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.

I, Daniel Blake : A Film Review


Director, Ken Loach, Screenplay, Paul Laverty.  Cast. Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, Briana Shann, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe. (English dialogue) Duration. 1hr 40mins. Camera (color), Robbie Ryan; editor, Jonathan Morris; music, George Fenton; production designers, Fergus Clegg, Linda Wilson; costume designer, Joanne Slater; sound (Dolby Digital), Ray Beckett; sound editor, Kevin Brazier; line producer, Eimhear McMahon; casting, Kahleen Crawford. Production. U.K.- (France-Belgium) A Le Pacte (in France) release of a Sixteen Films, Why Not Prods., Wild Bunch (Rebecca O’Brien), BFI, BBC Films, Les Films du Fleuve, France 2 Cinéma, Canal Plus, France Télévisions, Le Pacte, Cinéart, Ciné Plus, VOO and Be tv production. 

  #WeAreAllDanielBlake

Side by side not taking sides

If you want to avoid a politcally charged piece based around the outrages perpetuated our name in Great Britain and Northern Ireand, on which this film has attempted in its narrow focus to show then I suggest you go to the bottom of the review and the conclusion instead of wading through the politics.  I find people’s perceptions of the politics intruiging and repulsive from the so-called support mechanism of handouts on legal advice and support through the class orientated Legal system – access to justice and the like pure fantasy and peripheral – other ‘agencies’ – charity wars where they are in High Streets ‘chugging’ being unpleasant in a face frame as you pass, to handing out supermarket disposals at food banks then you can get a bit distraught and ashamed.  So move on.

Moving on the story

This journey is a script opening eyes to actors then audiences.  Research needs dictate the timeline for this compressed schedules so the assembled team can come together very quickly, in three months after the get go, finances in place – France is the main arena to show it.  It opens in about 600 screens in France and about 100 in GB/NI.  This story is discovered in so many places it shocks producer Rebecca O’Brien and the outlet, outcome will come touch so many who no the story at some level. Loaches way of working is to shoot in sequence then give script pages say a few days in advance if some scenes need ‘discovery’ let down gently so the performance evolves more naturally.  So actors have the most explained scripted but are taken on a journey also.


Foreign fields in our country

In the early summer at the end of May the European Cinema community meeting once again in Cannes expressed their acclaim of this Ken Loach film.  It should be mentioned the screenplay delivered by Paul Laverty is exceptional and their combined skills, talent have created a very clear depiction of the atrocious Department for Work and Pensionsxorganised abuse of human rights and morality.  Here is a report in May announcing the Ken Loach acclaim action in Cannes.

Last week there was an article in The Guardian about how Labour candidates in the last elections were like “middle class Ryanair passengers,” trying to suppress their metropolitan squeamishness while canvassing in traditional Labour areas.

The voters on the doorsteps said of the politicians: “You’re all the same” – by which they meant: “You’re nothing like me”. 

On the same day, it was reported that Ken Loach, nearing his 80th birthday, had just won prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes for I, Daniel Blake, a film about life on benefits.

This is great news for the makers of this thoroughly decent but very straightforward portrait of the film maker, which looks back over his career, while showing him making that very film. 

Proper Society demands

I am finding this film very hard to review as having now seen it twice can attest to its fiercely upsetting and concerning depiction of Britain – the United Kingdom – that is shown to have a rejection by proxy of large sections of vulnerable and virtually starving people trammeled by Government punitive Social Security actions.  Based on the Public Health. act they distort and reject basic human right principles of social provision for those in need of welfare assistance and breach the rights to privacy as attested by the system shown for all its harmful effect in this film.  Seeing it twice produced the view – seeing it twice assured me it was in fact a work of fiction though it may well have been a documentary of validity and authenticity given its flawless careful handling of a large societal picture which is treated like a soiled limited section of the support system people believe – wrongly – is a safety net.  


The depraved reformers

A local spokesperson for these Social Security ‘Welfare Reforms’ Dr Eileen Evason, who has been an advisor over many years to the Social Services Committee, adding insult to injury over the period appeasing and making noises on/off about possibly unworkability, while failing to solve the problems put up by the Social Security Committee, grandly attests that ‘she’ has advised the First Minister and Deputy First Minister ‘she’ has copper fastened the bottom of the safety net in the latest measures of ‘Welfare Reform’ – which are a removal of further support and diminution of Social Security – in every sense of the word and are as much an insidious harmful assault on people disadvantaged in numerous ways accessing Welfare.  

Reforms are the further rejection of people’s rights and betrayal of the Welfare Society on which our whole ‘sovereign’ entitlement has affirmed through the Public Health Act. It is how our civility has been established.  I could cite several Laws which are breached, among them the provision of emergency and hardship funds which are ‘means tested’ in becoming a claimant.  Worse still is the treatment of Asylum seekers, Refugees and some Immigrants and their diminished rights of access to shelter and the means financially to live in a dignified and civilised way which basically all consider alienating and intensly degradng on purpose by design by the Home Office.  They maintain their dignity as a measure of contrast to those who subjugate them, the depraved reformers. The Attorney General fails to find fault here while he contests the liberty of cakes and rights for access to criminal files by victims and has expressed his views on gay marriage, abortion and sexual prostitution practices.  Human trafficking and Healthcare deficiencies along with long term mental health problems cramming prisons with TV licence evaders, avoiding the rackettering going in also in drugs, property scams and theft from trammeled owners is left to one side when it comes to enforcement of legalities.

Subjugation 

The powerful in all generations beat down the populous in order to create a means to accumulate and amass, grow their fortunes.  Corporations now unleash the threat of ( now mostly seen off) suing Nations who transgress their Commercial practices by regulation – in contrast to other locations – as a means of finding lowest common denominator compliant States to carry out manufacturer and trade.  This is very much a part of the Political embrace, or the Corporations wrestling Governments into surrender by the throats into submission to their plans of work practices.  You may have noticed the floodgates having opened once Thathcher destroyed Manufacturing industries as the tooth nail and claws of overseas economic conditions took a nosedive and resurrected on a Conservative compliant employers agenda.  Followed by the breakneck catastrophic avoidance of needed market reforms when New Labour arose Phoenix like and adopted Neo-liberal economics which achieved what? Fairly evident. The Conservative backlash to the attempt at restructuring tax credits dealt with by the stop gap DWP minister Stephen Crabbe said there were to be no further cuts to Welfare.  What remains however are economic measures creating hardship not alleviating it as is the Conservativve way.  There remains no link to prices in terms of Benefits so any inflation will diminish their value.  The zero inflation likewise meant the adjustments needed were never going to reduce the vulnerability of very low ‘incomes’ never realistically matching survival needs as is clear from social deprivations the length and breadth of the islands.


Both Governments actually banned Ken Loach films which now find themselves on the right side of history.  Some elements (Wind that Shakes the Barley excluded as it was so naive in my view) relate to policies implemented in Northern Ireland which were volatile exposures of criminality of criminal proportions.  In NI film is pronounced ‘filim’ which also connects to the spooks Le Carre points to as finding legitimacy when the ‘sovereign cause’ was imperilled in the Northern Ireland troubles.  We have an o added to NI giving us the Northern Ireland Office and the begetters of many a violent consequence.  Ministers in Government/Assembly rather like the idea the truth is left concealed as to the real savage brutality of regimes acting out their power lust here. It suits their criminal acts and duplicity/double agent positions and hides their joint enterprise efforts of concealment.  The Blair contention he was responsible for healing the process is another myth.  George Mitchell if anyone, alongside wise counsel from Mary Robinson and others not up to their necks in corrupt dealings, stroke parties are the real authors along with the law abiding populous in creating peace.


Katie and Dan, Daisy and Dylan.
Mercy doesn’t come into it.  This film is harrowing and the awareness of both Ken Loach, in putting this account of a shifting period in our history, when the further effects of the 99% globally daily inflict greater influence and harm in the shaping of our society is coruscating and baleful.  It is like watching cities, generations, turned into enumerated sub-Orwellian dehumanised robots functioning to extract as much value from commodities goods and services as is mechanistic ally possible.  The machine age where those owning the power of process from land to building to healthcare extract more than they contribute along an economic symmetry, uniformity which is destroying the planet and its inhabitants.  More and more obvious by the passing years.

Katie, Dan, Dylan and Daisy come to the crest of a hill in a wide street shot, with Dylan acting up and playing on the relatively quiet suburban road.  I saw this as a pivotal point and it’s not a spoiler to be discussing it.  In ‘films’ about the making of this movie I have seen the set up being discussed as Loach and others converge to discuss and KL inevitably calls the shots!  This is where things look to be on the improve.  As you will have likely read the coming together of these people is through their treatment at the hands of the state.  ‘JobCentrePlus’ Newcastle.  After two years in a hostel in London after having lost a rented private flat (note here KL chooses the scenario to point up the lack of council, local authority built homes) through a minor complaint, they are doing separate things in the Job Centre and after another knock back Dan and most in the centre hear raised voices as a stressed Katie faces a knock back which will see her with no money for food or electricity.  Despite the condition, which has Daniel there in the first place, Dan intervenes ad sticks up for her in a scene which is being controlled by unreasonable overstretched staff.  They cannot be seen in their ‘role play’ to move one inch from the rules and agenda.  They are complicit and compliant nevertheless.  It does nothing to resolve the situation as the staff always control the situation by assertion.  By the passive aggressive violence of their inhuman interaction. Ca particularly abhorrent version of which is displayed your a thirty something floor manager whose bulk and belligerence is like a blank wall purposely.  In local offices it is just the same with blank walls and uniforms, badged floor staff acting like prison guards and traffic police.  Entirely designed as intimidatory and just as Latie and Dan find.  The children have to witness this humiliation also. Being so young they will have in futurectimesxstrong memories of this imprint of society they were brought up in.  

Dan cannot separate himself from this encounter given he is like them in the same sinking stinking boat.  Refugees in their own country.  Like anyone of any worth he helps and so Katie is given some hope and he sets about turning around the house she has been given.  It is barely habitable and lacks most things.  Beds, table and chairs excepted. The London policy of shifting out trouble families, single parents in their estimation a problem, all three have to detach themselves from their roots and go to Geordie land where they have no connections.  It is a form of cultural amputation loosing friends and family and all support. It might be regarded as like students, new job prospects – you move to a good job with arrangements for xyz prepared but here it is a complete nightmare and extremely low levels of support and even means to live and with few ‘possessions’ in tow or even storage.  It’s what middle class England voted/votes for and every aspect has implications undreamt of or excluded from the mind by the latest offer of the Sunday roast lunch at the supermarket.  Delivery can be arranged.  The carefully managed tiers of commercial life teased out into jumbo size excuses for lifestyle choices seen and tantalisingly mirrored back at expectations by the political manipulators governing.

  A town anywhere

The Foodbank

A minister recently reflected on Coffee shops – his observation continues into other places restaurants, shops, bars – that they install pews from disused and happy flappy churches who think nothing of ripping out the seats and bare bulbs, rusting grid lamp covers, galvanised mini buckets, boards as platters evoking a back to basics – unafraid of the distressed plate the sirloin steak sits on along both the rustic chips.  When Katie, Dan, Daisy and Dylan are at the crest f that hill they are heading to that phenonomen – the ‘Church’ led charity group – government authenticated – Foodbank.  There are a startling number in most major towns. Our four come to the ‘Church’ Foodbank and are greeted by an enormous queue of everyday folk standing chatting in orderly fashion. The experience inside is something which cuts to your core for many conflicting reasons.  Everyone is doing their best to alleviate the need for people to collect food to survive on top of their ‘income support’ IS ‘wages’ Workers support ‘Jobseeker’s Allowance’ JSA ‘Employment and support Allownce’ ESA and some on ‘Personal Independant Support Allowance’ PIPS. and each person has a Doctors, MPs, Social Security, Police, referral form stipulating they are likely to benefit from Food Aid.  Here in Belfast there is a Foodbank reached by four flights of stairs down a ammonia smelling lane way and with a lift (out of order?).  It is somewhere only the relatively fit and able can access , elderly and those unable to travel back and forth arriving what they get over long distances cannot avail of the meagre provisions.  There are very limited alternatives and despite this numerous deaths on the streets have occurred some not fifty yards away and destitution is hidden under trees and back lanes with an overhanging doorway or at the bac of arestiarant where the hot air comes through the vents.  In daytime in winter I have seen destitute backed up to a dry cleaners hot air discharge vent which is virtually as steam vent.  KL and PL could have continued to make numerous films on destitution and involving those of no status whatsoever who find themselves here but this should incinerate the lies of Poiticians on the relative wealth of this state’ should silence the complicit entrenched waged apologists – for creating a narrative – for having to enforce it – The Law Centre Northern Ireland is also in this category having played host to the doctrine and ignored all legal contexts of Human Rights in so doing.

Poverty of spirit

Acceptance of poverty is bound with having made sacrifice, poverty is nothing without some form of deprivation.  Imposed by others or oneself.  It is not a Christian renunciation – felt by some to to obtain an anti-worldly attitude – and it does not lead to the removal of social malaise but the opposite.  It is a pharisaical damaging concept for oneself.  It is especially clear in some religions as a belief in, confimation of the excecution of Gods will.  In addition to this how many could you name who hold this humility while themselves safe in the knowledge they shall not be impoverished.  The Church fulfills its aims while controlling the minds of the supplicants entreated in their role play.  Having wealth and holding it is primarily a function adopted in religions, nations and societies.  The use of wealth was intended in Gods world to create social fulfilment.  Be it the production of food, transport, education or health and caring it serves no purpose other than to create social purpose.  Manifestly detached from this is the vast accumulation of wealth which has neither function or form.  It is seen as a barrier against misfortune.  Calamity comes in many forms and natural disasters are common and reactions of an earth balancing its elemental fixed laws and structures disrupt many notions.  It has a randomness with which we consider the consequence of – act.

Humans relate to laws and instilled societal forms set in a familial almost fixed set of behaviour relying almost everyone ill defined and not of any real note or consequence.  It foresees a pattern and bonds.  In every moment expanding this is seen as obligatory.  Not so God will.  Telling the rich man if he wished to be perfect he should give to the poor is all that God willed.  So what might that  were made in the time of Constintine between the ruling establishment and the will of God – Christian values.  The progression though led to the diminution of those values and the application – routed in assumed power – hoarding and stifling distribution not based on supplying people’s legitimate means.  Social obligation is the key. Those keys are established through Marxism through Tolstoy, through continental mineral exploitation to create social and human fulfilment.  Where are we headed?


Conclusion #####5

We are thankful (once again) Paul Laverty for bringing forward a societal ill composed of State bureaucracy the malaise that is the UK Welfare system to a wide audience.  It opens on 21 October 2016 in 100 cinemas in The UK and 600 in France showing the depth of awareness films can have on societal issues. This is a compelling story of a man driven to the edge of his existence by bureaucracy and his life is shown with compassion and understanding by the filmmakers. He (Daniel) is joined in the aim to seek benefits by a young single parent, whose plight he finds when visiting the JobCentrePlus almost a confirmation of a conspiratorial system leaving people at the edge of their dignity and strength seeking the means to live a simple life and deal with their specific circumstances. Daniel is a figure summarising the breadth of the diminishing values and morality shrinking daily. With a condition denying him the health to work he is as a 59 year old required to apply for Benefits to sustain himself. He is advised by his GP and Consultant that he is unfit for work and applies for Employment and Support Allowance. Withstanding his Medical condition, confirmed by his physicians, he is compelled against his legal entitlement, to disclosing to a third party his health condition by statements in a q and a with a ‘Healthcare Professional’ (someone who has no responsibility for well being whatsoever and untrained in any medical analysis or part of any treatment plan) on the phone in a black void at the very beginning of the film.  It is a complete invasion of privacy by a third party and is itself a breach of Article 8 of The Human Rights Act,regarding privacy, going unrecognised by such as DWP, DSDNI, ATTORNEY GENERAL, DFC, LAW CENTRE NI, CAB, PATIENT AND CLIENT COUNCIL and the legislators in Parliament and an a priori defence for everyone in terms of its provision. 

It also is a breach of Client/Patient confidentiality as expressed in the General Medical Councils own codes (Hippocratic Oath) for confidentiality which the State by design subvert and disregard along with the apologists in a train behind them, the Citizens Advice Bureau, The Law Centre, the Social Affairs Committee, the Government Legal Services Department and The Attorney General for Northern Ireland who all refuse to acknowledge the a priori existence of these rights. So Daniel Blake represents the – again explained succinctly, more than my detailed account, – the sisyphean struggle – the task is endless and one of monumental endurance – eloquently described by Variety reviewer, OWEN GLEIBERMAN, on seeing it when it won the Palme d’Or. Wrote the following very insightful words in response – among others equally attesting the strength of the film – ” …it’s about something so much larger than bureaucratic cruelty (although it is very much about that). It captures a world — our world — in which the opportunity to thrive, or even just survive, is shrinking by the minute. With the right handling, the movie has a chance to connect with audiences as few Loach films ever have. It’s a work of scalding and moving relevance.”

When an outsider can see so clearly the desperation and degradation society is perpetuating it is a very clear warning.

Such is the picture of what plainly is a mirror of our divided, fractured, malfunctioning Government and Governance the case for a moral and just society is made all the more relevant and important by this films approach which is a dignified response to the perpetrators of the atrocious conditions they consider lawful and fair.  It is ruinous.
  
John Graham

20 October 2016

Belfast
On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from 21 October until 3 November 2016 and at selected Cinemas up to 100 screens in the UK will be showing it while it starts on 600 screens in France who provided considerable backing.

Containment : A Film Review


Containment

Just this past week the Hinckley Point, Somerset, Nuclear reactor was given the go-ahead on behalf of the United Kingdom population, by Theresa May, Prime Minister, following a false standoff with Chinese and French providers since her elevation internally by a group of her party seeing her fit to govern us, a new found ability to take decisions. This is a decision which should never have been made to be taken. With the daily occurrence advances in battery technology and solar power retention and storage from that huge object we know as the Sun, it is within a very short time very likely we will individually at our homes or collective of homes have our own power stations. Nano transformation of energy which allied to similar advances in motive power shall also have an effect of reducing carbon output. Berlin is now a zero carbon city for example so where are the British in this revolution?

Documentary

Containment A Film made in 2015 by Directors, Peter Galston and Robb Moss. It is film documentary on Nuclear waste production and storage. The USA/Japan co-production brings forward the extent of Nuclear waste currently abroad in what is basically a state of deadly toxic limbo.

Getting to screen it.

Interested in bringing Containment to your community, conference, festival or campus? Share your details here at containmentmovie.com or email us (them!) at containment@filmsprout.org, and we’ll (they’ll!) be in touch right away!


Framework
The first frames show Fukishima and a woman walking alone seen by the cameraman/woman surveying the limbo state this empty city has become. It alone needs a containment scenario this film addresses elsewhere in the Art graphic animation discourse for a place in the USA. New Mexico. When did the first scenario arise?

It begins by pointing to the Cold war period after the second word war, when nuclear warheads were accumulated and agreements placed to disarm these weapons of destruction by putting them into vast radioactive ‘landfill’ sites comprising mainly a site in New Mexico whose irrational acceptance as a location for a nuclear waste dump defies logic. The terrain was chosen primarily because of its geological fingerprint. It was a location with a vast unique strata of salt which millennia had proven stable and a medium in which a frozen ‘time’ capsule could be maintained. It had the hallmarks of having the capacity of being an enevelope for storing the radioactive sludge. However the bunds and lagoons created on top of it were and still are reservoirs of storage for a hundred million gallons of toxic waste. This means of storage is but one part of the cycle which includes other non-associated methods which involve inward shipping of nuclear waste in vessels – carefully checked when transport protection is removed for leaks. Each vessel is thoroughly x-rayed for casing integrity. Watching the magic gieger-counter being waved by an operative circling each container begged the question had they replaced the batteries in it. From this part of the process it then went sub-strata via. a long passage of tunnels by vehicle to hopefully it’s final resting place and presumably back filled at some juncture. Other processes included pouring liquid nuclear waste via. robotic arms manually operated into glass containers. Giant Kindle jars of high tech composition presumably.


The only problem is they remain mostly in their last location since a shut-down after a freak accident when a material failure allowed leakage to occur from a container – it’s past x-Ray and scrutiny failing to identify ahead of time any possible flaws or defects – which in turn jeopardized operatives and future containment activities. The decision was to put the entire site under lockdown and begin a clean up operation estimated at the time to be in the region of $300 million dollars or was that billions? In any event nowhere on earth is capable of storing the material waste China America Middle Eastern and European countermoves have plans to accumulate never mind that already stockpiled and in state of transition limbo.


Deep concerns

The film is concerned with not only the accumulation as well as a key part the Fukushima meltdown catastrophe which we are shown in its raw elemental state as a no-go locality but with the figurative signaling beyond our times into periods frankly inconceivable, ten thousand years hence and multiplications thereof. The means of alerting ‘others’ unaware of the backstory our history are explored in real time exercise a of futurist projections. Cockamamie American pawn brokering is one way of describing it. Put it in as a trade and see if any idiot will buy it.


The film becomes cartoon depictions crudely fascinatingly naive ventures of our humanity expressed as a vent diagram and delineation of rogue versus alien versus well the ordinary Joe or Jane whose curiosity got the better of them. Pictorial semaphore signals as used by pirates might have easily substituted or maritime signals heralded by symmetry as unnatural presence of danger put in place by those previously occupying earth. Ie. Humans.


Other reviews.

How do you plan 10,000 years in advance? Containment asks whether we are adequately caring for future generations with current storage methods for radioactive waste. A visit to the nuclear ghost towns of Fukushima shows what will happen if we fail.

—Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian

Peter Galison and Robb Moss remind us of the lingering threat of radioactive waste. What to do with it? How can we warn people centuries in the future about the danger of waste disposal sites? With inventive animation and incisive reporting, Moss and Galison aren’t going to make it any easier to sleep at night.

—Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

The film…attempts to articulate the beautiful and complicated problem of how to render the future a part of the present. It offers glimpses of a future beyond our societal imagination…and goes beyond ordinary documentary filmmaking to bring forward this future image into the minds and sensibilities of its viewers. It is in attempting this communication with the audience beyond the here and now that the film has its greatest success.

—Zoe Jones, Spook Magazine

I admire Containment for its zealous questioning of a situation that is ignored, misunderstood, and obviously—thanks in part to this film—urgent. I’ve been thinking about 10,000 years from now ever since.

—Erin Trahan, WBUR’s The ARTery and The Independent Magazine

The way we tell stories about who we are, what we did and how we considered the consequences of our actions is moving and profound in Containment, told with investigative care, sadness, fury and poetry.

—Andrew Lattimer, heyuguys.com


Three titles making their world premieres at Full Frame garnered plenty of buzz…Containment, Peter Galison and Robb Moss’ latest documentary, also taps into another controversy magnet—nuclear power. The directing duo aren’t strangers to hot-button topics. Their 2008 Sundance hit Secrecy chronicled the massive efforts by the U.S. government to classify data from the general population. Containment, about the scientific, moral and philosophical problems that surround the disposition of nuclear waste, is sure to spark a national debate.

—Addie Morfoot, Variety

Alarmingly frank but refreshingly optimistic, Containment tells a great many inconvenient truths but its coda assures us that all is not lost. The future will come, but we will endure.

—Phil W. Bayles, oneroomwithaview.com

Where did I see it? – this list shows its progress.

Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace, Pittsburgh, PA — August 5, 2016

Pilgrim Legislative Advisory Coalition, Jones River Landing, Kingston, MA — August 20, 2016

CBK Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands — September 3–November 27, 2016

Virginia Tech Research Center, Arlington, VA — September 8, 2016

Case Western Reserve University, Physics Department Colloquium, Cleveland, OH — September 15, 2016

Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast, UK — September 17, 2016

Department of History, Brown University, Providence, RI — September 21, 2016

Willard Straight Theatre, Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY — September 27, 2016


Conclusion ###3

A loose three is attributed to this as the central theme of Containment is heavily here approached using an Art based form of narrative.  This in itself is a very lame element.  It practically philosophies about different advanced and abstract notions.  It focuses while doing this on the processes involved in capture storage and transportation to a location with interviews, protocols of public meetings and the personalities in ‘local’ politics making huge global impacting decisions.  Maybe the highest rank of Government was County Official.  No Presidential, No Congressman, No State Govenor is addressed.  Why not?  Didn’t want to speak? Unsuprisingly? So instead why not make cartoon versions of supposed dialogue and their answers to the Containment question so artistically examined?  Except the artistic endeavors are in my mind not even at the level of a third year student of Architecture whose grasp would no doubt evaluate the obvious pros-cons of symbolic gestural, linguistic, extra-terrestrial scenarios and much more as established throughout mainstream sci-fi non-fictional examinations and the plethora of commentary overloading the Internet from one campus to the Daily News in Singapore or Daily Comet in New York.

Point Blank Failings

I am afraid it lets the fundamental differences of responsibility being attributed to the decisions made in Nations which ignore this Containment issue.  The commentary is not validated while a ‘Nuclear’ Authority speaking as a Police(woman) whose role oversaw protocols and practices came nowhere close to the target.  A question of where possible ‘dangers’ – the plain direction of the conversation marked out terrorism as a principle if not top concern, – got lamely tossed back as ‘Couldn’t possibly answer/speculate!’ kind of moderation the film should not even allow as any direction of investigative informative journalism.
Take a look at the website for additional and valuable source material as the film is only part of a projected discourse and is a beginning – as far as ‘multiple locations’ arise by example through the stark reality of Fukishima.  Mr Nissan is interesting and in a semi-comatose state as his life is Groundhog Day – this is an insight in itself but only, only a miniscule part of what is required to be examined and dealt with by Governments and activists post UN interventions which are of a Human Disater reactive kind not fundamentally addressing ongoing Nuclear exploitation for Billions of dollars/yen/euros of Business.  It’s about the money stupid.
John Graham

21 September 2016

Belfast.

The Childhood of a Leader

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The Childhood of a Leader  Director. Brady Corbet . Writers. Brady Corbet, Mona Fastvold Based on The Childhood of a Leauder by Jean-Paul Sartre
Cast. Bérénice Bejo, Liam Cunningham, Stacy Martin, Robert Pattinson, Tom Sweet.
Music by Scott Walker. Cinematography Lol Crawley. Edited by Dávid Jancsó. Rated PG. Duration. 1hr 56mins. English with some subtitles. Filmed in Hungary.

The films basis

From a novice director, Brady Corbet comes a fully formed insular chamber piece.  It presents a story originated by Jean Paul Sarte which itself searched the psycology of childhood.  His book Words – an introduction I grew up on which itself declared Sarte was not the over complicated author people thought – his quote from it is famous – I loathe my childhood and all that remains of it … So he plays out this troubled time in his stories.  The Childhood of a Leader is the summation of a look into the past and where the hatred and turmoil emerges in this small internalised boy taking on his elders.

 What’s in the picture

This film is overwrought trying too hard on a budget of £5M to reclaim some kudos for first time director and actor Brady Corbet ably assisted by fine performances.  The heavy ostentation given in exclamation marks of the score – the sixties deep voiced balladeer Scott Walker took a avant garde turn late in his career dumping the work which made him famous and tried composing and rearranging songs – whether it is suitable here is up to you to decide but it was just more mish mash for me and rendered the work insipid. The film begins with stock b/w footage of the World War 1  and is called by way of what? – insightful connective tissue? – Overture. Indeed. Not.
It moves into the grainy introspection of a Church Choir in rural France away from the neighbouring Versailles talks in which the father of the central character of the boy Prescott played by Tom Sweet is absently involved as a mediator.  I at once thought the father played brilliantly with very serious and convincing effect as an absentee Dad, by Liam Cunnigham with resolute American accent, is in a quandary if he cannot control his son.  No affection is seen between them.  His mother equally is not versed in raising children and doubts arise if she ever intended to marry, so although mastering four languages cannot communicate with her son either.  He has no schooling to worry about, no siblings or pay ate foils to vent his anger and it is into a series of (3) chapters of tantrums we are lead.

First tantrum concerns the very Church first mentioned.  A French Catholic box like chapel on a town land where Prescott engages in hissy fit no.1.  Violent in kind.  Here enters the only – Mona excepted, the aging housemaid and sometimes broker in difficult situations – is the Father Leydu. The only nice rational person seen! No affinity can be found with anyone.  In negotiations an aside is thrown of a stock Irishman concluding religious differences should be resolved in any agreements – maybe it was on a Good Friday. Trials and torments ensue and caught in the middle are the housemaid, Mona and an English teacher of French, the gentle youthful vital girl Adelaide played by Stacy Martin.  She is conformist to begin with but baulks as Prescotts manipulations gather pace.  She is an angel of sorts, Brady makes no bones about showing us her credible persona.  A credit to Ade in the final roll call needs further research.  The titles are shown practically full length at the beginning and repeated after the ultimate point of closure.  It has many faults – the inevitable black horses and Breton dress of mid – France is overplayed. The film is shot in a very dilapidated Hungarian lodge of rambling unhouse like appearance.  More resembles aHunting lodge and inn.  It is full of drapery.  Father Leydu has a verynice muslin drape and some elements of interior are well achieved.  Setting tables is quite a standard thing in period pieces for authenticity and here is no exception.


Friend of the Director, Robert Pattison plays leadenly an English journalist with a sad backstory and he is very fond in most senses of Madame – Bérénice Bejo. She is concious of the closeness of the environment and the darkness overshadowing the place with her own lack of purpose other than running a house which is nothing to engage her intellect with.  Brady Corbet in fact presents no context except the wrongful idiom of idleness for her and Bérénice Bejo does her damnedest to extract some characterisations to grasp hold of.  Perhaps it is this projection of failing he wishes upon her with affectations leading you to think she has leaning towards Ade who she in part envies.

The black horses and pictorial grainy setting is very attractive to look at and the still painterly pace of scenes with long walking shots towards a fixed position and repaetative location of camera positions – ie. Prescotts bedroom.  The lounge and library are fixed allowing some pondering over the detail.  Exterior shots are expansive contrasts to the heaviness of the lodge interiors and we see a pivotal element when the talks are adjourned to this location for ‘secret’ unconstrained talks. The glass empty of politics is given a full texturalisation here for a pungent flavour of the almighty flawed carve-up brought about to allow Germany – in the main to repair itself from a path taken.  It fits a narrative style of Capitalism being first in line to receive the bonefides of each.

A coruscating element – is that contender for that Northern Ireland extracted Woodrow Wilson overlord –  over stretching his high most to create a freedom contemptuous of the Native American stock and the Racial conspiracies of his homeland which were along time, (are they yet still unresolved) being prepared for their own reparations.  Ask most races on the planet who have been under the cosh of imposters and they will advise you the Irish North and South have been instrumental through their impeachment of the Lord in various guises one of which are appropriate to the oneness of the creator, for numerous continued injustices. Aboriginals are aghast just now at a facial cartoon to hit the Antipodean cultural fermament.


Childhood Satre reminiscences. The Psycology.

I found Words very disconcerting in my teenage years, in the sharpness of thought and given the life Satre had it was of significance.  The film concerns a sociopathic child, the young son of an American diplomat living in France as he learns to manipulate the adults around him teaching him fascistic tendencies. The tendency as a kid growing up at least at Prescotts age is to believe all childhood life’s are the same but then the truth sharply roses up and throttles you.

These times are the post war leading up to the signing of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, and even though the film does not refer to the fact – Scott Berg, Pulitzer Prize winning author wrote in his Woodrow Wilson autobiography that the USA President spent nearly nine moths in Versailles in attendance unbeknownst to his electorate. Scott Berg also claims him to be the most important man of the 20th century.  The case he makes in his book. – without this hanging over the film and the peculiar manipulations of Prescott, played by British child actor Tom Sweet, is of isolation within his family setting without a father  – the father here Liam Cunningham as I said is on top of his game, is he would appear lack negotiation skills one would have thought appropriate for a diplomat as he is so easily manipulated.

The construct is to my mind – that of the Jean-Paul Sarte mould of not beholding to anyone – here it begets the  state of violence (in the child ruthlessly exploiting the non-existence of boundaries) and indicates the shallow threshold breached to succumb to the ungodliness of the act in the adult as preparation for war.  The idea is one of the striking prophetic (Words is a summation written in 1964) analytical examinations within the works of Jean-Paul Sarte when compared even with contemporary scientific, root and branch knowledge gathering attained by the human race in the intervening years.


Jean-Paul Sarte film influences.

Jean-Paul Sarte was brought up in a world eighty years behind the present, by his grandfather, after the early loss of his father.  He also was a war prisoner.  Far from it being a restless uncertain childhood, he had a fortuitous learned upbringing.  His father who was of Alsace (?) background was a man who took on the physical appearance of the Holy father to many people – big dominant full beard – and was quite authoritarian.  The fact Jean-Baptiste, the father died while Jean-Paul was quite young proved something of a blessing.  J-P wrote – and this plays directly into the film – Even the most authoritarian gives orders in someone else’s name, some holy parasite – his father – and passes on abstract violence since he himself accepts.  J-P avoided this acceptance of obedience and in his mother Anne-Marie, who was compelled to return to her parents to raise her child, found herself again imprisoned.  J-P discovered he had no Super-ego  – he reflects on this later, (the child presumably not into those words, sociopath included) with his father not being there, piggy backing his codes. His father had shirked his responsibilities and left this world aged thirty. Instead for parental guidance as well as the wealth of books his grandfather spent days over,  J-P’s giantess of a passive mother was his sister almost, with her becoming a child again in widowhood like a virgin tarnished in her childhood home. Her name was Schweitzer.  Anne-Marie would share her troubles with ease, and engendering a democratic spirit I thought, and he promised devoted protection.

This is the basis of the ‘incestuous’ (it was merely I thought a writers trope for discovery through writing itself) narrative Jean-Paul Satre has used on several occasions and indeed this is evident in this film.  He imagined in fact that he and his mother who shared a bedroom were the ‘children’, both minors and both maintained.  He maintained; and it is completely plausible, given his acute ability to analyse human constructs, that – In fact, my fathers hasty retreat had conferred on me a very incomplete Oedipus complex; no super-ego, I agree but no aggression, either.  My mother was mine and no-one challenged my quite possession.  He – and it is crucial to his personality – was not exposed to jealousy directly nor was he subjected to other people’s violence’s and hatred’s.  No one else’s whim claimed to be my law.

I think you basically have the scope of this film right here in the Words of Jean-Paul Satre.  On top of which is…

Germany’s largesse and power lust.

Evident in political history is the emergence – aside from his own childhood – the effect the grander scheme of things, here it is The Versailles Treaty, – is Hitlers continuing presence in Austrias Parliment in Vienna as a young boy, a teenager fascinated by the whole Central European amalgam that had this Parliment represent so many regions and languages. Incidentally it was languages which provided a living, the early upbringing of Jean-Paul Satre when they moved to Paris. Hitler while he grew into it, did not then set adult upon adult, he was witnessing their own account of differences; he compiled a version of required leadership which had him at the head and formed the volitile and violent mind to enact it.

It is the lebensraum effected by the ruthless – the additional territory considered by a nation, especially Nazi Germany, to be necessary for national survival or for the expansion of trade.  Britain may, most probably, also have been enactors of this ruthless expansion.  It operates in the child to man as discovery of the inner self is made from making new space, where we can move around inside ourselves.  A secret personal representation – from thinking.

Being in a position of power leaders have often is unable to defer from his own presence in the public realm and so – as Hitler was inclined, falls to art and architecture for a prop of the psyche of higher things and these present ideals.  Music is here employed to effect as well. There are similarities to the Swedish rulers he may have learnt from.  Here are some extracts of writings by the art historian noted below on Cal-Gustf sending out some very clear messages to those running here.

He left his dog in the freezing cold of some luxurious ski resort and had erotic parties with teenage girls from the suburbs. Sibylla might have been able to help him with his separate- ness, letting him have his oilcloth while learning to separate the “me” from the “not-me”.  I know all about your secret life,/your feminine mystique,/your falsity./Your innocent promiscuity,/ and you hypocritical cruelty/hold no mystery/to me.  Felicia von Zweigbergk. 2011.    

Hippolytus slave puts it another way: “Gods ought to be wiser than men” – the tragedy is that they are not.They are amoral, impersonal, unfeeling, as Hippolytus in the end finds out for himself. In other words, man, in the full range of his capacity for goodness, for suffering and sympathy, is a creature on a higher spiritual level than the universe in which he is set to live. Felicia von Zweigbergk. 2011.  
Mediation is the goal of his father and Woodrow Wilson turned up at the signing
As well as the traditional themes of the aphorist: the hypokrisis of society, the vanity of human wishes, the sham of love, the ironies of death, the pleasure and necessity of solitude. Sontag Susan: Under the sign of Saturn.

Conclusion. ###3

An audacious, senses-shattering feature debut. A powerhouse international cast. This is some of the hype attributed to this film which I thought – and there will undoubtedly be disagreements (lately following Saul, having only last week seen The Prodger, an Irish play, the commemorations and memorial services, seen the exhibitions locally on the Somme, the miluea of articles can only affect more critical senses) – I found this film overwrought.  It is very well achieved in many parts and tries to be innovative without a rein or bridle.  It is aDirector breaking in his world of entertainment adventures and choosing a large subject which is tenuously and intermittently realised in its discovery and telling.  It is a very commendable film on the machinations of the art form being practice but some will find it two hours of over tedious and Tom Browns Schooldays sort of out of control child – we see Tanya, call the nanny nowadays as a guide or mumsnet.  Bérénice Bejo love pick up the phone or the mouse and Google tantrum child ADHD. On the other hand see the film read the Sarte book canon.

John Graham

17 August 2016

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre from 19 August to the 25 August 2016.

Versus : The Life and Films of Ken Loach : A Film Review


Directed by Louise Osmond. UK. Documentary. Duration 1hr 33mins. Cert. TBC.

Alone amongst equals.

Miraculously Ken Loach is still making films and still on his game as he puts it, with outstanding critical, professional acclaim.  Amongst the people seen in this fulsome and truthful summation of his career as a pioneer firstly and as a filmaker who has surprising sidelines and adjuncts to his milieu, are actors whose the acute observations sometimes make strikingly insightful input, among them Gabriel Byrne whose Royal Court part in Perdition by Jim Allen in collaboration with Loach, was castigated by the mainstream press. It was also derided as propaganda and dangerous as political theatre given its exposure of the Hungarian Zionists who in exchange for extradition to Palestine sent  thousands to their horrible deaths at the hands of the Nazis.  Gabriel Byrne played the legal counsel exposing the truth.  He intimates the size of the bravado, brinkmanship, eloquence, erudite calling Ken Loach’s craft or art summons up in him.  A visceral description is given by Byrne of the head to head Loach had with Royal Court director; seen here and admitting two failings, he has been an otherwise fortuitous director with many sound works behind him, Max Stafford-Clark.                                   

Groundbreaking work.


From his BBC work which produced the celebrated ‘Wednesday Plays’ Up The Junction (1965), Cathy Come Home (1966) England’s World Cup winning year, In Two Minds (1967) and The Big Flame (1969), through to the feature films of the 1990s, Hidden Agenda (1990), Riff-Raff (1991), Raining Stones (1993), Ladybird, Ladybird (1994), Land and Freedom (1995), Carla’s Song (1996) and My Name Is Joe (1998).  The film making the greatest impact emerged with Kes.  A Kestrel for a Knave (1969) as it was known in production (a theatrical affectation). It was only shown in a few cinemas in the north initially and became an instant hit. The plight of the boy along with the flight of the bird epitomised the working class route to the factories set for the children in secondary modern and comprehensive schools. The metaphor a bit loose given the kestrel is captive also.  


Before the attention deficit disorders, the autistic spectrum or dyslexia diagnosis along with the poor dietary programmes and environmental pollution of cities such as Sheffield were this film is set the lack of options career wise was extremely limited and more so than today given the move back to the paying for third level education and limits being programmed into curriculums negating a lot of the humanities and refreshing the sciences along with the new technologies out of reach of many in sub standard schools and local conditions which are beset with social tensions and a workplace of youth exploration, zero hours contracts and rubber band economics in a country printing its way through austerity of its own making.  

Kes shows the central boy, again an exploitative approach to casting – Loach’s tendency to cast unknowns adhere to his reliance on the individual carrying the narrative – ‘Showing you yourself is politics’ – no defences – exploiting the vulnerability actors/players harmonising paradoxically with the Harold Wilson pact of Government – that of Labour delivering ‘men’ to the occupations and factories.  Certainly it became a leading way to enter a story becoming part of the story itself illustrating familiar settings and life situations as the polemic.  In films of Ken Loach’s shown abroad he was received, and still is, with idolatry as a master of drama realism and agent provocateur who matches the dislike of the United Kingdom’s sovereign upper classes, recognised the working class struggles and ultimate sacrifices made in the war and post war settlements, including probably Israel, held high as parallel life struggles.  Those countries more recently loosene from Fascism but intensely preoccupied with new forms of Fascism and ‘cultural/religious’ clashes right and left. Sadly the global picture is left empty in relation to Israel, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and the drug traffic finding itself on English, European homes.  It is a bit of a hippy approach on the soft radical left.  No dealings on colour or race are really covered.  The sexulisation, not radicalization of young women for Isis type recruitment or the misunderstood Islamic core fundamental truths in everyday life’s are lost agendas. 

All is Political.

Versus is a multitude of counterpoints.  Chiefly it is the political one. Capital v Labour.  Throughout his career, and we begin with the background of his Nuneaton, Midlands upbringing as mere observer of his families routine dependence on Manufacturing; there is footage within a large factory visited twice in the film, showing the ranks of machining in orderly rows but row after row in a vast factory as we go right to left seemingly unending expressing the servitude, the monotony, the grim conditions normal in those times.  Where now robots perform gymnastic manouvres for workers to accompany them these are similar regimented time based trades and occupations with one object in mind.  To achieve dividends and profit from man and women’s labour.  It’s also Genius v Loathsome and is self categorising.  Ken Loach describes his family visits to Blackpool and the ribald lewdness of the seaside fare in the theatres and them staying in the posh end, the northside. The film in fact begins with the esplanade, tower and carousel images familiar and now more Britains got Talent than revue and vaudeville offerings. The football team of Staney Matthews has even gone soft in the hands of the Royston  dynasty and are on the skids.            


Non-Lapsearian Socialist

It continues. Britain is on the skids in its blindness to the rip off being carried out since the films of the era of the miners strikes.  Even this year the Hillsborough Inquiry is able to link the police forces involvement in mass population manipulation and unmitigated brutality at the behest of the Thatcher government.  Ken Loach calls this period pivotal.  There is no doubt it was.  It began a breakdown in manufacturing and mass unemployment.  It began the greed cycle which is commonplace today. 

Depicting this was to Ken Loach a means of showing the general misguided public the manouvres of the Trade Union bosses, the leadership of a proletariat Labour Party and the upsurge of the worst kind of conspiratorial governance Margaret Thatcher who in thrall to Monarchy and Sovereignty never put a gilded foot wrong in solidifying the monarchal hold on all the worst forms of self interested societal class oppression imaginable.  Save Orwell and Nineteen Eighty Four.

In the beginning Ken Loach introduced to film making in the form of Television plays a new dynamic.  With sideways reflection to the fashions, Beat Generation, liberal sexual attitudes, he began to look for a social discourse relevant and reflecting the working classes whose life’s were removed from the beat generations life except by becoming consumers of it.  The churches, governments, educational establishments were mostly unchanging and Ken Loach found a way out of it through having his Tory upbringing, grammar school toes, an Oxford education.  He entered film making through collaboration with the BBC and Tony Garnett whose skills dovetailed politically and intuitively to allow them to create external drama in a BBC manifestly embedded in period, studio based drama.  Z Cars was then radical. 


Camera as a Person

Into the frame came Up the Junction which became the Television equivalent of Saturday night and Sunday morning.  The realism was achieved by Ken Loach using lesser known or basically first time actors who would work chronologically.  There then followed the groundbreaking realism of the cathartic Cathy Come Home. This is a film showing the worst cruelty suffered by a single mother having her children taken away and homelessness.  Of the situation Loach later said.

Shelter’s done some terrific work. It’s been an excellent resource for research and has obviously helped a lot of families find homes and that’s a very positive thing. What’s inadequate is the idea that homelessness is a problem that should be solved by a charity. It boils down to a structural problem within society. Who owns the land? Who owns the building industry? How does housing relate to unemployment? How do we decide what we produce, where we produce it, under what conditions? And housing fits into that. You can’t abstract housing from the economic pattern. So it is a political issue; the film just didn’t examine it at that level.

Extensively the film missed the real culprits whose profiteering on property, who owned land, who built homes and made a business complete around the financing of it was key and central.  Instead the scandal was of its desperate consequences and was seen in terms of society at loggerheads within the system not because of it.  Loach himself recognised this though it doesn’t get a mention in the film.  Other films made the same mistake though his Marxism became more evident.  No film shown; and the film tells you why, sent out clear signals that BOTH Labour and the Conservatives were intent on dismantling the unions in furtherance of a post war revival which only happened for a chosen few ‘in the end’.  Wilsons mantra was bad enough for England, Wales and Scotland but it was completely evasive of the industrial hotbed of Northern Ireland with its unique and fairly robust industries.  It was soon to see a Wilson collapse like no other as the Labour Party disowned its own kind in Northern Ireland for a pocket full of Backing Britain.

It happens to this day; working chronologically, with the Canne Palme D’or winning I, Daniel Clarke representing a fifty something man enroute to a new job and how that shapes out.  It reacts to the Cameron era of welfare being the place for those not able to fit the labour market constructed for a corporate world.
Ken Loach has in the past tried to interpret history and is given a bye-ball in his naive The Wind that shakes the Barley. Cillian Murphy is at pains to point out it redirected him in acting as he was again confronted as others had been of acting in the chronology of the piece.  Not observed were any wider aspects of separate wars and it is a monotheistic piece without the theism. The same can be said for Brothers and Sisters.  Several things crop up in this film which put Ken Loach in the John Peel (R1) school of liberal radicalism which he admits or chortles about.  The pandering often to a logic which betrays the cause while self serving and exploitative it is conflicting with the authoritive set of accusatory words chosen for Max Stafford-Clark undeserved by any fellow artist and his intermittent – how can you be intermittent? – inflexible set of principles except by being an unreasonable bullish human being.  Call it as it is called at one point – intractionism – but it does not meet reasonable criteria for professional backstabbing.  Cowardice is a word used by Loach in a petty point scoring way at one juncture.

Contempt is his prerogative and a mainstay bolstered by resilience omnipotence and a saintly guarded outlook which conceals an inherent cruelty self admitted occasionally.  The scene in favourite film of his Kes, when the boys are taken to the headmasters office for corporal punishment is a gross abuse. There are similar points of dise toon to be found by the reality being cruel in itself.  Perhaps I, Daniel Clarke shed some more light on the contradictions this director throws up.

Conclusion ###3

This film gives (Is Michael Goves name a typo and was he meant to be called Michael Gives and he just doesn’t get it? – just an aside) a great insight through fellow directors, writers, actors, family and producers of the very important contribution Ken Loach has made to the art of film making with his own politically insights.  He is furiously against all forms of Fascism, is deeply rooted in the psyche of damaged Britain and provides, continue to provide the elemental depth of reasoning neither patronising or compromising.  The underlying strength of this film is the copious account of the making, the process behind many of the more familiar films in his cannon. The works which showed the audacity of thought and the collaborative, driven desire to enable people to have a voice through the medium of Television and Film in a Nation which had Governments of different hue pander to the mass media.  The state controls are  examined throughout his films and the history is recent and of great significance both as a record and a means of expressing the ideas which shape and shaped the United Kingdom – the one seeking its own destiny as the referendum comes.  Some topics, immigration, Muslim Faith, the power of the Church of England and Sovereignty are barely evident but primarily this viewpoint relies on the people enabling do and enabling the creation of the films we are taken through.  It is a very productive process which has resulted in some odd conclusions that are identified in the summary of context as I put them above.  It is a necessary view but one which leaves you with many questions and a lot of cynisism largely through the colossal subjects they manage to confront.
John Graham

1 June 2016

Belfast.

To be screened at QFT BELFAST from 3 June to the 9 June 2016 with a Sunday pay what you can viewing at QFT at 4.40pm. This is in conjunction with screeningsacross the UK and Ireland. 

Mustang : A Film Review


Mustang

Director co-writer. Deniz-gamze-Erguven. Co-writer Alice Wincour. Cast. Güneş Şensoy as Lale, Doğa Doğuşlu as Nur, Elit İşcan as Ece, Tuğba Sunguroğlu as Selma, İlayda Akdoğan as Sonay, Nihal Koldaş as the grandmother, Ayberk Pekcan as Erol, Erol Afşin as Osman. Duration  97 mins. France/Germany/Turkey. subtitled. Cert 15.

Portrait of tyranny 

There are tragic notes and despairingly sad moments in this Turkish first time Director piece on the semi-recognised crossroads of religion and secular society in this trouble torn conflicted nation.  It is a modern identity struggle between not necessarily ages but the soul and spiritual perceptions abroad and especially as focused on here among the young women, bearers of the future. A horror movie on patriarchy some have said.  It certainly is and the means of its delivery are coached in surreal accentuated prison conditions with a large number of elderly relatives; the girls have lost their parents and are cared for by Uncle Erol and his mother along with a plethora of increasingly adverse group of fundamentalist Muslims tied to inequality and a male dominated society inside a home which turns into a lock down basically as gates and grilles are added.

Stylised Story Direction

Far from being a tirade on the conflicts of a society riven with problems at state level and local traditions this film is carefully constructed in an almost hyper reality form.  The heightened colourist painterly direction is one clue. The is of humour and small elements of narration with portrayal of ordinary life which when the subject of marriage comes up becomes a tableau of choregraphed acting.  Not by the ‘Actors’ but the people they portray act the roles passed down to them in a ritualized form as a domestic aggrement of arranged marriage is formed.

The girls all five have an beautiful existence next to the Black Sea from the youngest, Lale through Nur, Ece, Selma, and Sonay the eldest whose joint meeting school end in celebration by dive bombing in the sea with boy classmates as innocent fun becomes the reason of their future ‘encarceration’ after word gets out and this willfulness is interpreted as sexual expression.  Virginity is a central part of their indentity in this society where marriage is contrived as firstly the woman being ‘intact’ as they describe it and then in a position to marry according to their parents or guardians wishes to whoever they choose.  Uncle Erol and his mother are tyrants with a grip and formidibale power.

 Beware the Clooney he’s married.
Football supporters miss the bus.

Beach Forbidden

The episode on the beach becomes the fulcrum on which the film shows us the extent of the power of tradition and Uncle Erol whose very large home and farm/small holding provide all with a handsome living, is troubled.  Sometimes he is forced to adopt the role of Patriach and leader of the household and then at other times sees the sisters as a loving Uncle wishing them the freedoms and absence of anxiety they have suffered.  The state and Church have embedded ded a deep and entrenched obedience in the elders while the world changes all around them.  They do not get to spend their summer on the beach ruin the woods or around the hillsides and adjoining village.

Hyper real and Counter Sexualising

The girls have in contrast the modern appearance of any wonderfilled child in a place where freedoms are open and unquestioned. This tears the generations apart and the business of matchmaking is abusive and despicable adherence to oppressive practices. The filmaker expresses their sexuality by their differences growing.  Where they lie together and the camera constructs a painting they have all different knees arms legs toes which the cinematographer singles out as defining them as different characters each not sexual objects of the Turkish severe patriachical male object driven vision but as girls as essentially women of growing awareness containing very different inner dilemmas within the context of mutual identity.  It is neither overtly Feminist or remotely Sexualised.  It is a tribute to womanhood understood by the filmaker and is the internal hyper reality the film delivers.

Present day Hypocricy Democracy

In Turkey there are more journalists in Jail than in Russia. Human Rights violations are a daily occurrence and a decades slip in advancing Human Rights in response to the EU backward slid is atrocious and Turkey has suppressed the rights of women and young women’s ddemonstrations. The middle classes are now facing the lack of visa free travel which calls the Parliment to seek visa free travel.  The refugee crisis is becoming a tool to attack the EU while at the same time not providing a solution to the movement of people.  Greece might be relieved and having to save fewer lives from the sea.

The Story Envelope

As most of the above deals with the construction of the locality of the rural community which is beset with modern ideals of equality and as sought and obtained to a large degree in other parts of fringing Europe the story has to tell the experiences felt by five sisters in the heart of the conflicts they find themselves growing up with.  The story goes through the enforced marriage of two of them, the rebellion it brings within them all and a deeply tragic, heart reaching pivotal moment which is brought to bang home the effect such a society or parts of it inflict upon those who follow the strictures consigned by the Church and State.  The rebellion is very dramatic and forces the elders into a place where some of the women who have gone through much hardship and total oppression over their own lifetimes, to address the teenage emotions through their hearts and to ease the path.  It is very hard for all of these women to alter what is an endemic systematic corruption.  It is exploited at so many levels and any rebellion is accompanied usually by myself gyration and Turkey has suffered through migration and is itself under great strain and pressure to accommodate the exodus from Syria.

How this film concludes is open ended at the same time salutary and asking as many questions as it began with.  It is a far bigger development of the questioning of frictions and oppression withinTurkey as is replicated elsewhere and extremely well told.


Conclusion ####4

A very good interpretation of religious and cultural pressures on women in Turkey through hyper real scenes and general feel of opposites juxtaposed to bring forth a very serious and angry forceful delivery and on behalf of women’s rights.  It is on a daily basis Women’s rights are suppressed in Turkey and it wonders how it cannot become a country, it has in the past sometimes achieved it, without sectarian forms of imperialism.  It is a question put to the Muslim Faith of equality of Man and Woman.  No differences existing Christian religions and though axiomatically the Christian Faith is also at times a place of inequality and with divisions not just in having women of Faith practice as Ministers, as leaders of theology, of having the right to marry and remain Priests and that’s the men! there is no singularity or consensus.  This film tackles central women’s oppression through non-religious practice positing itself as of God while denying Gods word and equality amongst all human beings.  It does it in a love thy neighbour way conspicuously and forcefully so it may become in itself recognised as part of the argument. It is indeed a well crafted and brilliantly achieved piece of cinema with many layers and welcome views.

John Graham

4 May 2016

Belfast
At QFT Belfast from Friday 13 May 2016 through to 19 May 2016 . Cert. 15.

Postscript : August 2017.  Easily recognised as a beautiful film dealing with harsh realities in a profoundly effecting way the issues this film draws up are still alarmingly prescient and the terror attacks – from Nice, Paris, London onwards with Barcelona the latest to suffer the awful outcomes tragically killing and maiming innocent people on holiday and actually believing in self improvement and meeting and mixing with different races, their children included, – being so much a part of our present day outlook. A vigilance for harm. The strictures and historical legacy are lost on individuals poorly educated and brainwashed into believing tropes and not thinking for themselves is widespread. The refugee crisis mentioned in the review concerning Greece became worse and false hope was held by me. Italy and other parts of Europe are feeling the effects of unpreparedness and immigration. The monetary fixation on Brexit’s emergence is morphing into, firstly about economic gain and less about self determination (taking back control as nations who are an amalgam themselves of identities) which is a back to basics cry to get back to responsible (not delegated to those EU or wider power interests) is within grasp but under evaluated. In Northern Ireland there is a very poignant, tragic, ironic limbo where one ‘side’, the fundamentalist legacy driven Right, are facing down the arrogant, aggressive almost dictatorial Left; ideological former bomber revolutionaries whose past provided lessons in atrocities now amplified beyond our worst thoughts, so a limbo exists. Within each ‘entrenchment’ are very capable people who tow the ‘party line’ and steadfastly but wrongly adhere to a grouping which despite the clear and blatant history telling, will no budge from its main antagonistic rooted values – values they wrongly pronounce as values of their ‘ancient’ past. They discount the ability to achieve by change every generations aspirations while they remain satisfying their own contentment – on each extreme left/right. It is as Uncle Erol does in the film, I point up his dual personality in the review above. Uncle Erol sees the fallacy of his condition but perpetuates it. It is up to independent individuals to change. Not fix upon a prepared narrative and be unshifting. We are in times when change will become so ‘disturbing’ with advances mainly in AI – which as the period 1985 (the year people take as being the point we began negative Environmental equity – show we are in debt to earths currency henceforth) to 2000 one hundred years of progress was compressed into that time frame. The new scale paradigm means change will compress into proportionally five years per century. It is in all likelihood an immense challenge we need further focus on and educate, take out, the brutality which is destroying in its own hopefully compressed time, our hopes for the future.

August 2017

Dheepan : A Film Review

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Director Jacques Audiard, Dheepan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) Brahim (Vincent Rottiers) Languages, Tamil, French, English. Cert. 15. France. Duration. 1hr 55mins.

Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité or Persiflage, Anarchy, Brutality.                                                                                                     Former Sri Lankan Civil War fighter Sivadhasan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) has little chance of survival staying with Government forces seeking out those rebels who try to merge back into the ordinary lives they left behind.  She realises the only option is to flee and become one of the worlds refugees and seek asylum somewhere abroad.

 

 In order to make this possible and plausible he must adopt a false identity and with it adopt a woman and child to form three to seek asylum abroad.  The woman has made her own steps towards adopting a new identity and has in tow her would be daughter making the trio a unit matching false identity papers provided in the state the all wish to leave.  It is a then a bargain is struck between them to accomplish their escape.

In keeping with the style adopted with the 2010 film of Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” we are given a story which we see and cannot fathom or say too much about because we, few of us will have encountered such circumstances. All we see is to him real is my way of looking at it.  This is only a fictionalising version of the truth.  We have to see violence.  We have to see utter despair.  We have to see uncontrolled resignation.  This is our current world.


We have been to stranger places.                                                                                                                                                                              It is not about the detention camps, those daily pictures of refugees crossing continents to reach barbed wire and hopelessly caught between two states of mind.  The one per-cent versus the remainder.  All consciousness is set aside.  This instead is about a detention of another kind.  The stasis of being not in your own place unable to make your own choices and at the mercy of an alien culture if indeed it could be disposed to call itself one.

Dheepan is a film about him leaving one quagmire and finding yourself in another. All three get to what they think is a relatively safe place but it turns out to be a compound of criminality.  Society, be it Belguim, France, Germany is in crisis as far as immigration and welfare of immigrants and refugees is concerned.  There is in each; and unlike the United Kingdom which has fashioned slowly but surely a much steadier and fruitful diversity and racial assimilation making it one of the underlying reasons for its popularity in obtaining leave to remain, very great divisiveness.  Even in ares where tourists go in on of those countries white people are told to go back home.  The divisiveness is racist and poverty related.  In Dheepan in its resolution or final closure there is an element which will show this which is probably the reason it is included and which some reviewers mistakenly pronounce as an implausible ending.  I disagree entirely as it is part of the whole vision of he director whose job it is to highlight the complete picture as HE sees it.


Nothing can be revealed, see with your own eyes.                                                                                                                                                I cannot describe how the narrative carries forward for fear of disclosing key points.  However one virtual evidentiary moment is itself indicative.  It is a moment one of the characters observes ‘It is just like the movies’.  Very true and the real world seen through their eyes appears fantasy yet real at the same time.  It is profoundly so. The vicious world of neglected parts of society, of marginalised people is so evident so raw and their integral world as of now is shocking and appealing.  The crisis is among us and the European model is broken through the disparity and this is partularly clear economically that a cascading destruction of people worldwide is happening through the inflicted poverty and the nihilitic greed prevalent and produced in the UK and Germany with the countervailing Chinese rush to westernization at any cost and via. Panama.  The bedrock of one David Cameron’s own precocity. I believe Dads company Panmure never paid a penny in UK taxes. What can anyone possibly make of that except greed prevails.

The relationship between Dheepan and Yalini is hanging by a thread of common need.  It is in Dheepans mind something possibly to benefit them both.  Both have suffered horrendous losses revealed during the film.  They are both encountering a wholly different world.  In the middle and closest to normality by way of the extended help she receives in this foreign country as she is a mere child, is Illayaal.  She’s has a gift of restraint.  A gift of language and the detachment of a child whose understanding of the world is that is nothing less than a mess though the extremes reach to her also and she is rightfully often fearful.  She notices things the adults do not and the strains between her surrogate father and mother.

 

Death and division.                                                                                                                                                                                          This film is beautifully shot and is a vivid picture of the reality some face.  The sectionalisation is prominent in this location, it’s complete loss of prospect or aspect for the youth whose lives are corrupted by mass unemployment and little cohesion in the economy of the state.  Hence all the riots we often see.  The 1969 style protests.  The widening racial hatred and calling back to nascent fascism and the social project undertalen by Hitler. It is as bad as that.

The undercurrent in Europe is scary to say the least.  The future is becoming bankrupted as environmental and competing trading nations vie for resources and the sequestration of assets is rampant.  The Chinese particularly making inroads by buying up sections of foreign countries and those countries making a market in their sell off/out aided by corporate machines and banking with no accountability.  The current of the film is in the underworld such – and this is a poor extrapolation perhaps – the consolidation is taking place and being replaced by non governmental states.  States that are purely a commercial entity.  It is a deconolisation of sorts but bypasses the previous right to independence which has been fought and struggled for throughout Africa, throughout the Middle East and the wars are untenably destructive.

Conclusion #####5

This film is like a depth charging missile into the heart of our worlds concious future.  As it moves into terrain and territory hnone or few of us are directly familiar with it produces raw and visceral emotions. It speaks loudly and boldly.  It confronts through actual realised, depicted confrontations the savage core deeply damaging effects of oppression and the sporadic movement of people used to other societies.  Dheepan is very disturbed mentally and it the film on some flashbacks portray the warring ‘crusade’ lost and he is fleeing from.  Those moments are shown infrequently but are powerfully direct and open a new realm to the watcher.  The Director Jacques Audiard, in common with past practice is rarely shy in showing the violence and the close up context within this story.  It produces blow after blow mentally and physically in which few can escape the prevai game message.  It asks why and shows the effect of outrageous misfortune and the dehumanizing world of many.

Without giving too much away hopefully I can only commend this film to you as an explicit piece of almost journalistic drama featuring elements which cross our everyday lives without having the recourse to dissect or define what is happening and to address the problems now.  Many things are moving towards helping people find resolutions but until the realisation is is not what we are put here on earth to do, we are not here to obliterate all we disagree with but seek common humanity as instinctively present in all.

John Graham

13 April 2016

Belfast

See at QFT from 22 to 28th April 2016

The Survivalist : A Film Review

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Writer and Director Stephen Fingleton, 2015, Ire/UK, Cert. 18. Duration 108 mins.  Cast. Martin McCann, Mia Goth, Olwen Fouéré and small plot parts by Andrew Simpson and others.

Entering a Bleak New World

This film was seen with a following q/a with Director Stephen Fingleton, so I begin with an early insight. I had noticed the beginning which is a flashback was a desaturated introduction and then some colour entered although barely making a difference – it was a subtle shift intentionally, confirmed, placed as an indicator distiquishing the following of the flashback as we are taken on a tension filled journey around the environs of a forest in which Martin McCann lives in a wooden shed with corrugated tin roof and among contemporary utensils with a make piece bed and shelving.  He is completely on edge.  He, despite the period he has been here, (more on that and the story later,)  he is still vigilant and carries a two bore musket which is highly serviceable and he also has what might be a shortened Bowie knife.  He is a figure like any frontiersman, hunting daily and without language could be in any forest of the clement kind.  Every day requires the same clarity as the day before.  It is a relentless anxiety.  He is what the French call on the qui vive, on the alert; watchful, and he is his own guardsman with a weather eye for trespassers. Twenty or so minutes pass as we become immersed and familiar with the scope, limited, claustrophobic and insular with little or no awareness of the eight mile horizon which is unseen. Tension is racked up continuosly and his isolation is set.

Polemic

There are few films like this around.  There are very few people in it.  The world the film exists in is a vision of what may transpire beyond a meltdown of our own planets occupation and making, of humans diminishing swiftly and on a downward slope as far as population is concerned.  At the beginning was the word and our planet became one on which mankind foraged and survived across land bridges moving out of areas cut off by the ice age into territories both unfamiliar and unpracticed means of acquiring the nutrition needed to live.  Ireland was a desolate place once and a fusion of two tectonic plates hence the bog land down its centre.  It gave up its forests once occupied for fuel, land, reclaimation and settlement.

The formula, premis is Fingleton coming down on the Collapse side (see obtain the 571 page Jared Diamond book of the same name at cpor.org › Diamond(2005)Collapse-How…) as it is unfolding and clear before 1985 or even earlier we crossed the threshold of planet debt. Stephen Fingleton has the Ulster cynicism gene imprinted meaning his vision is of a collapse scenario. Again I also believe he does not close off a route to recovery, for that is what it shall entail. The best potential for this would be total worldwide empowerment of women which he accepts is one part of the answer. (see also the Chris Martenson book The Crash Course from 2011 and updates for a wide analysis,)   

I attended a talk a day after seeing this which was a concise and very well spelt out analysis with it coming down on the less but ultimately more challenging thought of redress and reining back through advances in population control a lot of which depends on the equality across all nations of women thus could alter the course which would find its level below the present. 10,000 babies an hour added to today’s population. See http://www.garvincrawford.co.uk for a copy of the longer version. The talk will soon be on YouTube.

As illustrated in The Revenant it is very probable the Native American Indian came via. a land bridge along with, as my past review of it raised, their Appolossa horses.  A recent documentary underpins this colossally and with little naysaying, that the Appolossa horse originates, in the time scale of man utilising and forming nomadic connections with, in Kyrgstan and bordering China were they were also plentiful.  To survive there as here required a broad range of skills.

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Huge Narrow Scope

The film begins with a rolling line red and blue signifying population advancing almost vertically come the era of the industrial revolution.  Director Stephen Fingleton then takes his projection of the future as a story, not to say prophecy downward on that trajectory.  Enter the externals, a bit like Margaret Atwoods externals which I later raised with him and he affirmed saying it was a massive influence in writing the story.  There in The Handmaids Tale, read in several different contextual ways all valid, there is a ‘safe’ world where outsiders are used as numbers and for particular functions and within the confines of the ruled ‘safe’ world there are sexual tasks to achieve a continuing product of babies and assist the stability of the Survived.  In the final third others appear as do ghostly reminders of the past.  They serve anonymously to underpin the disease of destructive urges prevalent in hopeless states.  One hand to hand fight is another crossing point.

Meanwhile as is supposed in The Handmaids Tale, there are implied wars existing on the outside and all manner of danger is around.  It is this exterior our characters of a near future period exist within.  For eight years back we are shown in the opening sequence the demise of the brother to brother union and the sacrifice made to survive and then the present post collapse being now what liberals call the new normal is some eight years on in a shed, (it happens to have entirely been filmed in North Antrim and the entire sound track dubbed, itself a very definitive choice.  The soundscape is raw and as light has a surreal incandescence, sometimes beguiling and bewitching the mono soundtrack – there is only one speaker front and central, used in the film performance – a simmering engulfing detail landscape of sound is slowly raised out of the bed of the earth.  No music is used either.  Only a found harmonica and Miljia playing with sound as percussion to show her interior listening heart is conveyed.

Being on guard is for the good reason he is not and cannot be alone.  Someone will come and an encounter happens one day in daylight and he is inside when he hears noises and immediately drops the door bar and locks.  He looks through a tin reflective enough to be a mirror and hazy figures, two women appear to be standing in the middle of his vegetable plot.

Women of Persuasion 

Opening the door he sees two women, both on the limits of starvation.  They are mother and daughter, Kathryn and Milja played by Olwen Fouéré whose striking features of long white hair lean body and softly matured face articulate a knowingness and Mia Goth her screen daughter of an age barely into womanhood.  Her wildness, like the orphan in Les Miserablés and emerging sexuality, her lanky angular awkwardness is open and forming a response to what she sees in this world they now live in.  One where starvation is the norm, where violence happens.  It is where the trees plants flora and fauna are surviving without interruption and Martin McCann’s character, he has no  name in the movie – only names his brother, so we shall call him Orpheus, is asked to provide some of his crop in exchange for firstly trinkets then seeds.  Orpheus makes no demands rejecting what they offer then Kathryn cast up by implication her daughter who is aware of the forthcoming translation and steps forward while Orpheus decides to accept with perfunctoriness the offer.

Seeds are used as perfunctory and commodified trades including bodily fluids as the negotiation just taken place includes a breaking clause.

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A Wooden Bolthole

The three are filmed in the cabin and frank nudity and explicit, perfunctory exchange takes place which summons new reactions and implicit bonds of a joining contract where the three are bound in the survival game.  Orpheus is in charge and his musket a central theme of power.  For her own specific survival and for Milja it is less clear Kathryn what’s to be in charge and to obliterate Orpheus.  To do this will take nerve, conspiracy, swiftness, accuracy, daring and a lot of luck.

This is known as a post event movie and Stephen Fingleton eschews the preconceived barrenness of landscapes here to produce a fecundity of verdant and present forms of life which in his view, as far as mankind is concerned is best expressed, best symbolised by the Inuit tribes and in my own interpretation as a follow-on the Asian Mongolian and Native American nomads whose background was Asian and nomadic life being the link of all.  It transposes as the Ulster Museum struggles to point out a settlement of nomadic types here who became farmers as Orpheus has become.  Here they have and armed struggle group called the Indiegonous Race Etnic Allegiance whose an acronym escapes me.  They are like Peppers Ghost – unlike other dubious armed struggle groups – only appearing at their calling – on stage – deceptively harmful/threatening/pointless and of only fictional preciosity is a-ghastly, flagrantly, inhuman and mythological.

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Other natures

Our planet is challenged is the notion of the film.  Despite the over grave outlook presented by Stephen it is intelligent subterranean almost visceral realism charged with deep emotions of bonding within a family, caring and compassion and love expressed tenderly and unequivocally.  It sanctions goals but they are only to be accepted through agreement.  The narrative places several choices – and it is important to notice these polemic turning points when they subtlety arise.  They throw up questions of mere fate, desire, strength of character and ultimate sacrifice.  At the beginning of this paragraph I alluded to an overload of gravity. Very true. There is an absence of, and wrongly humour, and mere non-visual unspoken longing and bonding.  Only occasionally is there any clue to the bond internally of Orpheus The Survivalist, and Milja.

Milja uses her body to draw them closer as a more perfect bond. The nakedness at times when it’s not part of a earthly comeuppance is in both their state one of celebration of freedom as they bath and have time to breathe.  These times are few and the vocabulary of beauty and existentialist thinking and wondering are virtually minimal as dictates prevail. Nevertheless all thre characters use their bodies as an extra acting device unclothed they are of any time or place or origin giving only identify familiar through bone and flesh shapes.

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This is a tremendous film of quality with a hard path to redeem the ticket and entry to it.  To take in,cab sorb its rough and delicate transience, it’s life force is fragile and starkness of reality is summoned through Survival is uppermost your part of the deal.ccTo engage in its cinematic, provoking challenges.  There is one religious one, of serious contempt, there are bodies corrupted by violence and bloodily as well as the naturalistic settings and their stimuli.


Conclusion ####4

This is a formidable provocative apocalyptic film outside the genre of that overused adj. apocalyptic, it is beyond stereo forms of placement, heavily immersed in monolithic tableaux. Sound is a statement which initially is stronger than the visual as a mechanism of connection.  Then the visually deciphering of The Survivalist himself and how he lives comes in slowly.  In its pace also it moves deliberately slowing our senses down to engage with all its values.  They panoply of choices fighting among the trio is a woman man adventure, a power struggle of equal measure, of natural precedence, meaning nature is the master and cells and skin are interchangeable commodities.  It is, the film, at a cellular molecular level in a lot of aspects and the more you burrow the more you learn or will see.  It is a parable on life’s journey in that sense. It is begging to be seen widely and for the complexities to be drawn out of what appears on the surface only as a simple thriller and contemporary; dystopian and such appendages are not welcomed by either Atwood or Fingleton as the fiction is probably and horrendously contemporaneous as examples such as Isis and they are not alone, show.

One thing Stephen Fingleton mentioned and it features a core thrux of the film is commodity and entity in product which he is viscerally challenged as we all are by.  Except he attempts to make movies about them by I understand distancing himself from those stimuli when escaping (as a Surviavalist might, though without choice to survive this modern animal of entertainment come infortainment.

In for a penny in for a pound.  Except the pound is a barbed wire fence with you on one side and uncivilisation on the other.
I hope it receives the acclaim it deserves and is widely a success given its performances and messages that can be diversely drawn from it.  No reaction will have an equal and as ‘animals’ with a lot in common we continually surprise and alarm.

John Graham

3 February 2016

Belfast

The QFT show the film exclusively before general release around the 12 February 2016 when all sorts of wider audience will be devoured by it!

Their showing QFT is from  Friday 5 February 2016 to 18 February 2016 so it bridges the opening also.

On Friday 5 February Director Stephen Singleton and Martin McCann will be at the QFT screening for a Q/A

On Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February Director  Stephen  Fingleton and key crew will be at those screenings.

So Stephen has a busy schedule immediately before he goes of to other films and some writing already in the plans ahead.

Go see hopefully with the Q/A elements.

Magpie is a prequel short starring Martin McCann in another guise directed by Stephen Fingleton which he advises is free online to view at the link www.magpieshort.com