Nicholas Bugeja

Seasoned ABC journalist and presenter Paul Kennedy, also known as ‘PK’, has over the years cultivated an affable, equable public persona. For regular viewers of the ABC’s News Breakfast program, Kennedy is the kind of person with whom one would like to have a drink; to pore over sporting results or the tumult of living through a pandemic. It is a shock, then, to discover that Kennedy was not always this picture of fatherly composure but once an insecure, frustrated, and troubled seventeen-year-old, trapped within the confusing void between boyhood and manhood.

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Dune 

Universal Pictures
by
07 December 2021

For decades, Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel Dune (1965) was generally regarded as unfilmable, a literary work that defied transposition into another artistic medium. Never one to balk at a challenge, David Lynch embarked on his own adaptation of Dune in 1984. With neither the majesty of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) nor the commercial appeal of the Star Wars franchise, Lynch’s version largely faded into obscurity, though it has since become something of a cult film. Before Lynch, experimental Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky had, according to Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), planned a ten- to fourteen-hour production, starring Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger, among others. That project was, unsurprisingly, abandoned; we are left to ruminate on what might have been.

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Judith Butler is acutely aware of the extent to which violence is an accepted part of human affairs. ‘The case for nonviolence encounters skeptical responses from across the political spectrum,’ Butler writes in the opening sentence of their latest book, The Force of Nonviolence. It is not so much that most people unconditionally advocate violence. Rather, it is considered an inexorable feature of life, a necessary measure to resist evils and prevent atrocities against populations and the marginalised. Nevertheless, Butler pushes back against that orthodoxy, declaring that we must ‘think beyond what are treated as the realistic limits of the possible’. It is a bold yet hardly indefensible claim. Indeed, the bleak alternative would be to doom the future of humanity to the internecine violence recently demonstrated in Washington, Ethiopia’s war in the Tigray region, and Australia’s inhumane asylum-seeker detention policy. It is, perhaps, a duty of writers and philosophers to free themselves from the mire of the status quo and to pave a way forward that ushers in a better, more equal world.

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Adrian Martin’s Mysteries of Cinema is, above all, an impassioned love letter to film, a written record of a life defined and driven by the pleasures, ambiguities, and indeed mysteries inherent in what André Bazin, co-founder of Cahiers du Cinéma, called the ‘seventh art’. In the author’s own words, the book ‘covers 34 years of a writing life’. It charts both his ephemeral and enduring fixations and obsessions, many of which converge on cinema, film form, the role of the critic, pockets of film culture, and the psychological, emotional, and intellectual responses that cinema elicits. Mirroring much of Martin’s oeuvre, Mysteries of Cinema is not easily classifiable; it cuts across different strands of film theory and thought by employing ‘a mode of synthetic film analysis attuned to … the mysteries of cinema’. Martin’s devotees will devour Mysteries of Cinema, savouring its details, imagery, and linguistic flourishes. At more than 430 pages in length, it might prove a formidable undertaking for the more casual reader.

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The biography has long been reserved for human subjects. It is a genre largely predicated on the idea that only humans live lives sufficiently rich and complex to be worthy of sustained examination. Countless books have centred on different kinds of animals, yet few have fallen within the biographical category. Most are found in the children’s, zoology, or fiction shelves at bookstores.

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By the Grace of God 

Sharmill Films
by
25 November 2019

‘By the grace of God, the statute of limitations has expired’, pronounces Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (François Marthouret), the Archbishop of Lyon, at a 2016 press conference. He is, of course, referring to the historical child abuse crimes committed by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley). The press corps is understandably shaken. A journalist rises, indignant: ‘Excuse me, do you realise how shocking that is?’ Barbarin tries backpedalling, to no avail. The words are etched in history, signifying a rare moment of truth nestled among the lies, prevarications, and confidentiality agreements that the Catholic Church has often deployed to salvage its tainted reputation. Yet these tactics have had the opposite effect, further plunging the Church into a profound legal and moral crisis.

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Sirens wail. Families cry together. Defibrillators shock bodies into convulsion. These are the sounds and images that veteran paramedic, writer, and filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour animates in his latest book, The Gap