Barry Healy

I, Daniel Blake
Written by Paul Laverty & directed by Ken Loach
Starring Dave Johns & Hayley Squires
In cinemas

To be in need of government welfare in this neoliberal world is to enter one of the circles of hell. Government services have been constructed so that people receive as much hassle as they get help – to preserve them from becoming “welfare dependent”.

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe
Written and directed by Ros Horin
In cinemas now

About 90% of women refugees have been subjected to sexual violence in the process of becoming a refugee. In this film, four African women who managed to make it to Australia open up about their experiences and, in the process, create a theatrical work that has swept the world.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett survived a leadership challenge on September 20, easily seeing off his former Transport minister Dean Nalder. Another minister also resigned from cabinet in solidarity with Nalder in the lead up to the contest, which has been brewing since the start of the year.

After Sustainability: Denial, Hope, Retrieval
By John Foster
Routledge, 2015
230pp, $53.95

Just thinking about the global ecological crisis is enough to make you worry. So what is it like when a professional philosopher, theologian and academic starts mulling it over?

Unfortunately, what results is this utterly despondent book by Lancaster University’s John Foster. It is, however, a sophisticated work and activists will no doubt encounter people quoting it in years to come.

The European Union has struck two important blows against diesel-fuelled transport in decisions announced on succeeding days in July. At the same time, the slow unravelling of the international VW diesel emissions crisis continues to dog the automotive giant.

Also exposed are the extraordinary lengths to which corporations will go to avoid environmentally sustainable production.

Reacting to what is reportedly the biggest financial scandal in history, US authorities have subpoenaed documents from Goldman Sachs relating to the dealings of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Set up in 2009 by the Malaysian government, 1MDB is supposed to generate growth and establish the country as a financial hub.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, at least US$1 billion has gone into the pocket of a person referred to in Department of Justice documents as “Malaysian Official 1” — widely reported to be Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Meddler
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria
Starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, JK Simmons

One place where the personal is very political is the sometimes fraught relationships between mothers and daughters.

Some time ago Hollywood screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, while dealing with a major project, also had to grapple with difficulties with her mother. That became the raw material for her new film, The Meddler.

Leon Trotsky
By Paul Le Blanc
Reaktion Books, 2015
224 pp, $39.99
Trotsky & the Problem of Soviet Bureaucracy
By Thomas M. Twiss
Brill, 2014
502 pp., $205.00

Leon Trotsky was one of the central leaders of the Russian Revolution. As the organiser and Commissar of the Red Army that saved the Soviet power and as the leading light of the struggle against Stalinism, he is surely one of the great heroic — and tragic — figures of the 20th century.

Sherpa — Trouble on Everest
Directed by Jennifer Peedom & Renan Ozturk

The Sherpa are a Nepalese ethnic minority who have a reverent regard for the world’s highest mountain, Chomolungma — known in English as Everest.

Trumbo
Starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane & Helen Mirren
Directed by Jay Roach
In cinemas now

Communist Parties around the world, despite their Stalinist degenerations, won mass support in the period during and after World War II, even in the homeland of imperialism — the United States. Among the industries in which the Communist Party of USA had influence was Hollywood.

The movie industry was a dream machine, a factory churning out cultural product. Dalton Trumbo, a CPUSA member, achieved stellar status and great wealth in the 1940s writing hits for the studios.

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