August 17th 2013

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Both leaders coy about levelling with the voters

EDITORIAL: What the federal election comes down to...

RURAL AFFAIRS: Behind the explosion of farm debt over the last 30 years

SOCIETY: Same-sex couples a tiny percentage of households

RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS: Conscience rights banished by our political elites

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Treasurer's fantasy of a budget surplus by 2016/17

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Victory for real marriage in SA

SOCIETY: Our children's lives invaded by sleaze

CHILD DEVELOPMENT: Equipping our young to cope with suffering and loss

CHINA: Have China's rulers forfeited the 'Mandate of Heaven'?

UNITED STATES: US government persecutes Zimmerman family

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: Solzhenitsyn and the Russian renaissance


BOOK REVIEW: Low-life or lovable larrikin?

BOOK REVIEW: Intriguing blend of Christian themes, Arthurian legends and time travel

CINEMA: In defence of our humanity

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In defence of our humanity

News Weekly, August 17, 2013

Pacific Rim, an American science-fiction film (rated M), is reviewed by Symeon Thompson.

Pacific Rim is a thriller that pays tribute to the likes of Godzilla and Neon Genesis Evangelion; but does so with a delicacy that belongs entirely to its creator, Guillermo del Toro, the man meant to be at the helm of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

Aliens, called Kaiju (Japanese for “strange creatures” or “monsters”) have been invading the Earth through an inter-dimensional portal in the ocean.

To combat them, humanity bands together to build the Jaegers (German for “hunters”), huge human-operated robots. Despite the initial success of the Jaegers, a tragedy results in the dismantling of the program — and it goes underground, funded by private backers until it can return.

The cinematography consists largely of beautifully-shot battle scenes. The other part is the delicate detail in the imagery, a hallmark of del Toro’s work, where even the most pyrotechnic fight will have shots of the smallest things, ones that challenge the greatest miniaturist painters.

The worst feature is the atrocious Aussie accents. Otherwise, the film is a straightforward battle of good against evil, in its many forms.

The film is a further proof of the argument that people want stories that show that dragons might be beaten, as there are always “dragons” in the mad race of life, that —

*          *          *

Is it just me, dear reader, or is there a sense of déjà vu in these lines? Pray forgive me if I break “the fourth wall” to address directly all of you who read these writings, but I feel we need to talk.

I write for News Weekly as its film critic, hence the note at the foot of this column about my belonging to the Film Critics Circle of Australia.

The definition of film critic requires that one write on those movies newly released in the cinema. The added catch for members of the FCCA is that we at least see Aussie films, and that we review them preferably.

Since I started writing for News Weekly, I have sought to stick to this brief. It gives one an excellent discipline. My role is to consider films mainly as films, referring to their cinematography and acting and sound design and all those parts that make them up.

I’ve understood this, dear reader, as a brief to consider films that are culturally significant in one way or another, be it through popularity or critical acclaim or whatever, and look hard to see why it really is that they matter.

The problem with this is that it means I tend to write on a particular sort of film, and that that sort is not really one to take everyone in the family to. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, only a few of the movies I’ve reviewed earn less than an M rating.

That’s simply because it’s a better use of ink to write 800 words on a topic that deserves 800 words, than one that might be better served by a postage stamp.

And so, dear reader, a change is a-coming with the scribblings of your correspondent. My esteemed editor had noticed the same problem and suggested reviewing films gone by. I agreed, but was keen that something more could be done.

The “something more” is hush-hush; but I think you can be trusted.

There is much more to the spinning of ripping good yarns than that which we have been given.

It’s time to make a stand against the dross, to make a stand for that which is true and good and beautiful in the world of human making.

I extend an invitation to you all to join me on my hunt for something very special. The movie reviews ain’t going anywhere. Let’s just say that I’m reviewing the most amazing movie of all — our lives as we re-present them in the things we make. Life is not a “nice” movie, but it is a beautiful one.

My sins are many and grievous, dear reader. Those mistakes I’ve made thus far are a source of pain and confusion for those near and dear. I’m sure yours are the same, unless you believe you’ve reached perfection on earth, and then you deserve applause — and a straitjacket.

Instead of despairing at our atrociousness, I think we’d do better to atone by seeking out truly beautiful counter-points, by finding ways to forgive and forget, to regain our humanity, rather than wallowing in our depravity.

The art that uplifts the soul was not made by the perfect, but by the imperfect, striving to show that they’re more than their faults.

I’d like you to come with me as I seek out this art, as I try to find that which helps us to be human; to learn to love as God Himself loves; not denying evil, but not giving in to it; to truly live a life of Amor Vincit Omnia.

Welcome aboard.

Symeon Thompson is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA).

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