: Law & Culture

Law & Culture

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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WADJDA

Jess Naylor

wadjda-posterDirector/writer: Haifaa Al Mansour; starring Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed; eOne/Hopscotch film distributors, 2012; 98 mins. Available on DVD, July 2014.

The star of Haifaa Al Mansour’s groundbreaking new film could be any other teenager. Wadjda blasts indie music in her room when her parents are talking to her and argues constantly with her mother, she talks about boys with her friends at school and hides electric blue nail polish from her teachers. However, it is the simple concepts of time and place that force both the film and Wadjda’s life into a territory that is worlds apart from any other teen movie.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 145

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The Conservative Revolution

Mitchell Landrigan

the-conservative-revolution-bernardi-coverCory Bernardi; Connor Court Publishing; 164 pp; $29.95 (paperback). Also available on Kindle.

This is a spirited defence of conservative values by Senator Cory Bernardi, built on four foundations: faith, family, flag and free enterprise. Bernardi also examines the themes of freedom and future. Railing against what he sees as erosions to Australia’s moral traditions, the author urges a return to core social values – the cornerstone of which is Christian faith — in order to reclaim ‘sanity and reason’. According to Bernardi, only a return to conservative values — via a conservative revolution — will result in people leading fulfilled lives.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 144

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China And The Environment: The Green Revolution

Evan Hamman

china-and-the-environment150Sam Geall (Ed); Zed Books, 2013; 256 pages; $135.95 (hardback)

The Green Revolution is a collection of five essays on how law, media and civil society can influence environmental outcomes in China. Despite the grassroots success stories described in the book, it is hard to believe there has been a green ‘revolution’ in China, let alone the ‘green shoots’ of one. Dominant power still resides very much with the State and its relentless pursuit of economic growth, often at the expense of the natural environment. If there was one overriding criticism of Geall’s book then, it would be that it lacks a convincing argument tying the separate essays together. Without this, the title might better be served by posing a question rather than a conclusion: China and the Environment: A Green Revolution? But semantics aside, there are several fascinating and highly topical issues that Geall invites us to consider and he should be commended for that.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 144

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American Hustle

Finian McGrath

American-Hustle-smDirector: David O Russell; starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams; Roadshow 2013; 138 mins, available on DVD $25.00

The release of American Hustle just prior to Christmas bucked the general trend that end-of-year film releases lack substance.

Director/co-writer David O Russell returns to the almost classical roots of ‘caper’ movies through his intricately constructed plot and brilliantly devised schemes. Conman Irving Rosenfeld and his seductively charming partner in crime Sydney Prosser provide the genius behind the twisted yet comical theme of political entrapment, as they are thrown into the corrupt New Jersey underworld by unstable FBI agent Richie DiMaso.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 68

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Transactions

Nigel Stobbs

Transactions-smAli Alizadeh; University of Queensland Press, 2013; 240pp; $19.95 (paperback)

There is something of the style of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten (or even of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller) in this book of thematically-related short stories by Iranian-born, Australian academic and writer Ali Alizadeh. It’s a work which tries to shed light on the moral and political centre by exploring the darkness on the fringes. The best writing of this sort is usually done by those who have lived on those fringes, as Alizadeh has in his experiences as an Iranian migrant. He is also well travelled in both geographic and cultural senses. The book is a commentary and exposition of the costs of human ‘transactions’ in a range of contexts, but which form a cohesive narrative about the sad fact that, in every market, there are losers. The larger the market (globalisation) the greater the gulf between winners and losers. Homogeneity of opportunity and meaning may seem like an ideal to aspire to, but it can lead to cultural sterility and generational disillusionment.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 67

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