Bad day for the Cut : A Film Review

Bad day for the Cut

Directed by Chris Baugh. Written by Chris Baugh and Brendan Mullin.

Nigel O’Neill as Donal O’Neill, Susan Lynch as Frankie Pierce, Józef Pawlowski as Bartosz, Stuart Graham as Trevor Ballantine, David Pearse as Gavigan, Anna Próchniak as Kaja, Stella McCusker as Florence, Ian McElhinney as Eamon, Brian Milligan as Jerome, Shashi Rami as Vivian Lalor Roddy as Leo McMahon, Ryan McParland as Ossie, Andrew Porter as Damien.
Production Katy Jackson and Brendan Mullin, Music by James Everett, Cinematography by Ryan Kernaghan, Film Editing by Brian Philip Davis. Six Mile Hill Productions. Cert. 18. Duration 1hr 39mins.

Debut promise
The Chris Baugh debut feature Bad day for the Cut is a modern Irish revenge thriller with a broad scoping and complex plot driven along by the dark secrets of different family histories in this troubled province.  At times it becomes a trail of bodies and sets off after a flashback, more later, with a farmer living the quiet life with his mother in an Co. Antrim farm.  Scenes of domestic rustic rural harmony  prevail with the caring son Donal (Donal O’Neill) eager to ensure his frail mother is not neglected and this is seen initially as a caring need and relationship.  Donal is fond of shooting rabbits for a stew and his country and western music, which is not a rarity here and he listens while he fixes old cars or does work on anything that takes his fancy , away from the tedium of routine farm work.  Into his existence comes another star of the film a neglected Transit as a payment for work on an old banger which he turns into his boys shed over a period of time.


Open Country

Donal’s world becomes forever turned upside down when he catches the wrong end of an act of violence one night at his own home.  An absentee from the film are the Police except for the presence of two Detectives (back view only) as a result of this disruptive and gruesome act of violence at the farm.  This is quite probably due to it being entirely filmed here in Northern Ireland were the risks of reprisal are clear sadly and it may be why ‘impersonation’ was not an option.  From then on in the violent frenzy that happens they are not to be seen. Filmically too is a stoic political call by the Director/Writers on the Scandinavian noir of clever troubled detectives not being a Northern Ireland familiarity.  (Shallow thought!)  Crime fiction is a local speciality (look up No Alibi’s independent bookshop) and like this film it is seldom a reflection of more destructive truth no matter where the written word takes you.

Donal is completely at a loss to explain why this atrocity has happened until he himself becomes a target of violence. Then the wheel turns and it is his turn to act. From small beginnings Donal is now the avenger/revenger and the genre becomes a wide expanse of multi-cultural links forming a jigsaw puzzle no one has completed image of and it is this we are drawn into.  The Latin word, synonym, for incredulous is Aporetic.  From the word Aporia which is thrust into and occupies much of Northern Ireland rhetoric.  The film could have appropriated that name.  A local artist, Gail Ritchie has a forthcoming show at Platform Arts Belfast on external War memoria which will co-incide with all kinds of Remembrance. This film is about not knowing the full story as people never do.

Aporia : a difficulty encountered in establishing the theoretical truth of a proposition, created by the presence of evidence both for and against it.

For empathy and good versus evil there is no actual clear station of rectitude or resolution.  Once Donal is in his revenge mode he looses any rationality or credibility.  One feature of the film poster is its likeness to the Spaghetti Western standards, Django, Fistful of Dollars or the one with a Belfast connection – A Town called Bastard starring Robert Shaw of (some connection!) to these parts. This genre approach is a virtual context and allusion which is narrowly made.  Comparisons of inner city hoods can be found in the Dublin centric Cardboard Gangsters reviewed here earlier.  (Put the film name in the white box top right to obtain the post likewise other notable films)

While it is true the chronic violent riddled town/city certainly Belfast and Northern Ireland has been, with its tragic magnitude of violence and as it still has hurt as an undercurrent to the everyday, the post traumatic shock has embedded in many citizens whether directly affected or not. Hence the medical bill.  Other cities are subjected to variations of the lack of moral discipline and the film tries to reflect here in Belfast the story of families affected by their tragic misfortune and wrong choices theirs or others.   I happened to be re-reading a chapter or two of the 2000 book, Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People by Susan McKay which documents district by district across the province the interrelation of acts of destruction and their impact and legacy left of very similar disregard for life.  The untenable becomes tenable and the ‘new normal’ (media speak), goes further as past lives causal projection is cyclical which is seen as one of the most forceful effects of this film.  Unforgiving and God forsaken is the message to be taken in deploring all acts of violence and the meaningless outcomes they accumulate. The ‘actors’ of violence perpetuate the hurt creating new grave passages.


Currency

New times have arrived and racketeering and the gangster riddled combatants work the undercurrent of a superficial peace.  Memories and family stories are woven in a weave no one has a complete picture of.  Aporia.  An unlikely mobster is a family woman.  Susan Lynch plays her femme fatale best inhabiting the part brilliantly, her face expressing rage, inner strengths, bitterness and she conveys potent sexual latency as a jewel among thorns.  As a highly driven woman her role is large in the film as she is intent on achieving her objectives regardless of the cost but with a motherly hand towards her own daughter in contrast to her own past.  So two vengeful people are the at the centre of the story and the opposites create a battle of wills.  Let the contest begin or as Northern Ireland has it continue.

Without a male partner she runs a prostitution racket with her stock and trade initiating in a bodies count, a ruthless and violent streak of heavy malevolent business as she tries to remain in control.  There is no indication for the largesse of wealth, – ‘the drive’ is Belfasts go to hidey hole, – she has become used to as she brings up a single child, 5 year old daughter whose exposure to the everyday business is mostly obscured though Mother does let her mouth loose with words and temper tantrums no child should be witness to.  The script realises it but it is ‘accomplished’ in one or two scenes.
The lead male character and co-driver of the film is the large stocky farmer we know called Donal O’Neill, played grittily and with determined off the scale rage, a man in his fifties whose part in the machinations or outcomes of the ‘troubles’ is miraculously innocent and of little affect.  How he has avoided the obvious is not clear.  His mother Florence is portrayed by Stella McCusker, whose part requires a completely convincing woman carrying as many women in the country do, a burden of grief and remorseful tears locked up and unseen while secrets are held. Stella McCusker carries it off superbly in a sensitive subtle nuanced way, with her reservoir of theatre and film expertise, the convincing portrayal of a woman with memories, secrets, worried but still in charge of her own world courting for us nevertheless a source of intrigue. Acting as a shield to others, her offspring, her peace is disrupted as the past unravels.

The film opens with to revenge taken on a man in palliative care with a breathing mask filling his lungs with oxygen while he is in the last stages of life. Lalor Roddy is the man. With his usual prime attendance to his craft he opens the film in an interesting short introduction which turns out to be a flashback.



Sunny skies

From there the action returns to the present and a Northern Ireland picturesque and getting along nicely with the entrails of back office culture jobs and telephone call centres in the very heart of Belfast City.  New tech and science STEM is a sole captivator of nuanced 21c life.  Sidelines are the artistic interpretations. Game of Thrones being only a symbolic us of this Ulster theatre in a vaguely conjectural transportive escape.  Capers and criminality is a parallel world real and unreal.  Life in redressing the postcard image is on message. Any murky past is not for outward consumption. An archive of injustices and the undealt with past is locked up in memories along with state and terrorists files never to see new light. Property is lush and shows signs of prosperity as the braces are attached to pull up the ragged trousered philanthropist cloth of the Linen City in true entrepreneurial Ulster style.

The past traffic of ingenuity which was and still holds up, is scotched by the economic equator we live on. New commerce a roguery is the diet we enter. The other villainy is the stock and trade of impure violence.
The vision in the film is of the fictional underworld in a confined and largely inaccurate form.  It is a fiction based on contemporary instinct.  No telling of the real story would be sufficient as access to understanding. These strands are separated and contingent on whose version of events you believe.

The truth would be completely scary and would in many cases lead to greater unconstrained levels of revenge violence – excepting the likehood generations are unlikely to form into self-destructive groups – except the no-hopers hanging on to the coat-tails of handed down myth as a means to lever power and accentuate their projected legacy of ill read history and infect new generations with their appalling virus.


Whether the film is embraced as a depiction of a society continuing to be incapable of dealing with its past and truth hidden harbouring realities of unspeakable betrayal and insurgence is questionable.  Outside the Island the narrative will come across as a unnerving catastrophic revenge movie full of provocative instinctive shades of red mist exploding causing more cyclical damage and as an action piled up body count it puts it on the same shelf as revenge thrillers of equal intensity – it will be interesting to hear how the Chinese subtitled version went down. It is already out of the blocks as it premiered at The Egyptian Theatre at the Sundance Festival last year and Edinburgh Film Festival and was locally was the closing film of the Belfast Film Festival of this year.

Because it is adult cinema and particularly a local community based narrative with a fictional web making connections to many people’s lives and understanding of the legacy in their lifetimes, it is to be toured across Northern Ireland in venues chosen to bring out a wider audience than the ‘Moviehouse’ screens across the province.  The tour dates are below.  As a film of universal cinematic value it also is intentionally provocative and any tool in the box – lead character Donal is a man whose ingenuity is seen as someone who reaches more than metaphorically for what’s handy, ‘that ‘ill do the job!’ – which makes people deal with their own past and the get on the path to resolving differences of blockchain theory’s in their heads. New light and fresh dilemmas are surmountable only if the past is recalled with truth and remorseful probity.

Dark light

Polish actor Józef Pawlowski as Bartosz, Anna Próchniak as Kaja, carry the new international phenomenon of a transitory youth into Belfast and Ireland.  Neither have a desire to remain here and one of them has stronger reasons than the other to get out.  By scoping out the story the writers bring a reality of immigrants settling in a cove of their own narrowness through concern of not belonging and integration torturous and complex with the backdrop of sectarianism on acting on their will.  Existinence is survival to be built on.  The tailoring of other characters, chiefly the hoods is deftly cast. Florences younger brother Eamon (Ian McElhinney) is a townie who keeps himself away from trouble and leaves it in the past. Stuart Graham playing Trevor Ballantine who is the no.2 to Frankie likes to be suited and clean shaven.   He gives off an air of being on the precipice of incompetence while unaware of were he is and what his motivations are. Why he chose the work is pure guesswork and he is always one step behind the curve. Frankie on the other hand is a woman who is compelled to joining the action as her edifice crumbles. Bartosz and Kaja are in this drama up to their necks and centrally Józef Pawlowski excels working alongside this mad bunch out on the edge of their acting chops and getting into it with as much nuance as his eyes can convey. A learning experience for all no doubt.


Conclusion ####4
Like a narrow gauge railway traveling too fast this is a train of thrilling revenge souring and escalating beyond redemption and for practically all on its journey the lurching and weaving slow down and wrong turns add up as the film careers out of control down into some soon to be discovered abyss.  Then there will be silence. There will be liberty.  There will be peace.  Not on these terms the cast say.  We need a result to suit our knowledge and our grief is the premise.  We do it for the sake of everyone gone before and to follow. By being completely deranged ejjits high on the adrenaline rush of survivors instinct they boil the stew of violence into a deathly conclusion.  The deliverance is summoning up lots of sage parables while partly glamorising the affects by not making it dark enough.  They skip the bloodied heads, the unrecognizable body parts (I conject for the possible scenes the viewer may or may not see!) and it draws back to gain audience retention yet is still Cert. 18. A badge of dishonour?  It becomes a shade predictable and no character really is seen as someone to empathise with save the foreign ‘visitors’.  Those need foreign audiences.

Be warned it’s mad and at times bloody and totally bonkers.  It has a feel of a step back to following in the aftermath of spaghetti westerns trying to find a new field. The field is Belfast/Templepatrick with the North Coast of Ireland thrown in for chutzpah. Slightly demented but truthfully entertaining as a misguide to the violence around us.
John Graham

20 October 2017

Belfast.
The 8:30 pm screening on Tues 24 Oct at QFT will be introduced by writer/producer Brendan Mullin and writer/director Chris Baugh.  After a run at Queen’s Film Theatre (20 – 26 Oct) the tour calls at:

The Picture House (Ballyclare) 28 Oct
Portrush Film Theatre 9 Nov

Subterranean Film Club (Omagh) 10 Nov

Dungannon Film Club 15 Nov

Fermanagh Film Club 15 Nov

Newcastle Community Cinema 18 Nov

Foyle Film Festival (L/Derry) 23 Nov

Tí Scannán (Mullaghbawn) 1 Dec

Some events will also feature Q and A session with Chris and Brendan (tbc) so audiences will get to hear the (literally) gory details of the process of making the film and taking it to the big screen.

IMG_3320    This is not a widget! See below.

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The reality predicted in around the late 1960’s by Guy Debord never took on the self-radicalization of people as combatants for nations but it has tangible companionship as his fellow traveler Raoul Vaneigem accounts in The Revolution of Everyday Life.  It is a form of prophecy as is the intended alteration of history which combatants always see as their revolutionary act in their age.  The violence continuing on a scoping out of spectacle for themselves.  We are not just talking about the phenomenon of  ‘Mad Men‘ and spin but the vestigages of memory remployed as almost regal revelatory mindful discovery.

Inauthenticity is a right of man … Take a 35-year-old man. Each morning he takes his car, drives to the office, pushes papers, has lunch in town, plays pool, pushes more papers, leaves work, has a couple of drinks, goes home, greets his wife, kisses his children, eats his steak in front of the TV, goes to bed, makes love, and falls asleep. Who reduces a man’s life to this pathetic sequence of cliches? A journalist? A cop? A market researcher? A socialist-realist author? Not at all. He does it himself, breaking his day down into a series of poses chosen more or less unconsciously from the range of dominant stereotypes.”

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The Farthest : A Film Review

The Farthest


Director and Screenwriter Emer Reynolds.  Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Kate McCullough. Editor: Tony Cranstoun. Music: Ray Harman.  Duration 2hrs 1min.   Genre. Film feature Documentary.   Completed 2016. Ireland.   Rating PG.

A Crossing the Line production, in association with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, The Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán Na héireann, in co-production with ZDF, in cooperation with Arte, BBC, RTE, PBS. Distributed by Abramorama. Producer: John Murray, Clare Stronge. Executive producers: John Rubin, Keith Potter, Sean B. Carroll, Dennis Liu.

The Farthest – Worlds away
How do you tell a complex story?  This film achieves it by following the most precious measure of all. Time. They do it chronologically.  From the launch within two weeks of each other in August 1977 to today forty years of knowledge has been accumulated giving us insights and tools needed to survive.  In providing an extraordinary and educational insight to the Voyager Missions, the Irish Writer, Director, Emer Reynolds propels the viewer through an array of adventures in space, planet to planet. It is the story of Voyager 1 which set off second to Voyager 2 and soon went by its slower less functional twin, into our Solar system, setting a course for the Planets in a mission, confined in planning, to visit with no stopover, Jupiter, Saturn but by the technical and intellectual thrust of the missions authors and controllers, succeeded in going on further with some deft reprogramming to Uranus and onward to the 4th gas planet Neptune.  Voyager 1 apparently is 12 billion miles away currently though you would need to check with NASA to be accurate.


Flight

Each journey on flight was a discovery beyond the NASA teams wildest expectations.  Even now in this film the achievement is under appreciated.  The team participants – descriptions, titles of their respective roles are displayed, are telling the story in screened interviews, talking heads with brains planet size, while often emoting humuorously with visually amazement of what in meant and now means. Eyes are popping in aghast of some telling a story.

On “The Farthest” Emer Reynolds explains: “We wanted to speak to a general audience, not just super science geeks like myself.”   It is enhanced by his structure, honed while writing it and the steady intuitive grace of Kate McCullough’s excellent cinematography.   As you might imagine the photography at cinema screen 4K interpolated, from 2K is stacked full of outstanding display of the NASA images. We see a computer – like Excel infant – table frequently and it looks  like a child’s bookmark.  The layout is 1. A box with a picture in it. Top tag header is VG1 and across Saturn or whichever it relates to. Beside that image 2. are two small boxes one on top of the other giving a ‘wav’ – radio wavelength file – of the incoming signals which are transported to the first box as images. This is rudimentary but this is what we or the boffins/brains in Building 102 gets back from that distant small object which punches out extrodinary visions which are packed full of information it will take years to analyse wth much future help expected via. AI.

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The Golden Record

Look and Learn

The last photographic signals we know that will come from Voyager are back here on earth. The vessel carries on with radio signals returning information of it going ever more distant at a speed of 10 miles per second through interstellar space. Going Farthest.  The science is laid out here in a layman terms but you require and are pulled into it by the – if you had been paying attention to the story so far – the what happens next fix.  Jeopardy exists everywhere.  In the beginning was a Government, in the beginning there was a budget. Then they had to recruit the best minds to build it from its concept, inception, a vessel with three enormous arms that would unfold once through the Asteroid belt, like a lotus flower exploring the sky and seeking its life from beneath in the mineral mix of its own body and payload – the Human representing the nutrients – to the light it engages with as energy for the Sun our own life source.

The vessel is like a brain and inside it is what is called the Golden Record. This gets a lot of airtime and coverage mainly due to the fact journalists and non-geeks love to know how Johnny Be Good will be accepted and appreciated in the far of extra-terrestrial zone Voyager ventures into.  It is literally a half speed long playing record with boxed alongside a stylus and IKEA kit diagram of operating instructions without words.   In order that we keep with the complexity, as the film continues, short paragraphs appear and extend, dissolve as something needs clarified in the written word. The big picture paragraphs the author has highlighted above the spoken word. When the unexplained happens language requires stillness and read. There are no excuses or reasons why this film cannot fill the void of knowledge of non-geeks as those who have been ask to put their own words to their part of it advance thoughts which have been gathere, been dissected, altered and polished in their heads for forty odd years.  It is full of stimulating beautiful phraseology and delivered with enormous gravitas while being so matter of fact about it which it clearly emphatically is.


I interrupt this message

To any alien species Voyager could seem like, it is just a container of entrails, maybe of a body the vessel itself might seem only the outer form of an inner wonder.   It is animal like though one scientist will not allow himself to anthropomorphise the Voyagers 1 and 2.   Maybe the ‘encountered’ will have destroyed Voyager 1 as it is taken to be itself alien.  Then in its coat tails along comes another. Voyager 2 which ‘they/it’ we haven’t been introduced properly, might be less antagonistic to Craft 2 and take it for what it is – a vessel of minerals constructed and assembled of the earths finest skills, put together back in 1977 symbolic of our progress since inhabiting the earth.   The Golden Record is an ambiguous pictorial and written record. Not available through Amazon or other outlets.  It is unlikely it contains war or weaponry photos though one photograph is of a human stalking an animal with a spear.   No images of the Gamehunter slaying a tiger or Elephant form the back of a Land Rover Discovery or other SUV on their holidays.  Only one quote will go down here in this review – and only part – ‘if they even have heads!’ which obviously is regarding the unknown destiny.

The Golden Record is our message apparently of our place in the universe diagrammatically configured with the known universe laid out in a linear diagram.

It is this composition of Earths minerals and knowledge which will travel beyond our time and earths time into the interstellar universe of possibilities.  As the naysayers preceding Galileo/Copernicus’s theories may have had it, requiring modification of the Bible. (Galileo Galilei) 1564–1642, the Italian physicist only partially solved the solar systems behaviours. Voyager on the other hand could come to  the crunch as it hits a wall of termination and its progress it halted with the unknown on the other side multiples of billions, trillions, in a world away outside our Solar system.  Quantum physics tells us Neutrons pass through us and the globe is transmutable while the electron exchanges we only glimpse, possess us in our temporality.  They engage and construct us and we are each separate assemblies of their manifestations.

Much is given over in the film to the reasoning and compilation of this and many conjectures, as it is the missions task to learn and then inform of our limited time as a planet. 5 million years left!


Big energy

Voyagers power is tiny in comparison to the surrounding atmospheres.  The reach of its plutonium powered lights are on a trajectory taking it further than the 2 billion miles, 3 billion at Neptune, it has put between us and its current location. Outer outer space is where it has gone. That is known as the interstellar cosmos. As Galileo once redefined our vision, so this tiny Voyager full of the modern technology available in April 1977, is on a mysterious journey.  It is the mysterious traveller those wonderkids of the seventies thought would provide new possibilities they Part imagined and described as of the infinite kind. The achievement went to the boundaries of their dreams and beyond their expectations of its capacity to enlighten.  Light is emitted from the battery but the darkness it enters is dense and un-encountered and it no longer is live.
Part of the understanding developed with Big Bang theory is that everything has Big energy (dark matter) passing through it.  Neutrons bouncing through us and everything else. The darkness of space is an energy unknown but ultimately our survival is reliant – other than the human self-destruct button of climate and a habitable world being activated – appears as a possibility of being in reach of accessing its mystery.

Voyager is this composition of Earths minerals and knowledge which will travel beyond our time and earths time into the universe of possibilities.  All 735kg approx of it.

Its progress if not halted with the unknown on the other side multiples of billions, trillions, of a world away outside our universe it could inform again.  The intuition of it recalibratingbis already charted.  For humans to conceptualists the earth there has been scientists such as the late, unique and contributing scientist, Carl Sagan.   His son is a frequent visitor and contributor to the story telling.  His contexturalisation of what we see is the most convincing made and does not tolerate high blown speculation.

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Something’s are beyond us

The scientists insist frequently that the Voyagers will be the only record of us beyond our extinction.  They have set up an experiment to find out the composition of the nearest gas planets and then find themselves looking at the bigger philosophical questions to fill the outskirts of their mind.  The talk of sling shots, meaning mathematical continuance of the voyage, was decided upon by careful planning.  Each trajectory is explained in detail with never imaged results we can access through this film.  Yet it is on to the next discovery.  Each scientist explains and though the press conferences at each ‘staging’ post for public consumption is populated it seems, by mainly if not exclusively, men whereas the imbalance is treated by Emer Reynolds in the inclusion of very well informed women whose life work this also is.  Imagining Science is an institute contributing and currently relaying information openly about the mission and while the journey goes on the small in the big gets smaller as more miles are travelled.

There is a juncture when the Voyager team all turn to the Challenger Mission. On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off and killed seven astronauts.  It was the 25th shuttle launch since NASA started service in 1981. For the first time a teacher was a member of the crew. Christa McAuliffe had won a contest against thousands of other teachers. When they speak of it and Voyager is without that human element, the scientist loose their capacity for coherent language, one for example who can’t think straight, said of TV coverage, ‘replaying the event over and over again repeatedly.’
The Voyager mission was constructed by Caltech Engineering and Applied Science Department of Aerospace (GALCIT) with the context of origami a filed attribute. Based in Pasadena California – where two weeks ago the indomitable and beautiful human in her 84th year, Julie Newar attended her Catcon 2017 ahead of her birthday – as sublime as ever. She never made it as an image onto the spacecraft so remains hidden. That is the history post Homers Odyssey of time travel with a return in mind of a feline leveller of our naivety played for laughs and adventure escapism. After lift off and landing on the moon another generation of escape was projected onto screens but none so realistic or measured as what this film documentary delivers, even if it is only on the flat fourth wall.


Time flies

This object, as google will tell you, is The Voyager spacecraft weight, including hydrazine, at launch was 815 kg or about 1797 pounds. It was almost the weight and size of a sub-compact car. The current approximate weight of Voyager 1 is 733 kg and Voyager 2 is 735 kg. This was launched with the computer power of a car key fob and before the internet on which you can see the stars projected to your LED lit screen form NASAs data.

On the Golden Record their is one side of music.   A collection made within six weeks of launch comprises recordings from such diverse places as Zaire, India, Mexico, China, Japan, and an Indian raga from native America one of many. On the space shuttle set up using decommissioned ballistic missiles, the film shows the words United States of America as a tiered advert for earth consumption. After the asteroid belt this is thankfully gone.  Maybe a small Stars and Stripes lurks on the body of the craft. A message might have come back – What does United mean? – otherwise.

Voyager has a brain and is minded to correct anomalies. When perplexed at its own behaviors it goes back to the manual, the data programmed within it which has failsafes and parameters and extraneous what devices built in. It is more reliable than our own manual the Bible and contains only logical prognosis. Metaphor is out. By doing a reset it has survived numerous times. When launched it literally had birth pains as it – didn’t enter the world but entered space. If you imagine sitting on the outside of Voyager what you would se would be changing infinitely. If you looked then at what you were sitting on as a reference point it would be the familiar and static. The spacecraft itself and its unavoidable familiarity. Space cannot be weighed and densities are gravitational forces we cannot see or gauge in space yet Voyager is clean and clear of collision simply because of the unlikelihood of it ever colliding with any ‘thing’. What is realisable is that in, as one scientist puts it the chances of a collision are fifty years of a billion years, the chance of collision amounts to just that. Latin speaks otherwise. Tempus Edac Rerum – Time devours all things.

    
Planets discovery

The revelations from incoming data has put into visual context and most ‘gratifyingly’ reaffirms that all our known minerals exist in space. What is also very apparent is that they obey in kind, gravitational forces. In two for example : The Great Red Spot is a persistent zone of high pressure, producing an anticyclonic storm on the planet Jupiter, 22° south of the equator. It has been continuously observed for 187 years, since 1830. Also it conforms to a circular gravitas as an amorphous cloud of greater density as does the other clear example, making it no coincidence, the Great White Spot, also known as Great White Oval, on Saturn, named by analogy to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, are periodic storms that are large enough to be visible by telescope from Earth by their characteristic white appearance. The spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide.
The Cassini orbiter was able to track the 2010-2011 instance of the storm, also known as the Northern Electrostatic Disturbance because of an increase in radio and plasma interference, or the Great Springtime Storm. What is read into that is our connectivity and when Carl Sagan asked as Voyager 1 was about to go beyond – to + 0.00.00 our time, and penetrate the globule which surrounds us and every gas planet a request to turn the camera around and position the spacecraft in a location to look back at the entire distance of its journey. When it was initially rejected by the Jet Propulsion Agency for one, he went as far as he could to achieve that and did. What is shown is extremely and of the most significant image probably ever taken. A selfie of ourselves as a planet n space. Then it left the globe of atmosphere the our universe exists in and continued as a straight line not like a mouse, (very short sighted, see Nature.com Through the eyes of a mouse) Voyager goes blind into space without hugging the skirting around the big room, it carries on with faith in the humanity that propelled it in a straight unfettered and unending line. When it reaches a border and is asked Where do you think your going? it will have some time working out how to to reply.


Emer Reynolds.  Juis sui en RockStar Writer Director.

Conclusion ####4

Space is spectacular and it is Voyager 1- 2 that conveys new discoveries of that wonder, all from the vessels trailing through space at 10 miles per second.  Seeing this enormous subject in a Cinema adds a vital level of understanding.  Even then the images are only shorthand for reality.  Only around 735 kg, these craft are continuing now, on their own, with 2 trailing way behind. As there is no clue so far, movie discusses, we don’t know if we are ‘alone’ in the universe and if anything exists in a time experience – back to that great utterance – ‘even if they have heads’ in the pathway of it on a fantastic journey which is described beautifully with an easy to follow chronological narrative.  It is told by the people who put the mission together and those who maintain contact and analysis of it speaking back to us.   I described how the data arrives, the grid ‘Excel’ like boxes and the narrative it tells is from simple zeros and ones interpreted by spectroscopes and out come images in astounding detail of the composition of the Gas planets it has encountered.  The majesty of a human constructed instrument, which if alien life encountered seems now more like a foreign object – an animal with eyes, the cameras tilting 26 and 200mm lenses on their arm, the plutonium charger which is the heartbeat and energy source and the strange antenna which talks back to the folk at home.

It is a spectacularly effective insight to our world and Solar system.

The film is relaying – ‘special effects’ get a credit – projections of space travel but the vast majority of the film involves telling the story through contemporaneous images of the assembly, launch, public updates and the teams descriptions of what it all means at least potentially.   The special effects utilised – it is so smooth an edit – are where I think the fly by digitally generated flights, which come in over the top of the frame and sail sublimely into an ocean of stars with the Voyager seen clearly with its unmoving unshifting composite self , travelling as that mysterious traveller obedient to its final instruction in finding, orbiting, the planets, instructed from within, then setting a new course to another, to the point where it goes beyond the globe protection of the planet Neptune.  That point is where all presence of it diminishes.  It is there now in another vast space journeying in a straight line for possibly (in terms of) billions of years.   The other factor informing theory is the formation of this expanding universe.  The talk of black holes at the formation of ‘multi-verse’ cosmos has an ‘event horizon’ commonly interpreted – at the boundary around a black hole on and within which no matter or radiation can escape.  Where the beginning and end is is unknown and even the question of them being the same point is what the film explores as a philosophical aspect of these discoveries.  For thousands of years the conjectures have been gathered by Astrologers informing our lives.  I have put a footnote which I hope expresses a nod to the ancient mariners of the Stars who stimulated all these participates interest in their own valued exploration.

Our knowledge is being acquired at a very fast rate. One hundred years of information and discovery in the 20th century is equivalent to the acquisition of the same quantity/qualities ty of discoveries made in as little as 12 years or even less. That is to say what was learnt in 100 years is now learnt in a tenth of that period and that is also being compressed.  The time it takes to discover things is itself reaching an apogee where we will be funtioning through reasoning taught via. artificial intelligence.

The next world altering discovery is very close.

The film has a dedication in the closing titles to Rhea Strong Fanning.

John Graham

31 August 2017

 

On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 1 September through to and including Thursday 14 September 2017.  There are exceptions when there will be no screening on either Sunday 10, Tuesday 12, Wednesday 13.

The 6.00pm screening on Mon 4 Sept will be followed by a Q&A with director Emer Reynolds.

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Astrology

Mankind has come a long way. For more than two thousand years the sky has been laid out in a Planisphere of the heavens. The Planets names themselves speak to us in those radiant perpetual homilies stimulating inspiration beyond us. The sky is in mankinds eye a cast of astrological myths laid out in constellations. I have extracted (from The Witness of the Stars E.W.Bullinger) the interpretation given in the astrologers from Albumazer, Ulugh Beigh whose Arab astronomy laid out the principality taken on by Greek astronomers and more modern sciences.

The Sign Leo. (The Lion) note. The Lion is a maternal animal.  Messiahs consummated triumph.

Here we come to the end of the circle. We began with Virgo,(1) and we end with Leo. Belfast one who has followed our interpretation can doubt that we have here the solving of the Riddle of the Sphinx. For its Head is Virgo and its Tail is Leo!
In Leo we reach the end of the revelation as inspired in the word of God; and it is the end as written in Hea the heavens.

Bailly (Astronomy) says, “The Zodiac must have first divided when the Sun at the first Summer solstice was in the first (degree) Virgo, where the woman mans head joins the Lions tail”.

(1) Virgo. The Sign Virgo. (Coma as it is also called – is referred to in some texts as the coming of Jesus under the Star of Bethlehem.)  The Promised Seed of the the woman.

Here is the commencement of all prophecy in Gen. iii 15, spoken to the serpent :-” I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel”” …….. it lies at the root of all the ancient traditions and mythologies, which are simply the perversion of corruption of primitive truth. Virgo is represented as a woman with a branch in her right hand , and some ears of corn in her left hand. Thus giving a two fold testimony of the Coming One.

Everyone has a piece of the Stars and are in their own constellation.

So it’s apparent the Stars as first seen and interpreted were based on quasi religious affiliation. With superstitious though nevertheless philosophically imaginative and therefore believable to the ‘faithful’ followers of Astronomy the guides are still with us as is the mystery.

JG Sept. 2017

Maudie: A Film Review

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Director. Aisling Walsh. Produced by Bob Cooper. Mary Young Leckie. Mary Sexton. Susan Mullen. Written by Sherry White.

Cast. Sally Hawkins. as Maud Lewis. Ethan Hawke. as Everett Lewis. Kari Matchett. as Sandra. Gabrielle Rose. as Aunt Ida. Zachary Bennett. as Charles Dowley. Lawrence Barry. as Mr. Davis (Shopkeeper) Greg Malone. as Mr. Hill. Billy MacLellan. as Frank. Music by Michael Timmins. Cinematography Guy Godfree. Edited by Stephen O’Connell. Production companies, Rink Rat Productions, Screen Door, Parallel Films. Distributed by Mongrel Media. Duration. 1hr 46mins. Rated PG. Country , Ireland, Canada

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Maudie

In Canadian/Irish production the biographical story of Maud Lewis, Maudie, is told loosely dramatising what must have been a devilishly difficult life. Maudie became a folk artist heroine of great standing by observing Canada and its nature in simple naive art. Her art was picturesque ethereal and colourful. Working everyday she painted every season creating a world few imagined existed anymore. It was a form of magical realism without the realm of fantasy.

Maud Lewis is a determined individual as this story shows. With challenges of firstly chronic arthritis and spinal curvature which meant she struggled to move efficiently, also she was very small and accordingly was seen by her family as lacking the ability to look after herself so ended up being looked after by Aunt Ida in Digby, Nova Scotia. Itself a fishing town on the outskirts of a vast continent it was nevertheless a settlement which suited her outdoor nature loving heart I would suggest. The trouble was the arrangement brought about by a financial arrangement with her brother Charles lacked love which she seemed to crave and be absent from. There is one incident which ‘defines’ the notion, she couldn’t look after herself which is where the arrangement presumably came about.
We see Maudie from mid adulthood and nothing is suggested of her life before then or where her artistic skills we nurtured or became mature. The film’s arc is her adult life. Born in 1903 she lived until 1970.  Little is made of her early life and instead of taking a wider arc it puts aside any melodrama, and events which would have affected her enormously.  Nothing of her parents or struggles to survive the severe rheumatoid arthritis but enter the story when she is being cared for by Aunt Ida or early ventures if any into art.

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The town becomes a character as it provides the inspiration for Maud’s painting. In the local general store she overhears Everett Lewis played by Ethan Hawk, whose Hollywood haircut certainly looks out of place.  There are issues to be found throughout with the time passing element hardly depicting the 35 odd years Everett and Maud had time together.  When he puts out a requests for a housekeeper he  barely expects Maud to be the one putting it up to him as a woman who would do his chores when he is away on his wayfarer fish seeking and junk retrieval business.  He lives in a house about 8 metered square with a sleeping room in the apex of the roof.  It is very unkept but it is also a bit of a home.

Maud after an argument with Aunt Ida goes and takes the job and gets into a routine when Everett takes her onboard.  Everett has been brought up at an orphanage which he still calls into from time to time to get any useful junk they are throwing out.  He even sits down at a meal when it’s on offer with the children who are there.  This makes him very flawed when dealing with people an he has a temper which comes out as abuse with Maud.   Maud who has a number of ailments none of which would hardly be clear of pain.  Both characters are therefore set in an internalised world already with little notion or need foe wider ambitions.  So it is disapponting to see these two actors who are a neat fit spoil the exploration of the characters because ther are no scenes of deep recall or of their backstory.  Surely a major failing in gaining leverage.  Sarah Hawkinsat times seems affected which is far from what I would imagine her character to be.  The first instance of this jarring acting was early on when her brother Charlie is ‘negotiating’ the care of Maud.  She swings and swivels and then having caught this as a note twists her hair and this is often parlayed out later on.  Ethan Hawke places his ‘notes’ in picking up a piece f timber or a tool and chucking it behind him.  I got into a game of will he won’t he ‘discard this item’, it may work and maybe I’m over critical but small things matter as do the cars, the scenery and the seemingly implausibly long walks Maud especially takes to get around.

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The compressed into a series of chapters separated or punctuated by the seasons marching on. We see lots of beautiful wide scope sunsets, serenity of snow filled peaks and spreading landscape along with the tableau of wild flowers seasons arrival is announced by. Just this week the story of the flower received a ‘scientific’ attribution. All flowers it seems derive from one of around 130 million years ago. The first one it is believed was a white water-lily.

Artwork

Undoubtedly the film brings a broader perspective to the work produced by Maud.

Out of the small room comprising the living cooking dining and washing duties from the dark green distance of the walls would come shades of light green emerging into the daylight falling on objects.
As Liz (Dame) Smith once remarked about her loosing her mother when she was two, her mother only twenty three – it is an animal trait that if there is no one standing beside you, others can push you around without fear of confrontation.

 

Conclusion ###3

There has been a routinely good response to this film but I found it asking more questions than it answered.  The ‘family’ situation was totally out of the ordinary and the people in what is basically a two handed do not talk about their lives.  They jointly discover intimacy and it is left aside with moments of abuse entering into it.

I have to say it left me totally underwhelmed.

Go see you will most probably learn from it.

John Graham

4 August 2017

Belfast.On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 4 August through to and including Thursday 17 August 2017

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Cardboard Gangsters : A Film Review

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Cardboard Gangsters

Director Mark O’Connor. Writers. Mark O’Connor and John Connors.  John Connors as … Jason Connolly, Fionn Walton … Dano, Kierston Wareing … Kim Murphy, Jimmy Smallhorne … Derra Murphy. Remainder of cast listed alphabetically: Paul Alwright … Glenner, Alan Clinch … Whacker, Stephen Clinch … Ross Kelly, John Dalessandro … Lukey, Damien Dempsey … Curley Murphy, Gemma-Leah Devereux … Roisin, Kyle Bradley Donaldson … Stephen Kelly, Graham Earley … Evers Dempsey, Tristan Heanue … Kieran, Fionna Hewitt-Twamley … Angela Connolly, Ryan Lincoln … Cobbi, Ciaran McCabe … Sean Murphy, Lydia McGuinness … Christina, Corey McKinley … Micka Dempsey, Laura Murray … Mrs. Wilson, Aaron Blake O’Connell … Wilson, Toni O’Rourke … Sarah, Cathal Pendred … Security Officer, Robbie Walsh … House Gangster.

Duration 1hr 32mins.  Cert. 18.

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Darndale story

The Irish crime drama Cardboard Gangsters plots the story of a Dublin community, Darndale, and the infiltration of drugs into its streets and homes.  The culture is at epidemic proportions across Dublin with a crime base largely destroying the communities they were brought up in and now have drug overlords with patches to deal and exploit. Feuds are common with assainations, kidnappings, overseas gang warfare and a public caught in the crossfire. It’s little wonder Mark O’Connor and John Connors want to tackle this subject and give it a treatment which delves into the minutiae of the drugs trade and the fall out as a reality met daily. Matt O’Connor, into his fourth feature, is a conscientious socially driven Director whose film making promises a format which is well paced, as this is, full of good characterisations, which this has, follows social reality without compromise and tailors a crew and cast to deliver striking stand out films. This is one which sets out with those same intentions. The drawback is it falls into too many cliches and formulaic characterisations filling the story with very strong emotional drivers and brilliant performances yet labours with the one dimensional menu.

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Unparalleled Mother Son performances.

Jay Connolly played superbly by joint writer John Connors  just has too narrow a set of markers to put down. He plays a 26 year old who is unemployed and is a part time DJ at nightclubs were drugs are an entry requirement. He makes little money on this skill but has a sideline dealing in soft recreational drugs plus some cocaine. He and his mates are similarly banjacksd by the country, city they live in which has cardboard cut out capitalism on every billboard franked by the receipts of the lowest corporate tax rates anywhere which shored up a decrepit and corrupt government over decades of sham luxury development and high escalating property prices. It began with Zoe Developments and never stopped until the 2008 crash and they wound the windows down and let out the stink of corruption which enveloped the whole shebang – the money trailer they all were on board. The stench was smelt across Europe to the US and the EU Bank removed Irish sovereignty as penance while debts were written off and money trails led everywhere with few debtors thrown into prison.

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Getting shafted

Nama was born as was austerity.   Jay and his friends live off dole money and it doesn’t last long as most of them are into drugs in a small way to escape the mill grinding them into the ground.  Jay is reported for ‘working’ as a DJ and he merits loosing any income he has through welfare while an investigation ensues. This is a major problem and he lives with his widowed mother Angela, played by a very soulful Fionna Hewitt-Twamley and the two share a pragmatic, but despairing state of limbo.  His mother is watchful of him and knows the local criminal background. The background which took away his father.  Both are still in grief after five or so years and it is not getting any easier.

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Early hopes of escape

When the film opens we see four lifelong friends as young boys of about seven and their lives are semi feral as the wilderness as well as derelict buildings, heaps of builders rubble and eventually the woods around their North Dublin homes.  The shift is swift to the present, as they stroll around the Darndale streets, weighing up the pros and cons of various criminal enterprises they rotate in their minds.  As things take that change of direction for Jay, no income, he is in desperate need of cash and his mother is not managing either which he is quick to spot.  Both are pivotal in this film and one of its strongest parts is their relationship.  They are born with this part of Dublin as an unshift-able genus loci of all of their live’s.  God does not feature as a healer for either but his mother has a mothers belief that – if she is true to herself and carries the sacrifices for which she has no reward – except Jay’s unconditional love – then there is no counter alternative.  Love and God’s, a spirits, unseen presence, imagined everywhere.  Whatever the conditions are there is almost an unwritten law held within that life/death exist in parallel for reasons beyond them all. The version preached by the Catholic Church up to a point when their debased behavior came back to confront them was the version most families relied on but it’s far from the simple form of love and peace Jays mum is clinging onto mentally.

Now Jay reaches a crossroads and their is no turning back. The poster says ‘Take back what’s yours‘ yet we do not know in all truth what that could actually refer to. Drugs most instinctively – obviously alluding to their patch – but also take back the stolen respect and dignity and is another John Connors cause célèbre which it is very hard to tease this out with this narrative, despite the presence of ever component of the drugs trade and its immorality and tragic effects on all who come in touch with it.  Undeniably the intentions to go deeper using the story vehicle are there.

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The Gang of Four

Failure of plot happen with the four. They portray types frequently visited. Jay is the quiet leader and decisive one. He acts after a sharp intake of nitrate polluted air when crucial decisions have to be made.  His reactions always are swift.  There is his sidekick, Dano – Fionn Walton, who is a wanna be Jay but lacks the smarts and has an overinflated idea of his strength and animal logistics.  To that pairing add one other pair with firstly,  coloured native Dubliner, (John Dalesanndro?) who is all Dub and a well rounded good natured citizen with his identity fully formed but with the continual racist deflection others make of his colour ever present.  His side kick is an ordinary kid still dreaming of being a rock star – Edge/Bono/Damien Dempsey (whose songs permeate and add very very strong messages to hang the plot and narrative on) while being a rapper with an attitude in the reincarnation of Snoop dog? as Joyce of the Street reborn on the Northside. Music is their escape too.  It is no less than another songwriter, Paul Alwright.

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These two are more passive and get in over there heads when the plan Jay concocts to take over all the heavy drug dealing in Darndale gathers pace. He intends to run rings round them and take over under the noses of two sets of dealers, one a long in the tooth – Derra Murphy,  so implausible as an active Gangster not to have been wiped out by this stage – who has been doing it for 30 years non stop. Around him are a narcissistic bunch of fellow delusional hoods and pastiche Gangsters like something out of the Sopranos junior prom. The other dealer of importance he has to float off in a boat is a Northern Irish itinerant family with a hierarchy also base on the Sopranos but with an implausible young gobby boy whose resemblance in demeanour is stolen from the kid in ’71. the one who bad mouths the army. It is a bit hard to swallow due to it being delivered as one dimension bites.

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There is no slack or nuance. There is of the first mentioned old timer Gangster, Derra a real wife, Gangsters Moll, Kim played with brass by Keirston Waring of Eastenders and her hang out Ricky from The Office. who is put into situations which are far too dangerous in reality to be convincing. Everyone is an informer and it is a very degrading and bedraggled performance by a woman who ticks all the boxes and convinces you of her emotional harm and physical fragility before the inevitable happens.  The main dealer gets on his horse.  His son Sean is a go-between on the streets and his life is also to be entangled in this world as his figurehead, mentor father is the wild old man Jimmy Smallhotne as Derra Murphy.  Not a nice guy when riled.

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Screw ups, RedemptionRevelations

Jay has hit the rails in this whole new environment of his own making.  At 26 he has not modified his survival instinct to accept it could all end very badly.  Why is this seen as possible in a guy as smart as him?  He has an alternate life in a relationship with Sarah played by Toni O’Rourke, again an outstanding believable piece of acting and he has a way towards a happier life but he does see it getting out of shape in screwing it up.

What I get is a story of redemption appearing.  In the void made by his father he sees it as a probable route out of the unbearable grief of losing his mentor – not great on that score – and feels obliged to do it for the sake of his mothers security. Into this path of a future with a cause and a faith in it being the right thing he sets up scenarios which is the embodiment of the phrase ‘Take back what’s ours.’ This is a task he takes on like the universal soldier without fear or idea of wrongness. He is oblivious and a totally different person. The violence of the film is ramped up and the heat is furious as the story moves towards its sorry end.

The twists, plots, betrayals, double crosses are thrown out in every direction and within it is framed Jays realisation of his fate and his journey. It is very audacious way to take on a story which is part of the everyday practically and make it new with edge and believability but it falls down by following – and this is a first go at feature length writing as a collaboration of O’Connors and Connor so it bodes well for more nuances and less predictable tropes. I was reading about the Cartel Wives, a true story written by two sisters married to twins and Mexicos biggest drug dealers into Chicago and much of America and they played the stereo types but we’re in a different league. There is also the Matthew McConagaghy Dallas Buyers Club which wrote an entirely weird and contemporary wildfire take on drug dealing Texas style which I thought superb and a whole Club of emotions entangled in a modern world.

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Conclusion ###3

I have to bite into my critical viewpoint and not become over run with sentiment.  Dublin, Ireland deserves a film such as this, just to lift the lid off ordinary life in the shameful presence of the drugs trade exploiting the wracked minds and medically uncared for addicts and the outpouring of huge societal problems accumulating year after year.  The film goes into a story partly based on criminality which even since it was made – 2016 – is on an unrelenting course of spiraling brutality.  From previous eras these stories also come into day to day conversation and filmmakers such as Mark O’Connor see the task of their own driving force the need to put onto screens in startling effective realistic storylines something of the view outside the cinema or home.  King of the Travelers became an opus in real story progressed film narrative.  This too is neither sentimental, glorified, sexed up, hyperrealised but a searching account without answers as none come forward.  Ever.  The account is full of bloody and messy translations of human fortune delivering a grueling watchable unfolding perspective of a life in Darndale.  It takes you into places beyond the limits its trope ridden script – it follows a formula without jettisoning the usual gangster movie traits for something extraordinary – which it is in proximity of without delivering.  The scenes are beautifully framed in tracking without settling but continuing apace when things get serious, by the wide frame and flowing cinematography of Michael Lavelle and Directorship of Mark O’Connor’s strength of compressive – no out but violent immmersion.  While it is flawed in several ways it is an opening of the view never properly taken before as Cinema material.  John Connors could play a priest or an American suited and booted crooked Businessman or a junkie Coach of a Football team or even I thought. – well your imagination will be challenged as this is pulled out of the fire by performances heart felt and convincing in the deepest way effecting.
On at Queens Film Theatre from 23 June 2017 and that screening will have an introduction by John Connor, possibly Q/A?  and will continue through to and including the 29 June 2017and on general release.

From a writer whose songs have crossed the world and is an inspiration at around 31 for lots of young Irish musicians I found myself looking at his website and a letter from Damo.

Heres a very insightful and thought provoking excerpt. Hope he doesn’t object to the cut and paste!  See it all at http://damiendempsey.com/a-letter-from-damo – he puts down what inspires him.

Sam was sent to Ireland as part of a food removal regiment. These regiments were stationed all over Ireland, guarding the rivers of food that was leaving Ireland all through this terrible period. Cattle, sheep, pigs, grain, wheat, barley, peas beans, rabbits and an array of different types of food was being shipped to England, as millions of Irish starved. Ireland at this time and for many centuries was known as the garden of England. That’s why it angers me that this period in Ireland from 1845 to 1850 is referred to by everyone and in Irish history books as ‘the famine’. The word famine means extreme scarcity of food, yet in one year alone, 1847,over 4000 ships brimming with Irish food left Ireland for English ports. The same year, 400,000 Irish people died of starvation. So I’d implore people to stop using that phrase. Lets call it what it really was. Mary McAleese has referred to this period as the great starvation; I think that’s a more accurate name. Half the British Empires army was in Ireland at this time guarding the foods passage to the coast, (many Irishmen numbered among them), and the soldiers all had to be fed, this gives you an idea of the amount of food that was in the land during this time. This is what Sam Jenkins was doing in Ireland. Like many soldiers from a poor background, he felt more affinity with the poor Irish than he did with the ruling class English (who tried to brainwash the soldiers into thinking that the Irish were white apes, sub human), and he suffered because of this.

If you have the chance my friends please vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming U.K. elections, a modern day Sam (if your reading this letter I’m sure you will). This leads me onto the song Simple Faith. I feel we shouldn’t have blind faith in institutions like the state and the church and believe all were taught in school. As you can see above the version of Irish history I was taught in school about ‘the famine’ and Oliver Cromwell and Drogheda’s 2000 dead (Cromwell’s new model army killed hundreds of thousands of Irish in the Cromwellian wars) were cover-ups and lies. And not one mention in an Irish history book of the 50,000 Irish slaves sent to the West Indies or their descendants still there today in Barbados, the Red Legs.

I had to find out these truths for myself through research. The same way I found 5HTP after Brian Cowen banned it in Ireland; I try to be questioning and open. I believe we’re on the cusp of a new dawn, new age of enlightenment. People are talking about who really runs the world and owns the banks and the media. Their talking about the poison put into food and the toxins put into the water. Their growing their own food and eating whole foods, getting into spirituality and nature and mindfulness, looking back in time for learning and wisdom. They’re recycling, glass, plastic, paper, food. The things we can learn now on the internet when we sift through the garbage and do a little research is incredible. A friend of mine Dee from my street told me the Shaman are waking up around the world. A South American Shaman told her this. I’m feeling it. I’m talking about this in the song Simple Faith. People are far more open to herbal remedies now and medicating themselves with them. Their looking at what their ancestors used to heal themselves instead of having blind faith in doctors, who often have the answers but not always.

People are far more open to using cannabis for healing than they used to be. Lots of older people I know are using it for pain relief and other sorts of conditions and ailments. This is another thing that rankles me about having simple faith in the government. Some guy in a suit tells us we can’t use the healing properties of a plant that grows out of the ground, that humans have used for thousands of years to heal all sorts of ailments. The government refuses to legalise it even with the THC taken out it. The THC gets you high but the vast majority of people across the land in pain or with a condition that cannabis can help with don’t want the THC, they want the CBD part of the plant. But the powers that be cruelly say no. Yet the same powers refuse point blank to stop dumping a toxic waste. They purchase this waste with taxpayer’s money from fertilising plants, which would have to pay to dump this fluoride if our government didn’t purchase it from them for our water supply. Saying that it’s good for our teeth (countries across the world have banned it out of their water). Maybe this was true in he 1950s when many people didn’t have toothbrushes or toothpaste or mouth wash. This same toxic waste lowers IQ in children, makes people more docile, and makes people sick. And a lot of people make a lot of money from sick people.How sick is that. That’s kind of the jist of ‘Simple Faith’ anyway.

I’ve an iPhone now my friends, I’ve nearly learned how to turn it on and off, so I hope to be posting more on Facebook, if I ever learn how to take a picture on it. And I just got handed a copy of my first ever vinyl album, mother of god, its so beautiful, tears in my eyes here X.

So from Damo to Samo to good old Jeremy!

 

Belfast Film Festival : Short Documentary Films 2017


Documentary Short films 10 only. In order of screening at Queens Film Theatre 2 April 2017

Introduction 
The Festival organisers this year decided to separate the Documentary Short films from the general submissions to create a different dynamic. One was the resulting drama, theatrical, visionary output of Shorts as entertainment and of a closer connection to Mainstream Cinema and independent’s of the previous days showing. Foremost among new filmmakers is the notion that they have a new story to tell and hence avoid finding replicant’s of films we are familiar with. The Short delivers a condensed story form or idea and scrutinises it with a particular scenes of occasion. A long form film does this also at times but can construct in the pyramid many routes to the same end. Documentary Shorts are a difficult medium also as there have been numerous exceptionally good ones over recent years. One in a style specific to itself, Amy, several other musical ones, the Iggy Pop one, Gimmie Danger and then there are the ones Notes on Blindness and Life, Animated. These were outside the realm of TV documentaries also confined to a set one sitting viewing. The tendency with Art, History and Science Documentaries is to chapter them. The recent brilliant Andrew Graham Dixon series – a trilogy on the Gothic willing my view for it to go down as a masterpiece of a study on the current sociological vicissitudes, and angst born out of the modern era where money and patronage gave leave for writers to produce ‘analysis’ on past times and create future visions. Post Dante and post figurative art. All these lead into the medium of Film. Exemplified by Frankenstein and Dracula with Hitchcock exploring along with the Gothic of Psycho the psychology of the species.  

Here goes.

The following are not exactly tending towards any sense of the gothic but they are oddly enough in many instances paying homage and advancing Gothic themes or ways of thinking.


I call to the Living and Mourn the Dead 

Very often a tragedy during the ‘Troubles’ – that misconstrued inadequate word for our recent history, is explored and it shoulders a responsibility to maintain in its purpose some truth seeking. This film is of a family torn by internal loss of a brother who fled Northern Ireland for fear of being shot. 

Told by his brother the narrative brings in Bombay Street, Ballymurphy as props and timelines. Neither event directly involving the family. Certainly being in the midst of it it implies may have provoked brother Kevin into IRA activism. Kevin became an on the run. We never hear what became of him nor do we get any insight as to the rights and wrongs of Irishman fighting Irishman. Both residing in Britain so Brit fighting Brit? It was a loss of identity or clamor for identity which drove the conflict on top of Civil Rights, supported by both sections against Unionist hegemony. In this film that intangibility is evident though very thinly explored. People do not as individuals represent the ‘Nation’ but people around them convince them they do and design a politic to suit the cause without sight of the consequences. Like the United Irishmen of 1798 the IRA who had none of the nationalist support of the unique United Irishmen had and Ireland in mind but not a United one. This is a film about everything except the troubles but is enclosed in telling a story about a particular family, a sense of remorse and loss, and a head shaking excessive in why? without any particular vision nor with any disclosure about what happened to Kevin. It was not like the Boston tapes which sought/seek to reveal what is unheard. This was a simplistic version of reality though in itself explains many families still are trying to work out what went on and how they were caught up in it others seeking justice and who will never stop through generations quite rightly seeking the truth on those dark dark days.


Forever roars the Atlantic

This is a stupendous alternative view of the North Antrim Coast as seen through adventurous divers, climbers with a good sense of a dramatic frame and larger appreciation of the wilds of nature that form our coastline. Like birds they fly into the air but as humans drop like stones into the breaking waves and surf crashing into the rocks. The depiction through the new equipment of go-pro lightweight cameras which have their own memory card and possibly new gimble aided cameras provide a brilliant active film of high quality and definition. To give gravitas to the adventurous by acknowledging what this awesome coastline is about – which after all is capped by the explosion of the North Atlantic Plate and The European Plate tectonically providing us with this habitat we know as Ireland – at the Giants Causeway – is extolled by the filmmakers and delivered – partially – by a 200 year old MacGonagle? poem itself a homage to this rugged active terrain. Except it to is not up to the task. Forever roars the Atlantic. That is not even close as this film will testify. The Atlantic is our definition of the Ocean formed after this Coastline took shape in the manner crudely described above. The Forever part is also untrue. These adventurers come to a place where for thousands of years these waves have repeatedly on the aegis of the moon cyclically been crashing in more or less the same way over a vast time. Seasons and moon cycles their driver. So it is to this beauty and awesome place we enter in a different way than we would otherwise see it through these filmmakers and it is a testimony to the gift it is to be witness of it or a part of its immense creation. The film reaches another level of understanding and it’s brevity is one possible reason it did not hold the interest entirely. It would have been interesting to see a greater variety of locations and people if holding the impression it was isolated and became a extreme sports film more than a locality, people driven film.


The Wee Shop

In Belfast the corner shop is a disappearing social staple. The Shop around the corner and later You’ve got mail by Nora Ephron are story films of the urban shop while in Belfast the Irving St John who belonged to a deaf family in Euston Street wrote the very funny play Boyd’s Shop which created a very portrait of the community focal point these places were on basically every road and inner city tributary. They even existed in the backstreets and their lights were on until near nine o’clock to provide for the essentials such as milk bread and sugar and non essentials such as cigarettes, lemonade and ice cream, the weekly pools coupon and a florid diet of gossip. The faltering entity is now a shadow of its former self as this short film makes a collection of a small number of stoical shopkeepers lament themselves about the struggle to remain true to the community corner shop provision they sustain on modest returns. Aside from the butchers and Chip shops and street cafes and fast food outlets they are seldom able to compete and this film is a tale which brings mostly dark humour out with the resolute frank telling of past times. Patsy on the New Lodge Road has plenty in common with her fellow shopkeepers Bill and Norman of Sandy Row and the Shankill respectively. The sorry demise of communities driven to the wall by successive governments undermining through lack of investment in all sectors of community life, the housing, schools, infrastructure, transport and a determination to structure destabilisation through housing allocation and lack of provision for families within communities is seen in these very shops which act as a last connection with the troubled communities they serve and served. By giving as one Shopkeeper explained Consuelo the bigger stores are allowed free access to a market through scale and mainly car accessible shopping. Monster supermarkets out of scale with communities and frequented by out of town bound custom heading to the dormitory habitations which provide identikit soulless housing on former farmland and undeveloped hinterlands of small villages. The film is a marker as were photographs of the same shops and former shopkeepers which provide another outlook and insight to the life of a passing community key. 


Seán Hillen Merging views 

This new short documentary portrait observes artist Seán Hillen as he creates a beautiful new photomontage. He shares thoughts about his work and recent personal discovery. The choice of making a work in the small studio of Seán Hillen is a tool adding emphasis to the incredibly interesting subject which is part of film making achievement; the detail the intensely focal frame.

The intensely imaginative world of Newry native, Séan Hillen in his present home of many years in Dublin is entered as if stepping into the imagination itself. From the immediacy of an introduction to the dark outside and the loved fat bastard of a cat getting a food treat offered with profanity, a source of warm engagement and audience laughter enters the film theatre as The Wee Shop did with its non stop mix of pathos and humour striking a chord here in Belfast. It is a rare thing indeed to see an artist in a studio and while Warhol identified a niche to have photographers, artists, authors committed to coming to the factory and making their written and visual record of it itself became product. Like the late Basil Blackshaw who eschewed the rigmarole of publicity and never courted it Séan Hillen is similarly not keen on intrusiveness. When filmmakers of the aptitude and moxie of Paddy and put it to you they want to make a piece about your work it’s a different matter altogether. The work too becomes an artwork. I was reminded of the groundbreaking film following Francis Bacon back from The Colony Rooms to his house and his immediately getting prepared to paint in the wee small hours of the night. Bacon took time to ignore the witness and get on with the work in his mind whereas there is a participation advanced here in this film, to welcome in the viewer to the processes which attest to their inherent honesty. 

To carry out an explanation of how he works Séan gathers together an assembly of thoughts surrounding a new piece of work. In common with the photomontage works he has been making for nearly thirty years it is a leap into the unexpected each time it would seem and is as I perceived it a conduit of his mind extrapolating for us our own heralded metamorphic conjunctions on possible truths of previously upheld views. His explanation and it’s not given as a foundation but possible source of our connection with his work, is our brains priority in placing – seeing as believing – first ahead of further analytical deconstruction. The eye tells the mind to believe what it sees. Given the mind is relying on a chemical reaction which is fed though light onto chemicals transmitters and is a part of the brain itself we are in teleportation land. In the depths of the oceans we know of creatures that have no eyes. We are aware of the senses prioritising light and colour followed by sound smell taste and touch so reality exists to be broken down intuitively when we encounter only the two dimensional figurative statement of a photograph. Ireland has a complex narrative as does ever inhabitant of it.  

Those in the past have questionable histories so why not confront alternative functions for those times and perceptions because memories lie and people do. Mythology is an art form in Ireland from the pipers lament handed down through millennia to our Newgrange polemic ancestory. We have an Eros of harmony in our lives which is equated with that ancient Greek goddess of discord and the sister of Ares. To the turbulence of the universal rules and reliances we bring construct more often than not based on simple untruths be it, democracy, loving, civilisation and fellow treatment of all living things. To this is the melee we have to call discord, identified with the Roman goddess Discordia. In Séan Hillen’s work – most notably Irelantis this discordance is highly prevalent. The discordance which Séan Hillen relates to and with in the film is his relatively recent knowledge of his having the Asperger’s condition which has performed a cathartic revalation for him to the extent previously unexplained attributes were held at arms length rather than their current state of becoming part of the reasoned dialogue.  

To an artist this must be a great benefit as well as a perpetual commitment to the Aldous Huxley doors of enlightenment. Huxley was taught by his father of the possibilities the mind could extend to. The Prelude And Præterita of Aldous therefore were built in his DNA along with the affinities the mind constructs. Seeing here is the artwork progressing along those very lines. Such was the source of the Huxley concepts of cosmic and social order to effect a transformation in Western thinking parallel must be held appropriate in advancing towards recognition of viewpoints we are yet unable to understand but have a belief they are of such magnitude as to affect our present existence in unknown ways, we are basically staking our whole existence past present and future on that construct being manifest. Whether it is true – and these art works as well as many other artists works – tend to that possibility – that we are not yet able to see it – is what allows us the freedom to make such conjectures. Ireland, Eire has Greek connections to the word Peace the opposite of discord ironically. 

There was a palpable stunned silence as the revelatory images became clear and that we were witness to a photomontage which proposed the absurd to not only to be a possibility but had certain other occurrences happened, they could not be dismissed as mere juxtapositions of intangible fluid thought and were reminders how we perceive things alive and active. Advertisements and the land of fictional representation, the apparel label logos identity symbols and members of the semiotics of visual language. While many are on the parameters of fictional forces there are others which are disablingly, perplexing and of deep embedded truth telling however ‘inconceivable’ they might appear. Our consciousness is at a place we’re we are incapable of dismissing them, as perceived certitudes divide us and make us what we are. In preparation for God it seems our goal is to seek out beauty in harmony with the universe. This simple aim is difficult for the human as existence is made all the more confounding by the Bible quotation of God being sorry for making us this way… ‘failing’ you becoming ‘sorry’ in the KJB. 

The Irish Film Festa10 asked of Paddy Cahill 3 questions 

Why did you choose to make a film about Seán Hillen?

I’ve been a long time admirer of Seán Hillen’s work but it was last year, as I visited him at his home to buy one of his prints as a present, that I knew I wanted to make the film. I wrote to Seán right after asking if I could make a short documentary about him and his work. Seán has an amazing backstory, which should be told in another documentary, but I was really fascinated by his home/studio where he creates his amazing work.

The film is set in a small room:

How did you work in terms of frame composition and editing?

When we filmed it was just myself and Basil Al Rawi, our director of photography, in the house with Seán. It was very important to me that we would be a tiny crew, although not much more would have fit in the room anyway! One rule I tried to keep was that Seán would only talk or answer questions while he was making work. That way it would be less like a traditional documentary interview. I thought that watching Seán work while he spoke would be more interesting to the viewer. This also gave Basil the freedom to get right up to Seán’s shoulder and compose some really beautiful cinematography.

And how long did the shooting take?

Along with producer Tal Green we were planning the filming for quite a while but the actual filming was over the course of one night only. I wanted the audience to have the same feeling we had when we filmed as if they just dropped in one night, to this unusual house on a normal looking terrace street in Dublin and got to watch Seán create one of his works.


Oor Wally

There is a pride about Elena Taylor as this film shows about her beloved Stenhousemuir Football Club. In the introduction she tells the unseen cameraman and us, ‘This is the Toilet’, then shuffles along fully kitted up as Stenies long in post, mascot Oor Wally. Or Wally if you prefer. Being a Wally is an unfortunate choice but like the Broons, and Oor Willie they kit the name out with further embellishment so as not to frighten or lull the away supporters Wally is a push over. Decorum is very much Elenas take on it. She is a woman on a mission and gives her all to the role. She takes the cameraperson up the bread aisle of her day job in – well it looked like Asda – and into the toilets. On the wall are framed awards, the latest has yet to be mounted. The Frozen foods aisle brings us and the camera person back to earth as Elena spreads her cheerful banter about her workmates like jam on a scone. When you see Elena sans outfit she is a normal middle aged lovely heart warming person with a radiance she likes to hide, well most of the time, under her alter ego Wally. Once the bloomers are sorted the undergarments correctly in their place on goes the outer shield of the Stenie shirt and leggings. Then Wally the presence, the overlarge head. Then all sorts can be expected. When she walks to the ground past folk going about their business she hardly causes a stir – other than a cherry hello – but on the contrary would be missed if unsighted. As a mascot she takes on dangerous tasks as a meeter and greeter with contact with away fans a thrill no doubt of any day. Newcomers to the home end are easily spotted and welcomed along with the regulars. Defeat is often considered up to fifteen minutes before a match and then a switch is flicked and defeat is out of the question. Warm up coaching of senior players, (l doubt she would berate a younger player) is a forte. Hitting balls over the bar doesn’t go down well and admonishment comes fast and flavoured. This is a memorable film unlike the season they often have. To survive is one thing but to live the dream is another. This is a delightfully made, sincerely felt, no half measures Film – grit loss victory treated just the same – but overall it is a portrait of a lady who goes out of herself to provide an added dimension to the 90mins + added time and long may her reign and Stevie’s need for support continue.

Roys Story

Along with the film below this is similarly voyeuristic of a delusional. A rural storyteller in this instance who is no Len Graham. Being a short it sets up a middle aged man in a field with a microphone to tell his stories which all involved se some stength in. I came to the conclusion swiftly it was a waste of time. Sorry but this was banality writ large.


Raymond

There is something exploitative of finding a lonely old farmer whose lived in face and accumulation of history and things is penetrated for its Irish eccentricity. The director has become aware of this man who lives almost hermit like and who makes a life for himself with the fishing and stores he has in isolation. Maybe he is able to sell some of his catch. Sell some potatoes and vegetables. Instead of this existence the portrait is portrayed by the whims of the existential needs of the filmmaker as it could sit nicely in contrast with the nature surrounding the elderly gentleman. The hubris of an elderly man putting his hand on the Bible unprovoked I presume and him telling a story of empty confused allegiance to an almighty or faith element is an infringement which I found it both unedifying and plain damnable by a filmmaker. To see this old man and hear what he supposes a reality from the living while they are the stuff of delusion and an uncritical perturbed complex mind is a travesty. To see it got and it does not surprise me in the least. There is always an appetite for this voyeuristic cannibalism of the form which is painted over with the smoothness of wet bogland, rivers coursing, banks of standing reeds and is as unpoetical and pretentious guff as they come. It is no great insight to rural Ireland and though it records away of life which hopefully is on the decline, there are numerous colonies of self-formed groups living ‘off grid’ but this is quite common in the face of rural agricultural land ownership and immigration. Indeed this man is a returnees so has plenty of experiences which are contrasting. 


Casion : A Chiptune Documentary.

For the second time in this Documentary set we see an art film and a well considered vision of a section of music rarely encountered. The niche is electronics made with Game Boy and Computer Game sound effects. This is like the Seán Hillen work an analogue type of art form. While extensively digital it is conversely instrumental as it is the controls of the devices that enter the latitutude and longitude of the scales and contort, conspire to be a cascade of sound. Set in the environs of public performance in a small club – having been introduced to the subject by the protagonist, player, Jamie Belvedere of his standard nomenclature of Chipmunk this sideline is a very attractive creative outlet which reaches into the aural space of a small rom with familiar vote and sense of alternative sources for of sound. The audience are appreciative and get it, the cinema experience can only touch the edges, and they shuffle, look around and take in this vibe with knowing connection. The intensity of the raw sound and its boundaries are well captured with editing filling in direction of travel. From production to trepidation and worry of ‘will it work’ to it coming together joyfully in a club as an essence of a particular module of electronica. Itself limiting that’s not really a concern but it’s conception as a medium is uniquely choreographed for the reasoning of musics own art form and it’s seemingly unlimited contagion. I enjoyed this dark and driving film with its new delivery of a niche. If it receives attention beyond short film viewers and sound freaks or everyday avante garde travelers then it surprise a few but it’s unlikely to get to reach very far unfortunately.


The Fashion Show
I’ve placed this film short high on my list of preferred films over the Festival. It’s unasssuming erudite, irony and clever depiction of a rural moving on timepiece of a Summer Fete is of a pathos, humble, Ulster form self parodying and reflecting on the time taken out to be at ease and just have fun. The camaraderie is placed on top of a headline (McDonnell – Glenarm) Scots-Irish backdrop. The fact the estate is so large and festivities are a local staple annually preserve the falsehood of landownership while being a countenance to its presence and inadvertently provides a soft landing for its ugly sequestration. The hero of the film is the stoically alert, intelligent, wide thinking Ruth Morrow who contests herself into becoming an alter ego in the form of Game icon. Super Mario and sidekick Luigi. Luigi is taken off field duties leaving an upset mum. This is temporary but Mum is unaware of this and weaning is not easy. You’ve guessed who fits the bill for Luigi’s part?

In The Fashion Show is caught a bright light in the world of Ruth Morrow trainee shepherdess and the Gamer heros were a breathe of fresh air too. The sublimity – (solid to gas to solid again seems appropriate) – of the world of a rural community letting its worries pass into the afternoon sky temporarily was a lovely escape exquisitely creative and insightful. The surreality of the theme developed was a natural phenomenon and a really enjoyable watch, thoroughly well done by a burgeoning talent. The way it took us through the fete was itself an insight without being intrusive. For example we never learn who the ‘entertainers’ they give a massive swerve to are and likewise no morality or judgement is passed. Only the curmudgeonly like myself who set about seeking a higher meaning or sense of displacement onto other things, by attachments, sentimental or otherwise, have occasion to appropriate the message of entertainment in a simple form. It’s just it is done very smartly and with a beginning, middle and an end which is itself an achievement for a short film. The view from the estate is wonderful and it is something all love to be connected to despite it being in someone else’s ownership – perhaps that is why the Sea has its draw.  Any answer Ted Hughes from far?


Martin 

Established and busy photographer Donal Moloney of Dublin noticed on his frequent movements around the inner City a homeless person who on meeting him turned out to be Martin who disowned the title homeless as his home was underneath Pearce Street Station under arches. Donal was attracted to Martins presence Ashe was a fixture of this locality and was intrigued enough to investigate. We have the resulting film which follows on in perverse logic some photography work with the ‘homeless’ Donal Moloney had been engaged in over many years. Father Peter McVeery who is a Catholic Priest who makes it his life’s mission to help Dublin’s homeless and disadvantaged. The Arrupe Society in Summerhill being the probable source of food for Martin and the biscuits he crushes under his boot for pigeons around Pearce Street. I did not hear his name crop up or did I miss it? This instead avoids spirituality as a hindrance to proper discussion. It takes the dubious philosophy and delusion of happiness into acceptance on the part of the Director for its scenic unmaterialistic value set yet adds tokenistic view of society from the perspective of a person who lives on its fringes while spending time reading in a library in the worst of times. Weather beaten and with pure instincts for survival Martin has become a model inconvenient tag ‘homeless’ person to partner with Donal’s photographic skills so identifying a product and a placement which the pair have contrived as a contribution to art. It removes itself from definition, parody or pathos as a singularly lax story, I can’t think if one is more deluded than the other but as a film of a nomad on the streets of Dublin whose sadness and rejection of the assistance is temporal according to him, one of rejecting help is sanguine, almost sanguinary imploding as a mystery, is of little merit given the conditions of crime, poverty, addictions, child abuse and societal hemorrhaging seen as a white canvas to invent illusion upon. The Belfast Film Festival Documentary Judges Committee came up with this as the joint winner amongst all the above with Raymond. They, to my mind, share the same insensitivity, and intrusive voyeuristic tome required of insensible unconscious filmmaking. There was not a creative moment to be had beyond contrived happenstance.

The Secret Scripture : A Film Review


The Secret Scripture

Director Jim Sheridan, Producer Noel Pearson, Screenplay by Jim Sheridan, Johnny Ferguson. Cast, Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Eric Bana, Theo James, Aidan Turner, Jack Reynor, Susan Lynch, Siobhan Redmond, Adrian Dunbar. Music by Brian Byrne, Cinematography Mikhail Krichman, Edited by Dermot Diskin, Production company, Ingenious Senior Film Fund, Voltage Pictures, Ferndale Films. Cert. 12a. Duration 1hr 48mins.


Beyond Dublin in the Green

Some people have got this film horribly wrong and are unable to cross over into it’s tragedy in a trinity of hope. The Irish Times gives it this ‘tribute’ – What’s that? Who’s he? Where’d that come from? When Barry’s novel was published, several critics argued that the final unlikely twist felt at odds with a hitherto disciplined narrative. It says something about the film that the reversal feels perfectly at home among so many even greater lunacies. It even casts sectarianism into a new vein without making comment of how diffuse these things are to convey – it seems in a blind alley Ireland. The mastery of the Bible both potent and conclusive lends written comfort to Rose, a woman betrayed.  It is within the unspoken reading between the lines we go with this film based on the novel of the same name by Sebastian Barry which makes for more imagining than the act of storytelling in film this is.  Nevertheless it is handled extremely carefully with a melding of eras and in themselves drawing comparisons.  The landscape is more familiar to the Irish and the need to know (Philomenas Story is a close relative) diaspora from Canada, America or Britain whose children are the fathers and mothers of new generations of the ‘departed’.  In complete association too are those left beneath fields, institutions buried so none would reflect on their memory except the mothers and those in the know.  From Priests to Police to Orderlies. Into the equationn come knowing townsfolk contributing to the complicity and getting on with their lives by ignoring it in order to straighten their own existence in the changing world.  For the story to begin we enter the present day at Rose’s Hospital and Residential Care home in the midst of it closing down.  Some lessons are learnt and there is clearly an attempt by Director Jim Sheridan to acknowledge Times have changed and the bullying and treatment of people like animals has been removed.  In this present environment there is real care and a making good with what is at hand.  Even the prospect of Rose being able to go to somewhere other than a mental asylum has reared its head.

With the dramatic stroke of a pen Sebastian Barry conjures up a back story to the aging and institutionalised grande dame Vanessa Redgrave playing Roseanne McNulty whose 50 years committal to this decaying and listed for demolition Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, is transported on the journey of her earlier life and circumstances.  Doctor Grene (Eric Bana) is sent to determine whether Roseanne is fit to be released.  The younger Rose is played by the affluent and Irish connected, Rooney Mara whose arrival in a small village in 1940s Ireland causes two men, a fighter pilot and a priest, played by Jack Reynor and Theo James.


New horizons revisited

Jim Sheridan has Oscar-winning debut My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father as home based movies and into Irishmans habitual magnetic pull to tales of immigration he went and it did not fail him with the exile story In America, and was an acclaimed award winning film also.  Some subsequent entries to the mainstream movie still didn’t seem to suit his work and this is a return of more recognisable formats and it is an attempt by Sebastian Barry to story tell the periods which define present day Ireland the diaspora and wars intervention.  This of course brings in relationships as the bolstering narrative force.  The auld triangle of a beautiful young woman and two bantam cocks clanging the auld triangle and creating conflicts?

Rose has kept a dairy all these years and we enter its tableau – shortly into the arrival of Rooney Mara from Belfast where it’s unsafe after bombing there.  The arrival of a beautiful independent woman is on this West Ireland landscape in the shadow of Yeats Benbullben outside Sligo, is to an already developed hybrid of gentry, Anglo patrons and a subdued, suppressed by Religion ‘compliant’ malcontented population.  They are not mercifully at war though many across Ireland went and fought alongside the British as it was 1. an option 2. There was little for them at home.  The mainstay of any small community is its perverse sense of hierarchy and those who disobey and act up are likely cast out.  Rose is recruited into her Aunts Hotel Temperance establishment and quickly the honeypot of the scented air takes her into the midst of village taboos.  The first ‘normal’ encounter is with a young man called Conroy a labourer for a hard nosed local family.  They have a built in hatred on the English and when there is another approach not altogether religious and skirting his own anxieties surrounding masculinity and his sacrifice comes Father ..    Rose deflects such straight eyed advances and goes her own path while accepting invitations to the local dance.  The presence of the Church is everywhere and in the dance hall they are required to keep apart while hoAldi get one another while the Priest including the presence of Father …. they leave enough space not to be sinful.

The film is drawn out using a great deal of passage from the present to the past.  It in done with good untroublingbpassage and with the versatile Vanessa Redgrave playing the Lady Rose and the unnerving accurate Rooney Mara as the younger vunerable Rose.

Inconsistencies and alterations. Implausibilities? 

Very strongly held views on this film have come from many who find the story confusing and too contrived in its far fetched coincidences and shaping of characters that feature less in the book than put to purposes dramatic here.  Some even call it a travesty.  Sebastian Barry having sold the rights keeps his counsel and his silence is taken as being far from endorsement. There certainly are large parts of the long history left in the book and a Rooney Mara’s Rose here has a prominent role in a central love story which contains its central themes.  She is an incomer, she is a beautiful sophisticated woman, she is of independent mind, she is entering a part of ‘remnants of occupied’ Ireland beset with unfettered resentment, she enters a village which has ahigh morality  driven by the Church, she is also in proximity to state institutions which remove children and separate single mothers from their babies and lock them up and give their babies away for money.  She also is in proximity to a Medical system crudely operating the appliances of ECT and shock treatment as normal for mental illnesses or difference.  She also notices the formidable rectitude of everyone to hierarchical status including her domineering Aunt (Siobhan Redmond) who’s name along with a few others are not easy to find on press credits oddly.  So is it deplorable to drop large parts of a book and get Shakespearean in this gazette of Ireland observed by the Filmaker Jim Sheridan who wrote the script along with the late Johnny Ferguson.?  There are central characters in this which do not sit comfortably with some people.  The airman flying a Spitfire – they ignore the reconnaissance tasks in the West Coast Atlantic seaboard where U-boats were often found and Lough Foyle famously being the last outpost for plenty of U-boats and also forget the American airbases – the recent BBC My Mother and other Strangers gave you the opposite to this film, delivering a War soap opera – which were in Fermanagh and all across Northern Ireland full of troops and airmen training to be pilots in preparation for the Secret D-day landings.  8,000 in Kilkenny Co.Down alone. While the book may have consorted with the flying mission instead of being a land based soldier, it matters little.  Bonzos are quite capable of shooting down ‘foreign’ planes and planes crash.  Many flights no doubt took place over this very stretch of Ireland’s republic.   Where do you take fault?  Is it the neatness of parts of the linkages.  Is the element of delving into people’s past too trite?  Sheading interesting characters? Is the ludicrously large white collared Priest Father Gaunt too comical and pathetic a figure. His character is volumously turgid and corrupt of a conflicted man. Are the nurses of the old school too clean and Matronly while being intensely underlyingly cruel? All these questions to my mind are nonsense and in the core of the film Rose is telling you how unstable memory is. The record to has advanced writing out that history.  Some of it is fantasy and in parts some of the grim reality turns out to have another side.  I don’t care if half the time the story finds a simple way to the next part as we are closely kept to the woman at is heart trying to imagine what happened to her.  Can you imagine how much she must have struggled to put that behind her.  For her imaginings of what happened to ultimately coincide with a partial reality?  The questions need not be effecting in terms of how they are coming to you as essentially they are in the realm of broken fractured memory.  The script actually places false directions in Rose’s mind only.  The other characters are real and no such bewilderment is visited through them.  Their part is sometimes savage and brutal.  Rose’s is in a state of protection in a fixed world she has inhabited for 50 years?  Can you imagine the damage caused to her and many women like her?

Similarities

I opened the play The Steward of Christendom at random and came across the same times as here. There are common investigations and trials of the past – society in Ireland – undergone by Sebastian Barry of which I rate the play as masterly, profound, haunting, sad forgotten history, much as this film indeed takes us into and it is quite political but Donal McCann made it definitely ‘other’ about the human improsoned in Ireland. Inside the Institution and outside on the Island fighting seeming wrongs. It made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end in its horrific prescience. Even now it inhabits the same place – even more so given the recent barbaric dreadful disclosures of previous generations guilt and the pain inflicted in those institutions.  Here’s the line I found straight on opening its pages of the powerful orderly Smith – Even in the ward of old dames with their dead brains, have some of them opened their eyes and are weeping to be woken, with your bloody shouting.  Do you want to go in with them, old man? After I beat you! Sebastian Barry on the case even then.

Eric Bana takes a high dose of listening to his requirement for enquiry about Rose.
The rich dramatic material at play and the fascinating historical backdrop means there’s plenty here that proves initially appealing. The young Rose is trapped by her sexuality, arousing interest in men without the slightest provocation on her part yet facing the full force of blame from those around her. The film briefly explores the complicated rituals of dating at the time and the dangers of a bruised male ego when a woman dares to turn a man down.
Initially there was a backlash in contemporary Ireland to the book with its closeness to history and claims of abuse ever in the headlines playing out.  It was seen in reviewers eyes as being far fetched and characterisations of romance purile and simplistic. For the film it’s seen likewise by many. The closing of the film is too contrived and unexpected as Vanessa Redgrave holds centre stage with her marbles intact.  The Secret Scripture use devices of story telling which only flow smoothly in books but it is admittedly hard to convey in the time period of a movie.  Demands of twists and turns though have been dealt with very satisfactorily by Jim Sheridan and there is no overplay of the gestures and realisations as they unfold.  With Vanessa Redgrave playing Beethoven’a Moonlight Sonata, (an accusatory critic paled at its repetitiveness) in solitary moments in a room, we see the breathing diaphragm of a living person recollecting her past.  It is not only sweet and convincing it is powerful and moving.

For the time periods to intermingle we have to have contrast and Susan Lynch playing the part of a present day nurse becomes a key vehicle for the sensitivity of history learnt. Her knowing, caring, is in seeing the woman in Lady Rose and reflecting on what she has gone through over forty years.  With the instruction having been given to assess her being taken up by a psychiatrist who is intrigued by the fortitude and forceful will of Lady Rose, is Eric Bana who plays admirable the ‘outside’ caring professional, quick to note discrepancies in the work of his peer, the notable Dr Jello  of Adrian Dunbar who is in charge with emptying the establishment and sees it as in ‘the line of duty’ as a role he plays with predictable solidity.   Dr Grene on the other hand is given slack and time by Sebastian Barry to develop a quick relationship of patient and Doctor which in present times of austerity are unimaginable.  Nevertheless an authors due – the slack given on occasion to movies due to time scale particularly in adapting books – is to make plausible a story’s reach.  Eric Bana and Susan Lynch form a convincing team and share the sandwiches, lunchbox treats and soups etc. or whatever sustenance is at hand in between Rose’s rest and elderly ramblings.  They too remain in the ghost like building emptying around them.  That is when switches occur back to Rooney Maras action packed life take us into a believable village – preposterous to critics of the book – with fabrications of conflicts infighting and japes and foolery unbetoken of Ireland of the time.


Irony lost on viewers

Sebastian Barry has of course given some ribald irony and an edit of preposterous heft to the story as if to say – Ireland, you were present when this was happening around your ears yet all you could do was turn a blind eye and more than that get caught up in rebellion against a country at war and a religiosity which tore the faith in God out of you and created a purgatory here on earth. It is tangible to see this cussedness in Irish people of that time but it causes more pain it would seem.  The truth always too has its victims. That is the line, the horrific line this film wishes to take us over and into a powerful emotionally troubling period for the characters who represent in fiction real people’s lives unimaginable at this distance horribly corrupted and ruined.  So there is a backlash of morality fighting for concealment as due reflection turns over too many stones close to the perpetrators unable to come to terms with their own families part in these vexing times.  Why drag up the past?  The reason is it uncoils itself in many ways not least in being held in so, it becomes repeated as a manifestation of ancient held in guilt in the sub-cncious passed on.  The doplar effect of the mind.  Séan Hillen in his Irelantis fictional world creates a counter narrative in art with the juxtaposed John Hinde visions of Ireland and as richly as film and novel forms.  More is essential for understanding ourselves the better.

There are scenes in the film which many will find arguable and condonable however I see those particularly disturbing pieces of work as entirely plausible credible entries to the hidden stories Ireland has masked for decades.  It may not be the truth but it bears an uncanny resemblance to the unfurling detail.  It is why it must be examined for what it contains, not for what you would like it to appear.


No chemistry? It’s not totally about their relationship but what hovers around it.

On parallel works

Hence the auld triangle goes jingle jangle. From Galway to Dingle, from Derry to West Cork it’s been happening for decades. Both the internment of the young and vunerable and the institutional abuses therein. The Steward of Christendom by Sebastian Barry was an intensely brilliant play I’ve seen several times and had on it acting – the unforgettable The Dead film character of Gabriel Conroy played by Donal McCann whose performance in John Huston’s 1987 film of the Joyce short is itself a piece of Irish history and also a masterful core part of Irish Cultural excellence in all its various themes.

The themes of the play are not equivalent in this film but provide another shape to the times within this film. For a synopsis of The Steward of Christendom – I’ve extracted the following from a ubiquitous source. The play opens in a county home (an inpatient psychiatric facility) in Baltinglass, Ireland in 1932, some years after Irish independence. In the opening scene, Dunne (Donal McCann) appears to be raving incoherently, reliving an episode of his childhood. As the play continues, Dunne slips from moments of lucidity to reliving parts of his career as a senior officer in the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), especially the handover of Dublin Castle to Michael Collins in 1922 after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He also relives memories of his family, particularly his daughters, Annie, Maud, and Dolly. Dunne is also visited by the ghost of his son Willie, killed in WWI; Willie’s ghost appears to him in the form a 13-year-old child but dressed in the soldier’s uniform of his 18-year-old self.

Here the date focussed on by Barry is the early 1940’s. The institutions had been around and become part of the identity of Ireland. In Belfast the 1932 move to Stormont from what was and had been the Northern Ireland Parliament one hundred yards from QFT in the now Theological College since partition in 1925. Sebastian Barry covers this ground in much of his work, of institutional Ireland of State and Health the life on the streets and rural world grippingly as he loosely affirms family connections with the Thomas Dunne the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commander in the play. So too this film for its depiction of a former period of important movement in Ireland. These histories are intertwined and Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera both had ‘seats’ at the Belfast Union College but never once collected from the fifty boxes of the MPs the Order papers of the day for that emerging Parliament. One could play the card Eamon de Valera was a double agent to the British hegemony as future republicans were to similarly trade their countries status. Not in a film though as truth is mainly stranger than fiction.

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Conclusion ####4

I began with a mindset carrying ideas of the lukewarm critical reception of the book and film, both inhabiting that doubt common to adaption of part historical narratives.  I need not have concerned myself too much because this film opens up a layer of life which is seldom considered in its continued influence and in the magnitude of its shaping usand the identity formed as a Nation on its multiple layers of relationships across continents, across short sea journeys and across hedges and parishes.  It harbours a fiction I see to contain many probable realities. I never read the book.  In the depiction of Lady Rose played brilliantly on both parts. Rooney Mara as the young independent free spirited, intelligent incomer beauty full of warmth and expectation and the kaleidoscopic thespian skills not wasted or lost of Vanessa Redgrave, herself no stranger to loss or to Ireland’s perplexing past, is not only endearingly charming but purposely disjointedly harmonious and comforting in its plainness.  There is nothing plain under the surface no matter what the Irish take or spin on it happens to be or where the deniers – and they are the ‘plain’ folk of Ireland themselves, mostly due to present many frstations of suffering across the world would prefer to banish and put away in a state of complacent bewilderment.  If only that were our only path.  The Secret Scripture is written – a form of blasphemy- in black on the Bible – as in the Temperance Hotel (you could say it was a depiction of Ulster which has many many connections with Sligo) – here is a Lilliputian Jonathan Swift world of male believe.  Now and then.  The Bible being the only book – in this puritan hotel – is the only marginila Rose has to take into her incarceration as a hidden diary.  For its uncovering, not matter it’s Preposterous retrieval there are unsettling truths like the words of the Bible itself.  As it is not a Book which is safe in the Clergies hands nor taken with pillars of salt in communion amongst the suppressed and mal treated citizens, already infiltrated by a siege power of a monarchist force.  Since the 1166 occupation the persistent and systematic entrapment is in plain sight from the pulpit and before the pulpit.  Both the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland contrite and corrupt in unity of suppression against Gods will.  This film will be seen initially as a passing anecdotal fable worthy of a watch but light on appeal.  It will upset and conflict with perceptions narrow and broad but I would say it will after several viewings reveal itself in time to be full of its own contested narrative slowly bringing a reckoning to bear as its bold and more extreme view is received as history continues to recite its clarion vision.  It is there for us to see in a wider sense and while novels, films can only open some fictional presentation of a past long gone it is always a sudden shock to see its proximity to truth and realisation is slow but within reach.  On a question alone of the mix up of plot and some too fanciful occurrences I knock it back from being a 5 as it is to my mind of a very determined voice setting out to familiarise the world and those closer with the inexcusable period in the past in this country – worse if most probably being effected unknown to us in other parts of the world – and it is a piece of the pyramid of truth being built in memory of those children and women.

It is like a whisky chaser hitting your throats but this is why the fondness for diversion is like dashing your head on the rocks.  So much is ventured there is no small comfort to be had except through thinking along the lines I think Jim Sheridan, Sebastian Barry and the fine strong cast found themselves nurturing.  While it is discomforting it is due plenty of deliberation.

John Graham

22 March 2017

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 24 March through to and including  30th March and on General release.

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Post Behan Brectian Proustian stories

In Ireland the confinement of Women and Men distinguished little in Mental Institutions from the Prisons like the Mountjoy that inspired the Dominic Behan The auld triangle goes jingle jangle. The lyrics still are chilling and how the Bi-sexual Brendan Behan came to them is anyone’s guess but the waking traingle of the Prison warder still makes people sit up and listen to these lyrics – the last verse.

In the female prison there are seventy women 

And I wish it was with them that I did dwell 

And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle 

All along the banks of the Royal Canal

Was the mind of Ireland imprisoned during these times?

From The Quare Fellow of 1956

ACT 1:
A hungry feeling came o’er me stealing

And the mice were squealing in my prison cell,

And that old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.

To begin the morning

The warder bawling

Get out of bed and clean up your cell,

And that old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.
The screw was peeping

And the lag was weeping…

(SONG BREAKS OFF HERE)

ACT 2:

A hungry feeling came o’er me stealing

And the mice were squealing in my prison cell,

And the old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.

On a fine spring evening,

The lag lay dreaming

The seagulls wheeling high above the wall,

And the old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.
The screw was peeping

The lag was sleeping

While he lay weeping for the girl Sal…

(SONG BREAKS OFF HERE)
The wind was rising

And the day declining

As I lay pining in my prison cell

And that old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.
In the female prison

There are seventy women…

(SONG BREAKS OFF HERE)
The day was dying and the wind was sighing,

As I lay crying in my prison cell,

And the old triangle

Went jingle jangle,

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.

ACT III, Scene II (end of play):

In the female prison

There are seventy women

I wish it was with them that I did dwell,

Then that old triangle

Could jingle jangle

Along the banks of the Royal Canal.

To this song provided for The Quare Fellow by brother Dominic we can add along the themes of imprisonment is this universal song. 

I shall be released

By Bob Dylan

They say ev’rything can be replaced

Yet ev’ry distance is not near

So I remember ev’ry face

Of ev’ry man who put me here

I see my light come shining

From the west unto the east

Any day now, any day now

I shall be released

They say ev’ry man needs protection

They say ev’ry man must fall

Yet I swear I see my reflection

Some place so high above this wall

I see my light come shining

From the west unto the east

Any day now, any day now

I shall be released

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd

Is a man who swears he’s not to blame

All day long I hear him shout so loud

Crying out that he was framed

I see my light come shining

From the west unto the east

Any day now, any day now

I shall be released

 

End

Film Review : John Graham 2016

THIS IS MY CHOICE OF THE 5 TOP FILMS SHOWN IN CINEMAS IN 2016


Blogs available

Reviews of all these are available on this blog by typing in the title to the top right box and pressing return.

Hopefully you will show some agreement if you’ve seen the films yourself and hopefully you have a list to agree with the basic judgement we have been treated to some awesome film making.

The short story of the year 
There has been a fantastic depth of very good film making reaching the Cinema Screens and now also through Netflix and Amazon more market penetration of otherwise poorly distributed films.  Most of all is the palpable sense of new film taking on innovation as a viable fully rounded act in cinema in response to the technical advances and sometimes non technical advances in the means of storytelling.  I believe this year has exceeded expectations and it started with the very successful Whiplash burning our ears with Jazz drumming, who’d have thought that?  Into the realms of creativity there and an accidental or otherwise treatise on modern jazz technique and the delivery of performance and performer.  It received its Oscars etc. but that aside and it is not important anyway – it’s knee jerk pigeonholing of genre and not loose enough to deal with the prodigious – say black new directors – those outside the Spike Lee Chi-Raq forms – very bravery and wise but ultimately failed attempt in contextualising Men and Women’s relationships through Chicago – the reference to Iraq being it is reportedwhile Chicagos Americas race murders are homicides are paroled. Given slack coverage and a film appears which gets no distribution on British Screens 13th.  About the incarcerated population being a form of slavery.


So where are the best films?  Some may like the escapism and reproduction of familiar traits in Blockbusters or Historical Drama.  Love and Friendship was a novella well performed and light with some serious overtones. I found/find Rogue .. Star Wars ..  whatever .. numbingly dumb directorially and as story telling. Below he back wall one giant moving projection cut with a foreground of stupid people advancing towards robots of a furniture kind.


Any chance this is not a new range of Harvey Norman Store Tables? and these poor souls are attacking across the landscape of a Hertfordshire Paint Hall in a CGI formed battle as – pretend your after a New Year Bargain.  These tables might fall though if any one leg goes.  Not even designed to stand on 3. Paint balling Star making at Pinewood!

Plot spoiler there is a fit young girl who missed the Olympics to do this probably.  Her time at Rottingdean or other uppercrustville secondary modern was well spent.  Gives it lots of yum.



Into
the real stuff then and no greater contrast than the unconciable life’s of others experience in the 3D world of Britains disgraceful hierarchy of poverty and underwaged employment manipulations for vast numbers which is focused in on by the brilliant returnee to the directors role of Ken Loach with the superbly constructed script of Paul Lavery with – singing of the same hymn sheet, because this is a tale of morality in a seemingly Christian society, where all comers are treated in the calling cards of Political enmities as equal and some times (here in Northern Ireland) under the Lord. – a story telling us how fractured society is becoming and how desperate it is becoming for the increasing many requiring state assistance to live.  Even the employed require the assistance designed into their work by Government past and present.




I, Daniel Blake

This film was extraordinarily hard to watch and I, on first seeing it nearly got up to leave, such was its tragic effecting story of the Country/Nation we inhabit.  It was a grave indictment of the system and as the last photo above shows not the people.   It is a scourge of capitalist animals who visit the poor as wage slaves and recruit their labour to fill their own expanding wealth. Technology is abandoning many in corporate rush to accumulate and ‘create’ wealth through buying up and selling back product to everyone.  They have a political elite and charities providing their cover and spreading the disease of a Country which has many in it – most – who want things to change for the sake of having a sustainable future not based on greed. Ireland is no different.

Room

Next film which must get mentioned is Room.  It is an exceptionally well constructed narrative with exceptional acting at every level.  It is a marriage of a scriptwriter – author of the Book.  Room. Emma Donaghue Lenny Abrahamson and exceptional leads in  Brie Larson as Joy “Ma” Newsome, Jacob Tremblay as Jack Newsome.
Jacob Trembly, is outstandingly intuitive as kids can be in depicting the central persona of an inquisitive boy, being aware of how he can puts himself in the character is amazing for later enquirer to watch and find out. In final credits after long thanks etc the names Christina and Jacob Tremblay are credited. This is appreciative of the real mother and son relationship on which film making is entrusted.

Napoleon Reconstructed epic with more promised.


I sat through this and was rewarded by an act of Cinema unequaled and a forerunner for so many types of film making and the inherent worth of cinema as proportionally gigantic in its cerebral reach.

Wow!
See the tracks in a race scene of the camera vehicle having preceded the horses, wagons! Fun and biblical gravitas delivered with mishaps aplenty and it tails off a bit as ambitions meet a budget deficit I’ll be bound.

Life, Animated.

Many people warm to Disney and Owen is no exception.  His own use of it is perfectly inventive and his fathers astute locking on to his sons difference makes this way and beyond any visual representation of a spectral condition very misunderstood and even more traumatic to contend with.  The animation is as expected with Disney a jumping off point.  The wonderful The Jungle Book, this year being a sequel of utmost integrity and piercingly singly entertaining experience for a range of ages speaks of young helpful insights delivered through cinema on parables however bizarre and magical.


Beautifully rendered by Ron Suskind as a new version of his book and the book illustrations take on a new direction of animated verve which could in itself have the makings of a long form story.

Notes on Blindness 



Confoundingly this is a visually attractive exposé on the deficit of sight loss and its occurrence.  Through the Notes originally made on tape the talk over technique using John and Dora’s voices synced to the frames of the co-directors detailed trawl of available senses is for us to encounter this viewed by existing sight, the other sense.  The loss of sight is thrust into an embrace of water and words become raindrops as a downpour on the floor and typewriter as explanation of what rain is accompanied by the feel for outdoors and being in it.  Many superb acts of courageous empathetic nourishment is given to anyone who takes this film in.  It is also an accompaniment to others deprived of seeing the film, who may only be able to hear it described to them while presented with it.  Through layers of contact for the community with this ‘disability’ with notes or the subtext it may seem like an LP cover sleeve notes, for those of us who are sighted, of the old accompaniment kind, in much else is encountered besides the vinyl.  This is an analogue adventure and it is unexplained or beyond comprehension particularly for John whose Christian ethos is harshly challenged.  Having studied Theology and being a Theology lecturer at University this is a minor but immensely mindful watch.



The analogue device which John Hull practically (literally) prescribed to launch many many book recordings for RNIB


Snowflakes are  made for memories everywhere.

Julieta

 

This the best photographic image.             Explained!

Pedro Almodovar has reached the point where simple framing and contrasts can be light and softly intimating a story. He takes to a train and dual depictions of Julieta in this superb film.

The best frame is the afore title mentioned Street frame of I, Daniel Clarke.  I will explain myself.  In Daniel Clarke this image is intensely moving and it delivers with sheer insightful subtly the ridge in the story where hope has reached.  They are walking into an unknown future in a modern world with hope and alongside it determination.  Little else needs to be said.  Just look and look at it and it will cause you much deep thought and sense of the story it depicts.

As for the Julieta, in wide shot with a 4:3 ish! ratio centrally basically, Pedro Almodovar treats this as a Vermeer type painting in the shadow of the rural and metropolis disposition seen throughout – art is enlisted by the borrowing? of paintings of an acquired ‘class’ – and this is a new portrait for me. Julieta, Emma Suárez, is engaged foot forward in loose figure draping cloth involved in writing the story which this film is the reveal of. Some pages of the story  written are spread as cast offs on the floor.  Her choices testing her as to what she can safely reveal.  It is glorious and gorgeous in restrained effective beauty.  There is also a sparcity to the way Julieta lives which is evident.  It gives a sense of Julieta needing only small things to reconfigure and adjust to a changed life.  Emma Suárez is extremely effective in this whole Spanish delicate story.  Pedro Almodovar has created one of his best films and Emma Suárez has her own filmic genius invested and evident as other characters also have delivered alongside in this terrific film.

Train to Busan


Many will have noted this as a probable genre derivative film of limited scope.  South Korean audiences made it their highest grossing movie ever and they are not a zombie movie audience but discerning group of widely appreciative movie goers.  No Bollywood Hollywood fodder and able on their own terms to create films of origin.  It took me by surprise as I often dislike this trope as meaningless though effective cinema.  Horror is best left to filmmakers who try hard not to make it stereotypical and far too few are they able to.  What works here is a story of fatherhood and absent modern parental solidity.  The age is now and the traumatic event is the dismantling of life by life.  The cannibalising of the dead living by the living dead.  It is monumental in scale as a national crisis unfolds.  The train is the interior world navigated by a desparate group of assorted human beings who happen to share a destination.  It unflods as a gripping story taale of memorable significant difference.  A horror zombie movie catapulting the real world into a unreal confrontation.
Under the Shadow


This film is another extraordinary venture into our world vision with a deft and dynamic spellbinding feat of ingenuity and political depth charging genius.  Under the Shadows makes it as a lesson in what filmmaking is all about.  Discovery and realisation.  Provocatively depicting a Tehran in turmoil in the first Iraq war of the late eighties this is a horror film from a point on the compass someway north of the starting dramatic course.  It follows an individual incarcerated within a physical and mentally torturing world.  One scene in particular leads you into the immense complexity of the imagination challenged by the realities each day presents.  It involves a scene of a woman dancing in utter silence.  Only her time is in the now and her daughter is not far away as a witness and parallel displaced refugee from exterior pain.  It is astonishing from beginning to end and practically flawless and my review was well received and got what I was aiming for in delivering some very crucial commentary to enhance its presence as an outlier film and one which actually ended up as MK the go to reviewers film of 2016.  That takes some doing in this year.


What I wanted I got on Twitter!  Lips added by me!


The Survivalist started off as a new release by local director Stephen Fingleton in a no holads bafrred representation of a post event modern world in which Martin McCann acts his socks off and various other items of clothing in a perilous world of the kind found in Margaret Atwoods searingly futuristic novel The Handmaidens Tale projecting all functions in disassembly along with The Survivalist proving alertness and vitality is key to survival.  It is a brilliantly conceived and unconventional – it leave nothing to viewers to grasp as a soft landing intentionally purity driven with forensic instinctive techniques.  It is shown in Cinemas with a central speaker to avoid directional playback tropes while at the same time a creative raw sound is palpable and every sense is engaged though taste, smell is intuitively your own reality!  It also is filmed entirely without artificial light and interiors are very distinct as a character playing its key serviceability role as apostate to the probable earlier homes and gardens the immediately period post dates.  It is a hefty story and tension is coarse as the environment it inhabits.  The future of it exists! holads evidence of a filmmaker intent on pursuing the art form outside of boundaries as conceptual polemic ideas and upturned orthodoxies are in every sense appropriately being set upon by the story maker, Stephen Fingleton whose grasp of motion and stillness times ahead and behind are in his gift to shape into new film work alongside his script work.  Martin McCann last time I spoke was involved in the Dierectorial debut film being made in (Scotland+?) by Woody Harellson. Mia Goth below married Shia LaBeouf who appeared in a starring role in American Honey.


Mia Goth


Andrea Arnold’s American Honey is a 4:3 ratio Road movie of young people brought together to join a team of magazine subscription sellers as a means to live by a female Donald Trump character Riley Keogh, surprisingly spot on – her performance in Mad Max 2 stands apart, very different but also spot on – and the visual metaphor is given with her wearing the Stars and Stripes as a two piece bikini.  It is the use of the bikini  as a character statement by Krystal, uncompromising and savvy.  It is very observant of contemporary life but has some repetitive elements.  Very much ahead of similar attempts of national identity realism films in the US.


Andrea Arnold  gets a rear end shot also!  I’m on to something comparing her character as the Wannabee Queen of America type Donald Trump huckster.  Very right concerning the ‘type’as it turned out with all that DT history unravels. Savvy and uncompromising.

Victoria


For the final listing and the top film of 2016, I am very certain Victoria is unmistakably number one.  Some reviewers thought it sometimes as a gimmick but were completely lost to its value and immersive integrity.  A brilliantly achieved narrative of the state of a youthful group separated from the mainstream perpetual driving commercial City world.  Berlin in 2016.  Anxious.  It presents the young lives altering morality in the stark commercial world which they roam through while it sleeps ready to churn out another capitalist day’s work. They are a small alternative but driven to crime and results in mash up of a conclusion except it is all done in real time and reality sucks.  This is today. While some sleep the alternative escape is narrowly – and by night light, with only the distraction of the stars. The other distraction all commerces wndows.  Boxes of homes.  Streets of linear lamplight and occasional passing traffic.

 

Victoria Director. Sebastian Schipper. His film is set on the streets of Berlin that plays out in real time in one continuous, 138-minute camera shot.  Victoria herself is played by Laia Costa, a young woman we see first of all in a club. The Norwegian camera man is Sturla Brandth Grøvlen.  His credits are foremost at the end.

Variety Magazine were harsh in the extreme 

Sebastian Schipper’s exhilarating heist thriller is stunt filmmaking of a very high order.  

Very much someone who likes the thrill element of 28 locations but not the development or reasoning of the story.

A.V. Club. Misplaced rhetorical observation.

Victoria demonstrates why it’s a bad idea to shoot a movie in one take.

The film is certainly impressive, but “impressive” and “great” (or even “good”) aren’t remotely the same thing. 

Complete balderdash.  Looking and seeing are two different things.  It is not the response of film goers to go away ‘impressed’ dull idiotic selection of stature.  Nor is ‘great’ a movie attribution of any valid quotient in assessing a films worth. Possibly ‘good’ but whose good?

Be wary of all reviews!  Mine included.  They should point you to the core of the intentions and deliver insight.  It is always about communication as the Ballet Master Sir Peter Wright, an express reel filmmaker also says Communication is the key, dance drama film music and all the arts including painting.

These reviews are lame inquisitorial attempts at placing the film in a context which does not exist.  Hitchcock and others tried but Carl Von Dreyer and Ordet – to Victoria, are fellow societal effective dramas with very different backdrops and suspension.  

Time lapsed

Other films are overlooked only as their type is not of a permanence I think the above are – including the ones mentioned without listing among the selected five.   Very good films are not mentioned. This is exile, Sonota, The Idol, Hunt for the Wilder People, Captain Fantastic, Tale of Tales, The Commune, Versus (Ken Loach doc.) and where are the Amy Adams such as Arrival?  Arrival is an example of a well formed rigorous piece of exploratory cinema delivering a reasoning outside something you may not have looked into in books, science fiction, science narratives and along the Brian Cox type BBC futurology.  



Arrival brings very polished skills along in story telling by film.


If all time is eternally present all time is irredeemable. T.S. Eliot.

Bad ones, curates eggs.
Obviously there were some really bad films and some greatly overrated.  In the latter category there was  Anomolisa.  In the bad category was The Truth Commissioner.  To finish of a trio I also disliked intensely Green Room which Patrick Stewart who is a great Dickens Scrooge is front and central in a nasty film.

John Graham

31 December 2016

Belfast.

I am not a serial killer : A Film Review


I am not a serial killer.

Director. Billy O’Brien. Produced by James Harris, Mark Lane, Billy O’Brien, Nick Ryan, Robbie Ryan. Screenplay by Christopher Hyde, Billy O’Brien.  Based on I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells.  Cast. Max Records, Laura Fraser, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Baldwin.  Music by Adrian Johnston, Cinematography Robbie Ryan, Edited by Nick Emerson.

I am not a serial killer delivers as a psychotic horror film set in a Mid West America small town called Clayton in a surprisingly luscious shocking and intensely entertaining way.  Shooting began in Virginia, Minnesota, on 28 February 2015. It premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on 13 March 2016.

Teenage kicks

It follows a teenage high school boy who lives with his Funeral Director Mum and business partner Margaret while he gains hands on experience of preparation of cadavers on the white ceramic lab table his Mum (Laura Fraser) uses to embalm the many corpses the small town accumulates.  Being allowed in the workspace is the first surprise.  Very much from the beginning a gore fest is imagined as coming at you.  The first, as the film opens,  is a murdered mechanic, 53 years old. In the opening scene and in typical Robbie Ryan cinematography we view the Maun Street from behind the yellow tape line as we observe the body being carted to the rear of the ambulance in broad daylight.  The mechanics slightly incomplete body makes it to the Funeral home via. the mortuary. Young John is midspace and closer and on his bike observing in Ryan’s long shot.  When the Ambulance departs a quip remark between the police officers and John set the ball rolling.  The basis though is kept to the real process without any directorial, script writing flannel.  A focus on the personalities develops with ease making this an enjoyable feast of detecting who are the good, bad and victims, perpetrators in the rollout of the – far enough away for it not to be our town melodrama, crime thriller.  But it is every town.


This Mortal Coil

As any youthful encounter with death might, this mortal coil contests young John played with ratcheting tension of his own uncertain derivation in a convincingly confronted boundary crossing boy.  A machine known as the pop up features as a character and is the solution stopping instrument doing the cathartic transformation enacted to preserve a corpse and have it melt in its own way back to dust once all sense of liquicication has gone.  The body returning to its earthly final resting place and through that portal of death to burial and.  John has few school friends given his macabre home situation.  The co-habiting women are diligent providers of a service not many would choose.

The thing is this is a special movie in the sense it delivers a story which seems so peculiar and natural as an adjunct to normal life.  Challenged by his headmaster early on when his essays are delivered with added mortal content, given his increasing expertise, John is asked to become more normal and John contests the premis he actually is not normal by reciting back to the headmaster the fact it is he who is defining normal by making John appear abnormal.  John is a near neighbour of the star of the film – Christopher Lloyd who could not be further from the Back to the Future wizard – playing a seemingly affable elderly gentleman whose routines are fairly, well routine and he displays a youthful vest full adoration of his homely wife and all seems fifty shades of normal.  William Cowper is a part which suits Christopher Lloyd so admirably.  He appears a shade frail and has gotten on into his dotage (in the film!).

There is a powerful underlying spirituality accumulating as the film progresses and through its numerous deaths.  Well you didn’t think I was unlikely to tell you there were several murdersnot just one and there is therefore a progression to the horror? After all a big clue in the setting of a boy in a family Funeral business is fairly indicative of where these well developed characters are going.  The other indicators are the Stephen King (esque) mentions, The Thing, the Halloween trailed at school where John turns up dressed as a Pierrot character subtexting it with lots of movies (hyjacked as previous films as a ‘Killer Clown’ stik) I prefer the Gerard Dillon multidimensional use of Pierrot in so much of his work and one (he was an artist born on the Falls Road in Belfast if anyone is asking) whose split mental state called on Pierrot in a lot of his work alongside Chagall influences.  Check them out.  We are invited into the cerebral John with his essays and his own self analysis.

  
We also get to know he is referred by his Doctor on the basis of therapy in his ‘fatherless’ environment to a young nerdy psychoanalyist played by the Irish actor Karl Geary with a hammy, a little irritating Irish/American droll, though it is most times buried by highly crafted psycobabble along side some incisive thoughts. On route we also get a bit of William Blake and have a Blake off (sic) recitative to which I will side step with this Blakeian wisdom as follows.  Blake saw us inhabiting a world with real spirits among us. They would be seen by him in fields among the workers picking crops, would be seen observing us from a tree, “their luminous wings, ‘bespangled every bough like stars.’”  It is something similar to another incident in another film I picked up on.  In it someone had died and responsibilities for the death were mixed.  While neither had caused the death both protagonists confessed to each other they couldn’t get the person out of their head, they were with them all the time. So maybe those ghosts linger if a resolution or reprieve can not be found.

This brings us onto the night time patrols that – as all vigilante style small town anguish descends into – ratcheting up our expectations of more gore.  We are not disappointed.  For me the middle section of the film dragged a little, as bodies themselves got dragged about.  I began thinking of how this Halloweeen, Thanksgiving, Christmas period movie might put people off their Christmas dinner but no.  Much bigger frights and scaryness lay ahead and believe me it was well worth the middle section wait.  It takes on very gripping tense narrative with the entire town becoming paranoid and the Bill character as alluded to earlier is much more than outward appearances suggest.  More split personalities and psycobabble is poured out.  Mum has another child to worry about an Emily, Johns sister eschews the family business for in deep witty contrast goth style rebelliousness.  At least someone sensible is around for ou counterfoil emotional baggage.  No it is perhaps the loafing young friend, perhaps Johns only friend, Nathan who is a nerdy but cool and clever moderator and even for his Dad who is a reactionary Hapless participant in tabloid, News channel hyped angst, Donald Trumps finest companion on the road to hell.


Colour my world. Colour is my world

Robbie Ryan and Director play on our need for progression with little vignettes of comedic black moments and we throughout get a CSI approved black gooey liquid slithering out and resting on each crime scene sans body.  The cinematic value of this contrast of body organs, fluids is astonishingly receptive to this quite unique visionary filmmaking technique showing us; on the one hand – just what I mean, and matterafactly, viscerally, body parts such as mortuary excavated organs, livers, lungs, heart, count them out count them in, – the afore mentioned black goo – the exchange of the darker blood from a cadaver with in the whirling flask sundae coloured ice cream pink red juice lovingly devoured by the lens and also through its plastic pipe progression returning to the body into carefully mechanically photographed sumblime choreography which will have people open eyed and mouth wide open such is the beauty and clarity of almost documentary style educational simplicity conveyed by Robbie Ryan and the pace orchestrated by our Director.

John Wayne Gary is also a sleuth and his detective edge gets him up close with murder.  “Fear is a really weird thing,”    “People are afraid of things, but they’re never afraid of their own actions.” The bestseller book of Dan Wells 2009 is itself comic and dark brought here with the teenager unafraid and possessing what are know as the three parts of the “Macdonald triad” predictors of violent sociopathy. Dr Neblin, Karl Geary, believes he is “a good person” unassuring for us.  Large irrating – it becomes stupidly expected of a nastie/horror film to inflict a dose of bikes, panda masks, clowns – in some of the steerage class plot liners come too much retro navel gazing antics.  It is unfortunate because the film has intuitive other worldy character transformative engagement and blackness enhanced with class 16mm cinematic bravado.  The Christening of a new Christmas horror ‘must watch‘ is sadly just falling off the newness factor in delivery.  Coming close but no palaver.  I kept looking for a dirty white van with ‘Don’t open these doors, there is a decomposing body inside.’ Something Johns Mum, Laura Fraser, might have asked him to draw as she is slightly unhinged not spotting the idiocy of training a teen in the dark and Strwberry Milkshake sundae arts of preparing corpses for ‘removal’ – we are taking you to your place of rest.  Enjoy.  Pick up a leaflet on your way out.

Good as many reviews have been with caustic deep referential content they mostly miss the purity of the act of dying and the momentary lapse only one – a psychotic unreal inhuman being – has any time for.  I think Billy O’Brien and Robbie Ryan choosing to stand off – far away in the first period – then closer implies they don’t get the catharchic experience.  Many a training outing with dark assassins missed probably which is unusually clever being Irish.  Frances McDormand sees them coming.


Don’t make me. Or your going up with Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky.

Conclusion ####4

It makes it up to four courtesy of the new offerings.  While reservations on the Robbie Ryan familiar stand offish; at times, beautifully atmospheric locational driven camerawork and the wacky inclusion of nod after walked off nod to pluralist film tonality, tones it figures as a splendid creation.  Highly thoughtful and conflicting as to whether you blame anyone on John’s risky approach – is it his inherent fatherlessness heaping his own remit of boundary escaping and the simple motherly love which takes too many things at face value sometimes imperilling her as well as laying on thick the hard work of keeping the work balls in the air (metaphorical) and family cosyness stuffing the turkey for thanksgiving and presidents at Christmas it is a deserved success.  There is surely more work to come in this vein and Laura Fraser and Max Record provide award level leads with heaps of smaller characters excelling the call and pitching in cult like, the model of intention required as a sideline wack.  Taking of which one scene literally had me jump which takes some doing.  A sudden piece of unexpectedness.  For the hot of the film though you have to hand it to Christopher Lloyd whose Mr Bill Crowley will last very long in the memory and film analysts will be crawling over his every word and character development to see the nuanced stage and screen general occupy the space of .. you decide in a deranged horror film. Suspenseful for Christmas fare it is not – just a hyper realistic thriller becoming a drama of latitude.  Everything is resolved at the level of the earth not in the sky.

John Graham

15 December 2016

Belfast

See I am Not a serial killer on 19 December 20 December 21 December or and 22 December 2016 at QFT Belfast before going back at year end to see Donnie Darko.

The Box has arrived as you can see!

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See I am Not a serial killer on 19 December 20 December 21 December or and 22 December 2016 at QFT Belfast before going back at year end to see Donnie Darko.

The Box has arrived as you can see!