Category Archives: Arts and Reviews

LIONEL ORCHARD. Hugh Stretton in retrospect and prospect: reflections on Graeme Davison’s selected writings.

Graeme Davison has edited a new selection of Hugh Stretton’s writings. Stretton’s work is widely admired but how relevant is it now? Davison presents an assessment. A response follows.

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SUSAN CHENERY. The Scribe: portrait of Freudenberg, author of the speech that changed Australia (The Guardian 9.10.2018)

Legendary Labor speechwriter Graham Freudenberg was at the centre of power for more than 40 years.  A new film sheds light on the man who wrote the script.  

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TONY DOHERTY. Review of Hugh Mackay’s “Australia Reimagined – Towards a compassionate, less anxious society”.

Hugh Mackay has spent almost his entire working life asking Australians about what makes us tick, what are our basic concerns, what gives us hope and meaning, why do we do what we do? His acute observation, honed by the skills … Continue reading

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SUSAN RYAN. Book launch. ‘Jesus the forgotten feminist’ by Chris Geraghty.

The Catholic Church here and globally faces a crisis of loss of support arising especially from its deeds and omissions in relation to appalling sexual abuse of children. Our secular societies are experiencing a massive epidemic of allegations and charges … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and Reviews, Religion and Faith | 3 Comments

CHRIS GERAGHTY. Jesus – The Forgotten Feminist.

I have long been interested in why the officers of the catholic church have been so reluctant to consider involving women in the governance of their institution and in its sacramental ministry. So I decided to write a book about … Continue reading

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GREG HAMILTON. Not much ado about a helluva lot.

A stage play that wouldn’t make it into an Australian theatre today caused a helluva stink back in 1962 and said some wise and courageous (aka shocking) things about the ‘most sacred day’ in our national calendar. The reasons it … Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI. Book review of “Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom” by Thomas E. Hicks, Pulitzer Prize winner.

At first glance they may seem like an odd couple, but their influence on the seminal events and the thinking of the 20th century is equally profound. Winston Churchill defined and led the resistance against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler; … Continue reading

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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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