October 2011

Arts & Letters

Television masterpiece

By Marieke Hardy
Chris Lilley - ‘Summer Heights High’, 2007

Note perfect, Summer Heights High searingly captures a slice of Australia’s psyche without mockery or judgement. It provides a sublime bridge between creator Chris Lilley’s sweet syrup of We Can Be Heroes and the more abrasive chip-on-shoulder of Angry Boys. Above all, it is funny. Show me any other short-run series that can simultaneously inspire sniggering teenagers to draw cocks on their backpacks and send menopausal women into sobbing spirals. Lilley dares to offer us flawed, self-involved, megalomaniac protagonists and then forces us to care for them – even to love them, in the long run. He marries the sort of jokes that have you looking at your companions in startled comradeship with beautiful, human storylines about love and loss and pain and hopelessness. Whatever you make of his more recent creative offerings (the vaguely controversial S.mouse giving faceless internet detractors something to bicker over for tedious months), Lilley’s is a carefully crafted, important, uniquely Australian voice. He knows us better than we know ourselves. I say we give him the key to the city and let him run wild.

—Marieke Hardy

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

No news is bad news

Australia’s free press is on life support

Image of Robyn Davidson

Something mythic

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

COVID-19 versus human rights

The virus is the latest excuse for governments to slash and burn the individual rights of prisoners

Image of Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Road map to nowhere

Angus Taylor’s road map is anything but an emissions reduction strategy


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


More in Arts & Letters

Photograph of Malcolm Turnbull

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

Still from ‘The Assistant’

Her too: ‘The Assistant’

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

Photograph of Dua Lipa

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

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

Still from ‘The Platform’

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

What is the future of cinema without cinemas?


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Image of Robyn Davidson

Something mythic

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

COVID-19 versus human rights

The virus is the latest excuse for governments to slash and burn the individual rights of prisoners

Image of Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Road map to nowhere

Angus Taylor’s road map is anything but an emissions reduction strategy

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


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