In Order of Disappearance : A Film Review


Director Hans Petter Moland Norway 2014 1hr 57mins

Cast : Stellan Skarsgard, Pal Sverre Hagen, Bruno Ganz, Hildegun Riise, Peter Andersson, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Jakob Oftebro, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Jon Oigarden, Gard B. Eidsvold, Goran Navojec, Jack Sodahl Moland. (Norwegian, Danish, Serbian, English dialogue) Cert 15.

Think Shakespeare. Comic/Tragedy Lear, Macbeth, Titus?  and add more Gore.

In a white landscape of the plains which cover with snow and a routine develops to clear the open roads for conveys of cars to tail the snow sweeper we add some more white dust in the form of Cocaine and the whole film lights up in technicolor jaundiced portrayal of dark violent people.

Nils Desparandum

The central character leaning over the steering shell of his elevated cabin, this immigrant, Swede? , paradoxically turns into a violent man as is the context of most of the genre of revenge crime thrillers. Here Nils, Stellan Skarsgard, characters second name the unfortunate Dickman.
His family was his wife and son, Ingvar is a young guy working as an airport runway baggage collector and this being the hub of the incoming trade, never troubled by local police or customs, he comes close and closer still to the illicit trade.


This matter of fact place with its matter of fact underground drug traffic and distribution network – the cities are divided up between the blow in East Europeans, the Son of the last local dealer King who is the prepostrestly vain, acidic, juvenile, psychopath, vegan, ponytailed neat bearded tall thin Duke who goes by the name of Count.  What a character we are going to have before us?  Absolute lunatic.                       This is the awesome performance of Pal Sverre Valhheim Hagen playing Greven based no doubt on Scandanavian nightclub pseudes who hover with malevolence and drugs and he rakes up their idea of control a million times. If you look like a Dane and their Swedes Finns whatever and vice versa they beat the crap out of them. Giving tem guns is an entirely different matter.

The comedy is his mantra and all the dark, black, sardonic idiotic irony filled screen filled lunacy is generated from him as a lunatic cyclone once the trades are broken and certain revenge is up large and central course sty of the revenging Father.

It is obvious from a third of the film on their is comedic drenching with the absurdities built on formulaic responses of the moody gangsters. Each time someone goes missing it is down to Nils whose disposal method is unique and Sopranos’ish and Godfather sleeping with the fishes.

The white Norwegian’s including the pale Count are racist in the extreme and behave themselves as misfits in a country with natural and socially developed ideas.

How does it set up?

Nils has a very routine job when snow falls in his part of Norway. He is responsible for making the roads passable and keeping them that way all through winter. The yellow snow plough, the cabin and the monotonous white landscape are for most expectations a whiteout which the director will have to clear and turn the monotony into a thriller. A crime occurs and it is Nils extent of grief which the familiar Stellan Skarsgard an elder statesman of Scandanavian cinema has all the skills to express the great loss his son affects has on him. The world is in his mind cruel to the Everyman character, a familiar trope explored in many a film. Coping is the thrust of the initial timeline of the film.

Nils is not framed with any particular interests, we see him in the gloomy winter, he probably has a few fun moments!  Like fishing, walking climbing or painting, we just don’t know.  His wife is almost forgotten in this but clearly she is just as distraught as he and she fails to recognise the massive change in Nils while accepting his odd behaviour.  It could have done with a bit if more development but this is not a TV series and this is the Genre it most relates too in our precepts about Scandanavian thrillers and odd ball crime. They got it from our Telly! So did The Sopranos! The best RV used to happen in The British Isles.


The Foreign Bastards

Certain things begin to happen and not in the expected order while this film blasts on violently and at a ferocious pace.  It is absorbing and shocking in a bizarre way and would have been  good box office in the USA as well as other dominions as there is an appetite maybe due to the absence of real investigative journalism – the wars are the focus quite rightly of the more penetrative journalists and we hear of their tragic experiences daily.  It is a point though as we depend sometimes on fiction for the exposed truth.

Our appreciation of drug wars are meagre and at a distance but under world crime is right beside us in the everyday with the daily reports of heinous crimes becoming hard to conceal and a raft of consciousness has reached the surface concerning us all.

Into the fray comes a great performance, Stellans is superb I forgot to acclaim, with Bruno Ganz as the Serbian Godfather Mobster known as Papa.  The observation regarding the homey names is raised. BThe crew he has working for him are performed according to racist tropes and his craziness is a gem of macabre filmic criminality and psychopathy. Lots of deaths shooting and jeopardy in case you hadn’t gathered from the above. All delivered in truly good cinematic form.

Conclusion. ####4

This is a highly developed; far from the precepts of Nordic Cinema, replete with an excellent cast.  It has lots of small asides and comedic reflections on the state of things. They are basically out of hand and no-one has a clue how destructive they are in the local context which this film shapes up to.  It is beautifully photographed and snow ploughs always make a god throw directing our eyes wider and we have them opened in a strange if slightly, well far out tale of human calamitous failure to control our basic flaws.  Go see but take it with a large glass full of Nordic snaps.

Tak. Tak. Tak.


On at QFT From this Friday 12 September to 18 September 2014



Art : Water the Obverse Land


Land the Obverse Water
Nights draw in as we pass through giant sky’s.
There are immense spaces and water stretches that fall on an eight mile horizon. Sand dunes picked up by winds knitted and made solid forms by maram grass and man made groynes. They nestle people and birds. Swimmers walking long stretches of sand to reach the sea. Our rugged coastline on West and Northern shores cut into bays of rocks with strands of open space for large waves to descend and run along sand.

Human scale is refigured in the water and on land of uninterrupted horizontal view. Some of the local independent galleries have between them happened upon art which configures the interaction had in outlying experienced land and water.

Golden Thread Gallery shows a collection of Gary Shaws Semaphore flags redressed and displayed after an earlier appearance during last years Belfast Culture Night. That night were it, Culture, all comes out to play and is tucked up to hibernate in the wider publics imagination until the next years event. Events are often overlooked and undernourished in Belfast. Only around thirty turned up at The Strand in east belfast to see one of Ireland’s finest contemporary traditionally nurtured musicians Donal Lunny. How come?



The legacy of Egon Schiele in Cesky Krumlov and at the top a filched image but I’m sure they will understand!

Little Kingdoms – Part One : Cesky Krumlov : Catalyst Arts
We come to the fringes of East European Cities as a marker of the their neighbouring conurbations cut off from them as identities of a different kind. This is the area of narrative for imagination to take over and diversify through remnants of art. There are three parts to this little Kingdom Series carrying works by members of Catalyst themselves, none of whom it would possibly be, that ever visited the location of the header. Translates? Pesky Crumbs Lovebed.
So each is attempting to plot a course of relation using the tiniest of fragments of the behaviours, objects, topography, built environment, legacy, flora, fauna, you would expect to see or have referenced and advanced some human observations

Models by Elaine Leader is the Imagined collection of 1:200? scale architectural style models of built objects and screened spaces. Each having a function, an observation post, a lifeguard type tower, a funnel, a pit, transportable screens, portals, stairs, all recognisable and fabric of many formless towns and these are spread randomly as an act of impermanence and fragility. Being a lovers of the interrelation, codes, complexities and design of built environments particularly their reluctance to be universally appealing or intrinsically local the ‘movements’ of architecture abate and disintegrate once they embark – and China’s obsession with derivative movements as extrapolations of their own wishful future – on journeys beyond the authorial origin. It is a very well conceived work which lends credibility immensely to the ambitions of the project by nailing the other of art in one part.
Could a piece of paper make that imagined.
Two years ago by Michaela Butler Imagines it as black and white A4 sheets of undistinguished graphic images overplayed, inverted and positive, negative shapes. Is is possibly an expression of comparison of a history. That would fit and is purposely vague but shapes are defined and present perhaps then and now.
A fucking good poem is like a bomb by Vicky Smyth Imagines it as a poetical kingdom with a poetic population on the outside concerned with the focus of medieval cities. At least that became my interpretation. The bard of Castleblaney used poetry as bomblets. The little clusters dropped worldwide to cause collateral damage everywhere and anywhere.
In a country once populated by shepherds weaving words while sheep grazed to grow weave and industrialised poets laid against the hulk of ships in a cathedral of echoing riveting workers few words baulked the revolution of blood letting making the fuck word as idiotic as Johnny Rotten using the noun as an interjection unpolished as this non-functional title. It seldom is true and intensively a personal fucktional word delivering no addition to the alluded too truth that good poetry is actual literal truth.

IMG_3440The broad cast of the bap man
Bap Breakdown by Mike Harvey Imagines an artist exploding. His work is inhabiting the space within the Little Kingdom with video of gestural hooded confined person, ironic in the evidence of grievances executed in the back lands, civilian inhabited badlands which know no limitations. Another video gestures pony behaviour. The spoilt kid with two fingered arm and self mocking pratfalls which alludes to giving us nothing to learn if viewing continues. More productive than the counterpoint of negative seen in video is the very good line drawn portrait paintings and on a shelf – another plywood enthrallment? Is irony continuing in this school of artists?!. – is centrally a leaping body which is is an expression of confinement and exuberance as well as apathy in subdued black and white roughly executed. It is effective as are the numerous paintings. Mike Harvey has constructed on the floor against the wall of the exhibit again centrally a rack, three racks to library some of his assorted images. They require looking at but the racks obscure. This is quite act that like a library requires you to have a ticket, but like pictures defy being handled. They are also in real form very beautiful tender portraits of evident personality which offers the prospect of further advances as intimated by glimpses of his work in again muted colour. The colour works could be In themselves a catalogue of human observation of faces as understood by all artists as being the idiom of conversing with the other. I thought this work was the show stand out piece so far and is on many levels effective and has assured presence withstanding the t-shirt marketing outreach.
@jacquelinewylie twitter followers 30.09.14 by Jacqueline Wylie Imagines the out there unknowns. The identities of her twitter followers are listed in what appears to be Gill Sans font replete with the large @ symbol. I suggest unknowns as most people are not entirely aware of their twitter followers or facebook followers by dint of the preoccupancy of simply facilitating connections across wide platforms. Twitter is that dark stalking horse that cultivates avarice and quick soundbites and gingersnap raw words. Writing a tweet can be so tiresome I’m sure it is widely agreed and for writers the words have to be King. There it is then, Jacqueline Wylie has it, on an AO size white 180gsm ish sheet hung with a galvanised bulldog clip free at the bottom a Little Kingdom defined as many in the chosen location may the self same have encountered the syntax plainly in b/w.

IMG_3449A contemplation of where to begin climbing

Rubberneck by Martin Boyle Imagined and challenged many adults.
It is physically a set of very small wall climbing grips to encourage you to climb a small height to ascertain what is on the ubiquitous plywood shelf. This one no larger than a postcard. is there a postcard on it?
On the floor in front lay what looked like a Primark receipt for £9.99 but I take it it was an inadvertent decoy! A very tall man had the ability to peer down on the shelf and passed it suitable for his children to ascend and discern. Having asked what they saw it was evident it was a figure of derivative kind. They knew of Elvis I imagined (I made that up) all 42 years of living and it is clear he was not in this building and with 100% certainty never had been.
Only by accepting the challenge is it ever possible to find out something.
Never rely on other people only yourself can be discerning.

IMG_3537Instagram collection this place and others.
Transfigure by John Robinson Imagined a portal constructed from softwood 2x100x50mm framing of an aperture about 2.4 x 2.0 metres tall.
Sandwiched between the frames as a shapeless plastic opaque curtain was a couple of sheets of billowed plastic membrane. Where does the transfigurement take place? On which side of the portal? It has a few random strokes of blue paint internally. It also is grounded and escapes beyond the frame as an overflow. My interpretation, hardly enlightening was of a Tsunami effect of a flood through a doorway. It was not what John Robinson had in mind. The irregularity and frozen character of the work could have many interpretations.
Cause and Effect by Katrina Sheena Smyth Imagines Memorialising the statis of the person in loci. That statism being the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty. It all involves the loci of the Catalyst Arts Store room that emporium of capitalism hidden in the bowels of the building never seen by the free paying public narcissists blind to the I provirus of the Arts Council inflicted Values.
Of course that is probably not what Katrina Sheena Smyth but you never can have any certainty were she is concerned because she is a very concerning young lady in of course the very best sense.


If only I looked as good in a sweat suit. I last wore one at Helston Regatta w/skiing and scared the children with my thin form. The folk of Cornwall fill themselves with Cornish Pasties.

Platform Arts Top Floor

Nothing Great Is Easy by Lisa Stansbie  


Amphibious Amorphic Antthropologies Ambiguously Atrophied

When you have been to Mount Olympus and known the dimensions mankind can traverse in around three hours, apparently 26 miles or thereabouts and put it to practice you ascertain a value scope for the land mass on which we live. It then follows what is the other the sea all about. The tide alone is not it. The surge of the Bristol Channel in height and as a race inland and out again is a mere bauble when there are oceans that out rank the land. Ships, boats, planes have all perished taking with them a body of people so one goes to water off shore with respect and plenty of uncertainty.

The lithe luxuriant artist Lisa Stansbie has been both a marathon runner and latterly an open water swimmer. Fragility is not I suppose a familiar word that endurance athletes worry too much about. They measure potential hazards, predict patterns of nature and plan meticulously for a performance of human endurance in exemplary self challenging mystique. Like a boxer stepping up the purges of self encapsulated talents and energy willed into battle against another force known to have an element of torturous behaviour that may go beyond ones own if not respected and correctly defended against. It is a substitute for a multitude of levels of sports and like taking flight on an animal, galloping a horse over obstacles or in a caravanseri up a hill or along a trail it is elemental.


the crown ofr King or Queen

The top floor of Platform Arts is a space filled by Lisa Stansbie of Objects, Video, Photographs and Print material all referencing the art of Swimming and in particular open water Swimming. I would love to swim properly but the last time was a lido in Newmarket which was dosy dosy on a summers day. Before that in open water i got a shock and nearly taken out to sea near Deauville in Normandy and the shock was enough to remove all water confidence overnight. Next day i could not go in the water.

No such trepidation from this very accomplished endurance athlete who is equally adept at producing all kinds of communicative narratives and art installations to emphasise a point.  Also Lisa Stansbie wishes it seems to celebrate things through art and narrative to such a degree she passes it on by the medium of teaching at Huddersfield University.


AT SWIM ONE BIRD. The composite drawings – symbols of swimming and invention of machines for waterborne propulsion.  Superb set which also appear on the stairs and  in the escape route stairs of the gallery so the artist is frothing with ideas!

AT SWIM TWO BIRDSegon at swim

This room or large Gallery space is neatly laid out with the articles telling a story of the very specialised sport of endurance swimming in open water.  Whether it is a river or an estuary, lake or the open sea it is a sport i imagine can quickly change elementally. One large trade photograph or stock image of wet suited male swimmers with flippers, cap and goggles dominates the mid gallery.  It is surrounded in the rest of the gallery by layouts of water bottles and floats.  There is a neon yellow crown which attracted like moths people to be photographed in a halo pose, the here representing here the king of the water in a water community somewhere far distant and memorialising the person overcoming the strength and control of the water.


Waterborne is a book by Diana Gleadhill, a woman based in County Down who is also very very keen on open swimming.

If I leave the writing about the exhibition which is very well conceived as a set of confrontations with our humanity and the things we bring to engage in challenging natures forces, well this is a glorious starting point and will take you a long distance and be with you for a long time if you appreciate the context setting and the wide cast and generous disposition of the artist.

Waterborne carries a few poems and written material which fits here in context.

Ever drifting down the stream –

Lingering in the golden gleam –

Life, what is it but a dream?

Lewis Carroll    (After Edgar Alan Poe and ‘All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream?)


Full Fathom five thy Father lies;

Of his bones are coral made,;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade

But suffer a suffer a sea-change,

Into something rich and strange.

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell;


Hark!  now I hear them — ding-dong,  bell.

William Shakespeare.

this one I like best

Boats sail on the seas;

But clouds that sail across the skyAre prettier far than these.

Christina  Rosetti



John Graham

9 September 2014



Bounce: Expression on Life


Disability is only the Introduction
In seeking to describe the phenomenon that is the Arts and Disability Forum Belfast week long events I thought of the glass ceiling. Instead the forum has the capacity to have everyone engage with disability issues and reflect on very ones disability of one kind an another. So I came up with the concept of us walking uncomfortably on our own eggshells. No-one is immune from a disability and health issues encroach into everyone’s daily existence. Disability rights have meant there has been an annexing of disability into categories and a spectrum of mis-functions. There arises a collective of the separation on each form of disability which is summoned to lobby and integrate with the medical and emotional practices that need to be confronted.
Experience Expressed
Expression in this pieces title is Experience mostly recited through the vast array of arts medium seen, heard, signaled, felt, spoken, tasted is of all the sensations acting on us.
It gives each a sense of understanding, appreciation, acuteness, a things worth, security, isolation from the world and nature which is our space.

Bounce happen to collect a body of people whose disabilities have given them insights and factors to contend with others have only partial awareness of. By expressing their life and using it as an abundant well of emotional penetrating intelligence the life we live in is greatly enhanced and appreciation while understanding is only part of the interplay all enjoy the fact complexities of being are infinite.

I for one cannot imagine the millisecond upon millisecond of a severely disabled persons life, building those evaporating moments together into billions and trillion billions of time it is hard to imagine but it is traveling along every bit as linear as anyone’s. The split seconds alter when bodies behaviours are interrupted, disconnected from the signals of a mind whose life has been managing another story than the one we are used too. Inexplicably so, uncontrollably signals are pushed along damage of the creation of God to persist in exacting all that is good.


If these spasms could speak by Robert Softley A Creative Scotland with The Arches production. Producer Bruce Strachan Director Sam Rowe.
In performance the capsule that Robert Softley has put together as an active one hour play is astonishing in its connectivity and guidance. Where ignorance and unknowing are challenged; the audience in the first instance want to be informed and share collectively and internally the feelings washing through the space Robert occupies and envelops. He packages up from other disabled persons individual stories drawing them into his own story.
Characteristic of a pragmatic Scotsman he self deprecatingly takes the piss out of his different set of issues in contrast to most of the audience by starting out with the fact his speech is imparted and on a backdrop screen methodically and incrementally his words are scattered as text up on the screen. We notice later on that this is replaced as we learn quickly Roberts mode of speech irregular as it may seem.
Cerebal palsy is not a word or disability it is easy to get your tongue around he points out and he builds a picture of food and drink parameters that he needs to fuel his very very active body spasms which are un programmable and as a consequence proteins are burnt to deal with the amount of convulsions no matter how small or insignificant they are at different times.

Robert asks the audience to consider his body this way and to note how muscle toned it makes him as he surveys the arrival of some additional fat or paunch like middle age spread. Explaining his sexual desires and his hitting it of with partners of the same and different sex, the dialogue satiates our desire to know how his sex life differs. His life he says is of being continually horn but with some random nods and sex organ dis behaviours to cope with which only enlighten and displace the daily routine and the puts in place a rationality that this is like all urges of the kind pleasure filled and satiating. He gulps with delight and spits out, not literally you fool! his diatribe on the ups and downs and sideways and back enjoyments and pains of sexual pairing. Everyone is filling the room with laughter and feeding back to Robert our own heartfelt anxieties and our stumbling onto unexpected locations of pleasure with sparks and flames burning and going out when something pisses on the love from our immutable senses.
A love found by looking is his message.
Everyone shares this connection and the boundaries and eggshells are forgotten as we throw our vocalized laughter and cheers as a prove life of encounter with Robert. Our feelings and consequently our appreciation has been taken to another level in this seemingly minor act of theatre. It is immense and will long remain with everyone in the room.
Medical Know How
Expressed and implicit in Robert Softleys story is to educate us all and to share with individuals coping with variations of mis-function how important for them to have a voice and use it. A proposal by Doctors to have him fitted with calipers to stretch his legs as a teenager told of the reaction this had from Robert. Strongly he refused this treatment allying it to pain and pointlessness completely misunderstood by health care professionals.
You could feel the grief in the room of folk considering what those who have not been able to assess and voice their views must have suffered not simply endured. Such was the graphic means and theatrical sharpness this and other basic acts of mindless physicians trying to make corrections – and Robert compared their approach to fixing cars – were driven like nails fixing us under the impressed gravity of the facts conveyed succinctly and admirably by Robert. It was more than observational humour or light touch statement making. It was multi-coloured content, beneath the flesh irascible contagious warmth for humans and our multitude of cords and nerves were ironically fixed and furiously delivering in rapid superenergised rapid sequence to our minds, the Cerebal cortex it elevated the continuum of the evolving panoply of emotions building and building in fre spaces of our minds new information linked God knows how between us amongst us and in us.

In line with the collective who run TenX9 once a month in Belfast, check website of the same name, they joined ADF to put together a TenX5 co rising five people from the disability community and create an audience for them to tell a story elation g to their lives and let us know moe about them.
As with the ethos of TenX9 what is said in the room stays in the room as some stories are very personal and those bold enough to get up can rely on their being privacy for the story which is used to educate the audience and fill the person involved with a level of confidence and in an intimate surrounding. Like a large dinner party without the after gossip and back over the shoulder asides and I think I’ll leave it at that.
The individuals needless to say were very very thought provoking and had highly personal tales to get across with an audience in the Lyric Naughton Studio supportive and receptive of every word. I will remember the people long after and met some again at other events.

Let me Stay by Julie McNamara
Julie is a one-woman whirlwind who has a story to tel of her mother Shirley, Queen of the Mersey’s journey into Alzheimer’s disease.
The Naughton Studio again came into effective use, this time with the bleachers pulled out, providing a conventional stage, raked seating setting.
Now Julie began immediately throwing herself into her mothers part, indeed shoes came up as frequent personality quotients from slippers to high heels to shiny gold specked show stoppers. Shirley came from Co. Down and found herself in Liverpool and a husband who was a dandy spotted the very attractive youthful Shirley and that was that. Her singing and theatrical drive found her in clubs and on the Liverpool social circuit. Shirley’s songs were played and a texts screen captured every word on the circular set.
The set had a semi circle of layered boxes which served as a projection screen and Julie waltzed us through the life and times of this still perky woman who is now a woman of closed inner sacrum recognising another set of parameters so different from the past. Memory has locked things away never to be brought out again but music is a constant pleasure for Shirley as she recalls all the best songs from the glory days.

This is a tender loving biography for Shirley which is adored by wide audiences as it fits into so many people’s own struggles with Alzheimer’s in their family. None the same and everyone as complex a set of issues to deal with.

Julie McNamara has sat down with the idea and talked over the stories Shirley would want to have in the Play we now see. From Song choices to the very beautiful montages and visuals we are hearing it from Shirley through Julie. The boxes break up the images sufficiently enough not to make it intrusive and the dignity despite the newest tendency of Shirley to speak her mind using the F word as a gobstopper, and why wouldn’t she be entitled to pour out a few expletives if they polished out a few home truths about the world seen through her eyes.

It is a very effective piece of theatre and drama of social disability and coping. I certainly hope it reaches a wider audience and we have a lot to thank Julie McNamara for shining the light on the subject.

Borderline Project by Shiro Masuyama
This was an installation within a two bed caravan parked alongside the Lyric which Shiro adds to and has been adding to since about this time last year. It comprises a caravan of two distinct nationalities expressed in each side, by half, through everyday domestic bric a brac and memorabilia. It is kitchen without the kindness and as an artist obviously very insightfully observant about how Britishness and Irishness are expressed through the design of food wrappers, Tayto v Cadburys, from Tea Canisters, Lyons v Barry’s there is a proliferation of shock candid evaluation going on which is end idly taking all of us to task in the accumulations of our lives.
It is dizzingly daft and at the same time profoundly good subjective art.

If you want to know more another daft project had Shiro Sheep shearing and the photos of the result and his reversal of fortune for the piebald sheep is another piece of originality he lays claim to.


One of us must Die by Gareth Berliner and Kiruna Stamell
Enabled by The Disability Arts Touring Network and DaDa Fest.
I didn’t get to see this couples play unfortunately but I add a note or two.
Kiruna who has dwarfism met the sardonic abnormally funny comedian Gareth and they connected. Married and living in London, Gareths British,
Kirunas Australian, and no they don’t live on the Earls Court Road or anywhere close, they create stories which relate to our latent body fascism with a special place for a gun.
Whether its deliberate for a Belfast audience I can assure you that’s not the case but they have it in for ignorance and there is no better shout out needed.

ADF don’t stop there, the year has many outreach and on site events from the headquarters in 109-113 Royal Avenue which once was Hercules Street.

A very pleasurable feast of from people who’s life’s are without question very different and more challenging than the majority. It was an honor to be given the opportunity to be a part of the collective good atmosphere and vibe of incomparable people and every success is wished for continued Expression on life by these folk and all who are similarly energised to reach out.

John Graham

3 September 2014


Obvious Child : A Film Review


Director Gillian Robespierre, USA, 1hr 25mins, Cert 15

Cast: Jenny Slate as Donna, Jake Lacy as Max the one night stand, Gaby Hoffman as Nellie the roommate and BF, David Cross as Sam another comic friend, Gabe Liedman as a comic and gay friend, Richard Kind as Jacob Stern Donnas father, Polly Draper as Donnas Mum, Paul Briganti as Ryan, Cindy Cheung as Dr Bernard the Planned parenthood clinician, and where would you be without a bookstore in Brooklyn, Stephen Singer as Gene.

Intensely Absorbing
Viewing this film went in a flash. It is such an absorbing portrayal of a subject which has every community and ever woman and man who have personally been confronted with an aborted pregnancy and those that haven’t drawn closely into the central issue. It consumes ever emotion delivered by the quality of Gillian Robespierres penned story. It happens when she also has found an unguarded uncompromising new romance that is unsettled from the outset.
It illuminates and conspicuously puts the issue of abortion front and central in this compelling film.

Never simple never more real.

If anyone thought every woman who became pregnant from whatever circumstances believed she did not carry a possible life and that the egg carried is fertilised is plainly not in possession of reason.
Reason has it that the body of the woman can carry or physically abort that fertilised egg. It stands to reason that choice exists. It is a choice only one person can make and one no one should make for her.

Maybe it has been without question; never a concern or a possibility.
Which judgement is the previous line about?

It seems the power of control and oppressive treatment of the woman is behind the anti-abortion mind. The time in which that decision is made is often when loud voices and lobby groups lay siege on other people’s bodies.  They are less inclined to go to war one suspects as it too can define a bodies value.  Nevertheless perversely they trust their judged ownership over others lives.
How does that feel? Not knowing on which side even the question above falls.
Of the woman finding out what is required for her. Of what the fertilised egg which she has is as a consequence to her future. Only the woman is privy.
It is possible to abort in a very short time and it is clear the proximity of health care providers to the newly pregnant will make the decision more enabled in the event it is wanted. Being impregnated and fertilised is a sexual eventuality which happens in a millisecond. The sperm swings into action and like a thought arriving jointly in consent of intercourse the possibility it takes on a life of its own as a sacrificial match igniting a fire, is transformative. Wanted suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, without the drawbacks.
No other thing is determined. Sex makes children but children are not always the aim or the intention and we are privileged as humans to enjoy sex without the premeditative state of child making being the purpose of sexual intercourse. Intercourse is provocative, unprocreative, erotic, a sensual course of actions motivated in all manner of couplings and is a means of creating connections of our senses with another’s.



The Donna Dilemma

The place Donna performs is a fairly regular Brooklyn Bar. It has a pre-graffitied unisex toilet with the comedy in the curtained off back room enroute to the loo. This is where, if your senses are numb enough after or before a few beers you can expect humour droll and troll shaped with comedy so dry you think you have been stalked.
Is there a sub-genre in comedy foe female comedians to tkalk about men and women’s pants, the inside ones used for filtering fart jokes and cheesy wot’sits masquarading as hooky discharge. Next up variations on bake-off for snooker players who despise FGM and outrageous homophobic jokes.
Yes there’s not a lot of it about but Donna aka Jenny Slate has a better comedic breath than this film and Edinburgh Fest Daggers portray.

Pro Choice Brooklyn

One good choice Donna has made is the living in Brooklyn which hopefully is as friendly as the vibe of direction, that even on a cold day the parks have a slick black safe path to walk along and with the legend that is – not the idiosyncratic Bookstore she works at from which she is is to lose her day job through a rental hike or lease termination of this engaged bookstore building – the Brooklyn Book Fair which draws thousands each year.  There is a playful semi disregard of the future for this twenty year old and it all gets very conspirator when er boyfriend of late at the comedy club confesses to having paired off with a confidant of Donna’s making one bad judgement turn into two.  This summons the wine fuzzing scene.  The scenes are approached in a very old fashioned way as are the face and wide shots and convention seems an intrinsic device to put a context to the morality tale which unfolds.

Max played by Jake Lacy is the straight guy who walks into the bar one night and strokes up a fairly routine conversation and after awhile she bonds enough to do an outdoor bodily function before they move onto smarter bodily functions and it wasn’t farting earlier, that is dancing.  It goes up a gear and there’s your story.

Mr Max as an easy going pleasant, no sides personality which is not sufficiently complex for Donna we figure.  It so happens he can’t do too many wrong things without apologizing and making amends somehow.  How would her life cope with that we are asked to consider as each step unfolds.  We also are neatly put in the position of having no gripe with Max making us unable to off load a guilt trip abortion exit on him.  No it is straight down to Donna and Jenny Slate puts us through the ringer as well as constructing a possibility of last minute withdrawal, at least I had it thus and I must also admit I did not cover the predicament mentally by laughing about it.  There was not the comedy Fest a lot of reviews have alluded to but a thoughtful appreciative audience engaging with this monumental decision being taken inside this vulnerable twenty something’s head.

Intensely moving Drama

The timeline is believable with over two weeks of intense self reflection and questioning this point in her life where career isn’t a word she needs lock too, it will be sometime before she gets one and the part time comedy just got way too close and vulnerability shakes her core.

Paper Mountains

On Friday last a 2014 award winning newspaper carried on its National page 10 a film review (shoving as it sometimes does with Venice, into a different arena, that of Political incisiveness?) which had 5 stars, for the film The Look of Silence. This film OC featured in its Friday review section received 3 stars in text failing to carry paragraphs. A feature writer had a week or so previously written incisively on Obvious Child with some emphasis on how in the past, ’80s etc the issue central to this film was part of a sub-text, never prominent and the time we are in is newly ‘Hollywood Conservatism’. It also is taken as a very funny independant film which thankfully drops the ridiculous message of romantic comedy.

The writer obviously, in line with her forthcoming book on Hollywood Conservatism, touched on an aspect of the film which indeed shows the full focus of this lead Jenny Slate playing in an film narrated environment which is an unhindered pro-choice, un-hectoring society except for the straining Health care Clinician who; and a neat inter-racial, the only one evident, puts across the truth she, Donna, has to consider the options available. Donna has brought the decision to the clinician already made on the basis of her options and loudly asserts “I want an abortion” without volume but with fully fetched directness.

That actually is the message of the film. The woman choosing what happens within her body. As only for a quick rejection replacing fuck bitten condoms and double vision eyes whacked on JD as opposed to the earlier crying session of wine drunk from a jam jar after her break up the condition would not exist. Not all on the same day you understand.

Conclusion #### 4

This is a far reaching film which will find audiences of many nations and of different cultural, economic circumstance meet the film at the heart of the issue of aborting an embryo at an early stage of pregnancy.  It is not complicated by many variables hence a late abortion, a mis-function based abortion, or a mental breakdown, level of immaturity or other pressing reasons.  It is a film constructed around a simple message. That alone it is the woman whose body carries the egg who must decide.

It does carry its load lightly knowingly with the device of laughter but it is a film which carries with it social realism and provides and carries wisdom.

To be found at nationwide cinemas and at

QFT Belfast from Friday 5 September to Thursday 11 September 2014

Well worth seeing.


John Graham

3 September 2014