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Newsletter 313

Published November 18, 2019
Political leadership, illuminated by bush fire

Back at the Museum of Contemporary Art for the second week in a row, I’m reviewing the Cornelia Parker exhibition. When I saw the show for the first time I thought of all the dumb, vulgar, putatively-offensive stuff that has come out of the British art world for the past few decades, and was delighted to find an artist doing something really clever.

So much conceptually-oriented art is a mere charade, making gestures towards political issues or theoretical positions and hoping that viewers will take signs for wonders. This is not the case with Parker, who approaches every task with a great deal of thought, thorough research – and a sense of humour.

This week’s movie won out over an embarrassment of choices, as opposed to those too-frequent weeks when I’m which struggling to find a reviewable option. I knew Ford v Ferrari was the film that would best appeal to the readers of the Australian Financial Review, but it’s good enough to require no special pleading. There’s an endless supply of movies in which people hoon around in cars, looking for a plot, but Ford v Ferrari shows that a good director need not be distracted by petrol fumes and burnt rubber. The helmsman in this case is James Mangold, who has really hit his straps with this film.

The merest glance at the news makes me feel it’s almost callous to talk about art and cinema when bushfires are raging all over the country. The blame game has been played out thoroughly in the media but it’s disgraceful to see the way the government has tried to blame everyone and everything else. How far does one have to go to appease the climate change deniers in the ranks? It’s creepy to fly around dispensing sympathy (for the cameras) when you are unwilling to take action in the real world.

It seems that the approved method of political discourse under the Morrison regime is to avoid answering any difficult questions, close down debate as much as possible, and quietly legislate to impose new hurdles on freedom of speech. I realise Scummo may argue that all these procedures were run past Jesus first and given the thumbs up, but I can’t help wondering if he might have his lines crossed. When we learn that Emergency Services leaders reached out to the government in April (!) and were denied an audience with either the PM or err.. accident-prone minister, Angus Taylor, it’s hard to see God’s hand at work. The complacency is diabolical.