Some things watched lately

Among my Wollongong Library borrowings has been this:

Binge-watched it last weekend: The Harp in the South (1987). Loved it! Made me quite nostalgic for Surry Hills.

A few weeks back I saw a midday movie on 9GEM that I had honestly never heard of before. Now I really want to see it again.


See The 14 (1973) | David Hemmings’ underrated anarchic British drama starring Jack Wild.

Set against the backdrop of a rundown terraced street in London’s East End that’s been earmarked for redevelopment, Hemmings’ gritty urban drama follows 17-year-old Reg (Jack Wild), the eldest of 14 children, as he struggles to keep his family together following the sudden death of their mother (June Brown)…

The late Jack Wild is best known for playing the Artful Dodger in Olivier! and having adventures with TV’s HR Pufnstuf in the late-1960s, but in Hemmings’ second film as director he shows what an accomplished and serious actor he could be. It’s such a shame that Wild was plagued by addiction throughout his life (he was smoking and drinking from the age of 12 and died of oral cancer in 2006), and watching him puffing away with a cigarette in each hand while downing bottles of beer on screen here only makes his tragic real-life story all the more sadder.

Apart from Wild, most of the performers playing his young siblings were non-actors, and this only adds to the film’s docu-drama feel…

There’s also an anarchic sensibility running through the film as the youngsters stick two fingers at authority at every turn. And this is best expressed in the quite hilarious scenes in which the children see off a horrible woman hired to take care of them, reduce an inexperienced nun to tears and expertly give the police and social services the runaround. In this respect, Hemmings seems to have created a film with a true punk spirit, but with a neo-realist bent. This is gripping cinema with real soul. Do check it out…

And last night QandA returned. One panelist I in my old age had never heard of.


That’s Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’)  a 16 year old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and a powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. Remarkable.

In the audience were these two:


US President Donald Trump’s travel ban was in the spotlight on last night’s Q&A program, with two Syrian refugees putting a human face on the debate and asking why they deserved to be banned from the country.

Brothers Omar and Saad Al Kassab lived in Syria during the Arab Spring, and Omar said he was “shot and tortured by the Syrian regime” before he and his family were forced to flee to Australia.

Just three years later in 2016, Saad was celebrated as dux of Catholic Regional College Sydenham, in Melbourne’s north-west, after earning an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 96.65.

“Australia has kindly given us a new life … I am also halfway through my business degree,” Omar told the panel, which included Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg, columnist Daisy Cousens, climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and columnist Helen Andrews.

“Why would someone ban people like us from being citizens of this country?”

See also Syrian refugees question Donald Trump’s travel ban on Q&A.


Saad and Omar taught themselves how to speak English by watching ‘Question Time’ in Federal Parliament and using their father’s battered English-Arab dictionary.


On QandA see also Q&A: refugees put a human face on debate over Trump’s travel ban. Another matter raised during the show is covered in that article.

Helen Andrews, a political analyst who was billed as a Trump supporter, used the opportunity to launch an attack on “climate alarmism” by drawing on a widely discredited article in the Daily Mail.

“Based on the NOAA [US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] whistleblower that went public just this week, that revealed that the so-called ‘pause-buster’ paper under Obama was based on flawed data and flawed models, it sounds like they are the enemies of science and not Donald Trump.”

That really needs to be nailed. Compare meteorologist Dan Satterfield, The Graph The Daily Mail Does Not Want You To See.

Now you know how embarrassingly wrong they are.

Honest mistakes happen in journalism, and honest journalists correct them. The Daily Mail graph is still online as of Sunday night, and that should tell you something. Yes, they pointed out the error in the caption, but most people will see the graph, look at the headline, and believe a falsehood. Meanwhile, the print version is now lining garbage bins and bird cages from Dumfries to Dover, and from London to Liverpool.

That’s just where it should be.