. Daniel has never used a computer in his life.
14 November 2016 |
In science fiction, stories of first contact typically have as much to say about humanity as they do about the extra-terrestrial creations of the author's imagination. Mary Doria Russell's 1998 novel The Sparrow explores the consequences of a Jesuit-led mission to a planet near Alpha Centauri, which are profound for the planet's sentient inhabitants and devastating for the human travellers. As in The Sparrow, language is central to Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's philosophically piquant first contact story Arrival.
14 November 2016 |
Climactic events demand we give an account of ourselves. Where were you when you heard that JFK was assassinated? Where were you when the planes went into the World Trade Centre? If we can't remember, we fear we may convict ourselves of reprehensible levity. In future years when I am asked what I was doing when Donald Trump was elected President, I shall have a ready answer: I was reading Brian Matthews' splendid reflection on Richie Benaud.
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