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Issue No. 137 24 May 2002  
E D I T O R I A L

An Aussie Icon
The public deification of the Last Anzac, Alec Campbell, proves the adage that when you scratch the surface of an icon you'll invariably find a far more interesting reality.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Just Done It?
Nikewatch's Tim Connor gives his verdict on the global giant's latest innovation: ethics.

Tribute: Lest We Forget
Rowan Cahill goes looking for the real Alec Campbell and finds a story the Telegraph will not be publishing.

History: Solidarity Forever
Neale Towart looks at the enduring relationship between the union movement and the defence forces and finds it all comers down to solidarity.

Technology: Unblocking the Superhighway
Michael Gadiel argues the case for Open Standards as a way of breaking the grip of big business on the IT industry.

International: Gloves Off
Workers and their unions are facing a battering throughout South America as a wave of economic turmoil sweeps across the continent.

Unions: Out Of Work
Jim Marr travels to the frontline to witness the impact of the Howard Government's decision to close Employment National.

Review: Strange Business
Tara de Boehmler looks at a new flick that exposes the dark side of the Material World.

Poetry: The Lawyer's Lament
One of the big issues of recent weeks has been the explosion of insurance costs for public and community events, many of which have had to be cancelled as a result.

Satire: Government Mourns Loss Of Last Anzac
Treasurer Peter Costello has lamented the death of Alec Campbell, the last surviving ANZAC, bemoaning the lost revenue the government could have gained at his expense following the Budget.

N E W S

 Workers Honour Radical Digger

 Retailers in Outworker Spotlight

 Nurses, Teachers Snare Agenda

 Syd in Vicious Backpacker Stand-off

 Microsoft Monopoly Under Challenge

 Kiddies Not Exactly Having a Ball

 NSW ALP Faces Asylum Seeker Test

 Canberra Acts on Industrial Manslaughter

 Carr Delivers on Dismissals

 Santa Claus Strikers on Christmas Island

 Abbott Believes Management Should Dictate

 Low Paid Not To Blame For Beer Price Rise

 Casino Award Covers Eastern States

 Security Workers Want Bosses Sacked

 Sydneysiders Rally For Western Sahara

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
The Cold Hard Truth
The Rail,Tram and Bus Union's Nick Lewocki argues our hard-hearted treatment of refugees is a betrayal of our proud immigrant history.

The Locker Room
The South Melbourne Football Club Pty Ltd
A spectre is haunting football; it is the spectre of revolution; a free market revolution, writes Phil Doyle.

Bosswatch
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Jobs are under threat in the textile and trye markets; but there's better news in the Newcastle mills and the Nike factories.

Postcard
Gas Treaty - The Raw Deal
East Timor is getting less then 40%ónot 90% royalties from the oil and gas revenue in the Timor Sea, reports HT Lee.

Week in Review
Origin of the Species
Phil Gould, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus may have buried the laughable notion that Rugby Union is the sport they play in heaven, but outside Stadium Australia life goes on, as Jim Marr discovers.

L E T T E R S
 Dancing With Trotsky? Not Bloody Likely.
 Your Tools Page is Down
 Big Dave Foster
 Give Us a Click!
 Will the Real Mark Latham Please Stand Up?
 Unified Labour
 The Last Survivor
 Not Hate Mail
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Review

Strange Business


Tara de Boehmler looks at a new flick that exposes the dark side of the Material World.
 

**************

The Business of Strangers follows the story of a successful businesswoman who has been to paradise but has never been to her. That is if the carefully manufactured perfection of endless hotel rooms, starched designer suits and worldly success can constitute paradise.

For Julie Styron (played by Stockard Channing) it has come close. Julie is a woman who has come from hardship and yearns for the security she lacked as a child. She alone is all she depends on and it is her own hard work that has brought her to the top of her field.

Yet no matter how far Julie comes she never feels safe, content or able to relax her tight controlling grip. Whenever her sense of control is challenged, she lashes out. This is how she comes to sack on the spot her assistant for turning up late for an important presentation. Not that the assistant, Paula (played by Julia Stiles), is fazed. For her this was only ever a "money job" anyway.

But despite Julie's worst fears that she herself is on the verge of getting the sack, this is one woman going nowhere except to the highest echelons of her company. Far from wanting to get rid of her, the organisation promotes her to CEO. This is a move that so surprises Julie, it throws her into inner turmoil as she grapples to understand what it means in the context of her life.

Enter once more young Paula whose brash style and flair for the controversial helps Julie do just this. Paula appoints herself as a veritable judge and jury to Julie, while steering her through an intense psychological drama that enables her to finally step outside her comfort zone.

What ensues is a sometimes funny, often challenging and ultimately exhausting string of events that exposes the protective web of illusions Julie has wrapped around herself until now. Like her hotel window that cannot be opened, Julie might well ask if its purpose is to stop her from breathing the fresh air or to keep her from jumping.

This film does not judge as erroneous Julie's sacrifices for the sake of her career. Instead it exposes the level of sacrifice women sometimes find it necessary to make in order to achieve success in the top levels of male dominated organisations. Nobody forced Julie to make her decisions but she is so used to "getting stepped on because she has tits" it is understandable that the course her business survival instincts have navigated for her has left little room for a personal life.

Her hard work has paid off but she has traveled so far from her essence in the process that she feels she has lost touch with herself and lost touch with life. She reveals that quitting her job is no longer an option because "if you take away this job, I don't know what you got".

In this sense her predicament is not one restricted to women. Male and female workaholics throughout the world are susceptible to suffering to this inner numbness from time to time. It is when it becomes a way of life that it becomes truly dangerous.

Fortunately for Julie she is able to reconnect with herself in time to see it as an issue. Once identified as such she also finds a few answers.

Fortunately for the sake of the business world the answers do not necessarily involve quitting her job, settling down and raising a family with some 1950s caveman type.

And hopefully now that Julie is CEO of the company things will be done a little differently. Since waking up to the dangers of too much work and not enough compassion, workers under her care will hopefully be treated a little better. This is a boss who must surely now understand the importance of reasonable hours, appropriate leave arrangements, counseling, support and of having no fear of summary dismissal for missing just one bloody meeting, no matter how important.

The Business of Strangers is not shy about falling back on a few cliches but it also gives the moviegoing public credit for having the intelligence to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgments.

It provides a choice between trust and fear: two perceptions that can completely alter the experience of life as well as the enjoyment of this movie. It also presents a perplexing picture of a world in which many have allowed the pursuit of material gain to provide an illusion of control at the expense of enjoying an organic existence.

Three out of five stars *** (grow your own)


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