The Company You Keep cannot quite transcend the boundaries of the question posed by the Weather Underground members themselves: were we right or wrong?
When it comes to deaths, the balance of the universe has always been askew. Kind, generous and honest people I’ve known have died well before their years. Some years ago, my best friend – a brilliant and gentle socialist – died at age twenty-seven. Meanwhile, the paladins of the right – Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush Senior – seem to go on and on.
Few writers have burst across the Speculative Fiction scene in Australia with as much fanfare as Angela Slatter. Six or so years ago, Slatter began publishing a series of stories that garnered her immediate attention. She seemed to emerge fully formed, a writer instantly at the peak of her powers, offering lyrical, ingenious stories that seemed like a collection of so many rich chocolates. This ‘sudden emergence’ was of course an illusion. For Slatter no doubt went through all the spurts and starts of growth before she began publishing, so that when she started to make her mark, it was as an already mature writer.
With the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on Tuesday 5 March, we’ve seen the passing of perhaps the most controversial political figure of our time. Chavez seemed to be everything for everybody: to the US government he was a buffoonish bete noir, to the corporate press a dictator, to the various Left governments of Latin America a friend, to the liberal commentariat a destroyer of democratic verities, to some Left groupings a neo-Stalinist, to others a reformist, to yet others a revolutionary hero. But perhaps most importantly, Chavez was a hero to the poorest Venezuelans, a symbol for the significant improvements in their lives wrought by the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.
Launched in a hip bar in Collingwood filled with cool twenty-somethings, Filmme Fatales is full of life and exuberance. In fact, both descriptions – ‘feminist’ and mostly ‘about women’ – are accurate.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premiered on 27 November in Wellington. The association of New Zealand and Middle Earth is itself ironic, for Tolkien’s idyllic Hobbiton is the province of simple-minded folk. In the novels (but mercifully not the films), our heroes return from the war (read: Second World War), like classic conservatives to find – horror of horrors – the Labour Party (ahem, Saruman’s ‘sharers’) are in power.
Incapacitated by back pain in recent weeks, I searched around for something to read. The criterion was simple: it had to be something engaging enough to keep me interested, but familiar enough for my codeine-addled brain.
When Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs hit cinema screens twenty years ago, it began a revolution in crime stories that has yet to play entirely out. Tarantino’s modus operandi was an assault of style. Resolutely apolitical and uninterested in right or wrong – his early movies typically placed us on the side of the crims – Tarantino made films infused with self-conscious cool.
Eric Hobsbawm’s death brings to an end an era of Marxist history. Having lived to 95 years of age, Hobsbawm outlived his contemporaries – Christopher Hill, Dorothy and EP Thompson, Raphael Samuel, George Rudé, GEM de St Croix – many of whom formed part of Great Britain’s influential Communist Party Historians Group. If Hobsbawm’s achievements were not necessarily greater than some of the others, his influence, like his longevity, outstripped them all.