Theatre of Witness : Two Productions

imageWitnessing is the prevailing essence of the works produced by The Playhouse Derry.

The Original Stories are formed on interviews with the people who tell their own stories through this device of putting to a wider audience the meanings, perceptions, understanding, devotions and beliefs they have journeyed with while others misunderstood, misrepresented them and used them for their gain. Without this knowledge we are nowhere. We are in limbo unable to understand or turn to listen to their voices.
From out of events they come into most peoples lives and leave again unattended. They gather momentum however and gather listening each time so determined is their will that they do this not for themselves but for others and ultimately us.

One near the end puts across without any possible cause for denial that we, they must resolve these issues so those following do not have to.
This is the ancient denial which has caused continual hatred, continual lack of contrition or repentance. The denial in answering to Gods laws.
God can only forgive if the sin is shown as sin and the offence is clear in the perpetrators mind that they owe the harmed answers for their pain.

A burden is not shared by sharing it in secret. It must be borne witness to, it must be a Mea Culpa. A veneration of the absolute. The acceptance of repentance. The realisation that to ease pain honour must be given to those who felt and feel that pain.

Both of these new productions are resulting from the interviews carried out by two writers and their assistants who take their source to be the actual and the real. They are mentored in this by the experienced originator of the method of the Theatre of Witness form, Teya Sepinuk The co-ordinator for both and the Playhouse Derry is Emma Stuart.

First is

Unspoken Love by Thomas Spiers
Stories of mixed marriage in Northern Ireland, exploring issues of sectarianism, family legacy, trauma and love, performed by two mixed marriage couples.

Most people know of a mixed marriage either in their own family or in their community. It is still carried forward by the sectarianism that is rife within the Church, churches which refuse to believe their is only one God and worship therefore should not divide into industrial sized businesses with a set of company policies. It is often the case that unbaptised couples cannot be married in a Church they would otherwise worship in, or that their race prevents them from having their marriage union witnessed within their community of friends. Co-religionists , secular, atheist and others attend Church weddings and in France the Church is not required to participate in marriage functions, it being the nation which performs witness ceremonies.

In America ‘To kill a mockingbird’ more than pointing to a base and prejudicial trial of a black man defended by a white man, was in fact a display of America’s inability to accept cross racial sexual relations and foremost therefore in denying the possibility of marriage between races. The segregation in the film played on the interracial sexual tension at a poor class based level. It ignored the equality implicit with marriage which probably came out of the mores of white racists from Britain, Ireland, Germany, other European settlers whose fear then became the mainstay of the widespread sectarianism practiced by the Evangelist today, without acknowledgement of Gods own word.

The prejudice in Unspoken Love is told by the performers of their own communities turning against them “letting the side down” sending a couple hate letters. The Catholics sending Mass cards and sympathy cards showing the degree of their own embitterment and hatred they had been taught to exercise by their piers and in their families. It came following a time when each religion would look out for one another, live on the same street, would get medicine or shopping. Then the persons for whom life divisions paid handsomely, the leaders of industry, enclaves of voters, Republicans and Unionists whose identify amounted to a coloured piece of cloth for which many of their predecessors had died and who are not here to speak of the valueless death that became them.
Unspoken Love
There are Jo and Roly McIntyre who are alone together. Roly tells of his adopted upbringing by his Grandma who replaces his mother and speaks of his absence of a father. He talks of this isolation before marriage and the hurt it caused. Finding himself the subject of the attention of Jo one night he is bound up in love from the very start as the each find a soulmate as well as a partner for life. Jo has from the age of 14 been without a mother. It had taken her a long time to consider her own life and her father she gets along with though he too suffers eventually grave il health. This broadens the resolve of each of them as it does the tenderness felt, along with the sorrow woven in the instrument of the play. The stories themselves are cross community pictures showing the idiocy of even remarking on this amidst the immensity of the all important love found.
The most important legacy is the listening. Listening to each other and hearing through gesture and their bodies reflections of each other the unspoken fears and worries contending with them everyday. There are too many single lines and revelatory passages to become a reporter of the words, the performers create the feelings within the words and project them as you are unlikely to see in conventional theatre.

Witnessing is the embracing human condition we find ourselves joining in with those willing to tell us of their lives and the passage of feelings from stage to audience and back again is vivid yet soft and unseen, as the waves of emotion drift in and out celebrating these people hoping parallel and not so parallel influences will keep the path narrow and straight for all of us who take heed.

There is Sharon and Stephen
It is an altogether different story. It has however been marked by the same vile old prejudices which some pass off in the name of religion.
While there is faith however their is hope and also knowledge these people are not right, that God shows us a better and wiser way.
If you are born into a certain background which the parents have chosen to bring up their family, it creates sometimes immediate differences that set you out from your friends. If the son of a policeman, even one retired through injury, it still allows others to make ridiculous assumptions, to conjure up an outlet for their embitterment and prejudices.
That is what appears to have happened in the early part of Stephens life but he is the victim of an immense tragedy when he is reaching adulthood, at 18. The intensity of feelings are drawn out by Stephen as he relates this passage of his life, his real life again here remembered and shared as a symbol of human cost. He shared meeting Sharon much the same way Jo and Roly met, more or less in an instant deciding a future together was what each wished for most.
The same outpourings of hate came, the same narrowing of friends and some very unexpected calls, again “you are letting the side down” from people you would least expect it from which Sharon speaks of.
In the telling of these stories is everything, as the memory is untroubled by doubt, it is recollection taked out of the body as the body has kept it.
No room for hypocrisy as it would have no place in the mind after this.
It is a priceline to be a witness for them and to listen to their testimony.
Many passages are difficult to take in as they are portrayed matter of factly and cause us to be even more deeply. It meets you in reflection and strikes a chord within, remaining there.

The masters of plays, let’s leave out William Shakespeare as he himself stopped writing plays lest his hidden catholic upbringing and own faith challenged the authority he often rallied against. In the subject of religion he would begin in his plays forcefully, whenever – and it seldom surfaced – and took it along becoming more secular, less concerned with the fixity religion pronounced. He preceded the enlightenment and the reversal of fortune of the Churches setting themselves up with self glory. This anti-dote was not able to be extrapolated by Shakespeare.

Instead if you look at the work of Ibsen and in Ghosts particularly he realises we are creatures of the habits of others. While in Northern Ireland these are violent aspects, less Scandinavian they are nevertheless unresolved generation to generation.
” I am have inclined to think we are all Ghosts…not only what we have inherited from our fathers and mothers that exists in us, but all sorts of old dead ideas and all kinds of dead beliefs and things of that kind. …..and we rare so miserably afraid of the light.”
Ibsen is concerned also besides this fact of our currency with the power of ideas. If only he lived in times were there were more attentive reasons to occupy the mind than social morals and he is considered by those of his time, (though not now I would suggest; his thoughts and plays are more relevant today,) to be formulaic and with fixed rigid principles. Instead he bears fruit when it comes to the merits of heroic works and idealistic faith driven rebellion. Silence is never an option nor ignorance. The facts have to be faced and unearthing them should not disturb the universe or universal truth which is the mantra used and in shame. Hedda is neurotic in her play and morbid and when she destroys things, a vase of flowers, a manuscript she is in one possible reading, referring to her past and the power of the dead over her. Both examples of the past concerning us.
I hope she is destroying the fabric of meaningless experiences and bourgeois life’s she finds herself in. Otherwise her madness would be even harder to explain.

Second is

image

Our Lives Without You.
Rita Bonner, Sister of John Laverty, Eileen Corr, Daughter of Joseph Corr, Aisling Devlin, Greatneice of Alice Teggart, Pat Quinn, Brother of Frank Quinn, Alice Teggart, Daughter of Danny Teggart and Briege Voyle, Daughter of Joan Connoly.
Everyone who has watched this performance will have it engraved on their hearts, this set of lives interwoven and part of our relation to the community in which they tell of is as much our past as theirs. Part of that community is the perpetrator, the soldiers who took the lives of the ordinary people of Ballymurphy injuring many others over three days in August 1971.
There has been no holding to account for the deaths and injuries nor has there been any proper response by several Governments since that time.
The Newspapers that described the dead as armed terrorists and members of the IRA still sell newspapers to this day. They tell an untruth still, they provide a lie to justice every time they report on the Governmnt withholding the enquiry into their own acts of violence perpetrated by an Army whose job it was to protect not destroy. The psychopaths carried out random and unwarranted killings.
The terrorist is the gunman and the bomber. The terror is within their own head. The fear is the terror they have accumulated and severe reality in the thick of an unconscionable cause. The taking of live their act of terror in on themselves from which they never can escape. that they should reach a place where they have become so fearful they are themselves terrified, is a place in which Northern Ireland has occupied and continues to occupy, through the denial which goes on and on and on. The misguided and irrational belief in Amnesty is without Gods Law. There can be no peace until the truth is revealed and is explained. There is no entitlement to Amnesty of any kind and the truth has its place in the present.

Each of these testaments and voices need to clear the names of the ones that left them. They need our continued support.
For the audience memories have come back with each story most probably, of ones lost to them, the ones they will never see again.
Talk is of coffins and memories and this sweeps around the whole theatre as being so much a part of everyone
The 6 people who told a part of the larger story spoke of losses from some 40 plus years ago and campaigning this last 20 years. Of how each day is so painful as they endure the lack of faith and will for the truth to be told. They encounter daily denial by people who are contaminated once they utter the denial. People like Tony Blair, Police Chiefs, Hermon, Flanaghan, Orde, Baggott and all the Northern Ireland Secretaries of State they answered to with the latest Theresa Villiers clearly denying for her Governments sake and her own place in Government, their culpability in hiding these atrocious acts of the past and of enquiry leading to convictions.

This is what the performers live with. This gruesome sullied, tarnished, vile hypocrisy of successive Governments and state instruments which continue with denial and afford no justice in this time. They have as much responsibility as those who first called all victims terrorists and criminal in 1971. They have not stopped the lies and have no concept of Gods will or the universal laws we must abide with. This despite their false proclamation by some of being followers of Jesus and of the values they were given to cherish.

Each of the stories needs to be heard in itself from the witnesses to truth and as we are recipients of each persons testimony it becomes no place for denial. The investigations are capable of being concluded and generations be freed from carrying this burden of pain given to them by perpetrators of crime and their inner terror.

When Our Lives Without You comes to a close and the lifts rise again the whole audience rose to their feet and stood acclaiming the faith and strength of these six people in sharing their story with us over an hour and applauded them loudly and re soundly behind their fight for proper justice which is and will be only a small step towards finding humanity were it has been before abandoned.

Directed by Alessia Cartoni

The election campaign of recent days has hade many galling statements made by former perpetrators of violence and there have been others who said very stupid things.
The Department of Justice Minister came out with the idiotic claim ” This campaign has been full of Dirty Tricks.”
I would ask him are dirty tricks classified and where then does the despicable impropriety carried out by him and his assembly, to Proper Justice, of allowing Governments to hide the truth, prevent fulfillment of investigations on the Ballymurphy killings to take place be accounted for in this state. The Dirty tricks are those he has oversight on and for which the Assembly can and should force judgement on.

The 9th, 10th and 11th f August 1971 will be remembered and will never be forgotten as an act of the voilest kind by a Governments Army acting against its people.
It will never be forgotten that each successive Government put forward denials and refusal to fully investigate this.
That is until the truth is taken into account and the sustaining memory can be obtained that justice was sought and found to put this lesson behind and for it to be a burden shared by the many not the few.

John Graham

30th May 2014

Belfast

The Playhouse Theatre of Witness production 2014.
Performed at various locations throughout Northern Ireland in May 2014

Advertisements

Jimmy’s Hall : A Film Review.

imageAt the crossroads of sllence.
The film begins with footage of America and its 1920’s.
It finishes its titles then begins as a film of some sorts with instant lamenting of two men on a trap behind a piebald pony that has seen better days.
The kaliedescope which sound brought forward is imagined by Jimmy who is one of the pair returning, sure was there never a story without someone leaving or returning along these twentieth century tales.
The two wind their way back to Jimmy’s mothers place where, it is a mystery where or if there were any others in the family, a farm once was tended.
Back in this Leitrim Jimmy is soon recalling the earlier days of the twenties when he was forced to flee after creating the hall of the title.
In it Pearse and Connelly were memorialised and it sat was ever so innocent and new to an Ireland defining its modernity by all expressive means but primarily around its lore and love of music.
Where the folklore of escapism had only little meaning in the midst of everyday hardship, these influences were possibly of a senseless trivial nature in the real live everyday patterns of survival undergone at the crossroads Ireland.

This apparently was first a play and I feel it should have stayed that way.
The cinematographer has nothing to work on, the exclamation mark expressions are sometimes ham mish while other performances are subtle. The script is not subtle and is politics for beginners, the desparate hold of state and Church is a well known fact and has been for decades, the Wall Street Crash, – LOOK LOOK SEE Loach almost exclaims Just like NOW SEE.
Isn’t is so prophetic!! Ugh?
It is as vapour rolling off a BMW sunroof in the post-tiger car park of Dublin Airport. Far much more was and is important, this shallow tale is but a tiny view on the oppression. It is insular and mediocre.
The police, the priests, their lackies are all bug eyed monsters but plainly in most cases Irishmen, including the Door smashing Northern prod cop on a mission from God, or the Tabernacle Church. Found a monster lets condem him to living somewhere else. No muscular take on how an Irishman could stoop so low against his fellow Irishman, and do they still exist, Well of course.
They want Jimmy sent somewhere less favourable than this state run for the British and landed gentry with the sanctimonious approval of the Church of Ireland (under the tutilage of the Crown supplicants) and their fellow veiled bigots The Roman hierarchy with the country, Ireland at its heart. Never mind the poor or the sacrifices made in the name of this peculiar God, the peculiar God that has them lording it over everyone, has them taking riches for the purpose of the Church, from collecting tithes, condemning people in the Lords name, visiting approbrium on them, played with apoplectic illusion by Jim Norton as Father Sheridan.
Despite all the tales from the Churches very few films, The Magdalane Laundries, Philomena actually rip into the coursing veins of Ireland’s conscience. There was of course the extraordinary Mea Maxima Culpa film by Alex Gibney, a Northern film production giving documentary homage to the current religious fortitude held for people of this earth. Since then a change has come about but things that could change immediately show no signs of actually occurring.
Jimmy’s Hall by comparison is puerile, seeking to acclaim one individual fighting against the state apparatus with a ‘penny whistle’ while the war dead of the wars fought barely get a mention. Such contradictory pale drivel is unlocked as cod politics without even showing the hatred of the others except through, ( it gets a 12years a slave erudition scene) stereotypes and cod Irishness. In the cringing scenes of ‘Jazz’ demonstrations pointed up real Irish life then A few authors down the ages must have missed the trick. At the beginning of the eighties there were around three and a half million in Ireland of which one million at least were living below the poverty line. This country was one Britain and Europe continued to ignore until the cute ones got in, Fianna Fael were not out of Government until the crash happened since independence yet the sowed the seeds of Religious wanton vileness and pure greed as mimicry. The iRish no longer being Irish but being these cod-Americans Jimmy seen back in the ’29 crash.
Barry Ward as Jimmy Gralton does his dampest, likewise Oonagh, Simone Kirby as his former sweetheart have put in splendid performances adding some emotion to the tardis that is Jimmys Hall. We’re was the war? In the dance halls of morality. Well it was in the workplace and in the new cities of young industry North and South.

Conclusion
##2
This film fits into the begorrah nonsense narrative so loved by the Ireland’s Own reader in the off shore island of Britain, to the East and favoured by those directors contemplating there own separateness, less an island but a border of class difference reminiscent of their own background. Why it was made I will never know, why no one realised the subject of this bitterness has been performed in much better plays and books and covered by so many academic studies only the absent minded will have no recollection of the things Ireland has been through and a bit more alarming than this charade of escapism.

John Graham

27 May 2014

Belfast

Art : Perhaps?

imageArt Exhibition : Perhaps
A showing between – wait for it – Bank Holiday Monday Evening 26 May until
Closing 29 May 2014, the Thursday of the same week!

Gallery Catalyst Arts 5 College Court Belfast 1 http://www.catalystarts.org.uk

23 artists in this Ground Floor Space

No curators or teachers among the attendees of this BA Hons Fine Arts Student Exhibition opening night.

Art : Perhaps is the future of art being a group exhibition relying on sculpture and lens, printing, to show approaches of inner thought expressed by BA students here in Northern Ireland.
I cannot describe or respond to all the works seen at Catalyst Arts, 5 College Court, Belfast BT1 6BS which occupies that city space near the horrible statue the Black Man, Cooke. There is a short timespan and also 23 artists.
Art escapes the present and though created prior is active in being seen now by individuals in open exhibition. It is such a shame this exhibition is so short and closes on Thursday this week making way for the curation of the steady stream of exhibitions astutely put on by this relatively small Gallery space. They have a busy schedule and are restricted by time and finance in what they can mount.

Exhibits of the Group vie for wall space and floor space and thankfully few juxtapositions, close though some are, cause difficulty, though it is difficult not only being a group exhibition where you are looking at ONE small fraction of EACH artists work at this present time. The diversity of work each individual undertakes is vividly absent from contemplation. Not only that the Arts Council instead of finding larger individual spaces, including this one, rely on marginalised underfunded Galleries for art that is challenging, progressive, provocative and speaks of originality such as art can deliver. The chief of Arts Council Northern Ireland gets around £77,000 In salary each year with the ability to suck in more funds to pay for ‘specialisms’ to reward them for their advice and direction, and a broad range of regarded experts and ‘custodians’ literature the favoured nemesis. The continuity of obscene payments go on to the risen people whose doctrine fits the range of middling literatural culture favoured but never criticised.
————————————————————————————————————–

The Exhibition
Joanne McClary has six sweetly wooden framed drawings all equal size, each with mounting board providing a nice warmth of colour. – green, turquoise, blue, etc. She has drawn six p enculturation portraits of Vladimir Putin each having ubiquitous expression of this totem of power.
They are irrefutably vainglorious, pensive, declaratory, defensive and engaged. He is at his most malignant and imminently hostile.

Like the unfortunate Prince Charles remarks, made directly and not in response to art, (see also his Holiday venue of past years on Mount Athos, where for three years he, Prince Charles, spent around a week each year and then blathered about the Byzantine wonders of the Monastery he stayed at Vatopaidi. The one from which Father Arsenios scammed the Greek and EU to blistering millions and set up their own Real Estate company!) This art exhibition piece goes further ,harder, more inexhaustibly prescient, further in gathering so many ideas of the man behind the vile acts being carried out each day and hollers the reasons to us viscerally and visually.
Vladimer Putin in these drawings has the face paint of the clown.
Whether intentional or not the agonizing psychological state of many past masters of the Clown art come to mind being closely parallel to a different violent derangement as possibly pursued by this richest of world autocrats,. He is engaged in harming the LGBT community and Joanne Mc Clary shows with a video on a screen middle and beneath the portraits footage of hate crime and pursuit and beatings of homosexuals and people whose life’s are threatened daily by protagonists of the hate agenda being put into constitutional fixity by direction from Putin himself. His hate is extraordinary in its vileness and this is given great meaning and simple yet sophisticated focus with this brilliant piece of art conception.

Declan Procter has in the space split with the normal partition device Catalyst curators deploy ingeniously when separation is absolutely essential,.
To achieve the light levels and for a space to be shaped by Declan Proctor to create screens, walls, small structures, on which to receive his own films.
They are of the environs and edges, of fire water earth and air, onto the stud division wall dark painted and the inanimate floor, grey , scarred and uneven contributing to the defining logic of the piece of the continuous alteration of imagery. Into it comes on one wall a silhouette of one of the smaller object screens which Declan has obscured, leaving the o uter edges (much in the way Mark Wallinger has used in the past) to deny prompt appreciation of what you are looking at. Asking you again to define for yourself what you are seeing or reading. Four plastic stackable seats are at each point of the compass facing to the central piece, a small in itself strange changing yet fixed screen object – I leave out a description, the intention being on for each viewer to make what they wish of this astounding work. The compass points are perhaps a desire to root this work, or instead it may be pushing you into regognising it from a fixed chosen position. Also it may be that you chose not at all to sit but move all the time or sit on the floor and reflect become immersed in the many directions spiraling out of this well conceived work.  There are details which are worth also following.  The ‘chapters’ of film each are stories.

Aimee Hutchinson uses much smaller drawings and has gathered, obviously a small element of her subjective based work to exhibit, which is both socially appraising and shockingly surreal in looking at supposed real forms desiring other things. She documents marginalality and suggests hidden meanings, much of what are similarly banal, overtly strange and particularly weird, disconcerting. There are obviously other shades to this artists work and I would assume none of it is shaded grey. Though… well I leave you to investigate. The imagery is of people discovered on other media, sometimes fairly mainstream.

Dryan Wilson might get a mention just for his name, but more importantly the sculptural work in this exhibition requires and crystal out for more s pace, indeed Dryan has maxed the space given to him in organically swallowing the column he wraps a twisting spiral of same size wood units in a weave. It is as an invasive creeper, the tree becoming the inversion of the winding form and it reaches the full height of the room. Scale is important and the tree is surrounded by other pieces, less, same, more demanding in the confines of this Gallery as others. It is what it is, where it is.  There are of course other works of this kind, but what the viewer is unable to do is see this in the context of other work, its relation and development as opposed to being similar too.. Which is the refugee of art crituque everywhere.  Its derivation.  Sucks reading this academic diatribe normally and I  hope to avoid it.

image

Brendan McKinley who I spoke with at length has also one piece which is shown in one of the photographs here. This work is cleverly between the main and second space keeping its detachment, ( desired-and- focusing) is of three varied radial tree segment rings made up of individually narrow cuts of a few inches each bonded to the next, invisibly and meandering around like a wave until they meet up with the piece that began the journey. Three sets of journeys take place each of different ‘rough’ diameter and sit related as family in a corner.Brendan McKinley has many many pieces , each as stimulating in various relations and including symmetry with the other more random organic pieces.

A key part of this radical work using wood and its inherent meaning is a relation to sound, sound waves and patterns.
There is so much more, unseen most probably work which speaks into other artists work and relates to many everyday and human concerns and this small example is very clearly evidently prime art and not a simple primer.

There were other very fine pieces going here undocumented among the 23 in all artist contributors.

John Graham

27 May 2014

Belfast

A Touch of Sin : A Film Review

image

Director Jia Zhangke-Ke. (China)  2hrs 10 mins.  Cert. 15.

Chinese Chapters

Unprecedented Access
It starts off with Village corruption and takes in Corporate destruction.
This is an unprecedented film giving insight and exposure to a view of contemporary China in a Le Haines type social immersive narrative.
Through small incidents, for the most part true, it conveys a vast continent of great beauty, varied landscapes and a pioneering drive that is seemingly relentless.
There has been a protected idealism in revolutionary China which concealed very harsh conditions resulting in a slow industrial revolution.
Nevertheless China was first to come up with iron steamships and has many other world changing contributions to our modernity. It does not differ a great deal in national terms, being a combination of provinces and integral uniquely individual development patterns. Think ex. Germany, Ex. Soviet Union and the identity trials are deadly similar.

This film is a present portrait of four stories of four people each living separate lives. Seldom do they overlap and only as a loose interplay never likely to have occurred is used as continuity.
1st Act
Jiang Wu as Dahia
The first and most violent part is the unsettling governance and treatment of the villagers in a Mining operation which has been wrested from them by corruption. A one man crusade against the new owner and his backhander conspirators outrage the lone coal miner who now lives in a false environment, with immigrant labour and a disintegrating village which is turning into a Wild West frontier town. This is a compelling first act with the acting and realism shockingly face on. The miner is played with increasing compassion and unleashed rage by Jiang Wu, broad of back and morals which themselves are quickly unravelling, so we are seeing him in effect ditch his protocols and enter into the heinous world of destroying things.
An irreligious uncoupling like a broken down train carriage in a siding, he casts off this shell and enters another modern and not so modern world fast tracking his own form of justice.
2nd Act
Wang Baoqiang as Zhao San
Second up is another worker who travels by motorbike and has a preference of being a highway robber and city thief. He is driven by a thrill seeking narrative. It allows him to leave his family and mail back earnings.
He eventually returns to see the extended family at New Year when migrants are on the move all across China and in buses, in cavernous rail stations.
He has a natty tatty desperado dress sense with huge leather knee pads akin to equine saddle kit and other bravado flourishes.
Youth, senility, hard worn faces, fleeting lives cross each other’s paths In the astonishing transit places as the director shares this sensation of movement in through the many provinces..
The action is China’s restless and indulgence in the forbidden fruit of meaningless symbols of assumed sophistication and Nuevo riches.
The outlaw of this second installment returning to his hometown rejects their hanging onto the rudiments of agrarian life and their still intact community. He possibly resents their hard, comfortable, honesty and ancient ways, as he witnesses the China of many provinces, link arms in a culturally divisive plan, also watching as it fails to reinvent itself having lost its way with the grave digger, capitalism. He takes flight again leaving his son with a memory of a mysterious father.
3rd Act
Zhao Tao (Wife of Director) as Xiao Yu
In the third act we come across a couple who have an affair which is across one marriage and a young woman whose city life is working in a sauna and whose lover is reluctant to cast of his other life. When they split, putting off once more, a new life, he in a carriage, her alone on the departure platform, from a state of the art railway station with the future pointing down the endless platform into an out of focus future.
A breathtaking shot which is a kind of stop and observe the undercurrent of the worlds progress. It echoes the over confidence found in recent years when several high speed trains went off their concrete freeways killing many. In returning to her work she is accosted by a sauna client while on a break, the recurring pestering drives her to a radical solution and gIves the film one of its stand out visual statements and  she is on the move again. Her womanhood is violated mentally and physically in this prostituted existence.
Direction : Credible Case for China
Director  Jia Zhang-Ke is quick to visualize the baseless and disintegration of identity as China carries on with as yet unrealised outcomes. While the West has had its comeuppance and is trying to address war and greed, China is in a limbo type state as demand for goods and production slows, and as Western scavengers exploit the ready made labour force and mineral wealth in businesses as diverse as solar wind energy, to pharma exploitation. Jia Zhang-Ke is doing China a huge favour in much the same way cultural ambassadors Lang Lang and Wei Wei give global credibility to the underlying, ever present ancient sensibility and innate confidence which all struggle to build upon. He depicts the human cost and the visceral amnesia or wrong diagnosis of the Chinese condition. It also may be exporting its youth as many
It is as comparable as all human condition enveloped in its own backstory.
4th Act
Li Meng as ???? and Luo Lanshan as Xiao Hui
When we are now thoroughly immersed in the pace and revelatory passage of this wonderous vision of misunderstood place, it brings forth a youth perspective. We meet up with a young journeyman factory worker who finds routine and repetition jaw droppingly gruesome. He inadvertently causes harm and, given what seems a reasonable punishment with bearable consequences, he takes off on his own to another city and enlists help which comes in the form of a ‘waiter’ ‘youthful Conceirge ‘ and rapidly becomes entranced with his beautiful co-worker who comes from the same town. Hunan. This youthful ‘lotus flower’ Li Meng has a handle on social media ‘fish wanting water’. Both these young actors are dangerously stoic and accepting of their circumstances and they rely partially on each other’s company to extract the real human out of each of them instead of the false acted part of this well heeled corporate aimed sex hotel. Li Meng very capably shows the contrasting realities and the newcomer Luo plays his role with conviction. Fish needing water is unnervingly accepting of her fate and like a restaurant fish tank, her companion girls swim up and down their sink pool.
When he returns to DongGuan the industrial city where Foxxcon is located he sees nothing changed. When Li and Lou had off time she took him to a Buddist Monastery to which she took her soul for nourishment. It is her greater self standing for her and as her, the spirit is present and the only religious consideration on this film’s which in itself spoke volumes.
There is as Dostoevsky sense of vast spaces in China as in Russia where Churches/Temples reach upward above the skyline, seen distant as a village signifiers, yet empty places on arrival in the main. The spiritual life invisible and untended.

Conclusion
####4
The China Element
It, the extra element, is the landscape, culture and cultivation. Amongst the construction which provides a continuity of focus depicting the ongoing China rush, much of it incomplete, in progress. The cinematic metaphor for the forces of change is a convincing motif of Jia Zhang-Ke learned talent, using it in tunnels, roads carved through beautiful stone, pristine stations city edges unmade, (like Joni Mitchell Hissing of Summer Lawns, stylized album cover, confrontation of nature and cityscapes coming to mind) – one LA based reviewer took the USA disparaging tack, – conspicuously lame and off beam, considering (perhaps because of desired detachment) with his apparent Chinese origins, – that this was a drama without psychological or social truism. It is a bit rich coming from the gross nature of Hollywood or the US and his conclusion that it was a mish mash is a case of art denial. Probably never made a Film in his life and under appreciates the vexatious problematic individual and national generaliseations necessary for this media.
It is a memorable important part of the developing Chinese cultural landscape and though heavy on the depression and violence conveys much.

John Graham

22 May 2014

Belfast

QFT Friday 16 May until 22 May 2014 and other good cinemas.
Sorry for late review – didn’t spot this one coming.

Fading Gigilo : A Film Review

imageFor Oldest Profession comes a twist

Towers of Babel
This film caught me unexpectedly with its tenderness, it’s squaring of the circle of love and its complex companion sex. This is definitely a screwball comedy which flexes its comedy with a bit or two of heavy Jewish slapstick irony in a full sunny delight New York, Brooklyn in particular, robust life goes on in the background.
The luster has left Woody Allen sometime ago for me and a rub of fortune from screenwriter, actor and director John Turturro brings a little shine back to the master comic persona that is Woody Allen.
I was past caring what he did and this films portrayal of a pimp by Woody Allen has his usual comedy dodge ball routine, wisecrack commentary sweeping down the cinema aisles and seats more than ever before, or since fellow Jew and what most Jewish comedians base their act on, Moses, laying down the Ten Commandments.
Moses wasn’t actually a comedian you will know, but most of you will have realised that sinfulness is never a difficulty with humans and the Hebrews (also human) nor has it been since they got told not to do certain things and to embrace others.
Pimp
In ‘The Ask‘ by Sam Lipsyte the first line of the book goes –
“America, said Horace, the office temp, was a rundown and demented pimp.” The begotten, begorra, shift in the first world run by a bunch of pimps is its schmaltzy odyssey.
When the Hebrews idolatry of the golden calf that immediately preceded it (the TC) is forbidden, it may figure as a turning point from getting what you want. Rescued and given the promised land. You could say the Jewish race never recovered. Having seen the riches the people act all human and acquire things surreptitiously and veraciously. Greed had left the traps.
Come to think of it this film adopts a little more Jewish philosophy, “The consumer is always right.” Give them what they want.

The Jewish slant is merely a reviewers presumed anchor to pitch context, it perhaps is what might be seen as an anti-semetic view. If it were true I would be astonished, as it would offer a way back to God for those Jews who transgress never mind all others. We do not separate so.

The fact is we all transgress and forgiveness though never plain is the way in which those failings are to be accepted.
Firstly you have to be aware of the sin.
Spin Miester
The pimp is the spin doctor, the one who indulges in the fantasy of needy patrons as their go between. Like e-bay or Tinder app. it acts as the safe commodisiser. Love is never having to put your hand on your wallet/purse!
Love is for ever, but insoluble it can never be explained. the many guises of sex, as a commodity and pleasure, power, weakness, fantasy, acts of illicit encounter all appearances and surface embodiment are all contained in a strangers desires. In this synopsis there are strong women whose need for sex is unrealised and their repressed craving is able to be satiated by a little exploration and exploitation by the septigenarian, immoral and poor bookseller Murray played by Woody Allen
Along for the ride
The married dermatologist Dr Parker, the immaculate screen beauty, Sharon Stone, encourages Woody Allen, the initiate go between, to find her an escape from her repression, to add some lift to the boredom of domestic and married life and for her unchallenged intellect to play within her, those fantasies she courts as a woman not prepared to accept those limits set in her present life.
Sharon Stone inhabits the part like a new skin, hormones awake under perfect alter ego. She has all the skills and slinkiness that forces you to go along with this madcap set of circumstances. John Turturro has the other card to play to convince us he is Mr Right there and then. It makes it into Dr Parker’s flat and unfolds like a first teenage date and with a few scotches to stop it hitting the rocks.
She does what we wish her to do, to explore the levels of unconscious feelings she keeps hidden, to explore and set aside shamefulness as it’s meaningless guard only suppresses natural instincts. She blasts out a reference to hubby in flagrante. It is not even, once a routine is started, anyway shameful, more recreational and good for body and mind. Fiorvvante has a lot on his mind and he calls upon his own memory for quotations, Italian, Jewish and everyday Americano to make his own adjustments. He begins to struggle in coming to terms with his new role. He needs little encouragement as he can figure things out while he ‘works’.

Intesity gathers pace

Fiorvante has no family and is himself a reluctant loner and begins to see what the clients see and it immerses him a little deeply when a local Jewish widow, with a family of six, ventures or is encouraged by the now therapist pimp into conquering her aloneness.

This is the character Abigail and she is an ordinary domestic, played by the extraordinary Vanessa Paradis whose perilous looks could create heartache wherever she flashes her eyes and looks away. She is vulnerable and fearful.
Fear is overcome by Murray when a cheque or brown envelope might appear. In fact Murray just loves the money and has expansion on his mind and the pair get into a routine which has little cover.
Fear is overcome by Dr Parker when her Lothario is hand picked and she quizzes Murray about the ‘Gigilo’. Murray lies through his teeth on his employees track record and paints a corny identity for his charge. Fiorvante is somewhat already a go between himself, being a florist, his occupation acting as a symbolic response refuge for pleasure, pain, forgiveness and exhalation with outwardly visible extravagance. Fioravante, John Turturro, is that pupil Gigolo whose fortune happens to be to accept the many gifts, not all redeemable that his client Dr Parker has to offer. In return he has to keep his manipulated lustings and concepts of sexual pleasure in check, not that Dr M has much problem expressing her needs, so with his notions of sex converted to something else in these illicit waters, Grafenberg equations ticking over in his head like root tables, Fiorvante is quickly into not saying a great deal unless it is positive, gracious or gratifying.
His needs are expanded and at once are modified, with clouds gathering in this new heady otherworld he becomes unsettled.
The last person you would think he should confide in is a pecuniary, kvetching, neurotic, supercilious, demanding Jew called Murray.
The stakes raise when Sharon Stone suggests a favour for her friend Selina, another unlikely unrequited, unsatisfied sexual soul.
She is enlisted as a client and offers up the axiom “Men don’t understand what goes on inside a woman’s head.” His reply is “I wouldn’t be here if I did ” instantly gets her response, “Good reply, I like a man who’s funny”
The voluptuous part, (the film gets absurdly populated with many attractive women and some tend to be a bit type cast,) is filled by the film star looks of Sofia Vergara. Fiorvantes reply had many interpretations but she was only going with the one that got her satisfied, which was the right answer. Smart girl.

The favour Selina angles for, once into the swing of things, is a threesome with Woody – Fiorvante the shrinking violet. Tough call.

Shady Sharon is full of her off and on screen charm as you can see she delights in playing another vampish strong woman getting her kicks as she pleases and playing her chips riskly and less villanesque than her Casino performance which won her a Golden Globe.
She is immensely charming, energisers the part with her natural ability which rolls the story on without becoming over trodden by the Woody part, Murray, which has you defraying real life, film life, in this role which he manages skillfully and to which his comedic talent is eminently and jewishly suited. His intensity in markedly oratorical and exclaimatic. The tongue never resting as another contradictory notion has assembled at the foot of his mental stairs and demands it climbs from his dark bunker wherein lives his imprisoned Issac. He fumbles some words on purpose showing some latter day contriteness. His Soul.
Everything he utters seems a reflection of the past. The cries of Issac no longer silent becoming the métier of hatred, sullied, trades veracity for a quick return. He is a wreck of a person ungarnered and employs his lack of morality as though it is mere comedy.
The Pop up Shop
To set up this business requires a plan and scale of rates if things get complicated. Are there union dues, federal taxes, licensing, marketing, consumables, rental costs? I think he has not thought this through.
Is he treading on anyone’s patch. This could be a real money spinner.
But what about the healthcare plan? Should his Gigilo join a gym, this is going to be calorie burning in all directions? How does he distinguish this from the local Cathouse where men pay to rape women? Does he need agency staff and what is their rate a pop? How many cellphones does one need? Arms, could he join the NRA, what about tooling up in case of a raid or unexpected violence from one of the clients, upset at the (unintended) slur if performance is not its finest? Tricky business the trick business.
Now has it an upside?
Neighbourhood Watch
There is a sheriff of the Jewish neighbourhood whose job; the notion of Job’s comforter comes to mind as the incumbent is in danger of depressing everyone if he gets wind of this new business in the district. He provides more Jewish idioms and introduces the quixotic customs and quasi realism of Jewish live in Brooklyn. It even has a Mafia style sit down when it comes to confession time. A funny routine and sends you right back to Mount Sinai and those sins again. There is also a Jewish lawyer involved and the fee gets discussed on the walk down.

This film has many soulful moments. It makes a lot of terminally silly jokes about culture and the bedraggled misplaced nature of modernity.
It has vast open plan apartments where, if you feel like climbing the walls then go right ahead, there is a replica rock face in the cavernous space. Sharon’s. Self pictorial wall hangings and little actual sense of place or belonging.

There is a walk in Central Park in which a steep set of steps has light cascading down to the would be lovers and the greenery is a little temporary heaven. There is the muddle of Woody’s domestic arrangements in which he is the live in guru it seems to a flock of over active Afro Caribbean kids, as opposed to the chosen ones as part of Abigail’s brood.

Conclusion
###3
Not all life is there and try as it might to be a slapstick on cultural mores and difference it ultimately gets properly placed as a contemporary take on relationships and separated unrequited love with plenty of contrasts and dilemmas at most steps on the way.
How does it resolve itself? Well in true New York style whatever happens life goes on and it constantly will surprise which is no surprise.
John and Vanessa, (Abigail,) exchange lots of quotations, as do some others, the exhaustible Murray of course, the Sharon and Sofia foil is a class act and all coffee shops are not replicas of Starbucks. It is a compassionate piece and it would be interesting to see if its comedic values are strong in the New York sense, or is this routine baloney which faces differing cultures all the time.
As you can see I have made a lot of inferences around what is just a movie and I hope it does not offend. The movie does not offend and as opinion, entertainment it is part of diversity.
As the last review said Films have many faces.
—————————————————————–

A little more from The Ask by Sam Lipsyte.   It has Brooklyn origins.
Extract from Chapter Fourteen. Buy and read!
This particular movie took place in Hollywood’s New York, a wonderland of pensive latte-sipping and meaningful strolls through Central Park. The city looked crisp, exquisite. The citizens lived like simple millionaires. Our principals were a lonely man and a lonely woman, each with a buffoonish, homely sidekick who would have been thought attractive in real life, and a fascinating, but finally unfulfilling – because there was nobody to “share it all with” – career. They sought each other, missed each other, at cocktail parties, in train terminals, at flower shops, their fin de siècle Nokias gaining symbolic power with each scene. Sucked into the vortex of high formula, a slow sob rose in my body. Just like porn or bang-bang, this was pure stuff, concocted for the baser circuits, the lizard board.
from The Ask by Sam Lipsyte.

Review/Opinion

John Graham

21 May 2014

Belfast

The Two Faces of January : A Film Review

imageThree people. Many faces.

The Two Faces of January.
Dir. Hossein Almani. 12a. 1hr 36mins.

Writers of a certain kind.
Missing from the large print in the Film release poster is the name Patricia Highsmith, the writer of the 1964 novel The Two faces of January which maybe points to insecurity on the publicist’s part knowing the novelist has a certain fixed clientele.
On Patricia Highsmiths part she followed in a tradition of modern female thriller writers, Daphne de Maurier, Agatha Christie and more recently P.D. James, Patricia Cornwell and Ruth Rendel all who liked a good cliffhanger and their readers liked being captured by intrigue. Patricia Highsmith also wrote The Talented Mr Ripleya.

Thriller writers sometimes favoured the heady salty air of exotic locations and following on from the renowned 1963 marriage of the Greek shipping magnate Aristotile Onnassis to Jackie Kennedy and the yacht and gold encrusted lifestyle that lay before the public Patricia Highsmith took up our curiosity of the people you might expect to be holidaying in Athens and the Greek islands, of their pursuits and reasons for being there. Made a change from the Philip Marlowe genre of crime fiction and thrillers with numerous nasty twists and turns.
In her novel the central pair meet up with a fellow American who, like them has his own reasons to be away from his homeland. Very little of it is to do with the wonders Greece has to offer. It is there merely a tool in their own complex refuge from whatever burden is in play that they are unable to face or deal with.

Ancient Mediterranean
The lengthy attraction of the Mediterranean climate was and is one of the wonders of the world. From Athens itself to the groups of islands, like Ios where Homer is buried with its Irish Over Seas manacle and it’s 365 plus churches crammed onto a small piece of paradise with clear blue waters and charismatic spring carpet of violets, to the Apollonian haunts of Naxos where Dionysus the god of fertility, wine and drama, a saintly trinity! worshipped, to the volcanic Santorini, to the island of three known identities, Mythilene, Lesbos or Kastros, to the 3000bc to 1100bc Minoan ruins of Knossos on Crete, home of the Minotaur, the islands were made to explore and dine on by the yachting set as well as the ferried tourist. This was a godsend of a place and time for any novelist to turn up highly imaginative exotic and adventurous drama.

While the book has to set up the atmosphere of locations, the harbour side tavernas, the ever present antiquity, the opulence of some quarters and the pace of life, the film drenches you from the get go with the entrancing images in which the characters pop up. The laidback relaxed anonymity of the tourist locations suits it seems, the main characters, Colette the breezy Kirsten Dunst, all attractive, refreshing and as intoxicating as a mint julep only a permanently sustaining delicacy. Her husband Chester, Viggo Mortensen is onto his third marriage and this one might be for keeps, foolish not to, as his chain smoking and whiskey chasing lifestyle might in any case make it his last marriage anyway and so he hopes it will endure. They are a loved up union and clearly react to each other’s take on life on an equal footing. Adventure seems a real driver for both. There is a considerable difference in age also.

When they encounter the young tour guide Rydal, Oscar Issacs they establish a rapport almost instantly and hook up on a firm footing to share each other’s compainionship as fellow Americans. It suits both parties and the not so impressionable Chester has his guard up straight away and marks up one initial day to try out the tourist and tour guide thing. He has his reasons for getting into the tourist mindset, if only to actually become one and take whatever is on his mind off it, take stock, forge an experience for himself and Collette.

So there you have it a chance encounter has set up the intrigue of what these people are really about. Apart from being here as opposed to the lesser choice of elsewhere, it is not a bad place to wander into this dilemma. The scenery and old buildings, the luxury of Grand living are there. Chester fills ashtrays in the swankIest joints and has the beautiful wing woman Collete as his dearest and adored partner.

This aperitif, the luxurious quarters, the random choices made of itinerary are a prelude to the anticipated twists within this fortuitous situation, one that changes once the engagement of Rydal is in play. A flick of the pen and Patricia Highsmith alters things. Rydal does a routine rip off routine when it comes to trading with the locals as is nothing more than a boost to his earnings. It also is a racket most seem to engage in as far as the relatively rich tourist is concerned.

We come hopeful of well worked narrative and jeopardy and are not in the least going to be disappoInted. They did things differently when this film was set. 1964. Apart from smoking a great deal, they had no double jeopardy of late night clubs, cheap alcohol and decibels piled high. No overcrowded streets. This was old Athens and from Piraeus port the ferries docked and transported all and sundry to and from the islands.
The only thing that struck me as unreal being the efficiency of the seafaring and transport. Taxi cabs were as usual cash devouring and fares etc. ad hoc but they were clean and shiny and the city had a sense of deserved pride. Waiters, (no waitresses) were not hard to find and while the writer/director did not introduce any discourse of anxiety it was probably because the tables the companions were usually at tipped generously. Part of the Greek dining experience is that it is expected to be laid back.
There is also a Greek relaxed engagement when Ouzo and wine loosen the atmosphere. As far as lively entertainment, well it is also relaxed and normal as you would expect culturally. Today is totally different so this period piece enjoys another set of standards.

It packs a punch
In Athens the two faces of Chester become quickly apparent and it begins an hectic journey of suspense, disbelief, emotion and sequences cleverly conceived and delivered by screenwriter, director, Hossein Amini whose mix of close ups and action, dark interiors, period exactness – in an early scene, was the terrace taverna of the Grandest part of Athens so probably indecently correct in every detail, table lights instead of candles and fine unrusticated furniture. Indecently correct and opulent.

Oscar Issacs has his work cut out from the get go also and given his lust which outmanoeuvres any money advancement to be gained from his rich commisioner, he is kept sufficiently on his toes to know he should chose his footsteps carefully.
Both men do not trust each other and at a level up from normal tourist mistrust.

There is movement of location and some Greek islands feature.
The season is indeterminate but for a ‘January’ it looks a shade too unshady.
There are a few other destinations in line and this only reinforces the period atmosphere and the continuity of life, the pace pre Visa card, pre backpack and scooter, pre packaged, pre bucket shop holidays. Pre Troika and bad, really bad banking and governments juicing its public to pay for it and its cohorts corruption. This was religious, (generalising) flat capped Greece, marine and agrarian, getting on with its gift of hospitality and their loyal attachment to the ancient, almost intrinsic essence of their intriguing heritage and present lifestyle.
It is also an irreversible time never to be replicated except in books and works of drama.

The Two faces of January
If anything the drama we encounter is relativly off centre and not ground breaking or world changing. It is a tight drama which has nerves (for the more sensitive among you!) jangling befitting the writers compulsion to surprise. They knew also how to tailor, making suits tough, as Chester’s lasts a very long time and seems to have been constructed by James Bond’s apparel maker.
Heavy grade linen compressed and refined Irish super stock?!

I was going to mention there was no mention of January and just did.
This allusion seems to fit the story and the film title very loosely.
The purpose of the title, I have not read the book, could be intrinsically linked with the following if you wanted to extend credit to the authors ultimate framework which does merit much credit and should and does offer cunning facility to the story.

The Two faces of January is far removed from the pace of mainland Europe than we are used to imagining but such is the adroitness of the director, and the cinematographer in nimbly framing this past era it instantly evokes the Patricia Highsmith attentiveness to the crucial isolation found in the narrative. She gives the characters narrow choices in this Mediterranean cluster by virtue of its many faces.

There is a clear play on words in the title with the Roman diety Janus, Janus-faced having the implicit recognition of two contradictory aspects found.
Who could that possibly be?!
Being an Aquarian (January) I am quite upset at the notion and contest it vigorously but on the other hand … !
Given the Roman habit of creating Saints; a miracle took place recently in Rome when the JP2 and the other one were welcomed into the fold, St Januaris may have fallen short of the administered deity we imagine is necessary. Men make Saints and ignore God’s teaching.

Viggo Mortesen is convincing and consistently unpredictable, playing this part with a restraint and affability true to his character and displays some wry confidence belying the stacking changes that occur. A well constructed, hard won confidence ‘attribute’ of the personality acted out. His concerns are not helped by a growing worry he is being challenged in the relationship stakes by his new companion and what he might have in mind.
He might not get a mint julep but having access to whiskey helps his mind organise and wipe out temporary concerns. Things always change.

Kirsten Dunst plays a classic companion with little misjudgement in evidence save her unstated desires, which makes her slightly unreadable and occasionally her fragility surfaces and Kirsten Dunst gets to create a little more depth to the simplified characterisation she has to deal with, alongside the evolving story dominated by the intensity Viggo Mortensen gets to play out. Patricia Highsmith maybe was not interested in framing bigger and complex detail not wanting it to get in the way of a basically formulaic adventure story. Only sometimes does it conspire to give Collette more memorable and provocative feminine traits in grabbing custody of events.

Conclusion.
#### 4

This is an excellent classic thriller piece with a tight narrative. With hooks and little space to manouvre it creates a tension all the way through with fluctuating and never straight moral choices impinging. Certain fixed positions are taken for self preservation reasons mainly and the Mediterranean location heightens the contrasts of sedentary and adventure driven lives. There is little antiquity involved. When it does appear initially it is the youthful, Parthenon, then the civilisation of some almost five thousand years ago makes an appearance as a mere backdrop setting for more twists.

Hossein Almani has crafted a very attractive movie, well acted by all characters, with spot on minor roles also and Almani relied on his wise cinematic instinct to tell his version of a story with changing pace, alteration, changing evocative scenery and dramatic sequences all working at what cinema is best at delivering convincing dramatic environments. This is where also ecapism, emotional realism, historic tales and fantasy convey story.

This film should succeed in convincing you the art of cinema has many faces as it captures the sense of genus loci of Greece with a characters and human interest at the edge of rare dilemma.
The Two Faces of January is entertainIng, fairly intense, taut and offers up the Janus personality traits of characters you hopefully avoid on your travels and for that matter anytime.

QFT Friday 16 May 2014 through to 29 May 2014 (check June listing to see if any carry over into June.)

John Graham

15 May 2014

Belfast

Mary : The Biblical Context

imageMary Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

The Gnostic Gospels contain The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; some have called her the thirteenth disciple, a scripture not part of the recognised Christian bible but a biblical text which has to be used by us to inform our views and to reinforce faith. It is regarded by many, in common with the Gnostic Gospels as a text which enters into the spiritualism and is as such in people’s minds untrustworthy.
That is something each individual must make their own mind up on and diverse as we are there are assuredly vast differences and interpretations on the written word. Where we see conflict though we should strive to understand more deeply and that is the challenging thing most would find hardest when they have a preformed set of beliefs and do not trust anything which questions part of that belief. I believe in the contrary, that it will reinforce your beliefs and faith by reasoning and placing these conjectures in the open an engaging in meaningful discussion as a way of expressing the one word. The word of God. Spoken through Jesus in act, deed and
Word.

I have recently read on the concepts, for that is all they possibly can be, of the question whether Jesus, through not being a sinner, how could he imagine the human sinfulness he saw all around him ? The interrelation of the supposed paradox fascinated different writers while at the same time they appeared to miss the logic that this exceptional person being in the form of a human was sent to us by the creator to establish the word on earth and in our lives forevermore. They gave no evaluated meaning to the exceptional, to the supreme uniqueness of the story of Jesus setting it apart from all others. It is possible these considerations have of themselves some value, I understood with more clarity the exceptional Christ by contrasting this with the apparent diversity of views on sinfulness.
So The Gospel of Mary Magdalene also enters and remains with us.

In the case of the second Mary I undertake to look at in this opinion piece, I have read the excellent book The Testament of Mary.
It’s is a fully acknowledged work of fiction, an axiomatic form which is written by Colm Toibin a writer of considerable skill and himself; he has made the point in the past people of other nations are embedded in religions of one kind or another, with deep effect of them in later life when they shape themselves and look back on all heritage, not just religious, he himself had a seriously affecting Catholic upbringing which obviously informs this work and is another document of scholarly value to which we can vex and challenge our perceptions of the life of the mother of Jesus.
Muslims believe Jesus is the son of Mary. So do countless others, Christians and many if not, importantly, all faiths have this as a core belief.
The significance therefore is for us to look further into this life and make a place bigger and larger for Mary whose womanhood is also of significance and irrefutable importance both as Herself alone and as the Mother of Jesus. The place for these thoughts is within us.

I produced two poems of sorts in order to distill my thoughts.
They will not win a Pulitzer Prize but all I am after is a greater understanding and extending to others the question of their own related beliefs and dis beliefs as a means of fulfilling God’s will as brought through Jesus

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was written for us to share.

Mary Magdelane
Of the one beyond all beings.
A divinity profound of Mother – Father.
Seven flaws In our sphere.
Mary knowing oneself the prequel?
Seek, search look for the hidden.
Disciples testify of Gods laws.
Among us created heaven our habitation.
Not seen nor heard, no heart recalls.
It is prepared Our Kingdom come.
Trample like children the old rags.
Be rid of shame and guilt.
Offer certainty of Good.
Then it will be.

On whose words Mary gave were given These

Mary

What is returns
No sin is outside you
Inside God replaces sin
Look within for that being
There you will find peace
Tell then God’s laws

Let all religions be one
Underneath all known
Is the unseen vision
Uncover it through your mind
Not soul nor spirit
The answer lies between
See the unseen cover (I protect you with)
The soul Protects, conquers ignorance
Will be no more when it is done
The soul said “I am imprisoned” And
“I show you the destruction”
So other forces exist

First there is darkness, desire second,
Then, ignorance, wary of death,
flesh has power, little reason, loathing
self intoxicating pedantry
My words spoken
Turning, stillness fills me
The truth Jesus revealed
I have given to his disciples
Testifying his words
Be one with it and us
No other law exists ‘cept
The Lords
They began to teach

John Graham

May 2014

and on The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary A fiction without malice or hubric thought.

A critique in Poetry. A dialogue by Mary Mother of Jesus.

To know is to understand.

I know the past
want others to confirm my truth
foolish desires set aside
but others suffer just the same (Farna)
the Godess breaks my loneliness (Solitude)
Before, my time, tomorrow never comes
I alight, now the future speaks (all around me)
Now
The Temple summons us from nothingness
Prayer replenishes, the day and night (ahead)
By the pool of water and miracles
Beyond lamentation, Lazarus
Stills time, is renewed
Born Again into an empty life

A gathering, a wedding, (and a feast)
The risen, from his cell ( beneath the ground)
The unscrupulous, the arranger
among them came her son

Where water now is wine
Purple robes, confronting
Then home, without my son
The crowd await another fate

What is forgotten? What can be foreseen?
What time was the feast of Cana in?
It was a time after
a terrible truth arrived, new (Jesus is to be crucified)

On time a cross appointed
pointing to a sky full of stars
A multitude, a paradox
We see only some shine brightly

Why so, is this not the universe?
Are these days, our last days also?
I am in this house, this refuge
To see, to be prepared for dark then light (Witness)

Pilates speaks “Behold this man”
to a vast square filled with deceit
The palm, the power, the hand
“Behold the King” Pilate then delivered

From my core tears swelled
Fixed determination took
Bones and tendrils torn (upon the cross)
No turning, crying opened out

How long must this agony prevail?
When it comes to telling of this
words will have endless powers
Once written to bear witness

My son, My Lord
Plain spoken words remain (will be written)
The mortal words when written
speak of your immortality

A thousand things can and do distract
but being born and dying, young (thus)
The last hour powerless, I fled
Mary first, leaving others tending

Hearing his last words (for then)
the sweetness of tending, holding
May last for evermore (but as a dream)
With stealth we made our way (our own survival)

In strangeness, in dream,
I become fastened to strangeness
Statues, carvings mean nothing (the real the one thing)
They betoken death (life has been)

Until He returns, Lazarus walks the world (empty)
I smell the wood off the paper (my reading)
The book I read new like God
as God is here, is always new

Is it despair or grief or confusion?
I, Mary, saw he had many followers
Even after this, I Mary was in two places
As a Mother and with the Son of God

John Graham
May 2014.