Finding myself faced with the glory of a almost completely free weekend, I decided to program a little film festival for myself. Usually that’s what I do anyway on the weekend – watch movies – but this time I actually made a little list and stuck to it. The movies I watched were The Place Beyond the Pines, The Master, Morvern Callaer, and Rust and Bone. Of those I’d seen The Master before. Rather than review them, I want to talk a little about some of the key scenes. Read more…
Another Oscar ceremony has come and gone and we’ve had a barrage of articles about how terrible the hosting was, how badly produced the telecast was, and how boring the winners were. As usual with this kind of thing, there are elements of truth to all those statements, but things are not that simple. If you’d followed the precursor awards circuit the wins for Argo, Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz, and Anne Hathaway were not particularly surprising. On the other hand, getting the first tie for nearly twenty years was fun – that was for Best Sound Editing where Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty shared the prize.
All the talk today, though, has been about the performance of Seth MacFarlane and the overall quality of the telecast. The show was a strange beast. There were some great moments – like the Von Trapp joke of the night and some classy dancing from Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron; but there were also some bizarre moments like the two tributes to 2002′s “oh yeah, that’s right” Best Picture winner Chicago. And then there were the handful of very tasteless jokes. Some were more defensible than others, like the “Old enough for Clooney” joke about 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis which was clearly about Clooney’s taste in women and not the other way around. The boob song, though, despite the obvious efforts to frame it in a “this is what a terrible show would look like” context, felt a little too close to the jokes MacFarlane would actually want to tell. Read more…
I don’t really want to write about Kevin Rudd. I really don’t. But, apart from the divorce-that-isn’t between the Greens and ALP today (covered with aplomb on AusVotes2013 already here and here) Ruddmentum has been the news for the last few days. The whisper has grown into a shout and I think political observers everywhere are expecting shit to get real soon.
As it happens, I’m not convinced there will be a challenge or any change of leadership at all. For one, the natural state of federal politics is stasis. That is, the old adage of ‘disunity is death’ is the planet around which the two parties orbit and that is, therefore, where they tend to focus. The swift dispatching of Rudd 1.0 was the exception that proved the rule – it is an action that Prime Minister Gillard has failed to fully overcome, and the lingering perception of the injustice of the deed is almost certainly big factor in Rudd’s relative current popularity. Secondly, it’s really not clear a return to Rudd would deliver a win. It would probably make things closer, but it’s no slam dunk. Does the cost of treating the Prime Ministership like your party’s plaything outweigh the benefit of returning to a Prime Minister that, at least in theory, is who ‘the people’ want? Kristina Keneally was relatively personally popular, but the voters are savvier than they’re often given credit for and know when a party’s time has come. Not to mention that the Coalition no doubt has a whole host of ads ready to go full of quotes trashing Rudd from the ALP themselves.
This is why I wonder if when Kevvy says he has no interest in the leadership, maybe he’s, gasp, telling the truth.
There are two things about Rudd that I’ve heard that are relevant here. Firstly, he has an ego the size of Betelgeuse; secondly, he’s a low-risk politician. That’s why he played a long game in originally acquiring the ALP leadership and sold himself as John Howard-lite in the 2007 election, it’s why he squibbed on politically difficult policies like the ETS, and it’s why the Gillard camp’s tactic of forcing his hand in the leadership battle last year worked so well.
Rudd’s aversion to risk won’t allow him to challenge without sure numbers in caucus and a real shot at winning the election. I don’t think his ego allows him to accept “saving the furniture” as the source of his return to glory. My bet, then, is that he plans to be the saviour leading the party back from the wilderness in 2016 or whenever the next election is rather than the redeemed captain who saved a few lives but still went down with the ship.
For the first bold, innovative, thrilling hour of Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina I was wearing a huge grin thinking ‘this is one of the best movies I’ve seen for a long time’. Wright, directing a script by the genius playwright Tom Stoppard brings such vision to Tolstoy’s tragic 19th century romance that the story feels like new. Stoppard’s script was reportedly a straight up and down adaptation of the novel, streamlined for the screen but essentially the same; and watching Karenina you can tell that this script, smart and dense as it is would comfortably work as a traditional period piece, with epic vistas, bustling cities and a huge budget. Wright, however, had a different idea. Read more…
In my previous post about Tony Abbott I spent a bit of time on his Catholicism and what that really means for him. I wrote that before Pope Benedict’s resignation hit the news; that doesn’t change what I wrote about Abbott, but it does present an opportunity to delve a little deeper into some of the broader topics I touched on in relation to the Church.
It was expected when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI that he’d be an arch-conservative reactionary, he’d crack down on heretics, he’d not have any interest in being the global pastor John Paul II was, and he’d make no effort to change some of the Church’s more controversial teachings. Most of the fears turned out to be unfounded. His first encyclical was on God’s love, his next on Hope. He traveled the world and found crowds still eager to hear his words and be in his presence. It was Benedict’s compassion and faith, which was whispered about before he became Pope, that shone through rather than the hardline Grand Inquisitor of the previous decades.
Here’s the piece I’ve written for the AusVotes2013 blog. If you’ve come here from there, rest assured there is more to come!
There’s no question Tony Abbott is unpopular. There’s also no question that, as things stand, on the night of September 14 2013, he will be elected Prime Minister of Australia. You don’t need to look very far to find a lot of people who find this a terrifying reality. It’s not just the Labor and Greens voters who you’d expect to be worried either, it’s many otherwise moderate and conservative voters. Those of us who follow politics with an unusual and unhealthy devotion are well aware of all the articles and arguments about how Abbott’s simplified, relentless campaign against the government has influenced political discourse and made it more volatile and unpleasant than perhaps any time before. What’s less commonly discussed is how the reflexive hatred of Abbott is also holding back any meaningful discussion of politics and policies.