Culture

‘The End of October’ by Lawrence Wright. Cover of ‘The End of October’

‘The End of October’ by Lawrence Wright

Culture / Books

A ‘New Yorker’ journalist’s eerily prescient novel about public-health officials fighting a runaway pandemic

Surrounded by pygmies: Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘A Bigger Picture’. Photograph of Malcolm Turnbull

Surrounded by pygmies: Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘A Bigger Picture’

Culture / Books / Politics / Federal politics

The former PM’s memoir fails to reckon with his fatal belief that all Australians shared his vision

Her too: ‘The Assistant’. Still from ‘The Assistant’

Her too: ‘The Assistant’

Culture / Film

Melbourne-born, New York–based filmmaker Kitty Green’s powerfully underplayed portrait of Hollywood’s abusive culture

Snap-back: Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’. Photograph of Dua Lipa

Snap-back: Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’

Culture / Music

The British singer’s serendipitous album delivers shining pop with a reigning attitude of fortitude


Most Popular

Quiet life. Illustration by Jeff Fisher

➊ Quiet life

The acoustic ecologists documenting our quieted world

The perfection of youth. Still from Call Me By Your Name

➋ The perfection of youth

Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a passionate, positive tale of first love

Surrounded by pygmies: Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘A Bigger Picture’. Photograph of Malcolm Turnbull

➌ Surrounded by pygmies: Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘A Bigger Picture’

The former PM’s memoir fails to reckon with his fatal belief that all Australians shared his vision

Something mythic. Image of Robyn Davidson

➍ Something mythic

For Robyn Davidson, her acclaimed memoir ‘Tracks’ was an act of freedom whose reception hemmed her in

Books


Into the slippery unknown: ‘The Gospel of the Eels’

Patrik Svensson’s eloquent debut is a hymn to the elusiveness of eels and an ode to family

Queer poetics: ‘Family Trees’ and ‘Throat’

Michael Farrell’s new collection exhibits his idiosyncratic technical strengths, while Ellen van Neerven’s asserts a more direct, and undeniable, voice

Gossip girl: ‘A Theatre for Dreamers’. Image of Polly Samson’s ‘A Theatre for Dreamers’

Gossip girl: ‘A Theatre for Dreamers’

Polly Samson’s depiction of Hydra’s famed cohort of artists in the ’60s suffers from being overly impressed by celebrity

‘Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’ by Cho Nam-Joo (trans. Jamie Chang) . Cover of ‘Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’

‘Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’ by Cho Nam-Joo (trans. Jamie Chang)

The coldly brilliant, bestselling South Korean novel describing the ambient harassment and discrimination experienced by women globally

‘Fathoms: The World in the Whale’ by Rebecca Giggs. Cover of ‘Fathoms’

‘Fathoms: The World in the Whale’ by Rebecca Giggs

The Australian writer’s lyrical consideration of our relationship with whales is a new and ambitious kind of nature writing

Carnage awaits: ‘The Animals in That Country’. Cover of ‘The Animals in That Country’

Carnage awaits: ‘The Animals in That Country’

Laura Jean McKay’s prickly novel burns with uncomfortable, difficult questions about animals and human nature


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Music


Teen sensation. Image of audio cassettes arranged in rows and columns with cassette player

Teen sensation

In the midst of a pandemic, people are reverting to the music they loved – and found solace in – as teenagers

The ripple effect: Cable Ties’ ‘Far Enough’. Image of Cable Ties

The ripple effect: Cable Ties’ ‘Far Enough’

A big year turned on its head for the Melbourne band

Grime boss: Stormzy. Image of Stormzy

Grime boss: Stormzy

The rapper and MC’s second album ‘Heavy Is the Head’ is another triumphant step bringing black British culture forward

The future was foreclosed: Post-punk and Use No Hooks’ ‘The Job’. Image of Use No Hooks, circa 1979

The future was foreclosed: Post-punk and Use No Hooks’ ‘The Job’

Energetic cross-genre experiments power a scant retrospective from members of Melbourne’s ‘little band’ scene

The king in exile: Gordon Koang. Image of Gordon Koang

The king in exile: Gordon Koang

The music of the South Sudanese star and former refugee offers solace and a plea for unity

‘I’m with the Band: Nasty Cherry’. Image of Nasty Cherry

‘I’m with the Band: Nasty Cherry’

This Netflix series pays lip service to female empowerment in the music industry, but ultimately reinforces its limits


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Film


A bellyful: ‘The Trip to Greece’. Image of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip to Greece

A bellyful: ‘The Trip to Greece’

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continue to charm in their final food odyssey

Consolations in isolation: ‘The Platform’ and ‘Free in Deed’. Still from ‘The Platform’

Consolations in isolation: ‘The Platform’ and ‘Free in Deed’

What is the future of cinema without cinemas?

Knight to rook 3. Image of Max von Sydow in The Exorcist

Knight to rook 3

Remembering Max von Sydow, the greatest actor of his generation

Properly British: Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’. Image from ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

Properly British: Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

A multicultural vision underscores the acclaimed British satirist’s endearing Dickensian romp

Alliance Française French Film Festival 2020. Image from ‘Donkey Skin’

Alliance Française French Film Festival 2020

This year’s showcase of French cinema features combustible social realism, unmissable zombie-teen drama, an unofficial tribute to the iconic Catherine Deneuve, and more

‘Dark Waters’ runs deep. Image from ‘Dark Waters’

‘Dark Waters’ runs deep

Mark Ruffalo is at his understated best in Todd Haynes’ take on this real-life environmental legal drama


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Television


In search of emes (truth) in ‘Unorthodox’. Image of a production still from the Netflix series ‘Unorthodox’

In search of emes (truth) in ‘Unorthodox’

The masterful Netflix series addresses the struggle to articulate female desire

A lot to be desired: ‘Normal People’. Normal People

A lot to be desired: ‘Normal People’

The screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel is a piercing portrayal of young lovers

A nation’s convulsions: ‘The Plot Against America’

HBO’s adaptation of the Philip Roth novel is a contemporary allegory with a terrifying slow burn

‘Stateless’: ABC. Image from ‘Stateless’

‘Stateless’: ABC

A probing drama about Australia’s mandatory detention regime focuses on the dehumanisation experienced on both sides of the razor wire

Party of three: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’. Image from ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’

Party of three: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’

Australian comedian Josh Thomas brings his unique brand of comedy to the classic American sitcom format

Streaming highlights: November 2019. Image from ‘The Crown’

Streaming highlights: November 2019

‘The Crown’, ‘For All Mankind’ and ‘Dickinson’ offer new perspectives on history, and pragmatism meets pyramid schemes in ‘On Becoming a God in Central Florida’


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Art


Grotesqueries: Adelaide Biennial 2020. Installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Understudy by Abdul Abdullah, Art Gallery of South Australia; photo © Saul Steed

Grotesqueries: Adelaide Biennial 2020

Leigh Robb’s absorbing curation, ‘Monster Theatres’, is both artistically and politically coherent

‘Japanese Modernism’ . Image of Hisui Sugiura's colour lithograph The first subway in the East (1927)

‘Japanese Modernism’

The NGV’s virtual show is a playful celebration of Japan’s moga (modern girls) and mobo (modern boys), full of optimism for the future

Desert bloom: The Tennant Creek Brio . Photograph of Tennant Creek Brio artists by Jesse Marlow / Institute

Desert bloom: The Tennant Creek Brio

The brazen art movement born out of the troubled legacies of substance abuse and dispossession

Wildlife’s whispered traces: ‘Extinction Studies’. Image from ‘Extinction Studies’

Wildlife’s whispered traces: ‘Extinction Studies’

Lucienne Rickard’s durational art performance at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery reckons with extinct species

Stopped in the street: ‘Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines’. Untitled (Pollo Frito), 1982, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Stopped in the street: ‘Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines’

Early death meant the work of these renowned artists never fully emerged from ’80s New York subcultures

‘Matisse & Picasso’: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Image of L’Arlésienne [detail], by Pablo Picasso

‘Matisse & Picasso’: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Hanging works by the two masters together highlights their artistic rivalry and mutual influence


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Theatre


Reimagining ‘Breaking the Waves’. Image from ‘Breaking the Waves’

Reimagining ‘Breaking the Waves’

The creators of this opera on how it adds new depths and agency to von Trier’s 1996 film

The Doctor’s dilemma. Image from ‘The Doctor’

The Doctor’s dilemma

Director Robert Icke on rewriting the classic Austrian play to explore contemporary moral conundrums

Celebrating beauty’s passing: ‘Requiem’. Image from ‘Requiem’

Celebrating beauty’s passing: ‘Requiem’

Italian director Romeo Castellucci on his radical reimagining of Mozart’s classic

A dream within a dream: ‘Tao of Glass’. Image of Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott composing ‘Tao of Glass’

A dream within a dream: ‘Tao of Glass’

Theatremaker Phelim McDermott on his highly personal collaboration with Philip Glass

‘Hecate’: honouring two storytelling traditions. Image of actors rehearsing ‘Hecate’

‘Hecate’: honouring two storytelling traditions

Australia’s first major Shakespearean production in Noongar language will retell ‘Macbeth’ at Perth Festival

Joan Didion’s eerily contemporary ‘The White Album’. Image of ‘Joan Didion’s “The White Album”’

Joan Didion’s eerily contemporary ‘The White Album’

The seminal essay’s ongoing resonance is explored in this interactive production coming to Sydney Festival


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Dance


A study in contrasts: ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ and ‘Black Velvet’. Image of ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ by Lyon Opera Ballet

A study in contrasts: ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ and ‘Black Velvet’

These performances by the Lyon Opera Ballet and Shamel Pitts at the Adelaide Festival explore the body’s formidable potential

Form and content collide at Dance Massive . Nana Biluš Abaffy’s Post Reality Vision

Form and content collide at Dance Massive

Choreography meets politics at this contemporary dance festival

Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company is bringing light and shade to Australia. Image of Teatro alla Scala’s Frederic Olivieri, Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Adrijashenko

Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company is bringing light and shade to Australia

A conversation with members of the Italian company ahead of their tour to Brisbane

The mesmerising ‘Dark Emu’. Image from Bangarra Dance Theatre’s ‘Dark Emu’

The mesmerising ‘Dark Emu’

Bangarra’s latest production explores Aboriginal Australians’ sophisticated farming practices

Dance and the digital: An interview with Wayne McGregor. Tree of Codes

Dance and the digital: An interview with Wayne McGregor

The Sydney Festival-bound show’s choreographer loves mixing the body with technology

‘Bennelong’ by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Beau Dean Riley Smith in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Bennelong

‘Bennelong’ by Bangarra Dance Theatre

Sydney Opera House (touring Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne)


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Architecture


Plans never imagined: Architect Timothy Hill. Image of Longhouse, Daylesford, Victoria

Plans never imagined: Architect Timothy Hill

The ‘Longhouse’ and the ‘Multihouse’ confirm the director of Partners Hill as the country’s most important and influential architect of the past 30 years

Two worlds at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Image of Australian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Two worlds at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

The consumption of space, land and habitat is Australia’s focus at the world’s pre-eminent architecture event

Walking the Wukalina Walk. Illustration

Walking the Wukalina Walk

A new four-day tour in Tasmania is owned and guided by Aboriginal people

This is not an opera house. Image of the Sydney Opera House

This is not an opera house

Beautiful on the outside … the tragedy of Bennelong Point

SOS. Illustration

SOS

Brutalist masterpiece or harbour eyesore? Sydney’s Sirius building faces an uncertain future

Murcutt’s mosque. Roof detail of the Australian Islamic Centre

Murcutt’s mosque

The Australian Islamic Centre is notable for what it isn’t as much as for what it is


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Fashion


Straight outta Narrandera. Illustration

Straight outta Narrandera

Victoria Lee takes on the Victoria’s Secret runway

The artisan. Tanel Bedrossiantz, in a dress from the Jean Paul Gaultier Barbès collection, ready-to-wear, Autumn–Winter 1984–85

The artisan

‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier’ at the National Gallery of Victoria

‘Modern Love: Fashion visionaries from the FIDM Museum LA’ . Sarah Caplan’s World Trade Center dress

RM Williams and haute couture

The iconic Australian brand has a new co-owner

Fashion masterpiece

Romance was born - ‘The Oracle’, 2011

Jewel of Melbourne. Illustration by Jeff Fisher


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Fiction


Unfinished business: A short story

Can a young wartime couple pick up where they left off?

‘Clade’ by James Bradley

Hamish Hamilton; $32.99

Sinkers

The pencil and the damage done. Self-portrait with Easel and Mirror (1646), by Johannes Gumpp

The pencil and the damage done

The perverse attraction of autobiographical fiction

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘Boyhood Island’. Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘Boyhood Island’

The third volume of the epic autobiographical novel ‘My Struggle’


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Poetry


Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius. Detail of a painting of Barron Field

Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius

How a minor poet made a major historical error

Late styles

Clive James’ ‘Sentenced to Life’ and Les Murray’s ‘Waiting for the Past’

Majesty and burning. The young Dylan Thomas

Majesty and burning

A century of Dylan Thomas

Wild Pilgrim. Ko Un, with his books

Wild Pilgrim

Meeting Ko Un

'Radar' by Kevin Brophy and Nathan Curnow. 'Radar' by Kevin Brophy and Nathan Curnow, Walleah Press; $25
At the Table by the Window. Peter Steele

At the Table by the Window

Peter Steele (1939–2012)


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