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Things Seen and Heard


-Big thanks to Gerd Altmann and Pixabay for this image

“All the Light We Cannot See” (2023) Netflix

This is a poignant story set in the French seaside town of St. Malo shortly before the end of World War II.  Marie, a blind girl, continues to broadcast over the radio despite the fact that listening to anything other than the official German broadcasts is punishable by death, let alone broadcasting. Initially she does it to reach out to her missing father and to inspire hope in others, just as a wonderful professor had inspired her when she was a child. There are several subplots which include both good Germans and bad, but most telling and timely of all, it shows that despite the harsh reality of war, small islands of sanity, humanity and courage prevail.  5 Stars.

"Painkiller" (2023) Netflix

This movie takes on the Pharmaceutical Industry, particularly its role in the Opioid Epidemic which took hold in the USA over the last two decades largely due to the aggressive and deceitful way in which drugs such as as Oxycontyn were marketed. Contrary to advice given to doctors and patients, the drug was highly addictive and between 1996 and 2017 an estimated 200,000 people had died of overdoses. Despite several lawsuits against manufacturer, Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the Sackler Family which owned it, 200 people a day in the USA are still dying from opioid overdoses.

 "The Fall of the the House of Usher" Netflix

A more farcical take on the same subject, the "Fall of the House of Usher," released two months later, is about the head of a powerful pharmaceutical company, who, nearing the end of his life, starts confessing his misdeeds to the prosecutor who has been after him for years. It's about corruption, Faustian bargains and selling one's soul for money. 

 The War on Democracy

"The Great Hack"(2019) Netflix

Anyone else who’s wondering how democracies all the around the world are being hijacked, should take a look at this movie. It's all about using data hoovered from millions of Social Media accounts, searches and viewing, being used to personalise messaging to swinging voters. Although Cambridge Analytica's role in this has now been exposed and they have gone bankrupt, it would be naive to think that when there is so much money involved, there aren't other shadowy organisations doing the same thing.

"The Family" (2020) Netflix

Speaking of political intrigue, "The Family" points to another source of political interference, and why we now have much less separation between church and state. It's about a powerful religious organisation which seems to have existed for quite a while in the USA, but has more recently expanded beyond it's base. 


“Seaspiracy” (2021) Netflix

This is a bit of an update about what's happening to our oceans  and why some of the measures which have been taken to protect it aren't as effective as everyone had hoped.

"Dirty Money" (Netflix series, 2 seasons)

I have only watched a couple of episodes in this series, but it seems that the whole world is now just a turf war between rival crime syndicates in which other humans and the planet itself are merely bit players and collateral damage. Watch and weep.

Series 1 Trailer

Series 2 

Other Disasters

"The Railway Men" -India (2023) Netflix

This is a fictionalised account based on witness reports about the aftermath of the Bhopal Tragedy. It is  also a moving tribute to the Railway Men who did their best to save others. There was one thing which I found particularly moving. We often hear about major tragedies in other countries - an earthquake here, monsoon flooding there or disasters like this, but this movie makes it clear that behind each set of raw numbers there are individuals with unique personalities and stories, each one just trying to make a living and get on with their lives - people just like us, and it makes them much harder to dismiss. There are also some juicy subplots such as the one about a thief who hopes to profit from the situation or the company man seeking to downplay its responsibility. 

"The Days" – Japan (2023) Netflix

For anyone who still thinks nuclear is a great idea, here's the inside story about what happened in Fukushima.

"Pandora"  - South Korea (2016) Netflix

Loosely based on a nuclear incident in 1999, this story acknowledges the role of nuclear energy in lifting South Korea out of poverty and enabling it to become an industrial super power. However, it is also a warning about not being blind to its risks or taking it for granted. Faced with an energy shortfall on the one hand, and pressure to close nuclear power plants in the the wake of Fukushima and to reduce emissions on the other, this film encapsulates the dilemma which not only South Korea but many other countries face today. It asks ” Do you want to pass on an abundant life to the children or do you want to pass on a safe comfortable world?” It commands us not to look away but to open Pandora's Box.

Comedy and Satire

If all this is getting you down, there’s are a number of extremely funny podcasts and videos I follow to cheer myself up. It's said that humans are the only species known to laugh in the face of doom. Germans call it Galgenhumor which translates as Gallows Humor.


For Aussies, there’s Dan Ilic’s regular Podcast – “A Rational Fear’ which literally bills itself as “laughing at the world as it burns down around us." Catch it on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Chaser a.k.a. Craig Reucastle and his team have been making Australia laugh at itself since 2009. Reucastle is also responsible for more serious programs such as the War on Waste, using humour to highlight pollution and bad policy. You can follow his hilarious take on Australian life here. There are also regular publications and newsletters from the Chaser team. I for example, am the proud owner of their "Chaser’s Guide to Earth” which promises to bring you "All the best places in the world to stare at your phone.” 

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Craig Reucastle is among the many Australian comedians who have Law Degrees -it's almost a pre -requisite. They include Friendlyjordies, Shaun Micallef, Charlie Pickering, Jane Turner of Kath and Kim fame and Rebel Wilson. Dan Ilic swears he never studied law, but he does hold a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University.

Unfortunately, much of the humour in the above is lost if you don’t happen to follow Australian politics and current affairs, but fear not, Juice Media whom I also follow, has now branched out to offend other countries as well. See for example, their take on Canada (below), Brazil, or the USA. Brave people all, donate, subscribe, share or support them in any way you can.

To finish off on a lighter note, Series 3 of "Terzi the Tailor," the brilliant Turkish series has also landed. Will it he choose the woman he loves or his lifelong friend. Just as compelling as the previous two, it tidies up most of the loose ends and perhaps sets the stage for another.

Our thoughts this week are with all those who are suffering be it in Gaza, Ukraine or those places affected by floods, drought or cyclones. Next week perhaps we'll have a review of some of the positive things which are happening in the world despite these events, but today I can't.