Belfast Film Festival Shorts 2019

It is a few weeks since this event at Queens Film Theatre took place and I have not been diligent enough through other events and Easter, the orthodox one is this weekend 28 April 2018 – Bulgaria Greece and other places celebrate it according to their calendar, and I have progressed to having I hope done justice to each film seen at the Short Film Festival day which was superbly well supported by an appreciative audience. The festival continues and here is an event worth checking out.
On Wed 8th May at 8pm in the @BFFBeanbag BFF are screening THE CAT.
A cat from outer space teams up with a young alien girl and her knight, along with an adventure novelist named Wisely, to fight a murderous alien that possesses people. £3
(link: https://belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat)
belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat
In true blog style I’ve mentioned or wedged in Schrödinger’s Cat to my bag below. Read on it’s pretty obvious where you will find it.

Stigma

Set on the coastline of Co Down at the iconic St John’s Lighthouse near Killough, which Brendan Behan once painted (temporarily) its signal yellow and black hoops are like a wasp warning of angry inhabitants maybe. This short film is visually beautiful while using the still existing heritage to often good effect. By its location at the metaphorical edge of land and water, the changing surfaces made raw by weather, time and the period in which it is set, is a casting back towards a more institutional rigid time not far removed from religious intransigence. Playing on the notion people are in the lap of the gods and mystic unknowns Stigma presents a story of loss and return.

The innocence of a child is used very effectively by the young engaged actor portraying a boy seeking answers from everything he casts his eyes on. He finds a washed up garment and gets chastised for bring it back home. It perhaps contains in the adults thoughts an apprehension. Apparitions occur and the twists and turns are delivered here with tension and hold the viewers attention not least because the cinematic overtures are seen at their best on this large screen showing. It is about borders and boundaries I felt, much as the exhibition I recently saw at the Mac International 2018 and the black and white coastal people bounded by sea. Renata Poljaks images and videos are intense and similar in some ways. It’s called Yet another Departure.

The star of the piece is undoubtedly the locality. I have loved this place and the nearby St John’s ruin of a Church or Meeting House – actually like a temple – it is profoundly able to throw you back to the ancient perils and dreams this landscape must have held many years ago. For dramatic effect only the static framing and painterly type realism of the type seen in work by Peter Greenway jars slightly. I was taken back to one of my all time favourite films Ordet though there is barely any comparison due to the singular nature of the either. Ordet takes surrealist dramatic overtures to places never before encountered, where the personalities of the people are similarly vexed and confounded and the coastal location is in all conscious in the same place mentally. Stigma is a very good short film and while it is limited in its projection of thoughts of stirred reality and imagined themes. It only sent a chill into my bones when the hand held element of a beach scene develops. It became a different type of film only then and evaporated in a mist.

Stigma holds an imprint of the hand of God, obedience and renewal with stigmata often conveyed in terms as stigmatise, this is anything but and is an excellent film if somewhat stilted in its mystery.

***** 4

Aines Place

It’s always difficult to come up with a convincing and none too stretched narrative to present a short story but this film found itself able to deliver in a short time a tense, thoughtful, warm yet disturbing scenario well held in some parts, particularly the props, with scene setting and occasional moving objects or one particularly. One minute an object there, the next gone and so forth set management trickery wth subtlety.

Very well edited directed and acted it hosted a story of a young ‘Holiday let’ visitor finds herself bombarded in her quest for tranquility and brochure led scenic isolation which presents something of a nightmare. The complexity is found in encountering misconceptions and falsehoods and is disturbing slowly. This is about a visitor and my graphic – photo as with all the ones here – is just a visual headers and not part of the films imagery.

The concept of creating a warm environment, all pastel shades homely cottage, Yankee candles etc, held the pleasing perceived outlook for only so long. It looked as it should but dropped its psychological hit in a similar non threatening way. Maybe the need or want was not to make it too dark as an entertainment.

Ballykissangel ‘orishness’ crept in, in too many ways unfortunately and it jarred with its simplistic stereotypes, though complex and relevant in terms of predation and harm, given the lost unanswered travellers this island has and probably many others have in their closet. Recently there have been warnings of ‘stalking’ or ‘criminal’ intent and outcomes with ‘lets’ in properties in the press and this film is in that context a small cautionary note.

A thing I was able to take from it came from an unusual source yet instantly ubiquitous with our country and symbolism used in other lands. It was the dolmen providing a context a trinity of stones with supporting the slab of humanity on top. No reading of dolmens is fixed and I have found that theory for myself and you may accept or discard it, of the trinity being air water earth and simultaneously Father Son and Holy Ghost or their tokens of the times they were invoked or passed on.

*** 3

Land of Winter

The relationship with religion once again is explored. Set in the bottle neck of drinking in Temple Bar a young man returns to a festive time in Dublins evening with the shimmering reflective Liffey and swan neck Halfpenny Bridge his backdrop. I thought the booze culture had moved in the new millennium but the milieu of escape by drowning in the black stuff reigns on and so the pubs visited turn the taps on of possibilities. For all the type cast Temple Bar elements this film shoots higher and beyond the bars and confines of the grand canal. It is very very engaging and in no small part due to the lead actors portrayal of their respective lives. When Gerard is befriended or picked up by a girl with smarts enough to discard her drunken happy bunch of work companions, she ensnares herself and her new companion on a journey in the nighttime taken up with life’s harder questions. It is a talented burlesque and brazen epiphany like journey which is a joy to watch and allows you to be carried along with the discoveries within the characters and of each other. While shades of Yeats and Joyce were present it was not pretending to be other than a story of a present day pair of lives connecting beautifully, to strong a word perhaps but a synergy is apparent while they are alone and together for a short while. The thought occurs of the night time presenting the best time for discovery but there is a dawning, literally, and a fresh beginning to be encountered. So the conversation held at four o’clock in the morning which you and others may have prematurely held their hat on is (almost always?) lost in the new days resurrection of self.

An accomplished well paced, edited and not insignificantly, excellently scripted piece filmed to within an inch of believable resonance.

**** 4

Hindsight

Set in the present and in a Prison Visitors room a picture is presented of a young family dealing with one coming to terms with his mistakes. The man Tony is in his early thirties and his wife Paula comes to visit with their young daughter Tilly taking it all in her stride – life has introduced no alternative – Tilly knows they are having some problems and finds herself locked in prison of sorts herself with her dads absence and all are understandably locked in a situation which creates uncertainty and disorder. While this is not a prominent feature of the film it is resonant. The film conveys this with good insightful elements while growing the main new situation of a relationship conducted with a prison between them. Tony has become a drug addict and is showing signs of recidivism but it’s signalled there may be a reintroduction to his past habits and dealing inside is another dilemma which has consequences.

Having sensitivity and a good script takes this story to believable places and mental pictures present externally as well as those seen in play, so we are able to bring connection and engagement with things you do not normally see conveyed or are exposed to through cinema. The emotional content and context is the core transporting element in this film and it is delivered with skill and intense dramatic effect by its cast and crew. The agency of some sort of a budget was not wasted and this is a complete piece leaving questions and empathy and concern in its insight to the justice system and family.

Challenge is paired with hope.

**** 4

Early Days

When it comes to creating a meaningful story as a short film this ticks all the boxes.

I found the nature and this is a natural subject of a new life entering the world, touched me with its insightful cadence and deliberation on new motherhood. Post natal depression is unlocked and that is hopefully too much of a spoiler. The programme paragraph states its contours similarly.

Kate is cared for by loving visiting parents and is bedded into life as a new mother to a wonderful child, – this is a star in the making as the well behaved baby plays a baby infant so well even down to the feeding routine! – and we clasp the intensity of emotional warping which is hosted here in this natural phase of childbirth. There are flashbacks and disturbances seen and unseen. The merging of the real and imagined is totally convincing carrying us along and into this tenderly directed, conspicuously adept conception. Birthing a story and baby in the one compass is thoroughly and provokingly immersive. I was taken by the strangeness and irregularity of the crossover play with our emotions as well as the ones being portrayed. That being the merging of real and imagined which Kate herself is going through. The father is also pulled into our attentive grip. The baby is never left outside the story and this core is essentially what drives it.

When it comes to providing answers along with discoveries it also gives advice and insight. Some advice comes from an unexpected source and is beautifully rendered.

Consummately held this story was able to carry and there are many variations possible on this theme with all kinds of motherhood working on different planes, this is a presentation of how post natal depression sometimes appears and this is a very convincing telling however unique this one was.

***** 5

Finding Shakespeare

Last years winning short at Belfast Film Festival was set in a boarding school. This is also set in a school, one which is so clean and tidy and spotless it could be be taken from the land of make believe which it leads us towards. Those familiar with Shakespeare are asked how does this compare with life today. Always. Will S has set for us a bibliography of languages roots and minds workings in complex accessible narrative in play form, to last as long as man inhabits earth. Only children of a certain age don’t always like being brought to the party. Schools are where learning happens and Will S has enabled generations of deep mining for clues to our mortal coil while setting our heaps of quotable expressions. He has provided experts and careers aplenty.

Before google was invented it was often impenetrable but with predicative text and numerous other things we seldom can equate reality with what is and not question it. A quote is predictably going to cover that.

This school is the setting for a visitation and a kindly one. A puckish character arrives to help the children learn. The classroom is a hornets nest of buzzing teenage melancholy and energy replete with growing certitudes soon to be prevailed upon by marauding adulthood discoveries. Maeve is the central schoolgirl who is not for stereotyping and is proprietorial of her latent wisdom and not wishing it to be disrupted by interlopers such as the bard or even classmates or indeed home. Individuality is key and these differences are the metier and scope of all of Shakespeare’s work.

When teacher sets a task to discover the inner workings of the any play in the bards repertoire the anxious pupils devour and pulp the fictions according to their own personality and preoccupations. Romeo and Juliet is a core candidate for one or two.

In a Puckish aside; Will S has made this expression our enabling evocative phrase, imagination comes to the fore and presents the essence of the nature of forming extraordinary stimulating ideas and concepts often contested in the new found encyclopaedia of search engines. Newspapers, archival libraries and definitive conjecture speculated by ‘teachers’ is brought into play here, literally, by the films central premise. The contest of language and AI is witnessed.

I thought this was a film which would best suit a young audience though it clearly would be found equally warm and engaging to all generations. Guilty as I am, I use in front of younger folk, along with many others I guess, the foresight of knowledge obtained through attention to Shakespeare’s vast worldly contribution in a presence of wise counsel as an adult. It fills a huge hole in our wisdom no matter how tenuously you approach it. We take the wondrous gift often for granted and use it everyday in some manner or other.

By skilfully and well constructed, colour-filled, luminous, playful containment to the Shakespearean themes the filmmakers give a delightful treatment of our own preconceived ideas and positioning when it comes to Shakespeare. K. Branagh has it in spades and digs for the treasure, though in flexing his filmic skills he lately has indulged a bit to far without licence. So into it he begins transgressing! This film does nothing like that and creates an original – though it is heavily influenced by the axiom of the work itself – perspective.

Is the meticulously kept Holy Child Primary School actually in use or is it in measures?!

Now what is Measure for Measure really about?

**** 4

Hold the Line

Holding the line of 12 minutes and keeping it paced and moving smoothly for a short film is a difficult line to travel. This film does it superbly in many distinctive and authoritative ways. The use of line as a metaphor is something henceforth unavoidable!

With another announcement on the daily news today (15/04/19) of a new Belfast call centre beckoning young people to their cause, it is ironic as this film launches an interrogation of what it takes to be nice on behalf of corporations in customer service. A theory, not here presented, is that good manners are a deceit and hide any credible concern as unconcern or something along those lines. Hold the line traverses the perceived and expectations of civility in today’s commonly confrontation filled driven life.

Laura O’Shea who plays the call centre operator, M; she withholds her name for logistical and personal reasons, is also the writer and co-produces with Karen Millen this no or low budget adventure. Because of its conversation based premise, it holds its key in the daily communications of answering all comers queries, it therefore hits a few sucker punches to a person whose own rights and privileges are invaded and abused. The menial task of call centre work is a depersonalised persona vial of an often found vile house.

M (Emma) is in a room with few symbols of corporate wealth. Acting as the outreach arm of a broadband provider – a subtle communications nod – M is first found answering a call from a young male whose patience is nil and profane and abusive behaviour his default. Laura O’Shea immediately in her tiny facial movements and attentive eyes and body language shows the anxiety brought to her in an everyday situation. The symmetry of her face and hidden dexterity is palpable as she emotionally expresses all our own thoughts and perceptions in reaction to this private/public conversation. It is a conversation we all are familiar with and the exploitation of the power dynamic is put across in uncomfortable and very believable terms in this brilliant piece. There is a soft beauty in Emma’s face and we are conscious of this isolation through Kate O’Shea’s subtle delivery.

Without it sounding preachy or finger wagging this is a piece which doesn’t over-egg the cause of creating an interesting thought provoking tale and one which maybe is able to indicate to the wavering, the need to be civil wherever or however you conduct these conversations were the end receiver should not personify the ‘agency’ ‘corporate’ entity your having a problem with. It is too often the case.

I liked the Converse shoes and direction was crisp and contained in a claustrophobic confined boiling kettle of a brew so this came across as a short film with answers of a kind and aspects of kindness thankfully emerge in its delivery.

***** 5

Her Very Own

In a country where parents are brought to court or fined for keeping their child away from school for unexplained or improper procedural reasons it is a place where some thought is needed in realising the undercurrents often at play.

This film looks at a mothers single parenthood and her boy Benjamin is a component in the stress and compression of feelings in a broken family situation. Maeve is a woman in her thirties whose home is like a prison and she is only holding down agency work and its impermanence which is part of present spray culture makes her depression and anxiety manifest in OCD type behaviour. It is a hard watch as there is no opening to empathise as the film keeps you on the outside. Perhaps that is variable and personal.

Automatically school protocols and institutional formality enter. In each scene dealing with an authority figure the frame is a head profile signifying confrontation and the meetings are similarly framed with there being boundaries set and metaphorical walls erected which bring the problems to a heightened level and inevitable consequences arise. Whether it was that or the serious subject given a treatment which was hard hitting and convincing it made me uncomfortable and prone to lock out the morals of the tale. I followed the story and took in the mental disturbance centrally in Maeve’s world. Setting herself insurmountable goals and trying to perfect through OCD all around her felt an inexhaustible exercise but one which offered some hope albeit condensed.

A very well made short film well delivered by the small cast and it probably accomplished its compressed goals in a smooth production.

*** 3

I am not a monster

We are taken into a privileged place. A period manorhouse where the flock wallpaper and Farrow and Ball paints, Sanderson patterned curtains and wall mounted stuffed animals are all ingredients which may go someway to explaining the characters we are to meet.

Enter the house one hooded paranoid young man who identifies himself to his mother on the doorstep as Ambrose. He is not expected by her or his brother whose presence at the manor is due to his impending engagement to a very attractive girl called Catherine who must wonder what exactly the gene pool is like in this family.

Ambrose is not dissimilar in appearance to David Thewlis – actual name David Wheeler, and by now a formidable talent seen to effective credit in Fargo and Ode2Joy.

After awkward greetings and excuses are made the film begins to unravel its beastly narrative. Dealing with a mental illness and paranoia Ambrose is unsettling to everyone and his place in this otherwise happy reunion, intended as a welcome to the bride to be it disturbs in its throes of engagement. Pun intended.

It helps if some of the characters can be tangential and offer some way to compensate for their – generalities are part of the restrictions short and feature films often send you towards – unlike-ability – no connections or sympathy is, without effort, made possible.

So the story takes on a dark funny comic potency and though it is dealing with the mental problems of its central character it is led to the use of absurdity and superficial instruments. It was a good in everything it set out to achieve I would imagine but it’s became a victim of its narrow and highly contrived situation.

There are several promising indicators regardless of this one viewpoint on the probable success of the team given another more reasonably formed story. It was in places executed extremely well and throwing curves is only successful when there is another twist or curveball or two in the mix. So onto the next one.

*** 3

The Owl

I will set out the very paragraph taken from the programme to begin a discourse.

A man Nick played by Emmet Kirwan arrives uninvited to his best friends birthday party, where he discovers why his friends have abandoned him.

This is a dark film which builds to a shocking conclusion in its limited orbit.

Arriving at night at a rural farmhouse with his guitar the period of Midsummer’s eve comes to mind and immediately that pagan festival is thought of through the fireworks of a group of youngsters seen in the distance silhouetted against the embers of their bonfire. Ireland has its affinity with this time period and here it is possibly in use. The still honoured tradition is found in Mayo for example across the bays fire illuminated the night sky. The kitchen is deserted when he reaches the house and music resonates from another room.

That is the setting and introductions for something more problematic is in play. The tension is provided in noises off and when he uses some smokes of another occupant of the house who then appears. This is Tracey played by Aoife Duffin and director of another short film, Sister, whose drugs he has just helped himself to.

The owl is the harbinger or carrier of death in many eyes and this shadow falls across the film and the Director Neil Winterling whose cv is lengthy and impressive (The Shore being one) brings heft and disturbing contemporary thinking into this horrific piece. It’s not a genre of any kind just a highly individualised and compressed short story delivered with formidable credulity and it shocks and haunts beyond its minimal visit to the screen.

**** 4

Troubles

Being an entry in the Belfast Film Festival the immediate presumptions need to be thrown away. This is conspicuously not about the Troubles although – and its hard to fathom – it might refer to a parent long gone. It’s never clear.

It begins in a quiet rural pub at night with all the lights out and a concerned young man crouching and hidden from sight asks someone close by him to be silent as the knock on the door comes. It follows a car pulling up outside and seems a harbinger of some bad intent perhaps in this otherwise tranquil place. With the title a deliberate and perhaps tangential (mis)lead the thoughts f malevolence and perhaps violence come immediately to the front of this film.

The story is about a group of musicians and it centres on the course of them continuing their session after this interruption. They are young people with a way of making their own craic and defining their space in life by their joyous engaging symbiosis. Playing traditional music that is. After some initial catching up the visitor and returnee he is outside with his drink having a smoke and is joined by one of the group.

As we have reached this point it is realised, and its not a spoiler in any sense giving the lead up to it, the pair have a lot of past to unpack.

One of the most memorable parts of any of these short films is their musical contribution and the song it closes with seems to transport the watched and watching into a past where requisition is called for. Response to the past and avoiding avoidance. It is superbly rounded in its simple format and only briefly through the mistake referred to of leading your expectations to what might be signalled concerning the ‘troubles’ without enough clarity, it is an excellent piece of thoughtful filmmaking. Powerful in many ways.

There is an air of young people making sense of things together without the outside and past being too invasive. It is present though and they are aware of it and the lineage of traditional music and sean nos is captivating in al senses of the word.

The talents of Bronagh Taggart are again seen in this production; partner Jonathon Harden directs. Those fingerprints are definitely touching it with emotions forward and convincing, the nerves being on its creative pulse. The DoP duties performed by Ryan Kergnohan is positioning this team in a strong way as filmmakers again. Work is seen as collaborative including the cast skills and the visuals are still and framed unfussily but with the deft lighting and shadowy darkness the story is invoked strongly.

**** 4

Juggle

In the continuous heavenward ascent of the Commercial Capitalist up-reach of Dublin’s squalid businesses the focus is here on a company director on the take and make. Having shafted a computer designer he has apparently shafted another and is asked to pay the consequences. As the Guinness Observatory once gave solely the view spread from its costly Protestant brewery across the city beneath, towards another, BusArás, a Michael Scott flagship – and homage to departures near the Custom house – now the Spencer Docks and new Financial section herald an embrace of all things greed orientated. Whether this is the premise and intent it is a salutary tale excellently told about the dislodgement of apparent ‘reward’. As various battles currently play out over mainly slices of the people’s needs, housing, medicine, transport, communications and new technology, the emphasis is on shifted from the internal ‘chancers’ to the invitation to more international chancers.

With AI coming to the fore maybe that was the software paydirt. The first actual marketable robot was manufactured back in the early eighties and Adam 12 were made, Eve 13 where made and Ian McEwan reminds us in a recent book Eve sold out and the character in his novel could only obtain an Adam. So this is, for the sake of this review, a computer programme minting it for the Juggler who has to decide how to deal with the outcome of one of his session.

We are getting replaced and the buildings are temporarily hosts to aspirations in the cloud or clouds. It’s the robots that need to be taxed. The Tesla car could eventually solve some energy void but it needs to be built as do all the other fragments which make up our existence. Few will be needed to make the assembly lines function.

The story is captured mainly in an empowered woman whose chutzpah or smarts, show the juggler to be out of his depth.

The film is annoying in the sense the juggler is annoying and you wish he would behave and cease his nonsensical vibe. As a premise it just about gets away with it and in its closure someone gets to find a future not necessarily on this plane.

*** 3

What Betty Sees

Opening with a shot of a woman striding out on the Belfast streets we are taken to 1979 and the woman stops to examine some indistinguishable chalk graffiti (washable poster paints are available – the only misstep!) on a brick wall and family waits gathered to greet this fortune teller. With a brew having been made three girls of a family in which there are 12 siblings altogether Mother needs to be indulged by the 3 girls seated and pressed into submission for the forthcoming tea leaf reading. Brilliantly handled by Director Colleen Forward whose first film this is; you would never have guessed it at all, it is summoning skills of recollection and wishes in this true story. As a group of three the girls could not be any different and they are shy, confident, practical. They exchange these elements on different scales at times. This introduction to fortune telling for them is full of peculiar expectations where the scales of life are to be encountered in tea leaves. The mother is conspiratorial in leaning towards the prospect of babies. I used to live close to a house where a fortune teller lived and you would see a pair usually, of an older woman accompanied by a younger one in their Sunday best and often on a Sunday step through the front gate and knock the door. An hour or so later they would emerge looking down and deep in a conversation with their futures revealed and no longer in the mists of conjecture.

The three are told their futures, while the flashbacks, flash forwards, shows Colleen using her imagination thoroughly, with deft insightful storytelling easily woven, though it is due no doubt to hard work in the crafting in the creative process and well spent time. Strong attention to detail is apparent, in for example a nod to 1979. Spellbound is a band Forward has a connection to and there is a leaflet on the mantle piece advertising this, her fathers band.

The tea leaves blow in this order for, 1. Bernie, 2. Theresa, 3. Marie away.

The vibrations of their different connections to the reveal, reverberates in the senses of the watcher. It is a bit like a visit into a very private space and the mystery is taken as read and counterintuitive thinking is temporarily discarded. For the sake of imaging a future the perils are pronounced as are the beliefs and superstition in play in taking in a form of belief or advisory for cautious reference.

Very well acted and imagined it was a production deposited in a few minutes with slick editing and smooth dialogue and ease of entry to the unfolding story.

There are obvious markers made in the capacity of all involved for other engaging stories and it won’t stop here or at lest that’s what the tea leaves say as I stare into the tea brewed uncommonly with loose tea in this 21st century. The future and past seem wrapped up together here.

***** 5

The Man who shot the Ket

This is a bonkers short film which in the black and white noir style of a comic book crime thriller is hallucinatory ket dust by Rian Lennon and his assembled Belfast ne’er do wells. He orchestrates a stand-off on mega proportions which grows in absurdity as it continues delivering in only the way, genuinely, Belfast speak is spoken when hot wired to eejits of low intellect but full of Street creds.

The opening is a knock on the door in a run down tenement and a young man, The Man who shot the Ket is questioned robustly and thoroughly working on the absurdity, by a young smart girl. Theresa is her na,e and texting is her game. Both are in danger of falling over in trying to keep up the persona granted by low expectations and low returns on life.

The big deal is a missing item which is worth very little whatsoever in real terms but people could die over its mishandling given the narrative telling of this enclosed and tightly shot scenario. Beautifully coherent in filmic and noir terms along with several one liners any Belfast novelist would pay his TV licence for.

In a fix wouldn’t be in it. The fix is one which the antagonist/protagonist – don’t know which to believe is playing it straight as a version of Ricky Gervais in bad light might seem. Office it ain’t but it’s all I have to go on. Dickhead and lots of sweaty profanities are exchanged as the head melt continues to a bizarre loss having been realised and that’s where the Ket came in. It’s not a Cat is Ket. On yesterday’s bus I was talking to a couple who were smuggling Schrödinger’s cat but it turned out to be hidden in a handbag, (there is no cat we have no cat!) enroute to its home where cats are banned. This gameplay with the Ket is almost verging on the possibility that quantum physics are in play, and its a Larry Cowan intervention as Producer maybe, of a thoughtful theme of a state known as a quantum superposition as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event integral to the plot that may or may not occur. Or possibly not.

The Ket exists but will our friend Stevie find it. In glorious black and white this story is picture compared and boxed to within an inch of its credibility and delivers a complete and brilliantly rendered and portrayed joyful escapist twang of a short. Elasticity is needed to take you with it. A lot of Orson horsin’ before closure.

It’s a bit like finding your uncle was an alligator and that’s what made him snappy all clues were there. The writing and directing of Rian Lennon is a very comment treatise of the genre with lots of Belfast scurrilous behaviour. I wonder how it might appeal elsewhere as there are no compromises and there shouldn’t be by adapting it for wider consumption. The wonder of it is local or wider?

Regards the drugs, give me some Dulce and Yellowman any day as it is as much stimulant as my man can take. I’m utterly affected after this.

**** 4

A film about Sandhoppers.

What’s it about? You’ve not been mislead. These are intelligent creatures the microscopic lens of Nicholas Leogh is savouring it it’s tribute to a little skillful high jumper that for some reason requires propulsion that no other creature really needs. Predation must have happened early and seeing in close up instillation these charm and lead to a charmed existence in this extremely short lived film. Their lives are not brief but the condensed probably correctly identified priority of mating is invoked, I wanted to avoid that word but the shortest film of the day gets it and it is a love story with a shell of an outlook but symmetrical drawn.

**** 4

One new friend

Gemma lives in a house of fundamentalists who supercharge her moral outlook with rigid boundaries. So when she seeks out friends, as is the present default/dilemma, it is done on-line to a large degree. With a video-cam clipped to the monitor on her hom computer she sets about the web and the text alerts are framed on our screen as questions and frameworks form and fix.

By taking a dark subject by using the device of a short story this is a shout out to pay attention. Predation is soon encountered and made physical. There is a meeting which is possibly stretched too far but is acknowledged as one that might easily happen though it’s quite remote I would have thought. A plush apartment, maybe a booked AirBnb is a scene of discomfort and danger.

Where it goes is probably easily predicted given the tells as it progresses. It was very cohesive and carefully handled but lacked the authority for me of a convincing believable story no matter how close and real thes situations are. It needed perhaps some jeopardy on the part of the instigator and fell a bit short for me.

*** 3

Vegetables

Vegitarianism is on everyone’s lips but not necessarily the item itself.

In a dystopian context in a Wicklow forest a set of zombie types are in the fields searching for their daily bread. Give us this day our daily beetroot or carrot or turnip. Taste doesn’t matter but availability does. There is a set of three who are first aware of the other people who are boobing up and down. We have seen them and they are the zombie like ones. Rooting literally at the edge of their decomposition for vegetables to live and they have hit pay dirt.

The film takes time to hit pay dirt as the climax or core part is a confrontation when these sets meet each other. The set on the outskirts are like the custodians in the Handmaids Tale those seeking out and securing for themselves through weaponised means their predatory needs. This is perhaps after the control elite colony has collapsed or been cast outside. The queen bee perished. Her the wings of the weaponised ones are brought sharply in and they find dealing with what they find disruptive and unclear.

Zombie films are not my favourite though Train to Busan, the South Korean one is superb. Lobster wasn’t bad either but wasn’t as dystopian as the local The Survivalist shocking treatment. This avoids cliches and tropes of the form and is therefore putting out a very well thought out set of ideas and it leaves the viewers with satisfying engagement which carries beyond the Cinema door.

**** 4

Fifteen

Taking the true unjust imprisonment of Paul Hill and his treatment while incarcerated as it’s purpose this is a claustrophobic and dark but realistic interpretation of the well known saga of long term lack of justice in British and Northern Ireland justice system. The betrayal of us all by thugs in Government and on the streets committing needless murder and maiming is palpable in the few short minutes of this films existence.

Fifteen years to obtain any sort of justice. Both sides of the Irish Sea people let this boil and spill out. Those who knew the wrong people were convicted and said nothing while the pretence of peace was on the agenda, got on with their own scripts of endeavour. Police and Prison officers fell for their forces propaganda and dealt out their own justice.

Paul Hills years are spent most of the time in solitary confinement and his jailers use of methods of torture in their own sickening deeds conflicted with their job as duty officers charged with restoring prisoners others put inside by ‘The Crown’. Lord Longford knew the radical restorative aims missing in British prisons and campaigned to resolve it.

Here though the years are tabulated chronologically and episodically and the central thee conveyed is the immense injustice involved. Also present is the human capacity to approach new stages of life while trying not to unpick or discard an unshed-able agony.

The parts that best played out in this for me were the closeness and personal focused elements. This is a formulaic approach which only veered into the surreal as close up aspects were explored but I wanted more of the surreal as the years for us that have grown up with the troubles as part of our person close or removed at times, have built a saturation of thoughts that appear every tine such treatments appear. It’s not that they are not welcome, all insights are worth it and are needed more and more but this was a fairly well trodden path though immense and in it its short timeframe remarkable.

**** 4

Burnt Oranges

Spun off in one minute and thirty seconds this is a tale of a man coming to confront his imprisonment and what is behind it. It is a psychosis and a grippy misread ion his own skull is combined with a score of some strength. It was a dubious and unaffecting film for me.

** 2

El Hor

In a homage to the fulcrum of black and white photography and motion study this is a visual feast. At its centre is landscape of the universe in its patterns so synthesised and binary yet kaleidoscopic. The binary is not a universal norm but here the division of the screen is complemented by a pair of Saluki dogs. The Dog Star is summoned. The eyes of the Saluki are studied. The flow of their white long haired coat is studied. By seeing the fluid motions of these beautiful creatures it is something of a ancient philosophy incurred in the bred having occupancy of transposition in ,a s mind of their harbouring more than we can imagine. There are certain dogs such as collies whose intellect is such they can after a few years; ask any dog behaviourist it’s true!, be aware of words humans speak and respond accordingly. So these Saluki get to be top dogs because of their looks and a modicum of intelligence transpositioned by humans.

The score is a synthesised and electronic score which is synchronised with the film and is after its rising to the fore around midway places the film into an enveloping complexity of symmetry and the dogs are seen only in patterns and cloudy shapes. The landscape of the Wicklow Hills is another player with its rivers and narrow valleys and wondescape of again Irish ancient mutations.

Directed by Diane Lucille Campbell this is a highly accomplished film with lots of very fine tuning and allowing for the worshiping of the Saluki – Herons – Giraffes and all creatures great and small (NI hymn!) have a role in the appreciation of the universal truths in front of our eyes everyday – it does form a distinctive and therapeutic diversion. Significantly by using black and white the focus intensifies and it is a as a lovingly film and performs homage on to our world in a small but in itself a complete way.

**** 4

No Place

There is a breakdown on a scale which is devastating for a young family in this modern Ireland where the hubris and ecstatic content of the Politicans ignorant and ignoring the devastation of bailing out corruption by citizens who have washed their hands of and have Courts and Politicians rinsing of remaining residue is viscerally exposed in this treatment. In hotel accommodation and out on a limb with no meaningful assistance Angela has her two very young kids to keep from harm by their social situation. If it’s an eviction or an estrangement from a marriage or even both it is a set of circumstances only the fittest and with contingencies and family support could address. Angela does relatively well but comes a cropper when the work she is still holding onto is cut off. She has been dealing with an agency doing in the present day ‘third party’ devolved employment responsibility, one without rights or protections – Government has seen to that – the question is why this country has allowed this to happen and how it affects so many mostly women? At a crisis point it has the appearance of a normal set of circumstances but it’s not and is a surreal 21st century collapse of social cohesion and its effects are staffing.

Faced with being single parents in their cris the margins are gossamer thin. This is a very clear and disturbing important film in its small scope as a short but it’s message is palpable and real.

In terms of how the construction of the story and its evolvement there are scenarios the filmmakers will have set aside and they run with just the one set of ideas and outcomes but have been it is clear choosing one out of many such is the variable scenarios they could equally have formed. Perhaps there is a place to put a short set of stories as common parallel but totally unconnected otherwise – stories of say half an hour or even one hour where each tells a story of modern Ireland and locality not ‘universality’ is foremost and able to put across the rural and city based stories that are haemorrhaging the Island. North and South have situations caused by different issues and this focus on Housing and repossession is just a taste of what might arise in future societies.

Laura Kavanagh and Michelle McMahon are to be applauded for this work and hopefully they have more opportunities to expand and create more eyeopening narratives.

***** 5

First Disco

Brace yourself for teenage bullying and troubling coming of age. In a world where appearance is bought and traded as the opium for a successful life those whose difference from standard issue trademarking ideals are found to have them exposed at every turn. The period detail in this short is the most interesting feature for me as the clothes and music are in my mind not as bad as they now appear retrospectively. The film shows them in a better light than they were in my view! To ,any well cared for artefacts maybe. Even blockbuster mainstream film has a tendency not to harm the props. No dirt no soiling. No torn or half worn items are seen – it’s not the fault of the filmmakers here alone – they like many others need a continuity and an authenticity runner. So it’s a comically and dark at that comedy at times tale of a young girl going to, see title. Her friend is a fan of pop and the music just streams out. Too shy Too shy is a case in point Katchagoogoo. Sums up the teenage angst which google is not around to sort out. Friends are the only go to. Trauma with bite is what this entails. Teeth bridges are a strain on looks and pickupability. One of the school has a look which is Elizabeth Taylor made, or in the younger style of said actress. She is the focus of the Male gaze. Her looks are strikingly attractive and she causes ripples around the playground. The colourisation is very uniform – the colours are great in other words – and sharpness is a detail not lost here.

Without hammering this fairly narrow concept into a corner the story is probably informative in many ways to those unfamiliar with the way things were and still are. The purpose is well fulfilled and delivered in cinematic conventional ways and the streets have names. Avocado Avenue, Avoca Place. Bono is not far from here, thinking of new lyrics for U2 having nearly worn the Avoca Streets out in his early years in this Dublin setting. Warm sun eventually falls from the ever-present daylight it shows throughout upon the young girls affected by this angst and it concludes in Shakespearean circumspection.

*** 3

Under Growth

Keeping up often in the issues a lot of these films address, the coming of age and angst ridden days feature as when new family situations are thrown upon children and their ways of coping are carefully examined in several diverse ways. This is the territory of a girl whose estranged father is a man in need of the Alka-Seltzer often and sits at home watching the snooker. It begins with Hayley played by Soraya Abbas who is very plausible and hoovers over the possibilities giving you ample latitude. In terms adjusting to this set up and an indoor life which is in limbo she is now looks to be content making up games and angers her father who tells her to go outside. This is Waterford territory resplendent in its outsider status. This is set on an estate which has an outside and she soon is in woods and this adventure talked on new meaning. Stephen Jones playing the father gives it a gripping edge which is commonly the exploration of filmmakers Dreamboat and Evin O’Neill.

It is a sensitively crafted film with the plausibility of the situation not a hinderance yet it carries bite and resonance which is spookily real. Another film made by Dreamboat – Brothers Evin and O’Neill. I was struck by the direction particularly as this was a film with fantasy interwoven with splendid ease and with Soraya Abbas at the helm of the scope of the film it was the capable and astute cinematography of Narayan Van Maeve providing the visual spirit seen in abundance. The roles of the others and there are four parts are taken by Dad Stephen Jones, Mum who delivers her to her unwitting adventure Fiona Lucia McGarry and the creature of whom we have said little played by Dmitry Vinokurov.

The surreal element was somewhat an escape mechanism and it fell short only by a hairbreadth of being volumous, universal, fable or ancient lore. It was without doubt imaginative which is why this film has been so successful at Festivals.

**** 4

Spook

Trippy films come out of drones and landscapes with the latter lending their evolving nature upon our eyes. Seeing only about 5% of what is taken onto our eyes little cellular biological receiver – the other 95% is made up of the itinerary of experience and brains functional memory – it transports us into a new way of seeing in microscopic detail at times.

In Lyndsey Dower, Cillian Jacob and Natasha Everitt there is an ensemble whose actions are intwined with the Waterford landscape they inhabit. The meadows and glens are where a pair of millennials sit and observe each other separated by onlynthe wind and the grassland. Jess, Lyndsey Dower is the girl who is spooked by the guy Alan, Cillian Jacob whose vibe is one of nonchalance well as some incredibility by way of not having any everyday intelligence. His matter of fact illusion is crafted on purpose perhaps and Jess is compelled to stalk Alan and his early morning wandering bring elements of discovery. Innocence is transportable and overhead is a UFO – is that not often the case after a pint or two in Tully’s? The hallucinogenic symmetry of roundabouts seen from the UFO or the drone camera are spectacularly mesmerising in keeping with this imaginary other world Jess is thinking Alan is from. Alien only in the sense he is not understood, Kess has to find out his truth.

Darkly sinister in only a modicum of spookiness the film is imaginative and closely observant of the separating of humans and the galaxy beyond. Being a part of something we are only able to touch inside occasionally we are in this short taken to observe our own perceptions via. the incredible space observatory of a drone accompanied by land based cameras. This is the valley of the possessed – on the outskirts of Waterford.

There is a lot to explore and this is carefully conceived as a beginning and the approach is beautifully rendered at times.

**** 4

Violet

In a familiar claustrophobic province beset with religious difference portrayed as separateness it is recognisable once the opening provides an election leaflet as a calling card. In a household stuck in the dark ages, pre-enlightenment, the scope of the movie is pointed fore squarely at stereotyping of families. Because this province (NI) uses religion in a way David Hume (atheist philosopher) whose inspired advance that spiritual oneness is not reached or received without internal examination, the sense of others in collectives is found as the default. Francis Hutchenson Ulster’s most forgotten philosopher who inspired Washington and the Declaration of Independence and therefore well regarded in the US, is oblivious to the mindset seen here.

Discussion and reasoning are our place in the world in order to fathom its immense questions before attaining some possible truth.

Love is not the parents problem but their way of dealing with it is imprisoned in their comparing themselves and their position in a community as paramount. It conflicts with their ideals when a discovery is made of their daughter’s sexuality. Very ably played the journey of the film will be familiar to teenagers dealing with their own sexuality and how the outside world reacts has a very pronounced affect on their acceptance of themselves and their feelings. Caught in a situation which is god fearing it presents a view through religion of how damaging fixed attitudes pervade and destroy even when love is at the heart of the parents own values. This conflict is visible in the parents and they have to come to terms with this home based dilemma of outlook and belonging. Which family do they belong to? The ‘brethren’ or their own flesh and blood?

None of these notions or precepts are overplayed and indeed they are carefully registers as not to become – dare I say it – preachy. Contexts are examined though stereotypes though and fundamentalism is described as code without deviation. Often films will fall down on using some standard avenues and this one jars slightly in having some of those demons.

The modernity of the pairing of young women whose friendship becomes intimate is very well played and thoughtful and is almost a separate element of the bullying hectoring and demonic passages it takes to get to their loving relationship. They are scenically in a literally abandoned place, one which is comfortable and representative of simplicity and necessity. Siobhan Kelly and Emily Lamey are fine actresses whose high level of dramatic intelligence cautiously delivers the tragic circumstances of self awareness in a closed society framework.

Magnificent music by Ross Johnston pours out along the narrative with illuminating cadence and resonance merging the mawkish internal thoughts of a young woman who is in turmoil and has few religious avenues to put her own spiritual meaning alongside her sexuality and being. That is common enough and the sensitivity of self alongside religious spirituality is a difficult place gay Christian people of both genders particularly find themselves when the election calling cards are dealt with prejudice and malice in mind, such as the DUP presently cling to.

Christopher Whiteside and Madi (Madeline) Graham provided artwork for the film as well as directing it.

**** 4

Mr Spice

For a change in the society we are part of the Indian Community is put into the forefront of a dramatic piece of cine,a which is not racially based or following tropes of racism in narrow minds but one of terrorism and blatant racketeering underpinned by the viewpoint of a businessman Mr Spice who plies his trade from a shop on – recognisably Sandy Row in Belfast.

Director David Moody has found a very able central actor in Philipson Cherian and the situation of running an ethic food shop is used for a scenario where trouble in the form of intimidation is rife.

When a young man, Fintan Woods as Michael seeks refugee one night from violence he has been subjected to his pursuers come knocking on Mr Spices door. Mr Spice sees his duty as a decent man to administer some assistance to Michael in his hour of need. There follows a series of interactions – between the injured and Mr Spice and his customers, Aimee McGoldrick plays a woman customer and music is woven into it through the talents of Ganesh Kumbla.

The community of any neighbourhood is never evident from a first encounter and underlying themes are found everywhere. This could be anywhere and happens to feature a shop well know to gastronomes. Mr Spice is a new fictional representation of how human beings can and do look out for each other. Fear is brought by the ‘hoods’ – actors faces are not seen so here’s a credit in case you weren’t recognised – head hood Callum Carragher, junior hood Lee Ross. Outfitted and predatory to the gilt these guys do confront Mr Spice with a mindset of real threat and menace.

How you react is important and this is the key to the story as it delivers some thoughtful items to ponder. Fairly believable and convincing in its characters it was a nice side step into bringing forward some international aspect to the Belfast film screen.

*** 3

The Family Way

For your convenience there is a morning after pill or if too late for that and you’ve a funny feeling then predictor strips are a go to instead of the Doctor. For a family of practicing heterosexuals Mum and Dad are knocking on forty and their daughter is knocking on eighteen and they share a house. When a predictor is called upon for both, they make the mistake, or one of them makes the mistake of hiding in the same place the test and therein is created a non discreet journey through smallsville suburbia.

Nuno Bernardo calls upon several and many well known faces (18 are cast!) to carry across this farcical comic episode. Clara Harte is the daughter Ruth, Ciara O’Callaghan is the mother Julia, and Steven Gunn, his real name honest, is the Dad. But who’s expectations are whose? Roisin Kearney has constructed a fine script and plays the characters against their predicament on a road trip ending in a harmonious and family way. Dad Robert is confronted by the boyfriend of Ruth who is unexpectedly – there are plenty of jokes within the film itself, made aware of something in the oven. His rugby mates come along for the craic and support. Even a priest is invited into the home crisis. There is a soothsayer and he’s directed a few glorious films himself and his part is in the engine-room of the driving story. Ruth and Julia go in search of confirmation. The Priest is not involved here. They circumnavigate parts of the town Swords might be the place, and look out for Chemists – the local one is gossip central – and a few visits start the telling of the tale but the tests don’t. Rosie O’Grady”s pub becomes a focal point where they can retreat to discover mode.

Trouble is around every corner in this well paced comedy of errors. Eventually the carry on comes to its conclusion, sort of and all is fine at home again.

**** 4

The Invention

Back in the day when Gallahers, Woodbines, Embassy, No.6 Cigarettes, were all the rage youngsters looked about for their first drag of a cigarette. In keeping with tradition there is a trade off to be made and the older lads get to find out who has the smarts in their streets. Older actors than the apparent age slightly deflect from the believable story. They are guys who are not old enough to get a hold of cigarettes from the local shops but are old enough to play poker all day and in their hideout of a club of sorts.

Frankie is no ordinary kid and has his own likes and dislikes along with a cleverness his mates or the older ones don’t possess. His record player is his finest treasure and he needs to buy records so needs to explore ways of making money.

Leo McGuigan assembles a decent crew and cast with a young smart kid as principal well chosen and Luke Walford portrays a young boy protective of his family and cleverness his passage in life. There’s nothing too difficult or problematic.

As a son of a devoted father he becomes aware of his fathers debt to a local criminal played by Frankie McCafferty who chooses for back up the shapes and menacing height of Larry Cowan as a sidekick. Larry is as soft as marshmallow. The production is superbly realised with authentic though the cleanliness is not something I associate with 1968, but the film brings home a lot of bacon as the ploy is to take the cigarettes from the grocery while the prized ham is sliced and wrapped at the back of the shop.

Necessity is the mother of invention and Luke Walford as Frankie is splendid in his invention and gets his father out of a scrape. No mean feat and wonderfully directed and photographed as the warmth of infinity prevails and some standards of decency emerge.

This film has been all over the planet and got some rave reviews in film festivals of note. It is good to see the work in its home context.

**** 4

Hope you can go find these and enjoy them.

John Graham

30 April 2019

Belfast

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First Interstellar Contact

Space is a busy place

On 19 October 2017 an observer at the Hawaii telescope, Robert Weyrek, was quick to observe an elongated object tracing across the universe of our solar system. What he discovered required to be followed so he contacted astronomers globally who he knew had the capacity to trace the object so involving Micheal M based in the Mediterranean.

Confirming the existence at the trajectory given it was instantly realised this was either a new comet or asteroid though it was some time later before it was found not to conform with the characteristics of those objects. Neither an asteroid of rocky composition that was circulating the Sun within its gravitational pull, nor a similarly held object of icy gas composition, a comet, it behaved as though it was from outside the edges of our solar system and from interstellar space.

There has never been a sighting recorded of an object from beyond the solar boundary lying beyond Neptune the outer most planet of our galaxy.

This object had been travelling, it is estimated, 14 billon years – figures here are not to be relied on but mere guides so refer to the scientists for accuracy data.

In a lecture hall in Belfast this week Professor Andrew Fitzsimmons brought the story in which he played a part in the verification and tracking of the object later to be named Oumuamua – my word search has not found it but it is a Hawaiian word for something from outside, the farthest, that has come to visit us.

https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/13611/1603502/ESAC_seminar_06_14.pdf/565e2596-84ff-c9ad-c8b4-871018da9dd6

When Oumuamua appeared it was within a period of turbulent world weather systems that compromised sighting as the weather cover limited the telescopic observation over the three nights it was most vivid and observable.

Calculations of the accumulated data on the sightings became a flurry of scientific activity and discovery from these computed returns. Firstly it was established the object was on a trajectory confirming it was not of this solar system. It was travelling on a line which is a hyperbolic paraboloid. The phenomenon is known and somehow anticipated as scientists have determined such curvatures to exist but held within our own solar system by gravitational force.

Oumuamua did not follow its hyperbolic paraboloid pathway within the constraints of the suns gravity but profoundly travelled on a path unheard of or unseen before. Therefore it is realised it is the sole object from outside our solar system to visit us. Now it is somewhere beyond Saturn and Venus heading away on the linear route it conforms to. Conforming to the geometric characteristics of behaviours enabling them to be categorised is itself a conformist element. The outer interstellar solar systems have through concurrent observations on the data acquired since this sighting confirm the behaviours have common themes. The gas and solids Oumuamua and asteroids, comets are formed from coincide with their counterparts in the suns orbit.

One observation of the data found for example the linear track of Oumuamua was complying with an object which in its propulsion was leaving behind in its wake gases and tiny elements discarded in the same way asteroids and comets left behind debris and gas as they travelled onward.

That data was a very important fixed element of the story so far as it concluded it had infinite possible outcomes that paradoxically were tangible. Science had enabled through centuries of observation and accumulation of knowledge a theory to be produced yet it was clear it was telling us the infinity beyond had characteristics somehow similar to our own solar system.

Observation is a practice of astronomy reliant on telescopes on earth placed in the clearest cleanest air on hilltops or pollution free zones enabling the best results. The limitations of observation is itself a profound paradox. For it is only with earth’s resources we seek an abundance of infinite unknowns.

Tools for seeing

We only have a few millennia of tools to conduct earth limited devices for discovery.

Telescopes are now mirrors with cameras and billions of mega pixels are collated and correlated. There is a telescope being built in Chile to come into commission around 2020. It only has an eight metre wide mirror. The reason is it is all that is needed to see the solar system we are within and seeing beyond that is impossible due to the return of light and the concentration of impulses would be overwhelming in their scope. That is how I see it.

For greater discovery it may be necessary to have space based telescopes and some devices indeed accompany space exploration missions.

Deciding what Oumuamua looks like is another element of the scientific trail. The detective work is speculative and all images you see are drilled down data with an end result of a consensus shape and set of behaviours.

Put succinctly it is shaped like a chocolate eclair (200 metres?) long and spins and rotates as it travels with some chocolate left behind as debris and nice vapors of chocolate left behind to savour. That leads onto its density as that is another unknown. It has not been discovered if it had a front seat driver or onboard catering like a space station.

As it carries onward and leaves the solar system going into interstellar space it leaves behind many perplexed people and hundreds if not billons of questions.

In its wake it leaves us still unaware what dark matter is. Knowing only the composition of a 20th of the known elements in our solar system.

In its wake we are left knowing the matter we are composed of is expanding outwards and is unresistant to a pull of gravity making the dark matter itself an expanding unknown. The forces of our universe have been seen not to compromise other than in very small measures Oumuamua and it came and went leaving little traces of itself but leaving behind proof of its existence.

We know the expansion of the universe as Big Bang theory in converse to the Big Implosion theory as it is evident through as late as 1998, the effect is observable. There are clusters of scientists looking nightly and 24/7 on earth to the skies and just as Oumuamua appeared on 19 October 2017 it is very probable further sightings will provide evidence of already present objects we have hitherto been unable to see or detect. The asteroid count is increasing almost daily and around 750,000 are now identified amidst all other objects associated with the solar system.

The exploration of space is a preoccupation since humans existed in order to define meaning and some semblance of creation. Over centuries and on the shoulders of gaints such as Galileo and scientists such as Halle and Enckle a story is developed in our need for a narrative.

While the discoveries could and do play a part in understanding of the earth’s behaviour and our possible fate as a planet in a corner of a unexplainable infinity. The Oumuamua is on a pathway in the region of the universe ‘north’ of our solar system and apparently there are more encounters likely to be experienced in this part of the Cosmos. The tail of the universe is where the arrival came into, arrived and is on that outward trajectory after making the hyperbolic parabolic curvature on the plane estimated and extrapolated by observering astronomers.

It’s possible extra-terrestrial life has caught up with the noise of earth and they will have found the latest instalment of Eastenders when Lofty has returned to Waldorf after 30 years absence and the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are deposits carrying out of date news. They may be wondering what life is.

The ships Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 can be said to be the first objects mankind has sent and gone beyond the barrier known as the interstellar limit or boundary.

The real results are seen here –

http://www.issibern.ch/teams/1ioumuamua/

and here it is seen as no big deal!

https://www.space.com/43015-interstellar-visitor-oumuamua-not-that-special.html

While Earth’s sun may see an ‘Oumuamua-like space rock swing by twice per year, ‘Oumuamua “will never encounter another star,” Laughlin said. “The odds of it coming close to another star are roughly 1 in every 10^14, 10^15 years, so those brief and exciting moments in September and October were wonderful for us, but they were really the time of ‘Oumuamua’s life.”

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

I detect a momentary lack of acknowledgement and perhaps a degree of discovery envy. The fact being no other sighting ever preceded this one. The discovery however it is evaluated is still an extraordinary occurrence. By reasoning of the scale of the flyby stated in the article above it as relevant as a report on a football match. It is a conjecture only made possible through the origins of the discovery of Oumuamua making it a pointless conceit advancing nothing. It is after all a first contact.

There is no shortage of theories and news.com.au posted this

It’s accelerating: admittedly by only a tiny amount, but something is giving ‘Oumuamua a push. It could be comet-like ‘outgassing’. But at no point has the mysterious object been seen to have a comet’s tail.

It has a weird shape. Based on its erratic flashing, astronomers have inferred ‘Oumuamua must be long and thin. Few known asteroids and comets are like that.

But … for it to be an alien artefact would be extraordinary.

And to prove that would require some extraordinary evidence.

However, our chances of learning anything more from our first known interstellar visitor are very slim. It’s racing away — back into deep space — at some 95,000km/h.

There are, however, other possible — and more probable — alternatives.

“I think we should look at the alien option given this asteroid is unusual, but while a more mundane explanation is reasonable it surely must be preferred,” says Monash University astronomer Michael Brown.

John Graham

25 February 2018

Belfast

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Welfare of all our citizens : I’Daniel Blake

THE NORTHERN IRELAND NARRATIVE 

This was finally shown by the BBC and what it became was a finally visually representation amidst an onslaught of NEWS concerning Brexit and Conflicts occurring alongside national disasters across the globe in the Yemen and Syria.

My earlier review is still relevant and more so in the light of such as the Justice for Jodey campaign. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-jodey

I’Daniel Blake a BBC film directed by Ken Loach and written by Patrick Laverty, will broadcast this film hopefully in the near future. It is reviewed separately by me.

It is a stimulus to further discussion on all aspects of our Welfare Society.  A chosen part of our life’s and human responsibilities.  To deny others what we take for granted in order to survive is not what the Law’s on Welfare were constructed for.  To not offer assistance not only a legal obligation but a moral responsibility removes an essential element of our own life’s – it makes us less human and undermines the core of civil society. That which we strive for.
Political Congestion

For all the Political signals saying these ‘Welfare Reforms’ are a necessary piece of housekeeping; separate and apart from the huge and criminal corruption of tax avoidance, property sequestration, civic governance and health privatisations the ‘Welfare Reforms’ are given leading political status as measures appropriate to instil rudimentary economic control and provide a level playing field with which the Workplace administrators, the Public authorities (here the Civil Service is a large front and back office employer) the Manufacturing, Service, Agricultural, Health, Food, Financial, Building industries can manage with the provision of minimum wages supplemented by the Government they fund through any number of donations, tax and costing trade offs. 

The list of party benefactors here is not produced. Providing a cheap and compliant workforce while overlooking workplace and reduced unionisation and dismantling protections is the trigger for focussing on the unemployed and those who cannot work or have no means to live under the immigration, refugee, asylum catchments orchestrated for political ends and not need. There six also a dynamic in education to enable coding, systems engineering, those functions necessary to develop robotic simulators of human beings, as a ‘replacement’ and gifted compliant workforce, the strategy almost gains status as a new industrial revolution gone leagues ahead of Moores Law in development.
Singularly absent is the scrutiny in state arenas to question the veracity of how education and workplace skills are developed. Are the ends know or justifiable?

 Decades of devaluing humans.

Dr Eileen Evason has advised Local Government Departments (has been the advisor to the Forst and Deputy Forst Minoster here in Northern Ireland in ‘resolving the nuts and bolts’ of the Welfare Reforms so as to cause least hardship – while at the same time ignoring their punitive unfairness) for a decade or more on Committees and advisory panels – while supporting the de facto positions which have caused extreme hardship, deprivation and even death as a consequence of the imposed Welfare Standards which maintain lives at levels below poverty in households across Northern Ireland with innumerable social, health and harmful consequences. It has been going on for longer than a decade yet no Local Government authority has been able – (in a unified Assembly brought about on the foot of a supposed resolution to a violent period when so called revolutionaries took up the cause of ‘Social Revolution’) to bring housing, employment, educational, human rights equality to these Islands.  

Not only did they fail to consider the death toll wars inflict, they delivered nothing in the face of the very problems encountered back some 40 years previously. Advances which would have naturally evolved advanced with the same embittered constraints instead hidden from plain sight and Sovereign politics North and South reman. Ask who are the persons those Sovereignties comprise. They are of course the global non-national wealth ownership stake in control of Banking worldwide, sequestration of land, minerals and property whose game changer is the advance of digital transference of capital so far unimagined. It is a simple matter to demonstrate to Governments the movement of capital is the means to bring them down and hence the compliance wherever viable, with their needs.  

The macro defines what the micro is. It is the manipulation of the functions of a states people in a pliable complicit pseudo democracy enabled by wise chins such as Dr Eileen Evason, the Department for Work and Pensions Minster past designate, Ian Duncan-Smith, sometime leader of the Tories and the incumbents Labour advisories included, Frank Field for example, whose realisation is Social Welfare for slow learners. The effects of past Social reforms have been devastating and encroach in their parallel implied, implicit ongoing reach into the means of production – all forms of employment (zero hours contracts are a hideous social disgrace for a state such as this) – health provision, education access and the starvation and victimisation of destitute highly troubled victims of War seeking refugee – wherever – on the heel of wars which have huge connections back into the political drivers of every portion of these islands.

Refugees and Asylum seekers in this Society

It is hard to bring together the strands of injustice faced by various factions of society. The levels of poverty; the common indices relate, in this part of the world are an endemic social ill. Then are those factors of destitution; a word used by groups of refugees and asylum seekers not extremely close to the conditions faced by people born and raised here who are now in severe and desperate need. How is it possible or worthwhile to separate these dual forms of destitution. There is no valid reason. Moreover, the fact they exist is a binary hub of an underclass whose means to ‘escape’ poverty has been put into a set of circumstancial binds constructed for political means and ends. They relate to the provision of active and an enabling of a workforce compliant with the constituent needs within the nations, provinces boundaries. It is highly influential in dispersal and service distribution. The needs are not met despite thecLaw holding all protections ogf the Human it is possible to enfranchise. The HMRC is firstly a declaration of intent which successive Governments have employed without conviction. They set up quangos to simulate the narrative of access through Citizens Advice, through The Law Centre and a raft of internally directed charities whose functions are to manage the margins. Except the margins are now the main body of need from destitution to service provision. Both aforementioned are heavily subsidised by Government and are managed by Government intervention on key strategy aspects.

Intercessory or Interposing

The intermediaries are not what they project. The charities are spoon fed gestural support, Government assistance etc, while starvation, deprivation, homelessness, mental health, rudimentary health and housing provisions fall extremely short through lack of will by successive Governments, of the levels it is possible to implement and put in place to accord with agreed standards and therefore comply. The duty is withheld. The duty is functioning in a barely face preserving way, with the puppets of CAB and The Law Centre eking out already existing Legal requirements they themselves have in part played an orchestrated role in formatting. They are the back stop or firewall put in place by Government to provide palliative care to a corrupt under resourced societal need. They literally operate as a palliative.

it is the same with ‘The Human Rights Commission, The Charity Commission, The Equality Commission who all function here as a shopfront for legislative inadequacy be it in execution or basis of intent. They exist to present a face of Compliance with world commitments.

Palliative – to relieve or lessen without curing; mitigate; alleviate.

to try to mitigate or conceal the gravity of (an offense) by excuses, apologies, etc.; extenuate.

Cohorts

Manchester has its own Law Centre and it is campaigning (as The Law Centre NI does) for Access to Justice. Yet alongside this they perpetuate the DWP line which is the roll out of the appalling Universal Credit regime. Just like NI the people are pushed into a system past by this legal firewall which is subsidised by Government. If anything different is the case I would of course be glad to hear of it.

https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/services/employment-and-support-allowance-esa/

& the Access to Justice campaign has good supporters and the narrative is following other campaigns in Social Housing and the breakup of Housing Associations by stealth or has already happened in Glasgow. Try obtaining Social housing there and the SNP have already admitted – Nicola Sturgeon – their catastrophic mistakes. Maxine has voiced over a Film on Social Housing.

Mitigators

The silent mitigators are voters who fail to recognise wisdom and honesty in policy and intent among themselves and selected representatives. They are wholly appropriated by perversities of Christian or moral values in a dangerous disruption of the inherent values most intrinsic and evident within the human race. It is un-divined and without appropriate intellectual credibility. It destroys the ability to develop long term meaningful and productive strategies to deal with inherent and long held traditions and values which are not in any way going to hinder self development. The caring and sharing we are familiar with in our minds should and can be our motive force enabling greater societal stability and security of future paths.

Lack of Unity

When put to refugee and asylum seeker groups ‘Who are your advocates?’ they wil refer mainly to there own Charity organisations, peri feral charities and faith groups who focuss on and engender support for their plight by whatever means possible. They advocate for advocacy without penetrating the walls of LegislativecPolicybFormation which in the main is driven from on high and in any case has been discussed at a broad sometimes academic led level and or in reaction to commissioned studies and reports form Universities and Specialist Advisors.  

Why do refugee and asylum seekers not lobby MPs and MLAs? It is because they lack the access, means and professional advice usually in the hands of more locally based lobby groups who have a recognised constituency base. In other words they have basically nothing and with it no proper voice. Why can they not find allies in the community? It is because by aligning with a particular group – religious and humanitarian organisations stand apart – they find Political alliances are formed. Of course these alliances are themselves acts of patronage to illustrate and demonstrate a lead on a subject vexing all at the same time. Trade Unionists are a good advocacy alliance though they themselves have progressively been weakened and are constantly facing employment deficits and fundamental political stasis. The protection of workers rights has for profit motivated ends been dismantled over the past two decades and more. Therein lies a problem of unity with workers who in the majors understand and appreciate the problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers. So the division remains.

Whose alliances?
By forming alliances with particular brands of Politics they would find it extremely hard to not be caught up in ‘local’ divisions and become a ‘political football’ for parties to use when ever it seems useful to – they could likewise be accused of supporting one party against another alienating a vast number of people. There is not one party which has not been seen to comply with state obligations to provide care and services on demand – citing Home Office functions operating as a thing onto themselves without the ability to intervene – it’s not a devolved power therefore they are off the hook, while behind their Assembly cabinet, party office doors, reject the needs as secondary to the indigenous population whose own levels of deprivation in many cases are in the same parlousxstatecascthosecin the incoming and resident refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocacy needs to come from leaders of Political Parties. Theresa May has an appealingly regressive pandering Tory history to come out fro underneath. Jeremy Corbyn has a Labour prospective pou pulsation to convince on numerous issues of competencies including a fair and just economy and workers rights, as well as the moral and correct human approach to citizens of this world in face of natural and man made conflict. Those who are in need not of displacement and refugee but a a proximity to their homeland stable and capable of proper supportive structures politically. This is only achievable by imposed UN functional mandates – imposed regardless of the deflecting and constant narrative manipulation which provide cover for the undermining forces.

Societal responses

Within any society there is a culture which forms the web of societies values and beliefs. It is interwoven across many separate faith groups, secular groups and this of none forming a diverse and adjusted tolerance otherwise there is breakdown. Here we have seen that breakdown through mistrust and intolerance. To begin the process of communicating with other props whose needs have been well documented, have been under years of scrutiny – South African and Zimbabwean people have an automatic right to remain yet are cast into a limbo without formal identity despite their presence. Others are destitute having fled the Congo, Nigeria, Syria, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia among the vast numbers fleeing conflicted repressive societies escaping forced marriage, persecution.  
In Northern Ireland we take for granted the daily opportunities to socialise with people of any background, to have freedom of movement and to choose forms of recreation and entertainment and indeed worship. This is seldom possible – not only because other the below poverty line existence and destitution forced onto people but their everyday lives are further traumatised by the limbo of limited human interaction. This we find through work and the diversity of interests we have.  

The refugees and asylum seekers in our community cannot retrieve their own cultural history, can access in limited ways their faith groups, cannot summon up work and interaction opportunities because it is denied them. Work is not allowed. Volunteering is scarce and only limited to numbers for basic tasks and do not provide proper outlet for skills and learning opportunities. What is needed is a form of access to work which will not impinge on local commerce and be on a level platform of employment and remuneration. The minimum wage is intended under a Labour Government expected to be an hourly minimum of around ten pounds per hour. Zero hour contracts would be abolished. Accordingly the shake up would see the Employment rights spread throughout industries as well as providing a motivated dynamic workforce lifting people from poverty requiring supplementary state income. Along with this the unemployment restrictions on hours people can work without loosing their benefits can be also used in relation to all immigrants, refugee and asylum seekers. That is to allow employment initially on those same terms as part of the process of assimilation.

The ‘Northern Ireland’ Home Office require people to ‘sign on’ once a month WITHOUT receiving anything at all. No benefits (social security) only a subsistence is given which is not available in all cases. Housing is subject to very demanding terms and when a person is on a process of appealing a rejected application – (information is not complete or a discrepancy exists) they then are debarred from accommodation and made ‘homeless’. 

Another perceived issue is the repatriation of money to dependants not living here is seen as a drain on the economy while families maintain support at a distance. This has to be addressed by the establishment of rights for the person who lives here in full. It is up to them how they then dispose of their income. If they have dependants abroad then these people would require reunited in some way. 

By allowing everyone in the country the right to work the dynamics of all employment would change. The rates of income would advance if a Labour Government were to be elected, a raft of people would be lifted out of limbo into gainful employment or at least be given the opportunity through the limited hours restrictions a basis to use and develop their skills alongside others in the community. Itself a gain and lesson for the local community. The development of employment practices and financial balance and fairness would increase the market monetarist ion of small and medium sized businesses with more income around. As noted earlier, it is a common enough expectation for money to be repatriated. Think of the money of post depression America and Europe circulating back to communities on the edge of poverty. A relief mechanism is needed on a global scale outside the corrupt levels of governance. The danger exists – a) that any repatriated money goes straight into the hands of military groups. b) the so called leaders of communities will ‘tax’ those in receipt of money. c) the very banks at the receiving end can skim off large portions of currency dealing.

Greedland

Those are outcomes which can be curtailed by rigid compliance of money transference and is not alone a ‘black economic device’. Most technologically advanced nations are adept at concealing in shadow banking off-shore locations another level of capital outside the declared wealth. 
There is also the recurrence of newly wealthy countries buying land, property and assets in foreign countries as a sovereign or private gain un encumbered by local rules.  

There is also the phenomenon of lets say a country called Greedland has acquired a mountain of property debt which the debtor refuse to pony up for to the Banks they owe to. The Banks go down or are caught in a ‘safety’ net by there state and those loss making assists are now in a heap in a failed market. Life support in the form of money printing comes along, external marshals of the club books are brought in and massage the heart and lungs to resemble a form of life and a country has its future drained from it for many years as it is put on the support machine. Along come a bunch of dubious monetised loss adjusters who offer you a cash deal – give us your entire portfolio and in return we will give you the card Camille tricked off Napoleon. It’s a game learnt in the movies. To you it might look like a puff pastry but it’s like that game, a game in which the players bid for the privilege of naming the trump, stating the number of tricks they propose to win, a bid in this game to take all five tricks of a hand. So ingenious. So turned over the ruination continues as within the skids were oiled to take it down the slipway.

Overseas aid

Children have a right to parenting from both parents and that objective must be set as a priority to stabilise future lives disrupted by the present circumstances. How that is achieved is through political will. The children without parents whose lives have been subjected to displacement and are orphans can have a reconnection with their own homeland and family identity re-established through the technological mechanisms and data control methods now available. The abandonment in camps of 50% plus child occupancy is a human disaster in need of complete overhaul and immediate concerted effort to resolve with innovative and medically approved ways. The resources are available only the sharing is not evident. The newly wealthy countries and those neighbouring failed states or states in conflict need to contribute to the recovery of the displaced and engage fully in restorative programmes regardless of faith or ethnicity. The problem is one which is unparalleled and with all probability be overcast by natural disasters on which unity and cohesive joint actions need to prevail to lessen their global impact. In every case of natural disaster there are global implications. These are also the source of many present displacements and their management is local as well as global.

Regarding the movie

I, John Graham, demand you listen to your vital signs while watching this movie. Your heart the most central organ shal feed your brain to take in the depravation disintegrating world we purport to share and live on. Do not fail to breathe as your lungs appruptly fail to take in air so shocking shall be the halt and statis of your normal living view outside your head resulting in oxygen deprivation, stilled lives, stilted persons barley knowing how to survive before your eyes. No normality is this seen amidst the everyday, that lunacy of a race of what is known in art as vanished vacated extinct personas fate no longer the risen people. Carpe diem resultant helicopter flats as sky rise slums traded piece by rent by debt. Sacrament of heat escaping shells of flesh surrounding windows taxed as hope goes out the dor to the auction house for a dollar doubling as a score. Body warmth is paid for on tricks turned for some hapless she’ll indifferent to their themselves the outer inner world as their victim carefully chosen surrenders as they pass the threshold through their door. Pickets in police cars remonstrate in stripes pervading rough justice before it reaches the court doors. This malfience is seen in the wrecked life’s whose sin is committed needing to sign on and seen as being needy brings minimum security, breaches dignity it sails out the door down every capital Tyne, Thames, Lagan, Severn, Clyde. Life’s wrecked by civil servants and so called charities doing the diverts work of Government while no one takes responsibility or drives down into the causes and perpetual harm that manifests.

To be further edited for the blog and which will follow on from the post of the film review.

John Graham

25 February 2019

Belfast

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The Milkman : A Review

This is time before.

The Milkman

Things happen in a dislocated way unhinged but always relentlessly moving forward as though it was normal or a normal in need of explanation. Events occur unexplained or unexpectedly such as the punch through at the car spares incident then the disappearance of the maybe boyfriends parents. Who fed them? Were social workers around?

These things of narrative causality happen in waves. They approach and space out time while the core element – the character of the first person is built up with a clinging to books centrally as an escape mechanism. Others have drink terrorism and abuse as their chosen escape.

There are period books making the person appear detached as other novelists frequently do, particularly women writers to detach themselves from the hurtful content within their existence. It is a shameful existence but other people’s shame. Tristam Shandy. Then Ivanhoe as a tumult of adventure and Action is full of consequence so the maybe device is a counterpoint to reality in the readers mind. Why are you not in a fit of rage? why put up with these folk behaving this way? The point is she is acknowledging powerlessness while keeping ownership through her imagination of different results. They do not occur but the device of detachment through books and the maybe non commitment trope becomes even more important.

The descriptions of the other characters fall into the nerve centre of our own recollections of people by the pigeon-holing of divisions. Particularly in memories relevant to those in this place though in a discussion group (local) we discovered the story can transport itself to other world locations in various periods – all continents apply here. It reflects our use of certain devices and influences, religious, familial and political. For external readers it puts a distorted portrait of life through comparison with her analytical forward and the skill is this bombardment and collection of words repetitive, relentlessly conversing, traversing, turned inside and out creating a burden and baggage as relentless narrative and the method used pours out the realism in a literary form untroubled by convention. Is it successful or purposeful? Sometimes it is a strain and not needed for local enlightenment but it ‘maybe’ storytelling of necessity because of the question – how do you explain this idiocy to outsiders.

The waterworks is a good place to start with the runner separating themselves and keeping ahead. We found the author was a prolific runner in her Belfast days and this is a known quantity therefore and useful metaphor and device. The other – the milkman appears – I think of the milkman running with his underling running behind saying in a squeaky voice ‘BillynoBilly slow down tell me what you want me to do’ the hideous violent edifice is held in a pyramid of interlocking pieces – all secterian people need apply – (Anne Burn eschews the – dash – used in previous work and enters into a T.S.Eliot freeform (other non para writers need not apply) ) all feeding of each other’s fears including the milkman’s. It is found his quest is not fulfilled or being according to script or scripture – morality is a sideline.

Tribeca boundaries are disintegration in modern vandalism.
What’s the difference between a Belfast playground and a Belfast Building site? On the building site you have to wear hi- vis vests.

Living on integrity street is a red rag to some. There are some near the knuckle insights into the background of power Demi – Monde figures. Their life being a corrupted one itself. The renouncers are to the forefront neither antagonists nor perpetrators of the nub of the conflicting views but part of its origin. The origin is living in them. They will not let go or relent nor why should they as they carry the converse.

An exercise in not being vigilant and as communal treatise it sends the message, by your insouciance you are as bewildered as the next person only they are loud sometimes and cannot conceal their disgust, like the deflection of nuclear boy seeking a rabbit hole unique to himself. Purely a coping mechanism. Third brother in law was fiendishly caught up rag bag of emotions. Wildness in the park was routinely a road or pathway to keep to those steps and forward, were important in that wilderness.

Then there are the mind games that occupy the novel and the cars, cameras, all dissociative objects put into the flat screen narrative where we look back from into this seventies eighties scenario, in a analogous box in the corner – that huge period tv is now regurgitating the troubles into living rooms while simultaneously existing in the street red or not.

Sunset on Lisburn (referring to the classes and opening new vistas) opens up a whole new horizon. The limitless sky. There is no blue up there all of a sudden only other colours yet the blue is still thee.

This is a whole new meaning in viewing and seeing as observance, only comparison has been the narrative choice so far.

Interestingly the topics of rationality arise and it is as if writer is taking a tough subject and deconstructing it as words and incident – take the ‘feminist issue, France, Joan of Arc’ all interconnected through her sisters and then puts it back on the shelf in a completely reconfigured – on logics basis – neither agreeing or disagreeing but replete with new insights and a polished viewpoint.

When religion is spoken about it is when the gathering of women – “not just from the warring religions here but also a smattering of the lesser known, lesser attended to, indeed completely ignored (dissidents? quakers? evangelicals?) other religions.

Quaker
Dissidents
Evangelist
Jewish
Hindu
Muslim
Buddhist
Baha’i

The centrality of the figure of the Milkman is a contemporary attempt at conquering the male female differences without marking out new territory which feminism and other political tests that are putting out the brutality of a male centric dynamic which is seen tangible through the needs of the women, who try and establish her as one of them, in a flawed reasoning, as writer is gearing in her own mind voices neither of male or female constraints.

The poisoners tale. Laid up and legs do they work today? Then there is the momentous the purse is reached for for in the house when the purse is reached for the clasp opened then something big is happening. It could be something is so fraught a chip dinner is needed there is no time for a dinner to be made. Monumentous.

The death of the milkman after so many state mistakes was followed by an epiphany as the survivors, mostly the edge of proceedings males and the feminists who didn’t know they were feminists, taking a step into the blue yonder and the sky and sunsets were as always thee and always altering in colour and hue. Intensity works only for some for others it’s poisonous and some will over you solutions which are indigestible.

The Snibby McSnib drew backward as the door opened. They went in and we stepped over the trampled hedge and Bolty McBolt laughed.

Precursors – The disused cottage in Wexford (where the English landed) Derek Mahon is cited by some for it’s similar exposition.

Mushrooms looking at the keyhole and the light.

The meaning is squeaky clean and the pages turnable. Necessity is the mother of ruin.

John Graham

Belfast

16 January 2019
 

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More unattended wisdom!
Nietzsche did not accept this
synaesthesia Idea developers enlighten.

The eternal recurrence of the same. Is not the reparative always seeming a negative as it is past tense. Nietzsche declined to bite that apple. Instead the dilemma takes on a whole greater extension of its thinking as a positing of the notion of parallels which undertake change providing constant revision yet are totally different presences of the same outcomes.

The phenomenon of light is itself not seen to contain everything of the world or universe as was the sought meaning – held to bear – but synaesthesia is a characterisation of existence of a foretold truth lying within the science of elementary life.

The turmoil is unchanging as the spectacle is only moderately altering and its transformation is seen as cast but is itself timeless in the body we are within.

The universe as the body. Music is mere mathematical theory in search of harmony in a fixed range of audibility which we have limited access to. To be faithful to your existence you have to embrace failure and disappointment renewal of ones self. Treating the imposters of those emotional experiences as temporary fate.

Greater fate waits as the discovery of the world reveals new stories, the same told though synaethesia as differences of the same. Religion does not disavow human nature as a temporal state outside of divine spirituality as Nietzsche dismisses religions moral authority as being without any spirit. Existence is devoid of spirit and the driver is mastery by and of the individual.

Collective states of weakness he saw as behaviours themselves a mediocrity of shameful non persuasion. Unintentionally he cast or maybe purposely the majority in conformity of charity or good deeds as playing to the lowest stare while ignoring it most certainly was what made his ideas real.

The masses were the foundation stones for greatness to be built on and were themselves mighty realizations of the strength of character which had them rejoice at oneness and an equality that perpetually remained a moral goal and having religion as its guide to express this hitherto unobtainable virtue, he neglects to understand the meaning of science.

Just as he rejected Wagners themes of mathematical expressions embracing as the did temporarily good and evil those poles were transcended by musical composition of a modulation and harmonic derivation which confounded the masters of good and evil within it. He rejected Wagner while seeing a state of hubris in performance that live on Switzerland had made him unprepared to accommodate.

The great Shakespearian depths of despair and the radical inward thinking had people inventing extensions to language to keep averse with the telling of a playwright. A mere writer not of sound bites and moral treatise but the gambit of conflicting harm and joy set in again a synaesthesia.

The authors of the Age of Enlightenment were far more in philosophies terms, a visionary realm of ideas developers. Their riches poured out through literature beyond the unknown but the realisable. The science of seeking answers to atomic and molecular states of being.

So there is no illusion.

Modigliani Female Nude 1916 : UMNI exhibit

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The Ulster Museum is Home to the Courtauld Institute owned Female Nude 1916 by Modigliani for several months and is currently on display on Level 4. until Oct 28 2018.

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In situ

In 1916 Amedeo Modigliani made his mark on the roll call of innovative painters and artists by discovering for himself a means of reaching beyond the normal day to day portrayal of figures and in observing their forms and persona.  His breakthrough was immense and it presided alongside other expressionist painters as signalling their forging of a method of seeing which hitherto had been associated with the primitive art of African or Tribal representation, themselves suggestions of nation or people in the essence of their existence, in the moment to be taken as informative of them and the way they saw themselves.

 

 

There were several parallel ongoing pursuits of these ‘laws of lawless art.’  The extent to which Modigliani was alone in achieving a breakthrough of this magnitude is a debate matching infinity.  Races singled out the line and drew on walls or on pottery, or paper symbols of the most interesting thing around them, themselves. The human shape and deportment became a goal of self realisation and the life force found was firstly lent in these simple lines as a record alongside animals and adornments while they often were seen sans clothes or with few garments.  It became their projection and mirror.

 

 

Beyond the Western ideal and sanctuary of patronage and mostly hierarchal societal record including the religious there was a necessary alteration by the twentieth century, of placing a fresh editorial gaze on the act of seeing humans and how they inhabit a picture throwing new light literally on the viewers perceived recited notions of self and arts role in life.  Some later exponents went beyond this as indeed did the practioners themselves.  Picasso became an obsessive and many would say a misogynist which is see often in his work.

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F. E. McWilliam’s Gallery Banbridge Co. down. Glass cabinet image.

Level 4

The precious object that is Modigliani Female nude 1916 is in a small room of the Ulster Museum for a short period and the high Victorian windows are draped partially with protective white cloth filtering the streams of daylight found illuminating the pictures within.  The filter works and the natural light is subdued. The daylight lamps of the artificial supplementary light is carefully graded in its presence allowing the vivid colour and individuality of this work to convey its communicative self to the viewer.  Many have been and return to see it time and again because there is no solitary promised answer in reading the painting and it is continually rich in its candid figurative depiction.

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You can see a window reflected in the glass protection of the painting top left.

Other paintings such as the O’Brien do not have glass only canvas and paint between it and the viewer.

What is seen is a figure of a female regards but not regarding by returning a look. She is in a pose which neither is common or contrived.  The purpose of line is a first engagement this painter makes with his model figure. She is neither a form meant to reveal a representative body or shape of a female but is a woman whose occupation or purpose is to lead the painter towards the aim of finding a means of conveying more than the body as a form but to imbibe an essence of a human who happens to have the appealing form of a woman in her full force of life.

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Woman’s Head. Artist:Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, Livorno 1884–1920 Paris)
Date:1912. Medium:Limestone
Dimensions:26 7/8 × 6 1/4 × 9 1/2 in. (68.3 × 15.9 × 24.1 cm)
Weight: 75 lb. (34 kg), Classification:Sculpture
Credit Line:The Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection, 1997

By the time Modigliani has reached this point in his life he has tried his first love, sculpture but like many artists before him it did not lend him its mystery to enable his thoughts to come out in those three dimensions.

 

In 1909, after meeting Constantin Brancusi, Modigliani began to produce sculptures by carving into stone, completing about twenty-five works throughout his short career. The style of these abstracted, elongated heads is echoed in his subsequent figure and portrait paintings. Fittingly, this particular head, with its strong connection to African sculpture, was originally owned by the American artist and African art collector Frank Burty Haviland. Haviland lived in France and Modigliani became familiar with his collection. In addition to African art, Modigliani’s sculptures reflect his knowledge of ancient Cycladic, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek art.  Met Museum text.

The Romanian Brancusi was a favourite and revered friend of Modigliani and the connection is not lost in the application of visual effects as one is now finding the essence of his work accessed through the simple device of line on one plane.

Simple it maybe but it is incalculably intimate in its dynamic.

Painting dynamics

The piece is regarded as having an unorthodoxy in art taking it back to the primordial instinctive throwback beyond the renaissance and challenged th mores of the world of patronage of the arts while taking out the sensuous and sexualised component and objective servile diminished role played elements often seen band depicted previously in the horizontal form that feminine objectivity Picasso had shown ‘the regard as thief of the jewels of womanhood in his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

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Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Painting by Pablo Picasso and a Photo by David Bailey

That regard in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon being sent back with spades to the viewer looking into the collective as a band of protective women creating a homogeneous foil and asking questions of the one who seeks insight of them/selves.

Life

At the age of 35 Amedeo Modigliani became the victim of Tuberculosis and died following his earlier periods of poor health. With his frailty he was occupied in hiding the illnesses he had succumbed to by the apparent act of concealment through drug abuse and alcoholism.  In order to appear as someone whose outward demeanor may have been taken as a consequence of the behaviours of alcohol and drug consumption among his fellow artists he nevertheless was in a worse state of decline than those afflictions might have has on him.  He was know as a poetic and romantic womanizer with his personality and health possibly driving him to those distractions.

The painting

In the models flesh tones are seen the blue faint covering of the ground where his technique has built up, through modifications and layers, a semi transparency as flesh is seen damaged and slightly coarse having it seems been achieved by hard bristles and Amedeo stabbing and stippling of the bodies fleshy tones.  It is not overly done as the blue tinges are apparent beneath. Also the belly is raised by the luminousity of a white globe of her stomach giving another view and state of fecundity.

White is found in the left arm in the elbow crevice and I took that to signify and it probably is not!, vitiligo as the meaning of her vulnerable working body might be found lacking in minerals and vitamins out of a poor diet. A kind of symbolism entering. Then there are other ‘marks’ and these are widely accepted, as the appear in the lower parts of the painting due to studio carelessness.

They add, do not detract from the vitality and energy coming through the painting. This is itself a derivation of a style which an artist displaying his continued and unsettled enjoyment of his own work is temporarily in a state of transition and wondering where on the next canvas abrushes mark should be made.

The production of his ‘muse’ through this nude figure is strikingly provocative in that it undermines the stasis and unsettles by its uncompromising frankness and the perfect non sexual overtones but the strength of the woman’s body as human strongly over arching the whole of the notion of ourselves as species.

How extraordinarily perceptive and resolved this work has become in complete conflict with its dynamic and continual motion and emotional projection. This surely must have been a component in Amedeo‘s sense of himself as an artist despite his longing to be a sculptor he had reached further than his peers and created a new radicalism in acceptance of flawed beauty in painting.

There is undoubtedly life in this painting after its seemingly resolved completion. It disowns tranquility, it abhors looking as a sexualised object, it resents the act of being regarded, it shows its point of belonging in human form. There seems to be an act disassociated of itself from its locality in the composed space by the organisation of the blue ground which in the higher part is more consistent and less disturbed than the lower segment implying a wall and floor where the red couch is protected in a vague white soiled sheet just visible beneath the buttocks of the model and affording some protection in its placement.

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My sketch pastel begins! A2.  The next stage is at the foot.

The Painting & Paint colour

What if it were a drawing and without ‘colour’?  I imagined it as firstly about the act of line drawing which it has a distinctive attribute. Then I posited the thought that ‘colour’ is only an embellishment. The rendering to produce light and share dynamics. This is a very wrong attitude with which to approach it.

The form of light and shadows is fully realised, in black and white by modern photographers such as one who put this above all other considerations, David Bailey.

The conquest is seeing what the light produces but Bailey’s work is akin to drawing, being in black and white.  Here in this painting the evolution from the line element takes many side moves.  The hair in the left is seen having been taken in, maybe a bulk of hair existed formerly and was painted back; it certainly appears that way, to effect the outlines flow rather than truly represent it and the right hand, possibly present and visible at one point, is kept hidden to achieve the flow of the line.

Then there is the mystery or discarding of a primary light point.  There is only the front universal point of light which negates reasoning as to where shadow is found. The paint itself is the shading element and it’s texture the convenience delivered by brush marks and of a sharp gouging effected in the hair for example giving that plural feeling of it having neither a source but being in sculptural form a third dimension advancing with movement. Under a kind of universal light.

Perfectly flawed it is a hard act to follow and this is as I opined earlier a feature I believe which gave impetus and cause for Amedeo to produce further and more challenging work.

The maturity of the return to painting in a further simplified and reduction of marks is seen in his later work as he is vexed by the ‘treatments’ and beautiful wonderous lines of centuries before and the earlier, the more profound, its own examination rewarded him in discovery.

Additions

A year or so ago I wrote this on the predicament of the model whose anonymity is transparent as she is neither the object of the completed work nor a character assumed from the past. The aloneness and emptiness is striking now when I think of the Modigliani pursuit of his art when consumed by this painting.

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Some negative aspects relating to the curation.

If there are some criticisms of the room and it’s interpretation of the lineage and common approaches to be made, it is the use of very tenuous art held by the Gallery in its own collection as a stark contrasting difference.  The delivery is failing in many places. Using the ‘theme’ of the model is the route taken, not the act of the mark and the line.  The servile component of life modeling is a trope and not what the painting is primarily about.  Ratifying it by using a ‘portrait’ by a local artist even a twentieth century one is laying claim to small connections.  So what if the artist in the glass mosaic is featured herself within the work shown?

Being in the work as model is neither near or revelatory in the nakedness sense giving a threadbare tribute?  To artists, imagined scoping is outside the context and in fact a distraction of quite harmful presence.  There is in the ‘life model’ comparisons, only one showing the contrast between a vertical nude and horizontal nude; the latter being the previous approach taken all through and since the renaissance.  A wandering connection again is made and it is a mighty problematic one, conflicting and not a complementary distraction.

In the O’Brien Life model with a barely visible child, as with the laundry woman, there is no substantive connection whatsoever in setting it alongside, in the room as a ‘relief’ of emphasis or anything else.  An allusion is taken in respect of ‘women in 1918’ which is quite facile and out of kilter with the main work.  This phenomenon goes back centuries and still exists.  It is wholly utilised in this way I find, because of what the UM has in its collection and is clutching at straw metaphors.

The best thing to do is to ignore the room’s additional works and concentrate on the immensity of the work and avoid this distracting padding.  The abstraction of colour and choices made to effect a flow had gone missing in all other work. I found myself sketching one, the face below for example, merely to find the quality of line. I also looked at the effect of a pastel line drawing on blue paper to see the effect of the colours magic within the painting and it is obvious the line and oil is a combination which is spectacularly successful here because of it’s transparency, luminosity, roughness and eveness in parts as handled and dispersed here.

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It ended up as this.  I believe the reason it became so different and colour, which is such an incredible thing to realise in seeing the actual painting with the blue and flesh tones coming out at you from the canvas means it needed something entirly different in approach when using something other than oil paint.  This is pastel on an A3 size pastel textured blue sheet.

John Graham

3 July 2018

Belfast

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On Chesil Beach : A Film Review

 

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On Chesil Beach

Directed by Dominic Cooke, Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley. Screenplay by Ian McEwan Based on On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.
Cast Saoirse Ronan … Florence Ponting, Emily Watson … Violet Ponting, Samuel West … Geoffrey Ponting, Billy Howle … Edward Mayhew, Anne-Marie Duff … Marjorie Mayhew, Rasmus Hardiker … Waiter 2, Bebe Cave … Ruth Ponting, Adrian Scarborough … Lionel Mayhew, Jonjo O’Neill … Phil, David Olawale Ayinde …, Wigmore Audience Concert Attendee, Bronte Carmichael … Young Chloe Morrell, Bernardo Santos … Cinema Couple, Philip Labey … Bob, Ty Hurley … Wigmore Concert Attendee, Oliver Johnstone … Ted
Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West, Adrian Scarborough.  Music by Dan Jones, Cinematography Sean Bobbitt, Edited by Nick Fenton, Production company Number 9 Films, BBC Films. Distributed by Lionsgate, Bleecker Street.
Duration 1hr 50mins. Cert. 15. Country United Kingdom. Language English.

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Short Navigations

This is a story told in three time periods and it begins and mostly occupies the earliest period and its immediate rub up to wedlock. Over 60% hovers around the earlier period. The later times are visited in reflection and as indications of how things have turned out for Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle).  The times change them irrevocably and the outcome of this story is far from the imagined prospect when we first enter the story as it reaches the honeymoon reservation of a posh hotel in Dorset overlooking the shingle headland or bar of pebbles that create an other worldliness of escapism and is harbinger of hope and romance.

Setting

Where is Chesil Beach and is it sunny and hot? ; not always a pair.  Well it is the jurassic coast of Dorset, Southern England and more notable for its shingle and Portland Bill and Portland stone, no sand is to be seen along it.  Apparently the crew where filming this in late autumn 2017 and it was obviously a chilling time but colour grading works wonders.

People in 1962

Both these young people are acutely sensitive to the sensibilities of the times and in their being born during the war are acutely aware of the dynamics of peace and a new frontier of a Cold War developing in the struggle for supremacy in Russia and Germany alongside its reconstructed allies and temporary reparations in European idealised modernity.  Both have first class honours degrees and Edward is a product of a teacher and headmaster father Lionel ( Adrian Scarborough). He has two siblings, twin girls born after an accident befalling their mother Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff) now housebound, if not naked and watching the squirrels as people inhabiting her comfortable and mature garden.  A recent short film at the Belfast Film Festival concerned itself with dementia and was called Monkeys in the Garden. Not to make light of it, it too was a vision of how lives are affected by a moments occurrence or breakdown of the bodies defences.

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Portraits

We see the view of Edward through this revision in his life, in respect of his mother’s injury and his anger, which is a feature not currently present, is recalled in anecdotes.  Florence (named after the City? hardly the type given the austere ma and pop!) knows little about him other than his reformed side and CND encounters.  An academic he is nevertheless keeping tabs on the grosser forces within him, his aggression is a tool and servant but he feels inadequate as it is his intellect and inability to deduce his own belief system.  He is shifted of course by events and this is borne out over the going back and reveal of certain aspects of his childhood.  OK I said there were three time periods, perhaps there were others crept into for pathos.

For Florence’s story it is also interlaced with similar anecdotes with a delightful toff in the form of mother Violet, (Emily Watson), a constantly austere wannabe Jackie Kennedy alongside her status hungry and sometimes mysterious husband Geoffrey  (Samuel West) and easily rattled egotist electronics factory owner played in intentionally hammy fashion. Florence  is a music student with a leadership quality and is wholly wrapped up in the pathways music opens. Florence has attained a post of behind the scenes general dogsbody at The Wigmore Hall, Wigmore Street which lasts three years. Her own aspirations in performance are fulfilled in lower recitals but cleverly she puts across a form of music which lasts.

Musics healing

I remember on the way home from work often passing the along the Wigmore Hall rear alleyway at a time uncertainty hung over the arts funding of that long established place and lunchtime performances by the and for the BBC Radio audience proved to be a cultural asset heavily embedded in good music played to the highest possible standard open for public consumption and egalitarian defiantly hoping against hope and Thatcher the continuance of the philosophy behind excellence as common property to be cherished.

The alleyway features here intact and unspoiled as before, its indentures prosaic and tangible despite the troubled periods seen through its existence.  It is a remarkable presence and feature of West London a little distance from Oxford Street and Harley Street.  Florence had the opportunity of assisting in performance as page turner to Benjamin Brittain and the evening performances had an international element equal in such a conservatoire atmosphere a smaller bolt hole away from the grander Albert Hall and Royal Opera House.  The atmosphere inside was a musical paradise and retreat.

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Notes as words

Throughout the film the choice of music is a stirring counterpoint othe emotional twists and turns and it is obvious this is a very important strategic tactic as it fills the cinema with a richness of audio pinnacles and troughs accompanying scenes of despair and unalloyed joy. Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Rachmaninov, Brittain, Beethoven all feature in the deliberate layering on us of a timeless appreciation of the emotions evolving. Were the music is at its height often the emotion is mixed and nervously exchanging between us and what we see a sense of elevation while it in reality is a one, visually which had none of the material a book can convey.  These are the awkward extremities of the young lovers own deeply felt disoriented disordered conflict of expectations.

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Mis-steps

Here I have to place my failure to accept, in large parts, the premise inherent in the novella.  I found the absence of enquiry or even a consultation of a Doctor by Florence off kilter.  There is a deficit and no dimension of mental disturbance in the mind of Florence whose horrible construct of the sexual act is a peculiarly obstinate block her life has not prepared her for. There was at the time a new emphasis on the workings of the brain and R D Lang etc. Freud preceding brought it forward into the public realm along with TV and middle class enquiry.  The book is able to push boundaries where a script will not allow and this film depends too much on the concepts of the viewer filling in the spaces and stiltedness of some of the imponderables.  The fluency of prose Ian McEwan is stretched to replicate in this screenplay.  On Chesil Beach she discloses in a speech, her anxiety in a long soul searching yet still unformed or fully expressed contempt of the actual response she articulated in circuitous explanation leaving Edward in a pale of despair.
There is a feeling the film does not convey the real problems on the side of Edward either. While we are left to assume certain things about Florence and then are unable to gauge the extent of hurt and damage they cause and with things also causing her uneasiness and tense suffocating anxiety. There is in Edwards situation a sense of male entitlement of sorts given his deliberations in the led up to the troublesome (more than) bedroom scenes. It would have been, either a sense of duty to perform or be heroic and actually create a magnificent, unforgettable night of continual passion and lovemaking (!) as if it’s something as a male he is programmed to do, he is also contemplating the strangeness of these feelings and unable to equate eroticism with the needs of his partner and new very virginal wife. Then it creates an emasculated reaction and even more harm. There is a chasm between their thoughts and the film does not deal with them sufficiently well to overcome the visual awkwardness. There is still in these times a fearfulness that the awkwardness and newness of the experience may not fit ideals. Those ideals are themselves at the root of the problem and the present day information and education. It depends where it is found and Edward is also a person whose intensity does not help which itself is not adequately explored. Florence has to ask about his character and that is supposed to be a formation of a judgement for a clearly clever woman?!

London, we have a problem.

The way the conversations are developed are very attentive to the authors intent and premise.  The question lurking is has he found a very unusual compelling story and is it to be seen as a wider component of the times and traditions, behaviours of the times.  With both having long spells in London and away from their parental conformity I thought it too much of a stretch to see them as hesitant, micro living reclusive people without own warnings and experiences overlap, usually and relying on their own lives experience which has dramatic absence.  Dorset becomes the past.  No place for Corset jokes.  A flaw is the inclusion of a later phase where shared living, in the 1975 period a collective and therefore contagion of sorts, fleshing out a sixties vibe in the seventies where – while sharing a bohemian household was frequent – the set up appeared forced.  In the sixties it would hardly have been less of a communal existence yet it was not explored or the arrangements for living not examined in detail.

Psychology undeveloped

Audacious as some of the story may appear; the exploration of the psychology at work having an unrealised importance, I felt a lot of the developing story had empty aspects, mostly concerning the limitations imposed on both of the experiences either had of life.  For present day young people this compressed uninformed pathway is unreal.  They are conscious as well as familiar with, such instinctive sexual stirring emotional decisions and are are empowered by numerous, almost too present, events of sexual diversity, behaviour and relationship guidance. Parental intrusion is not a problem and often is a shared appreciation of discovered evaluation. The advice is also overwhelming currently as the meaning of the bodies acceptance of itself is accumulated in a set of terms and outcomes, comparisons are often fluctuating between less obvious mental pictures.

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A lot of time is spent navigating the origins and the precipice we are on which is concealed within the story, in keeping with the dilemma of her heightened displeasure of the sexual act once it sets its seed inside her head in the inevitable pitch of consummating their marriage on their wedding night. This is a narrow filter unsuited to cinema as it is left hanging.  Even cinema itself is not approached although a nod to the times seen in the film which is in their orbit, A Taste of Honey shows a conflict of familiarity with sexual education.  The prospect is imagined and unreal and in her preparation she is compelled to refer to books which he4 younger sister who follows her every move, is equally excited about though not to the extent of imagining the meaning of the words outside her sisters own thoughts. Everything centres around the thoughts and wildest capture of ideas by Florence which she finds necessary and driven too by another set of conflicts which are not forgotten but suppressed. By taking the story through the motions of arrangement and outside diversions she is able to distract herself sufficiently to eradicate some of the worst until it becomes unavoidable once she is in Room 8 at the hotel and eager to please and share herself with Edward and embrace the moment. It heralds great stress and it is a staccato immersion into the ritual of love making which she and he have no notion of how it ought to serve them. Now they serve it and become overburdened lustfully not lovingly entwined.

Neither are practiced at the physical act of union and become transfixed by the prospect of it on their wedding night. Alone they discover that lives can become transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

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Storytelling

In the bibliography of Ian McEwan there first comes, First Love, Last Rites as if it became a precedence of his novella On Chesil Beach. The straining loss of words is compellingly tale of tense human love and bonding past feeling.

THEY WERE young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. So the opening lines of the book draw us towards Florence and Edward in July 1962. Their day had joined their families in St Mary’s Oxford in a ceremony which went well including the reception and here having travelled in Florence’s mothers borrowed car arrived under a cloudy sky and with insufficient warmth to dine as planned outdoors. Instead they are together in the wedding suite dining and savouring the experience unique to both in many ways. In emphasis it is perhaps intentional to begin with the first two words in capitals in the book as they in the readers mind due some sympathy and empathy given their lack of worldliness. In fact it is not as it is a motif used in each chapter though none the less meaningful.

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When those times were presaged by moral virtue and humility it is only proper, as the Vicar might say, that they were chaste lovers on the brink of a loving long relationship not without reward for their sacrifice of self control. For Florence her talk with her Minister is an ordeal and both find it difficult to identify with each other and the preposterous notion of not getting married is one option Elizabeth takes as an absurdity. The pleasure quotient is not spoken of. Duty is the key instrument here and she is as first violin a leader in all she accomplishes. The prologue is not a good one.

Indulgences are meaningful only if they are satiated and lent great impact in the fact they are prove positive of unrequited love.

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Burden of the past

Belief is something neither have a great deal of time for. The realities of home life are its representation and compliant structure is the invocation. Some mores have it as a societal burden on pain of loss of a godly blessing.  The morality first coming from a Church and sanctified by a class of ancient ritual.

Ian McEwan compresses into a short novel the disturbance of tranquil exquisite expectation by moving into the bonding of a young couple empty illusion. The physical prospect of penetration was for Florence no longer a misty concept formed out of friends explicit stories or happenstance and part knowledge obtained by the troubling loud engorged actress screaming in high pitched orgasmic ecstasy engagement. Of Edwards pleasure and own needs she would have no knowledge only in his expression would she see his physical endurance while both would be marrying each other’s thoughts in their new union and one neither had felt before. Before the Vicar and hiring of the hall for the reception Florence seems to have mislaid her concerns until the moment of the actual aloneness.  If in the journey to the Hotel she was anxious it was suffused with the pleasure of filing away all the memories and even the road ahead was newly seen.  Observation does not seem one of Edwards strong points either as the anticipation is always countered by the more effervescent reality. Twenty two years have passed and new things happen all the time. These are however formative moments and ones to signal and lay down markers for the future they would share.

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Hidden Histories

Edward knew from University about the collapse of empires and his sojourn into conquering his love would have been shaped beforehand by a strategy to be a most humble and obedient servant to his new wife in satisfying her desires he would have comfort, not of a strange woman (The Comfort of Strangers another notable McEwan!) or innocent (The Innocent) passing encounter but a long to be lasting companion for life with all others forsaken. It is an occupied territory long held by Ian McEwan, this folly of loves testimony. Regardless of motive or morals he has attested to the problems enduring through many creative characters all having a degree of familiarity in our recollections but some are born out of sheer fantasy and the innocents here are in a realm which would have been common enough if borrowed thoughts and language are required to see it manifest in the pages.

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How accurate?

There must have been couples off to the seaside hotel with anxieties and pleasure equally mixed in a heady cocktail of expectation in earlier times, say the fifties and even earlier. Would protection be worn would they have enough passion or energy after the matrimonial ceremony and ritual acceptance of good wishes that heralded their journey into this future? They would not sometimes have had a rehearsal of lovemaking or been conscious of the powers within to see them comfortably through and in isolated limbo until they lay sleeping newly married and partly fulfilled in their dreams of finding a partner who became in that moment a formula for life. Improbable as it may sound or seem, the casting of Saiorsce Ronan whose previous collaboration with the authors vibe was her breakthrough movie, Atonement, and then as a fourteen year old, is once again fixed in the lines of the book.

Ian McEwan has described (at his lucid best) his twenty two year old bride ‘as bringing to mind an American Indian woman, a high born squaw. She had a strong jaw and her smile was broad and artless, right into the creases at the corners of her eyes.’ the remarkable aesthetic of the beautiful candescence that Siarsce Ronan can occupy the screen with.  In one publicity picture she is (freezing) on the Chesil Beach sitting with a forlorn gaze looking to embrace a situation that is exciting alarming and new while pouting over thoughts of days ahead. She fits the part remarkable as most illustrious actors do. having the facial balance and restrained openness and beauty which beguiled and captured truth of a kind rarely seen in cinema.  While sexuality was always present they each have, had an allure beyond that which is where this character is required to be in her worldly thoughts of beyond sexual pleasure and its meaning and wanting to know what that building block is in essence why they need to stick together.

Both are on the front of this dilemma as they are at twenty years old inadequately prepared in the era and societal cultural doctrines open to new consciousness. As adults together learning.

While watching, it is ones own knowledge and experience which fill in the gaps of language used by Ian McEwan in the book, a novella which is searching in this film to pass on the eloquent and carefully composited words and juxtapositions employed in the book.  Without self knowledge this film will not work and it is obviously crafted and made for a mature audience. With it als obeying seen in our media profuse times there is a connection to be made by the younger viewer and empathy is even more raw and intensely gripping. A sliding doors routine of what ifs.

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Weather the storm?

My favourite beach is at Blakeney in Norfolk where the seas-edge is forever moving, appearing to me as the edge of the temporal and physical world. That horizontal bent line which formers the outermost point is out further than the moving edge. The curve of the earth visible in the melding of the sky and seas infinity ingathered but going untouched out beyond us. Chesil Beach possibly has the same frontiers. There is the headland of Portland Bill to be found close by.  Behind it is the masons yards where hewn stone is cut and honed to facilitate a memory or vision to be put into a building.  Land is present there.  In Norfolk the elements see to it there is continual erosion.  No land is safe as the coast is claimed incrementally in tiny invisible motions of waves relentless cycle.  That turning of land into minerals swept away is almost the tangibility of the lovers quest to become another human being by having cause and effect.  There is no going back.  Immortality is attained while life is still present. Such are the promises and such are the illusions.

Conclusion ###3

It is difficult, particularly after ladybird to critique a film Saoirse Ronan is in and which she is on her game and filling her obligations and more.  Alongside an equally  strong performance by Billy Howle who goes through a more exposed later life, and with a very well cast supporting group there is a painful conclusion this film is not reaching the high bar it sets given the prose and narrative strength and form the original book achieves in spades.  No spades on this beach but a lot of digging and hiding of sensitivities none more alluded to than the core of the psychology Florence has become accustomed to.  There are few of any joyess parts and sadness is always present in particular what might have been.  The couple are ideally matched and are able to dispose of their similar but separate forms of middle classery.  They are intellectually matched but both are without the stronger need of emotional intelligence and it is obtained through hard learning.

Ian McEwan has created a new version of the story and my recommendation after seeing the film would be to visit the book if you have t altedy done so all that time ago.  There is a good display of the boundaries of film and story which is requires masters of the genre to overcome.  In the book those mis-steps seen here are not in the least visited and the beauty of language – the spoken words are few in the book and the reliance is on your constructing and building your own characters even visually and the casting has lent as much support as possible.

An enclosed compressed tale which it is hard to unravel.  Complexity exists though there are narrow confines expressed here denying access to what you have come to understand.

 

John Graham

25 May 2018

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 25 May to Thursday 7 June 2018 and on general relaease.

 

 

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Jeune Femme : A Film Review

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MONTPARNASSE BIENVENUE Jeune Femme

Director: Leonor Serraille, Cast: Laetitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Gregoire Monsaingeon, Jean-Christophe Folly, Nathalie Richard, Arnaud de Cazes.
Produced by, Sandra da Fonseca, Bertrand Gore, Nathalie Mesuret, Written by Léonor Sérraille, Music by Julie Roué, Cinematography Emilie Noblet, Edited by Clémence Carré. Production company, Blue Monday Productions.

Duration : 1hr 38 mins. Cert. 15.

QFT note: Léonor Serraille’s Cannes Camera d’Or winning drama stars Laetitia Dosch as a 31-year-old struggling to find her place in the world following a break-up

Prone to being her own worst enemy, Paula lugs her ex’s pet cat around Paris in a cardboard box, freewheeling but determined to get back on track in life. As she meets different people along the way, there is one thing she knows for sure: she’s determined to make a new start – and she’ll do it with style and panache.

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Jeune Femme

The starting over in the world of relationships requires many things. Firstly the previous baggage of the previous life choice is in need of assessment and revision in the learning or unlearning or making sense of other people as they find you and you find them.

Paula is out of a 10 year relationship which has been a high reward low risk conscript. Safety and no children or ties. So to find herself without the means to survive is a shock of the first order and she is in a compelling meltdown when we enter the picture. As for the future it happens from the circumstances outside the flat her ex partner, Joachim Deloche’s identity is not brought in for a long period.  Fraught phonecalls only.  The only companion going forward happens to be their estranged cat, rescued from the neighvours store.  This is a very sharp fall from a high level of what seems a normal existence and the suggestion of difference or reason for the break up is not clear. Every indication is it ought to have been sooner which is probably nagging throughout the following period while new answers are sought.

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Outside looking in

Horrible as it may be the notion of breakdown is treated comedically here. Horrible as the notion of looking inward on someone’s problems is almost voyueristic and as approach it requires for our benefit to be done with sensitivity and prove unlike any invasion of privacy. Believing this is relatively easy as the outward play of antics unfolds. The new partnerships of herself with every aspect of her life are calibrated. We are asked to engage and engage we do with the dilemmas false and positive states Paula encounters.

If it is not refreshing, refreshing in the sense Paula is freed from this past, she verbalises it instantly.  Paula is a realist and needs to be.  While the circumstances have altered greatly, she is virtually without funds, resources, or outlook or job and has been estranged from her family. No siblings, just a Mum whose one live is as a loner who all have left her to her own devices.

Ten years investment even without creating a body of work in concert with another, anything representing a life lived is almost ambiguously absent here. The high reward has been the cocoon of comfortable living which may have superficially or otherwise been of benefit to the onward and upward Joachim but is the total opposite as it is found for Paula. Weird as this may seem it is were we are. This is Paula.

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Travelling companions

Paula is here in the central representation of a modern woman whose future is in flux at 31.  Therein lies the test of the film. Do we believe this pretext do we engage and go on with the premise? As it is it is very easy to become part of the whimsy and progress if only because it is not our journey. The meltdown mentioned at the beginning is a force which exorcises the anger. That says plenty of the observed strength Paula gas and similarly you ask would I be so strong? The authorial interest is writing a series of questions.

Who am I Paula begins to ask and when asking herself is able to suggest she is who she makes herself.  Not defined but someone else’s love. ‘You the world to me’ type of trope which presents as when reversed, ‘I no longer have you so I’m nothing’. A variation of this is a positive and mortality is better than immortality if your alive sort of thing. The viable life is all that need be of concern to Paula and her focus is played out by her adopting various personas on a trial basis so to speak – in increments she tries various tactics of approach in meeting people which is problematic often and surprisingly gainful in others.

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Pulsating self

Clubbing an music are in her heart as a strong connective muse or even identity though that is not entirely properly explored. I saw her embrace the music and discard the palyacting and physical involvement often overarching its ambience and drive.

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Determined to set a fresh positive start again, going at the objective of finding a partner is a priority for Paula and her assistant is a curate cat. There is a premise in the making here where the prospective lover must like cats though not necessarily be as driven and cat dependant as Paula. Meeting new people is not a problem and with the whole of Paris, the city of romance a map of lovers imaginings in all directions Paula has the positive notion of claiming her rightful place in the bewitching quest mere mortals find a life’s work. The different people she meets is the passage of this story and it reveals to Paula and us the audience revealing aspects even a 31 year old had forgotten or mislaid in the past, 2solemnly lost faith in the other part of a relationship taken for granted and through that misled into the future.

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Redesign

By creating a new future and being adaptable – Paula insists in an interview one of her opportunistic happenings – she constructs a person who is meticulous, sporting, methodical, unconflicted ambiguity employed in a beautifully framed episode plus humour. One of several identity formulating encounters which makes for great cinema and form neatly composed portraits and each asking and straining to avoid placing Paula in a pigeonhole of convenience. Paula is evasively loveable. She is attractive in more than mere presence and given the reddish aspect of long locks she combines outfits in a multiple method acting ethos sometimes a ‘hint pop star’ haute couture aficionado or arty bohemian. It is all productive in the sense it provides us with multiple viewpoints but for a Paula it is a case of being all over the place. We learn as she – gently – does that she is her own worst enemy. For empathy we are fellow travellers, at least I went with it and given the superb mix and flow of the various disparate elements each following very different paths it was very watchable and entertaining often gruesomely funny while also having edgy bottom notes which are typically well handled as French cinema is at ease with. Never leaden and stale the good and bad are evoked with relativism and beefier in Paula’s problems and her dealing handsomely and genuinely with warmth to claim the prize of delivering a very good film.

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Transient visual loving eye

Visually this film carried with it the history of masters of the art of storytelling in French cinema. There were overhead views of street scenes taken at the poised easy pedestrian pace importantly defining place and other elements passing by unobserving what we are watching from above. Their are several scenes you will probably want to remember as they are formative. One I loved was during an on the move job interview where the interviewee who was a dancer took us on a joyous sense of movement up to a maids room in a longish sequence. It was beautifully done and in its contrast with previous and later scenes lent choreography to the viewers experience while removed from dance. A piece of confident and imaginative cinema.

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There were other scenes. Roaming scenes, one with her Mum, one inside and out of a shared sofa apartment with someone who believes Paula connects her with her past. The Paris invoked is not over sentimentalised or over evoked but is compellingly real which is certainly a big positive for a debut feature director.

Portraiture by camera

An instinctive panache means ever new beginning is treated with sumptuous panache and devilry by Léonor Serraille’s habit of playing the positive and not subscribing and making Paula subscribe to the desperate negative aspects and sometimes harsh reality in play. This is then visually expressed in the vivid colours and interchangeable almost clothes horse persons of Paula herself as she mediates her self in the circumstances as thrown up or found, actively sought out.

Parachutes are deployed metaphorically and an internal mechanism is activated announcing new starts. She is able to land a job, in fact two and one is as a babysitter to a young girl whose introspection and absence of ‘love’ is given life after several errors and misreads by a paula. This is the dancers part and it is a constructive form providing contrast to the other shopping mall job where she meets again another earlier acquaintance. Ousmane is another character we meet whose job does not fit his ambition and the comprises all round are length and common. Material things are not the object of many but the consumerism is what has them survive wither as sales people selling a dream or minding the spectacle it is another strand. Also I began to think the professions similarly were in a strange place.

Choices

Deep into the film there are choices arising for Paula involving relationships and there are further encounters with a Doctor who herself is open, and in keeping with the exploration, she too is seen to look into the past for meaning.  They spill out from everywhere, emotions caught in memory, always present and demanding.  The past tells Paula things she has not been bothered with and newness presents a clean slate in many ways.  The estrangement with her mother is also a recurring theme and Paula is kept searching in that part of her life for its meaning. Something is still harming her from within.  It I spoke something’s that she holds onto and cannot free.  My take on it was of her looking for an inner sanctity which she never had and only occasionally does she find it and it appears to her in aloneness when with other people.  The music and Yuki influence draw on this.  Even the job in the lingerie mall has its aspects of learning.  Men pay attention! The luxury of lingerie is a means to pamper which all women look to as preening for themselves and is a solitary thing, a skill in touching their feminine empowerment and from that whatever comes comes.

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Comes discovery

Towards the end these choices however hard in the gathering are considered in the new mindset. While it is seen to evolve and accumulate throughout their is a knowing Paula played with drive and passion bearing fruit in every scene, by the exquisite multi faceted Laetitia Dosch whose companions in the action provide a superb robust support and ever pairing is special in some way. To name them would be be mildly patronising. There are several very, very solid performances which are needed to connect and deliver the levels reached by Laetitia Dosch in her emotional gymnastics and electric sound performance.

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Conclusion ####4

Very often the title such as Jeanne Femme is a prologue to a let down but here the title only introduces a very well gathered opening into the observed world of one young women after a breakdown.  Never trivial but incredibly full of fun and light-hearted air filled space, the visual appeal is intimating the approach taken by a Paula who is – as cliches go – her own worst enemy except once ‘free’ so to speak after a very long and significant relationship is only concerned with being positive. A cat (Muchacha) gets much publicity and air time as a reclusive friend and foil.  It is a female of exotic fussy tastes and contrast to, it has to be said, of the chameleon taste and forced re-identity moves Paula is forced into confronting.

This is a very brave and rewarding tale on just a view of feminine worlds and the multiple characters, many formed very robustly and assuredly, are thrown at the complex recalibration going on and shedding some more and valued insights along the way. The slate may be wiped clean but is it to be subject to putting down new markers and reinterpretation of the past and memory and how do the fates unfold. A lovely film and instinctively sharp delivering a very decent story of contemporary searches for self.

John Graham

18 May 2018

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre form 18 May until 24 May 2018

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Michael Inside : A Film Review

 

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Michael Inside

Written and directed by Frank Berry. Cast : Dafhyd Flynn, Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford, Robert Walsh, Steven Blount, Hazel Doupe, Tony Doyle, John Burke, Shane Gately, Stevie Greaney, Elaine Kennedy, Ally Ni Chiarain, Terry O’Neill, John Quinn.
Production Subotica, Write Direction Films, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board.
Produced by Donna Eperon, Tristan Orpen Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan.
Executive Producer for Bord Scannán na hÉireann/ Irish Film Board, Keith Potter.

Cert. TBC (probably 15)  Duration 1hr 36mins.

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‘Michael Inside’

Press release
Michael Inside tells the story of Michael McCrea (Dafhyd Flynn), an impressionable eighteen-year-old who lives with his grandfather Francis (Lalor Roddy) in a Dublin housing-estate. Michael’s life is changed dramatically when he is caught holding a bag of drugs for his friend’s older brother, and is sentenced to three months in prison.
Researched and workshopped with former prisoners from the Irish Prison Service’s Pathways Programme, the story of Michael Inside is an expression of many real-life experiences. The film takes a realistic look at the circumstances that lead to Michael’s conviction, his time in prison, and how prison has affected his thinking and his behaviour when he gets out.

Truth on Irish Prison System deficiencies http://www.iprt.ie/key-issues from the Irish Prisoners Reform Trust (please read after review)

Structure
By keeping a tight focus on the narrative of the ‘rites’ of passage the story of Michael traces him into adulthood with his ‘life is changed dramatically’.  No longer a  juvenile he ends up in the Prison system instead of the youth system which then provides the revelatory, insight sought by the director of this part of the justice system and shown in all its complexities.  It is the portrayal of a life going into a spiral out of control, the chosen direction of Frank Berry in writing and making visible Michael’s life, he brings in all aspects of the journey.  It is well paced and the Prison element features only some way into it.  In the arch of the story at the beginning a wrong choice is made and Michael is enticed into helping a friend whose older brother is dealing drugs on a wholesale scale.  It is serious business and the act of crossover is shown in the brother been seen to be a fundamental part of the internal life of their neighbourhood.  The trade is all around kids of all ages and very few indicators of surveillance are present though somehow Michael is trapped.  From there onwards the story continues to follow the trail of downward struggles and the domestic interactions are finely woven into the film indicating boundaries.  There is throughout the film an exchange of place going on.  The Courtroom, The Police Station, The Prison environments, the outdoor rambling hills, the routes to and fro are used very effectively as frames for the story.  On the road and inside their is also the mediation in the mind of what is happening and why.

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Sense of a story
This is a story based in metropolitan Dublin in a city estate where most of the houses cover acres looking exactly the same. It focuses on an 18 year old whose life is moving in the right direction, after what appears to be a period where his Grandfather has moved in with him in the absence of his imprisoned father as we learn.  His mother’s not around either.  As we see the story going forward in the present we are filling in some elements for ourselves. I guessed that his Grandfather was no recent arrival and we are told Michael has been out of school previously, hence my saying he is moving forward, he is on the relearning path back attending school and with hopes of a professional qualification which he is well capable of achieving as encouraged by his teacher.  The cast in this film is unbelievable first class and very intelligently formed.  The young female teacher approaches the task of teaching Michael with warm encouragement swathed in reality and humorous mild cynicism for example.

For this story to form director Frank Berry has meticulously scoured the prisons and youth communities researching via. workshops, as noted on the Subotica and Write Direction Films press release, yet there is no laboured documentary replication or false dialogue in any scene.  He has taken the subject matter of the reality of contemporary life in the justice system and the conduits of social deprivation and lack of social development to shape a vision which goes beyond the mere postcode of Dublin.  The stories lineage is from the home to school to employment and self development, the absence of suitable role models and the historically corrupt system, presents that which envelops most youth, not given the learning opportunities and advantages of the ‘gameplayers’ whose sole interests seem embedded in their chosen corporate or government chosen level of existence.

The latitude of film making allows for and is representative for those without voices. This is a truth spoken on the complex state composition and boundaries which are challenges set before youth.

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What’s Inside
Michael Inside is both the internal mind and thinking of a young man as he sees each day. He is seen to be intelligent and diligent while his peers are a mixed less well equipped group and he hangs around sharing the outlook without options.

GAA is not on the horizon and handpicked sports other than boxing are off the radar. Michael is on the edge of trouble as it becomes evident the drugs scene around his postcode is strident and has his peers as bait and prey.
The Inside part of the shaping of the mind is very hard to convey. The way it is dealt with is through the learning experiences passed on through the generations. School is now re-engaged and this is read by Michael as attainable and within his scope and self understanding.

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Francis the carer
From the beginning of this film to the end you are never far from realty.  The story is based on those examined events and interviews/workshops found by Frank Berry of those in prison and outside.  The role of the central character is to maybe show the viewer that young person Michael as someone on the interior of a nightmare and live with it and it’s message.  Every scene is collected in a tangible tacit way with the viewer in almost within the story. Hard as it seems the closeness is delivered by the direction and cinematography which is devastatingly immersive.  There are the pacing scenes of the tracking outdoors and between places but mostly the scenes are as witnesses.

My early attention was drawn to the dynamic which is the relationship between Michael McCrea (Dafhyd Flynn), and his grandfather Francis (Lalor Roddy) because in itself it became a core balancing act of dilemmas facing each. The family now consists of them. It becomes evident the father is missing and incarcerated. Michael’s mother is no longer around and Francis is looked after by a paternal grandfather down from the North whose job it is to raise Michael in the parents absence.

This has been a programme of involvement appearing to have been in existence for some time. Francis and Michael help each other out with the day to day tasks. Another thing is the bond which is warm and positive. While there have been issues regarding education and breakdown there is in place a future which Francis sees developing with Michael on both their parts containing an outlook determined to beat the shared history disrupted by the family circumstances.

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Even a future addition (I’m stretching it! his girlfriend is very young and the incredible actor Hazel Doupe who has become a go to in so many short films and other TV drama roles) to the family is suggested to acquaint Michael with a love interest. Dafhyd Flynn is restrained and controlled in his playing of this difficult part. His approach is to be lean and often reflective and relies on the skills he has in small gestures and unhurried but electric delivery. Along with the film this might be compared to Starred Up with its central character played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ‘71) they are twinned in having created their parts with equal skill and give superb performances in this zone of seldom engaged role.

There are questions for the young woman/girl, Michaels girlfriend Orla Kerr (Hazel Doupe) to think on. There are messages to be found in the words softly spoken but ultimately delivered – noises off – by the sparsely attended pine lined Courtroom female judge whose own tones are very youthful. There is the excursion to the Prison and the process where the pace is slowed down and incremental taking in detail such as pier pressure from other prisoners whose language is their own anxiety spat out at the wrong person in absence of mind. The detail of the blue lit holding room where it is impossible to see a vein if the prisoner has smuggled in a drug to self administer is seen.  There is the non-threatening pleasant demeanor of the Prison officers, themselves doing only their duty and never being abusive or overstepping the mark or authority this ‘justice’ hierarchy has put in place which is considered truthful and honest currently.  There is a harmony which Frank Berry makes sure you become aware of through the pace this core part of Michael actually crossing another threshold into an adult world fee are prepared for or find as they perceive it.  Then the journey of the Prison incarceration is dealt out with unpredicted sharp short shocks as they follow on, opposite in character from the closing naive words of the Courtroom Magistrate echoing all around Michael. The journey is dealt with in revelation for those not familiar and even as fresh insight to the ‘system’ users (both sections) themselves.
While this is a fiction of the state of life surrounding societies justice system in Ireland and the pressures and relentless challenges brought about as manipulated by victims and perpetrators the acting out of a story in this way can only have positive outcomes. It informs on many levels and it may persuade more than conventional and framed sectoral prognosis some in the bleak place this conveys.

 

The political bit (avoid if editorial)
The tolerance and mutual strengths are explicitly laid out and engaged with it becoming apparent Michael has ambition which is driven by a renewed vigour in his life in education. Being in the environment – which in one instance is read by a fellow prisoner as a trap they are all caught up in as if they are being institutionally victimised. The life strategies are limited and very bleak given the mess the corrupt system and spoiled institutions harbour for the neglected communities which make up the suburbs and inner city ‘ghettos’ . The hope delivered over the years is powder and dust since the period of modernity following the sixties and the JFK spoiler of the state of the Republic of Ireland. Backwater tax machinations are the industrial hegemony inherited. Where Ireland began and faltered on the backbone of division of the Island in the 1920’s socialist, Republican idealists held empty political promises and became corrupted by its own violence. A delivery of labour to manifestly be subjugated in a mimicry of the British working classes while the rich rewarded themselves even becoming Premiers and messengers for fantasy politics. From De Valera, Lemass, sycophancy and Church adherence, to Abernathy meeting the Golden circles pig swilling and in exile money laundering, Reynolds and Haughey showing their vestages of impurity in ego driven leadership. Mothers of Ireland hanging their heads in shame of the child. Absent and forlorn or in flux.

There is a perception in lots of political conversation that there is a one part enemy to be taken down.  While a political philosophy may have its positives there is the overriding human negating the order sought and it is – once ‘licenced from above or below – the latter being a vile act repeated such as the introduction by the IRA of the car bomb – in this film the brother of the friend is caught up in this mechanism of political abuse.  He imitates those above and below.

It remains those egregious methods once blamed on the top echelon of society (it is quite legitimate so to do) only progress by the use down the rungs as those below use them to clamber up. Seeing there is a contract it is broken denying the Wesleyan concepts being not misunderstood but discarded. That is a notion coming straight out of the novel descriptive of 16th century society I happened to be reading! The Mermaid and Mr Hancock.

Prison reform

Here I have to mention the reform happening within the Republic of Ireland Justice and Prison system. Incrementally change is happening. Lord Longford once was heralded as a legendary lone wolf prison reformer. (His daughter Antonia Fraser once said he couldn’t boil a kettle and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously stated that Longford had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old.) Privileged as he was and totally wrong on many issues he nevertheless found a clarity if not notoriety in Prisoner Rights and formed some shock filled relationships. There came from it good works. ‘He also initiated practical measures to ease offenders’ reintegration into society. He founded the New Bridge in 1955, the first organisation dedicated to ex-prisoners’ welfare. In 1970, he established, in New Horizon, the first drop-in centre for homeless teenagers. Until the end, he spent time at New Horizon’s offices, oblivious to its users’ sometimes rough teasing, anxious to understand what had alienated them from the mainstream.

He also contributed a series of learned reports on penal reform during Labour’s period out of office between Attlee and Wilson. He chaired the committee which, in 1963, recommended the setting-up of the parole system, still the bedrock of the current system.’ Guardian 2001.

Now such reforms are a staple of the work of Prison and Justice practice. In ROI the justice system is improving but many issues remain. With the idea of ‘privatization’ abandoned in the early part of the decade, and a new approach to practical measures this is borne out in the approach this film takes. Nevertheless the listening to Prisoners phone calls, the use of a separate Healthcare system, (4 babies born last year in Mountjoy) and the class of rehabilitation stymied by cost and process there is much wrong with the resolution of the causes and effects presenting.

 

Real Cinema
This film is as close as cinema can get to a subject without destroying the object of exploration and learning by the process. I am reminded of the modern Irish Shakespeare, Dave Duggan and something he said at the time of his second encounter with a major health problem – thankfully he is out of the vicinity of that, in 2014, – while writing Makaronik, an archival piece! He traverses the same topography know in the Irish psyche that cinema is using in specific people driven storytelling. (Read more at: https://www.derryjournal.com/news/the-indestructible-dave-duggan-1-6402054) of which he states on Theatre “My plays may seem to be varied, but they are essentially all about the same thing. They are all about humans in a small group, be it in a family or a work place – and they are dealing with an issue against a bigger backdrop. There is a unity to their experience – what I write may seem to differ greatly from work to work, but my plays are all about the human experience, the human condition. “They are about the choices people make and how those choices affect them and those around them.”
Along with this approach he covered ‘the troubles’ by the method adopted in AH 6905 (2005), produced in Afghanistan in 2008. (1969 to 2005) Well worth seeing.

You can see the family setting he refers to applied here with the disintegration almost palpable and coming at you out of the screen. Lalor Roddy is superb in this and brings the soft gentle Beckett strange delivery he has within him, that it needs to soften the blow. He does this for Michael and with decent well honed words this astute wisdom is tangible and the actors gift which is delivering the core of the elements gathered and intersecting. The weave is complex and difficult and could easily have gone wrong numerous times. It is totally astonishing how well this film is able to hold onto its simplest message while calling subconsciously for your thoughts to continue beyond the walls in taking this third wall onward to read beyond this time.

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Conclusion ####4
From the opening of this film it creates a picture seldom visited in Cinema other than in search of heroics or misfeasance often over saturated with alarming violence and few shades of truth. Amid the diet of crime situational drama and the oversimplification of crime dramas this is a portrait of a family facing its destruction unless the struggle is confronted with stoic and stark realism. Michael Inside demands a very questioning approach from the viewer in order to receive the accumulation of wisdom the method of workshops, listening, scripting and story telling have unearthed. Frank Berry probably seeks your attention to the interior mindset as it is equipped at this age, 18, of Michael in this set of circumstances, in a modern Dublin in an educational system as divided by class and wealth as most western ‘democracies’ in Europe. (Scandinavian education aside!) to which further circumstantial predicament presents. The film observes through a brilliant visual and meticulously developed script a story conveying a small element of struggle which is huge in its message and insightful approach.  There is no over reliance on the violence which is both present and frequent.  There is a crossing from Home to Court to Home. From Home to Court to Jail.  Journeys are relayed by Francis and Michael and paths traced out.  Together and alone. Almost visions of reflection themselves.  Interludes and false ends are visited and complexities reasoned with. When it reached its conclusion it made a very distinct manourvere which made me recall the film Ordet by Carl Theodor Dreyer. The ending is similar in that it leaves you hanging and wondering what happens next in a way seldom seen in cinema. I wondered how connected the two films might be with this device being used, where there is absolutely a pure expression of something beyond that you will have to find and fill in for yourself.  Extraordinary and valued achievement.

John Graham

14 May 2018

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre form 11 May until 24 May 2018

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Belfast Film Festival Shorts 2018 : Film Review

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Belfast Film Festival Short Film Review

Belfast Film Festival Short Film programme at Queens Film Theatre for 2018 proved packed with gems and new thoroughly well packaged cinema which met a full audience over the day’s viewing.  Formulaic work was absent and refreshing alteration on story telling made for a complex mix of seeing as believing.  Initially the programme came with strong family stories.  The type where misunderstanding prevails and a reveal is the twist in the tail.  Each found a way to deny you the obvious answer but produce a strong alternative for you to wrestle with.  On the delivery of further films the depth and scope altered significantly covering some animation, some narrative tales, some films based on true stories and several versions of horror and surreal boundaries of belief.  A venture into science fiction and two short stories materialised as ectoplasmic excursions which rattled the nerves over a range of ages.  For local interest there was plenty.  The tropes of political history were examined with varied results.

In the order they appeared I have written a short opinion on how they appealed to me and offer some criticisms purely in the sense no one will really get to write on much of these and I chance a few thoughts in helping to progress talking or reviewing the hopes as they reach us.  How to? is not my approach but as with most reviews I take it from a personal viewpoint in how it struck my senses and where it accorded with my thinking or changed it.  The pleasure was to see the advancement and this raft of films shows there to be plenty of talent in every aspect of film making with in this case most of the British Isles covered.  An excursion to the Czech Republic also produced one of the most distinctive professional pieces in assured wonder.

In the sequence shown

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11th     B/W

Director : Naomi Waring

Arrivals at George Best City Airport and an ex paramilitary, Fisher,  turns up and goes on the homeward taxi drive to his mothers house. Stella McCusker is alone in a loyalist estate watching over a vacuum with concerns careworn in her eyes. In black and white this film gives a profile to the estates and hinterland loyalism is in. It’s bonfire season and with sharp edits and close ups anguish and hard looks coil around the close knit community.

A young boy on a bike exchanged barbs and inquiring probes and he pushes the story on to position the incomer as on a limited pass to his own post terrorism territory. The young actor and older man form the core of the encounter with this eve of twelfth of July run in. It makes you think his prospects are much better than the protagonist who returns to the place after the ‘troubles’ though that is tentative.

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The voices in the local working drinking club pitches a strong rendition karaoke style of ‘Penny arcade’ with floor singers welcome to the up and coming club contest. Shades of ‘Benidorm’ timewarp entertainment witnessed. References to the past Troubles are through pictures on the wall and insignia. The talk is of the day to day and in order to speak to his daughter who is at the club, a meeting of sorts is contrived. The past is inferred as family breakdown and the conciliation is sought by the incomer to redress his past. With the pace and lively approach including the stirring of tribal ritual as a backdrop and the pleasant homely feel of the exchanges and people in the community it is a well conceived though under developed piece of drama. The resolution is flat and it sits without a full exposure of the tensions which do exist and none of the everyday working life of the estate is seen to any degree. The playing and story itself is where any value is traced and the trademark acting is first class.

4* A serious attempt at conceptualising current dynamics and the pitfalls and reconciliation at a family level in our broken local world.

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Sparrow

Siblings Cara and Nathan are on different paths and Cara’s return from University is the theme of the welcoming return. For Nathan he is a live at home attendant on an alcoholic mother.  He is lamenting the hullabaloo over the simple terms of the homecoming and while loving the fact his young sister has achieved something he compares it with his one stalled hopes and career as a music teacher by being to the boil his anguish as this reunion prompts all the wrong emotions. The whirlpool of the welcoming party is seen through the eyes of a Nathan principally and his actions. He sulks alone and then the central comparisons take shape with acerbic doubt fired general differences which are mostly based on their different perspectives. The tally of right and wrong is grey territory with each having good reasons to be at the point they find themselves.

Like a lot of the films of this season it concerns itself with reconciliation of relationships spoilt by the past with a pressing question of who is right and is anyone to be faulted. For a short film it is ambitious to come up with any real solid answers and it does leave much undisclosed and unexamined. While it puts forward a very good trajectory of story easy to make some connections to it relies on the excellent cast to bring out its overhanging sadness. The script is initially laboured but the sciences between the two principles are very heartfelt and extremely convincing. In every home a dilemma if not a heartache. The difficult part of the drinking mother is played with unabashed fluidity and convincingly by the mother who is somewhat exploited in her stereotypical role with no really shocking or unexpected lines.

4* Fractured beginnings and endings with no winners. Has very good moments and universal themes.

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Lost memories

Director : Eamonn Murphy.  Cast : Emmet Kelly, Aoife King, John Kavanagh, Nicole Poletti

Here is a road trip with a difference. It is of a place where many have found themselves in with a seriously ill close relative advancing to confront your emotions and family relationships with love bearing down as the core central part of life visited darkly and in the very present reality of someone’s passing. Seán is an artist seen initially dropping of a canvas to a central Dublin Gallery and with flashback and scenes of celebratory exhibition modes traced there is an exchange of timescales where Seán is seen making the choice to deliver the piece to the Gallery as opposed to staying behind and being with his mother who is dying slowly. His own selfishness or neglect is called into question by himself and the trio of phone calls which come into his journey on the new highways of Ireland’s opening up of its meaning and separateness is all too familiar and an easy route or so it seems, to take. The journey is the central part.  The conflicts each phone call takes feeds the emotions. First there is his Dad calling, then his Sister, then his girlfriend.  Each pulls out a different framing of his love and indeed his notion of himself and where he is at in this new contextualised place.  Cleverly the struggle of being his own self is examined and is carried very well by the actor who we see responding to tiny and implicit alterations and nuances as he drives.  The burden is manifest in the darkness of nighttime driving and of the tracing out of the road in this Ireland of shallow and solid opportunity. “I’ve been very mean to you, I wish I was better to you.” Comes out of very many circumstances and lives. The mixed vibe is very good and industrially complex in not allowing a standard reaction to be held. I found the road scenes very immersive whereas the other open, ‘standard’ shots were not on the same level and dulled the effect.

4* Very good dynamic and lifting the spirit while demolishing it in an emotional excursion full of tension and original knife edge touch on familaier reality.

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Listen

In the workings of a family of three there is an unspoken tension and it is not discernible to the audience of the mother who in her domestic day to day converses with a young daughter on the stories she comes across in school. The couple are late twenties and the girl around seven, eight.

The Gaelic Children of Lir and fantasy is an enjoyable framework for the educational needs as are other myths and stories of the ancient world. The appearance of the father is somewhat as a hectic perhaps civil servant with his bran flakes and tea/ coffee a hurried morning routine. The women of the household have a natural bond over the wordplay and story telling which is a feature of the day ahead. Of learning and the things and moral tales those educational paths bring. However the edgy troubled state of the husband is without explanation or even a cause the audience see and the woman does not. In a few short minutes. The film is only ten minutes long the suspense and it is nothing solid or an unnecessary flight of extreme probability but a thoughtful relevant and progressive denouement.

4* The Woman need not worry as the outcome or resolution of unexplained, behaviours, unkown series of occurrences is set to put her mind at rest as indeed it will yours – depending on your silo! or lack.

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Peel

Director: Annika Cassidy, Writer: Annika Cassidy. Cast: Lauryn Canny, Ally Ni Chiarain, Seana O’Hanlon.

On a rainy day without rain umbrellas for effect are raised as two young teenage girls walk home from school. Implied (according to one younger viewers I spoke with) is a gay relationship perhaps going to emerge as the storyline.  What happens in the first minute or two is the pair splitting up and after affectionate exchange of words one disappears to an apparent home of warmth and welcome where the other goes home to the detached and isolation of a leafy Dublin suburb to be greeted by a dilemma and house with a lack of paternal love or security. This is a film which gives a sharp shocking heartfelt thump to the emotions given the actors play out the scenario in a effective way. With its range however I thought the science choices and handling could have been much tighter and less frippery or less overdark fixed framing would have made it a very solid piece.  The last scene in fact is with the young girl at a sink peeling the spuds for dinner. That is a reckoning for the title. It is a Vermeer type shot and if the whole of the film was of this closing quality with its observance and unspoken undercurrent it would have blown you away.

3* I thought the story was worth the telling but was distracted by the – in my mind anyway other views are less troubled perhaps – motion and scenes juxtapositions but possibly I was missing something in what was after all a very straight forward story of two separate experiences for the two girls though the First was not and may not have been as good as implied either as it was not dealt with in ‘mirroring’ the differences.

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Guard

Director : Jonathan Harden, Writer :  Bronagh Taggart,

Getting Katie to drop her guard outside the ring will be Kieran’s toughest battle yet the story goes. Funding notes – The film boasts an award-winning team, including BAFTA winner Michael Lennox, who was nominated for an Oscar for his short film Boogaloo and Graham in 2015. Lennox will produce, while multiple Emmy-award winner Robert Sterne credited with finding lead actors for hits such as Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall will cast the short. Former The Voice contestant Leah McFall will provide music.

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The Belfast of sporting opportunity is cleverly and brilliantly projected in this story of a girl boxer training on the lone path to find her spine and core self in the way sport challenges do and asks questions of the mind and body.  The girl Katie comes across the Westlink in Belfast on the footbridge running after coming from the derelict GAA stadium she has been pounding up and down the terraces of.  Good hand held shots and a continuation of her situation is opened.  Her father is at home and his return is ‘on probation’. He keeps at arms length or further away as he disassembles his narrative with his daughter. Bronagh’s Husband director Jonathan Harden is assured and with the stories unusual broad reaching quality.  Bronagh Taggart never drops her guard in the playing of this character.  Bronagh Taggart who has appeared in The Fall and has also a part in the film on Conor Magregor coming up, is this story’s writer and she conveys a cogent, very strong statement of a girl approaching her circumstances by trying to test herself, possibly to the limit.  Her portrait and portrayal is brilliant.

Positioning herself in the frame centrally and not speaking any words save six over the whole of the 13 mins. With the speedy trajectory she offers an eagle stare and fixed presence of being in the world, wanting to perfect something imperfect and damaged.  The damage she carries and conveys obviously setts her apart from her father. No spoilers here then.  Not estranged but pragmatic and demanding Katie wants to train hard and her fathers skills are not declined in training in the backyard of their shared home. It is a home with bad memories and both live on its fringes avoiding talk of the past. Katie and her father make a pact and the local club St Joseph’s is enrolled to allow her to spar and ringwork. The boxing club manager is our own version of Ray Winstone’s trainer style (Jawbone a boxing film) Ian McElhinney.  When punch comes to shove or fist comes to face and guard this film is intensely sharp and on the money. It gives as food as any film of its kind and is sharp witted while being totally plausible. The Commonwealth games now wound up are a mirror of the tenacity and intensity seen in this one of depiction of one girls pathway.

5* It ticks most of the boxes for me in that it is an absorbing forceful unapologetic disconcerting take on complex family troubles and making amends though in the drama a hovering unexplained poison exists which in a wider concept might provide further and added riches. A very well constructed smart story and brilliantly delivered.

Update on Commonwealth boxers! Both Michaela Walsh and Carly McCaul failed by the narrowest of margins and contested decision in the camp, obtaining a Silver Medal for their skills against top class opposition with determination and proper attitude speaking volumes as sportspersons of character.

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Murirglheilt

Director : Tara Hegarty, Writer : Tara Hegarty, Cast : Gary Crossan, Naomi Cooke, Rachel Walker. Music :  Karen and Jolene McLaughlin.

The fables of the sea are many and for a Lough Neagh eel catcher he failing to remember or keep the letter of superstition fully on board has the misfortune to rock his own boat. This involves the discovery of myth and legend immersed in the deep waters even so far from the Sargasso sea bring all kinds of crazy ideas to met up with him. Mindful as he is of the woes that might befall him he fails to comprehend the circular nature d the female of the species once he has troubled or mistreated their magic mysteries and powers of persuasion in ladies from the sea.

An explanation does nor exist in this fable of a C. Andersson fable (Agnete og Havmanden) it has within possibilities as origin. Those children of the sea free also. In the ballad, a merman woos Agnete to leave her children behind and come and live with him in the sea.  She does so and has several children by him.  But one day she hears the ringing of church bells and with the merman’s permission returns to land to visit the church. In some versions, the images of saints in the church turn away from Agnete when she enters. She meets her mother, telling her about her new aquatic life. In most variants, she then abandons the merman and stays with her previous family. In some versions from all regions, however, she returns to the sea.

The filming is difficult in the confines of a boat and only a few missteps or choices were found distracting. The costume design was very effective as were the aquatic skills of the cast. It dwelt a bit on the confrontations and comic played out the joke a bit labouredly. The underwater photography was a stand out.

3* With wet sails and a fable to follow the eels of Lough Neagh do not need any help in escaping the thorns of this vessel. The boatman is a mere transient in the hands of the women and is put to his penance with other worlds anticipated. The sea is wider and more expansive and I yearned for a more gripping tale along the lines of the one mentioned which Ibsen put into a stage play.

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Must do is a Good Master

Director : Gerard McKenzie.  gerardmckenzie.com

Do not let the title distract you. It means, what has to be done, has to be done. It comes from a saying often spoken to the director as a child by his father. What ever it takes, it takes or words to that effect. It will not provide you with a necessary truth or pathway here straightforwardly as this is a tale of grim telling. In the mode of a road movie this is a beautifully tight little short film with power and very lucid cinematic tension and fear woven in. When the broad road of the Czech countryside is first seen – the film begins with a wide frame shot showing you the environment in the best tradition of a short film introduction, then to the road vertically as a hitch hiker asks the driver who is Irish for a lift. It turns out the man taking the lift is a contrarian who is irritable and he makes his poverty known in an oblique way which is not his best course of action. He also in a dialogue sharply constructed and edited let’s us warm to the driver who is going out of his way – not in the literal sense – on this remote wood lined snowy winter route between towns for a fellow traveler. The crafting of a story is around the Irishman’s unconnected existence to this place. The question immediately is the reverse logic of immigration. While Ireland is populated from Donegal to Wexford with East Europeans this Irishman has gone in the opposite direction and drives his comfortable car into the tundra of a Czech winterscape.

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Whatever his object is – and there is a hanging dreadful end to consider by the last frame we are left to behold the title. In closing also we notice he is a conversant comment Czech speaker which added seven further to the burden of ???

5* We have here a beautifully professionally created terror of a film which is in its absurdity surreal as well as brutally confronting. It is shot with a clean air depiction of different lives lived for reasons kept hidden but as paths cross the lives are taken intertwined and interlocking. Nothing further should be said until you see it. And the thing is seeing films – Must do – otherwise your none the wiser.

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Marky’s bad week.

Director: Daniel Holmwood, Writer: Daniel Holmwood. Cast : Caoilfhionn Dunne, Neal Harrison, Darren Smith. Daniel Condon associate producer, Daniel Holmwood  co-producer, Paul Rowland producer, Liz Wilson executive producer. Cinematography by Stephen C. Walsh, Film Editing by Daniel Holmwood.

The volume is turned up on the life of a canal side drug addict who in a bright sun filled day is settling into his habit to start the day on the wrong (right) vibe. The colour is turned up to ten and is almost off the dial with the costume department furnishing this hard worn disheveled man, Marky, Martin and Marty – his moniker is disputed – possibly given the worst yellow ribbed jumper someone has cast off for Christmas – several Christmases ago.  It’s summer in the city of Dublin and Brendan Behans bro’s words warn of the jail down the road which (the keys go jingle jangle ok!) madam freedom is a hard road. For Marky it’s not helped by having a female acquaintance whose on moral guidelines appear to have slipped down onto the towpath and both are at each other’s level.

Spaghetti western music ups the ante with the visions of rattling saloon doors and you talk in’ to m scenarios as noise’s off. No one except Oscar Wilde and Behan would have doubted Marky’s predicament. Behind was a user and Oscar was a star gazer. Marky has had a bad week and he is in need of his fix of the smoking kind. The resin is lost however and this sets of a bad trail of events and comic relief is harshly sent to us for our entertainment. On occasion there have been exploitative films on these lines but here there is something different. There is a Wldiean pathos and beauty about this one. It puts on the towpath a curve to life outside – our own – hopefully few are in this discomfort – and unpatronsngly gives a heft and a push of hope in desperation ion as an antidote to the fate of Marky. A recent aside from someone to me on the subject of drugs was an observance “They seem to be the happier for it” is well wide and no comfort either.

4* A four square film with candor and carefully handled despair. It was provocative and well constructed and evidence of the state of our society in unseen parts. The coloration and musical elements served to produce a sunny vista for despairing scenario which itself realized its objectives of keeping us locked into believing the story and having a connection with the characters it showed.

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A Tell Tail Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

Director: Patrick Ketch.

In an opening which was missed it is possible my perception of it was falsely formed. So by way of introduction I give you the story synopsis upon which it is based. Without giving away the narrative, this is a bleak and dark story of intense psychotic verve.

The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is generally assumed to be male. However, some critics have suggested a woman may be narrating; no pronouns are used to clarify one way or the other. The story starts in medias res. The story opens with a conversation already in progress between the narrator and another person who is not identified in any way. It has been speculated that the narrator is confessing to a prison warden, a judge, a reporter, a doctor or (anachronistically) a psychiatrist. In any case, the narrator explains himself in great detail. What follows is a study of terror but, more specifically, the memory of terror, as the narrator is relating events from the past. The first word of the story, “True!”, is an admission of his guilt, as well as an assurance of reliability.[6] This introduction also serves to gain the reader’s attention. Every word contributes to the purpose of moving the story forward, exemplifying Poe’s theories about the writing of short stories.

Here we have a man loosing his mind while caring for an elderly man whose health continues to deteriorate.

In medias res there is explanation which the visual prompts display. I enter the story in the middle in all respects. So something Homeric might emerge and it almost does. For literature to shed its narrative visually it is possible this story might have been the most difficult the film creator could have taken on. Tell-tale things are often natural paths followed. There is an unnatural path taken here in that the perpetrator of the central element of a past act in the course of being executed is taken in parenthesis. How could such a thing have happened is the quest of the story yet the film offers only small snippets on this observance. Why is question and only a backstory of some consequence would enable the reader to be satisfied of having grasped the scope. 2 to 3 hours sleep is taken by the old man whose illnesses are House confining and his attendant is fixed on his own measure of care. It ends in grave sufferance for all concerned and the outsider looking in – two Garda are silent at the story end – are even less informative.

4* A brave attempt at visually representing a complex and perplexing; in its own reasoning, of the story The Tell-Tell Heart by Edgar Alan Poe. It is a very static film and therefore depends on but sometimes misses with the inferences derived from the facial examinations. In its mid section it is something of a slow unconvincing ‘act’ of betrayal. It gives up without a fight in some respects. Decent effort which may reveal more.

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Casual

2017/Ireland (11 min 58 sec)
Co-Directors: Aoife Nic Ardghail and Kate Dolan

Notes.  Maura, an aspiring poet, has been dumped in a voice mail. It was only a casual thing, but she’s still stuck with those grim feelings that come with rejection: self loathing, anger, resentment and an insatiable hunger for chocolate mousse. And bacon. And wine. To get out of this funk, she decides to take control.
Her mate thinks she’s a dope, but Maura’s sure she’ll win the guy over.

The event of a text dumping annoys and perplexes Maura whose ideas of a relationship in its short life, may not be the thing worth dwelling on never mind putting the rejection into poetry.  On the other hand poetry can compensate for blemishes and failure is made the more resolved.  Another idea is food craving and food combining added to the mix.  For food combinations this is a recipe for pathos and held indifference.  Maura carries an urge but her friend Emily, whose relationship with the male is in a space not fully defined, on FaceTime is a friend with other matters on her mind.  One perhaps with her own longing for the unseen male.  Probably best if she didn’t listen or text or read poetry we can agree.  On the chances of this fine beautiful soul getting a relationship dependent on more than a few words of poetry are huge and unseen by her or her friend. It will come down to the wishing well and a meeting at the bandstand.

Toe to toe or the bench position of looking out to the same horizon without looking in each other’s eyes. The latter is selected as she sits to make the encounter bring out a new reward. Whether it is a song or dance or a love on a rocky path there is much to be discovered. We see the combined mind games and thoughts of love accumulate while we look to find an alternative she has overlooked. Opportunities exist but Maura is intent on her lost feelings or abandonment getting a result which she deserves. It is a wonder which way it falls. The playfulness of this dilemma is dealt with irony and aplomb by a series of filmic adventures delivering a pleasant comedy of mini rom com proportions. A girl never reveals except to a few close friends over a drink after a bust up maybe what the bloke was like as she lists the pros and cons. Good sex bad sex good cook bad cook and numerous details too ugly to mention and the fact few resolve her situation and what comes up in the next relationship is all that matters. This is an age of ‘perpetual’ innocence is betrayed by the fact those men questions which I would have loved some feminine insight to were absent.

3* Playful and entertaining it didn’t get the rub of the green – after all I’m an old cynic – it had its uplifting moments and ponderous ones but it though it lacked perhaps a bigger lesson on the male side of the equation. His character was one dimensional but it claimed no victims in its passing.

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Transit

Co – Directors : Kathleen Bridget Murphy & Louis Tornero-Moffitt

Early morning and the road again. This is a tired factory worker returning home from a night shift and he encounters an obstacle on the road which he only just avoids.  We see the uncommunicative but alive obstacle and the nearly trashed VW Golf, (brand placement everywhere these days) and he gives a bit of a ranting telling off to this semi inanimate obstacle. It is unmoved by his guide to staying in one piece and he takes the said obstacle off road and in his car to a destination yet to be found. The incident is stacked up with questions surrounding its principal parts inanimate or otherwise. The journey is a difficult one and it’s conclusion is precise and thoughtful and maybe just plausible in the scheme of things. Nothing really struck me as a dynamic of sufficient thrust and core bristling interest to warrant this good and well produced and carefully filmed piece. The script was on the ball and was full of believable reaction but in its completeness I thought it lacked a crucial identity and presence in forming a proof of purpose.

3* A creative and satisfying narrow road trip with a subtle difference was entertaining enough but failed in view of the work that surrounded it to stand out as a lone wolf signaling difference and originality. It was a chiller first, a mystery secondly, a conundrum thirdly and finally a concluding drama. It was a decent piece of work.

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Monkeys in the Garden

Director: Marie Clare Cushinan, Writer: Marie Clare Cushinan
Cast : Sophia Adli, Susie Kelly, Maeve Smyth.

In the initial set up you can tell were this is going. Elderly Mummy is suffering dementia and is at the last looking glass of her view of the world. Weirdness comes with the territory as does compassion and dilemma. Beautifully choreographed to show the different sides and perfectly acted to show the believable shape of things it took any watcher into the perhaps unknown bewilderment facing those around dementia and served a very good drama in its telling. It was set in a local semi detached suburban house with an extensive garden. Ordinarily it would be a very nice place to spend those last years and it was up to a point. It shaped as a narrative in which the woman was blessed with two caring daughters, Keira and Amy, whose own lives are very engaged and active. One is the principal carer and is strained in managing the day to day with her at odds with the reality she habits as seen by the mother. Unreal things as the title gives you the trajectory; it’s so helpful sometimes when a short film puts in place an absurdity to look out for and it perhaps enhanced our enjoyment if that’s not to facile a word, to focus on the participants and the navigations they make around a persons confusing, emotional instability all to do with changes in the brain and not the character. Some staid and tiny set pieces were a bit rigid but the whole was a very good piece and it had an excellent cast who dealt with their own balancing act of love and tolerance in showing real concern across the ultimate kinship and family needs. There was a real sympathy felt for all those in that place, that raw family alteration. The garden is another player with beautiful apple blossom interwoven to the trauma of the interior worlds.

4* This was a piece which gave more than its gentle aura initially promised. It covered in depth and with a caring insight the necessity for tolerance and patience when a family member becomes different from the person you grew up with. While change and no going back – although there are a range of indicators progress could be soon made in respect of illness such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple sclerosis, agents of disease in the nervous system which have so many debilitating and seemingly irreversible effects. The film stands out as a very good educational piece for people unaccustomed as I was to the Monkeys in the Garden which is a metaphor in itself for the estrangement nature places us in. We are several steps removed now from the Garden of Eden. I write this on the day it is reported four orangutan’s collaborated in escaping from a medical facility. Someone therefore may well have been witness to new occupants in their garden.

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Burglars

Director : Phillip Lewis, Writers : Richard Kearney and Phillip Lewis.

The key to this short film is not believing all you see as it turns out.  It starts of with a drive in – leaving the car keys in and bold as brass use of the long driveway – then a balaclaved daytime saunter through a luscious well kept garden to a period house and rear conservatory.  No garden today then! In the audacity of the film maker putting the thought these burglars know what their doing – they have their own key – it sets up questions you flick through – workmen copying them in clay or making a quick replica somehow etc etc and you are a dope on rope. As I say all things are not as they seem and is anyone in the house? Will they get their comeuppance swiftly and violently?

The expectations are out there and grabbing you in.  For the two boyos their audacity is to be completed dumbfounded.  The results are a mixture of comedy, tragedy, misplaced hope and a divisive turning point.  The sometimes misplaced simplicity and from a film angle occasional untidy piecemeal passages of script are unconvincing and required better treatment or a less obvious and less wordy might have driven it harder and more frenetically to the ultimate fallout.

3* I am being a bit ruthless here but I honestly was not taken or carried along with this particular piece of lunacy.  Even with its salutary lesson or moral message it lacked a dynamic to match the acting and locational advantages.  Good entertainment but not that memorable.

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Leap of faith

Leap of Faith is written by Dave Thorpe, directed by Mark Smyth and produced by Jonny Farrelly for PIO Media.

The new rejuvenated apartment saturated domestic scene in Dublin is a far cry from the unplanned City from the sixties onward. The prosperity brought about by creating a sovereign state as a tax haven resulted in boom and the despair of bust is recognised by having a plan in absentia for Forty years down the road has freshness and renewal concocted now jam and biscuits tomorrow. The impossible burden of debt accumulated, written off for the Banks is sitting obstinately on the edges of the working world. Superman is needed to enter the mix. So the story provides an escapist adventure in the splendor of a pair of youthful optimistic singletons those realities don’t visit. While on her top floor balcony one day across the communal architecturally clean courtyard she sees in an adjacent block a young man exercising and taking it very seriously to the limits and she is engrossed in his routine. It turns out all is not as it seems. An incident is witnessed which changes her outlook entirely and she is more than intrigued but compelled to find out what is going on. By following him and shadowing him some things become clearer. The spooky and surreal is visited while the obvious is not followed. The shape shifters and decievers are in the building and normality is put to the side as found nonsense everyone else behaves in accordance with.

3* From the outset I found the discomfort of this vision of the Dublin altering unappealing like Seoul without the soul was and taken to a place where reality does not fit in only allowed and the film became one lacking substance while simultaneously carrying all the models of the genre competently and with fluidity. Cinematically a very good piece of photography neatly rounded and sufficiently different to keep its edge however blunt or sharp it was from time to time, was vaguely entertaining. Some folk like this escapist genre for its examples of otherness. It never reached into the zone of Blade Runner nor harvested or borrowed from another trope but relied too much on intended ordinariness to go just above the surface of believable narrative. Simple Japanese films (Taiwan/South Korea are also fine sources of inspirational work) have a gauge of this sort off to a tee and are the main point of reference I would use. The filmmakers could be served by looking into the similarities they seek to harvest or convey as they have sufficient talent, skills and dexterity to robustly shape an idea to succeed somewhere along the line. Disappointed viewer here. No religion, no guru, no faith.

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Coranna

Director Steve Wood, Producers Steve Woods – Cel’ Division.

Chester racecourse at the time of the famine is the improbable destination for George Moore’s (beneficiary of land due to The Napoleonic battle of that name) racehorse Coranna. The Moore family were the owners of a large tract of Antrim land in perpetuity.  They made good use of it and it’s inhabitants.  The one element this story fancifully takes for a story is probably less interesting than the actual facts. The jockey on a Coranna was one Francis (Frank) whose far from indifferent persona as played on intbhis animation was torridly fierce and a huge success. Born into the family of The Duke of Richmond’s family in 1817 he became a formidable horseman with tenacity and bright eyed sharpness. None of this appear in this laconic tale. The young man thrown up in the saddle of a brilliant mare to win the Chester Oaks in 1846 was far from the depicted boy in a mans job. Conceit or lack or research may have made this famine tale more palatable but in it as with Irish rejection still of large holdings by current British landowners in this province it actually galls. The Chifney brothers were as the extracts from the Sporting Life Book on Frank Butler are testified to in the accompanying extracts the opponents and in the writing it too lacks proper regard of the circumstances. There is no way a moderate filly would finish second in the Oaks ((Epsom) as it was the oldest most valuable contest on the turf alongside its brother The Derby. It would have to have been a very bad year. The animation is repedatative and loose while conveying something of an attractive story if your wanting to underpin regardless of fact the lack of ponying up of the British state to feed the itinerant famine plagued Irish. It’s obscenity is tenuously touched upon.  The famine I saw seen as basically an aside without the horror conveyed other than the screenshot I’ve shown (my title). The story effects a bluster and cod English mocking approach which is simplified beyond fathoming.

2* I was interested initially in how the exposing of a families attempt at saving their skins by duping a young jockey and the fallout fro all concerned might take me. The shallow end is where it went despite the very good rendering painstakingly shoring up (an unwalled) Chester racecourse. I once sat on a horse the day before, training on the sand of Strangford and he went to race and win at the tight bowl of the town walled Chester Racecourse a valuable handicap the day after. To capture the real buzz and effort of the achievement was no in and out venture. Even the lovely Dee is not noted.

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Echoes

Directed by: John Carlin, Written by: Aaron Gray and Paul Skillen.  Cast : Katie Goldfinch, Antony Achaempong, Nigel O’Neill.

A disclaimer for film school aficionados is given, I dislike the genre of most Sci Fi outreach portals cinema of no particular sense or form. Those seeing Silent Running, I grew up in a generation spell bound by it (namesake local band were not bad either!) or 2001 A Space Odyssey will be curling up in perplexed bewildered angst given the paucity of the story here. It was presumably put together with strong endeavour. The filmic quality, cinematography, is very assured as are some of the leaner dialogue passages but it is very static predicable and unsharpened in lots of elements. Set mainly and primarily in a cage of a dystopian altered enigmatic film genre inspired container on a transit loco (foley is brutal reminder) and two male – security as a name check – so they still don’t d The bogey room of vessels with in transit bodies is appallingly trite. There are problems in finding a new angle which are not addressed here. A story without robust and conspicuous conflict and endangerment is not one the confused Echoes appears to me in creative juices. What Echoes are we looking at, what drama is unfolding, what is the mission really in aid of. The time signatures put in text, in the frame, sometimes almost missed because of their duration and the changing background serve only to indicate the time it will take to come to some sort of conclusion.

3* it is a very attractively filmed and polished VFX rendered film all the way through and actress, Katie Goldfinch as Gouldine to hold the premise together is the saviour of the film and its uninteresting fodder commonplace fodder.  Amidst the dry ice and ball of confusion which probably fell out of the doughnut of a story. Somewhere related to Planet of the Doughnuts? was the injection of the younger couple as the tedious grew with apathic Monet after moment. Some have called this the best Sci-Fi short film of 2018.The. It lacks any intensity or shock value and originality rests with its integral internalised viewpoint. A big disappointment and along the lines of the reviewed Leap of faith above, (horror) I would suggest a similar rethinking tales place. Simple Japanese films (Taiwan/South Korea are also fine sources of inspirational work) have a gauge of this sort off to a tee and are the main point of reference I would use. The filmmakers could be served by looking into the similarities they seek to harvest or convey as they have sufficient talent, skills and dexterity to robustly shape an idea to succeed somewhere along the line. Disappointed viewer here. No religion, no guru, no faith.

See Katie Goldfinch in Animus for a better shot of a film.

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The Wedding Speech

Turning a tragic story into something of a comedy is a false move to begin with. This film will be in the provinces record of loss of life in circumstances other than the troubles is stretching good taste. Maybe it has been one way the joint writers – a short story version s credited to Isabelle Broom – has of dealing with very personal loss and tragedy it certainly is. The premise aside I was not greatly enamoured either with the stain and strained efforts excellently made all the more obvious by the grimacing ‘principal boy’ virtually continually coiled like a small Chris Eccleston, in fending off the moment he would have to greet instead of rehearse The Wedding Speech which was to be non-standard.

Perfectly sound in its filming and evenness of dialogue and following the ludicrous concept it managed to weave through on dialogue and characterization something meaningful.

3* A relatively safe short but made difficult because of the nearness particularly in this community of the central subject and is immediacy or reveal which may horror some in less strong positions to encounter this core life consequence. I was left wishing I had locked out of it rather that take it through such was it’s I’ll regard at least in my own mind remarkably not to be made mockery or comedy of.

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Unforgotten

Cast : Mel Tuck, Director: Alexander Wilson Flynn
Writer: Alexander Wilson Flynn, Cast: Mel Tuck, Alex Kilner, Justin Turnbull, Joyce and Jaqueline Robbins.

The far off Canadian province of British Columbia is where this is set.  It was formerly once occupied by Indians whose land down to Washington was wrested from them by force of arms destroy for communities once having several dialects, languages, and freedoms which heck, Trudeau and Trump don’t actually relate to. This is a revenge film. At the old folks home setting is in black comedy gainful nuancing, having a couple of grey haired young old lady twins at peace and mirrors of the age on inactive promise, the scene is built for a story with added value throughout.  Its balance of intrigue and intention is nevertheless built without tension. However it sets the scene for some bizarre outcome it seems.  The direction it will take is held in uncertainty.  There is a picture of tranquility with an old man watching the summer pass him by and as he surveys the pleasant outlook across a table next the main window looking into the car park we are given several red herrings.  No food jokes here.  The roominess and comfort is beyond question and the staff pleasant and unhurriedly carrying out this pace of daily routine.  A car pulls up and a young family disembarks. There is fateful twist to this peaceful environment.  A new male patient arrives and is shown to his new abode which is a delight and airy. He looks a bit like the Hundred Year Old Man and I wonder if he’s to get up immediately his belongings are packed away and escape through this new window on life. I could tell you more but that’s not the point. What happens is entirely plausible and very dark indeed with a universal theme and as I say it is a revenge black dark drama of no quivering or disjointed misplaced weight.

4* This film carries its subject very well and extremely professionally.  Engaging from the outset it carries on keeping you thinking and in its conclusion shocks beyond any measure of expectation at least as I found it to appear and reveal its darkness. Excellent dramatic short film and very cleverly observed in the gentle persuasive making.

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The Music Room

Director: Mick Gordon, Writer: Eugene O’Hare, Cast:: Isaac Heslip, Patrick O’Kane, Aislín McGuckin, Terry Keely as older Ben. The Ulster Orchestra. Production Kevin Jackson & Chris Parr, Cinematography by Ryan Kernaghan, Film Editing by Brian Philip Davis, Production Design by John Leslie, Costume Design by Diana Ennis, Makeup Department Sarah Blair assistant makeup artist. Duration: 14mins

Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Johan Pachabel perhaps even Sergey Prokofiev, and Dmitriy Shostakovich all would be grist to the baton of the 10 year old Ben, who puts up with a lonely home life having an irritable father who is not pleased with his sons choice of hobby or obsession which is taken to a level he himself was not expecting. After a good spell in the TV drama My mother and other Strangers, Mr Heslip is in command of his acting. With the very accomplished Theatre Director  and now by Mike Gordon this is the outstanding work seen at this festival in my view.

From a home which is full of modern advantages, his life within it is claustrophobic and to this he puts a solution into practice in the expanse of the music room he makes his attic retreat. The school he attends has a music teacher whose guidance and soft persuasion allows his passion to grow and evolve. The sublime understated love and well placed tutelage of Stella McCusker the very leafy surrounds of his school, puts this combination totally into the great onward tracking of the actual flashback and dreamlike smooth passage of story telling at its best. The comfort is also in the music which is performed with – a cinema elevates the receiving – of an outstanding stirring set of combined pieces to many to relay here. A little divertissement with a fellow pupil raised a laugh of musical criticism. You will be blown away I hope by the audacious ‘orchestration’ of the piece and the play of the baton skilled Mr Ben in action and his command of the music source which I will say little more of given the splendid and fantastic delivery it brings to the viewer, listener. Thoroughly rounded and extremely well filmed and edited giving a smoothness which belies its undercut complexity to deliver a many layered opus.

5* A very well rewarding piece in the viewing and full of brilliant playing and with twists and core intense delivery for such a short film. A perfect little masterpiece for all involved and will be seen in the near future on wider screenings and wider audiences.

Simon Rattle is old news Ben is the new kid on the block. Thoroughly enjoyable. Finis coronat opus.

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Safe Haven

Safe Haven’ features actors Bronagh Taggert (The Fall), Brenda McNeill, Luke Walford, and Sid Ralph. Produced by Margaret McGoldrick and Chris Patterson, and written by Spence Wright

This turns out to be a well conceived short horror pice wth fright and a child’s peril adding to the mix when he is left alone. His mother is called away from their Belfast flat on receiving a phone call from a person she is a carer to and despite it being her day off and she has to attend to their things she puts herself out to respond and therein lies the danger for young Zoran left behind. A volcanic ash cloud has enveloped the whole province and Belfast is under an umbrella of darkening skies. The television is the initial bringer of bad news on the Ash cloud and the views of twenty four hour news delivery on a lessening scale the impact. All is not as it would normally seem with much more to this than the grounding of airplanes and reduction in utility delivery, communications and movement.

 

 

The mother is played by Bronagh Taggart whose Guard is reviewed earlier.  She is a very talented actor this time slipping into the role of an East European single parent with pathos depth and energy in which she delivers the arch of the dilemma and the peril element as an underestimation. There is a clear mother’s affection.  Another character who enters is an elderly neighbour whose take on his name, Zoran, for Belfast woman is an aside and showing detail is paid to fill every local treatment in this well written story. It plays like any other European country would be proud to give exposure to. It is up with any comparable fear and horror of its kind in the field heavily populated by poor fudge. In the telling the young boy becomes the focus and his acting is well caught and unhesitatingly gripping for such a young lad. There is an ectoplasmic overtone which is not overworked and the close up attention is gripping when the story bites.

4* An excellent drama which is full of tension and altering perceptions as it approaches its conclusions. Bronagh Taggart excels in giving it a heft and gravitas which in lesser hands would have lessened the high resolution impact of this doom laden story. To my mind too much is told in the explanation of the film in the programme so avoid the notes they gave!

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The Date

Sinead and Brian, played by Charlene McKenna and Rory Fleck-Byrne. Director : Selina Cartmell,  produced by Claore Gormley for Parallel Films. Writer : Liz Quinn with a layering of Owen Roe, Camille O’Sullivan and Donnacha Crowley. Plus the band “Darktown”.

In a misty evening with the sun having gone down on Bray the Dublin Bay lights fringe the town as a young woman enters the neon fashioned Ballroom of romance known as The Bray Head in a normal life. Life here is in suspension with her entering a spot singer holding his vintage microphone doing an awesome job of the blues set which will permeate and wet the appetite for loves fling. The bar is empty and a lonesome lady sits like a fixed mannequin (Camille O’Sullivan) while a few bar flys talk next the slot machines at the end of the bar.

‘If I can’t smoke it, I don’t want to know’.  What film of its kind doesn’t have a lasting line.  A bad one.  The young girl sidles up to the bar and is given a cocktail an awaits her date. For the date not to be first is a step back and the film is paced in this negative turning back of time. Rather than the alternative route of the evening racing forward into the unknown, deliberately there is time taken here to ponder. The encounter is friendly and a match is made in a place on the edge of need. Both are wanting this to be the return or frontier of golden promises. What is told by this simple tale is fairly bluesy in its fragile tenuous existence.  The players both in the band and on the floor of romance are very clearly on their game. Only slight awkward moments arise occasionally when they seem to momentarily run out of ideas where to take it.

4* A very good feel of a film with great music (Darktown) and steady as she goes easy acting makes this a very decent short with no great expectations with the foi pace indicating you are not going to be in for a rollercoaster.  Sit back and enjoy.  The word I used is very appropriate it comes to mind again. The piece is a frontier imagining of loves promise ahead taken at an easy pace.

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Kubrick by Candlelight

Shot in Tullamore, County Offaly by David O’Reilly, Cast, Darragh O’Toole (Red Rock, South), Amy Hughes (Dad’s Army, Vikings) and Phelim Drew (My Left Foot, Angela’s Ashes) crew DOP Stil Williams (Convenience, Gone Too Far) and producer Vinnie Jassal (Fast & Furious Six, Kingsman). Brian Cox as The Narrator.

A short film on a much loved historical excursion by Stanley Kubrick. Like Stone in your Pockets did the business of theatrical musing around a film being made this is a romantic costume drama Barry Lyndon (rereleased last year) mixed into the Seventies and ‘73 in Ireland to be precise.  A posh portrayal of a young Kubrick is a bit Brass Eye in its presence.  Also the young extras are sent into a world of absurdity even for seventies rhetoric.  Given that the scene set is once again a very good delivery of the genus loci of the set at this time.  In an Ireland at the edge of extinguishing itself the last thing you want to see are British redcoats in your border town of anywhere else with garrisons all over Ireland put to the back of British legacy this serves as a stark reminder of the undercurrents still in 2018 not lost on us. A third director is blonde, something about Mary, out of your league and beautiful, just as the stereo type black haired and ravishingly attractive Irish girl would be the counterpart the decorative elements and irony is laid on thickly and very comically though not in the unmatchable Graham Linehan irony of Father Ted or Black Books and IT. The crowd pleasing of making a film is even for Barry Lyndon with Kubrick perhaps spotting the irony of the historical context in the period he is returning to the soil soiled there is a fabulous multi-layering of the mindfulness played in rich tonal and an embracing realism of contrasts in the story. It has comic candle capers and beyond the pale politics in Offaly pleasurably recalled.

 

 

4* A very rewarding and thought provoking piece if only for the preposterous fixed repetitiveness of our own history being juxtaposed and shown in a very flavoursome visual treatment. It only ran for a short time but it could promise expansion into area# which we would have similar anxieties towards. I liked it the more I thought about it afterwards which in itself tells you something assured was working in the telling of it as it unfolded.

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Soil Engineers

Directed and Written by Dominic Curran

Of the worlds fauna Darwin we are told favour the most productive and elemental to be the worm. This is the worm turning the soil of purgative dynamism recycling the organic of life we depend on. In a time when there is a massive depletion in insect life putting our kingdom at risk the keys to the locker room who transform the earth are busy as this film endeavors to trace. It unlocks only tentatively the story and there is one in there. In the Lough fisherman’s eyes these worms are only bait to allow him to catch fish. Every time he returns for more to the same sort of location he is drawn into thinking, as we are about the life of the worm.  It is something of a ponderous tale and the word (not worm) in the notes preceding the film showing which is used is Sisyphean – the meaning of which – a son of Aeolus and ruler of Corinth, noted for his trickery: he was punished in Tartarus by being compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope, the stone always escaping him near the top and rolling down again. Has its own methodology in comparison to the fisherman’s tale.

3*  While it was an interesting film taking a viewpoint and extrapolating a curveball on it I thought it was visually static and only occasionally of sufficient vitality to continue going with the story. It was of course original and it had its moments without doubt.

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Recruited

The film was produced by Elaine Forde from The Playhouse, directed by Declan Keeney from Island Hill Productions, filmed by Chis Byrne from Pillarpix Media, and features a whole host of local acting talent.
The film was funded by the Department of Justice through the Policing and Community Safety Partnership Assets Recovery Community Scheme, BBC Children In Need, The Department of Foreign Affairs and a private donation through The Ireland Funds. The Playhouse is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Derry City & Strabane District Council and the Community Relations Council.

Sometimes films are carefully constructed to draw out a proskomide prophetic preachy script to follow.  The writing of Colin Bateman here takes a set of standards conditioned to within not an inch of their lives, with young paramilitaries and immediate family in stereotypes suffered for ages by the Northern Ireland public that we are sick to death of all them.  Here they are though one dimensioned and so institutionalised are the parameters, no references to Dublin, the East European criminality or the middle class small pond wheeler dealing linked with various mafia types in their twisted property dealings, embracing Portuguese and Spanish money floats. No instead of the who, why, what and where of a good streak of journalistic  drama we get the street criminal hiding behind a car with his mate, his tearful mum, his journey across town, the Bolshevik drama queen, if only doorstepped and ecclesiastical on rendition about you wasters think you run the place.

Friars Bush graveyard gets a visit from the Derry crew for famine input? and we get a drama of flashback and staunchly anally receptive security messengers foresaking film originality for something like a TV pre Christmas Don’t drink and Drive warning. Very tedious and fun the ball.

2* They threw the works at this one.  So much for Justice a quantity of worthy flag wavers stuck up their logo of support in credits flowing out afterwards. Technically proficient, sharply edited and with ongoing action and excellent characterisations by the principal players it was intact from beginning to end. The only problem was the condescending viewpoint it placed the apparent protagonists and audience it imagined would wish to be receptive of it goes into the millions of pound of funds sent to cure this ill.

Peace processes aside and outside looking in.  Absolutely dreadful but well acted. Friars Bush graveyard awakened too.

Within a few yards of the funeral was a wall where in 1847 or thereabouts, (Black ‘47 is the Season opener) 2,000 people whose names where not recorded were cremated alongside the burials of the – recorded in a tablet next to the entrance lodge – and never once recognised. My how times have changed. It even had a **** drone aerial view introduced for extra flavour!

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The Hidden People

Director Ronan Corrigan, Writer Callum Dziedzic

In the calibration of photographic history comes the Cootingley Fairies. Someone has happened upon this Yorkshire phenomenon in setting it to a contemporary setting which seeks to extrapolate a continuance of familial resonance. By taking as a central character a boy whose own happening upon this phenomenon brings out some pubescent lodgings and predicaments. While he is scolded by others familiar with this ‘nonsense’ this boy has wider thoughts of its living form. Out of the nest he is in a precocial state and is reliant only on his own senses.

3*  The tensions between brothers is played out effectively around the story it centres on. While it is visually entertaining and maintains its interest I found it lacking in that special hard to find electricity a subject such as this might light upon. A decent but unmoving piece.

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The Gift

‘The Gift’ comes with the simple tagline “A gift can be a blessing…or a CURSE!”. Writer/director Murat Akser is a filmmaker based in Belfast but born in Istanbul, Turkey.  Murat is currently developing his first feature film and teaching film production at Ulster University..

Much misunderstanding exists around ritual and religion.  Myths and superstition is often a particular disturbance deflecting from spiritual gain or guidance. The reward for adherancece is often extremely negative and even life threatening. So the story here venture to flake us into a foreign fantasy. The early appearance of the retiree ‘Your Highness’ Roma Tomelty is a gift to begin with. She is bedecked in barbles, scarf and rings when she evokes and conjures up a spell for a wedding couple and sets their future life on a steady force which must for its sanction appear to be compliant with the inherent culture. The inherent culture includes symbolic knives and imagery to be taken none too literally.

Telling this story is only the half of it. Enter the NI security forces as a SWAT team and then entered an idiotic in accurate cop interview pressing a claim to a verve it fails to present. Mr Stuart Graham of recent things such as Line of Duty is brow beaten into regurgitating hateful demeaning words and puts into plat a NI trope of Racial hatred.  Well done there then.  Only the absurdity and misreads, perhaps my doing also, were of any genuine value to me.  I was out of sorts with the lack of core substance and even believable characters ntent to sway me. Not forthcoming.  If a political message were invested in this it is dealt with in a narrow and purple way.  Well documented and common images of swat operations are universal and here it is a case of not moving on.  The treatment is too overplayed and the focus of the intention of placing traditional misunderstanding at the heart of this is lost or diminished.

3* Great to see the lovely Roma once more in a fashionably exotic if over the top role. She delivered it in a lovely, very great dramatic soft timbre. The remaining content was unable to keep up.

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Good Girls

Good Girls, written and directed by Niamh McKeown and produced by Jack Cowhig, is about Pinkman’s finest student and head girl, Bonnie, who takes us on a tour of her school as she tries to round up the school captains in time for the school photo.

Made by students at Edinburgh Napier University as their final year project, the film has been praised for its visual style, cinematography, set design and direction, with the judges commenting that it was like “St Trinian’s meets Wes Anderson”. The spiel not my words! Or view!  The Kubrick film was superior in many respects but still failed to be my no. 1!

St Trinians and modern finishing school for posh girls is an area where knickers, bare thigh flesh and unabashed girl attitudes are often fashioned into a hedonistic trial of the state of the nation. From the primordial to the eloquence of educated civility is a step not to be taken at the gallop. Henrittas and Georgina’s are inescaple and top of the pile is a Scots head girl with attitude, Bonnie. She is on the case of further publicity to enable the floundering school to survive. A Green Wing type is cast, thrown to the dogs as headmistress and in order to fulfill this the wonderful school architecture becomes a backdrop for rounding up the needed party for a group photo. From tennis course to gym to libraries to corridors to courtyards they are sought. The voyerism of St T’s is in the ante as is the fruity language and interplay of frustration Association in a closed community of learning. Very Theresa May I thought.

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3* This film packs a good wallop but covers with nods very often to similar comedy set in the boarding schools of England something staid and worn. Albeit never attempting to become the Girls School version of Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange it just came and went. The woman from the former constituency of Merton has no connection to the film. I would not tarnish it with her madness. Bombs – where do we keep them girls? Oh in the Chemistry lab. Good oh.! Put her in a strait jacket until she wise’s up please.

E463EC67-91DC-4168-91BA-EF29F0D04C26Calling Home

Director and writer Megan K. Fox Cast. Natalia Kostrzewa and Aaron Taylor.

In the setting of contemporary London this is a story of a young Polish girl hoping to pursue a design course to become a fashion designer. There is a vibrancy to begin with which is quickly arrested by the notion she may not have chosen the best boyfriend who is controlling jealous and a prat. They drink and carouse with the boyfriend seeming to want to impress his friends rather than commit to a loving relationship. Dorothy is played by Natalia Kostrzewa and Aaron Taylor unfortunate to be cast as the abusive boyfriend.

67D170C3-C310-41AE-9E0A-4921CA5C5D3CThe only poor call is this ‘entry’ – the edit?

Dorota moves to London with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but her path is altered by an abusive relationship. Despairingly this becomes a story which is indicative of the plight of a woman whose fortune alters drastically and she is left in a very dangerous situation without a home or money. One third of homeless women are victims of domestic abuse. The film brilliantly portrays how homelessness, sadly, could be a possibility for anyone as Megan Fox points out. She builds the tension and predicament compellingly with Natalia Kostrzewa creating the part brilliantly and believably she imparts the terror of this dreadful situation. It als has been compared with the American film of last year The Florida Project as it shows the vulnerability of homelessness and the various ways it materialises.

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‘Calling Home’ is an impactful short film about domestic violence and female homelessness. The film was made with the support of leading homeless organisations including Inside Housing, Shelter and Women’s Aid. With its inspiration in part coming from documenting homelessness and it coming 50 years after Cathy Come Home by Ken Loach this film achieved the award to commemorate that anniversary last year in the Reel Homes Competition organised by Inside Housing a Homeless organisation.

It can be supported on this link where it can be viewed also.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/calling-home-festival-fees-film#/

By supporting the film you will aid its entry to further Film Festivals and also extend its outreach. Soha Housing also support it.

4*  Film can show our society as we may have not experienced it and this film shows how homelessness is pervasive and the lack of housing or proper social mechanisms to deal with sudden problems is shown to be very harrowing.  It is more than that of course but the film highlights and does it in a very dramatic way just one pathway to extreme hardship.  It is well shot and there is an outstanding performance from Natalia Kostrzewa.

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The Overcoat

Director Patrick Myles. Cast Jason Watkins, Tim Key, Vicki Pepperdine, Alex Macqueen and Dominic Coleman.

I loved this story when I first read it years ago and have sen a few stage versions, one of a very high standard at the Hammersmith Theatre late ‘80’s. This is a variable feast of filmic playful black comedy which is slightly less than the sum of the story despite the huge efforts of this costly high end production. The sense one is meant to feel is Kafkaesque or with the satirical heft of a Terry Gilliam film. Not exactly 12 Monkeys or Messing with Don Quixote but this one is tilting at windmills with the ever daft Jason Watkins. This is a fairytale telling and adaption which follows a well worn path. There is a 1926 version of over 1hr and several shorts and an animated version short last year. The story is revamped not a Orwellian/Dickensian working office and the withdrawn and isolated man, (Jason Watkins) of the story is consumed by his lack of esteem and is forced into acquiring a new overcoat to show the world his worth. He is then toiled with acquiring the funds to buy the best he can possibly afford and this is beset with many threads of woven dramatic pathos and philosophical nuance as well as salutary lessons which the original story in effect delivers in spades. Ownership is not without its trials. The Nell Gwynn Tavern gets a look in along with Zadok the Priest.

4* This is a very decent effort but given the revamped version I would have hoped for more of the originals darkness and gravitas. It comes across a little to lightly unfortunately given the dynamism of the exuberant casting acting overlayering the effect rather than pulling back. Cillian Murphy does the voice over to the animated version and it is good fun comparing the others as this is a favourite story and fable not to be missed or mislaid.

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Young blood

Director: Rian Lennon. Cast: Helena Bereen, Niall Cusack, Aimee McGoldrick

Ever bold and horrific in finding new ways to disturb us the Northern Ireland director Rian Lennon comes up with a dark and gruesome tale of Lazarus type rejuvenation and older folk trying desperately to hold on to any life they still have. Earlier short work include student Devour winning film The Dick of similar small room but widely removed ilk. By giving them the tools of Methuselah an elderly couple, in becoming the authors of their revival, the writer provides, creates a scenario involving a small living room, a couple whose life is etched and close up and crazed with a captive believed to be the answer to their prayers. There is a medical basis to their ideas and like Kith Richards they surround complete blood transfusion employed in Privacy to inject some much needed vigour. Consuming the vial of renewal can come in many forms and these two veterans of the Northern Ireland acting scene give it all too a horrific edge and don’t disappoint in their madness.

3* A grim and overthe top renewal of a story of impeccable implausibility which is the trope of certain filmmakers. The more dubious and contrived the better. Unfortunately I give these a miss and with the dimwork confined to shock and awe with facial expression s very important in the telling of a conspicuously predicated Line to follow it takes the breath away, not. It leaks out after a while to pale desperation in conclusion. One or two end up dead bad.

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A Break in the Clouds

Director: Tristan Heanue, Writer: Tristan Heanue

Cast: Gemma-Leah Devereux as Sarah, Marie Ruane as Natalie, Tristan Heanue as Jack, Linda Bhreathnac as Ally.

In the beginning there was a child. It was found in Connemara. We will call the child First born.

This is a thought provoking film of depth and formidable weight in a contemporary telling of the way families have in most locations; there are happily some exceptions I’m sure, become fractured. The modern pressures of a simple homelife are a struggle and loneliness along with post natal depression are foremost in this story. Compellingly insular despite the vast beautiful scenery. It cannot be called a backdrop as the sky is huge and land vast on the Atlantic seaboard. The place is stunning and the hopes of many generations have yet to come to terms with the society that they inhabit. Even down through many previous generations the demands are immense. No less so here though contemporarily communications are better there is still distance between family units who might previously been relied upon to assist child rearing but are now apart. This is the dilemma and the heart of the story to my mind. It is accompanied by the problems of identifying quickly and adequately responding to the problem arising. Tristan Heanue who I spoke to after the screening was not giving much away in responding to my take on it which was to that immediate effect. I might have caught him off guard as this is s very profound piece.

An interview I’ve subsequently read tells the origin of it partially.

Tristan Heanue Plays the father and is not afraid to have him show his inability to cope or communicate his feelings. He covers the ground in very perceptible darkness and vulnerability himself with much

It came from a few different places. A few friends of mine had babies in quick succession and I saw first hand the different types of strain that it had on them. It just stuck with me and I wanted to tell a story that showed what the pressures were like for both sides during this time. I guess it was me also putting myself in their position and wondering how I would cope with it. The same http://gearr.scannain.com interview told of the significance of that location. Under the Direction of Paddy Slattery it took on new meaning.

It was surprisingly very enjoyable. Mainly because I was blessed with an absolutely amazing cast & crew who worked so hard and made it all happen. I also had one of the best cinematographers in the country shooting it, Narayan Van Maele. He was a dream to work with. We spent a day down in Connemara planning all our shots and also left things loose enough that we could change stuff up on the day if we felt it needed something different. When you surround yourself with very talented people it really does make your job a lot easier.

Also in conversation his film Today could not be overlooked. Made by them in 2015 it was in the same setting of Derryinver/Letterfrack/Tullycross region of Co. Galway and featured John Connors and Lalor Roddy. It is a film I won’t forget.

5* It is an inspiring film given it is made with the thrust and knowhow of being in touch with a particular take on humanity in its writing and ease of communication through the direct medium of film. It is of a young couple at a point of crisis and thereby figuring out and responding to the messages the film opens up, partakes of and delivers in quantities seldom found in film brief or otherwise. I hope it will reach a lot of people and provide some comfort and degree of information for parents old and new in such an important time of their lives.

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Bless me Father

Director and writer Paul Martin Horan, Cast: Francis Magee, Phelim Drew, Glynis Casson.

At the end of the day the truth will out or will it? As time moves on a man is preparing for his leaving the earth’s parish and decides he needs to fess up to his past misdeeds. Some of them might do with placing low down the scale of levity but others may cause great problems in their revealing. It is confession time and box no. 1 in the local House of God is calling. As for the third character she is perhaps the face of rectitude.

For the Priest the confession he is about to hear is to affect him deeply. He is faced with a dilemma. There is no violent crime confessed nevertheless it is a life changing thing he will hear. Where does the duty lie with the person hearing the confession and is he to give absolution to Michael who is now lifted of this burden which he has carried for years.

It goes to the heart of life in a small rural Irish community and its strength lies in the deliverance it brings to the people who are lost and nor solely under the protection of their maker. They have their own to contend with without the Catholic hierarchy deciding what’s right or wrong for them.

4* A much tighter film you could hardly construct. Set in the Church of the confession box it focuses in on the Donfeesion box itself with a close camera angle fixed on both sides playing out this dialogue between parishioner and Priest. It is a delight to watch and is essential Irish while universally full of primary primordial life aspects unfolding as the years go on.

A lot of these films are available online to view and I hope you get to see a few and support the filmmakers whose time and effort is on the screen as created.

I disagreed with the Grand Jury!

For a film to be totally on score and brilliantly entertaining there is no doubt and it got the no.1 vote was The Music Room.

If I can nominate in a parallel position against the rules of having another to be up there it is as follows.

My favourite film of them all was Guard which was a local copiewpoint with many aspects and a valued insightful piece of provocative film making

Leaving the damage central to the arch the unspoken and unknown event was itself disturbing along with the craft of Bronagh Taggart whose film story this was to put across.

A Break in the Clouds and Callng Home were both excellent broad scoping films which are exceptional and well worth seeing.

John Graham

26 April 2018

Belfast

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Loyalist Statement : 09/04/18 comment

 

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On 09 April 2018 a Loyalist Statement ahead of 20yr anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland was read out in The Linenhall Library, Belfast.

Linenhall Library Belfast assembled group.

Rev. Harold Good, Jim Wilson, Retired Archbishop Alan Harper, Jackie McDonald, Rev. Norman Hamilton.

Combined Loyalist Military Command, Fernhill House Belfast, Ulster Defence Force, Ulster Volunteer Force, Red Hand Commando.

The delivery of a Statement by the CLMC grouping in conjunction with several Religious enablers on 9 April 2018 took place in the Linenhall Library Belfast.

Below extracts are extracts from the Statement removed for my comment.

The context is unaltered.

1.
‘For too long we have been berated for our past.’

There is always expectation such history need be included in discussion.

No one has a eraser for the past.

No one is impressed by apologists but in factually correct acknowledgement of their past.

The GFA already has provided a get out of jail free card.

It does not dispense with seeking the untold truth or compensate for absence of concluding information.

2.
The words – ‘in the context of republican reliance on divisive identity-politics’ – disregard the very same conditions loyalist and unionist politics chooses to identify itself by.

Having a teapot and calling it a coffe-pot. The point being the tea leaves not coffee are used in it still.
Other metaphors are available.

Democracy enables no-one to be excluded. It is proven.

3.
‘We have made this clear many times and have indeed contributed to previous work on dealing with the past.’

Yet when an informer gives evidence against his former allies he is threatened with violence.
Other opportunities in respecting the need for a truth process have been undermined by the ongoing challenges and threats made to Ed Maloney and for what is contained in the Boston Archive which is in part accessed by the PSNI.

4.
‘We further declare that any engagement in criminal acts by any individuals within our organisations will be regarded as placing those persons outside the memberships.’

This implies the criminal acts will be found through due process of the Law and post conviction.

It fails to go on to say any information concerning criminal activity will be passed on by the ‘loyalist group’ to the PSNI should they become aware of unlawful activity.

5.
‘Loyalists must have ownership and control of their own future.’

There is no removal of ownership to require this statement.

The elected representatives – council – assembly – parliament – are the carriers of the future aims of citizens.  In recent elections even endorsements of the preferred candidate has been underlined in publications, press statements by loyalist groupings so it is who they elect to represent them that responsibility is to be shared.

6.
‘Now is the time for a renewed loyalism, with a new impetus to meet the challenges ahead.’

This statement again is not cognoscent of the available currency of process and outcomes presented within ‘loyalism’ regardless of timeframes supposed or not. Nothing is altered by this set of words. The context is made to seem uplifted by this nebulous meaningless phrase.

It avoids Civil Rights, Human Rights referencing and therefore is unconnected to any direct policy or concept.

7.
‘We want to see a better future for all in Northern Ireland and where the residual effects of conflict are recognised and addressed in a reparative manner.’

It is only reasonable and just to expect nothing less and this should indeed be axiomatic given the broad church of the people in Northern Ireland.

Futures past

It has long been held a conflict resolution process is in need of a resolution path.

The UK Government undermine this and the HET has as the film ‘No stone unturned’ shows provided only partial answers to and are not complete or with intent to complete.

The actions against any actor of violence including security forces persons are not without culpability and require to face Court trial as those who were freed under the GFA were processed through Law.

The difference is the actors not yet facing trial whose cases are live and intact need face justice at the earliest opportunity.

Comparison should not be made and is not made here with the premature release of Prisoners first sanctioned by Secretary of State Mo Mowlem in Agreement with Prisoner Groups outside local process of consultation.

The release of Prisoners under the GFA was a de facto proposition made possible by the Secretary of State after her discussions on the prospect with those in prison.

The proposition was a brokerage point – unjust, unfair and failing in criminal process – under which Law is maintained presently.

To conclude the statement on a note of sectarian exclusivity with no progression to mixed communities sought or acknowledged this merely parks division interminably. It asks it to be aided by others who accept this condition of insulararity politicised and not to undermine gained peace.

Footnote.
The main item taken from this statement by most observers is the element concerning criminality.
The fact other items on truth and justice for victims and parties bereaved by acts of violence by paramilitaries and in some cases in conjunction with Security Forces remains outside this statement as unaddressed.

The remainder of the text is positional marking of the GFA twentieth anniversary and is a choreographed exercise presumably organised by the NIO and British Government with ROI input to ensure the optics of Loyalism has a functional presence at the date of the Anniversary.

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It is also noted most local newspapers have been advised and given notice of the ‘theatre’ of Political underpinning in order to converge on a unity of purpose – that of analysis fed by prompt avoiding ‘fake news’ diversity.

The orchestration included the ‘adoration’ of the City of Belfast by conferring the Freedom of Belfast on two American participants and enablers of the GFA.

The currency of the GFA is hugely undermined by the timeline underpinning the main lack of progress in eradicating sectarianism and failure to meet levels of social equality.

The excluded are further undermined by Political stalemate and economic (Euro/Sterling) argument predicated in withdrawal from the EU.

A footnote exhibition opened one week before the GFA anniversary at the Ulster Museum on a redesign of ‘The Troubles’ curation. Within it are numerous very poor exhibits and very badly written text which give a wrong historical narrative to coincide with the false political optics presented by the statement and events surrounding it.

It is an indictment of generations of naysayers and lying to the public remains the States priority.

Press

The words of Suzanne Breen in the Belfast Telegraph on the day the great and the good came to remember the Good Friday Agreement of twenty years previously to the day, put this work in context.

“It appeared yesterday that loyalist leaders were just trying to join the Good Friday Agreement anniversary circus. The public want real change on the ground. Not much chance of that.”

Like all of us we will believe it when we see it.

There is a pressing need for both loyalists and unionists to see beyond their own horizons and to connect with others to build external networks and courses of action. A more open and confident sense of Britishness would help facilitate this evolution.’  Graham Spencer/Rev. Chris Hudson.  Belfast Telegraph 10.04.18

During ‘The Troubles’ is was Britishness, confident and open that drove the sectarianism led defence of community of their identity into violence.  The invasion and burning out of Catholic families were loyalist protection of their community.  Later ‘Spokespersons’ came to the fore in Loyalism justifying tit for tat murders and the Glenanne gang were aided by security forces. Army bases were used for training under the umbrella of TA and UDR tags. Membership was based around an assured identity under threat.  Those such as David Ervine, later to renounce his violent past; he took the road of violence following the Bloody Friday Bombings, were cheer leaders for hatred and ensured recruitment and loyalist districts became terrorised just as they are now by opportunists and criminals in the name of their cause. Alongside was intimidation and internecine warfare where a loyalist would shot and kill a disobedient loyalist.  Others who disagreed in a provocative way by speaking out were executed.

The words ring hollow as they did back then when Ministers and Priests saved lives by giving shelter and guidance to those who chose not to become involved in violence and by acting as mediators but those actions were few and far between though it would have been a whole lot worse had they not. Families were split and divided on fundamentalist lines. Like Religion differences the Clergy made their trademark distinction exactly that. A distinction without conformed unity. The Rev. Roy Davey, a man ahead of his time set up before the conflict called ‘The Troubles’ began the Corrymela foundation for peaceful reconciliation and love among races.

Prominent compacts have come and gone. The Women’s Coalition is no longer around. The Civil Rights Movement no longer exists. The Nationalist Party, Northern Ireland Labour Party all have left the stage of Socialist politics and silo politics rules the province and without a representative  Government.

This is the context in which the statement and the past theatre of resolution politics is to be seen.

 

John Graham

13 April 2018

Belfast

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