Barry Healy

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.

PostCapitalism: A Guide To Our Future
By Paul Mason
Allen Lane, 2015, 340 pp., $49.99 (hb)

Paul Mason is a well-known British economics journalist, who made a name for himself with commentary on the BBC and more lately on Channel 4. PostCapitalism has created a big splash in Britain, where it has been widely reviewed and debated.

Hail, Caesar
Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes
Written & directed by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
In cinemas

There must be something in the zeitgeist. Within weeks, two Hollywood movies have come out referencing the left-wing victims of the McCarthyite period of US anti-communist witch-hunting — the Hollywood 10.

But while Jay Roach's Trumbo takes a realistic view of the case and is sympathetic towards the victims, the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar is wild, wacky and hilariously disrespectful of everyone.

In a January ruling marking a turning point in German transport policy, an administrative court in Wiesbaden ordered the regional government of Hesse to clean up diesel exhaust fumes by September or face a fine.

Following the deepening VW diesel emissions testing scandal, the ruling puts pressure on the entire German vehicle industry production of diesel cars — which has been central to their business model.

Unfinished Leninism
By Paul Le Blanc
Haymarket Books, 2014
237 pp., $23.00

This collection of 12 essays rests comfortably alongside Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered and Canadian socialist John Riddell’s huge work in translating the proceedings of the first four congresses of the Comintern, the international organisation set up by the Bolsheviks in 1919.

These works are part of the renewed interest in the “real” Lenin — separate from the mausoleum that Stalinism built and pro-capitalist commentators’ slander.

Spotlight
Directed by Thomas McCarthy
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery & Stanley Tucci
In cinemas now

In 2002, the Boston Globe newspaper's Spotlight investigative journalism team dropped a bombshell when they reported that at least 87 paedophile Roman Catholic priests had been actively shielded for decades by the archdiocese.

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