Category Archives: Arts and Reviews

RAMESH THAKUR. Incorrigible Optimist by Gareth Evans, a Political Memoir – A review-Part 1of 2

 Gareth Evans’ memoir makes clear his vision of good international citizenship would have foreign ministers pursuing national self-interest within the ennobling vision of global moral purposes.

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JOHN TULLOH. Through the Iron Curtain to Moscow and across Siberia 50 years ago.

Earlier this year, Pearls and Irritations ran an account of the 50th anniversary of my first major foreign news assignment, the Six-Day War. This is about another 50th anniversary assignment, the Russian Revolution. The centenary is next month. 

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EVAN WILLIAMS. Dunkirk – film review.

We all know the story – or do we?  It was one of Britain’s great wartime triumphs.  With the British Expeditionary Force driven back to the French coast by advancing German armies, thousands of Allied troops were stranded on the … Continue reading

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RAWDON DALRYMPLE. A personal link to World War One.

All of us who have a stake in understanding the Great War should be grateful to Joan Beaumont for her magisterial history of Australia’s involvement in that terrible conflict (Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War).

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JUDITH WHITE. Risks of gallery expansion

The NSW Coalition government has allocated $244m towards a major new building at the state Art Gallery. But questions are being raised about its ongoing funding and its mission as a public institution.

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KIERAN TAPSELL. ‘The Attachment’ by Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty.

The subtitle to this book is Letters from a Most Unlikely Friendship, and it consists of a series of letters with some occasional background comment between a “lapsed” Catholic (although none of the authors use that word) turned “agnostic with … Continue reading

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JUDITH WHITE. Arts policy and the need to counter the undermining of public cultural institutions

Writing a book is a solitary occupation, but with this one I’ve been constantly aware of the hosts of people – staff, members, volunteers, benefactors – who are concerned about what is happening to our public institutions. And they are … Continue reading

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MARK COLVIN. “Four Weeks One Summer” by Nicholas Whitlam

In the summer of 1936, over just four weeks, it all went wrong – for democracy and for Spain, even for the British royals. Politicians failed, and Hitler was emboldened to plan a new European war, and more.   When some … Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. What Australian Foreign Policy?

Insider, analyst and adviser Allan Gyngell finds that Australian defence and foreign policy are more bipartisan than ever. But even as Australia’s national security agenda metastesizes, we have more to fear from an unreliable ally and an increasingly lawless world. … Continue reading

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SUSAN RYAN. Book review. The Dark Flood Rises: Margaret Drabble.

As our sort of societies experience the demographic revolution, most of us are living much longer than ever before, in cultures that have not responded well to this increased longevity. We also find ourselves living in cultures that so far … Continue reading

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RICHARD LETTS. National Opera Review: propping up the 19th Century

  The National Opera Review has reported. Instigator George Brandis is probably well enough satisfied. The Terms of Reference are pure Brandis. The name is National Opera Review, the game is a review of the four larger companies funded by … Continue reading

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Gough Whitlam and Blue Poles.

  Blue Poles is in the news again. It was purchased for $1.3 million and is now valued at $350 million. The disparaging nature of the campaign against the purchase is reflected in Molnar’s cartoon (below) of 5 April 1974. … Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. Your laptop is watching you: ‘Snowden’ the movie.

  Before Snowden comes on, there’s a short film of Oliver Stone, the director, warning cinema audiences that they can be surveilled, so please turn off their devices. Even as a humourless joke for geeks, it sets the sombre tone … Continue reading

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EVAN WILLIAMS. Film review: Truman

  Directed by Cesc Gay, Truman is a wonderful Spanish film about a couple of old buddies saying goodbye for the last time. One of them is dying of lung cancer, and the film traces their last four days together … Continue reading

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MILTON MOON. Waiting for Godness -a narrative poem

by Milton Moon.© I’m due to die sooner rather than later. My wife of sixty-seven years has already gone, her mortal remains, in ashes waiting for mine. Together they’ll go, somewhere as part of the seasons or the tides ebb … Continue reading

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EVAN WILLIAMS. ‘Money Monster’. Film Review

It occurred to me watching Money Monster that George Clooney is Hollywood’s Malcolm Turnbull. Think about it. Both are rich and famous. Both are smart, good-looking and smooth-talking. Both exude confidence and charm. Like Malcolm, George has no difficulty persuading … Continue reading

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EVAN WILLIAMS. Chasing Asylum. Film Review.

I rate it among the best Australian documentaries ever made If you want to see Chasing Asylum, Eva Orner’s brilliant new Australian documentary, my advice is to hurry along. At last count it was showing on just two screens in … Continue reading

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Julianne Schultz. Australia must act now to preserve its culture in the face of global tech giants. Brian Johns Annual Lecture

  At the first Brian Johns Annual Lecture, Julianne Schultz spoke of the challenge to Australian culture by the global tech giants. In the summary of ‘what can be done’ she said: So what can be done to join the … Continue reading

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Kim Williams. Fair use does not mean free: Copyright recommendations would crush Australian content

As someone who has spent my life running organisations that take risks, invest billions and innovate to provide the best of local and international content to Australian consumers, reading the Productivity Commission’s draft report into our intellectual property arrangements was … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. ‘A Month of Sundays’. Film Review

I went to see A Month of Sundays, Mathew Saville’s new Australian film, expecting a comedy about real-estate agents. It was the impression I’d gained from a careless reading of publicity handouts and other usually unreliable sources. And sure enough, … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Rams. Film Review

  Rams is a strange and beautiful film from Iceland. And we don’t hear much about Iceland these days. As a child, I pictured a place of endless glaciers and permanently frozen lakes, and was surprised to discover that it … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. ‘The Daughter’ film review

The ads for the new Australian film The Daughter are proudly informing us that the film comes from the same producer who gave us The Piano and Lantana. And that’s some pedigree. Lantana and The Piano were both distinguished Australian … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. The Lady in the Van. Film Review

  Alec Guinness is remembered for playing seven different roles in the classic English comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets. In Nicholas Hytner’s film, The Lady in the Van, Maggie Smith goes one better. At different times she’s a crazy old … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Oscars and other frivolities

My vote for best performance by an actor in this year’s Oscars goes to Leonardo DiCaprio – not for his much-touted appearance in The Revenant, but for his rousing speech at the presentation ceremony. I don’t know if he scripted … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Film review ‘Spotlight’

Evan Williams recently reviewed Spotlight. This film has now won the Best Film at the recent Oscars. This review is reposted below. Evan Williams will soon also write on the Oscar awards in general.  John Menadue. The other night I … Continue reading

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Laurie Patton. Pirates of Perchance: How “site-blocking” could force up Internet fees but do little else

Last week both Village Roadshow and Foxtel finally launched court actions under the eight months old Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act designed to deal with Internet “piracy”. The first thing that needs pointing out is that downloading video and audio content … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Film review. ‘Trumbo’ (M)

Everyone remembers Psycho, in which Anthony Perkins played a knife-wielding weirdo obsessed with his dead mother, and most of us remember Rambo, in which Sylvester Stallone played a super-patriot action-hero fighting for truth, justice and the American way. We all … Continue reading

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Ravi. Poems from detention.

  My pen and paper I walk a deep sadness path with my loneliness. This emptiness makes me slow. I fall to my knees and cry out loudly. Tears knock silently at my eyes. I can’t find anyone to share … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Film review: ‘The Big Short’

An opening title informs us that The Big Short is “based on a true story.” That usually means that the film we are about to see has only a tenuous connection with reality, that most of it is invented and … Continue reading

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Evan Williams. Film Review: Carol.

I’m not alone in rating her the best actress in the world. Or as some would prefer to say, the best female actor in the world. Or more precisely, the best female English-speaking screen actor working in mainstream cinema. And … Continue reading

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