Paterson : A Film Review



Director, Jim Jarmusch, Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan, Written by Jim Jarmusch. Cast,  Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Cliff Smith, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper, Masatoshi Nagase, Cinematography Frederick Elmes, Edited by Affonso Gonçalves. Duration, 118 minutes. Country. United States, Germany, France. Language, English. Cert.15. Poems by Ron Padget.  Music by Squire.

Adam Driver as Paterson, Golshifteh Farahani as Laura, William Jackson Harper as Everett, Chasten Harmon as Marie, Barry Shabaka Henley as Doc, Rizwan Manji as Donny, Masatoshi Nagase as Asian Man, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman as Male Student, Method Man, Sterling Jerins.


Stepping back

I think it was Con Houlihan who once he witnessed a match, seen a play, had watched a film felt obliged to let it settle in his mind. Go for a pint or read a paper on the daily affairs.  That great journalist, former Kerry teacher, Castleisland, took everything seriously but with an unusually precise vision having grown up with learning through experiences and reading voraciously he became a foundation stone of critical appraisal in Ireland. This film has to be separated from the usual hubris trailing a film from a renowned acclaimed Director. The sophrosyne requires laid in singular isolation away from a chorus of any type.  Better to infuse the critique from a sole perspective and learn from it.  That is typical Con.




Disembarking the Bus

I was thinking halfway through Paterson there was a telling of the ordinariness of life in the trivialization of tedium which may explain Jim Jarmusch – whose Jim Ostenberg (Iggy)/The Stooges rockumentary was far removed from what is appreciated as a typical Jim Jarmusch film tale.  This is a unconvincing work despite the homage to New Jersey, the turnpike of a life that may delineate, polarise a Directors vision of what a heaven state, what life with little relative struggle – other people have struggles Paterson does not – his Bus Garage Manager Donny is the conveyor of troubles that inhabit, his life.  Paterson awakes each morning to the pulse of avibrating watch telling him at 6.10am its time to get up, pick up a set of clothes for work set neatly on a Lloyd loom chair in the bedroom and down a bowl of Cherrios.  While he goes through this routine, and it is quite utterly uninteresting, he hums in meter the rhythm of a poem he is in the process of composing.  Take this and multiply by five and you have a start to the day.  Monday through to Friday.  Only on a day partly through this week; I won’t spoil it otherwise you will be willing it’s arrival too early, a minor incident breaks the monotony.  Twins moderate the story telling as a sideline effort at normality = everyone is this interesting/boring.  They are in various age groups.  Even colour cast.


Culturally bagged

The focus of Paterson is his poetry and it is release occupying him and one he is encouraged by Golshifteh Farahani as Laura (more appraisal in Home and her indoors) to open up his poetry to a wider public from the neat notebook handwritten version.  It is something he kind of agrees to while she is encouraged by him to Cary on creating with her own particular B/W fixation which takes many sometimes very funny manifestations.

The film streams the poetry in pretty notation of the spoken word as it emerges from Patersons cranium as he walks, drives his bus, or walks Marvin to the bolt hole of the Bar.  Marvin is toed to a coat hook/bolt outside as the customers inside treat drinking and hanging out as a necessary part of everyday.  Jim Jarmusch uses it as a crossover with the real world though in the bar the reality is choreographed into more groundhog similarity.  Similarity with things, the essence of familiar seeming to be another level of directors message relay.  The streets are clean the rubbish bagged and most people keep themselves to themselves and neighbourhoods are simplistically a non threatening place even at night.


With another piece of turgid storymaking Jim Jarmusch makes race relations a complete non issue as everyone is non-racial.  He borrows early on an early cerebral marker for the local black Bar manager, (Doc, Barry Shabaka Henley) who as the opening of A Night train to Lisbon, in which Jeremy Irons, gravitas implanted in an empty flat competes with himself on a chess board, likewise the Bar manager. The bar is a frequent haunt, immediately sometimes post work, or more regularly, groundhog regularly, is the mid dog walk stop off.  Doc raises the prospect of relief from the tedium as he in true behind the bar style, is the loadstone of community advice.  He has a wall gallery of ‘escapees’ from Paterson which he attends to behind the bar.  Lou Costello of Abbot and Costello is a famous evacuee.  Along with Sam and Dave, Poet William Carlos Williams the wall gets quite full of former Paterson residents.  Lamely Jim Jarmusch introduces his aforementioned rock heroe who of course has nothing whatsoever to do with Paterson into the wall of fame. Lame fame get it! My jokes are as bad as his, so I could make it as a script writer. Michigan lays claim to that ‘hero’ and you will see the looseness of the attempted connection for yourselves.

img_6514 Whose on next?


Paterson in Paterson New Jersey

Paterson is an analogue town in the 21st century.  Telephone cables lace the high telephone rigs in the backwaters of Paterson and the streets driven by Paterson are a mix of five storey complexes and two storey shops flat over old town footprints.  Basically it is a place in limbo in the eighties.  There is if you look closely – the eye is invited to shift as you are unlikely to miss anything up front and central – you may notice a tower (two adjoining – relevance unknown) some twelve or more storey’s and the larger modern residential blocks.  To this slow emerging environment of NJ the film is placed very much in these architectural idioms.  When Paterson leaves home every morning; their home is a raised timber clad bungalow with a basement garage, it’s a man dungeon, his writing office, he walks down the gentle slope to the garage.  It takes him through ‘the old factories’ and here I see the architecture a sense of retention.  It is retaining the embodied energy of earlier generations graft and as a tribute, Jim Jarmusch focuses our vision and mind to the undestroyed, or partially intact, as it is remaining, if memory alone, a productive sense of place possibly capable of a resurrection.  If this is a sense of an errand of his own desire it is fairly lightweight. The genus loci is visible through modifications to doors, bricked up to window cill height replacing the adjoining, as at the Market Street Bus depot. There are upper level blocked up windows and also versions of changing interior uses.  On one little encounter, when a day allows Paterson external reflection, I noticed modern cement block infill to a couple of doorways.  While admitting to being an architectural pedant, I also admit to observing the Directors subtle approach in remaining long enough in this environment in a scene to allow us should we feel it necessary or otherwise as another pointer to lost things or of us loosing things.  There is also a reading this scoping out of a scene has intentionally or not shown a drop in ‘reinstatement – infill’ standard which goes with the 21st century attitude seen everywhere disrespecting the past.


Home and her indoors.

There is a complete homelife existance occupied by the brilliantly liberal and imaginative Golshifteh Farahani as Laura.  Her liberal self is as a free spirit alongside Paterson who only wishes he allows himself bigger scoping of his poetry by attempting to encourage its publication.  There is no enforced wishful thinking just a broadening of Patersns own perceptions of his own work and worth.  Laura is the intensive artistic multifarious sometimes subtle art.  Wall pictures are in colour in complete contrast to everything else.  The apartment as well as Laura herself becomes a black and white world – her need for clarity being overvexing.  It is a constantly increasing motif intent being carried over with a neat insert of a complete segment of yesteryear courtesy of another stroke of good fortune which befalls Laura.  Paterson is gracious and accepting of all successes and there is no contest of ego’s as inspiration or pressure.  The spotlight of home life is shared by  British bulldog Marvin (Gaye? Seldom in good humour) and he steals some of the best comedic moments.  The humour is there as mostly implied rather than directly shared jokes.  In fact Adam Driver despite his seemingly contented state is rarely if ever seen laughing.  Another purposeful direction which is neither informative or implicit.  Adam Driver is very coherent and a good projector of the everyman character he s required to inhabit.  He gives it his best shots.  His relationship is also not spirited lovemaking but platonic and carefree with touch and feel rather than intimate lovemaking which bottoms out the story again to the apparent design of the film.  Internal monologue of addressing the lovely Laura are deployed.  Laura lies showing the outline of her figure as Adam Driver talks and sometimes they exchange mild love talk as he readies to leave the bed.  These conversations, Monday, are initially incoherent with awakening breathing unadjusted.  It simply doesn’t work or is a struggle through the film with not much reward when understood.


There is a minor natural tourist attraction in the form of a scenic waterfall vista (the Great Falls of the Passaic River) There is a Japanese visitor (Masatoshi Nagase) he engages with at this viewing spot. In the foreground is an arched iron railway bridge, with an aqueduct above it.  This is a place where poetry streams through the atmosphere moving and shaping far away themes and astranged subjects.  It’s where the words of the poetry are untrodden and allowed to flow and where similar types are drawn.

Paterson’s favourite poet is, William Carlos Williams, who wrote a book of Poetry in minutiae on the ‘spell’ Paterson himself wishes to inhabit.  Adam Drivers angular frame and tuft of hair, even the ink spots on his face, (moles) along with his nose which is like a fountain pen nib is sheer serendipity as far as casting is concerned.  Never closer to resembling a pen can an actor become.


Conclusion ###3

Far from being a story or engaging narrative even as a non-story this film while looking marvelous, enjoying the good health of a Paterson – real place – New Jersey, entering the phase of winter with the leaves yet to fall, the full pelt of nature to disturb.  This past year New Jersey did not escape the brutalities of hurricanes and coastal floods and climate change threw up many challenges for the south of New York communities of New Jersey.  Jim Jarmusch is hopeful.  He portrays a place were very few of life’s problems arise and while Paterson is unusually alone in being in an eighties cocoon where very little change affects him, his closer associates have moderate immersions in the reality.  Laura’s starts of as a supernatural artistic haven of an existence but it is perhaps true to say she eventually becomes open and positively engaged with the world we exist in – the moving changing vexing one – and is a benefactor of the engagements she makes.  Likewise peripheral characters whose challenges, mostly concerning relationships are comfortably turbulent and gratifyingly akin to kin and ones own experiences.  The trouble is are you entertained or have you just inserted yourself in a Jim Jarmusch joke where he takes you in and entrap you to the tedium and resulatant Ricky Gervais like bibliographical content of an auteurs worst nightmares.  Go see conflictingly and report your findings to a consultant.

John Graham

25 November 2016


On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from 25 November to 8 December 2016 inc.

for a good Poem occasionally – I make a point of making poetry challenging to anyone prepared to indulge in it – my own are here –

The Innocents : A Film Review

The Innocents

Directed by Anne Fontaine, Produced by Éric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Philippe Carcassonne.  Written by Sabrina B. Karine, Pascal Bonitzer, Anne Fontaine, Alice Vial. Based on an original concept by Philippe Maynial.  Cast.  Lou de Laâge, Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Vincent Macaigne.  Music by Grégoire Hetzel.  Cinematography Caroline Champetier. Edited by Annette Dutertre. Production company, Aeroplan Film, France 2 Cinéma, Mandarin Cinéma, Mars Films, Scope Pictures.   In French, Polish and Russian with English subtitles. Cert. 15. Duration: 1 hour, 55 minutes. 

 Polish Immediate Post-War Recovery

From the same era and almost same territory as the highly rated, superb Ida comes another overwhelmingly harrowing war story. This is a Franco-Polish tale of founding of new live’s, of Mother and child which is based on a true story set in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.  The principals include the French Red Cross Nurse, Mathilde Beaulieu, (Lou De Laâge) tending soldiers injured at the local hospital who is asked by a Nun, who has found her after trekking through a forest from her Convent to the Village nearby.  The Nun seeks her help and her task is to tend to a Nun at the Convent and in secrecy. Having persuaded her, in a visionary way they set off in her Red Cross Twnsporter back to the Convent were the actual scenario quickly becomes established.  The Nun has been a victim of retreating Russians who left their calling cards.  As told to the Nurse she is first inclined to report it to the authorities – Polish and Russians still in joint occupancy – but the Mother Superior (Ida actor Agata Kulesza, the Judge and Aunt who drove Ida back to her roots) of the Benedictine Convent has to relent as here could be more suffering. Through the French speaking Nun named Maria (Agata Buzek) acting as translator and the closed order has a newcomer and this is where the story starts to unfold.  It is a case of dealing with new life in each and putting away thoughts, however ludicrous to outsiders, of shame.  So the the characters set before us initially; more or the order become involved, are three Nuns.  The Abbess who rules with a fierce discipline, Novice Nun Maria who is a focal interpreter of both language and emotions, then the Novice Nun Zofia who has been victimized by the Russians.  To see this trio as the holy trinity is an elastic take but one is the fundamentalist, one is the mediator, one is the innocent victim.  Mathilde is the fulcrum of the outside unknown world the order are enclosed from.  They have also to pass through to the next phase when the novices adopt the order in its fullest sense.  So we are on the cusp of desparate problems and challenges for all.


Mirrored worlds old and present.

The layers are twin emotional opposites but mirrors.  The Order of Nuns obviously regard themselves wedded to Christ and there has been a violation of the most personal kind with as a consequence, the horror of confronting the thought God has permitted this to happen.  Novice Nun Zofia is he first to be traumatised in the act of childbirth.  Her rape has been supressed within her and now this revisiting is the symbol and token of shame and is now present in a new form of life.  This is potentially the destruction of all their concepts of God other than Mathilde who is intent on saving life.

She is the other side, the beautiful practical, skilled,French Nurse whose primary aim is to ensure all life she comes across is maintained and taken care of.  The thin line traversed between these seemingly inextricably linked forces is brought out with feminine sisterhood and morality being upheld through the living forms they share.  Hence the initial gesture of the Abbess relenting and allowing her into her world.  She has also secrets throughout and is in quickly failing health a legacy of the past.  Being accepting of medical assistance pushes the limits of her faith.  Here Agata Kulesza portrays the angst as torridly as she dealt with the delusions of War in Ida and he aftermath when she became reduced to a small court circuit judge dealt out tokens of Law when the greater magnitude of injustice had justed been visited upon an entire continent.  Here the stakes are no less explicitly defined.  The magnitude is the depth of depravity that ranges up into the lives of the Innocents,  the sinfulness of the world which is now brought inside their order and is seen as part of the grand design and mechanism of Divine worship.  The merest consolation is as directed by the Abbess, to the devotion to prayer and it is little reconciliation with the outside, now inside world.

Worn characters

Mother Superior has the role of being a defender of the faith and ways of the Lord which she summons up the most fervent chains of belief which have the capacity to devour her devotion in the midst of this conflicting maternal grounding.  Along with this the effect on the Nuns, Maria and as some others reflect on their lives among men, discuss it now with the core central presence of Mathilda, one which facilitated new thought.  Mathilda herself is set some challenges which she submits too comfortably to and with greater ease than you might expect.  The strands of personality are thus shaped into very individual needs and the Mother Superior’s world is the one with the greatest challenges it seems.
Inspired by the journal notes of Madeleine Pauliac, a young French Red Cross doctor who worked in Poland at the end of World War II, “The Innocents” (which was called “Agnus Dei”)  it is set in 1945 Poland occupied by Russian troops with the opening frames are within the Convent of the Benedictine closed order of Nuns at Daily prayers.  From this capsule of peace and tranquility will spill the infiltrations of the Outsiders and those still surrounding them.  It is graphic in its gripping sense of evil and wickedness as visited upon this location and still resonates with seclusion, self denial, faith and feeling interlaced with God and humanity all subjects around today.  The portrayal of beauty is the tangible simplicity of core inner beings and the imperious self reflection done through denial of all objective things and this is how the scenes, drama is thrust forward relying on phrases looks and almost minimal monotonal effects.

Mathilda has to keep the whole presence of this secret inner Convent story away from her colleagues she travels back and forth to, for fear of bringing down the Orders whole presence and she is not least tasked in this, through her male colleague a Jewish French Doctor whose parents went to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp.  He is Samuel (Vincent Macaigne) is a self deprecating suitor of this young and beguiling Nurse.

While this film pushes the limits with heartfelt tremors of emotion which will have many coming away sickened, elated, coruscating about the needs of women of all timescales, elements of history, not having the instilled goodness to life according to need, the story does take some fairly plain, consoling overtures and simplifies certain aspects for the sake of film making I guess.  It reaches conclusions rather too radidly and conversations which begin to explain the personal hidden views and they vary immensely, are unfortunately short while centrally illuminating.  Each Nun has a reason or belief drawing her into this Christ union.  A book I’ve read, probably one of the finest, is a short true story of the early life of Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery Paperback – January 27, 2005 by Karen Armstrong (Author) telling of her time as a novice and the considerations she had to make.  


The look and feel of story telling.

The appearance of the film is vivid and lucid like a representation of renaissance painting having moved on from being as the allegorical Biblical paintings preceding, telling a story from the Bible.  Here the framing and cinematography is a moving interpretive painting elegantly disposing of its interior messages as much through dialogue and expression as in giving a sense of separateness the film has concerning these Nuns in their secluded life and the contrasting confounding outside which has only just set down, temporarily the guns of war.  They have to deal with the violation of a deeper self and abortion is not among their options.  Where this seems to stand up for  Anne Fontaine and the writers is the contrasting of certain worlds.  As of today and victims of rape they are no different circumstances but simply deeper questioning f where morality has taken us.  The sin is first in the war and in the belly of the warring soldier is a desire to shed his guilt through violence upon women as a deliberate defiant act.  An expression of the lost masculinity war invokes.  The experience opposite to its portray and as betrayal of themselves as human beings.   Anne Fontaine has a sharp story with which to explore those aspects however simplified some elements here turn out.

Conclusion ####4

This is perhaps an attempt at a redemptive film but I see the conclusions not informative of the unique experiences then or as they intend to advance.  Too many loose ends are bundled into neat reflective outlets.  It nevertheless stunningly  grasps its raw material as insight and is told without judgement, a surprising word to use as the actors have to convey the differences and complex challenges it makes of their own vocations.  Even the Nurse has to seek out her own values and then separate them from her ability to help everyone. This film covers war, rape, religion and all strands of humanity in trouble and as a quest for understanding how these issues have and are being dealt with will stimulate many more discussions and create better informed views hopefully.  It is thoroughly recommended as one of the Best Foreign Films of the Year in which there are several other excellent contenders including Son of Saul which was itself a Polish depiction of a the Concentration camp at Berger-Belsen and as such fits into a set of unknown or barely conceived brutality which film makers now take on with greater clarity and effectively.

John Graham

17 November 2016


THE INNOCENTS will screen at QFT from Fri 18 – Thurs 24 Nov.
Well worth the effort in going to see and the large widescreen does amplify the experience.

Gimme Danger : A Film Review


Gimme Danger Cert.15 Duration 1hr 48mins.

Directed by Jim Jarmusch Produced by Carter Logan, Fernando Sulichin, Rob Wilson
Written by Jim Jarmusch, Cast Iggy Pop, Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton, James Williamson, Steve Mackay, Mike Watt, Kathy Ashton, Danny Fields
Cinematography Tom Krueger, Edited by Affonso Gonçalves, Adam Kurnitz
Duration. 1hr48mins



The Michigan pharmalogically challenged unhinged performer of Rock and Roll Mr Iggy Pop is the subject of this chronologically travel through the late 60’s, the formative 70’s and the drop off in subsequent decades is given a whole set of musical, storytelling, life narrative so that we can readjust our ideas of him and those times.

How he has survived is something only he can offer solutions to and in most life threatening occasions it’s probably likely he has little direct recall of.  Iggy is a mosaic, a jigsaw of American traditional culture growing out of itself.  The cultural bridge of Michigan is because of its location midway at the place in the USA people would stop on the way between New York and …  The radical center ot became through the fertility of the moving USA drawing newcomers in and their influence created a nature of the cultural America was choosing for itself.


The film format

This really is a chronology and reconstruction of the poorly dismissed Iggy Pop history and fulcrum of pioneering influence in the rock music cannon.  From Sonic Youth through Primal Scream, Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Ramones and many rip offs of rip offs, The Adverts, The Buzzcocks, you can trace Iggy’s influence as a performer once he got of his butt and became a showman, director of performative music.  The ripped, slim, small body shape of Jim Ostenberg is all over this film as a visual clue to the make up of the man.  We see (feigned privacy greets us first in the narrative roll of the film making) the surroundings.  His own large painting of (himself?) it a primary childlike oil painted strokes of him in a full face startled state, which I think is his default for me anyway, with a carton of Marlboro, creeping in to the screen as drug of choice, fits the 4×3 screen ratio (most of the film is in this ratio as a knock back to the timeshift) as the talking and brilliantly detailed storytelling is like a live musical autopsy those books nor much else could replicate. In documentary terms it has numerous holes.  We get plenty of revisited footagecofvstagecperformances, band member recollections and still frame reminders of who is being spoken of Warhol, Pattie Smith, Elvis, Nico, etc.


Pieces missing

What is missing is footage of backstage or even dressing room insights (more an undressing room in Iggy’s case.) or road footage, the type of thing frequently found with various performers, from Sex Pistools, Amy Winehouse, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and interestingly and definitively offering many specs of the wordsmith, writer performer Bob Dylan of course alonsodeceven The Band narrative.  Another one would be Neil Young and his entry to the Woodstock inner world.  This maybe was a choice made early on and necessary for a survivor.

img_6306 IMG_6305.JPG

Codes of Visual art performance.

As a performer he was stripped and able to burn his energy in acrobatic crawling gyrating and body flipping movements which and a photo fleetingly shows (or was I imagining) the balletic figure of Nico and him capture the Rudolf Nureyev of his psyche.  I’m obviously not suggesting for a moment there is any pretensions of ballet within his performance but the essence of the dynamic the body provides was another instrument to his band which he undoubtedly savoured and exploited within his confines. His bare torso is in homage to the projection of pharoehs and one of Nureyev’s favourite Russian ballets which I saw him perform in a very large tent in a London, and also at the Coliseum was The Rite of Spring, he also performed The Firebird.  I find it a small step to connect these artists.  Another aspect of performance is Iggy’s compulsion to crowd surf. Did he invent it?  Probably!  This is in my view his commune with the audience.  Once he’s in the audience he can act, can respond to what’s on stage like a political act.  It portrays his political statement, his being one with the audience or democracising the engagement of audience and artist.  So close to these influences – the bisexual Isadora Duncan was another American he must have  seen as aspiring to new art and he has invented the interaction many try and replicate.  Theatrical work alongside the tenors of the music penetrating the people.

Chronology as a history lesson

If you think of the Rock family tree books with their graphics and pages of chronology of the Bands and their personnel transformations then you will find this film is on the same lines structurally.  The beginnings of the bands Iggy Pop belonged too are a cocktail of fledgling teenage musicians.  Jim Ostenberg (Iggy) the drummer was a keynote figure in all the first bands and he carried along with him – Jim Williamson is one – and it is something of a similar middle American youth attitude – spawning an original direction.  They all railed against the sentimental and the commercial bombardment of Americana.  The black music first encountered by Iggy was on the demise of College band hopes and his 1969/1970 introduction to back music where the vibe and sound pulsates through the rough cut and sharp cut rhythms of flesh on bone of Soul and a kind of spiritual transcendence music was capable of, allowing a trip without the drugs if it reached the heights.  Miles Davis obviously the pioneer of new black jazz venturing out as small an instrument as a trumpet.  Iggy made a few dollars playing as a club drummer.  He became aware of others such as The Velvet Underground and everyone’s influence, including Any Warhol.  Nico.  After a turbulent few years of finding what made them, their music tick it became obvious the band needs a formative disposition rather than being a cast and crew of hangers on to other bands and influences.  The MC5 were their saviours.


It is noted by Iggy as a composition of the refusing to accept the given.  Extraordinarily he points out the Peace and Love era in which the band he was and is most associated with, The Stooges, were at their lucurative beginning.  Outside Detroit and in middle America such freedoms were seen by some, Iggy included with cynicism which gives us a clue to the historical memory and the form of real America.  Take the film Selma and its portrayal of Black activism then it is also a fact the rejection of the peace – of junked up sexual freedoms, TV, contraception and monetised youth of the backdraft of post war advancement of their parents.  So strategic to Iggy’s development were his parents who got his creative needs – he managed to drum insessently and loud in their long yellow trailer.  His father was an ex-WW2 veteran along with what were to become his band associates.

Back to his roots.

His father had a large Cadillac while his needs were simple and Iggy presents his family situation as loving and one were he was able to connect with his parents which is classic the traditional inclination.  It was not a case of his parents not developing alongside him as people aware of how America was shaping.  It is somehow realistic and cynical given the hogwash of the impact media and cultural politically structural art forms.  Buying into the fashionable Velvet Underground – Andy Warhola projects, the iconography of the neatness of all visual Nuances.  Typefaces, photographic primary art and freedom of speak – it had its Marilyn Manson and crazy criminal immigtrants, Italian, Irish – to be a cultural resilient pathway for all musicians cinema and artist, newsmakers all buddies.  The Jack Kennedy trust in peace was of course a misnomer.  His hands in arming anti-communist Vietnam factions in the early sixties,  presaged the L.B. Johnson war paced intervention.  This is allied to the Johnson tactic of giving democratic access to the Black community in order that they could be drafted into the Vietnam war.  We of course hadcthexlilexof Cassius Clay – a man who fought so no others need to -bridged racial divisions.  Iggy discovered for himself he was no songwriter or storyteller of the Bob Dylan kind.  Jim has a neat way of describing the difference.  He was no great thinker and mused on the preachy types he was amongst.  Thecpeaceniks, the social reformers, the activists and he displays a realism or shortcomings in a) his own ideas of values were not fully formed and besides he pharmisiced his mind to deconstruct humanity. b) the basis of active participants.  Bob Dylan has been a soundtrack along with the Beatles to the generations filling the machinations of industrial technological America.  Iggy stood apart from the industry ‘Stooges’ of corporate America.

Conclusion ###3

I have reservations recommending it as a four/five top rating due to the feel of an Official Biography going down as they say.  It is however a brilliant dialogue insiping film for all music lovers and anyone dipping into past eras especially the New YORK, Chicago shapes of the Seventies and Eighties and Iggy is a product as most of the Stooges were from Ana Arbor in Michigan, the radical state.  It follows the chronology related to many genres but particularly Punk and I have my views on the origins of the whole lot as I’ve tried to explore above. There is a good viewing well worth taking in and very interesting take on the good and evil sides of music.


John Graham

14 November 2016



Scratch my Progress Vol. 5 : A CD Launch


Scratch my progress Vol. 5. : A Launch @ Oh Yeah Music Centre on 10 November 2016.
The bands featured on the CD Developing the Talent at Oh Yeah continues …..

This is the CD order – on the night the order didn’t matter in an egalitarian way – no hierarchy – no restrictions.


They occupy a phenomenon of being learned practiced musicians fused with a sound identifiable through many sparkling (referring not to the eye decoration of their face decorations) songs and sculptural polemic sunrising synth drum with the traditions of guitar laying down an environmental cue. You could get sentimental and attach glamour, style, sassyness to their full appropriation of the rock devils found everywhere but just like the purposeful fusion of a band like War Paint it is very much a part of the new temporal kaleidoscopic found in recent years as challenging old corners – and they are visually brilliant and purposely show performers like the zeitbeger, the stance and music comes in beautiful regulatory cycles. It will in many people’s minds just very soon illuminate many more venues and spaces as well as hearts.


and then


Emer Maguire
In case of emergency put on a Emer Maguire record. On the evening Leonard Cohen, the balladeer of heart over mind and reverses intimately back and forth, passed the indemnity of our constant absorption of songs with meaning intensely speaking of our emotions and providing language we can’t find ourselves to express – came a dynamic multi-plex set of sorrowful, joyful, cross-gender wordsmithing in the same faith as the man.
About seventy to a million things sprang to mind in the aftermath – leaving a gig brings lots of recall. The millions of cells implanting during the listening via.trillions of synapses a blueprint, Emer does the blues like a mini 21st Janis Joplin with tidal loops and a progressive interlaced sound carrying very smart and advancing storytelling lyrics. True to the traditions of Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen Several songs stood out. The diverse nature of them was a troubadours force coming in the superb voice and vocal dexterity – all ranges (virtually – no ones perfect and as recent Belfast performer Taylor Mac said – [do you hear Tom Ford?] Perfection is for assholes) are covered. There is a lot of grief around not just over LC but the DB and other losses Prince, but there is als thank God people of new generations formulating for us and to be a tribute to those before. Emer Maguire is a performer you should and will hear a lot more from. To good talent to be missed. Very appealing in many ways.


Bosch Ramos
Less is more but Drums and Bass forcing the parameters of setting themselves into a tight – that’s all there is folks just two of us – heavy scuzzy materially pushing hard rock round punk corners, around jazz like dueling and genuinely solid playing the pairing of Phil Brown on vocals – wears a wooly head cover to keep his brains in – and Calum McKeown fit and dovetail as Nirvana and immersible – they supply the kicks as the drinks kick in and you have a carry along blast the constant supply of tight and energised out pouring of drums/bass hard rock which stays clear of a thematic indulgence and delivers a potent raw mix of two guys who know exactly how to lift and energise an audience. Yet to listen to the other work on record but await it through the containment of headphones and outdoors preferably for the great escape this music savours.


Search Party
What struck me most, besides the equality of talent was the style and playing of guitarist Ethan Murphy which was not only smart, collected and driven but symbolic of understanding the chords shifts and were neat attachments to songs crafted as a unit. The material composed developed then played live took on a truly expanded room filling sound. Sharp and on the money.

img_6302and then


Petty Youth

I love the bands name and it signals a no compromise attitude virtue of their range. This persona of Bass Martin Drums Alex Drums with his brother Eoghan on Guitar are psychedelic (attitude) rock (heavy guitar dexterity) contemporary (songs to picture now or in the case of Just Seventeen the false armour of alcohol) which all reminded me of a continuation of Frank Zappa more than once. They demand you have fun because – depends on the age of the audience – their attitude especially the infectious cruelly wondrously gifted with amazing hair (I’m follicly challenged) Eoghan who you cannot ignore or dislike, pails reference Petty Youth I take it, as in contrary to the normal reactive ‘youth is wasted on the youth’ but as Iggy Pop says in the new Gimme Danger – my extensive review in this location is up very soon – it’s written and I’ve retrieved it after temporary loss – he visited a Chicago black dominated night club only to see perpetual youth in those who dance, perform get into the vibe of the moment instantly without any shields or self consciousness in their own soul blues gospel way with an overdose of the magic which gives that experience exactly what Iggy refers to ‘haven’t lost the child in them’ – or words to that effect – the Miles Davis type ingredient of new jazz fused music taking the medium, the seventh sense even further. This outfit therefore are on the same road finding out the pairings of bass guitar, bass and drums, guitar and drums, drums and vocals as an ongoing moving on sound. They nail it, hit the nail on the head, yours, and contradictorily, hit the head on the nail. They are in other words self-deprecating but not in the overboard for the sake of it Spinal Tap funny. So it’s the sound that counts and I hope they strike it with a goldmine song to ensure more production and formulations. They can do most things, Guns and Roses, Stone Roses, The Ramones you name it but they are now themselves.

So that’s it but the Bands – Check them out and also support live music.

Short story telling is my Musical review style.
It’s not about one thing and no gig ever is and it’s not
like that tourist thing called ‘the golden moment’ which
is taken away as the memory to be synaptical fused foreverish.
It about everything. This is the generosity life conveys.
I won’t write about the individual songs as they are each so
much individual marks within a context and separating them
to analysis their essence is a coat of many colors best left
alone for these purposes of interaction, reaction to a gig and
a great night of diverse and talented musicians that you
need to listen more too if you already haven’t done so if
you call yourself a local music fan/listener.

What are your songs about? – interviewer

About three minutes – Bob Dylan.
John Graham

12 November 2016


Gimme Danger Review will post at mid-day on Monday 14 November 2016 and is on at QFT most of the week check out times and go see.  It fills in a large undocumented part of the influences etc.

Fires were Started : A Film Review


The complete Humphrey Jennings disc two. Fire were Started. 1943. Documentary. 

35m Director Humphrey Jennings
Production Company Crown Film Unit
Producer Ian Dalrymple
Script Humphrey Jennings
Story Collaboration Maurice Richardson
Photography C.M. Pennington-Richards
Cast: Commanding Officer George Gravett (Sub-Officer Dykes); Leading Fireman Philip Wilson-Dickson (Section Officer Walters); Leading Fireman Fred Griffiths (Johnny Daniels); Leading Fireman Loris Rey (‘Colonel’ J. Rumbold); Fireman Johnny Houghton (S.H. ‘Jacko’ Jackson)

The Blitz depicted

War on Britain some 75 years on from the blitz – the frequent and widespread bombing of cities, ports, towns, strategic infrastructure by German War planes – is catalogued in documentary form by the rereleased BFI film Fires were Started.

7 September 1940 saw the first bombardment in the London docks.  That place before the war the vital trade port for the United Kingdom and now dispersed but still a joyous sight and feature of humanity converting itself to other things in peacetime.  The Olympic Park for example.  This 1943 film was also known as I was a Fireman. Because of the war continuing and various attempts at capturing the times not just in newsreels or cinema propaganda stoic bravado their were people conscious of the individual moments which put the fear of God into people not on the frontline.                             The frontline was brought to them.



As a documentary maker Humphrey Jennings was a very driven man.  As the upper middle class background gave him a sense of entitlement, and took it upon himself to forge allegiance with anthropologist Tom Harrison a group known as Mass-Observation in 1935.  For whatever reason he never went to war andcinstead became an academic and some say dilettante not realising the ‘whatever’ wheels and cogs making Britain tick.  It’s industrial health. An irony surely exists in their organisation. When it came to expression, beyond writing, painting, he got to know the power of film and embarked on experimentation even dabbling in surrealism.

Making the film

Fires were Started is a bizarre title in itself.  A meaning existing, they deliberately in 1943 started fires to represent 1940 scenes. London can take it was a 1940 film of his along with Listen to Britain. 1943. Even after the film considered herechecdeveloped a by now perceptive forward thinking imaginative underrated work called Diary for Timothy 1945 wondering what future lay ahead.  This profound piece and idea is often discovered in Newspapers or novels of the time in prospective articles etc. but applying thoughts on the future on film must be and remain unique. Actors were given scripts to follow in this documentary therefore subverting the form to begin with.  This was not done to sway the argument or construct falsehoods but became necessary because setting up in the midst of war, using people to take part in recently gathered history, finding film stock, finding time and locations etc. would have been a burden to anyone.  What was that film Martin Scorsese did in London docklands ‘recreatively’ and costing a forrtune equal to the war debt? Jennings also employed another dynamic of realism and avoided commentary.  This in itself must have had contemporaries have hairs stand up on the back of their neck and that includes the war time children.  I remember watching war ‘documentary’ as a youngster and have a spine tingling moment or two.  On reflection I was assuming perhaps the clowns with guns and bombs outside in the street dictating what way our lives should be in the sevenitites were no different from these warlords except the men who went to war as well as being conscripted went in the most part willingly.

This film blog is included as a remembrance, not a commemoration or as celebratory homage to the losses in all conflicts around the world.  This 11 November 2016 is again a time to reflect on violence applied in all its forms.


John Graham

11 November 2016


Apologies for not providing a blog on the intended review (Gimme danger which is on at QFT Belfast from Friday – also note the epic Napoleon is screening from 12.00am at QFT this Sunday.) It is somewhere in the ether and I’m still trying to track it down as it’s for the most part written on a rock chronicles type film. I will post of and when it turns up as it raised quite a lot of things. Take for instance this weeks Democrat/Republican Election in the USA which you may have heard of. Michigan were Jim Ostenberg (Iggy Pop) hails from which Gimme Danger is all about actually stands aside only one other state in America, New Hampshire in it not having inclusion in the normal electoral form used everywhere else. Being the radical state it once was – I point this out as a distinction worth exploring in the psyche of this American Iggy – it resembles the election format of GB more! A lady who watched the Election on a Portuguese channel to improve her Portuguese told me this oddity.

Train to Busan

Director: Yeon Sang-ho.  Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung.  Duration: 118 mins

South Korean Zombie thriller with subtitles.

It’s Summer box office but summers gone!

The summer is over and a cinema filler thriller zombie movie arrives.  Frightening Korean style apoplectic travellers get severely disturbed in this closed carriage apocalyptic journey taking you somewhere you booked for without the hazard warning lights and warnings of a perilous journey ahead.

For a zombie thriller the cast assembled create a family unit, bonded in adversity.  They are the source of humour, ridicule, fantasy, implausible courage and outrageous good fortune.  They inhabit their parts with enormous energy and carry the story along as it develops wildly on guess what – The Train to Busan.  A separated father in the middle of a messy divorce (Gong Yoo) has custody in his luxury apartment, managed by his quiet suffering mother, of his daughter (Kim Su-an) whose birthday is a day after we are introduced.  The father is a workaholic, fund manager in his late twenties say, and oversees many corporate placements.  

Story setting

The beginning of the film is set outside in a Korean industrial city outskirts with a de-contamination process going on with vechiles entering or leaving this industrial sprawl. The film shows from early on its intentions to shock and make you jump.  I certainly did from early on.  Back to the flux and flow of characters we encounter. A large Everyman character who I last saw in A Touch of Sin, (Ma Dong-Seok or maybe it was Jaing Wo, both similar) a monstousrously effective and highly charged underated Chinese film of again deploys a brilliant convincing though sometimes superman proportions facility for doing the impossible and guarding those around him, including his young pregnant wife (Ma Dong-seok). There is a homelsss man (Choi Gwi-hwa) who is the archetypal outsider who is a victim of circumstances denied entry to the ‘world’ the rest inhabit.

The star of the film is the quick jump action of zombies doing the following – turning on people unaffected.  Together they become in various multiple aged identities as reformed carnivores of humans. They act instantly and this is the thrill on a split seconds instruction at the interention of a sense.  A sight, sound, (no surround smell) that enters their collective paranormal psychotic self absorbing world.  More on that psychology later. We are confronted every which way, every, minute practically with a fear and jeopardy moment.  From the get go the selfish father, the fund manager, is talked into taking the train journey the next day to let Su-an see her mother and they arrive at a central Korean highly polished and effiecently laid out railway station only to find the train they wan being singularly alone and helpfully manned by an extravagantly efficient train driver whose duty of care is both memorable and funny.  He is brilliant in his attention to detail and hyper real in care of his charge of passengers.  It’s worth it just to see this and its development. Your allegiances are soon called onto sides.  For the action Korea has to go into what is a’virsl’ tailspin which as TV screens reveal early is happening through South Koreaalong the same lines as encountered here on the train.

So obviously enough a Train to Busan is summoned into becoming a character and a journey – with a few hiccups to start with – takes us into the beautiful sunny domain of South Korea on the K-Train.  The super train, TGV type modern train – it doesn’t have upper decks though – it would have made for a more complex snake of a train – its compartments, toilet facilities, intersecting doors, windows and seats all get abused in un Translink fashion.  The Train is the scene of much nastiness and the occasional stop is not enough to derail the fight between good and evil as the evil ramps up.. communications also play a part and all phones work.  The Samsung Galaxy exploding phone – South Korean cultural and apocalyptic failurecof industrial status is no where to be found and there are worse things as it so happens in the Trin to deal with. . Communications are fraught with news inbued from outside,  with downloaded apps coming to their rescue – the good gang trying to remain separate, together apart from the baddies, comes into action.

The Pictorial Experience

Although I could not decipher the end credits, I assume no rail stations, tracks or infrastructure were damaginged in the making of what in all ways seems a big Korean action thriller. This means it has been a tour-de-force in its ingenuity to weave together the extreme pyrotechnic, crowd spilling, stunt driven, dangerous collisions and violent fights that cups the entire film in its 118mins. duration.  There are respites but they are few and the technical delivery, some of the back of trains while actors are in full speed movement, close ups and internal claustrophobic shots inside the tiny box toilets for example are seemlessly thrust at us.  The crowd sciences also deploy an effective jerky jump motionto the zombies making it more surreal.  As it does not pretend to be anything other than a highly polished zombie thriller which it achieves without question, it does not follow some routes and does not rely on tons of gore.  Sliced arms hanging off guts, entrails pulled behind fleeing fiends is not the style – thankfully – it is more measured and finely aesthetically gruesome and energizing to the actors own performances.  It is a fairly conventional take on the zombie trope but I suggest it has underlying themes which are – though not sucessfully enough rendered or prounounced as to shape into the films advancing message –  highly provocative given the times we live in and the scientific growth of the worlds knowledge and the catastrophic consequences we seem to be unable to address.  The over population, the removal and derangement of the planets resources, the spiritual, intellectual, sexual values of the human race and the technological divorce of rationality from reason in the machine age.  The biological destruction of the natural world and animal kingdom while exploration of space and other life forms attract indulgent, misguided indulgence.  Mars is quite enough as small and unambiguous a territory for exploration as you could come up with given the even greater expanse out and beyond for which reasonable verification of other lives are on the blind side of our vision.  In other words it is a conceit to believe these ‘close encounters’ – the moon, mars and elements of our solar system are of significance in the ‘larger’ state.

The strange thing is …

Lesson one
Poor fund managers. They get pilloried and blamed for everything yet this one might resurrect himself. He works as a head decision maker and what he unfortunately does in the initial phases is createcfor himself a zombie bank (nation) as prime investment goes wrong. But will he Sell? Nsteadcof folowing the crowd he acts alone. A precept coming up for air as it is finally telling his world tanked, how does he react to what he has created going wrong. He takes the high road. The moral path or what is directed as the correct approach. His pilot is his daughter. The daughter his mother looks after as he fights a bitter divorce. The mother has awordcor two of wisdom in his apartment, like marriage guidance and restorative action.

Lesson two

For full observance of the Korean spell of zombie narrative I take to dispel their constructs of bare tangential visualization by referring to an all time symbolic reservoir – the images from the Eranos Society, Eranos Archive for Symbolic Research, by Olga Froebe- Kapteyn, an early follower of Jung. The mutli complexions of what become dying notes or transformative journals are held intact within these miraculous scriptures. Melancholy and harmony reside within. There is a further carriage of these individual art works within the work of the Henry Moore sculptures, of Mother and Child. He seen the transformation post war, of the modern paternalistic world reckoning with itself in a tangible ‘fatherless’ world. He foresaw the alteration coming through the violence of a maleness which had lost itself to war. A matriarchy had formed inside his world and no less a figure than his wife made this apparent to him. In this film and absurdly the notion of a zombie fate is evident and matriarchal. The earth goddess mother – one character sacrifices herself to make amends for her selfishness by putting herself in harms way. It will occur to you after, not before as it is well hidden – advanced in the theories of a Henry Moore, an artist of intellectual bearing which his female contemporaries saw the reverse side of – Barbara Hepworth and Elizabeth Frank advanced and perhaps domicile the male in their earth mother inhabiting of the goddess through their work – how else would they venerate the essence they held? Not that art historians tend to overcompensate, they just miss through being non-creatives these absurdities across several forms.  

Lesson three

Cinema is full of mixed content and fairly limited scoping out of the themes and this film is particularly unclear or unconcerned with the monumental, merely being statuesque in its zombie mortal world versus spirit world phenomenon. The uncontrolled dead amongst the stereotypes of modern life. Clash of the titans. At a stage of symbolism the uroboros consuming itself. The plucked consciousness of the male visiting the virginal states. The fervent male rationalist tethered to convention then the symbiosis of mutuality – still unreconciled in the extreme mental states of Isis and demigods of nations. Both symbolically thrust to the forefront in the paradoxical form of Clinton and Trump.

The biological determinants are frequently being revised scientifically without any societal impact. Thus the political dynamic is counterintuitive. As an art form it is fairly and conspicuously inherently divisive. It has neither feminine grasp nor male depiction in sight. Nor does it construe the extremities as biological reference points. Most male and female humans act naturally and conventionally holding a straightforward identity comprising of the both but pertaining to the one sex. The form they are in and larger measure undoubtedly within themselves. The perilous outcome is when the natural separates one part and looses its relation to the entirety. Ubiquitous feminism meets rampant facism. Idolised in Hitler. Conspicuously the contemporary is in a massive cathartic revolutionary state. I mean it has found through 20th century history a rejection of violence – we are led to believe there is a distinct decline in overall violence – that it mitigates on a paralysis of rejection of a God or human principle based universe – based on certain inherent underlying unseen truths – that are essentially here among us. The enormous changes brought about in the 20th century are playing out now. Films are a way of showing it. Zombie movies are inherently strong frankly absurd at times extremely funny in their projection of psychokinesis as to become entertainment fodder. Which one actually convinces or reaches core value status?  

Lesson four

Join a feminist movement.

Lesson five 

There will be fewer lessons you are capable of self thought.

Lesson six 

Their is a thing known to all mothers that the baby has to be told the meaning of Mine

Conclusion ####4

The genre usually is a take it or leave one as far as I’m concerned but there is quite a committed and less gory almost folkloric trait to this hugely involving story.  It has been a work of very clear high standards with a deeply convincing cast – even the little old middle class ladies taking the train get to examine their own consciousnesses in the interplay with hobos, destitutes and other society fabric.  It rushes and rushes with a physically demanding vigor and is never giving you sufficient time to sit back and ask ‘technical’ questions, how did that stunt come about, how on earth did they do that without destroying the infrastructure of South Korean Transport?  The characters inhabit familiar types and then the adaptitoions they are required to make are complex challenges removing from them and the audience set standards of objective thought.  It brings out many a fine performance even if it is just one scene.  The horror is only moderately restrained in the scope of movies of this kind and it therefore is setting out a larger sense situation be it the modern world or our singularity, individuality in the community of the sense of belong to a race which need to survive.  It Carey’s you whether you are into the morality scope or the freaky zombie fest and crowd pandemonium, it has a sense of humour though some are not convinced.  I was conciously wishing for the objectives f some to materialize and non pluses at the sufferance of others such was the disposal of any rational.  It was entertainment of a different kind and not overlong – with and ending etc. a tieing up of loose threads as much as possible.  Now if only they had the good sense to look closer at the Samsung Galaxy battery design and its capacity to short circuit.  This is a thriller beginning to end.

John Graham

2 November 2016


On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from Friday 4 November to Thursday 10 November 2016.

A fright filled zombie fest in the safety of your friendly local art house Cinema.