Michael Inside : A Film Review

 

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Michael Inside

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

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

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‘Michael Inside’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Prison reform

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

John Graham

14 May 2018

Belfast

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

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Loyalist Statement : 09/04/18 comment

 

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

Linenhall Library Belfast assembled group.

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

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

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

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

The context is unaltered.

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

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

No one has a eraser for the past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no removal of ownership to require this statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Futures past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

John Graham

13 April 2018

Belfast

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The Final Year : A Film Review

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The Final Year

Cast : Barack Obhama, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes. Producers : John Battsek … producer, Diane Becker … co-producer, Alice Bristow … associate producer, Christopher Buchanan … co-producer, George Chignell .. Production Executive : Passion Pictures, Christopher Clements … Production, Executive: Motto Pictures, Ann Rogers,  associate producer, Kerstin Emhoff … co-executive producer, Julie Goldman … producer, Tyler Gurd … associate producer, Carolyn Hepburn … Production Executive Ann Rogers … associate producer, Andrew Ruhemann … co-executive producer, Nicole Stott … Production Executive: Passion Pictures, Erikka  Music by Philip Sheppard Cinematograph  by Martina Radwan, Erich Roland, Film editing by Joshua Altman, Langdon Page. Duration 1hr 29mins. Cert. 12a.

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The Final President

Home Box Office have created a documentary of the final year in office of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama’s tenure of service from 2009 to 2017 an inevitable expectancy reaching a form of closure.

THE FINAL YEAR is a unique insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team during their last year in office. Featuring unprecedented access inside the White House and State Department, THE FINAL YEAR offers an uncompromising view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration as they prepare to leave power after eight years.  It is an ‘fly on the wall’ without the depth of the intimacy of private wrestling with the pervasive conflicting day to day manifestations of outfall not just of past history but managing the present.  It is inside and insightful yet is disappointing and troubling to watch.

News Management has soared to the top of everyone’s truth seeking senses.  It seems we are all on a course of becoming a component in an agenda of mismanaged futures through the choices made in elections everyone is on someone’s line of trajectory.  People as commodities.  Holding firm to truth and where it emanates from is as ever a pathos, as stories crush and compel arguments across Governmental desks.  Challenges are of unique carefully drafted message enveloped in media forms confronted by the reveal of history none were anticipating. Paradise papers and whistleblowers.  Julian Assange just recently became a citizen of Ecuador while the GB Government has him under house arrest.  Democrat disjunction, disfunction, is here to be seen also writ large ahead of the triumphalism of the anti-Athenian D. Trump.  Dialogue is free and interpreted instantly.  This film takes us up to that threshold and we are in the arc following when the choke was taken off the master tapes of the White House and Twitter accounts tell of internal wrangling.

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Term of Office

No longer is there a President of the United States but a franchise which is part an incumbent of enemies trading powers privilege staying off legislation. A News managed for the mass consumption in return for a route to launder currency is all it took to dismantle the final office frontier. Nations and boundaries no longer matter and instead a block chain of political dimensions untaught in manuals or educational establishments, for that is what they were, are grounded on blocks of power. High yield is a derivative played by arms provisions.

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Adjust the War

Barack Obama was the last President concerned with solving the long trail of a Rothschild type Imperialist agenda which saw the Gaza Strip as a battleground. He could not avoid it but it was not an analysis of sufficient gravity but a long held (dis)belief it was not a religious warp. So religion and it’s many dimensions never became part of the guidance on either side. Read the scholarly Saeb Shaath on the legacy.  Syria and The Middle East have held a long sword of unremitting horror over its own people extracting themselves from a century or more of exploitation through its  own tyranny.  http://saebpress.com/2013/08/saudi-arabia-funding-unrest-in-middle-east/. 20c Oil has been the catalyst for the resurgence of the Arab world to again become valid citizens in a fallible relationship with its surrounding neighbours and fellow followers of peaceful unity but it has harboured the hurt and damage caused by invasion and exploitation of corporate thieves. Now the calamity is in a frame of technicolour news as daily reports of intolerance, genocide and divisiveness saturate continents and infiltrate the outskirts of formerly untroubled Nations. Migration by displacement is a shared world problem.

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Calmness is a convoy of aid and here in the film of the round up of conventions and diplomatic dancing comes another narrative. Blaming and shaming. The aid literally is blown up by an actor for the world to react to, showing the failure diplomacy is. UN outrage is blunt and name calling. Putin is intent on alarming the world by showing here it is a crime to want peace if you do not accord with a rule of one Federation. The former Soviet Union is revengeful and Ukraine which barely gets a mention in this documentary is as near as we can place a truth of division outside of the Middle East used as a bargaining chip by both sides. The Hillary Clinton input is put aside also.

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Global Diplomacy

Heavily featured here is the Vietnam veteran John Kerry. He justifiable carries the burden of spokesperson for the nothing war which claimed and still does the lives of many of his fellow combatants and by mines left unexploded awaiting a victim. The Vietnam War follows through from Kennedy whose armaments fed the Vietnamese regimes fighting Communism to the Johnson and Nixon destruction both of their own troops and many civilians in Laos and thereafter came an legacy where there is still a long unbroken chain leading into Presidency after Presidency. Obama is intent on doing his peacemaking tour around the world and finds it gratifying and just in going back to the past and looking to repair the broken shattered peace and being a fitting memorial for drawing a line. Japan and Hiroshima will also feature.

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John Kerry is on the alternative narrative of dealing with today’s catastrophe while ignoring the elephant in the room of USA defence weaponry manufacture and industrial warmongering industries. Safe to say he is not a pacifist as late on he declares and at the same time purports to be seeking peace. On USA terms. The other handgliding drone in the room is a UN Ambassador whose job is to make the obstinate squirm and show up the fallacy of their ways. Samantha Power has the unusual insight of an Irish Immigrant background; disqualified from running for office by that origin but equipped by having been recruited on the basis of a journalists approach and her book on origins of war and where they are taking us, at least that was my original take on its premise. The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (sic) was the institution Samantha Power established a Human Rights Foundation in. From writing about how 20th century genocide was ignored (wide generalisation given the WWII and continuation of The Great War) is lost in narrative with the title The Problem from Hell. Women’s issues are highlighted and it is neither seen as a fashion thing about wearing hijabs or subjection but a basic lack of equality. Religious dogma is not writ large. Kidnapping and slavery and terrible abuses are documented while the daylight of a USA where a form of women’s subjection is to open on news fronts across industries in a #me too narrative is in the shade here. Truth will out eventually. One of the guides they fail to recount is John Stuart Mill, not only on divinity recalling the individual broadly used not as freedoms footnote but as a economic distribution ethos.

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Unintelligible is the strength and power of religious idealism and internally humanity overdoing any ‘value’ hierarchy brought about by trade. JSM relies on ‘constructive empiricism’ while seeing or rather not seeing ‘nature’ – the storms of civilisation alongside the natural phenomena of our daily bread – constantly putting us in our rightful place demanding reconciliation with it and ourselves. For JSM his wisdom also produced solutions peculiar to himsel& and in his relationship with Harriet Taylor evidenced an equality of existence even the Church could not form. Itself a ‘periclesian’ mode which was denying no one their individual freedom. The suffragettes at the same time conducted wicked and detestable bombing and created a scourge still not acknowledged as a means to an end. Democracy. Enemies were many and often with good cause. So this is a backdrop History is failing to include in the breath of those forces confronting the so called ‘leaders’ this film seems intent on eulogising in a passing river of consciousness as it reaches down rebranched tributaries and flows continually caring the waters which it will always carry.

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Dressing wounds

Narratives are forms of life and no history of the world can be written without the diaspora having a say. From the Anglicised retention’s of rule in a Fedralised America to the Religious strength consumed and abused in the USA and nations from the tip of South America up to Alaska, Canada, across Europe and spread dishonestly as a rhetoric of truth comes another will. The will of America to prevail and be prevalent as values which we are overhearing in the everyday talk of the rooms of power.  No mention of the G20 or Peter Sutherland, Goldman Sachs or any taint of monied America getting its hands dirty?  Just another HBO narrative with displacing counterpoint in soundbites hurled with intended anonymity into the whirlpool of chaos two steps behind the developing story.  At the beginning of the film comes a follow me routine. The feet fast and well shod on prepared ground. The diplomats timetable run out as prescribed in advance but always a beat behind. It’s as though they are insistent on not being their on time so as to disown the past.

Imperialist allies

Britain invented Israel as a removal of a family of languages and people. the afroasiatic form called Hamito-Semitic, a family of languages including as subfamilies Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic, and Chadic.  Syria is Palestine and holds a bitter division in opposition to the Imperialist Israel Project with Lebanon as a hideout. An interesting novel character is found in a speech writer whose compass matches Barack Obama’s.  Ben Rhodes is an under forty master of spin and incisive vective. This is a part of Obama’s person he (Obhama) can’t devote time to so has allowed a surrogate to unfold his theories and unlock his wisdom. Unwittingly or is it intent, he is cast in the mound of a Jewish intern general with a false past which is possibly denuded of the Religious might he is from.

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Religion is swerved here. His Episcopal Father and Jewish Mother are tongues he listened to and listens internally to now it would seem safe to assume. No faith is to undo the legacy of an infant Israel heresy. Muslim or Christian. Judaism in a bold type of monotheistic reason is adhered to in American eyes.  Both these travellers, Obhama, Rhodes, are Religious in degrees privately it has to be assumed from other media but often as not it is left outside the Oval Office. Neither seems to realize their part is based in Religious heirachy and they are beholden by virtue of their cloth. That sets them apart and mitigates against their understanding of others values not matching theirs. Fundamentally in the Middle East.  Winston Churchill is apparently their mentor or past leader of choice for guidance. He was beholden to America also and Blenheim Palace became the gift of the British Crown for his persuasion in getting the USA to enter WWII and send supplies into a Europe which was under siege from that genocide The Problem from Hell. More like the problem of Hell. How not to see it. How to not recognize its advance.

Hell is in the clouds and earth.

Speeches set the tone and every new room entered has a pathos to be delivered. For Barak Obama it is the American Declaration of Independence and is foremost in lectures to the gathered. It was what a Congress was derived for. July 4, 1776, and the words were set in Washington’s Presidency. Those words were conscripted from Ulster’s Francis Hutchensons philosophy brought forth by Thomas Paine as exiles of the yoke of imperialism they so detested.  Unitarian in thought and principle their ideas were nevertheless based on individuals allowance of free thought. Less words would carry such might as those distilled here. Yet where are the notions of the Declaration in assignment against the tours of combat since embarked on. Only the hideous genocide of future generations in Africa and Asia would equal the waste of WWII and its legacy borne world wide. Now the countries are being stripped of their assets by new entrants from China and the G20.

Conclusion ###3

Rich as this film is equipped with the sensory media behemoth of the United States of America in history mode it fails to direct the camera in any decisive illuminating way while illustrating a West Wing narrative which is high on ideal and lacking in scuprles or any game changer dynamic.  The anticipation of office has been swamped by time advancing with greater perils opened up through truth emerging in histories recall.  As a mission to complete the 44th Presidency many repairs were sought to be made by Barack Obhama while his steadfast troops both suited and fatigued were deployed on present day flanks with much of the common talk broken into slow burning flames of hope.  It is a film worth seeing as a reminder of the removal from the political sphere a genuine worthy experience of mankind reckoning with their own failures and beholden by powers immensely conflated and misunderstood.  Philosophy is in its a bit but it is a failure to define politics as a motor of governance for the common good which is all too clearly absent given the extremes of the states and actors involved at the heart of our world order.

John Graham

18 January 2018

Belfast

Opening at Queens Film Theatre Belfast 19 January 2018 until 25 January 2018.

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Rocky Ros Muc : A Film Review

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Rocky Ros Muc
Documentary
Director Michael Fanning. Contributors Alphabetically : Seán Bán Breathnach Broadcaster, Kevin Cullen – Boston Globe, Ronan Mac Con Iomaire Author Rocky Ros Muc, Peter Kerr Trainer, Pat Nee, Mike Newell, Sean O’Mainnin, John ‘Red’ Shea, Marty Walsh – Mayor of Boston, Mary Walsh, Mother of Marty, Micky Ward. Production. Below the Radar, Máire Bhreathnach producer,, Trevor Birney executive producer, Michael Fanning executive producer Music by Andrew Simon McAllister, Cinematography by Ronan Fox, Film Editing by Michael Paisley, Visual Effects by Chris Scott visual effects artist, Music Department Jake Jackson score mixer. Ireland. Duration 1hr 32mins. Cert. TBC. Partially subtitled.

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Boxing Documentary

This film is a tale of one mans journey from his home village of Ros Muc in search of his identity and fame which takes him to America and back again. It involves the diaspora identity and the identity of Ireland itself. Even the introduction has nightime shots of Times Square and Madison Square Garden. For contrast the sky drone takes us over Ros Muc. The famished regions and outskirts of larger cities which draw in the young from near and far. The man is Sean Mannion a middle weight champion boxer who rose to be a contender for the World Title Belt in 1984. The journey was a tough one and in between bouts of boxing he often became derailed by that diaspora scourge of drinking heavily. A strong man he could handle it but the mental damage it must have caused would have been a great drawback. Angelo Dundee as C. Clays trainer said if he had Sean at twenty instead of thirty which is when they eventually joined up he would have been a World Title holder many times over.

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The story is told in the most part by a fan whose book is central. Rónán Mac Con Iomaire who is also a Ros Muc man who has written the whole story or as much as lines on a page can deliver, this extraordinary life. It is a capsule though of many people’s diverse lives as immigrants whether Italian, Polish, Irish and the simple truth of the Country they reach never viewing home. The bi-polarity of a mind in two places is hard to deal with. His mother lived a long time and he has brothers and sisters who were distinctly Irish Gaels as Sean himself was. This inculcated identity was of a locality is about 35 miles south west of Galway.

One doesn’t need to be into pugilism or well-versed in Gaelic to appreciate “Rocky Ros Muc,” a documentary that is as much about roots and identity as it is a portrait of Irish American boxer Sean Mannion. Hailing from the village of Ros Muc, some 37 miles south west of Galway, Mannion, like many of his fellow emigrés, formed a tight-knit community on South Boston’s Dorchester Street, where the light middleweight would find eager sparring partners including members of Irish crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang. LA Times reviewer Michael Rechtshaffen delivers a shot on the chin.

Seán Ó Mainnín, Rocky Ros Muc é féin

America Constructed

As Americans and MR will know this perhaps having an migrant background of some sort, the story is as much an American story as an Irish one. Martin Walsh of Ros Muc stock himself, his parents emigrated years ago when they were very young, as Boston’s Mayor ‘Marty’ Walsh, is another from the stage of America’s fortunes or misfortunes. Walsh was brought up in Southside Boston, Dorchester and he participates in telling what he knows of the life of Sean and the Irish of his neighbourhood. The Director Michael Fanning puts across through interview and film footage from ESPN and HBO sports along with family friends and others Irish diaspora who took a criminal route to their lives, he uses the central biographical account of the native Rónán Mac Con Iomaire heavily and journalistically forensic in telling Sean Mannion’s journey with huge respect and homage to the man, Ros Muc, the region and Island.

The Ros Muc origins are worth telling as they bring in the imagination of the man. Within him he realised his strengths and his athletiscm which would later be focused in Boxing. With a pal he would spend time exchanging blows with a sparring partner and together they bought a pair of Boxing gloves. This would mean they would swap and Sean ended up using them most. The Television of Crystal dreams of black and white Boxing was a staple or escapism. GB had Henry Cooper popularise the appetite and Jack London with eventually the one who Cooper famously knocked down, Cassius Clay known later as Muhammad Ali coming into the scene with a legion of followers after the Olympics and he brought out the Irish and GB love of Boxing as a sport. From Hemingway to Shaw through, Conrad, Runyan many writers have taken in this rawest of sports. It was this magnet which put into Sean the notion he could be as good as them if he worked hard. There was a local club found and it was run by Michael Flatherty whose own knowledge and wise head as well as counsel would create a ring fighter. Very soon the young Sean Mannion would hold 17 County and Provincial titles which would taken him further to the National Amateur Boxing Championships. These were six round contests and they were televised. On the back of his ring vest the words – St Oliver’s A.B.C. Girley were printed in copperplate letters. If I’m not mistaken on commentary, uncredited, was Eamon Andrews. This is your Life sharply ironically his claim to fame alongside his astute eye for sporting drama.

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Boston’s twins

The Boston part of the story is the arrival to fight for further fame and glory by joining a gym still a teenager. At Connolly’s Gym his sparring partners included a member of Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill gang, Irish-American mobster Patrick Nee, who, another Ros Muc native. Also around was another Irishman, former mobster John “Red” O’Shea. Author of a All Souls Michael Patrick MacDonald who lost a large part of his own family to Gangsters is active in combating violence and now lives in New York. The arrival brought many bouts as Sean rose to as they say to become a contender and the appetite among the Boston Irish for a Champion was not lost on Sean and he saw the virtue in ring craft as opposed to gun craft. Both sets of groups in the Southside were not at loggerheads but one probably detested the other for the image of their identity being compromised. There were many Champion boxers in America of their own making. Hearn, Duran, Hagler, De La Hoya, and one Mannion would eventually meet in the ring, Michael McCallum. The later was and is lesser known but he was a lean tall long reach fighter who was not a warrior but a truly great boxer. His encounter with Sean Mannion whose unorthodox Southpaw style; it couldn’t be tagged as even truly southpaw was one which only a gifted boxer could adapt to and counter. Mike McCallum now 60 and paunchy was a Jamaican boxer who competed from 1981 to 1997. He is a three-weight world champion.

In-Chul Baek was a boxer Mannion had to face to go up a level and fight McCallum. There was a very unusual outcome to this fight which is covered in the film with damage having been caused by Baek through him hitting the sorest punch of all on the small rib on the torso. He clearly injured Mannion but other things happened to make the title bout happen.

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Being a Contender

If you don’t know your Boxing look away and continue to next section. The fight was for the vacant WBA Junior Middleweight title of which Roberto Duran had been stripped of when he chose to fight Tommy Hearns for the WBC title instead. McCallum coasted to a fifteen round unanimous decision. The fight marked the first time in history two women judged a world championship boxing fight. 1984-10-19 : Mike McCallum 153¾ lbs beat Sean Mannion 154 lbs by UD in round 15 of 15. Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA. Referee: Tony Perez. Judge: Carol Polis 149-136. Judge: Carol Castellano 150-134. Judge: Johnny LoBianco 149-133. So despite the controls being handed to two women which was itself a big move they were unanimous in declaring the fight which went the full 15 rounds in McCallums favour.

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This is the ibroresearch.com part of McCallums history at this time.

….Four more wins, three by KO and McCallum was declared the mandatory challenger for Roberto Duran’s WBA Junior Middleweight Title. The Panamanian was given until April 10, 1984 to meet McCallum or face being stripped of the crown. Although the “Body Snatcher” was a dangerous challenger he was not a super star in the eyes of the boxing public. Like Wall Street, boxing is all about risk versus reward. For Duran this meant a fight with McCallum’s teammate at the Kronk Gym, Tommy Hearns made more sense. Facing Hearns would be risky for the WBC champ but, worth three times as much at the box office as facing McCallum.

Adding to the Jamaican’s predicament was Emmanuel Steward. As trainer of both Hearns and McCallum he would make far more money from his cut of the purse if Hearns faced Duran. McCallum was odd man out, as Duran elected to face the “Hit Man” instead of the “Body Snatcher.” Stripping Duran of his title, the WBA declared that Mike McCallum would face number two contender, Sean Mannion for the vacant WBA title. On October 15, 1984, Mike McCallum became the first Jamaican to win a world championship in the Island’s history. Mannion showed he had a tremendous chin and courage but not the skills in losing a unanimous fifteen round decision at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When McCallum returned to Jamaica it was to a hero’s welcome and a national holiday of celebration. Needless to say the business relationship between Steward and the new WBA champ was over when Duran agreed to face Hearns. McCallum signed with Duva Promotions and acquired a new trainer in George Benton.

Boxings knife edge

There are fewer boxers who would be as brave and fearless as Mannion as this fight showed. McCallum was a brave and master of his craft and wily as both were the Boston Irishman was in a league full of many different fighters whose status is now legendary. The wear and tear on Sean Mannion was carried with great grace and in the ring respect is crucial despite the hype and Entertainment content before and after. Fans love an equal match up no matter the level and each form get is unbelievably tough when this happens for both. McCallum would have gained plenty in this battle for the title. Sean Mannion would have gained his inner knowledge he took part in a dream. For Ros Muc and the man this was a sacrifice of his own body on the line at the utmost height of his capabilities. The fighting Irish would never have been more soundly represented and he was able to hold his head high and still can given the shear bloody mindedness.

The film puts over the main facts of diaspora identity challenges.  The homeplace Ros Muc is one many had been forced to leave. The land and commerce were limited. The former potato blight would have seen many very able people leave under duress and failure of the State governed under the yolk of a Sovereign Britain whose colonisation was upset in the USA which is the sole place immigrants could seek their ‘fortune’. They sought only to be given the tools to live if truth be told and many went beyond their own self beliefs and went to prove a point. That they were as good as anyone on the planet.

The likes of the mobsters featured self analyse with hubris and unwarranted inflated egos. A bullet is no replacement for a mans humanity or warrants a life being regarded as having value. Their sum is lost values and they have taken peoples lives without any remorse. The Boston Mafia also involved itself – after destroying people by exploiting addiction tendencies through monetising cocaine, then later heroin – in more money making schemes sending consignments of Arms and Semtex to Ireland to fuel a terrorists campaign which was itself bound in warped sense of self and national identity. The identity they chose to construct was a fantasy way beyond any Irish probity.

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The Cottage Padraic Pearse grew up in.

An fear a thug an Piarsach go Ros Muc
D’iarr Pádhraic Ó Conghaile ar Chonradh na Gaeilge duine a chur anuas as Bleá Cliath le scrúdú a chur orthu. Ba é an Piarsach a tháinig

The Other Star

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Conclusion ####4

A verdict is easily found for this film of it being a great life story of a brave Irishman well told.  The challenges in and out of the ring were contests which face many in less dramatic or intense ways.  A book Motherland came to mind as it involved travelling the length and breadth of Ireland to explore identity.

Certain things on the periphery but important to explain the man were tentatively danced around. Also the fate of MCallum was never given the strength of telling it deserved. Sean Mannion fought a man who none of the main men would fight – again an extract from ibroresearch.com –

the “Four Kings”, as writer George Kimball had called them; McCallum had failed in his attempt to get any of them into the ring. Marvin Hagler retired in 1987 after losing a disputed decision to Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard was inactive in 1990 and would lose to Terry Norris by lopsided decision the following year. Roberto Duran, like Sugar Ray was also inactive in 1990, and would lose by TKO due to a shoulder injury to the infamous Pat Lawlor the following year. Tommy Hearns won a decision over Michael Olajide fourteen days after the Watson fight for his only activity of 1990. Did the “Four Kings”, duck the “Body Snatcher” or was he just a victim of timing. Boxing historians can debate the merits of that charge for the ages, but we can only speculate what would have happened if McCallum had been able to get any of them into the ring.

This is a telling part of a story not told. It’s a bit novicey to leave out the background in order to focus on the main event. McCallum fought in the UK a lot because of this. Ever good boxing show has an undercard and this is missing it. Connemara itself is a great underlying facto but again only family and drone shots give any true shape to this Atlantic outlier. America will love this underdog type approach as well as largely focused on the diaspora and Irish abroad. Nonetheless the story is only partially told and it is a sociologically complex one which has currency in our world today. What is the identity of Ireland now?

John Graham

24 November 2017

Belfast

from Friday 24 November 2017 until Thursday November 2017

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Movement is Political – more thoughts.

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No Stone Unturned : A Film Review

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No Stone Unturned

Directed by Alex Gibney, Writing Credits Alex Gibney, Produced by Maiken Baird, Executive producer, Trevor Birney, Producer, Brendan J. Byrne, Executive producer, Erin Edeiken, Post producer. Jonathan Ford, Executive producer. Alex Gibney, Producer, Eimhear O’Neill , Co-producer, Richard Perello, Executive producer, Greg Phillips, Executive producer Music by Ivor Guest, Cinematography by Stan Harlow, Ross McDonnell, Film Editing by Andy Grieve, Alexis Johnson, Co-editor Sound Department, Peter Miller, sound mixer. Aaron D. Kelly, voiceover recordist (uncredited) Editorial Department. Kyle Casey, digital intermediate producer Music Department, Robert Logan, Composer: theme music other. Duration 1hr 51mins.  Cert. 15. USA/UK.

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Event and Causality
The renowned American Documentary Film maker Alex Gibney, whose films include the very necessary expose on the American Catholic Church, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, has had various responses to this films impending release as he exposes the U.K. Governance and responsibility in maintaining a veil over their own and other actions.  Some responses are to avoid being sued as the press tread carefully with themselves standing back from full disclosure like the Government are similarly practiced at.  The film is clear in telling you who the suspects are that carried out the massacre of innocent people in a Public House. It begins with a re-enactment of the attack on The Heights Bar in Loughinisland in Co. Down, in Northern Ireland.  Within 6 minutes on 18 June 1994 of the Republic of Ireland having scored a goal against Italy in a World Cup match in US New Jersey a hooded gunman slaughtered 6 of eleven who were watching the match on the small bars TV.   To this day no one has been charged or put on trial for the Murders.  3 took part in the murder and they are named in the film.

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No Stone Unturned is an account of a sole event, many other examples are out there of similar injustices and many have walked free of other atrocities due to the Good Friday Agreement. You can only say may God be their judge and those who don’t believe in that deity are left hung and dry as no judge is equipped to punish these evil and gross deeds of human on human. These were also fellow countrymen but through allegiances were divided just as they were in 1798 when, Protestant was to murder by hanging Protestant, in a stupid revolt which saw neighbour and family upon family divided and distraught with the hegemony of a warfare based on Nationhood. Both times; other cyclical events are similarly illustrative, are a betrayal of Gods infinite wisdom (love thy neighbour the most important edict) as the stark reality is innocent lives amid protagonists of creed or doctrine sought their supremacy over others. It is an absence of individual faith which is marked and it is not as the film realizes for viewers in or gift to forgive. Knowing the truth however is different and we then ask for the perpetrators to themselves ask forgiveness which is in Gods hands.

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State Corruption

The bigger implication and truth shown here in No Stone Unturned is the state of Power in Ireland and Great Britain and their manipulation for their populous of events. A code of directives within a state lead by Sovereignty itself in the grasp of evil. The USA which this film seems to be aimed at, became involved with a funding of terrorists rampant and raising a myth of Irish culture and history. The diaspora Irish clinging to the romantic idealism of their past ancestors and country. Some also exiled terrorists under the shadow of green permits. Many of those ancestors had to flee to avoid cholera and typhus as fellow Irish along with the British and State Churches, Church of Ireland and Catholic Church conspired to ship food by the ton out of Ireland, Meat, Eggs, Poultry, Grain. The evidence in all documents as they were billed up and shipped while all around millions were forced from the land and six million emigrated of which many never completed the journey. Often they fell dying on the beaches of Ireland and their bones and dust were taken by the tide and some buried in the shifting sands forgotten forever.

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The USA became a pawn of their own miscalculations and saw hubris in becoming advocates for peace – famously George Mitchell forged the Peace Deal. The unity is frail and inactive now. In the consequence of legacy as a side issue and traditions saw their slate wiped. Only victims, and internally perpetrators, carried the burden as innocent and public signals and noises of PR or a new propaganda of an unaffected let’s move on regime were way forward. Little attention other than a slow bureaucratic process were in place seeking to the redress as it became. No Truth Commission ever formed. A slow waltz of the truth leaking out and courts, human rights lawyers hidden seen in full view. So is the legacy tackled by Alex Gibney on one atrocity brings with it countless questions. He makes a few missteps unfortunately captioning for an American or wider audience such errors as 3,000 unsolved murders, or the captioning of 50 million of retained unseen documents relating to the ‘troubles’ still being held by the State Authorities.

When the USA became an outworker for peace through Clinton and a Visitors Visa (the film shows a clip of the ‘clipped’ Clinton at a press conference – he drops in Clintonesque the word limited Visa) to Gerry Adams it was seen by many as an easement of the USA position at the behest of the U.K. Government who would have given their aggrement to it. It has the unintended consequences result rule come into play. The loyalist extremists saw this as a reason to ratchet up their own crusade against Catholics and so violence escalated. Loughinisland itseflcacreaction to a group of murders.

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Evidence

This is but one atrocity and it’s links to others related to the Glenanne group were touched on but not dwelt on. The reason is than that link also leads to others in the continuos of entanglement. Showing in the film that ‘Loughinisland’ as its known, is not alone is one outcome of the film, and this account is a mirror of others as no Police Operation has drawn the suspects in for questioning on the foot of any evidence held or in their remit to obtain. The film makers were able however to obtain or be given a piece of evidence in the form of a document, a letter from one of the alleged suspects wife which named the participants one of which was her husband. This is also a piece of evidence, she might have known, implicated her in the organization of terrorist acts. This is itself a criminal offense. So are we to take it the evidence was from say a woman scorned, fallen out big time with her husband or genuinely reflective on her past and the awful act which followed the Planning she purports to know about. All unanswered questions. The suspects are named in the film, one shown.

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Commentary
‘There is a brief word from Tom King, Northern Ireland secretary from a little before this period. Mayhew died in 2016, but John Major, then prime minister and overall head of the security services at the time is still alive. So is Sir Colin McColl, head of SIS from 1989 to 1994, and Sir David Spedding, head of SIS from 1994 to 1999.’

This is a short but important quote from The Guardians Peter Bradshaw on his sight of the film and a reaction from a person with no agenda other than explaining his views on the film which are full of insight. It basically asks Who the hell knew? – Why was it considered expedient to go ahead with this atrocity? A question which is based on the films information that the event was known to be happening by Security forces, handlers of Informants. in the light of renewed optimism coming out of the operations of ‘Diplomacy and Special Branch/MI5 intelligence? What price someone’s life is basically another question need be asked of the State and those counsel of collusion and commanding those acts. The Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Superintendent is at all times through the period before and since culpable and the likes of Ronnie Flanagan, John Hermon Hugh Anerissly, all were in Commanding Positions and during their time there was infiltration of their force, by any means, of a covert Security Army presence of an inside network and alongside corrupt Officers acting on their supposed agendas of dirty tricks using the – films illustrative point – informant and tout arrogate is aloud and proud in ranks of fundamentalist Protestant – no Catholic Officers of the force are likely to be involved at this – an inside armed Police unit. The Forces Research Unit FRU also get few if any mentions. A good book exists on the FRU. I remember it disappearing from all good bookshops (it was pre Amazon) as the State and Police presumably – who loved its content so much – couldn’t wait to get hold of every copy. I saw a dozen or more disappear from a certain bookshop which is Fahrenheit 451 and Stasi like. I saw a number myself being lifted off a shelf – all that remained – by a large man who fitted the stereotype of a Police Officer and it may well be he wanted them as presents for his co-workers or Christmas presents. The shelf never saw another copy replace them.

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All kinds of truth
Aporia is a word which comes up time and time again concerning never knowing the whole truth. ‘I’d been killing him for thirty years,’ he says, weakly, ‘this was just when he fell’. Like a Minnesotan Prometheus, his original sin was cleverness. Which is from Fargo. The Aporia episode where the recognition that most cops want a straightforward solution to a case, he provided one, means, motive and miscreant all. It happens everywhere in all unreconciled problems, an untruth happens to fit. The Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 loom large. Governments are full of misfeance and miscreants. The most appealing is the connivance with the realm of Sovereignty when the instructions come within the Castle walls – our Royal family – none of these dirty wars must come to the light of day.

Even the sacred hollows of espionage at Admilitary Arch moves on and it becomes a Hotel as of late. I have sought an answer as to the reason why successive PM’s and their Secretary’s of State have continually been concealing and burying literally in some cases the documental evidence and paper trail of the atrocities unaccounted for in Northern Ireland and the only viable answer – the families in this film continually point upward as did D. Cameron did when confronted by more questions within Downing Street by the Finnuacane family on their Fathers murder – with the meaning beyond Government rules must be adhered to and in such are the Church of England whose deplorable unchristian values entered the political games and dealt out suppression and national supremacy to maintain its own.
The underlying legacy is that their lies and conspiracies are the bloody current and currency that runs through the many controversial and tragic events of the past 30 to 40 years – Bloody Sunday, Dublin/Monaghan bombing, Pat Finnuacane/Rosemary Nelson murders, Omagh bomb, the list goes on.

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The actions involved during the violence of the late twentieth century in Northern Ireland and beyond into the twenty first century by the use of informants and insiders to push their dirty war was to maintain the controls of power. Past misdeeds would be and are still traded in for silence and inaction amongst the people whose way of life was chosen as violence. From Soldiers and their chiefs like General Mike Jackson on (of Bloody Sunday infamy) there is long roll of former Military perpetrators of acts of violence organised and overlooked by their peers. Others served, most who were Soldiers of conscience, yet their legacy is mental health problems arising from the first instance the reconciliation of the brainwashing of militarism and realising there are among us, alongside, those who are unchallenged and stained without remorse. A fair trial is often off the books also.

Fargo is nearer truth.

It was a pretty smart day’s work, all told. He understood the positions and motivations of the pieces on his board and made the necessary moves. More Fargo. This world like Fargo – appeared to be taking place in a haunted forest, replete with animal heads, crossbow hunters and decapitations, like something from the tales of the Brothers Grimm if they’d been animated by the German Expressionists instead of Walt Disney. Or reality. Or like the Big Lebowski on the morning after the apocalypse. There was a sense that it was an Other Place, a limbo in which no one questions the customers on why they are covered in blood and are armed with crossbows. Or guns. Because a now reformed (deacon or cathedral guide bought and transported guns from South Africa – 2 times – one a backed off photo call – the other the successful gun run) gun supplier walks God’s path unhindered except internally by guilt without absolution. Wrong kind of faith. What kind of narrative makes people act this way but the past – stories told as untruth – which encompassed soul transference, the life of Nachman of Breslov, the Massacre of Uman and a knowledge of Yuri’s cossack background, suggest an otherworldliness that is not uncommon to Fargo. Questions arise. Series/Episode 3.8 Who Rules the Land of Denial? Fargo.

No Stone Unturned was the false promise of Patrick Mathew while standing outside The Heights Bar in front of reporters looking for this sound bite and giving the British Secretary of State the primacy of writing down those prophetically and gruesomely inaccurate words, while a car with forensics was towed away, while a gun went to the forensics lab, while a holdall with balaclavas in it along with other items were taken away from the crime scenes locality.

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Detail is occasionally given to the viewer of this film No Stone Unturned but Alex Gibney is caught between a cinematic journey to delve into the human psyche to deliver a palpable story crisply told, and at the same time answer questions that have been left unanswered for longer than twenty years that go back into the origins of the violence meted out during the unpeaceful times. His motives are not questioned but his smarts are due to the tendency to roll out unchecked – the proposition 3,000 murders remain unsolved.   That is quite a statement and it is close to a very large number but probably nearer half is closer.  It also gave the impression the British Army were culpable in those murders not being solved forgetting the combatants – they were alongside and playing games with – were two sectarian groups intent on a national identity – theirs having supremacy.

Both were and are entrenched in, and inwardly opposed to, the concept of any settlement involving a shared community Border/No Border, and one which has had the historical backdrop of divide and rule since John de Courcy and Henry lll, the English Pope and the Wexford landings. Rule the coin and you rule the native. Roman was the guiding master of power then as now and several interchangeable imperialist dynasties have come after de Courcy’s time.

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Rupert bearly believable.

It is also an issue South of the Border. This is a report from a source. Bernadette McKevitt. In 2003 indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/fairtrial.html

Former Irish Prime Bertie Ahern has expressed his concern in relation to the “Stakeknife” reports, however once again he demonstrated how he was willing to let the media colour his judgement. One would have thought first and foremost his concern would have been to uphold a citizen’s right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law and to have criticised the trial by media that took place over the last number of days. It seems ironic that he was alarmed by the reports of MI5 operating agents in the “Republic” seems ironic that he was alarmed by the reports of MI5 operating agents in the “Republic” when one of those same agents will appear before the Special Criminal court Dublin in four weeks time to frame an Irish citizen. When approached by (me) in Portlaoise town during his election campaign last year, Mr Ahern emphatically denied any knowledge of MI5 agents operating in the 26 counties, he advised (me) to go to the Gardai if (I) had any information concerning this issue! How then does he explain Garda Assistant Commissioner, Dermot Jenning’s liaisons with MI5, where according to MI5 documents (an extract of which was read at a recent court hearing) Jennings had urged MI5 officers to “remove” certain reports that would have made David Rupert “an untrustworthy source”.

Glenanne Report

Some days have passed since a judge already ruled the Police unlawfully – Chief Constable ultimately responsible – frustrated any chance of an effective probe of the so called Glenanne gang killings count during the 1970’s. On the Historical Enquiries (HET) account they were disbanded in advance of an almost complete 80% (subject to corrections) report coming forward of the Glenanne investigations. Currently the Chief Constable ignores calls from the High Court to disclose the finished report by judicial review. Since the HET were found to be not fit for purpose and another ‘mechanism’ – again designed to heavily thwart process and openness, the misery of victims families whose lives were affected and whose remaining relatives are left without answers are still being subjected to undue neglect by the State on many fronts. The rights of man are ‘subject to corrections’ as justice is incremental and fragments are given which is subject to revision as new fact after fact emerge. That is the policy in operation – Operation No End. Having a committee dismantle the HET a new version came forward. The PSNI establishing an in-henhouse Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) and insufficient resources were committed to it by Government. A backlog and raft of retirements put paid to any formative turnaround in truth recovery. It is absolutely repellant and undemocratic for the machinery of Government which is he people’s representative servant to be engineered by a Sovereignty which is outside their control or answerability. The latest control broker is James Brokenshire whose MOD allegiances are clear.
Nothing will be revealed under his watch is his mantra. His predecessors presumably sanctioned the payment of, in five years, £1.8m to informers. That does not include the human cost and manpower running those ‘agents’. So his use is perpetuation of this ‘intelligence’ network while he refuses to fund additional independent work on the Legacy trail. Emptying the bins is not his mantra. The waste management is sterile and a paper trail however clean is buried in a sinkhole of platitudinous and vile commentary. Collusion, conspiracy, corruption is rife and the truth is their enemy not their ally. Faith will come someday I would hope.

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Conclusion ####4

The film is full of intense meaning and is purposeful in telling the basic constituent parts of one atrocious event in the deaths over many years of exhausting violence. Proof if it were needed of the acts of collusion and cover-up are documented. It opens up questions concerning the further crime showed of destroying forensic evidence. A holdall, the murder weapon, and even the getaway car all provided as did the location it was dumped trails of evidence which an uncorrupted Police Force could assemble a case from. The shocking examination of the event of The Heights Bar Shooting is in plain sight as a Corruption of the highest order and implicates the regime in control at every level. It provides the viewer with the names of the suspects which are in the mind of the Police Ombudsman, whose own part takes a primary part in disclosure – without removing the code for the assailants under suspicion – is disturbing and a source of mounting anger, discomfort and discontent, not just for the viewer but it must feel as a breach of basic trust in our Security Forces through their manipulation by state agencies which this film clearly point to. The charm offensive has to stop and the documents which are held back – intelligence on perpetrators a resource which would answer many questions is self evident. I found this film hard to take and despairingly forming a worse opinion of the operatives on many fronts. As the above has a tendency to wander in review so anyone who sees this film will go on their own journey and it does not stop there. It is a need to make peace through truth and knowledge. Another realisation brings this phrase to mind – You get used to things, without getting used to things. Paradoxes fold into each other and the atrocities too are linked by self evident truth that faith had been principle in denial.

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Today I went to a talk and reading by Michael Longley which centred on the First World War and poetry arising from it and during it.  Some lines are worth noting here.  Highest among them I took the poets own words after reading a War poem by Edward Thomas. “I think our world is still in sorrow.” and he added as time was closing in, “I have so much more to say.” There were words about the finish of War and one of Siegfried Sassoon s saying “All of a sudden it’s over….. and we can all go home.”  A call as it were by the angels.   Another phrase. Beauty is like the setting sun.  The singing will never be done.  Michael Longley here added….. “the singing never was done, we have done nothing but grieve since.” A reflection from the son of a boy who went to war at sixteen, killed as ‘Citation’ reads at nineteen, and survived to have his family. Michael having a twin brother whose life was taken early.  The words came forth from Michael as in memorium.  The Seigfried Sassoon words again. ‘You are too young to sleep, and when you sleep, you remind me of the dead”.  Think about the people who go to sleep tonight, each night with them thinking about the memory of the ones who went to sleep and sleep with them still in a silence.

John Graham

8 November 2017

Belfast

The 6.00pm screening on Wed 15 Nov will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A (details TBC).

No Stone Unturned will screen at QFT from 10 November 2017 until 15 November 2017.

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Risk : A Film Review

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Risk  A Documentary film.  1hr 34mns.

Credits. Julian Assange |Sarah Harrison | Jacob Appelbaum | Joseph Farrell | Renata Avila | Jennifer Robinson | Erinn Clark.

Directed and produced by Laura Poitras. Produced by Brenda Coughlin, Yoni Golijov. Executive Producers. Sam Esmail, Vinnie Malhotra, Charlotte Cook, Aj Schnack, Michael Bloom, Adam Pincus, David Menschel, Jess Search, Josh Braun.

Risk is living.
Watching this film is to reveal the background and recent history of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, as he continues, up to and including this films conclusion, to be confined within the British based Ecuadorian Embassy, Embadapa under continuing detention. It also take us to the USA and the recent Trump/Russian twists since Trump’s appointments were brokered.

For all the challenges making a film of this sort presents problems, of time and with changes arriving thick and fast it through recent revision stands solidly as an extremely informative documentary – regardless of the complex co traditions it presents.  “I thought I could ignore the contradictions. I thought they were not part of the story. I was so wrong. They’re becoming the story.” confides Poitras at some low hanging fruit of Julian Assanges –
firmly blethering (sorry Julian I couldn’t find another word!) views.  His on-camera intimate talk is a very uninteresting insight to his woolly, almost seeking alarm for the sake of alarm on camera in eyebrow raised marks (tumbleweed) and some sympathy is felt, given his imprisonment, when cameras rolls on.  It is after all though, a platform which cannot be turned away given his enforced hibernation.  It consequently shows the talk as uninteresting but the whole idea of a documentary is one at times of it becoming theatre and the actors are without a script.  Some people have been severely critical of the style and filmic indulgence of Laura Poitras whose shots take on the feel of a drama when misty window reflections and artfully caught shape and darkness illuminate the bleakness of a particular dilemma or circumstance.  I believe it entirely legitimate and it implies the truth is not what we are here to see but a construction dealt with a fixed deck.

Film Review Risk

Time discloses all.

The film starts of with a view of Julian Assange in the company of the Director mulling over the outline of their collaboration.  For Julian Assange this is a much healthier time as he has relative freedom and is (only!) under curfew in a friends house in deepest Norfolk with access to the beach.  It is 2011 and his trial concerning extradition to Sweden is being contested while sundry other things are about to unfold.  The main tiger in the room is the Wikileaks formation digital encrypted document Bradley Manning has placed on the site which a password protects.  The data document, it is learnt in this early part of the documentary, has been uploaded on the interface of Wikileals without password protection.  All of the USA secret files of operations accessed are unredacted and therefore contain good and bad data.  Essentially the window is open and paper is flying everywhere on natures wind – the global internet servers are available for anyone to see classified USA documents and make of it what they will.

The breach is on Hillary Clintons watch as Secretary of State and hurried anxious phone calls from Norfolk – Sarah Harrison, legal eagle, contacts the Whitehouse and try and alert the Presidential Office, as to the carrier pigeons in flight with her Governments information with the impending prospect of ever inquisitive persons monitors lighting up and printing off, for bedtime reading – prior to good wifi, sufficient storage, small tablets which go to sleep and produce real drama and most probably a rainstorm of dirty tricks and unscrupulous methodology which is without moral bounds.

The relationship between the film maker and Julian Assange is one of pragmatism.  He is in the clasp of legal and national sidetracking issues, and the drama of a documentary on one of the world’s most proflific activists probing the internet as a deconstructionist with exposé, after revelation, – high currency for any documentary maker.  So it has a purpose first of all which we must be well prepared for, is of hubris and confident trailblazing while underneath lies a story of individual imprisonment at the hands of powerful forces with his allies equipped with little more than a large corporations staffing levels – the volunteers are widespread and underground as they piece together support and inform the dialogue – they have unknown funds and heavyweight supporters probably.   The narrative is after all a needed platform.  All platforms are fair game and we get a glimpse of a pop star filming an amateur post type interview in the Ecuadorian embassy for fans and the interview is staged less formally than Assange initially conceived of it.  Then came the cringeworthy questions. Cleverly the talk was directed by Assange at the USA where the main audience of the video existed.

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Visionary in the dark

Laura Poitras is a very clever match of combatant for Assange as she disallows his taking over situations and firmly places the focus on the conditions and surrounding circumstances of the news not brought to the everyday exposure of the information war. Laura Poitras is also a fellow activist with the extraordinary film on Snowdon, Citizenfour, a groundbreaking style of news telling and undercover deliverance on her roster.  Then previously The Oath.  We are still not convinced or editorially equipped with disseminating this form of investigation and revelatory truth seeking and telling.  Every scene is chillingly real with absurdity of the everyday crashing in and out with natural dynamism having the alarming contrast just beside it.  It’s our reality of having without due process contrived to risk (first use of the word) allowing the Courts to remove him from the UK and place him in the unstable hands of a Swedish, see what way the wind blows, democracy. ‘… pretending they are a stickler for process.’ Assange.  Venues for the camerawork are Norfolk, Cairo, London, Fort Meade Maryland, (received footage?), Tunis, America (Democratic election convention), Berlin, all places where the Wikileaks narrative tales us.  Some of it is illustrative, such as conferences for nerdy hackers, or venues where Julian Assange draws crowds by his absence.  Frontline Club host large venue quasi conferences with speakers and networking possibilities.  Usually a tube stop or two away from mine hosts M16 and Foreign Office, Home Office spooks.  Although primary taps and surveillance is of more import.  The spies are everywhere and House of Cards needs a backstory.  A very unsavoury moment of trouble in the ranks is the overview of a parallel organisations leader also being wired for sexual misdealings.  Jacob Appelbaum is portrayed as a villain – (the film indicates no charges yet exist) – he drops a sexist comment in front of Muslim pupils of hacking talk.  It would just be as offensive in any location, private or public and here it is on film.  and he occupies another slot in this film, shot in Cairo, when he exposes the state run Mubarak directed, TE Data at a open symposium of internet providers, of shutting down Twitter traffic and platforms for media exchange.  This is accompanied by an outbreak in the room of rapturous applause.  Every country will have its internet traffic police while the ‘Engines’ of social media are themselves being censored or being controlled for improper conduct which a lot of will be politically slanted.

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Situation comedy

An interesting exchange is filmed in a quiet Countrylife inspired lounge, draped, scatter cushions with Dame Helena Kennedy and the non-speaking Gareth Peirce whose silence is equally – better than that actually – entertaining as the ultras trade axioms and lawyer psychology which is to prepare a Assange for his press a Court Appearance.  So Assange’s referencing of lesbian inspired ‘tag teams’ jumps out from the notoriously crass and febrile Assange speech which his blethering style exposes. The flushed and pyretic Kennedy does not know where to look and Poitras catches this English wordsmithing, with the same silence, the by now, presumably, dejected Gareth who has met real victims and fought tirelessly in the frontline of Human Rights sitting with controlled propriety.  Sublime and an example of ethicality.  No wonder Churchill wished Business to be written and agreement not based on conversation. Recall being everything.  The drink from which Wikileaks depends, so the contrast could not be more sweetly expressed.  Physician heal thy self.

The people who feature alongside Julian Assange were constant foils but most were equal to the Assange modus operandi.  The priority was to understand what was at stake. For this you need lawyers.  Not of the level and elevation of Peirce or Kennedy but the rookie type whose Court experience would be limited.  There is no validation of this but it was like having House of Cards interns at your beck and call.   Some were very much above the hubris and grandiose ‘I’m not a martyr’  but a conflicted human being type of projection Assange fronted up with.  Sarah Harrison is the Lawyer in chief.  Her steadiness and practicality and inmate wisdom was a valuable docking in the stormy waters.  Likewise the very clear headed forthright Renata Avila an articulate devilish driver of the nitty gritty and consequential.

In every sphere of public life corruption and catastrophic decisions amplify and Law is the stalking horse most rely on.  In the regimes and democracies it seldom abates. These islands can attest to the duplicitous role of Governance outflanking and disregarding Law and its victims are many.  Attribution happens on either side with the extensive new or relatively new form of scrutiny enabled by Wikileaks has opened up a whole extraordinary proof of this.  Recent events have presented with regard to dealings of nations intent on influencing anothers course.  Some may well be in relation to the safe storage in unblockchain protected localities of immense wealth, accumulated through regimes borderless dealings which have their nation’s looking vain for the money or restitution.  Imagine a prospective ‘West’ Presidential Candidate advising a sitting ‘East’ President (a perceived foe) where the accumulation can be secretly secreted.

Our information is incomplete
Our present dependence on fast electronic communication which is barely 40 years old, across continents and borders without the impediment of time or locality has made us evaluate the systems we use of governance and the open transmission of information.  Around 1960 TV was upon us as a window into other worlds and media dissemination of news and was authorially controlled by the license providers, there came in 1967-69 a western appetite to know what was going on in Eastern block countries, how civil society worked in China, Indonesia, with a vision exposed of inequalities defined in Human Rights terms.  Inwardly the USA became, with Civil Rights activism, a lantern for freedom fighters to demonstrate and to a lesser extent in Paris and London these voices for freedom exploded into living rooms instead of through newspapers but as barely 12 hour old news.  The crush came with the Eastern Czechoslovakian Dubjek being raised from obscurity as an opposition leader into a virtual figurehead for non violent revolution.

That was 1969 and what materialized was a culture of investigative journalism.  The story of much earlier news manipulator/manipulated ‘reporter, Roger Casement and news management comes to mind.  Alongside it the apartheid staining otherwise seemingly benign places such as South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and nowhere was out of bounds except the totalitarian nations such as China and by dint North Korea a hateful terrorising oligarchy which sat as a de facto attack dog for China and its wider interests.  Our story of Wikileaks contains a terrine of global pottage, c’est-à-dire, a conglomeration of mass ingredients cooking away with sometimes overspill and untasteful results.  The mix is toxic and it’s terrine is Wikileaks and it’s operators, head of which is it’s founder, the Australian Julian Assange.  His name is synonymous nowadays with a frontiersman like truth seeker.  He does not rely on God or mantras but his individual conscious is high toxically for him, developed to speak of the sins of the universe and their authors by revealing not their persona – because participation in the construct Assange wishes to disrupt and reveal its contents is consiratorailly under the control of a minority of the minority who have vast sales of self-identity, perceptions of nationhood and history which has accumulated to a self-representation and nullifying absurdity which is the twin of Julian Assanges own idealism.

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Despair and loathing

Both Assange and the people whose information is secretively held and the indictments of their corporate collusion is in the folder of the vast exchanges with reliance on technology sparing disclosure.  Wikileaks is a data hungry cyber animal and its food is
everywhere protected by insider traders like Chelsea (Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden whose instincts for change and robust propriety were challenged by the information the American public, in whose name these revealed actions were being disposed, unaccountably, but had reached them – Manning, Snowdon – as persons of conscious whose instinct was to upload the information they had obtained via. protected routes to Wikileaks so they could decide on publication.   This film which must be itself be read as a document with T’s crossed, comas carefully placed, is a reveal of sorts.  It has a news management feel with a climateric cresendo worthy of an opera.  The tailpiece is well known with the election of Donald Trump being sullied by the interventions, presently denied of state sponsored data breaching which firstly created Fake News around Hillary Clinton and saw the infiltration of Fake News of her Democrat candidate runner Bernie Sanders be eclipsed as information became micro managed – now it is contagious with Donald taking to the Twitteriati to spell out in 120 characters his character at others expense.

Allegiances among the Wikileaks foundation are an engine room of Lawyers, high octane interns getting a fix on freedom of information as led by their ringleader Julian.  The film is a world wide documentary of events with certain areas seemingly out of bounds.  GCHQ has occasional moles but it is a minor pest control issue.  The unbearably influential rise of independent disenfranchised terrorists as written toxically in Northern Ireland as a template by the IRA is untroubled by any Wikileaks.  Whether it was the authorship of Protestant, State collusion, Catholic freedom fighters that period was when the nail bomb, coffee jar bomb and car bomb all were sworn in as terrosit devoces.  The car bomb as well as lorry-jacking with a driver virtually chained to a bomb became routine methods of attacking authority, consequences be damned, fellow human beings collateral appalling damage.  Property destroyed was not enough.  Institutions stood unaffected, they simply moved locations as and when.  Offices and civil life was targeted and an unwired network prevailed with murderous results.  A large Northern Ireland, British Establishment shaped hole exists in the Wikileaks story.

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Conclusion ####4

Cannes 2016 saw the release of this film which has been re-edited since the Democratic National Committee email leaks and also picks up on allegations about sexual abuse by another activist Jacob Appelbaum in a neat parallel to Assange difficulties which stem firstly from his own private life.  Where there they are to be believed or not is not part of Laura Poitras’s intention.  She must place testimony on the record where given and it is not avoided.  Primarily she has followed this phenomenon, the Wikileaks impact, since before the Edward Snowden film Citizenfour which went places the fictional one was intensely lacking in.  The balance of the film is caught well by the filmmaker and it is brilliantly effective in revealing the revealer insofar as ‘civility’ and privileges of privacy impose.  Having introduced it at Cannes as one thing required an updated version given the significance of revelatory exposés on the Democratic fight for the Presidency.  The reading of the film als needs adjusted.  It is very unfair to see this film as breaking conventions of documentary.  Every documentary you will have seen has a slant or tableau formed through the vision of its author. The Director here is in possession of a subject which intrudes her and delving into the minutiae behind Embassy doors is fascinating.  Not only for what it reveals but for us to see the double standards lives are made to comply with in any democracy.  Forgetting about the subject – temporarily – it becomes a portrait of human condition and conditioning unparalleled as information is our voice and rhetoric.  The everyday confrontation with falsehood is so theatrical.  Amal Clooney is witnessed from a roving overhead crowd shot of a congratulatory walk from the English Court by his side every step of the way.  The spectacle of the press is amazing to witness as we are not yet ready to screen courtroom proceedings and definitely not for tweeting out proceedings.  The knife edge is the Directors and she comes up with some close shaves.  Apparently some zoos have been doctored at the ‘actors’ request while it resonants later with the theatrical disguise of Julian Assange last public appearance.  The one adopted to go to the Ecuadorian Embassy.  The red post box seen outside is one he cannot use.  If he were to step onto the street to post a letter in the stout transmitter of private correspondence.  They were green before July 1874 when they were painted post box red.

It is an outstanding, at times electrifying piece of work and addresses the duality of providing another platform to hype the task undertaken by Julian Assange and the need for filmic storytelling to be compelling and it borders on a sitcom type of sedentary watch with mother at times as a lot of talking from the principal party is only watchable if some twist of narrative or misplaced meaning or word makes you pay acute attention because here is someone who has brought some riveting knowledge to our times.  Don’t blame the messenger.

A credit arose as it closed  –  In loving memory of Michael Ratner (1943-2016), who devoted his life to justice

John Graham

28 June 2017

Belfast

Screening at Queens Film Theatre     Showing: 30 June 2017 until 06 July 2017

Loving : A Film Review


Loving

Directed by Jeff Nichols, (Mud, Take Shelter, Midnight Special) Produced by Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, Nancy Buirski, Sarah Green, Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf. Screenplay by Jeff Nichols, Based on The Loving Story by Nancy Buirski.  Cast.  JOEL EDGERTON -RICHARD LOVING, RUTH NEGGA – MILDRED LOVING, MARTON CSOKAS – SHERIFF BROOKS, NICK KROLL – BERNIE COHEN, TERRI ABNEY – GARNET JETER, ALANO MILLER – RAYMOND GREEN , JON BASS – PHIL HIRSCHKOP – MICHAEL SHANNON – GREY VILLET.  Music by David Wingo, Cinematography Adam Stone, Edited by Julie Monroe, Production companies – Big Beach, Raindog Films. Cert. 12. Duration 2hrs 3mins.


The blurb

The true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1950s Virginia for the crime of getting married.  The year is 1958 and the Civil Rights Movement has barely begun. Richard, a white construction worker, decides to propose to Mildred, a black woman. What should be a happy beginning to their life together soon becomes an arduous legal and political battle against the state and society. Driven out of their hometown, Richard and Mildred Loving spend almost ten years fighting for the right to live as a family in the town they consider home. They push their case as far as the Supreme Court, resulting in the landmark annulment of the discriminatory Virginian law banning interracial marriage.

 

Story unfolds

Opening with the face of Ruth Negga, pensive and seeming forlorn the frame extends to include Joel Edgerton as they contemplate an event that will cement and form their relationship.  It is in this context of inter-racial harmony, togetherness and unity we are then shown the integrated social Virginia backdrop.  The backdrop of motor racing or as they have it, drag racing petrol heads and enthusiasts of different races, no pun intended, relax and compete and show their macho skills in basic road souped up cars.  Nothing too fancy.  In the late fifties when this is an automobile high customised era of ‘winged’ chariots with valances, fins, chrome, tailegate motors expressing freedom these racers are mere tools of competition and all the scrutineering follows the rules.  Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) is a bricklayer/blocklayer working mainly on new houses with a white crew.  It’s noticeable the workplace is segregated and I didn’t see any black workers on the sites where it is a good payer and is regular work.  Mildred Loving nee Jeter (Ruth Negga) is s field worker in a plantation of tobacco and is part of a young coloured community whose work is labourious and achingly demanding.  The mix and split of these Virginias is already an orchestrated unity.  They are joined but separated by class.  The hoe-down after the Drag racing shows them together as free spirits raised and enjoying themselves. The reality is the separation is constructed by the state racial fundementalists to manage and control them.  The sense of order is plain as no revolution is happening and only later when the marches of Martin Luther King emerge via. the TVs screen which is a new medium delivering its dose of engineered mostly white produced programmes, is there a consciousness of the underlying oppressed people.


Breaking the circle

By telling this true story with an impeccable faithfulness to the events and without overdramatising the conflicts Jeff Nichols knows what matters.  The couples relationship is dealt with as an everyday love between neighbours.  Richards family is a farmstead with a few barns and no father.  His father in the past worked with for a black man andtherefore Richard’s heightened awareness of difference has another dimension.  He knows the establishing of a means to make a living is so important and management of the returns, resources, is a separate thing entirely.  Unions and workers rights themselves in their infancy.  Richards home is a 5 step timber house. I call it a 5 step verandah house as it is the Southern style of open porch under a roof edge raised as a stoop common throughout the vastness of the country they live in.  There is room to breathe the night air.  Mildred’s house hasby contrast a 2 step verandaed home.  There’s is a slightly lower less long established home.  The settlers of white stock brought this form as a colonial imprint and the black people who they now lifted with took up the style of living. Jeff Nichols takes this environment as his main template going forward in the story.  The day to day is familiar and working to mutual advantage within the restraints and constrictions.  It would be acceptable for a white and black person to live together, sleep together providing they were not married and they would have to suffer the isolation having offspring would bring and perhaps be forced to move under those circumstances.

Humanitarian rights

In this story the most important thing is the groundbreaking change the Loving’s bring about.  It is told from the very first instance when they decide to get married out of state in Washington D.C. Colombia and in a matter of fact way it happens in a registry office with Mildred’s Dad as a witness.  They all have a journey to D.C. Which underlines the backwardness of where they came from.  In the recent elections the states around Washington D.C. were distinctly democrat hence the poor turn out for the inauguration.  The movement of reconciliation – first of ridding themselves of the colonialist English/British enslavers then the Abraham Lincoln abolition of slavery had its focus here.  The slavery remained in effect through the inequality and suppression of cultural freedom which the right to choose who they married underlined.  

So the first time the legal side of things arises is when they live openly as a married couple and the local police act on instructions to arrest them.  It results in a court case and with local representation they accept their fate and move out of state to avoid incarceration and separation.  Mildred is very much now the focus of the film as she raises a family with the help of relatives they have a home and we notice the children growing in a small enclosed space.  Some direct referencing by Neff Nichols to the urban nature of this existence is played out but now the singularity of their case comes to the notice of the American Civil Liberties organisation and in steps another principal performer. Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll) who is a rookie human rights lawyer full of optimistic favour but little common sense.  There then is the highlight of the movie for me a meeting in which he sequesters an office of a Law firm and manages to take on the gravitas and bearing to welcome Richard and Mildred to the concept of challenging through the courts the injustice they met in their home state of Virginia.  His niavity is very funny if it were not so devoid of reality.  Nevertheless as things move on they find a way to advance the case.  Into the package comes a Human Rights Lawyer who knows which buttons of legislature to press and the sequence is followed through.  Quite interestingly and it’s an obvious choice made, little ‘Courtroom Drama’ by way of the tension filled portrayal of landmark cases some directors ratchet up, we are treated to a matterfact brief hearing of the issues in succinct facts which is a very, very important factor in this films mastery of a difficult a prolonged process. It is a very wise move not to Labour on the machinations but put the case up front and central.  Cohen. And his cohort spelling it out. Judgements follow.


Pace and time

 The film is slow and changes in the story are therefore anticipated given the known history if not the longevity of the whole sorry apartheid.  Racial conflicts and violence are eschewed and it is a story well told due to the simplicity of the families confined to the story.  The movements between them for certain events and the passing of time is only loosely appreciated by the children.  An awful lot of the time Richard is tinkering at cars and is on the sidelines but fully behind the  battle Ruth takes a great deal of interest in and is the titans holding on to the political and gigantic nature of it.  Possibly it might be true to say the film sags in the middle and is in need of an uplift which comes in the form of the case taking on its seniority.  The state of Virginia need be challenged in the Supreme Court where about one in 400 cases assigned to it are every taken up at this level. As interracial marrying was against the law – a matter of “miscegenation”, that notably science based attribution, has them after the harassment and being locked up, guided through Mildred’s having initially written to Bobby Kennedy,  the ACLU is able to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court and change America’s ugly Jim Crow race laws of the 50s and 60s.


Conclusion ####4

I found this film worked by following in the middle of the story the emotional switches and triggers Mildred Loving nee Jeter (Ruth Negga) produces from the very first frame.  She is intelligent, graceful, dignified and assured of her worth.  Richard is also sure of his love and is unable to express it the same way which shows when he is a backcourt no comment reply outside a courthouse to the TV whereas Mildred is despite the signs to the contrary – hopeful. Jon Bass as Phil Hirschcop is splendidly youthful and fits the pieces of the jigsaw together in terms of the Law.  Both he and Nick Kroll as Bernie Cohen derserve a second mention as they are a unit playing off each other’s belief in the strength of the Law and the ability of the Supreme Court to hear and accept their arguments which in effect they do and it is no small achievement.  Micheal Shannon who appears in several character roles in Jeff Nichols films is cast as the Life photographer reporter who visits the Lovings and creates a US media phenomenon of them as a normal couple in a normal state of marriage growing up raising children.  They are hard working and it’s is as he shows it.  Despite the dip in the middle this is a carefully crafted and very watchable film and has important nuances and insights which are seldom given space.  I thoroughly recommend a viewing.

John Graham

2 February 2016

Belfast
 Screening at QFT from Fri 3 Feb – Thurs 16 Feb

.

Jackie : A Film Review


Directed by Pablo Larraín. Produced by Juan de Dios Larraín, Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel. Written by Noah Oppenheim. Cast. Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt. Music by Mica Levi, Cinematography Stéphane Fontaine, Edited by Sebastián Sepúlveda, Production companies, LD Entertainment, Wild Bunch, Fabula, Why Not Productions, Bliss Media, Endemol Shine Studios, Protozoa. Duration. 1hr 35mins. Cert. 15.


A moment changes the World

You are in for an engrossing watch through the dramatic performances and palpable tensions over an event which will last long in the memory of the Political and Social history of America. The 1963 assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  He was artly responsible for setting the foundation stones of modern America which were laid by a unity of purpose naively set up on the false hopes of the ‘All American dream‘ and even proposing – in a space race with the then USSR – landing a man on the moon. Most of America was fed through the very new media of TV and infinity of lifestyle magazines from Life to Playboy.  GQ would come later and in the Trump towers supermo’s office he has framed covers of Playboy and GQ featuring DT and with this film opening in the U.K. on Friday 20 January on the inauguration of the New President of the United States it is Donald Trumps turn to shape the USA dream or sign its death nail.

The blurb on the film is After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband’s funeral.  Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband’s legacy – and how she herself will be remembered. Chilean director Pablo Larraín (Tony Manero, No) plunges us into the devastation using a series of finely crafted flashbacks that cover the fateful day in Dallas, Jackie’s return to the White House, arrangements for the President’s funeral, and her time spent accompanying her husband’s coffin to Arlington Cemetery.  

The role came to Portman through Darren Aronofsky, who directed her in Black Swan, for which she won an Oscar in 2011. He shepherded Noah Oppenheim’s script of Jackie for a number of years. Meanwhile, Larrain’s star was rising beyond Chile, in films largely about his home country’s history (No, The Club, Neruda). The Club won a prize at the Berlinale in 2015.  Sydney Morning Herald.


Performances to celebrate

It is a very tightly crafted film, very much keeping its focus on the psyche of Jackie Kennedy in a short period and time of immense change.  With all seeming to be heading sweetly for JFK heading into a second term, this was a joyous time and full of hope but is cruelly shattered in seconds.  The script is chillingly absent of sentiment, ideology, lecture or incidental fill.  It has a welcome electrifying directness giving insight to the persons at the heart of the event.  The conversations and efficiency of words infiltrate the mood swings and juxtapositions, allowing fractious clashes to ignite believably while personalities vie to capture their own space in the story.  The likes of the senior clerical Priest, Father Richard McSorley, played with assurity and gravitas by John Hurt, who is asked by Jackie to conduct the Funeral, is a fatherly figure with a breadth of intuative and needed kind wisdom, which he delivers in a long conversation with Jackie as they survey the landscape prior to the Funeral. The suggestion Jackie has a conversation with Father McSorley is not simply him seeking her approval of the arrangements but to have her unburden the thoughts he is aware she will not release. That in itself is a vivid illumination of the key central characters and the complexity of this world shattering event. Richard E.Grant is also wholly convincing as the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ in the White House, William Walton, anticipating and conflicted by the choices of Jackie in the now decorous White House she has recently restored and transformed into a ‘peoples’ house yet extravagance is not exiled.  The chairs once used by the Lincolns are retrieved from the English aristocrat family who obtained them. Peter Sarsgaard is tremendous as Bobby Kennedy.  He has the unfortunate job of burying a brother and looking after a widow both in grief. He is fragile and has black secrets. Bobby acted a lot of the time to keep the private side of his brother hidden while he also plays someone who deals with a wife who was aware of her husbands infidelity and mixing with the wrong folk.

Jackie asks

Jacqueline (Lee Bouvier Kennedy), (“Jackie”) 1929–94, wife of John F. Kennedy (1953–63) and Aristotle Onassis (1968–75).

What happened? Who done it? the questions on the free worlds mind in 1963 when JFK, Jack Kennedy is assassinated.  It is not often mentioned but the Cold War was in people’s minds so the USSR would not only have eyes on it, they could – though we’re never cited – as possible assassins.  The immediate aftermath is the focus of this story as seen through the eyes of the highly traumatised and troubled Jackie Lee Bouvier, the widow with two small children, Caroline and John.  The world is watching and she is in a state of Post traumatic shock with few medics to help and just the White House entourage to relate to.  No one is close to her except Bobby Kennedy and her aide de camp, the lady in waiting type, Greta Gerwig whose guidance is both practical and humane.  She for instance tells Jackie how to tell the children, in the whirlwind of thought she offers clarity. It is a stellar performance on  Greta Gerwig’s part too.  Towering as she does, over the small grieving woman Jackie/Natalie whose only friend is her. Others to note if only for their presence excepting JFK are  Caspar Phillipson as John F. Kennedy himself, John Carroll Lynch as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Julie Judd as Ethel Kennedy, Brody and Aiden Weinberg as John F. Kennedy Jr., Mathilde Ripley as Jean Kennedy Smith all lurking in the wallpaper of the White House.  When HBO first conceived of the idea along with Darren Aronofsky, around 2010, it was envisaged it would be a four part mini-series, then word got about and grander plans were put together.  While it ‘rested’ at times it eventually gathered the full engagement of LD Entertainment and Wild Bunch with Darren Aronofsky at the helm if not the Directors chair.


The White House

The CBS TV black and White tour fixes us back in the day through contemporary and modern interplay of the actual footage and inserts for the actors which is in grainy b/w and the sound is raw.  Even watching black and white TVs dotted around and particularly one in a g-plan cabinet contrasting with the French decorous style of Jackie contrast and realise the era.  In the Presidens office there are many old maritime portraits of ships with masts contrasting with the decorated heros marine past. Alongside these the massive portrait of Bison and Bison (so singular an animal it retains the name unaltered on plural!) on stampede.  The Oval Office is late in receiving its bold red circular carpet.  The whole replication of the White House interiors was carroed out on the Paris studios. The sound is delicately adjusted from the b/w footage back to a smooth dialogue, say of Billy Crudup and the footage is also integrated extremely well with it having apparently been shot on 35mm film.  I had an issue with the choice of music and while it was not maudlin it was at times irritatingly harsh and unnecessarily present.

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The American Route map to success.

The opening of the film begins on the Presidential plane with the entourage, the full works, preparing to land in Texas to go on that fateful journey into Dallas.  It is visceral expectation of her home state reunion and celebration of JFK having gotten to the White House and this stellar couple being examples of the American dream realised in a form of success matched by smartness and anticipation of a better future.  TV is the elephant in the room.  The intervention and prime inventor of those dreams.  The elephant in the room being the thought – you think you had and you sitting on the back as it’s pilot as it takes you where you think you intended to go – except the elephant is doing all the driving.  As with La La Land all is colour and CinemaScope.  The TV though is still black and white.  The arc of the film is the Life series of interviews and in this immediate period, with use of flashback and CBS footage of a White House tour – a key widening view of the hidden inner workings of the White House – the Life Magazine interview which is carried out by in Massachusetts after the event; only a week actually, with – ‘The journalist’ Billy Crudup  – as end credits have it.  It is of course the Theodore White interview which Jackie Kennedy sought and demanded total control over as she did with the State Funeral which went global in its TV and cinema showing of its extraordinary homage to a leader.


Life (other magazines Time, GQ are available)

Theodore White turns up at her remote lakeside home in Massachusetts at Hygennis Port in a timber colonial style high ceilinged mansion.  The brusque cautious greeting of Jackie is a trigger of thought and disclosure setting the tone and delivering a new way of journalistic intrusion.  Albeit a forthright discussion and serious interview, it is through the personality of Theodore White – whose loose collar and tie belie his penetrative technique – which loosens Jackie tongue and the core innermost telling emotions inside Jackies mind pour out easily.  His technique is simply using a notepad and pen, and his manner is stoic, serious and non judgemental, being notionally slightly deferential although he does not allow Jackie to get away from his inquisitive delving by upsetting her.  He is instead the astute and independent author of her words. Being agreeable is a ploy he will have used many times as a seasoned journalist knowing the thirst for this story and it’s massive trajectory in print. It will be her story, he tells her, as she ruminates over this slackening of the pressures post funeral  and of the historical marker she laid down.  “What I think of history?  Does that make it true?”  Her own struggling with the facts and perceptions. The truth of the assassination is always under the surface. For Natalie Portman  she had the stories to go to as the part was researched by reading the interviews, Her primary source was the seven-part eight-and-a-half-hour Life magazine interview conducted in the early part of 1964 by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. with Kennedy. One of three interviews she gave following her husband’s assassination, it was kept private throughout her life – so wiki tells me!

More insights to the way it evolved as a film are interestingly revealed on wiki and this is in a four year period which began with Racheal Weisz in the ‘titular’ part it goes on to – May 2015, Portman was confirmed to star in the film.  That same month, Chilean Director Pablo Larraín was hired having been approached by Darren Aronofsky to direct the film with Aronofsky subsequently working as a piloting producer.

    

Conspiracies aside.

The fact is this film does not dwell on the conspiracy theories or the killer(s) Ruby killing, the alleged assassin Oswald and it is intensely about the choices made in the immediate aftermath.  Natalie Portman is extraordinarily convincing in portraying a vulnerable fragile diminutive wife whose world is shattered and all known compasses are lost.  Portman was working on another film – Planetarium, with Lily-Rose Depp – during pre-production of Jackie in Paris. She prepares in depth for any role, but this one did not allow much time. She read everything she could find and studied footage of Jackie, especially her distinctive voice: silky, patrician and breathy, with touches of Long Island, where Portman spent part of her own childhood. That voice is a huge part of the performance.  Sydney Morning Herald. The strength Natalie Portman portrays, definitely Oscar worthy, is as if she is pulling her up, Jackie up and out of this extraordinary maelstrom event and is breathtaking through its simplicity and nuanced magnificently with subtlety and vocally with gesture, inflection and cadence.  From her adjusting her attire, make up, hair, and walking routine, for the outside world to her rehearsal and rehearsal of the tasks ahead with her lady in waiting, it becomes a legendary performance in itself.

 

Legacy for who?

The Life magazine and TV background of the aftermath is the question Jackie places centrally, concerning the public spectacle and projection of the legacy of her husband. The legacy is prime. She does all she can to make the cavalcade match the Lincoln funereal despite their legacies being poles apart.  With the help of Bobby Kennedy and Nancy Tuckerman, the lady in waiting, in a whirl wind she commands strength and the understandable flaky persona we have insight to, mainly due to the PTSD (as is our probable likely post-overview) which conceals an inner trauma with a sense of self she is continually framing the world view of both herself and Jack John Kennedy.  She and the Life magazine interviews which she retrieves partially – it is the widows prerogative exercised – as she is prepared to deny the journalists writing of it if need be.  This is clear to Theodore White in the journalists role and one he is prepared for.  It is too revealing so soon after the assassination she takes steps to reframe things.  In any event or so it is believed the truth may be revealed in time, however it never has been.


Conclusion ####4

In terms of reality, Jackie herself proclaims it very well, as she knows having been a Presidents wife, Public perception is often far from the truth, the managed truth.  She is at ease declaring the story is servant to the legacy.  The truth is another matter entirely.  The interview which works extremely well as the central plank of the film, is as though the legacy is assured as the fulfilment of what she wished for in terms of the funeral statelike removal of JFK was in itself testimony to the woman’s will and strength. This interview is a tail piece of extraordinary insight and it’s legacy is also hers.  Nancy Tuckerman, the splendidly relaxed and grounded Greta Gerwig is seen remaining and apart, left alone at the White House when Jackie leaves.  Don’t let it be forgot.  The words of Camelot. The invincibibility of the Camelot musical beloved of JFK who played the song, Victrola, as a refreshment after a hard day’s grind, is recalled by Jackie but she’s conscious there will be new presidents but there will never be another Camelot. On the page and of it darkness has its many shades.  The day today is just the first. A remarkable and very touching biographical memoir in a historically vexing film. While many will not be interested in the historical perspective it is a very touching story of how grief of any kind sends new priorities and shapes things so differently going forward.  It as a film asks more questions and is very contrasting for the current inauguration of a world leader going ahead right now.

       
John Graham

19 January 2017

Belfast
On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from 20 January through to 2 February 2017.  And on wide General release.

What’s not on General release is the ‘road movie’ a political thriller of 104mins. 2016. by Pablo Larrain

Neruda


It’s 1948 and the Cold War has reached Chile. In congress, Senator Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) accuses the government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached by President Gonzalez Videla (Alfredo Castro). Police Prefect Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal) is assigned to arrest the poet. Neruda tries to flee the country with his wife, the painter Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán), but they are forced into hiding. Inspired by the dramatic events of his new life as a fugitive, Neruda writes his epic collection of poems, Canto General. Meanwhile, in Europe, the legend of the poet hounded by the policeman grows, and artists led by Pablo Picasso clamor for Neruda’s freedom. Neruda, however, sees this struggle with his nemesis Peluchonneau as an opportunity to reinvent himself. In this story of a persecuted poet and his implacable adversary, Neruda recognizes his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become both a symbol for liberty and a literary legend.

From the fibula.cl website where you can also see trailers of other films by Pablo Larrain like Fugue.
La Casa Films logo is so good I have to show it! 

The range of Cinema in Chile is astoundingly captivating.

Fires were Started : A Film Review

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

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

The Blitz depicted

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

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

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Mass-Observation

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

Making the film

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

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

 

John Graham

11 November 2016

Belfast

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

Sonita : A Film Review



Director
: Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami. Cast: Sonita Alizadeh, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami and further members of the family and the organisations supporting her.  Wasatch Academy. Utah. Genre.  Art House & International, Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts. Written by: Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami. Duration: 90 minutes. Cert. PG. Subtitled.


A real life story told differently.

This film, set in Tehran, Iran, Herat, Afghanistan, and Utah, America, is creatively astonishing and alarming as well as delivering to a wider audience the issue of the still practiced female subjugation in the form of, mainly child forced marriage in Afghanistan still manifest and unlike Iran un-evolved.  It is the story of Sonita Alizadeh, a young Afghan girl whose overflowing gifts of performance art, drama, singing, songwriting, theatre design for a fifteen year old whose creative world is driven (and you may wonder the magnitude of her gifts outside this) by the politics and plight she finds herself in.  Spanning broadly, 2014 to 2015, filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami turns this story into a crossover of documentary drama having found Sonitas story, presumably via. the social media, SoundCloud, or whatever platform her main song met the world audience in which it is acclaimed as being a breakthrough rap song of immense clarity, succinct hard hitting lyrics.  How Rokhsareh was drawn to it doesn’t really matter but it presents for us the form which is sometimes viewed as staged, rehearsed, eavesdropping in the family situation Sonita is locked into.  

Here is a review sentence from the FT which quite rightly draws attention to the fine line documentary makers – for this is the onlay genre the makers wish to push the film, its in my mind a format which genuinely takes in theatrical performance and sublimely, if that’s not too pejorative – taking care to deal sensitively with the very harsh subject.  The view stated was FTGhaemmaghami’s various, blatant interventions in Alizadeh’s life (shooting and posting a video to one of Sonita’s songs that went viral, negotiating her passports and visas) probably broke every documentary-making code. 

It definitely crosses the line, I’ll agree. Backtrack it with the song Crossing the line Yamasata Winwood and Shrieve.  Long gone tune which expresses lots of things.


Sonita a refugee

Sonitas life is within a Tehran charity called The Society for the Protection of Working … (and nowhere can I find a link – yet OMID is a similar but women not child based charity) run by an Iranian woman, herself an irrepressible honest broker with vision whose wisdom allows access to Sonita who is after all under her guardianship, so no small element.  It is a place where, with due respect and local cultural deference she is, within the building they are housed; a free person, allowed to move around the city as an ordinary citizen, and able to mix with other girls her own age. We see through the vision of this refugee workers insightful management of what is an emotionally damaging situation – separation from her family, no papers to establish her identity formally, no proper education, no role or life management – what in fact is The Society’s purpose is to provide life skills to a girl entering womanhood.  The charity delivers hope to all the children in its care, not alone Sonita.


The cloud she’s moves underneath from.

By telling the story from an initial school based situation the parameters are defined.  Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami takes the role of an interviewer and asks Sonita as she beds down in a small sparse room on which she has a scattering of posters including one artist whose reception in Manchester this week was such that it’s overwhelming volume near hyseria had —-! leave the stage as it was impossible in their eyes to perform normally.  The next night in Birmingham was more constrained and both concerts showed the pinnacle of musical status her looked into in Tehran as an impossible dream. 

The questions are about her situation and Sonita keeps a private art diary/notebook of ideas, expectations/ambitions/observations full of perceptive irony and fledgling artistic ability.  By probing away, advancing the narrative Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami is delivering a deep involving complex picture of the background Sonita comes from and the central issue. Sonita has come from a now relatively – and that is only notional – safe environment of Herat after Taliban conflict she has not seen her mother for six or seven years.  Her father has died.  Father was old and mother was young as she shows Rokhsareh a family photo.  She tells of her Dad marrying a young bride, her Mum obviously and this is what is expected of her.  A marriage to be arranged which her mother shall sell her, and to someone of twenty years senior has already been put forward, for around $9,000 which may even be as little as $3,000 given her current exile status.  If she were to leave Tehran she would not be able to return.  To establish her identity properly she would have to return to Herat to authenticate her passport application no longer making her a refugee.  Another twist of passports is that Iran will accept all passports except American ones as valid.  The whole scenario is as complex as it sounds and in the film is shown though the sequencing, directorial clarity brought through the surreal depictions, ‘flashbacks’ cleverly linerally delivered by the astute Director and with I would imagine the input of Sonita and the primary ‘actors’.

 Identity 
Conventions of Female Subjigation

The pressures of being subject to a course of action out of her control and being manipulated from afar – it is the families ‘proposal’ back in Herat – along with a brother who appears not on the very fringes of this film, exherts pressure on Sonita to acquiesce to this child marriage for the sake of the family.  Beyond the immorality of the sale as is tradition in Afghanistan, not Iran, by being sold for so many dollars, – the figures of the film take on a life of their own – $9,000 say – it would allow her brother to then buy a bride in turn.  This trap is only a peculiarity and the number of girls in a family allow the Male dominated society to perpetuate the sale of daughters for such sums of money which amounts to the same as sheep or cows being sold and hence a basis of livelihoods.  It is this Sonita is highly charged about centrally, no surprise there then, and is what is behind Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s diligence in making this risky politically charged exposure of a specific family situation.  It brings plenty of risk which strangely and perhaps inevitably she has been able to convince various members of the family, especially Mother to participate and ‘act’ out their roles under her direction in order to project the story.  Several scenes are clearly rehearsed and not spontaneous as is the prospectus.

  An uncannily similar image appears film and Goya speaks!
Going viral

The songs are put together through a series of encounters which managed or unmanaged bring out the darkly striking rap song Brides for Sale which went viral.  The accompanying video and the interspersed additions of work take this film beyond any perceptions of transgression or willful interference.  It is an act in need of sustenance, established accord, and wide, very wide exposure which Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami has employed in the past.  She knows exactly what she is doing/has done and far from clouding the boundaries with irrevance of orginisational finger pointing she uses the art of film making to create in itself a poignant emotionally complex drama theatrical performance piece establishing Sonitas art.  Her art happens to explore her hardship and like many who cannot get to express their hardship in any shape or form Sonita charges ito also fully aware of the boundaries and is so imaginatively advancd as to grasp it for those who cannot.  The rappers in Chicago, Hidden China, Remorseless India, Battered Britain, Bombarded Palestine and many other exploited, suppressed regions share the same humanity as all of us but cannot express it.  Even such as Pussy Riot, Malala, The Idol, Deephan along with recent films are centrally political and important.


Conclusion ####4.

As the play’s of Shakespeare, the traditions of No theatre, the Morality plays Film again takes over the wider view of intensely important visulisation of ourselves in our times – since the invention of Film! Cast as a documentary to all platforms, Sonita evolves with magnetic, crushing, compelling engagement.  It is impossible to avert your eyes or shift your mind to blank out the at times surreal, avant garden polemic foisted on you rewardingly by Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami and Sonita Alizadeh whose life is at the centre.  Oblivious as most of us are to the extraordinary desparate conditions of culture inflicting subjegation on extensively, women.  We are present among our own preoccupations and prejudices and on a much reduced level – though clearly many women at the heart of a crisis rightly would disagree – in the so caled developed world.  The thrust of daily live often places compromises in front of us but we need to be aware of the ramifications of indulged political parameters and speak out against them.  Sonita provides documentary, wide vision and self awareness seldom seen in any other locatity enormously assisting those in the front line of argument to fight these outrages.  By having groups of allies outside who can support their fight is how it can advance change.  This film is a nucleus for change among many.  It is deeply entrenched in the goodness seen portrayed under ridiculous circumstances and delivered to our view by its many contributors including Grandma Alizadeh whose tentative but knowingly astute presence lever’s up an other plank from the rocky road.  

John Graham

27 October 2016

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from Friday 28 October through to Thursday 3 November 2016.