Radio rant: Greg Martin during his playing days for the Wallabies.RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Rugby World Cup interactive: your guide to every teamFull coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
A war of words has erupted between departing former Wallaby James O’Connor and commentator Greg Martin after the former’s release from the Queensland Reds this week.
O’Connor accused Martin of betraying the “sacredness and brotherhood” of the Wallabies after the player-turned-broadcaster labelled him an “immature twat” on commercial radio.
The 44-Test outside back, who spent one season at the Reds but failed to break back into Michael Cheika’s World Cup line-up, cited personal reasons for his decision to leave the Super Rugby outfit this week.
He accused Martin of questioning his character with limited insight into his personal circumstances and appeared to compare the situation to the media’s treatment of AFL star Buddy Franklin, who called time on his season citing mental health issues.
“Greg did not say these comments while I was present, he offered me no chance to respond and frankly from the position I stand he does not care,” O’Connor wrote in the statement posted on Facebook on Thursday night.
“He has no interest in the truth; he has no interest in finding the real story. Greg’s interest is his own opinion and making his own headlines, with no consideration to whom he drags through the mud.”
Martin has been an outspoken critic of O’Connor’s throughout a controversy plagued career, which saw the Queenslander’s ARU contract torn up before a move to Europe in 2013.
After the Reds’ announced O’Connor’s departure this week, Martin took to the airwaves with a stinging attack on the player’s shortlived return to n rugby.
“This could be the greatest waste of n rugby talent,” Martin said.
“He’s played 44 Tests for at the age of 25, [but] hasn’t played in the last few years because of his bad attitude.
“A guy that just hasn’t matured.”
The comments incensed O’Connor, who wrote: “I am the first to recognise that my previous behaviour was not one of an upstanding individual, but like all people I wish to learn from my mistakes and look to improve upon myself. Greg’s comment on ‘everyone else growing up, except for James O’Connor’ implies that I have no recognition of the consequences of my previous actions.
“I find it ironic that the man accusing me of being immature then preceded to call me an ‘immature twat’, and ‘a little punk’ on live radio. A childish insult at best, from a 50 year old father.”
O’Connor also accused Martin of trying to sabotage the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign.
“Greg likes to talk about the sacredness and brotherhood behind playing for the Wallabies,” he wrote.
“However he does not hesitate to insult those exact players that pull on that jersey. After playing just over a handful of caps, he’s pulled on the Wallaby jersey enough times to know how devastating it could be to have fellow countrymen alienate you in the media.”
Martin has ruffled feathers in the past with a take-no-prisoners approach to commentary around the game in .
He drew the ire of the Ewen McKenzie-coached Wallabies last year after declaring No.8 Wycliff Palu had “dogged it” against the All Blacks in Auckland.
This time it was Martin’s commentary during the Wallabies’ pool match against Uruguay that landed him in hot water and appears to have sparked the feud.
In a video message on Twitter, O’Connor defended the performance of No.10 Quade Cooper and ridiculed Martin’s own playing record, showing a clip of the former centre’s role in the try that cost the Wallabies the 1989 British and Irish Lions series. Hey guys something I’d like to share with you. https://t上海龙凤论坛/R6aqiulJM7— James O’Connor (@JamesOConnor832) October 15, 2015
The good news for Queensland’s cricket team is Mitchell Starc is being rested from the NSW attack for Friday’s one-day match at Drummoyne Oval, the bad news is that he has been replaced by Josh Hazlewood.
Hazlewood, who was rested during the first four games of the Matador Cup by Cricket after his massive workload – he bowled during 50 of the 52 weeks that coincided with the end of the Ashes series – conceded he has big shoes to fill.
Starc has taken 19 wickets for the Blues at an average of six and in the process he’s enhanced his reputation as the world’s best white-ball bowler.
“The NSW boys are expecting 5-30 from me and [Queensland] might be happy that I’m playing and not Mitchell,” said Hazlewood. “It’s been good to watch how well the Blues have been bowling and you can’t help but to feel good about the line-up we have.
“It’s been great seeing everyone play their role and I just want to fit in at Drummoyne and do my thing and let the rest take care of itself.”
While the Blues’ bowling attack has spearheaded the state’s undefeated start to the tournament, Hazlewood didn’t expect the decision to rest Starc, who has been battling spurs in his ankle, to have much impact on the way the bowlers perform. “When you look at the attack you’ll see I’ve bowled with these guys a fair bit for NSW and ,” he said.
“We know each other’s roles and what we’re trying to do – I’ve played a fair bit with Sean Abbott, Guridner Sandhu and our two spinners, Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe, so hopefully I’ll fit into my role seamlessly. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve been interrupted when you come back from a rest because your body needs to get used to bowling day in, day out and getting used to the rigours of cricket.
“But I feel really good for the break, I feel a lot stronger and recovered for the time off.”
Queensland coach Phil Jaques said he’d told his players the opportunity to take on someone of Hazlewood’s calibre was a rare chance to test themselves. “He’s a really good player, he’s played a lot of international cricket and he’s fresh and ready to go,” he said.
Jaques expected Queensland’s Joe Burns, who was selected for the doomed tour of Bangladesh, to make his time at Drummoyne count. “Joe probably hasn’t made the runs he would have liked in the last couple of games but he is a terrific player, he’s already had a taste of n level and I’m sure he’s hungry to test himself against a strong NSW side,” he said.
IT’S not me it’s them, say many people about the overuse of antibiotics.
And many mistakenly believe that the body becomes resistant to antibiotics rather than the bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotics.
That’s part of the findings of Bond University research published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
It reviewed 54 studies involving 55,225 people and showed about 70 per cent had heard of antibiotic resistance, but most didn’t understand it.
“Any time an antibiotic is used the individual’s risk of developing resistance increases,” Gold Coast university’s Dr Amanda McCullough said.
“This resistance can spread to family and other members of the community, creating a pool of resistant bacteria.
“These resistant bacteria become problematic when an infection occurs and antibiotics that would have treated the infection are no longer effective.”
The study found 88 per cent of participants mistakenly believed the body becomes resistant to the antibiotic, but more than 70 per cent knew using too many or unnecessary antibiotics caused the resistance.
“The main problem is patients did not think that they used too many or that their antibiotic use was unnecessary, in fact, they typically thought other people were the main issue.”
The same applied to health professionals, with studies showing 98 per cent thought it was a serious problem, but less than 70 per cent thought it was a problem for their practice.
“Many people also tend to believe that they need something when they are sick and doctors may feel pressured to meet their patients expectations of treatment. The facts are that antibiotics offer little or no benefit for the treatment of some common illnesses like colds, coughs and sore throats.” AAP
Greg Moriarty and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday. Photo: Andrew MearesEasier access to authorities needed to stop extremism
What police and intelligence officials have been saying for months might now become a reality.
They can’t watch everyone all the time. Neither their resources nor ns’ expectations of basic liberties will allow that. So instead they need the Muslim community to be their eyes and ears when it comes to spotting extremism.
That starts with parents and families but it extends to teachers, friends and community leaders.
This was grasped in theory by the Abbott government but never really applied. For every mention of respect for Muslims, there was an equal and opposite dose of combative rhetoric, which tainted the waves of new national security laws as anti-Muslim and created a gulf between the community and the government.
Thursday’s meeting focussed heavily on how to avoid the law enforcement route and look at softer, earlier intervention, which means having trusted avenues the Muslim community can use to get help with loved ones they’re concerned about.
So how does that happen?
At the moment, the main pathway is to pick up the phone and call the national security hotline – hardly a comforting idea for a worried parent. That was how one recent alleged plot came to authorities’ attention but that won’t happen every time, especially when problems arise among newer communities whose relationship with authorities is distant.
There will be all sorts of recommendations about different pathways – new phone hotlines, new websites, new apps, outreach programs through schools.
But counter-terrorism czar Greg Moriarty got to the heart of the issue on Thursday afternoon by saying that worried community members need to be able to reach out to “people they can trust”.
Trust is the key. If that bridge can be built, Thursday’s talkfest will have been an immensely useful exercise.
The results, if translated into action when they go to Malcolm Turnbull and state leaders late next month, could do more to keep ns safe than endless waves of new national security laws.
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Tristan Carlyle-Watson, who was allegedly in the room when a group of men raped a teenage girl. Photo: FacebookA week ago Tristan Carlyle-Watson fronted his father and revealed he was likely to be charged following the gang-rape of a teenage girl.
“He was worried when he told me, of course he was,” his father, James, told Fairfax Media on Thursday.
Mr Carlyle-Watson was allegedly one of up to eight men inside a room at a house party in Sydney’s west in May when a teenage girl was pack-raped and filmed.
The “deplorable” ordeal was captured on a 16-minute video, recorded on a GoPro camera.
Police investigating graffiti offences came across the camera by chance and handed it over to the Child Abuse Squad.
On Wednesday, five males, including a 17-year-old, were charged over the sexual assault at a party in St Clair months ago.
Police allege a number of men in the room on the night of May 22 took turns in having sex with the teenage girl, who lost consciousness.
Fairfax Media understands police are looking at the possibility the alleged victim had her drink spiked before the assault.
It is also understood the girl only knew at least one of the men involved in her alleged assault.
Mr Carlyle-Watson, 25, who is charged with concealing a serious indictable offence, applied for bail in Penrith Local Court on Thursday.
The court heard Mr Carlyle-Watson encouraged his other co-accused to engage in the “deplorable” conduct.
“At no stage did he try and help the victim, who was unconscious,” prosecutor Varinder Pawar said.
The other co-accused actually laughed at the alleged victim, Mr Pawar said.
He said the girl sent a text message to Mr Carlyle-Watson after the assault and asked what had happened.
She asked for her property back and sent messages asking “what happened last night” and “who is this Kurt person”, the court heard.
Mr Carlyle-Watson allegedly told her “nothing happened” and that he didn’t want any more communication with her.
Mr Vawar said there was a distinct possibility there was further evidence that may have been disposed of or could be disposed of.
However Mr Carlyle-Watson’s lawyer submitted that was only speculation and his client was not the principal offender.
Magistrate Mark Douglass said Mr Carlyle-Watson’s previous convictions for stalk and intimidate and use a carriage service to harass did not assist him.
They also supported the prosecution’s fear that he could interfere with the witnesses and the alleged victim if on bail, Mr Douglass said.
Mr Carlyle-Watson, who appeared via video link, shook his head as bail was refused.
His father first heard of his son’s arrest after one of his friends called him on Wednesday.
He said his son, who hasn’t been charged with sexually assaulting the girl, wasn’t involved in the actual act.
“My son doesn’t want to do that,” he said.
“He has girlfriends all over the place. The way he gets on with girls … why would he want to go waste his time and do that?”
He said his son and some of the others charged over the assault were friends who had grown up together.
Some of the men are married and another is engaged, it is understood.
Andrew Waters, 23, and Kurt Stevenson, 25, also had their cases mentioned in Penrith Local Court on Thursday.
Mr Waters and Mr Stevenson, who have been charged with aggravated sexual assault, did not apply for bail and the cases were adjourned to December 10.
Ayden Devereux, 24, who has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and filming a person in a private act without consent, will also stay behind bars after making no application for bail.
A 17-year-old boy, charged with indecent and sexual assault offences, appeared in Parramatta Children’s Court and did not apply for bail.
National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT
Refugees in Pekanbaru on the Indonesian island of Sumatra go on a hunger strike to protest against delays to their resettlement in a third country. Photo: Supplied The refugees in Pekanbaru come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar. Photo: Supplied
The n government cut its refugee intake from Indonesia last year. Photo: Supplied
Jakarta: A group of 120 refugees stuck in Pekanbaru, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, have gone on a hunger strike to protest their frustration over delays to their resettlement in a third country.
Ahmad Zaki, a Hazara refugee from Pakistan, said the refugees wanted the UN refugee agency to come to Pekanbaru to discuss their resettlement cases and open an office in the Sumatran city.
“We are waiting for our resettlement process from more than one year,” Mr Zaki said. “I want to go to or any other country.”
The men, who are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar, have been found to be genuine refugees by the UNHCR. Their accommodation, medical care and a living stipend is paid for by the International Organisation of Migration.
“We tried to contact UNHCR many times. They make excuses every time. They reached other cities every two to three months regularly,” Mr Zaki said.
About 13,000 asylum seekers and refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia.
Many found to be genuine refugees remain stranded in the archipelago while the UNHCR tries to find a third country in which to resettle them.
In an interview with Fairfax Media last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Indonesia was not a destination country for refugees.
“So we hope that countries like could take more. But of course I understand the domestic situation,” she said. “Shared responsibility, shared burden is very important. I leave it to the UNCHR to have a discussion with destination countries that belong to the Convention [relating to the Status of Refugees].”
The UNCHR’s Indonesia representative, Thomas Vargas, strongly advised the men against the hunger strike. “It’s not going to solve their problem or have their resettlement cases expedited,” Mr Vargas said.
“It just causes a lot of problems and the possibility of harm to themselves, which we would consider to be terrible.”
Mr Vargas said resettlement was a long process, which could take up to two years in Indonesia due to the limited resettlement places available globally and the various procedures that needed to be completed to comply with requirements made by resettlement countries.
He said the UNHCR regularly visited all locations where refugees were in lndonesia and was about to post a few staff members permanently in Pekanbaru given the high volume.
However he warned this did not mean the resettlement process would move any quicker.
“The UNHCR can’t force countries to take refugees,” Mr Vargas said. He said the Syrian crisis made it even harder to find resettlement options for refugees coming out of Indonesia.
Former immigration minister Scott Morrison announced on November 18 last year that would cut its annual intake from Indonesia from 600 people to 450. He said anyone who registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia after July 1, 2014, would not be eligible to come to . The intention, he said at the time, was to “drain the pool” of asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia.
Mr Vargas said while this had had an impact, he was appreciative that continued to accept refugees who had registered with the UNHCR before July 1 last year.
He said resettlement was only one of a range of protection options.
“We recognise that a very small fraction of the refugee population globally will ever be resettled, which is why we also look at other options and appeal to governments for family reunification, temporary protection and providing labour [programs] for refugees to be able to take care of themselves.”
SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive
THERE are certain times in every life when one wonders if one has been successful.
That time might arrive with a glance at one’s superannuation balance, and the dazzling lack of zeroes at the end of it.
Or it might be a glance at one’s waistline and how it’s impeding one’s view of one’s less-than-dazzling super statement. This might not be a bad thing.
Or it may come with a glance at one’s kids, who may or may not get out of juvie within the month.
We’re all different and it’s natural to look for ways to measure up, preferably with a sense of humour, because you might need it.
Inevitably, if you wonder long and hard enough, you’ll end up on the internet reading “guru lists”.
Those scientifically compiled tables of signs, omens, psychopathies arranged in no particular order by people who may have sold pyramid schemes in a former life.
Designed to inform if you are successful “in the now”, or likely to be in the soon-to-be-arriving now – that’s guru talk for “the future” – prior to death, which is a sure indicator you need a new guru.
You know the lists I’m talking about.
Guides like: “10 things you need to stop doing if you are going to be successful”.
I’m always surprised No1 on this type of list is not: Stop taking the piss out of these lists.
Or: “11 things you need to start doing if you are going to be successful.”
Getting off your arse and doing something rarely seems to get spelt out.
Then of course there’s the “12 signs you are successful and simply unaware of it.”
Often cited in the “13 hard-core pieces of evidence you’re in denial” list.
And rarely referred to in the “14.5 sociopathic tendencies of millionaires”.
That’s because millionaires are focused, they think big, they make mistakes (often with other people’s money) before making truckloads of their own.
Based on that standard they may be totally unaware that they are successful, but you’re not, courtesy of the guru lists you might want to copy in your darker moments.
Like when you contemplate your super balance.
Yes, you can get can transported out of your comfort zone reading these lists.
And usually, moving out of your comfort zone is No9 on such lists.
It’s all about manipulating misgivings. I mean, moulding mindsets.
That’s why I warmed to one I stumbled across the other day on a business-type “yeah baby, go for it” website.
It was called “20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires”.
This was a list I could get my teeth into because it combined the idea of being probably not that successful in the now with the possibility of being hopefully a bit more successful sometime in the soon-to-be-arriving now, prior to death.
I noticed early on that chewing your fingernails did not rate a mention as one of the habits.
But I read on anyhow because the suspense was killing me.
According to this particular guru it’s all about “Taking one ray of light and combining them all to become the sun”.
In fact, one was urged to put that concept to one’s 20-year-old self and ask him or her what constitutes success.
Knowing my 20-year-old self, I believe he may well have asked what I’d been smoking. And if I had any spare. But I got the gist of where this list was coming from.
Reverse engineering. Envisioning the end product, you, and working backwards through the process that led to its arrival.
If this process seems alarming, I suggest you refer back to the “12 signs you’re successful but unaware of it” before proceeding.
I did because I was struggling for claret at that moment. I mean clarity.
One trait top of the “20 habits of eventual millionaires” list I found easy to understand was: “Avoid death.”
String that one out as long as possible I would have thought. A little obvious but a good indication of the level of nitty gritty detail this guru was prepared to go into.
Gurus should never get too specific.
Another habit that didn’t seem so self-evident was: “Every day be around people who are kind to you and love you.”
Ironic in a Catch 22 type of way, depending on where you work and how things are going at home.
Which is OK because the next habit is: “Solve difficult gratitude problems.”
Apparently it helps to be grateful for things that really give you the gee willikers.
As the guru outlines, it’s the difference between being scared in a movie and saying, “wait, it’s just a movie”.
Except it’s not a movie.
Speaking of movies, the next habit is a shining light: “Write down 10 ideas a day.”
A great idea, unless that idea you’re writing repeatedly is, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Planting seeds is recommended because, according to my guru, 50 per cent of flowers come from 1 per cent of seeds.
I get lost when it comes to such garden variety mathematics, but I can’t help suspecting it could help when buying a Lotto ticket, and may also have applications regarding my super statement.
Hopefully that’s something I can measure up in the long term and tick off my guru list when it comes to signs of success.
Frenchman Philippe Petit walked across a cable that had been illegally strung between Manhattan’s Twin Towers in 1974.THE WALK (PG)
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screening: General release
THE true story of Philippe Petit – the Frenchman who kept onlookers enthralled for 45 minutes while he walked, sat and lay on a cable strung between the tops of Manhattan’s Twin Towers in 1974 – was told in James Marsh’s documentary Man on Wire (2008). It was a tale of a phenomenally brave and gifted obsessive, charismatic enough to draw others into helping him fulfil his lofty ambition.
But, like all obsessives, Petit found it hard to be grateful. And when it was all over, these loyal disciples fell to earth with a bump while he gave himself over to being adored by a much larger and louder audience.
Robert Zemeckis’ take on the Frenchman’s great adventure gets some of this right. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Petit is an impish charmer deaf and blind to anybody’s state of mind but his own. He crackles with nervous energy tempered, when necessary, by his mighty powers of concentration. But you get little sense of the hard-headedness that took him through six years of preparation.
Full of Gallic shrugs and merry montages, the early scenes have him as a whimsical clown working the streets of a Paris that looks as if it’s been plucked straight out of Amelie. Here, he meets Ben Kingsley as a circus aerialist extraordinaire and begins to learn from him.
Pretty soon he’s rehearsing for the big event with a wire walk between the spires of Notre Dame, and it’s not long before he’s off to New York with his devoted girlfriend, Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon), and a small team of pals willing to risk jail to help him get to the top of the towers.
I was so pleased to leave behind Zemeckis’ cloying vision of Paris that I didn’t mind the speed of all this. But once we’re in New York, we switch genres with a suddenness that’s a little disorienting.
We’re now in a caper movie, with the shift in worlds signalled by a score reminiscent of The Pink Panther. The group of conspirators take on more recruits, including a couple of stoners who look as if they’d be felled by vertigo if they attempted to stand upright, and a hardware-store salesman whose talents as a fast-talker are to prove indispensable when the time comes for the group to bluff their way into the tower building, disguised as workmen.
Such an enthusiastic embrace of the story’s more farcical elements does toss up some easy laughs but putting the group on a par with the Keystone Cops also limits the degree of sophistication that the script is able to bring to the interplay between their personalities.
And there was plenty to talk about. As Marsh’s documentary revealed, the strains, fears and disagreements within the group constituted a drama within the drama. But Zemeckis glosses them over with caricature. He’s making a fable here and the only person he’s really interested in is its hero.
So it’s basically a one-man show, with Levitt keeping the others entranced with his demands, explosions and propensity for taking extraordinary chances. His practical, methodical side is there, too, but more often than not, it’s upstaged by his theatricality. And, like any case of extreme self-absorption, his soon begins to bore.
But all these irritations fall away once the group get inside the Twin Towers and we’re confronted by the enormity of the task they’ve set themselves. As the buildings are closing for the night, they have to smuggle in their equipment, which includes a 200-kilogram cable, and get it on to the roof. And having done that, they have to evade the security guard while they work with their teammates on the roof of the other building to rig the cable.
This is what Zemeckis has been waiting for. His hallmark as a director is his passion for visual effects and his use of CGI and 3D is dazzling. I’m pleased to report there’s no hint of the religious in the sense of sublime you feel in Petit’s kinship with space, air and the slender cable beneath his feet. Even so, it is as if he’s consorting with angels.
The last shot is a homage to the lost towers, standing burnished by sunlight, and there’s a certain poignancy in it. But it’s Petit you’re thinking about.
Treasurer Scott Morrison during question time on Thursday. Photo: Alex EllinghausenCashless welfare trial to go aheadWelfare spending must be reined in: minister
The Turnbull government has asked officials from Treasury and the Department of Social Services to form a working group to investigate why ‘s tax and welfare system creates “welfare traps” for some recipients.
Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Social Services Christian Porter say the group will analyse “impediments” in the system that create disincentives for welfare recipients to rejoin the workforce.
They say the tax and welfare systems ought to ensure that ns are “better off working than being on welfare”.
A spokesman for Mr Morrison said senior officers from both departments will be involved.
In a joint statement, Mr Morrison and Mr Porter said the government was determined to ensure that the efforts of working ns are rewarded as they work more and receive fewer welfare benefits, and that they are not penalised with “excessively high tax rates”.
“We need a tax and transfer system that supports those most in need while rewarding working ns trying to secure their financial security by building personal wealth,” they said.
“The way our personal income tax system and complicated welfare system interact should not result in the creation of welfare traps, eroding or even removing the financial incentive to join the workforce.”
They say the working group’s investigation will inform the government’s tax white paper process, which will look at this issue in more detail.
The news comes a day after the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council released a new report on ns living in poverty.
St Vincent’s national chief executive, John Falzon, said political attitudes towards people who needed welfare had changed for the worse in over the past 20 years.
“It has become completely stigmatised and something that is treated with disdain by our political elders,” Mr Falzon said.
Community and welfare groups have long been calling for Newstart payments, which are currently $523.40 for a single person per fortnight, to be boosted by $50 a week.
With Judith Ireland
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As a bold, eye-filling spectacle, Crimson Peak will gratify any fan of fantasy and horror.CRIMSON PEAK (MA)
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screening: general release
“ALL baronets are bad,” pronounces the heroine of Ruddigore, Gilbert and Sullivan’s parody of a rip-roaring Gothic melodrama. The principle holds good in Crimson Peak, which sees Mexican writer-director Guillermo del Toro trying his hand at the same genre.
Del Toro is an unrepentant fanboy, and all his films are in a mode of loving pastiche. Here he’s drawing on various literary works in the Gothic tradition, from The Fall of the House of Usher to Rebecca, as well as their cinematic adaptations. Set around 1900, Crimson Peak is meant to suggest an old novel found in a dusty attic, with illustrations in colours more vivid than life itself: glistening gold, morbid blue-green, and deep, bloody red.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the independent-minded American heroine, has literary forebears of her own: she’s an aspiring writer like Jo in Little Women, and an heiress like Isobel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady. In both these capacities, she attracts the attention of the pale and interesting Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a baronet who’s in the States seeking capital for a mining venture.
Once the pair are joined in wedlock, Thomas brings Edith back to his ancestral home in northern England – a mouldering pile resembling the villain’s lair in a Disney cartoon, with spiked archways, swarms of moths, and glaring family portraits. Glaring, too, is Thomas’ witchy sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), who clutches an ominous set of keys and warns Edith that parts of the house must never be visited.
As a bold, eye-filling spectacle, Crimson Peak will gratify any fan of fantasy and horror. In plot terms, though, there’s something lacking: Del Toro does not add much to the sources he borrows from, except in upping the level of violence, and generally substituting explicit statement for lingering mystery.
There is also the problem of tone – of knowing when to hold back and when to go right over the top. Tim Burton is a master at this sort of thing: his best films, such as Sleepy Hollow, manage to be eerie, droll and romantic all at once.
Crimson Peak, by contrast, is grisly without being frightening, and campy without being particularly funny. While the dialogue is often knowingly absurd, the performances are earnest to a fault: even the typically arch Hiddleston – hilarious as the villainous Loki in a string of Marvel superhero films – is obliged to play it relatively straight.