Life review Jake Gyllenhaal hits the retro rockets for sub-Alien space horror

Gyllenhall and Ryan Reynolds play members of a scientific team investigation material from Mars that turns out to contain a hostile life-form

Like the anonymous phone call in a horror film that turns out to be coming from inside the house, Life is a sci-fi thriller about a contamination crisis: a crisis that goes on pretty much uninterruptedly for around an hour and three quarters. Its a serviceable, watchable, determinedly unoriginal film starring Jake Gyllenhaal about a parasite-predator in a spaceship, a creature which can only survive by feeding off a pre-existing host. The expressions on the spacepersons faces here may give a guide to the feelings of Ridley Scott and everyone involved with the 1979 classic Alien when they see it. Life is indebted to Alien, to say the least, although its final, perfunctory hint of a conspiracy doesnt approach Aliens powerful satirical pessimism.

Actually, Lifes screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (known for box-office smash Deadpool) seem also to have been as impressed as everyone else by Alfonso Cuarns sci-fi drama Gravity, with their scenes of lone astronauts wobbling about outside the spaceship which is always liable to get smashed to low-tech smithereens. At the last moment, Reese and Wernick and director Daniel Espinosa hit their retro-rockets for a neat little 180-degree twist, thankfully reversing the prevailing mood of sucrose fatalism. It has the audience leaving the cinema with ironic grins on their faces.

Life is about a liaison spacecraft which at some time in the future is hovering outside Earths atmosphere, acting as both floating science lab and halfway house. An automated craft is about to arrive from Mars after a long flight, freighted with red rock and dust. The crew must effectively catch this craft, like a mailbag chucked from a speeding train, decant its contents and analyse them in secure conditions which mean that any possible bacteria contained in this material dont infect anyone down on earth. But to their astonishment and excitement, the crew find that within the dust is what looks like a tiny, living monocellular organism. They have given a big fat yes to David Bowies immortal question.

Ryan
Loyal … Ryan Reynolds in Life. Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

A schoolkid back on the home planet wins a competition to name this entity and her choice of Calvin might annoy the Catholic church until it becomes clear what kind of a creature Calvin is. Its growing at an alarming rate in its petri dish, like a little two-armed jellyfish the size of a nickel. Then it grabs the little spatula with which one of the scientists is prodding it, with surprising strength and hostility. And it keeps on growing.

The crew itself is international and diverse: their missions sponsors are described as American, Russian and Chinese although that might just be a description of the films target market territories. Gyllenhaal is the quiet, introspective Dr David Jordan, Ryan Reynolds plays hot-tempered and fiercely loyal crew member Roy Adams, who is a good friend to the chief scientist Dr Hugh Derry, played by Ariyon Bakare. Rebecca Ferguson plays the supervising medic Dr Miranda North and Olga Dihovnichnaya is another scientist, Katarina Golovkin.

As Calvin gets bigger and bigger and more and more resourceful, the film seems always to be echoing to the sound of doors and pods and hatches being clanged shut, just in time, as Calvin lands on them with an almighty squelch or too late, and Calvin slithers through. Perhaps its appropriate for a country obsessed with walls and boundaries. The metaphorical potential is cutely signalled early on when Rory says that the teams proposal to cultivate an organism from the tiny life-form is some Reanimator shit a movie reference Dr North dismisses as irritatingly obscure, although the Frankensteinian-hubris parallel isnt wholly out of line. Later, Adams is seen with a copy of Freuds Interpretation of Dreams, and it could be that in dreams, or in waking life, the idea of a yucky, tiny little beastie getting bigger and bigger signals all kinds of fear: fear of sex, fear of invasion, fear of penetration. However, the legendary jump-scare for John Hurt at the beginning of Alien did all that much more effectively.

The crews memories of the kids bedtime book Goodnight Moon are supposed to lend a little gentleness and humanity to the film, and a bit of a narrative breather, but this third-act conceit only succeeds in replacing a creeping sense of tiredness with sentimentality. Much better is the jeopardy and tension of the movies final sequence. He leaves it very late, but Espinosa brings his film back to life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/22/life-review-jake-gyllenhaal-ryan-reynolds-alien-space-horror

Anita Cobby murder: ‘Everyone in the car that dreadful night had a passport to doom’

Thirty years after the trial of five men for the shocking attack on a Sydney nurse, then public defender Bill Hosking reflects on his part in it

The tragedy that would shock the whole of Australia began just before 10pm on 2 February 1986. A registered nurse, 26-year-old Anita Cobby, had been having dinner with friends after finishing her shift at Sydney hospital on Macquarie Street, next to state Parliament House in the city.

She caught the 9.12pm train to Blacktown in outer-western Sydney to her parents home, where she was living after recently separating from her husband. On arrival at Blacktown station just before 10, she went to find a phone to call her father. The usual routine was for Cobby to phone her father, Gary Lynch, to collect her by car. This was well before mobile phones and the public phone at the station had been vandalised, so Cobby decided to walk home.

As she did, an HT Holden Kingswood slowed beside her and stopped. Two of the five male occupants jumped out and grabbed her, pulling her into the car as she screamed. Cobby was then robbed, bashed, raped and tortured before having her throat cut. So severe was the cut, it almost left her decapitated. Her bloodied, naked body was left in a secluded cow paddock at Prospect, not far from Blacktown, and was not discovered for two days.

Everyone in the car that dreadful night had a passport to doom. None more so than poor Cobby.

When Cobbys body was found, the New South Wales government posted a $50,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. In the hope of jogging memories, a police officer dressed as Cobby travelled on the 9.12 pm train to Blacktown while her colleagues interviewed passengers. Cobbys murder was front-page news. Gruesome details of the offences and the harrowing atrocity gradually unfolded.

Anita
Anita Cobby, who went missing on 2 February 1986. Photograph: AAP

Understandably, the community, indeed the whole of Australia, was outraged. Even the police involved in the investigation were deeply affected. Led by Detective Sergeant Ian Kennedy, a top detective of his day, it took police just under three weeks to track down, arrest and charge five men with the murder.

They were 19-year-olds John Travers and Michael Murdoch, and the Murphy brothers, 33-year-old Michael, 28-year-old Gary and 22-year-old Leslie. The five were hated and reviled by the community. They all came from deprived backgrounds and were of below-average intelligence. They were petty criminals accused of a major crime. I was briefed to appear for Michael Murphy.

Given the dreadful nature of the crime, the atmosphere in the community after the arrest of Cobbys alleged killers was one of brooding malevolence. It manifested at the first formal court appearance of the five accused at the tiny Westmead coroners court.

Opened in 1984, Westmead coroners court was brand new and located inside the grounds of the huge Westmead hospital complex. Uniformed police were present in large numbers in case of trouble. Ominously, a dummy dangled from a noose tied to a tree branch. A large crowd had gathered. Some held up placards calling for the restoration of the death penalty. Showing solidarity with Cobby, uniformed nurses were prominent. The magistrate was the city coroner, Derrick Hand. Formalities were short and Hand promptly fixed the committal proceedings for the more secure surroundings of the coroners court on Parramatta Road at Glebe.

As the prison van edged out of the Westmead hospital, the crowd surged forwards. They banged on the sides of the van and booed and catcalled. It was clear the chances of finding a sympathetic jury in the Sydney metropolitan area or the world were zero, and chances of finding a cool and impartial one were slight.

Bill
Bill Hosking QC, who acted as public defender for Michael Murphy. Photograph: Harlequin

Before the advent of the public solicitor and legal aid, the unrepresented accused standing trial was at a tremendous disadvantage. The role of counsel for the accused in any criminal trial can be controversial, particularly where there has been a grave crime. Defence counsel has a duty to act for his or her client with vigour, but also with ethical propriety.

There is a popular misconception that a true defence counsel must believe in the clients innocence. Nothing can be further from the truth. A competent and vigorous defence is essential to a fair trial. The personal belief of counsel is irrelevant. The lawyers duty is to argue, firmly, the case of their clients and not to express a personal opinion.

Often, this is forgotten by the public. The so-called cab rank principle simply restates the rule that barristers do not choose their clients. If it were the other way around, despised causes and hated accused would be denied an experienced, professional voice. Fearless independence for barristers is fundamental. Even more so where there is a public defender involved who holds that independent statutory office with all its privileges and its responsibilities.

In seeking the convictions of the five men, the crown relied upon the legal doctrine of common purpose. To explain common purpose, judges use an example of two would-be bank robbers. One drives the getaway car, while the other enters the bank and demands cash of the teller using a replica pistol. The teller refuses and is then shot. It turns out the pistol was not a replica. Both men are charged with murder although the driver has never left the car. There follow disputed questions of fact and law. First of all, was there an agreement to use a replica and not a real pistol? The answer could be decisive in determining the drivers level of criminal responsibility. Likewise, did the driver know his accomplice well enough to reasonably expect him to bring a real pistol and use it? In other words, you can still be guilty of murder if you have never set eyes on the victim let alone wanted them to be killed.

The defence of each of the accused in the Anita Cobby case was that Travers alone had the knife. Travers alone stabbed Cobby. He alone was to blame for her death. The crown case was, irrespective of what each actually did that night, all were equally responsible for her death and each was guilty of murder. Because each knew what Travers was likely to do, therefore all were equally culpable under common purpose. For the crown, this was true as a matter of law and, equally compellingly, as a matter of fact and common sense. Even so, questions remained as to the extent of each accuseds personal involvement. In that respect, their signed confessions were the crowns trump cards.

The defence claimed the confessions were obtained improperly and by force. To present the clients case, those allegations had to be put. They were all denied by the police. Mere presence that night in the car, then the cow paddock, leaving aside what each offender himself did, was a matter of the gravest wickedness. The law, through the courts, had the task of determining the degree of culpability using rules that have evolved over centuries and long before 1788 and the arrival of the First Fleet, carrying with it the invisible cargo of the common law.

The line of defence that emerged was, even accepting the crown case, the worst that could be sheeted home to Murdoch and the Murphys for the death, in terms of legal liability, was the crime of manslaughter. That line of reasoning was barely intellectually respectable but, nonetheless, required a competent presentation to the jury. Was only Travers accountable for murder and one or more of the remaining four only guilty of manslaughter? This had to be considered calmly and unemotionally and, I have to tell you, on these facts it was not an easy task, even for an experienced defence counsel like me. That initial question was limited, of course, to the homicide, not the rape and sexual brutality. My difficult role was to seek to protect the interests of Michael Murphy.

Anita
Anita Cobby, right, with her younger sister Kathryn Szyszka. Photograph: AAP

On 16 March 1987 when the trial began in historic No 5 court at Darlinghurst, the central criminal court, the bar table was crowded with five, sometimes six, robed barristers and their instructing solicitors for what the press soon described as the trial of the century.

Closest to the judge, with his own lectern, was the grim, unsmiling crown prosecutor, Alan Slipper Saunders, QC. The origin of the soubriquet Slipper is lost in the mists of time. It was definitely not derived from being a soft and comfortable opponent. The crown had no better or more able advocate. He dominated the bar table with his reputation, experience and sheer forensic skill. We had been regular opponents over the years. I didnt like him. He didnt like me.

The days proceedings always began with what became a ritual loud knock on the large oak door leading from the judges private chambers. Preceded by his tipstaff wearing a black frock coat and carrying a white staff topped with an elaborate gold crown, in came the judge. Not a tall man, he was resplendent, wearing the royal scarlet robes of a supreme court judge sitting in the courts criminal jurisdiction. Justice Maxwell was the epitome of duty, courtesy and dignity.

The usually solemn atmosphere at Darlinghurst was absent the morning the trial began. A huge number of potential jurors milled around in front of the sandstone pillars, spilling over on to the lawns fronting Taylor Square and Oxford Street. Television crews seemed everywhere, as were radio network reporters. The press had their usual, reserved, prime seats on the judges left, facing the jury.

The police had done their duty. The magistrate, Hand, his. Next, the crown prosecutor and his instructing solicitors were ready. The judge and the jury were now in place. Also present, in almost reviled solitude, were the lawyers all funded on the modest legal aid rates, except me, on the salary of a public defender. The others would only receive the extremely nominal legal aid fees of the time in accepting these briefs. Far from helping the four other barristers careers, or bank balances, appearing in this trial was a positively negative factor. There are no lawyers made rich on the meagre fees paid for by legal aid cases. It is done as a noble service by the profession.

The concept of legal aid itself seemed to be on trial. Legal aid is effectively the postwar creation of the NSW McKell Labor government, ensuring the honest battler is not subsumed by the power of the state. I lost count of the number of friends and strangers who asked me, Why on earth would you accept a case like this? or, Do you enjoy it? There is a simple answer, apart from duty. There are many, many occupations and professions which are not only more unpleasant but some are also very dangerous. There is the challenge of appearing in what you know is a losing brief for a particularly despised client. Particularly, where there is no real issue as to identity, and the crime is so harrowing and has such cruelty, there will be not a scintilla of public sympathy for your client. This was such a case. During it and afterwards I received considerable personal criticism for accepting the brief. Even my son, James, who was still at school, was criticised by other boys. They wanted to know why his father would appear in such a terrible case.

This trial clearly raised the question, does the community want symbolic or real representation for major criminals? Under our system the accused is not guilty until our grand, but still imperfect, system has run its full course. The spectacular miscarriages of justice staining our history highlights the still inherent dangers which arise through human fallibility. A major safeguard is that all court proceedings with the rarest of exceptions are open to the public and, perhaps more importantly, open to and subject to intense scrutiny by the media. There was certainly no absence of that for this trial.

In such a case, where there is justifiable community anger, counsel has at least two options. One can merely go through the motions to ensure it appears the formalities of a fair trial were observed. Alternatively, counsel does what he or she should do in every case. That is, to do ones professional best for a client who would not have a clue what that involves.

Opening the crown case to the jury, Alan Saunders QC lived up to his reputation, describing in detail the callousness Anita Cobby suffered. He described Cobbys ordeal as sustained degradation, brutal, unbridled lust culminating in one of the most savage brutal murders the state has ever known. Any wonder the media called it the trial of the century.

Anita
Anita Cobbys parents at her grave site. Photograph: AAP

The first witness set an atmosphere of indescribable sadness: Cobbys father, Gary Lynch. He was a tall, dignified figure. He gave brief, formal identification evidence relating to his late daughter. While he did so the silence in the courtroom was deafening. He then joined his wife at the back of the court where they remained for the duration of the trial. Gary and Grace Lynch attended the trial each day. They showed great dignity. Because of police fears, security was tight and gallery and lawyers alike were searched after each adjournment. In the process, Cobbys parents often had to stand in a line with their daughters killers lawyers. Never once did they show anything other than class. Propriety and protocol prevented us from exchanging a single word.

Michael
Michael Murdoch. Photograph: NSW police/AAP

There were no eyewitnesses to Cobbys ordeal, and the principal evidence was the individual confessions. It must be said, the account of one in the others confessions could not legally be used against another. This means the confession can be used to prove the guilt of its author but not prove guilt against any co-accused mentioned in it. This is a safe and fair way to view confessions, because the confessor may want to shift the blame to their co-accused. It should be for a jury, hearing evidence, to determine the accountability of each accused.

The exception to this rule is where the co-accused agrees with anothers confession. More astute police try this stratagem, to get offenders to agree with each others confessions, even in part, thereby implicating themselves. While not unlawful, the strategy is discouraged. Accepting the confessors account only against the person making it is a technical but important rule. The crown had the powerful advantage of not having to ask the jury to rely on circumstantial evidence alone but on the words out of each accuseds own mouth.

Leslie
Leslie Murphy. Photograph: NSW police/AAP

At the outset, sadly, there could be no argument about the fact poor Anita Cobby had been murdered. The trial was all about, 1. the involvement of all or any of the accused; 2. if that issue were resolved adversely, the extent of involvement; and 3. having decided the extent of legal liability, whether the particular accused is guilty of murder or manslaughter.

In part, Michael Murphys case, and that of his two brothers and Michael Murdoch, was that Travers inflicted the fatal wounds on Cobby with a knife and was acting on his own account. Travers had pleaded guilty to this. So far as the murder charge was concerned there was really no direct evidence to support a conviction of the others for murder on the basis they assisted or encouraged Travers to commit murder. Michael Murphy allegedly told the police, I didnt want her to be killed. [Travers is] a maniac. Its his fault, I told him not to kill her Hes a fucking lunatic. I just wanted to piss off What I done Im prepared to cop. Its just that cunt, Travers

Michael
Michael Murphy. Photograph: NSW police/AAP

In legal terms, it was the defendants case that they were neither party to a common purpose to commit murder, nor had they intentionally assisted or encouraged Travers to commit the murder. That was not technical legalistic jargon. It was fundamental. It must be conceded on the crown case there was evidence they, as Travers co-offenders, were criminally liable either as principals or accessories for the murder, as well as the other grave crimes alleged. They denied this.

Defence strategy in this trial was to seek to avoid confronting and emphasising prejudicial evidence and to direct the focus to more favourable features. That is easy to say, but the harsh reality of the situation was such favourable facts were thin on the ground. Michael Murphys defence was a legal nightmare. On his instructions, he was not guilty of any crime. The law provides being present when a crime is committed is not an offence. But to infer that co-accused John Travers, who pleaded guilty, committed the murder of his own volition, was to stretch reality beyond credible limits.

Gary
Gary Murphy. Photograph: NSW police/AAP

The reading [of the accuseds statements] was damaging stuff, but nothing compared with the police photographs of the scene and the postmortem details. Again, what was my clients defence? I wasnt there, and If I was, it was for sex and not for murder.

Merely stating those horrible alternatives underlines the gargantuan task facing the defence. Given the basis of the Travers is a maniac defence, this unanswerable question always loomed large: Why, then, ever be in his company?

I repeat, this was not an easy case.

John
John Travers. Photograph: NSW police/AAP

The inscrutability and confidentiality of the jury room shields the tenor of their deliberations. They were instructed by the judge to banish prejudice and, to use the words of the jurors oath, to well and truly try and true deliverance make. Pre-judgment and prejudice would have brought swift verdicts. The jury deliberated all day and were locked up in a secret location overnight to continue their deliberations. They were obviously conscientious and, from time to time, sought Justice Maxwells help. All communications were proper and in open court in the presence of the accused.

First thing the next morning, all accused were convicted on all counts.

The morning for the sentencing had arrived. At 10am there was a slight delay, as Anita Cobbys parents were not in court. When they arrived, all that remained was the formal ritual of judgment. Everyone in court thought they knew the result: life. Even so, there still was the possibility that release one day would not be excluded. Personally, I wondered if a future government would ever be brave enough to give any of the five an opportunity for release, however deserving. It would be, I thought, decades away before such a decision would have to be made.

The judge entered and was seated. Then the five accused, together for the first time since the first day of the trial, were brought up into the dock. There were police everywhere. The atmosphere in the courtroom was one of unprecedented tension. So high was the emotion, at one stage, the experienced, calm and respected judge, Maxwell, was moved to tears.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/20/anita-cobby-everyone-in-the-car-that-dreadful-night-had-a-passport-to-doom

Didgeridoo is his voice: how Djalu Gurruwiwi embodies the sound of a continent

The Indigenous elder revered by some as Australias Dalai Lama is the spiritual keeper of the didgeridoo. A new exhibition honours his legacy and the immense significance of the Yolngu instrument that is helping to heal a divided country

The old man with straggly hair, long wispy grey beard and wraparound sunglasses sits at the back of the grandstand overlooking the verdant expanse of Alberton Oval the traditional base, if no longer the home ground, of the historic Port Adelaide Football Club.

He is Djalu Gurruwiwi: a Yolngu elder and lawman from north-east Arnhem Land, a songster, healer, virtuoso and master craftsman of the yidaki (didgeridoo), as well as the instruments spiritual keeper. From up here he surveys his Australian Rules team, smiles and nods in approval as his players go through their pre-season paces, calling for the ball and kicking and marking, on this humid morning.

In other Aboriginal nations and among non-Indigenous people, the instrument is known as the didgeridoo or didjeridu variants of the same word that probably has its etymology in English spoken by a European Australian. Yidaki is the Yolngu word and Djalu, the keeper of the instrument in north-east Arnhem Land, is widely regarded across Indigenous Australia as its custodian more broadly.

Djalu, who is aged somewhere in his 80s (Im 86 going on 96), usually rocks a Hawaiian shirt, or something similarly bright and elaborately patterned. But today hes wearing a Port Power hoody that signals a mutual adoption between him and the team.

Djalu likes their brand of footy all right. But his attraction to Port stems more simply from the lightning bolt on the team crest.

Its the lightning. The team is lightning and lightning is us, Djalu says enigmatically, as is his way.

His reference to baywara Yolngu for the power of lightning is itself an allusion to the atmospheric energy and wind enshrined in the yidaki, an instrument with its genesis in tens of thousands of years of north-east Arnhem Land history. In the hands of Djalu, and more recently his sons Larry and Vernon, the yidaki both tells and is the story of their land.

It summons the ancestral spirits and the stories of creationist animals that fashioned the earth, the sea and the sky and all the creatures, human and otherwise, stretching back some 60,000 years. It holds the histories of the clans, not the least the Galpu (Djalu) and Yunipingu (of his wife, Dhopiya) which remain central to thriving Yolngu culture.

And today they have come to Alberton to present yidaki to nine Indigenous Port Adelaide players and several club officials a testimony to Djalus determination, in his lifes twilight, to build bridges with other Aboriginal and Balanda (white, western) worlds.

Yolngu
Djalu Gurruwiwi (right) with his son Larry, who will eventually assume responsibility for taking the yidaki (didgeridoo) to the world. Photograph: Alex Robertson/South Australian Museum

Djalu is well known to audiences in the United States, Britain, continental Europe and Taiwan, where he has played to sold-out auditoriums. People from all over come to his modest house at Wallaby Beach, near the Northern Territory mining town of Nhulunbuy, to sit at his feet and sample his familys hospitality, always in the hope of being touched with his wisdom and insight.

If I shut my eyes I can see inside you, what you feel, he says.

Yet he is scarcely known in broader Australia. Which is why the South Australian Museum is now staging an exhibition, Yidaki Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia, in his honour.

The exhibition, which runs until 16 July, honours the immense cultural significance of the yidaki, the instrument of the Yolngu that has been adopted by First Peoples across Australia. Together with the clapsticks and the Indigenous voice in traditional song, its a haunting, distinctive, meditative sound that has not only come to characterise Australias Indigenous people but perhaps the continent itself.

The exhibition is testimony to Djalus skill as an ambassador between Yolngu, other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the western Balanda.

Stephen Goldsmith, an elder of the Kaurna custodians of the Adelaide plains, says: For Aboriginal people, not just Yolngu, Djalu is our diplomat, our ambassador. We all talk about the Dalai Lama; his role is to embrace all people, to lead with generosity, to enrich our shared understanding of ourselves and each other. Djalu is like that he is a spiritual leader. Yidaki is his voice.

Goldsmith says that as a boy and a young man the sound of the yidaki awoke in him a yearning that bordered on an inadequacy for his inability to play an instrument that was not, traditionally, part of Kaurna culture. He started on a vacuum cleaner pipe, then on bamboo and graduated to the real deal.

It [learning to play yidaki] was a key to finding myself becoming a bit stronger as an Aboriginal man, he says.

Djalu
Im 86 going on 96, says Djalu Gurruwiwi. Photograph: Alex Robertson/South Australian Museum

While Dhopiya paints the names of Ports nine Indigenous players more than any other AFL club on the yidakis to be gifted to the club, another Kaurna man, Karl Winda Telfer, arrives at Alberton with an old, old instrument covered in cloth.

He gingerly unwraps the yidaki and gives it to Djalu. The old man runs his hands over its smooth exterior, and pats it, as if it were human. Its the yidaki that Djalus brother, who died a few years back, left in Kaurna country with Telfer, who he taught to play.

Telfer explains: Ive just been looking after this yidaki. Now Im giving it back, so that it will go back home where it came from, to north-east Arnhem Land, you know … old man [Djalus brother] teaches me. He gave me permission to play. It shows an ongoing connection between us and the Yolngu … It closes the circle. Im happy now. Im relieved.

Due to their relative isolation, the Yolngu were among the last Indigenous people of the continent to be harmed by invasion and colonisation as the pastoral and mining frontier spread north and west. But they were always outward-looking, establishing commercial and familial ties with the Macassan trepang fishermen of Sulawesi long before first British contact.

After first contact, in the early 20th century, the Yolngu were feared as warriors who fiercely protected their ancestral lands from invaders not least the Japanese who came in, uninvited, to take the trepang after the Macassan traders were effectively outlawed by government. Djalus father, the warrior Monyu, first fought the Japanese fishermen (some of whom were also covertly mapping the northern Australian coast), and he later joined the Northern Territory special reconnaissance unit during the Pacific war.

The story of the Japanese before and after the war when Djalu met in peace with fishermen and pearlers from Japan are all in the Yolngu songlines that cross the rich, red earth of Arnhem Land and go out into the sea, beyond the island, Milingimbi, where Djalu was born and another, Raragala, now deserted, where he grew up.

Djalu
If I shut my eyes I can see inside you, what you feel. Photograph: Alex Robertson/South Australian Museum

As he ages Djalu becomes more difficult to understand, due in part to an old facial injury and, perhaps, a spell cast by an enemy due to his one-time role as a tribal enforcer (the stories about Djalu seem as endless as the songlines). Sorting the real from the mythical or imagined is not easy for Balanda.

Which is why it has taken years for the young London-based Australian film-maker, Ben Strunin, to make a biopic of Djalu. Titled Westwind (that which Djalus yidaki harnesses) and backed by Film Victoria, Screen Territory and Screen Australia, the movie is due for release later this year.

Strunin, who has toured Europe with Djalu, says the old man deserves all the recognition of our most celebrated music stars his work is helping to heal the divide in this country and beyond. He transforms people wherever he goes. Its a blessing to be in his presence.

Yidaki: exhibition honouring Djalu Gurruwiwi and the didgeridoo opens in Adelaide. Source: Peter Drew

Three thousand people jammed into the South Australian Museum forecourt on North Terrace to watch Djalu and the Barra Band featuring sons Larry and Vernon play. Djalu was unwell before the performance. Larry placed the yidaki against his head and chest, and sounded it. (Its party of a healing ceremony Djalu has shared with countless Balanda, including myself, over the years.)

Djalu performed. But he was later briefly hospitalised.

He is becoming frail; his sons and his grandson, Kevin will eventually assume his legacy and assume responsibility, themselves, for taking the yidaki to the world.

Yidaki its been my whole life, Djalu says. A good life.

Yidaki Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia is open at South Australian Museum until 16 July

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/16/didgeridoo-is-his-voice-how-djalu-gurruwiwi-embodied-the-sound-of-a-continent

Kesha at SXSW: ‘The internet is not a healthy place for me’

Singer whose case against her former producer Dr Luke exposed her to online abuse said she avoids the web and wants to raise awareness of eating disorders

Pop star Kesha spoke about the internet abuse she has suffered, which has seen the singer pare back her online presence dramatically, and her struggles with eating disorders at an emotionally charged SXSW event.

Speaking at a session that discussed ways to reclaim the internet, the star said she only uses the web to connect with her fans but no longer finds it a space she feels comfortable in. I use the internet to connect to my fans but aside from that, its not a healthy place for me, she said. Comment sections have also become a no-go zone for her.

Especially not posting comments. I try to limit myself in terms of reading comments because there can be a million positive ones, but I always gravitate towards the one negative one. I hold on to that and I internalize it and I know its an unhealthy habit. Ive stopped reading comments.

Kesha also spoke about her battle with body dysmorphia and bulimia, which she said almost killed her after doctors said she was so weakened by the disease that they were surprised she hadnt had a stroke.

I want to talk about it because I want to help people, she said, visibly moved. It can kill you. I almost died. I came very close, closer than I ever knew. By the time I entered rehab they were surprised I hadnt had a stroke because I wasnt consuming enough of anything.

She added that when she was at her lowest point during her eating disorder was when people complimented her on how well she looked. I was starving and people used to say Wow, you look so great. Keep doing what youre doing. And little did they know they were encouraging me to starve myself to death.

She added that a turning point came when she began to ignore online abuse and focus her attention on her own well-being. Criticism used to tear me up inside, she said. I was making trolls, I was making bullies, I was making people who Id never met before who were projecting their insecurities on to me on the internet, I was making them the truth. I was really sad.

In order to cope with the stresses of online abuse Kesha, who has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with her former producer Dr Luke, who she claims raped and abused her, undertook a shit ton of therapy and created music.

Over the past couple of years I feel like Ive become a woman in a lot of ways because Im kind of reclaiming my personal space, my body, my music, and my life. With online its important to reclaim that space too.

When I first came out as an artist I thought I had to be really tough and I was really young and I had no fucking idea what I was doing, she said. I thought to overcompensate I had to act really tough and act like nothing affected me, I thought that was strength. Ive since realized Ive found a lot of strength in my vulnerabilities. A lot more people can relate to that.

I think the world should be a safe space, I think America should be a safe place and I definitely think the internet should be a safe place, she said.

The singers case against Dr Luke became a focal point for fans and other acts worldwide who spoke out in support of Kesha. Stars including Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham spoke out, and in Swifts case donated $250,000 to Keshas legal fund.

One lawsuit was filed in California and dropped by Kesha in August 2016; another in New York was dismissed by a judge in April 2016. The verdicts essentially meant Kesha was tied to a contract with the producer who she alleged had raped her.

Dr Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, has denied all the allegations.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/mar/14/kesha-sxsw-internet-abuse-eating-disorders

David Bowie tribute stamps launched towards space on helium balloons

52 sets of stamps, representing the years of Bowies professional recording career, propelled into stratosphere and fans can guess where they will land

Special stamps paying tribute to the late music legend David Bowie have been launched towards space.

The 10-stamp set featuring images from some of Bowies most admired album covers and of the star on stage, were created to honour the musician after he died from cancer in January 2016 aged 69.

Fifty-two sets of the stamps have now been propelled into the stratosphere on special helium balloons, as an homage to Bowies role in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. The number was chosen to represent the 52 years of Bowies professional recording career.

The flight reached 34,100m at a vertical speed of about 12mph. After the balloons burst, the stamps will have started to descend at nearly 200mph, slowing to approximately 8mph by the time they reached the ground.

The Royal Mail stamps were all postmarked with a special edition red handstamp of the thunderbolt from the cover of Bowies 1973 record Aladdin Sane. Fans who correctly guess where the stamps that fell to earth landed can win one of the limited edition first day covers. The Bowie stamps are also on sale.

The set features images from album covers including Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Heroes, Lets Dance and Earthling. Others show Bowie performing live on tours across four decades.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/mar/14/david-bowie-tribute-stamps-launched-towards-space-on-helium-balloons

French rock star Johnny Hallyday being treated for cancer

Veteran singer denounces alarmist reports in some media and says while cancerous cells have been discovered, I am doing well and am in good fitness

The veteran singer, Johnny Hallyday, has announced he is being treated for cancer.

The French rock star said the condition was not life threatening and said that he was doing well.

The announcement on Wednesday came after a celebrity magazine reported that his condition was worrying. Closer magazine said its forthcoming edition would reveal that Hallyday was undergoing shock treatment to try cure him.

But, in a statement posted on his Twitter account, Hallyday attacked the pack of lies circulating about my health, which he said had shocked him deeply. The alarmist information put about by certain media outlets and social networks are false, annoying and shameful, he wrote.

Modesty and discretion should should still be observed in this sort of case, even if only out of respect for my own.

So, I assure you, I am doing well and am in good physical fitness. They did indeed discover cancerous cells a few months ago, for which I am currently undergoing treatment. I am being monitored by some excellent professors, in whom I have total confidence. My life is not in danger today.

Its a battle that I am fighting proudly with my wife Laeticia at my side. I will go to the end for all those who love me.

Johnny Hallyday (@JohnnySjh)

pic.twitter.com/vVx37bahzL

March 8, 2017

Hallyday, 73, has been one of Frances most successful entertainers, though he is not as well known beyond his home country. The French Elvis has sold more than 110m records, embarked on more than 100 tours and had 18 platinum albums in a career that has spanned more than half a century.

He has had health problems in the past. In 2009, he underwent surgery for colon cancer and was put in an artificial coma in a US hospital, following complications after a hernia operation.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/mar/08/french-rock-star-johnny-hallyday-being-treated-for-cancer

Sunny Pawar in Lion: He was just a normal boy; now a Hollywood star lives in our area

The eight-year-old actor received a heros welcome as he returned home to a slum from the Oscars. His family are dealing with the fame from his role in Lion

Its 11am and the Pawar family are dressed to impress. The women have put on sparkling saris and the men are in clean, ironed shirts. The man of the moment, eight-year-old Sunny, the child star of the Oscar-nominated film Lion, is inside the house, getting his face aggressively powdered by an aunt, while an uncle sprays him with perfume and adjusts his oversized jacket. Ive come at a bad time, clearly, but the family are polite enough to invite me to stay as they prepare for a photo op with a local politician.

The domestic chaos is a stark contrast to the glitzy, star-studded life Sunny has led for the past three months while touring America to promote the film. Sunny plays a young Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his biological mother aged five before being adopted by Australian parents. The film, based on Brierleys autobiography, A Long Way Home, has received international acclaim, including six Academy Award nominations and two Bafta wins.

Sitting outside his family home in the Kunchi Kurve Nagar slum near Mumbais airport, Sunny recalls being whisked around the world with an international film crew. It was like a dream, he says. Neither he nor his father had left India. First Kolkata, then Indore, then Australia and then America for three months.

The whirlwind journey ended last week after the Oscars, where a beaming Sunny was lifted into the air by the host Jimmy Kimmel, as The Lion Kings title track played in the background. Some have criticised Kimmel for using Sunny as a prop in a racist joke, but Sunny doesnt see it that way. It was fun. I loved it, he says.

Sunny and his father returned to India on a flight that landed at 2am on Wednesday. A swarm of local news crews and journalists greeted them at the airport along with a mob of relatives. He has brought a good name to our whole family, says Raviraj, a distant relative who was there. We all went and nobody knew where the arrival gate was, so all of us were squashed in that airport lift, going up and down until we found him.

They beat drums, they set off fireworks, says Dilip, Sunnys father. They brought flowers and covered him with garlands. The reporters crowded around him, Sunny look here, Sunny do this. They even came back to our house with us, and they stayed until 4am. They wouldnt leave until Sunnys grandfather shouted at them for harassing the kid, he says.

In Mumbai, home to the worlds most prolific film industry, making it into the movies is the epitome of success. Thousands of people travel to the city from small towns and villages around the country every day, hoping to be cast in a Bollywood blockbuster. But with a tightly knit, powerful film fraternity that rarely embraces outsiders, successes like Sunnys are few and precious. He was selected from over 2,000 children, says Dilip. They came to his school to do auditions, and the director says he was a natural in front of the camera.

Sunnys family are from humble origins. His father used to sweep streets, but was fired for having too many days off to take Sunny to auditions. For the past two years, he has been Sunnys business manager, touring the world and helping him practise lines on set. I never, ever thought Id reach this point in my life, says Dilip. My first son, and he has made me so proud.

The film has turned Sunny into a local hero. Posters slapped on the slums walls read: Congratulations Sunny on your achievement. Outside the house, the family have set up a stage, carpeted in red and covered in confetti left over from a welcome home ceremony. There is a floor-to-ceiling photo montage of Sunny meeting American celebrities, as well as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Children from the slum who wander past after school point excitedly at the pictures, whispering, Thats Sunny meeting the Rock, referring to the WWE wrestler-turned-actor, Dwayne Johnson. All of them claim theyve watched Sunnys film, though its easy to call their bluff as none of them recognises Dev Patel, the films lead actor, who also starred in Slumdog Millionaire. He must be some singer or something, says one child. No, hes Sunnys acting coach, says another.

He was just a normal little boy, says Vasu, Sunnys mother. Now everybody says, Oh, a Hollywood star lives in our neighbourhood. Overnight, Ive become the mother of a movie star. She admits she hasnt seen the film yet. I was waiting for Sunny and his dad to come home so we could watch it together, as a family. But Im so proud.

Sunny was only five when he started auditioning for the role of Saroo. Between travelling to locations for shoots, he attends the government-run Air India Modern school where, he says, he gets none of the benefits of being a movie star. None of the kids treat me differently. Its exactly the same as before. They havent even seen the film, he says.

The role has given Sunny new ambitions. I want to work in Hollywood, Bollywood, everything, he says. Ive learned so much, like the sign language of the director for example. When he signals, I know I have to be sad, he says. Its hard work. You have to follow all their instructions and you have to try to show real emotion, from the heart.

Nobody ever taught him to act. He learned it on his own by watching TV, says Dilip. He loves watching Rajinikanth, he says, referring to a south Indian actor whose film release dates have been declared holidays by companies in an effort to avoid hundreds of staff requests for leave.

I like his action scenes, says Sunny, jumping in. I hope I can work in an action movie like that one day.

Though Dilip and Sunnys tour of America coincided with Donald Trumps arrival in the White House, they remained oblivious to rising anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping the country. We got there when Obama was still president so we didnt have any visa troubles like I know others have, Dilip says, in reference to Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian film-maker who could not travel to America to receive his Oscar because of Trumps travel ban. We did not feel for a second like foreigners there. The people there have done so much for us, says Dilip. When you go to work, they give you so much respect and love. The whole public is appreciating Sunny, they made him a suit to wear, they took him to the Oscars. They treated us like we were members of their family, really. There was no question about race or religion.

Despite their new fame, the family still live in their same small house. I ask naively to see Sunnys bedroom. Dilip laughs. This is chawl, madam. There are no bedrooms here, he says, referring to labourers accommodation. He shows me a brightly coloured room with peeling paint and bare walls, except a Ganesh-themed calendar. Here we roll out mattresses and sleep.

Outside, in a metal cupboard, the family keep their valuables. Perfumes and jewellery are pulled out, tested and replaced, as they rush to get ready to visit the local politician who has asked to meet Kunchi Kurve Nagars new star. I ask how many people live under the same roof. Its our whole extended family, Dilip says. Ive never counted but it must be more than 50 of us.

Sunnys family were initially reluctant to let him work in the film. One of Sunnys aunts had cancer, she was very sick. At that time, we were trying to sort out all his passport, visas, so he could travel. Then she died, and in our tradition, you have to spend a month in mourning. So we were going to pull out of the whole thing, Dilip recalls. I had told the producers no, we cant come. But then the family really supported us. They said, no you have to go, its such a big opportunity for Sunny. And he really wanted to do it. So we went.

Two taxis pull up outside the house and the family pile in. The politician is waiting, one relative says, hinting that our interview has concluded. I ask Dilip what he plans for Sunnys future, and whether he will go back to work. Lets see, he says. For now, all our days are filled with doing interviews and meet-and-greets. Sunny will go back to school, he will take his exams. But maybe he will get more film work. Who knows? We havent planned anything.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/04/lion-sunny-pawar-hero-return-mumbai-child-star

The Gabriels: heartbreaking plays take on new meaning as everything changes in America

Audience reaction to Richard Nelsons eye-opening drama about the US election campaign has shifted through time and in performances on a different continent

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/feb/17/the-gabriels-heartbreaking-plays-take-on-new-meaning-as-everything-changes-in-america