Belfast Film Festival Shorts 2019

It is a few weeks since this event at Queens Film Theatre took place and I have not been diligent enough through other events and Easter, the orthodox one is this weekend 28 April 2018 – Bulgaria Greece and other places celebrate it according to their calendar, and I have progressed to having I hope done justice to each film seen at the Short Film Festival day which was superbly well supported by an appreciative audience. The festival continues and here is an event worth checking out.
On Wed 8th May at 8pm in the @BFFBeanbag BFF are screening THE CAT.
A cat from outer space teams up with a young alien girl and her knight, along with an adventure novelist named Wisely, to fight a murderous alien that possesses people. £3
(link: https://belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat)
belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat
In true blog style I’ve mentioned or wedged in Schrödinger’s Cat to my bag below. Read on it’s pretty obvious where you will find it.

Stigma

Set on the coastline of Co Down at the iconic St John’s Lighthouse near Killough, which Brendan Behan once painted (temporarily) its signal yellow and black hoops are like a wasp warning of angry inhabitants maybe. This short film is visually beautiful while using the still existing heritage to often good effect. By its location at the metaphorical edge of land and water, the changing surfaces made raw by weather, time and the period in which it is set, is a casting back towards a more institutional rigid time not far removed from religious intransigence. Playing on the notion people are in the lap of the gods and mystic unknowns Stigma presents a story of loss and return.

The innocence of a child is used very effectively by the young engaged actor portraying a boy seeking answers from everything he casts his eyes on. He finds a washed up garment and gets chastised for bring it back home. It perhaps contains in the adults thoughts an apprehension. Apparitions occur and the twists and turns are delivered here with tension and hold the viewers attention not least because the cinematic overtures are seen at their best on this large screen showing. It is about borders and boundaries I felt, much as the exhibition I recently saw at the Mac International 2018 and the black and white coastal people bounded by sea. Renata Poljaks images and videos are intense and similar in some ways. It’s called Yet another Departure.

The star of the piece is undoubtedly the locality. I have loved this place and the nearby St John’s ruin of a Church or Meeting House – actually like a temple – it is profoundly able to throw you back to the ancient perils and dreams this landscape must have held many years ago. For dramatic effect only the static framing and painterly type realism of the type seen in work by Peter Greenway jars slightly. I was taken back to one of my all time favourite films Ordet though there is barely any comparison due to the singular nature of the either. Ordet takes surrealist dramatic overtures to places never before encountered, where the personalities of the people are similarly vexed and confounded and the coastal location is in all conscious in the same place mentally. Stigma is a very good short film and while it is limited in its projection of thoughts of stirred reality and imagined themes. It only sent a chill into my bones when the hand held element of a beach scene develops. It became a different type of film only then and evaporated in a mist.

Stigma holds an imprint of the hand of God, obedience and renewal with stigmata often conveyed in terms as stigmatise, this is anything but and is an excellent film if somewhat stilted in its mystery.

***** 4

Aines Place

It’s always difficult to come up with a convincing and none too stretched narrative to present a short story but this film found itself able to deliver in a short time a tense, thoughtful, warm yet disturbing scenario well held in some parts, particularly the props, with scene setting and occasional moving objects or one particularly. One minute an object there, the next gone and so forth set management trickery wth subtlety.

Very well edited directed and acted it hosted a story of a young ‘Holiday let’ visitor finds herself bombarded in her quest for tranquility and brochure led scenic isolation which presents something of a nightmare. The complexity is found in encountering misconceptions and falsehoods and is disturbing slowly. This is about a visitor and my graphic – photo as with all the ones here – is just a visual headers and not part of the films imagery.

The concept of creating a warm environment, all pastel shades homely cottage, Yankee candles etc, held the pleasing perceived outlook for only so long. It looked as it should but dropped its psychological hit in a similar non threatening way. Maybe the need or want was not to make it too dark as an entertainment.

Ballykissangel ‘orishness’ crept in, in too many ways unfortunately and it jarred with its simplistic stereotypes, though complex and relevant in terms of predation and harm, given the lost unanswered travellers this island has and probably many others have in their closet. Recently there have been warnings of ‘stalking’ or ‘criminal’ intent and outcomes with ‘lets’ in properties in the press and this film is in that context a small cautionary note.

A thing I was able to take from it came from an unusual source yet instantly ubiquitous with our country and symbolism used in other lands. It was the dolmen providing a context a trinity of stones with supporting the slab of humanity on top. No reading of dolmens is fixed and I have found that theory for myself and you may accept or discard it, of the trinity being air water earth and simultaneously Father Son and Holy Ghost or their tokens of the times they were invoked or passed on.

*** 3

Land of Winter

The relationship with religion once again is explored. Set in the bottle neck of drinking in Temple Bar a young man returns to a festive time in Dublins evening with the shimmering reflective Liffey and swan neck Halfpenny Bridge his backdrop. I thought the booze culture had moved in the new millennium but the milieu of escape by drowning in the black stuff reigns on and so the pubs visited turn the taps on of possibilities. For all the type cast Temple Bar elements this film shoots higher and beyond the bars and confines of the grand canal. It is very very engaging and in no small part due to the lead actors portrayal of their respective lives. When Gerard is befriended or picked up by a girl with smarts enough to discard her drunken happy bunch of work companions, she ensnares herself and her new companion on a journey in the nighttime taken up with life’s harder questions. It is a talented burlesque and brazen epiphany like journey which is a joy to watch and allows you to be carried along with the discoveries within the characters and of each other. While shades of Yeats and Joyce were present it was not pretending to be other than a story of a present day pair of lives connecting beautifully, to strong a word perhaps but a synergy is apparent while they are alone and together for a short while. The thought occurs of the night time presenting the best time for discovery but there is a dawning, literally, and a fresh beginning to be encountered. So the conversation held at four o’clock in the morning which you and others may have prematurely held their hat on is (almost always?) lost in the new days resurrection of self.

An accomplished well paced, edited and not insignificantly, excellently scripted piece filmed to within an inch of believable resonance.

**** 4

Hindsight

Set in the present and in a Prison Visitors room a picture is presented of a young family dealing with one coming to terms with his mistakes. The man Tony is in his early thirties and his wife Paula comes to visit with their young daughter Tilly taking it all in her stride – life has introduced no alternative – Tilly knows they are having some problems and finds herself locked in prison of sorts herself with her dads absence and all are understandably locked in a situation which creates uncertainty and disorder. While this is not a prominent feature of the film it is resonant. The film conveys this with good insightful elements while growing the main new situation of a relationship conducted with a prison between them. Tony has become a drug addict and is showing signs of recidivism but it’s signalled there may be a reintroduction to his past habits and dealing inside is another dilemma which has consequences.

Having sensitivity and a good script takes this story to believable places and mental pictures present externally as well as those seen in play, so we are able to bring connection and engagement with things you do not normally see conveyed or are exposed to through cinema. The emotional content and context is the core transporting element in this film and it is delivered with skill and intense dramatic effect by its cast and crew. The agency of some sort of a budget was not wasted and this is a complete piece leaving questions and empathy and concern in its insight to the justice system and family.

Challenge is paired with hope.

**** 4

Early Days

When it comes to creating a meaningful story as a short film this ticks all the boxes.

I found the nature and this is a natural subject of a new life entering the world, touched me with its insightful cadence and deliberation on new motherhood. Post natal depression is unlocked and that is hopefully too much of a spoiler. The programme paragraph states its contours similarly.

Kate is cared for by loving visiting parents and is bedded into life as a new mother to a wonderful child, – this is a star in the making as the well behaved baby plays a baby infant so well even down to the feeding routine! – and we clasp the intensity of emotional warping which is hosted here in this natural phase of childbirth. There are flashbacks and disturbances seen and unseen. The merging of the real and imagined is totally convincing carrying us along and into this tenderly directed, conspicuously adept conception. Birthing a story and baby in the one compass is thoroughly and provokingly immersive. I was taken by the strangeness and irregularity of the crossover play with our emotions as well as the ones being portrayed. That being the merging of real and imagined which Kate herself is going through. The father is also pulled into our attentive grip. The baby is never left outside the story and this core is essentially what drives it.

When it comes to providing answers along with discoveries it also gives advice and insight. Some advice comes from an unexpected source and is beautifully rendered.

Consummately held this story was able to carry and there are many variations possible on this theme with all kinds of motherhood working on different planes, this is a presentation of how post natal depression sometimes appears and this is a very convincing telling however unique this one was.

***** 5

Finding Shakespeare

Last years winning short at Belfast Film Festival was set in a boarding school. This is also set in a school, one which is so clean and tidy and spotless it could be be taken from the land of make believe which it leads us towards. Those familiar with Shakespeare are asked how does this compare with life today. Always. Will S has set for us a bibliography of languages roots and minds workings in complex accessible narrative in play form, to last as long as man inhabits earth. Only children of a certain age don’t always like being brought to the party. Schools are where learning happens and Will S has enabled generations of deep mining for clues to our mortal coil while setting our heaps of quotable expressions. He has provided experts and careers aplenty.

Before google was invented it was often impenetrable but with predicative text and numerous other things we seldom can equate reality with what is and not question it. A quote is predictably going to cover that.

This school is the setting for a visitation and a kindly one. A puckish character arrives to help the children learn. The classroom is a hornets nest of buzzing teenage melancholy and energy replete with growing certitudes soon to be prevailed upon by marauding adulthood discoveries. Maeve is the central schoolgirl who is not for stereotyping and is proprietorial of her latent wisdom and not wishing it to be disrupted by interlopers such as the bard or even classmates or indeed home. Individuality is key and these differences are the metier and scope of all of Shakespeare’s work.

When teacher sets a task to discover the inner workings of the any play in the bards repertoire the anxious pupils devour and pulp the fictions according to their own personality and preoccupations. Romeo and Juliet is a core candidate for one or two.

In a Puckish aside; Will S has made this expression our enabling evocative phrase, imagination comes to the fore and presents the essence of the nature of forming extraordinary stimulating ideas and concepts often contested in the new found encyclopaedia of search engines. Newspapers, archival libraries and definitive conjecture speculated by ‘teachers’ is brought into play here, literally, by the films central premise. The contest of language and AI is witnessed.

I thought this was a film which would best suit a young audience though it clearly would be found equally warm and engaging to all generations. Guilty as I am, I use in front of younger folk, along with many others I guess, the foresight of knowledge obtained through attention to Shakespeare’s vast worldly contribution in a presence of wise counsel as an adult. It fills a huge hole in our wisdom no matter how tenuously you approach it. We take the wondrous gift often for granted and use it everyday in some manner or other.

By skilfully and well constructed, colour-filled, luminous, playful containment to the Shakespearean themes the filmmakers give a delightful treatment of our own preconceived ideas and positioning when it comes to Shakespeare. K. Branagh has it in spades and digs for the treasure, though in flexing his filmic skills he lately has indulged a bit to far without licence. So into it he begins transgressing! This film does nothing like that and creates an original – though it is heavily influenced by the axiom of the work itself – perspective.

Is the meticulously kept Holy Child Primary School actually in use or is it in measures?!

Now what is Measure for Measure really about?

**** 4

Hold the Line

Holding the line of 12 minutes and keeping it paced and moving smoothly for a short film is a difficult line to travel. This film does it superbly in many distinctive and authoritative ways. The use of line as a metaphor is something henceforth unavoidable!

With another announcement on the daily news today (15/04/19) of a new Belfast call centre beckoning young people to their cause, it is ironic as this film launches an interrogation of what it takes to be nice on behalf of corporations in customer service. A theory, not here presented, is that good manners are a deceit and hide any credible concern as unconcern or something along those lines. Hold the line traverses the perceived and expectations of civility in today’s commonly confrontation filled driven life.

Laura O’Shea who plays the call centre operator, M; she withholds her name for logistical and personal reasons, is also the writer and co-produces with Karen Millen this no or low budget adventure. Because of its conversation based premise, it holds its key in the daily communications of answering all comers queries, it therefore hits a few sucker punches to a person whose own rights and privileges are invaded and abused. The menial task of call centre work is a depersonalised persona vial of an often found vile house.

M (Emma) is in a room with few symbols of corporate wealth. Acting as the outreach arm of a broadband provider – a subtle communications nod – M is first found answering a call from a young male whose patience is nil and profane and abusive behaviour his default. Laura O’Shea immediately in her tiny facial movements and attentive eyes and body language shows the anxiety brought to her in an everyday situation. The symmetry of her face and hidden dexterity is palpable as she emotionally expresses all our own thoughts and perceptions in reaction to this private/public conversation. It is a conversation we all are familiar with and the exploitation of the power dynamic is put across in uncomfortable and very believable terms in this brilliant piece. There is a soft beauty in Emma’s face and we are conscious of this isolation through Kate O’Shea’s subtle delivery.

Without it sounding preachy or finger wagging this is a piece which doesn’t over-egg the cause of creating an interesting thought provoking tale and one which maybe is able to indicate to the wavering, the need to be civil wherever or however you conduct these conversations were the end receiver should not personify the ‘agency’ ‘corporate’ entity your having a problem with. It is too often the case.

I liked the Converse shoes and direction was crisp and contained in a claustrophobic confined boiling kettle of a brew so this came across as a short film with answers of a kind and aspects of kindness thankfully emerge in its delivery.

***** 5

Her Very Own

In a country where parents are brought to court or fined for keeping their child away from school for unexplained or improper procedural reasons it is a place where some thought is needed in realising the undercurrents often at play.

This film looks at a mothers single parenthood and her boy Benjamin is a component in the stress and compression of feelings in a broken family situation. Maeve is a woman in her thirties whose home is like a prison and she is only holding down agency work and its impermanence which is part of present spray culture makes her depression and anxiety manifest in OCD type behaviour. It is a hard watch as there is no opening to empathise as the film keeps you on the outside. Perhaps that is variable and personal.

Automatically school protocols and institutional formality enter. In each scene dealing with an authority figure the frame is a head profile signifying confrontation and the meetings are similarly framed with there being boundaries set and metaphorical walls erected which bring the problems to a heightened level and inevitable consequences arise. Whether it was that or the serious subject given a treatment which was hard hitting and convincing it made me uncomfortable and prone to lock out the morals of the tale. I followed the story and took in the mental disturbance centrally in Maeve’s world. Setting herself insurmountable goals and trying to perfect through OCD all around her felt an inexhaustible exercise but one which offered some hope albeit condensed.

A very well made short film well delivered by the small cast and it probably accomplished its compressed goals in a smooth production.

*** 3

I am not a monster

We are taken into a privileged place. A period manorhouse where the flock wallpaper and Farrow and Ball paints, Sanderson patterned curtains and wall mounted stuffed animals are all ingredients which may go someway to explaining the characters we are to meet.

Enter the house one hooded paranoid young man who identifies himself to his mother on the doorstep as Ambrose. He is not expected by her or his brother whose presence at the manor is due to his impending engagement to a very attractive girl called Catherine who must wonder what exactly the gene pool is like in this family.

Ambrose is not dissimilar in appearance to David Thewlis – actual name David Wheeler, and by now a formidable talent seen to effective credit in Fargo and Ode2Joy.

After awkward greetings and excuses are made the film begins to unravel its beastly narrative. Dealing with a mental illness and paranoia Ambrose is unsettling to everyone and his place in this otherwise happy reunion, intended as a welcome to the bride to be it disturbs in its throes of engagement. Pun intended.

It helps if some of the characters can be tangential and offer some way to compensate for their – generalities are part of the restrictions short and feature films often send you towards – unlike-ability – no connections or sympathy is, without effort, made possible.

So the story takes on a dark funny comic potency and though it is dealing with the mental problems of its central character it is led to the use of absurdity and superficial instruments. It was a good in everything it set out to achieve I would imagine but it’s became a victim of its narrow and highly contrived situation.

There are several promising indicators regardless of this one viewpoint on the probable success of the team given another more reasonably formed story. It was in places executed extremely well and throwing curves is only successful when there is another twist or curveball or two in the mix. So onto the next one.

*** 3

The Owl

I will set out the very paragraph taken from the programme to begin a discourse.

A man Nick played by Emmet Kirwan arrives uninvited to his best friends birthday party, where he discovers why his friends have abandoned him.

This is a dark film which builds to a shocking conclusion in its limited orbit.

Arriving at night at a rural farmhouse with his guitar the period of Midsummer’s eve comes to mind and immediately that pagan festival is thought of through the fireworks of a group of youngsters seen in the distance silhouetted against the embers of their bonfire. Ireland has its affinity with this time period and here it is possibly in use. The still honoured tradition is found in Mayo for example across the bays fire illuminated the night sky. The kitchen is deserted when he reaches the house and music resonates from another room.

That is the setting and introductions for something more problematic is in play. The tension is provided in noises off and when he uses some smokes of another occupant of the house who then appears. This is Tracey played by Aoife Duffin and director of another short film, Sister, whose drugs he has just helped himself to.

The owl is the harbinger or carrier of death in many eyes and this shadow falls across the film and the Director Neil Winterling whose cv is lengthy and impressive (The Shore being one) brings heft and disturbing contemporary thinking into this horrific piece. It’s not a genre of any kind just a highly individualised and compressed short story delivered with formidable credulity and it shocks and haunts beyond its minimal visit to the screen.

**** 4

Troubles

Being an entry in the Belfast Film Festival the immediate presumptions need to be thrown away. This is conspicuously not about the Troubles although – and its hard to fathom – it might refer to a parent long gone. It’s never clear.

It begins in a quiet rural pub at night with all the lights out and a concerned young man crouching and hidden from sight asks someone close by him to be silent as the knock on the door comes. It follows a car pulling up outside and seems a harbinger of some bad intent perhaps in this otherwise tranquil place. With the title a deliberate and perhaps tangential (mis)lead the thoughts f malevolence and perhaps violence come immediately to the front of this film.

The story is about a group of musicians and it centres on the course of them continuing their session after this interruption. They are young people with a way of making their own craic and defining their space in life by their joyous engaging symbiosis. Playing traditional music that is. After some initial catching up the visitor and returnee he is outside with his drink having a smoke and is joined by one of the group.

As we have reached this point it is realised, and its not a spoiler in any sense giving the lead up to it, the pair have a lot of past to unpack.

One of the most memorable parts of any of these short films is their musical contribution and the song it closes with seems to transport the watched and watching into a past where requisition is called for. Response to the past and avoiding avoidance. It is superbly rounded in its simple format and only briefly through the mistake referred to of leading your expectations to what might be signalled concerning the ‘troubles’ without enough clarity, it is an excellent piece of thoughtful filmmaking. Powerful in many ways.

There is an air of young people making sense of things together without the outside and past being too invasive. It is present though and they are aware of it and the lineage of traditional music and sean nos is captivating in al senses of the word.

The talents of Bronagh Taggart are again seen in this production; partner Jonathon Harden directs. Those fingerprints are definitely touching it with emotions forward and convincing, the nerves being on its creative pulse. The DoP duties performed by Ryan Kergnohan is positioning this team in a strong way as filmmakers again. Work is seen as collaborative including the cast skills and the visuals are still and framed unfussily but with the deft lighting and shadowy darkness the story is invoked strongly.

**** 4

Juggle

In the continuous heavenward ascent of the Commercial Capitalist up-reach of Dublin’s squalid businesses the focus is here on a company director on the take and make. Having shafted a computer designer he has apparently shafted another and is asked to pay the consequences. As the Guinness Observatory once gave solely the view spread from its costly Protestant brewery across the city beneath, towards another, BusArás, a Michael Scott flagship – and homage to departures near the Custom house – now the Spencer Docks and new Financial section herald an embrace of all things greed orientated. Whether this is the premise and intent it is a salutary tale excellently told about the dislodgement of apparent ‘reward’. As various battles currently play out over mainly slices of the people’s needs, housing, medicine, transport, communications and new technology, the emphasis is on shifted from the internal ‘chancers’ to the invitation to more international chancers.

With AI coming to the fore maybe that was the software paydirt. The first actual marketable robot was manufactured back in the early eighties and Adam 12 were made, Eve 13 where made and Ian McEwan reminds us in a recent book Eve sold out and the character in his novel could only obtain an Adam. So this is, for the sake of this review, a computer programme minting it for the Juggler who has to decide how to deal with the outcome of one of his session.

We are getting replaced and the buildings are temporarily hosts to aspirations in the cloud or clouds. It’s the robots that need to be taxed. The Tesla car could eventually solve some energy void but it needs to be built as do all the other fragments which make up our existence. Few will be needed to make the assembly lines function.

The story is captured mainly in an empowered woman whose chutzpah or smarts, show the juggler to be out of his depth.

The film is annoying in the sense the juggler is annoying and you wish he would behave and cease his nonsensical vibe. As a premise it just about gets away with it and in its closure someone gets to find a future not necessarily on this plane.

*** 3

What Betty Sees

Opening with a shot of a woman striding out on the Belfast streets we are taken to 1979 and the woman stops to examine some indistinguishable chalk graffiti (washable poster paints are available – the only misstep!) on a brick wall and family waits gathered to greet this fortune teller. With a brew having been made three girls of a family in which there are 12 siblings altogether Mother needs to be indulged by the 3 girls seated and pressed into submission for the forthcoming tea leaf reading. Brilliantly handled by Director Colleen Forward whose first film this is; you would never have guessed it at all, it is summoning skills of recollection and wishes in this true story. As a group of three the girls could not be any different and they are shy, confident, practical. They exchange these elements on different scales at times. This introduction to fortune telling for them is full of peculiar expectations where the scales of life are to be encountered in tea leaves. The mother is conspiratorial in leaning towards the prospect of babies. I used to live close to a house where a fortune teller lived and you would see a pair usually, of an older woman accompanied by a younger one in their Sunday best and often on a Sunday step through the front gate and knock the door. An hour or so later they would emerge looking down and deep in a conversation with their futures revealed and no longer in the mists of conjecture.

The three are told their futures, while the flashbacks, flash forwards, shows Colleen using her imagination thoroughly, with deft insightful storytelling easily woven, though it is due no doubt to hard work in the crafting in the creative process and well spent time. Strong attention to detail is apparent, in for example a nod to 1979. Spellbound is a band Forward has a connection to and there is a leaflet on the mantle piece advertising this, her fathers band.

The tea leaves blow in this order for, 1. Bernie, 2. Theresa, 3. Marie away.

The vibrations of their different connections to the reveal, reverberates in the senses of the watcher. It is a bit like a visit into a very private space and the mystery is taken as read and counterintuitive thinking is temporarily discarded. For the sake of imaging a future the perils are pronounced as are the beliefs and superstition in play in taking in a form of belief or advisory for cautious reference.

Very well acted and imagined it was a production deposited in a few minutes with slick editing and smooth dialogue and ease of entry to the unfolding story.

There are obvious markers made in the capacity of all involved for other engaging stories and it won’t stop here or at lest that’s what the tea leaves say as I stare into the tea brewed uncommonly with loose tea in this 21st century. The future and past seem wrapped up together here.

***** 5

The Man who shot the Ket

This is a bonkers short film which in the black and white noir style of a comic book crime thriller is hallucinatory ket dust by Rian Lennon and his assembled Belfast ne’er do wells. He orchestrates a stand-off on mega proportions which grows in absurdity as it continues delivering in only the way, genuinely, Belfast speak is spoken when hot wired to eejits of low intellect but full of Street creds.

The opening is a knock on the door in a run down tenement and a young man, The Man who shot the Ket is questioned robustly and thoroughly working on the absurdity, by a young smart girl. Theresa is her na,e and texting is her game. Both are in danger of falling over in trying to keep up the persona granted by low expectations and low returns on life.

The big deal is a missing item which is worth very little whatsoever in real terms but people could die over its mishandling given the narrative telling of this enclosed and tightly shot scenario. Beautifully coherent in filmic and noir terms along with several one liners any Belfast novelist would pay his TV licence for.

In a fix wouldn’t be in it. The fix is one which the antagonist/protagonist – don’t know which to believe is playing it straight as a version of Ricky Gervais in bad light might seem. Office it ain’t but it’s all I have to go on. Dickhead and lots of sweaty profanities are exchanged as the head melt continues to a bizarre loss having been realised and that’s where the Ket came in. It’s not a Cat is Ket. On yesterday’s bus I was talking to a couple who were smuggling Schrödinger’s cat but it turned out to be hidden in a handbag, (there is no cat we have no cat!) enroute to its home where cats are banned. This gameplay with the Ket is almost verging on the possibility that quantum physics are in play, and its a Larry Cowan intervention as Producer maybe, of a thoughtful theme of a state known as a quantum superposition as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event integral to the plot that may or may not occur. Or possibly not.

The Ket exists but will our friend Stevie find it. In glorious black and white this story is picture compared and boxed to within an inch of its credibility and delivers a complete and brilliantly rendered and portrayed joyful escapist twang of a short. Elasticity is needed to take you with it. A lot of Orson horsin’ before closure.

It’s a bit like finding your uncle was an alligator and that’s what made him snappy all clues were there. The writing and directing of Rian Lennon is a very comment treatise of the genre with lots of Belfast scurrilous behaviour. I wonder how it might appeal elsewhere as there are no compromises and there shouldn’t be by adapting it for wider consumption. The wonder of it is local or wider?

Regards the drugs, give me some Dulce and Yellowman any day as it is as much stimulant as my man can take. I’m utterly affected after this.

**** 4

A film about Sandhoppers.

What’s it about? You’ve not been mislead. These are intelligent creatures the microscopic lens of Nicholas Leogh is savouring it it’s tribute to a little skillful high jumper that for some reason requires propulsion that no other creature really needs. Predation must have happened early and seeing in close up instillation these charm and lead to a charmed existence in this extremely short lived film. Their lives are not brief but the condensed probably correctly identified priority of mating is invoked, I wanted to avoid that word but the shortest film of the day gets it and it is a love story with a shell of an outlook but symmetrical drawn.

**** 4

One new friend

Gemma lives in a house of fundamentalists who supercharge her moral outlook with rigid boundaries. So when she seeks out friends, as is the present default/dilemma, it is done on-line to a large degree. With a video-cam clipped to the monitor on her hom computer she sets about the web and the text alerts are framed on our screen as questions and frameworks form and fix.

By taking a dark subject by using the device of a short story this is a shout out to pay attention. Predation is soon encountered and made physical. There is a meeting which is possibly stretched too far but is acknowledged as one that might easily happen though it’s quite remote I would have thought. A plush apartment, maybe a booked AirBnb is a scene of discomfort and danger.

Where it goes is probably easily predicted given the tells as it progresses. It was very cohesive and carefully handled but lacked the authority for me of a convincing believable story no matter how close and real thes situations are. It needed perhaps some jeopardy on the part of the instigator and fell a bit short for me.

*** 3

Vegetables

Vegitarianism is on everyone’s lips but not necessarily the item itself.

In a dystopian context in a Wicklow forest a set of zombie types are in the fields searching for their daily bread. Give us this day our daily beetroot or carrot or turnip. Taste doesn’t matter but availability does. There is a set of three who are first aware of the other people who are boobing up and down. We have seen them and they are the zombie like ones. Rooting literally at the edge of their decomposition for vegetables to live and they have hit pay dirt.

The film takes time to hit pay dirt as the climax or core part is a confrontation when these sets meet each other. The set on the outskirts are like the custodians in the Handmaids Tale those seeking out and securing for themselves through weaponised means their predatory needs. This is perhaps after the control elite colony has collapsed or been cast outside. The queen bee perished. Her the wings of the weaponised ones are brought sharply in and they find dealing with what they find disruptive and unclear.

Zombie films are not my favourite though Train to Busan, the South Korean one is superb. Lobster wasn’t bad either but wasn’t as dystopian as the local The Survivalist shocking treatment. This avoids cliches and tropes of the form and is therefore putting out a very well thought out set of ideas and it leaves the viewers with satisfying engagement which carries beyond the Cinema door.

**** 4

Fifteen

Taking the true unjust imprisonment of Paul Hill and his treatment while incarcerated as it’s purpose this is a claustrophobic and dark but realistic interpretation of the well known saga of long term lack of justice in British and Northern Ireland justice system. The betrayal of us all by thugs in Government and on the streets committing needless murder and maiming is palpable in the few short minutes of this films existence.

Fifteen years to obtain any sort of justice. Both sides of the Irish Sea people let this boil and spill out. Those who knew the wrong people were convicted and said nothing while the pretence of peace was on the agenda, got on with their own scripts of endeavour. Police and Prison officers fell for their forces propaganda and dealt out their own justice.

Paul Hills years are spent most of the time in solitary confinement and his jailers use of methods of torture in their own sickening deeds conflicted with their job as duty officers charged with restoring prisoners others put inside by ‘The Crown’. Lord Longford knew the radical restorative aims missing in British prisons and campaigned to resolve it.

Here though the years are tabulated chronologically and episodically and the central thee conveyed is the immense injustice involved. Also present is the human capacity to approach new stages of life while trying not to unpick or discard an unshed-able agony.

The parts that best played out in this for me were the closeness and personal focused elements. This is a formulaic approach which only veered into the surreal as close up aspects were explored but I wanted more of the surreal as the years for us that have grown up with the troubles as part of our person close or removed at times, have built a saturation of thoughts that appear every tine such treatments appear. It’s not that they are not welcome, all insights are worth it and are needed more and more but this was a fairly well trodden path though immense and in it its short timeframe remarkable.

**** 4

Burnt Oranges

Spun off in one minute and thirty seconds this is a tale of a man coming to confront his imprisonment and what is behind it. It is a psychosis and a grippy misread ion his own skull is combined with a score of some strength. It was a dubious and unaffecting film for me.

** 2

El Hor

In a homage to the fulcrum of black and white photography and motion study this is a visual feast. At its centre is landscape of the universe in its patterns so synthesised and binary yet kaleidoscopic. The binary is not a universal norm but here the division of the screen is complemented by a pair of Saluki dogs. The Dog Star is summoned. The eyes of the Saluki are studied. The flow of their white long haired coat is studied. By seeing the fluid motions of these beautiful creatures it is something of a ancient philosophy incurred in the bred having occupancy of transposition in ,a s mind of their harbouring more than we can imagine. There are certain dogs such as collies whose intellect is such they can after a few years; ask any dog behaviourist it’s true!, be aware of words humans speak and respond accordingly. So these Saluki get to be top dogs because of their looks and a modicum of intelligence transpositioned by humans.

The score is a synthesised and electronic score which is synchronised with the film and is after its rising to the fore around midway places the film into an enveloping complexity of symmetry and the dogs are seen only in patterns and cloudy shapes. The landscape of the Wicklow Hills is another player with its rivers and narrow valleys and wondescape of again Irish ancient mutations.

Directed by Diane Lucille Campbell this is a highly accomplished film with lots of very fine tuning and allowing for the worshiping of the Saluki – Herons – Giraffes and all creatures great and small (NI hymn!) have a role in the appreciation of the universal truths in front of our eyes everyday – it does form a distinctive and therapeutic diversion. Significantly by using black and white the focus intensifies and it is a as a lovingly film and performs homage on to our world in a small but in itself a complete way.

**** 4

No Place

There is a breakdown on a scale which is devastating for a young family in this modern Ireland where the hubris and ecstatic content of the Politicans ignorant and ignoring the devastation of bailing out corruption by citizens who have washed their hands of and have Courts and Politicians rinsing of remaining residue is viscerally exposed in this treatment. In hotel accommodation and out on a limb with no meaningful assistance Angela has her two very young kids to keep from harm by their social situation. If it’s an eviction or an estrangement from a marriage or even both it is a set of circumstances only the fittest and with contingencies and family support could address. Angela does relatively well but comes a cropper when the work she is still holding onto is cut off. She has been dealing with an agency doing in the present day ‘third party’ devolved employment responsibility, one without rights or protections – Government has seen to that – the question is why this country has allowed this to happen and how it affects so many mostly women? At a crisis point it has the appearance of a normal set of circumstances but it’s not and is a surreal 21st century collapse of social cohesion and its effects are staffing.

Faced with being single parents in their cris the margins are gossamer thin. This is a very clear and disturbing important film in its small scope as a short but it’s message is palpable and real.

In terms of how the construction of the story and its evolvement there are scenarios the filmmakers will have set aside and they run with just the one set of ideas and outcomes but have been it is clear choosing one out of many such is the variable scenarios they could equally have formed. Perhaps there is a place to put a short set of stories as common parallel but totally unconnected otherwise – stories of say half an hour or even one hour where each tells a story of modern Ireland and locality not ‘universality’ is foremost and able to put across the rural and city based stories that are haemorrhaging the Island. North and South have situations caused by different issues and this focus on Housing and repossession is just a taste of what might arise in future societies.

Laura Kavanagh and Michelle McMahon are to be applauded for this work and hopefully they have more opportunities to expand and create more eyeopening narratives.

***** 5

First Disco

Brace yourself for teenage bullying and troubling coming of age. In a world where appearance is bought and traded as the opium for a successful life those whose difference from standard issue trademarking ideals are found to have them exposed at every turn. The period detail in this short is the most interesting feature for me as the clothes and music are in my mind not as bad as they now appear retrospectively. The film shows them in a better light than they were in my view! To ,any well cared for artefacts maybe. Even blockbuster mainstream film has a tendency not to harm the props. No dirt no soiling. No torn or half worn items are seen – it’s not the fault of the filmmakers here alone – they like many others need a continuity and an authenticity runner. So it’s a comically and dark at that comedy at times tale of a young girl going to, see title. Her friend is a fan of pop and the music just streams out. Too shy Too shy is a case in point Katchagoogoo. Sums up the teenage angst which google is not around to sort out. Friends are the only go to. Trauma with bite is what this entails. Teeth bridges are a strain on looks and pickupability. One of the school has a look which is Elizabeth Taylor made, or in the younger style of said actress. She is the focus of the Male gaze. Her looks are strikingly attractive and she causes ripples around the playground. The colourisation is very uniform – the colours are great in other words – and sharpness is a detail not lost here.

Without hammering this fairly narrow concept into a corner the story is probably informative in many ways to those unfamiliar with the way things were and still are. The purpose is well fulfilled and delivered in cinematic conventional ways and the streets have names. Avocado Avenue, Avoca Place. Bono is not far from here, thinking of new lyrics for U2 having nearly worn the Avoca Streets out in his early years in this Dublin setting. Warm sun eventually falls from the ever-present daylight it shows throughout upon the young girls affected by this angst and it concludes in Shakespearean circumspection.

*** 3

Under Growth

Keeping up often in the issues a lot of these films address, the coming of age and angst ridden days feature as when new family situations are thrown upon children and their ways of coping are carefully examined in several diverse ways. This is the territory of a girl whose estranged father is a man in need of the Alka-Seltzer often and sits at home watching the snooker. It begins with Hayley played by Soraya Abbas who is very plausible and hoovers over the possibilities giving you ample latitude. In terms adjusting to this set up and an indoor life which is in limbo she is now looks to be content making up games and angers her father who tells her to go outside. This is Waterford territory resplendent in its outsider status. This is set on an estate which has an outside and she soon is in woods and this adventure talked on new meaning. Stephen Jones playing the father gives it a gripping edge which is commonly the exploration of filmmakers Dreamboat and Evin O’Neill.

It is a sensitively crafted film with the plausibility of the situation not a hinderance yet it carries bite and resonance which is spookily real. Another film made by Dreamboat – Brothers Evin and O’Neill. I was struck by the direction particularly as this was a film with fantasy interwoven with splendid ease and with Soraya Abbas at the helm of the scope of the film it was the capable and astute cinematography of Narayan Van Maeve providing the visual spirit seen in abundance. The roles of the others and there are four parts are taken by Dad Stephen Jones, Mum who delivers her to her unwitting adventure Fiona Lucia McGarry and the creature of whom we have said little played by Dmitry Vinokurov.

The surreal element was somewhat an escape mechanism and it fell short only by a hairbreadth of being volumous, universal, fable or ancient lore. It was without doubt imaginative which is why this film has been so successful at Festivals.

**** 4

Spook

Trippy films come out of drones and landscapes with the latter lending their evolving nature upon our eyes. Seeing only about 5% of what is taken onto our eyes little cellular biological receiver – the other 95% is made up of the itinerary of experience and brains functional memory – it transports us into a new way of seeing in microscopic detail at times.

In Lyndsey Dower, Cillian Jacob and Natasha Everitt there is an ensemble whose actions are intwined with the Waterford landscape they inhabit. The meadows and glens are where a pair of millennials sit and observe each other separated by onlynthe wind and the grassland. Jess, Lyndsey Dower is the girl who is spooked by the guy Alan, Cillian Jacob whose vibe is one of nonchalance well as some incredibility by way of not having any everyday intelligence. His matter of fact illusion is crafted on purpose perhaps and Jess is compelled to stalk Alan and his early morning wandering bring elements of discovery. Innocence is transportable and overhead is a UFO – is that not often the case after a pint or two in Tully’s? The hallucinogenic symmetry of roundabouts seen from the UFO or the drone camera are spectacularly mesmerising in keeping with this imaginary other world Jess is thinking Alan is from. Alien only in the sense he is not understood, Kess has to find out his truth.

Darkly sinister in only a modicum of spookiness the film is imaginative and closely observant of the separating of humans and the galaxy beyond. Being a part of something we are only able to touch inside occasionally we are in this short taken to observe our own perceptions via. the incredible space observatory of a drone accompanied by land based cameras. This is the valley of the possessed – on the outskirts of Waterford.

There is a lot to explore and this is carefully conceived as a beginning and the approach is beautifully rendered at times.

**** 4

Violet

In a familiar claustrophobic province beset with religious difference portrayed as separateness it is recognisable once the opening provides an election leaflet as a calling card. In a household stuck in the dark ages, pre-enlightenment, the scope of the movie is pointed fore squarely at stereotyping of families. Because this province (NI) uses religion in a way David Hume (atheist philosopher) whose inspired advance that spiritual oneness is not reached or received without internal examination, the sense of others in collectives is found as the default. Francis Hutchenson Ulster’s most forgotten philosopher who inspired Washington and the Declaration of Independence and therefore well regarded in the US, is oblivious to the mindset seen here.

Discussion and reasoning are our place in the world in order to fathom its immense questions before attaining some possible truth.

Love is not the parents problem but their way of dealing with it is imprisoned in their comparing themselves and their position in a community as paramount. It conflicts with their ideals when a discovery is made of their daughter’s sexuality. Very ably played the journey of the film will be familiar to teenagers dealing with their own sexuality and how the outside world reacts has a very pronounced affect on their acceptance of themselves and their feelings. Caught in a situation which is god fearing it presents a view through religion of how damaging fixed attitudes pervade and destroy even when love is at the heart of the parents own values. This conflict is visible in the parents and they have to come to terms with this home based dilemma of outlook and belonging. Which family do they belong to? The ‘brethren’ or their own flesh and blood?

None of these notions or precepts are overplayed and indeed they are carefully registers as not to become – dare I say it – preachy. Contexts are examined though stereotypes though and fundamentalism is described as code without deviation. Often films will fall down on using some standard avenues and this one jars slightly in having some of those demons.

The modernity of the pairing of young women whose friendship becomes intimate is very well played and thoughtful and is almost a separate element of the bullying hectoring and demonic passages it takes to get to their loving relationship. They are scenically in a literally abandoned place, one which is comfortable and representative of simplicity and necessity. Siobhan Kelly and Emily Lamey are fine actresses whose high level of dramatic intelligence cautiously delivers the tragic circumstances of self awareness in a closed society framework.

Magnificent music by Ross Johnston pours out along the narrative with illuminating cadence and resonance merging the mawkish internal thoughts of a young woman who is in turmoil and has few religious avenues to put her own spiritual meaning alongside her sexuality and being. That is common enough and the sensitivity of self alongside religious spirituality is a difficult place gay Christian people of both genders particularly find themselves when the election calling cards are dealt with prejudice and malice in mind, such as the DUP presently cling to.

Christopher Whiteside and Madi (Madeline) Graham provided artwork for the film as well as directing it.

**** 4

Mr Spice

For a change in the society we are part of the Indian Community is put into the forefront of a dramatic piece of cine,a which is not racially based or following tropes of racism in narrow minds but one of terrorism and blatant racketeering underpinned by the viewpoint of a businessman Mr Spice who plies his trade from a shop on – recognisably Sandy Row in Belfast.

Director David Moody has found a very able central actor in Philipson Cherian and the situation of running an ethic food shop is used for a scenario where trouble in the form of intimidation is rife.

When a young man, Fintan Woods as Michael seeks refugee one night from violence he has been subjected to his pursuers come knocking on Mr Spices door. Mr Spice sees his duty as a decent man to administer some assistance to Michael in his hour of need. There follows a series of interactions – between the injured and Mr Spice and his customers, Aimee McGoldrick plays a woman customer and music is woven into it through the talents of Ganesh Kumbla.

The community of any neighbourhood is never evident from a first encounter and underlying themes are found everywhere. This could be anywhere and happens to feature a shop well know to gastronomes. Mr Spice is a new fictional representation of how human beings can and do look out for each other. Fear is brought by the ‘hoods’ – actors faces are not seen so here’s a credit in case you weren’t recognised – head hood Callum Carragher, junior hood Lee Ross. Outfitted and predatory to the gilt these guys do confront Mr Spice with a mindset of real threat and menace.

How you react is important and this is the key to the story as it delivers some thoughtful items to ponder. Fairly believable and convincing in its characters it was a nice side step into bringing forward some international aspect to the Belfast film screen.

*** 3

The Family Way

For your convenience there is a morning after pill or if too late for that and you’ve a funny feeling then predictor strips are a go to instead of the Doctor. For a family of practicing heterosexuals Mum and Dad are knocking on forty and their daughter is knocking on eighteen and they share a house. When a predictor is called upon for both, they make the mistake, or one of them makes the mistake of hiding in the same place the test and therein is created a non discreet journey through smallsville suburbia.

Nuno Bernardo calls upon several and many well known faces (18 are cast!) to carry across this farcical comic episode. Clara Harte is the daughter Ruth, Ciara O’Callaghan is the mother Julia, and Steven Gunn, his real name honest, is the Dad. But who’s expectations are whose? Roisin Kearney has constructed a fine script and plays the characters against their predicament on a road trip ending in a harmonious and family way. Dad Robert is confronted by the boyfriend of Ruth who is unexpectedly – there are plenty of jokes within the film itself, made aware of something in the oven. His rugby mates come along for the craic and support. Even a priest is invited into the home crisis. There is a soothsayer and he’s directed a few glorious films himself and his part is in the engine-room of the driving story. Ruth and Julia go in search of confirmation. The Priest is not involved here. They circumnavigate parts of the town Swords might be the place, and look out for Chemists – the local one is gossip central – and a few visits start the telling of the tale but the tests don’t. Rosie O’Grady”s pub becomes a focal point where they can retreat to discover mode.

Trouble is around every corner in this well paced comedy of errors. Eventually the carry on comes to its conclusion, sort of and all is fine at home again.

**** 4

The Invention

Back in the day when Gallahers, Woodbines, Embassy, No.6 Cigarettes, were all the rage youngsters looked about for their first drag of a cigarette. In keeping with tradition there is a trade off to be made and the older lads get to find out who has the smarts in their streets. Older actors than the apparent age slightly deflect from the believable story. They are guys who are not old enough to get a hold of cigarettes from the local shops but are old enough to play poker all day and in their hideout of a club of sorts.

Frankie is no ordinary kid and has his own likes and dislikes along with a cleverness his mates or the older ones don’t possess. His record player is his finest treasure and he needs to buy records so needs to explore ways of making money.

Leo McGuigan assembles a decent crew and cast with a young smart kid as principal well chosen and Luke Walford portrays a young boy protective of his family and cleverness his passage in life. There’s nothing too difficult or problematic.

As a son of a devoted father he becomes aware of his fathers debt to a local criminal played by Frankie McCafferty who chooses for back up the shapes and menacing height of Larry Cowan as a sidekick. Larry is as soft as marshmallow. The production is superbly realised with authentic though the cleanliness is not something I associate with 1968, but the film brings home a lot of bacon as the ploy is to take the cigarettes from the grocery while the prized ham is sliced and wrapped at the back of the shop.

Necessity is the mother of invention and Luke Walford as Frankie is splendid in his invention and gets his father out of a scrape. No mean feat and wonderfully directed and photographed as the warmth of infinity prevails and some standards of decency emerge.

This film has been all over the planet and got some rave reviews in film festivals of note. It is good to see the work in its home context.

**** 4

Hope you can go find these and enjoy them.

John Graham

30 April 2019

Belfast

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First Interstellar Contact

Space is a busy place

On 19 October 2017 an observer at the Hawaii telescope, Robert Weyrek, was quick to observe an elongated object tracing across the universe of our solar system. What he discovered required to be followed so he contacted astronomers globally who he knew had the capacity to trace the object so involving Micheal M based in the Mediterranean.

Confirming the existence at the trajectory given it was instantly realised this was either a new comet or asteroid though it was some time later before it was found not to conform with the characteristics of those objects. Neither an asteroid of rocky composition that was circulating the Sun within its gravitational pull, nor a similarly held object of icy gas composition, a comet, it behaved as though it was from outside the edges of our solar system and from interstellar space.

There has never been a sighting recorded of an object from beyond the solar boundary lying beyond Neptune the outer most planet of our galaxy.

This object had been travelling, it is estimated, 14 billon years – figures here are not to be relied on but mere guides so refer to the scientists for accuracy data.

In a lecture hall in Belfast this week Professor Andrew Fitzsimmons brought the story in which he played a part in the verification and tracking of the object later to be named Oumuamua – my word search has not found it but it is a Hawaiian word for something from outside, the farthest, that has come to visit us.

https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/13611/1603502/ESAC_seminar_06_14.pdf/565e2596-84ff-c9ad-c8b4-871018da9dd6

When Oumuamua appeared it was within a period of turbulent world weather systems that compromised sighting as the weather cover limited the telescopic observation over the three nights it was most vivid and observable.

Calculations of the accumulated data on the sightings became a flurry of scientific activity and discovery from these computed returns. Firstly it was established the object was on a trajectory confirming it was not of this solar system. It was travelling on a line which is a hyperbolic paraboloid. The phenomenon is known and somehow anticipated as scientists have determined such curvatures to exist but held within our own solar system by gravitational force.

Oumuamua did not follow its hyperbolic paraboloid pathway within the constraints of the suns gravity but profoundly travelled on a path unheard of or unseen before. Therefore it is realised it is the sole object from outside our solar system to visit us. Now it is somewhere beyond Saturn and Venus heading away on the linear route it conforms to. Conforming to the geometric characteristics of behaviours enabling them to be categorised is itself a conformist element. The outer interstellar solar systems have through concurrent observations on the data acquired since this sighting confirm the behaviours have common themes. The gas and solids Oumuamua and asteroids, comets are formed from coincide with their counterparts in the suns orbit.

One observation of the data found for example the linear track of Oumuamua was complying with an object which in its propulsion was leaving behind in its wake gases and tiny elements discarded in the same way asteroids and comets left behind debris and gas as they travelled onward.

That data was a very important fixed element of the story so far as it concluded it had infinite possible outcomes that paradoxically were tangible. Science had enabled through centuries of observation and accumulation of knowledge a theory to be produced yet it was clear it was telling us the infinity beyond had characteristics somehow similar to our own solar system.

Observation is a practice of astronomy reliant on telescopes on earth placed in the clearest cleanest air on hilltops or pollution free zones enabling the best results. The limitations of observation is itself a profound paradox. For it is only with earth’s resources we seek an abundance of infinite unknowns.

Tools for seeing

We only have a few millennia of tools to conduct earth limited devices for discovery.

Telescopes are now mirrors with cameras and billions of mega pixels are collated and correlated. There is a telescope being built in Chile to come into commission around 2020. It only has an eight metre wide mirror. The reason is it is all that is needed to see the solar system we are within and seeing beyond that is impossible due to the return of light and the concentration of impulses would be overwhelming in their scope. That is how I see it.

For greater discovery it may be necessary to have space based telescopes and some devices indeed accompany space exploration missions.

Deciding what Oumuamua looks like is another element of the scientific trail. The detective work is speculative and all images you see are drilled down data with an end result of a consensus shape and set of behaviours.

Put succinctly it is shaped like a chocolate eclair (200 metres?) long and spins and rotates as it travels with some chocolate left behind as debris and nice vapors of chocolate left behind to savour. That leads onto its density as that is another unknown. It has not been discovered if it had a front seat driver or onboard catering like a space station.

As it carries onward and leaves the solar system going into interstellar space it leaves behind many perplexed people and hundreds if not billons of questions.

In its wake it leaves us still unaware what dark matter is. Knowing only the composition of a 20th of the known elements in our solar system.

In its wake we are left knowing the matter we are composed of is expanding outwards and is unresistant to a pull of gravity making the dark matter itself an expanding unknown. The forces of our universe have been seen not to compromise other than in very small measures Oumuamua and it came and went leaving little traces of itself but leaving behind proof of its existence.

We know the expansion of the universe as Big Bang theory in converse to the Big Implosion theory as it is evident through as late as 1998, the effect is observable. There are clusters of scientists looking nightly and 24/7 on earth to the skies and just as Oumuamua appeared on 19 October 2017 it is very probable further sightings will provide evidence of already present objects we have hitherto been unable to see or detect. The asteroid count is increasing almost daily and around 750,000 are now identified amidst all other objects associated with the solar system.

The exploration of space is a preoccupation since humans existed in order to define meaning and some semblance of creation. Over centuries and on the shoulders of gaints such as Galileo and scientists such as Halle and Enckle a story is developed in our need for a narrative.

While the discoveries could and do play a part in understanding of the earth’s behaviour and our possible fate as a planet in a corner of a unexplainable infinity. The Oumuamua is on a pathway in the region of the universe ‘north’ of our solar system and apparently there are more encounters likely to be experienced in this part of the Cosmos. The tail of the universe is where the arrival came into, arrived and is on that outward trajectory after making the hyperbolic parabolic curvature on the plane estimated and extrapolated by observering astronomers.

It’s possible extra-terrestrial life has caught up with the noise of earth and they will have found the latest instalment of Eastenders when Lofty has returned to Waldorf after 30 years absence and the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are deposits carrying out of date news. They may be wondering what life is.

The ships Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 can be said to be the first objects mankind has sent and gone beyond the barrier known as the interstellar limit or boundary.

The real results are seen here –

http://www.issibern.ch/teams/1ioumuamua/

and here it is seen as no big deal!

https://www.space.com/43015-interstellar-visitor-oumuamua-not-that-special.html

While Earth’s sun may see an ‘Oumuamua-like space rock swing by twice per year, ‘Oumuamua “will never encounter another star,” Laughlin said. “The odds of it coming close to another star are roughly 1 in every 10^14, 10^15 years, so those brief and exciting moments in September and October were wonderful for us, but they were really the time of ‘Oumuamua’s life.”

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

I detect a momentary lack of acknowledgement and perhaps a degree of discovery envy. The fact being no other sighting ever preceded this one. The discovery however it is evaluated is still an extraordinary occurrence. By reasoning of the scale of the flyby stated in the article above it as relevant as a report on a football match. It is a conjecture only made possible through the origins of the discovery of Oumuamua making it a pointless conceit advancing nothing. It is after all a first contact.

There is no shortage of theories and news.com.au posted this

It’s accelerating: admittedly by only a tiny amount, but something is giving ‘Oumuamua a push. It could be comet-like ‘outgassing’. But at no point has the mysterious object been seen to have a comet’s tail.

It has a weird shape. Based on its erratic flashing, astronomers have inferred ‘Oumuamua must be long and thin. Few known asteroids and comets are like that.

But … for it to be an alien artefact would be extraordinary.

And to prove that would require some extraordinary evidence.

However, our chances of learning anything more from our first known interstellar visitor are very slim. It’s racing away — back into deep space — at some 95,000km/h.

There are, however, other possible — and more probable — alternatives.

“I think we should look at the alien option given this asteroid is unusual, but while a more mundane explanation is reasonable it surely must be preferred,” says Monash University astronomer Michael Brown.

John Graham

25 February 2018

Belfast

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Welfare of all our citizens : I’Daniel Blake

THE NORTHERN IRELAND NARRATIVE 

This was finally shown by the BBC and what it became was a finally visually representation amidst an onslaught of NEWS concerning Brexit and Conflicts occurring alongside national disasters across the globe in the Yemen and Syria.

My earlier review is still relevant and more so in the light of such as the Justice for Jodey campaign. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-jodey

I’Daniel Blake a BBC film directed by Ken Loach and written by Patrick Laverty, will broadcast this film hopefully in the near future. It is reviewed separately by me.

It is a stimulus to further discussion on all aspects of our Welfare Society.  A chosen part of our life’s and human responsibilities.  To deny others what we take for granted in order to survive is not what the Law’s on Welfare were constructed for.  To not offer assistance not only a legal obligation but a moral responsibility removes an essential element of our own life’s – it makes us less human and undermines the core of civil society. That which we strive for.
Political Congestion

For all the Political signals saying these ‘Welfare Reforms’ are a necessary piece of housekeeping; separate and apart from the huge and criminal corruption of tax avoidance, property sequestration, civic governance and health privatisations the ‘Welfare Reforms’ are given leading political status as measures appropriate to instil rudimentary economic control and provide a level playing field with which the Workplace administrators, the Public authorities (here the Civil Service is a large front and back office employer) the Manufacturing, Service, Agricultural, Health, Food, Financial, Building industries can manage with the provision of minimum wages supplemented by the Government they fund through any number of donations, tax and costing trade offs. 

The list of party benefactors here is not produced. Providing a cheap and compliant workforce while overlooking workplace and reduced unionisation and dismantling protections is the trigger for focussing on the unemployed and those who cannot work or have no means to live under the immigration, refugee, asylum catchments orchestrated for political ends and not need. There six also a dynamic in education to enable coding, systems engineering, those functions necessary to develop robotic simulators of human beings, as a ‘replacement’ and gifted compliant workforce, the strategy almost gains status as a new industrial revolution gone leagues ahead of Moores Law in development.
Singularly absent is the scrutiny in state arenas to question the veracity of how education and workplace skills are developed. Are the ends know or justifiable?

 Decades of devaluing humans.

Dr Eileen Evason has advised Local Government Departments (has been the advisor to the Forst and Deputy Forst Minoster here in Northern Ireland in ‘resolving the nuts and bolts’ of the Welfare Reforms so as to cause least hardship – while at the same time ignoring their punitive unfairness) for a decade or more on Committees and advisory panels – while supporting the de facto positions which have caused extreme hardship, deprivation and even death as a consequence of the imposed Welfare Standards which maintain lives at levels below poverty in households across Northern Ireland with innumerable social, health and harmful consequences. It has been going on for longer than a decade yet no Local Government authority has been able – (in a unified Assembly brought about on the foot of a supposed resolution to a violent period when so called revolutionaries took up the cause of ‘Social Revolution’) to bring housing, employment, educational, human rights equality to these Islands.  

Not only did they fail to consider the death toll wars inflict, they delivered nothing in the face of the very problems encountered back some 40 years previously. Advances which would have naturally evolved advanced with the same embittered constraints instead hidden from plain sight and Sovereign politics North and South reman. Ask who are the persons those Sovereignties comprise. They are of course the global non-national wealth ownership stake in control of Banking worldwide, sequestration of land, minerals and property whose game changer is the advance of digital transference of capital so far unimagined. It is a simple matter to demonstrate to Governments the movement of capital is the means to bring them down and hence the compliance wherever viable, with their needs.  

The macro defines what the micro is. It is the manipulation of the functions of a states people in a pliable complicit pseudo democracy enabled by wise chins such as Dr Eileen Evason, the Department for Work and Pensions Minster past designate, Ian Duncan-Smith, sometime leader of the Tories and the incumbents Labour advisories included, Frank Field for example, whose realisation is Social Welfare for slow learners. The effects of past Social reforms have been devastating and encroach in their parallel implied, implicit ongoing reach into the means of production – all forms of employment (zero hours contracts are a hideous social disgrace for a state such as this) – health provision, education access and the starvation and victimisation of destitute highly troubled victims of War seeking refugee – wherever – on the heel of wars which have huge connections back into the political drivers of every portion of these islands.

Refugees and Asylum seekers in this Society

It is hard to bring together the strands of injustice faced by various factions of society. The levels of poverty; the common indices relate, in this part of the world are an endemic social ill. Then are those factors of destitution; a word used by groups of refugees and asylum seekers not extremely close to the conditions faced by people born and raised here who are now in severe and desperate need. How is it possible or worthwhile to separate these dual forms of destitution. There is no valid reason. Moreover, the fact they exist is a binary hub of an underclass whose means to ‘escape’ poverty has been put into a set of circumstancial binds constructed for political means and ends. They relate to the provision of active and an enabling of a workforce compliant with the constituent needs within the nations, provinces boundaries. It is highly influential in dispersal and service distribution. The needs are not met despite thecLaw holding all protections ogf the Human it is possible to enfranchise. The HMRC is firstly a declaration of intent which successive Governments have employed without conviction. They set up quangos to simulate the narrative of access through Citizens Advice, through The Law Centre and a raft of internally directed charities whose functions are to manage the margins. Except the margins are now the main body of need from destitution to service provision. Both aforementioned are heavily subsidised by Government and are managed by Government intervention on key strategy aspects.

Intercessory or Interposing

The intermediaries are not what they project. The charities are spoon fed gestural support, Government assistance etc, while starvation, deprivation, homelessness, mental health, rudimentary health and housing provisions fall extremely short through lack of will by successive Governments, of the levels it is possible to implement and put in place to accord with agreed standards and therefore comply. The duty is withheld. The duty is functioning in a barely face preserving way, with the puppets of CAB and The Law Centre eking out already existing Legal requirements they themselves have in part played an orchestrated role in formatting. They are the back stop or firewall put in place by Government to provide palliative care to a corrupt under resourced societal need. They literally operate as a palliative.

it is the same with ‘The Human Rights Commission, The Charity Commission, The Equality Commission who all function here as a shopfront for legislative inadequacy be it in execution or basis of intent. They exist to present a face of Compliance with world commitments.

Palliative – to relieve or lessen without curing; mitigate; alleviate.

to try to mitigate or conceal the gravity of (an offense) by excuses, apologies, etc.; extenuate.

Cohorts

Manchester has its own Law Centre and it is campaigning (as The Law Centre NI does) for Access to Justice. Yet alongside this they perpetuate the DWP line which is the roll out of the appalling Universal Credit regime. Just like NI the people are pushed into a system past by this legal firewall which is subsidised by Government. If anything different is the case I would of course be glad to hear of it.

https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/services/employment-and-support-allowance-esa/

& the Access to Justice campaign has good supporters and the narrative is following other campaigns in Social Housing and the breakup of Housing Associations by stealth or has already happened in Glasgow. Try obtaining Social housing there and the SNP have already admitted – Nicola Sturgeon – their catastrophic mistakes. Maxine has voiced over a Film on Social Housing.

Mitigators

The silent mitigators are voters who fail to recognise wisdom and honesty in policy and intent among themselves and selected representatives. They are wholly appropriated by perversities of Christian or moral values in a dangerous disruption of the inherent values most intrinsic and evident within the human race. It is un-divined and without appropriate intellectual credibility. It destroys the ability to develop long term meaningful and productive strategies to deal with inherent and long held traditions and values which are not in any way going to hinder self development. The caring and sharing we are familiar with in our minds should and can be our motive force enabling greater societal stability and security of future paths.

Lack of Unity

When put to refugee and asylum seeker groups ‘Who are your advocates?’ they wil refer mainly to there own Charity organisations, peri feral charities and faith groups who focuss on and engender support for their plight by whatever means possible. They advocate for advocacy without penetrating the walls of LegislativecPolicybFormation which in the main is driven from on high and in any case has been discussed at a broad sometimes academic led level and or in reaction to commissioned studies and reports form Universities and Specialist Advisors.  

Why do refugee and asylum seekers not lobby MPs and MLAs? It is because they lack the access, means and professional advice usually in the hands of more locally based lobby groups who have a recognised constituency base. In other words they have basically nothing and with it no proper voice. Why can they not find allies in the community? It is because by aligning with a particular group – religious and humanitarian organisations stand apart – they find Political alliances are formed. Of course these alliances are themselves acts of patronage to illustrate and demonstrate a lead on a subject vexing all at the same time. Trade Unionists are a good advocacy alliance though they themselves have progressively been weakened and are constantly facing employment deficits and fundamental political stasis. The protection of workers rights has for profit motivated ends been dismantled over the past two decades and more. Therein lies a problem of unity with workers who in the majors understand and appreciate the problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers. So the division remains.

Whose alliances?
By forming alliances with particular brands of Politics they would find it extremely hard to not be caught up in ‘local’ divisions and become a ‘political football’ for parties to use when ever it seems useful to – they could likewise be accused of supporting one party against another alienating a vast number of people. There is not one party which has not been seen to comply with state obligations to provide care and services on demand – citing Home Office functions operating as a thing onto themselves without the ability to intervene – it’s not a devolved power therefore they are off the hook, while behind their Assembly cabinet, party office doors, reject the needs as secondary to the indigenous population whose own levels of deprivation in many cases are in the same parlousxstatecascthosecin the incoming and resident refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocacy needs to come from leaders of Political Parties. Theresa May has an appealingly regressive pandering Tory history to come out fro underneath. Jeremy Corbyn has a Labour prospective pou pulsation to convince on numerous issues of competencies including a fair and just economy and workers rights, as well as the moral and correct human approach to citizens of this world in face of natural and man made conflict. Those who are in need not of displacement and refugee but a a proximity to their homeland stable and capable of proper supportive structures politically. This is only achievable by imposed UN functional mandates – imposed regardless of the deflecting and constant narrative manipulation which provide cover for the undermining forces.

Societal responses

Within any society there is a culture which forms the web of societies values and beliefs. It is interwoven across many separate faith groups, secular groups and this of none forming a diverse and adjusted tolerance otherwise there is breakdown. Here we have seen that breakdown through mistrust and intolerance. To begin the process of communicating with other props whose needs have been well documented, have been under years of scrutiny – South African and Zimbabwean people have an automatic right to remain yet are cast into a limbo without formal identity despite their presence. Others are destitute having fled the Congo, Nigeria, Syria, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia among the vast numbers fleeing conflicted repressive societies escaping forced marriage, persecution.  
In Northern Ireland we take for granted the daily opportunities to socialise with people of any background, to have freedom of movement and to choose forms of recreation and entertainment and indeed worship. This is seldom possible – not only because other the below poverty line existence and destitution forced onto people but their everyday lives are further traumatised by the limbo of limited human interaction. This we find through work and the diversity of interests we have.  

The refugees and asylum seekers in our community cannot retrieve their own cultural history, can access in limited ways their faith groups, cannot summon up work and interaction opportunities because it is denied them. Work is not allowed. Volunteering is scarce and only limited to numbers for basic tasks and do not provide proper outlet for skills and learning opportunities. What is needed is a form of access to work which will not impinge on local commerce and be on a level platform of employment and remuneration. The minimum wage is intended under a Labour Government expected to be an hourly minimum of around ten pounds per hour. Zero hour contracts would be abolished. Accordingly the shake up would see the Employment rights spread throughout industries as well as providing a motivated dynamic workforce lifting people from poverty requiring supplementary state income. Along with this the unemployment restrictions on hours people can work without loosing their benefits can be also used in relation to all immigrants, refugee and asylum seekers. That is to allow employment initially on those same terms as part of the process of assimilation.

The ‘Northern Ireland’ Home Office require people to ‘sign on’ once a month WITHOUT receiving anything at all. No benefits (social security) only a subsistence is given which is not available in all cases. Housing is subject to very demanding terms and when a person is on a process of appealing a rejected application – (information is not complete or a discrepancy exists) they then are debarred from accommodation and made ‘homeless’. 

Another perceived issue is the repatriation of money to dependants not living here is seen as a drain on the economy while families maintain support at a distance. This has to be addressed by the establishment of rights for the person who lives here in full. It is up to them how they then dispose of their income. If they have dependants abroad then these people would require reunited in some way. 

By allowing everyone in the country the right to work the dynamics of all employment would change. The rates of income would advance if a Labour Government were to be elected, a raft of people would be lifted out of limbo into gainful employment or at least be given the opportunity through the limited hours restrictions a basis to use and develop their skills alongside others in the community. Itself a gain and lesson for the local community. The development of employment practices and financial balance and fairness would increase the market monetarist ion of small and medium sized businesses with more income around. As noted earlier, it is a common enough expectation for money to be repatriated. Think of the money of post depression America and Europe circulating back to communities on the edge of poverty. A relief mechanism is needed on a global scale outside the corrupt levels of governance. The danger exists – a) that any repatriated money goes straight into the hands of military groups. b) the so called leaders of communities will ‘tax’ those in receipt of money. c) the very banks at the receiving end can skim off large portions of currency dealing.

Greedland

Those are outcomes which can be curtailed by rigid compliance of money transference and is not alone a ‘black economic device’. Most technologically advanced nations are adept at concealing in shadow banking off-shore locations another level of capital outside the declared wealth. 
There is also the recurrence of newly wealthy countries buying land, property and assets in foreign countries as a sovereign or private gain un encumbered by local rules.  

There is also the phenomenon of lets say a country called Greedland has acquired a mountain of property debt which the debtor refuse to pony up for to the Banks they owe to. The Banks go down or are caught in a ‘safety’ net by there state and those loss making assists are now in a heap in a failed market. Life support in the form of money printing comes along, external marshals of the club books are brought in and massage the heart and lungs to resemble a form of life and a country has its future drained from it for many years as it is put on the support machine. Along come a bunch of dubious monetised loss adjusters who offer you a cash deal – give us your entire portfolio and in return we will give you the card Camille tricked off Napoleon. It’s a game learnt in the movies. To you it might look like a puff pastry but it’s like that game, a game in which the players bid for the privilege of naming the trump, stating the number of tricks they propose to win, a bid in this game to take all five tricks of a hand. So ingenious. So turned over the ruination continues as within the skids were oiled to take it down the slipway.

Overseas aid

Children have a right to parenting from both parents and that objective must be set as a priority to stabilise future lives disrupted by the present circumstances. How that is achieved is through political will. The children without parents whose lives have been subjected to displacement and are orphans can have a reconnection with their own homeland and family identity re-established through the technological mechanisms and data control methods now available. The abandonment in camps of 50% plus child occupancy is a human disaster in need of complete overhaul and immediate concerted effort to resolve with innovative and medically approved ways. The resources are available only the sharing is not evident. The newly wealthy countries and those neighbouring failed states or states in conflict need to contribute to the recovery of the displaced and engage fully in restorative programmes regardless of faith or ethnicity. The problem is one which is unparalleled and with all probability be overcast by natural disasters on which unity and cohesive joint actions need to prevail to lessen their global impact. In every case of natural disaster there are global implications. These are also the source of many present displacements and their management is local as well as global.

Regarding the movie

I, John Graham, demand you listen to your vital signs while watching this movie. Your heart the most central organ shal feed your brain to take in the depravation disintegrating world we purport to share and live on. Do not fail to breathe as your lungs appruptly fail to take in air so shocking shall be the halt and statis of your normal living view outside your head resulting in oxygen deprivation, stilled lives, stilted persons barley knowing how to survive before your eyes. No normality is this seen amidst the everyday, that lunacy of a race of what is known in art as vanished vacated extinct personas fate no longer the risen people. Carpe diem resultant helicopter flats as sky rise slums traded piece by rent by debt. Sacrament of heat escaping shells of flesh surrounding windows taxed as hope goes out the dor to the auction house for a dollar doubling as a score. Body warmth is paid for on tricks turned for some hapless she’ll indifferent to their themselves the outer inner world as their victim carefully chosen surrenders as they pass the threshold through their door. Pickets in police cars remonstrate in stripes pervading rough justice before it reaches the court doors. This malfience is seen in the wrecked life’s whose sin is committed needing to sign on and seen as being needy brings minimum security, breaches dignity it sails out the door down every capital Tyne, Thames, Lagan, Severn, Clyde. Life’s wrecked by civil servants and so called charities doing the diverts work of Government while no one takes responsibility or drives down into the causes and perpetual harm that manifests.

To be further edited for the blog and which will follow on from the post of the film review.

John Graham

25 February 2019

Belfast

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Belfast Film Festival Shorts 2018 : Film Review

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Belfast Film Festival Short Film Review

Belfast Film Festival Short Film programme at Queens Film Theatre for 2018 proved packed with gems and new thoroughly well packaged cinema which met a full audience over the day’s viewing.  Formulaic work was absent and refreshing alteration on story telling made for a complex mix of seeing as believing.  Initially the programme came with strong family stories.  The type where misunderstanding prevails and a reveal is the twist in the tail.  Each found a way to deny you the obvious answer but produce a strong alternative for you to wrestle with.  On the delivery of further films the depth and scope altered significantly covering some animation, some narrative tales, some films based on true stories and several versions of horror and surreal boundaries of belief.  A venture into science fiction and two short stories materialised as ectoplasmic excursions which rattled the nerves over a range of ages.  For local interest there was plenty.  The tropes of political history were examined with varied results.

In the order they appeared I have written a short opinion on how they appealed to me and offer some criticisms purely in the sense no one will really get to write on much of these and I chance a few thoughts in helping to progress talking or reviewing the hopes as they reach us.  How to? is not my approach but as with most reviews I take it from a personal viewpoint in how it struck my senses and where it accorded with my thinking or changed it.  The pleasure was to see the advancement and this raft of films shows there to be plenty of talent in every aspect of film making with in this case most of the British Isles covered.  An excursion to the Czech Republic also produced one of the most distinctive professional pieces in assured wonder.

In the sequence shown

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11th     B/W

Director : Naomi Waring

Arrivals at George Best City Airport and an ex paramilitary, Fisher,  turns up and goes on the homeward taxi drive to his mothers house. Stella McCusker is alone in a loyalist estate watching over a vacuum with concerns careworn in her eyes. In black and white this film gives a profile to the estates and hinterland loyalism is in. It’s bonfire season and with sharp edits and close ups anguish and hard looks coil around the close knit community.

A young boy on a bike exchanged barbs and inquiring probes and he pushes the story on to position the incomer as on a limited pass to his own post terrorism territory. The young actor and older man form the core of the encounter with this eve of twelfth of July run in. It makes you think his prospects are much better than the protagonist who returns to the place after the ‘troubles’ though that is tentative.

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The voices in the local working drinking club pitches a strong rendition karaoke style of ‘Penny arcade’ with floor singers welcome to the up and coming club contest. Shades of ‘Benidorm’ timewarp entertainment witnessed. References to the past Troubles are through pictures on the wall and insignia. The talk is of the day to day and in order to speak to his daughter who is at the club, a meeting of sorts is contrived. The past is inferred as family breakdown and the conciliation is sought by the incomer to redress his past. With the pace and lively approach including the stirring of tribal ritual as a backdrop and the pleasant homely feel of the exchanges and people in the community it is a well conceived though under developed piece of drama. The resolution is flat and it sits without a full exposure of the tensions which do exist and none of the everyday working life of the estate is seen to any degree. The playing and story itself is where any value is traced and the trademark acting is first class.

4* A serious attempt at conceptualising current dynamics and the pitfalls and reconciliation at a family level in our broken local world.

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Sparrow

Siblings Cara and Nathan are on different paths and Cara’s return from University is the theme of the welcoming return. For Nathan he is a live at home attendant on an alcoholic mother.  He is lamenting the hullabaloo over the simple terms of the homecoming and while loving the fact his young sister has achieved something he compares it with his one stalled hopes and career as a music teacher by being to the boil his anguish as this reunion prompts all the wrong emotions. The whirlpool of the welcoming party is seen through the eyes of a Nathan principally and his actions. He sulks alone and then the central comparisons take shape with acerbic doubt fired general differences which are mostly based on their different perspectives. The tally of right and wrong is grey territory with each having good reasons to be at the point they find themselves.

Like a lot of the films of this season it concerns itself with reconciliation of relationships spoilt by the past with a pressing question of who is right and is anyone to be faulted. For a short film it is ambitious to come up with any real solid answers and it does leave much undisclosed and unexamined. While it puts forward a very good trajectory of story easy to make some connections to it relies on the excellent cast to bring out its overhanging sadness. The script is initially laboured but the sciences between the two principles are very heartfelt and extremely convincing. In every home a dilemma if not a heartache. The difficult part of the drinking mother is played with unabashed fluidity and convincingly by the mother who is somewhat exploited in her stereotypical role with no really shocking or unexpected lines.

4* Fractured beginnings and endings with no winners. Has very good moments and universal themes.

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Lost memories

Director : Eamonn Murphy.  Cast : Emmet Kelly, Aoife King, John Kavanagh, Nicole Poletti

Here is a road trip with a difference. It is of a place where many have found themselves in with a seriously ill close relative advancing to confront your emotions and family relationships with love bearing down as the core central part of life visited darkly and in the very present reality of someone’s passing. Seán is an artist seen initially dropping of a canvas to a central Dublin Gallery and with flashback and scenes of celebratory exhibition modes traced there is an exchange of timescales where Seán is seen making the choice to deliver the piece to the Gallery as opposed to staying behind and being with his mother who is dying slowly. His own selfishness or neglect is called into question by himself and the trio of phone calls which come into his journey on the new highways of Ireland’s opening up of its meaning and separateness is all too familiar and an easy route or so it seems, to take. The journey is the central part.  The conflicts each phone call takes feeds the emotions. First there is his Dad calling, then his Sister, then his girlfriend.  Each pulls out a different framing of his love and indeed his notion of himself and where he is at in this new contextualised place.  Cleverly the struggle of being his own self is examined and is carried very well by the actor who we see responding to tiny and implicit alterations and nuances as he drives.  The burden is manifest in the darkness of nighttime driving and of the tracing out of the road in this Ireland of shallow and solid opportunity. “I’ve been very mean to you, I wish I was better to you.” Comes out of very many circumstances and lives. The mixed vibe is very good and industrially complex in not allowing a standard reaction to be held. I found the road scenes very immersive whereas the other open, ‘standard’ shots were not on the same level and dulled the effect.

4* Very good dynamic and lifting the spirit while demolishing it in an emotional excursion full of tension and original knife edge touch on familaier reality.

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Listen

In the workings of a family of three there is an unspoken tension and it is not discernible to the audience of the mother who in her domestic day to day converses with a young daughter on the stories she comes across in school. The couple are late twenties and the girl around seven, eight.

The Gaelic Children of Lir and fantasy is an enjoyable framework for the educational needs as are other myths and stories of the ancient world. The appearance of the father is somewhat as a hectic perhaps civil servant with his bran flakes and tea/ coffee a hurried morning routine. The women of the household have a natural bond over the wordplay and story telling which is a feature of the day ahead. Of learning and the things and moral tales those educational paths bring. However the edgy troubled state of the husband is without explanation or even a cause the audience see and the woman does not. In a few short minutes. The film is only ten minutes long the suspense and it is nothing solid or an unnecessary flight of extreme probability but a thoughtful relevant and progressive denouement.

4* The Woman need not worry as the outcome or resolution of unexplained, behaviours, unkown series of occurrences is set to put her mind at rest as indeed it will yours – depending on your silo! or lack.

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Peel

Director: Annika Cassidy, Writer: Annika Cassidy. Cast: Lauryn Canny, Ally Ni Chiarain, Seana O’Hanlon.

On a rainy day without rain umbrellas for effect are raised as two young teenage girls walk home from school. Implied (according to one younger viewers I spoke with) is a gay relationship perhaps going to emerge as the storyline.  What happens in the first minute or two is the pair splitting up and after affectionate exchange of words one disappears to an apparent home of warmth and welcome where the other goes home to the detached and isolation of a leafy Dublin suburb to be greeted by a dilemma and house with a lack of paternal love or security. This is a film which gives a sharp shocking heartfelt thump to the emotions given the actors play out the scenario in a effective way. With its range however I thought the science choices and handling could have been much tighter and less frippery or less overdark fixed framing would have made it a very solid piece.  The last scene in fact is with the young girl at a sink peeling the spuds for dinner. That is a reckoning for the title. It is a Vermeer type shot and if the whole of the film was of this closing quality with its observance and unspoken undercurrent it would have blown you away.

3* I thought the story was worth the telling but was distracted by the – in my mind anyway other views are less troubled perhaps – motion and scenes juxtapositions but possibly I was missing something in what was after all a very straight forward story of two separate experiences for the two girls though the First was not and may not have been as good as implied either as it was not dealt with in ‘mirroring’ the differences.

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Guard

Director : Jonathan Harden, Writer :  Bronagh Taggart,

Getting Katie to drop her guard outside the ring will be Kieran’s toughest battle yet the story goes. Funding notes – The film boasts an award-winning team, including BAFTA winner Michael Lennox, who was nominated for an Oscar for his short film Boogaloo and Graham in 2015. Lennox will produce, while multiple Emmy-award winner Robert Sterne credited with finding lead actors for hits such as Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall will cast the short. Former The Voice contestant Leah McFall will provide music.

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The Belfast of sporting opportunity is cleverly and brilliantly projected in this story of a girl boxer training on the lone path to find her spine and core self in the way sport challenges do and asks questions of the mind and body.  The girl Katie comes across the Westlink in Belfast on the footbridge running after coming from the derelict GAA stadium she has been pounding up and down the terraces of.  Good hand held shots and a continuation of her situation is opened.  Her father is at home and his return is ‘on probation’. He keeps at arms length or further away as he disassembles his narrative with his daughter. Bronagh’s Husband director Jonathan Harden is assured and with the stories unusual broad reaching quality.  Bronagh Taggart never drops her guard in the playing of this character.  Bronagh Taggart who has appeared in The Fall and has also a part in the film on Conor Magregor coming up, is this story’s writer and she conveys a cogent, very strong statement of a girl approaching her circumstances by trying to test herself, possibly to the limit.  Her portrait and portrayal is brilliant.

Positioning herself in the frame centrally and not speaking any words save six over the whole of the 13 mins. With the speedy trajectory she offers an eagle stare and fixed presence of being in the world, wanting to perfect something imperfect and damaged.  The damage she carries and conveys obviously setts her apart from her father. No spoilers here then.  Not estranged but pragmatic and demanding Katie wants to train hard and her fathers skills are not declined in training in the backyard of their shared home. It is a home with bad memories and both live on its fringes avoiding talk of the past. Katie and her father make a pact and the local club St Joseph’s is enrolled to allow her to spar and ringwork. The boxing club manager is our own version of Ray Winstone’s trainer style (Jawbone a boxing film) Ian McElhinney.  When punch comes to shove or fist comes to face and guard this film is intensely sharp and on the money. It gives as food as any film of its kind and is sharp witted while being totally plausible. The Commonwealth games now wound up are a mirror of the tenacity and intensity seen in this one of depiction of one girls pathway.

5* It ticks most of the boxes for me in that it is an absorbing forceful unapologetic disconcerting take on complex family troubles and making amends though in the drama a hovering unexplained poison exists which in a wider concept might provide further and added riches. A very well constructed smart story and brilliantly delivered.

Update on Commonwealth boxers! Both Michaela Walsh and Carly McCaul failed by the narrowest of margins and contested decision in the camp, obtaining a Silver Medal for their skills against top class opposition with determination and proper attitude speaking volumes as sportspersons of character.

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Murirglheilt

Director : Tara Hegarty, Writer : Tara Hegarty, Cast : Gary Crossan, Naomi Cooke, Rachel Walker. Music :  Karen and Jolene McLaughlin.

The fables of the sea are many and for a Lough Neagh eel catcher he failing to remember or keep the letter of superstition fully on board has the misfortune to rock his own boat. This involves the discovery of myth and legend immersed in the deep waters even so far from the Sargasso sea bring all kinds of crazy ideas to met up with him. Mindful as he is of the woes that might befall him he fails to comprehend the circular nature d the female of the species once he has troubled or mistreated their magic mysteries and powers of persuasion in ladies from the sea.

An explanation does nor exist in this fable of a C. Andersson fable (Agnete og Havmanden) it has within possibilities as origin. Those children of the sea free also. In the ballad, a merman woos Agnete to leave her children behind and come and live with him in the sea.  She does so and has several children by him.  But one day she hears the ringing of church bells and with the merman’s permission returns to land to visit the church. In some versions, the images of saints in the church turn away from Agnete when she enters. She meets her mother, telling her about her new aquatic life. In most variants, she then abandons the merman and stays with her previous family. In some versions from all regions, however, she returns to the sea.

The filming is difficult in the confines of a boat and only a few missteps or choices were found distracting. The costume design was very effective as were the aquatic skills of the cast. It dwelt a bit on the confrontations and comic played out the joke a bit labouredly. The underwater photography was a stand out.

3* With wet sails and a fable to follow the eels of Lough Neagh do not need any help in escaping the thorns of this vessel. The boatman is a mere transient in the hands of the women and is put to his penance with other worlds anticipated. The sea is wider and more expansive and I yearned for a more gripping tale along the lines of the one mentioned which Ibsen put into a stage play.

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Must do is a Good Master

Director : Gerard McKenzie.  gerardmckenzie.com

Do not let the title distract you. It means, what has to be done, has to be done. It comes from a saying often spoken to the director as a child by his father. What ever it takes, it takes or words to that effect. It will not provide you with a necessary truth or pathway here straightforwardly as this is a tale of grim telling. In the mode of a road movie this is a beautifully tight little short film with power and very lucid cinematic tension and fear woven in. When the broad road of the Czech countryside is first seen – the film begins with a wide frame shot showing you the environment in the best tradition of a short film introduction, then to the road vertically as a hitch hiker asks the driver who is Irish for a lift. It turns out the man taking the lift is a contrarian who is irritable and he makes his poverty known in an oblique way which is not his best course of action. He also in a dialogue sharply constructed and edited let’s us warm to the driver who is going out of his way – not in the literal sense – on this remote wood lined snowy winter route between towns for a fellow traveler. The crafting of a story is around the Irishman’s unconnected existence to this place. The question immediately is the reverse logic of immigration. While Ireland is populated from Donegal to Wexford with East Europeans this Irishman has gone in the opposite direction and drives his comfortable car into the tundra of a Czech winterscape.

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Whatever his object is – and there is a hanging dreadful end to consider by the last frame we are left to behold the title. In closing also we notice he is a conversant comment Czech speaker which added seven further to the burden of ???

5* We have here a beautifully professionally created terror of a film which is in its absurdity surreal as well as brutally confronting. It is shot with a clean air depiction of different lives lived for reasons kept hidden but as paths cross the lives are taken intertwined and interlocking. Nothing further should be said until you see it. And the thing is seeing films – Must do – otherwise your none the wiser.

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Marky’s bad week.

Director: Daniel Holmwood, Writer: Daniel Holmwood. Cast : Caoilfhionn Dunne, Neal Harrison, Darren Smith. Daniel Condon associate producer, Daniel Holmwood  co-producer, Paul Rowland producer, Liz Wilson executive producer. Cinematography by Stephen C. Walsh, Film Editing by Daniel Holmwood.

The volume is turned up on the life of a canal side drug addict who in a bright sun filled day is settling into his habit to start the day on the wrong (right) vibe. The colour is turned up to ten and is almost off the dial with the costume department furnishing this hard worn disheveled man, Marky, Martin and Marty – his moniker is disputed – possibly given the worst yellow ribbed jumper someone has cast off for Christmas – several Christmases ago.  It’s summer in the city of Dublin and Brendan Behans bro’s words warn of the jail down the road which (the keys go jingle jangle ok!) madam freedom is a hard road. For Marky it’s not helped by having a female acquaintance whose on moral guidelines appear to have slipped down onto the towpath and both are at each other’s level.

Spaghetti western music ups the ante with the visions of rattling saloon doors and you talk in’ to m scenarios as noise’s off. No one except Oscar Wilde and Behan would have doubted Marky’s predicament. Behind was a user and Oscar was a star gazer. Marky has had a bad week and he is in need of his fix of the smoking kind. The resin is lost however and this sets of a bad trail of events and comic relief is harshly sent to us for our entertainment. On occasion there have been exploitative films on these lines but here there is something different. There is a Wldiean pathos and beauty about this one. It puts on the towpath a curve to life outside – our own – hopefully few are in this discomfort – and unpatronsngly gives a heft and a push of hope in desperation ion as an antidote to the fate of Marky. A recent aside from someone to me on the subject of drugs was an observance “They seem to be the happier for it” is well wide and no comfort either.

4* A four square film with candor and carefully handled despair. It was provocative and well constructed and evidence of the state of our society in unseen parts. The coloration and musical elements served to produce a sunny vista for despairing scenario which itself realized its objectives of keeping us locked into believing the story and having a connection with the characters it showed.

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A Tell Tail Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

Director: Patrick Ketch.

In an opening which was missed it is possible my perception of it was falsely formed. So by way of introduction I give you the story synopsis upon which it is based. Without giving away the narrative, this is a bleak and dark story of intense psychotic verve.

The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is generally assumed to be male. However, some critics have suggested a woman may be narrating; no pronouns are used to clarify one way or the other. The story starts in medias res. The story opens with a conversation already in progress between the narrator and another person who is not identified in any way. It has been speculated that the narrator is confessing to a prison warden, a judge, a reporter, a doctor or (anachronistically) a psychiatrist. In any case, the narrator explains himself in great detail. What follows is a study of terror but, more specifically, the memory of terror, as the narrator is relating events from the past. The first word of the story, “True!”, is an admission of his guilt, as well as an assurance of reliability.[6] This introduction also serves to gain the reader’s attention. Every word contributes to the purpose of moving the story forward, exemplifying Poe’s theories about the writing of short stories.

Here we have a man loosing his mind while caring for an elderly man whose health continues to deteriorate.

In medias res there is explanation which the visual prompts display. I enter the story in the middle in all respects. So something Homeric might emerge and it almost does. For literature to shed its narrative visually it is possible this story might have been the most difficult the film creator could have taken on. Tell-tale things are often natural paths followed. There is an unnatural path taken here in that the perpetrator of the central element of a past act in the course of being executed is taken in parenthesis. How could such a thing have happened is the quest of the story yet the film offers only small snippets on this observance. Why is question and only a backstory of some consequence would enable the reader to be satisfied of having grasped the scope. 2 to 3 hours sleep is taken by the old man whose illnesses are House confining and his attendant is fixed on his own measure of care. It ends in grave sufferance for all concerned and the outsider looking in – two Garda are silent at the story end – are even less informative.

4* A brave attempt at visually representing a complex and perplexing; in its own reasoning, of the story The Tell-Tell Heart by Edgar Alan Poe. It is a very static film and therefore depends on but sometimes misses with the inferences derived from the facial examinations. In its mid section it is something of a slow unconvincing ‘act’ of betrayal. It gives up without a fight in some respects. Decent effort which may reveal more.

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Casual

2017/Ireland (11 min 58 sec)
Co-Directors: Aoife Nic Ardghail and Kate Dolan

Notes.  Maura, an aspiring poet, has been dumped in a voice mail. It was only a casual thing, but she’s still stuck with those grim feelings that come with rejection: self loathing, anger, resentment and an insatiable hunger for chocolate mousse. And bacon. And wine. To get out of this funk, she decides to take control.
Her mate thinks she’s a dope, but Maura’s sure she’ll win the guy over.

The event of a text dumping annoys and perplexes Maura whose ideas of a relationship in its short life, may not be the thing worth dwelling on never mind putting the rejection into poetry.  On the other hand poetry can compensate for blemishes and failure is made the more resolved.  Another idea is food craving and food combining added to the mix.  For food combinations this is a recipe for pathos and held indifference.  Maura carries an urge but her friend Emily, whose relationship with the male is in a space not fully defined, on FaceTime is a friend with other matters on her mind.  One perhaps with her own longing for the unseen male.  Probably best if she didn’t listen or text or read poetry we can agree.  On the chances of this fine beautiful soul getting a relationship dependent on more than a few words of poetry are huge and unseen by her or her friend. It will come down to the wishing well and a meeting at the bandstand.

Toe to toe or the bench position of looking out to the same horizon without looking in each other’s eyes. The latter is selected as she sits to make the encounter bring out a new reward. Whether it is a song or dance or a love on a rocky path there is much to be discovered. We see the combined mind games and thoughts of love accumulate while we look to find an alternative she has overlooked. Opportunities exist but Maura is intent on her lost feelings or abandonment getting a result which she deserves. It is a wonder which way it falls. The playfulness of this dilemma is dealt with irony and aplomb by a series of filmic adventures delivering a pleasant comedy of mini rom com proportions. A girl never reveals except to a few close friends over a drink after a bust up maybe what the bloke was like as she lists the pros and cons. Good sex bad sex good cook bad cook and numerous details too ugly to mention and the fact few resolve her situation and what comes up in the next relationship is all that matters. This is an age of ‘perpetual’ innocence is betrayed by the fact those men questions which I would have loved some feminine insight to were absent.

3* Playful and entertaining it didn’t get the rub of the green – after all I’m an old cynic – it had its uplifting moments and ponderous ones but it though it lacked perhaps a bigger lesson on the male side of the equation. His character was one dimensional but it claimed no victims in its passing.

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Transit

Co – Directors : Kathleen Bridget Murphy & Louis Tornero-Moffitt

Early morning and the road again. This is a tired factory worker returning home from a night shift and he encounters an obstacle on the road which he only just avoids.  We see the uncommunicative but alive obstacle and the nearly trashed VW Golf, (brand placement everywhere these days) and he gives a bit of a ranting telling off to this semi inanimate obstacle. It is unmoved by his guide to staying in one piece and he takes the said obstacle off road and in his car to a destination yet to be found. The incident is stacked up with questions surrounding its principal parts inanimate or otherwise. The journey is a difficult one and it’s conclusion is precise and thoughtful and maybe just plausible in the scheme of things. Nothing really struck me as a dynamic of sufficient thrust and core bristling interest to warrant this good and well produced and carefully filmed piece. The script was on the ball and was full of believable reaction but in its completeness I thought it lacked a crucial identity and presence in forming a proof of purpose.

3* A creative and satisfying narrow road trip with a subtle difference was entertaining enough but failed in view of the work that surrounded it to stand out as a lone wolf signaling difference and originality. It was a chiller first, a mystery secondly, a conundrum thirdly and finally a concluding drama. It was a decent piece of work.

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Monkeys in the Garden

Director: Marie Clare Cushinan, Writer: Marie Clare Cushinan
Cast : Sophia Adli, Susie Kelly, Maeve Smyth.

In the initial set up you can tell were this is going. Elderly Mummy is suffering dementia and is at the last looking glass of her view of the world. Weirdness comes with the territory as does compassion and dilemma. Beautifully choreographed to show the different sides and perfectly acted to show the believable shape of things it took any watcher into the perhaps unknown bewilderment facing those around dementia and served a very good drama in its telling. It was set in a local semi detached suburban house with an extensive garden. Ordinarily it would be a very nice place to spend those last years and it was up to a point. It shaped as a narrative in which the woman was blessed with two caring daughters, Keira and Amy, whose own lives are very engaged and active. One is the principal carer and is strained in managing the day to day with her at odds with the reality she habits as seen by the mother. Unreal things as the title gives you the trajectory; it’s so helpful sometimes when a short film puts in place an absurdity to look out for and it perhaps enhanced our enjoyment if that’s not to facile a word, to focus on the participants and the navigations they make around a persons confusing, emotional instability all to do with changes in the brain and not the character. Some staid and tiny set pieces were a bit rigid but the whole was a very good piece and it had an excellent cast who dealt with their own balancing act of love and tolerance in showing real concern across the ultimate kinship and family needs. There was a real sympathy felt for all those in that place, that raw family alteration. The garden is another player with beautiful apple blossom interwoven to the trauma of the interior worlds.

4* This was a piece which gave more than its gentle aura initially promised. It covered in depth and with a caring insight the necessity for tolerance and patience when a family member becomes different from the person you grew up with. While change and no going back – although there are a range of indicators progress could be soon made in respect of illness such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple sclerosis, agents of disease in the nervous system which have so many debilitating and seemingly irreversible effects. The film stands out as a very good educational piece for people unaccustomed as I was to the Monkeys in the Garden which is a metaphor in itself for the estrangement nature places us in. We are several steps removed now from the Garden of Eden. I write this on the day it is reported four orangutan’s collaborated in escaping from a medical facility. Someone therefore may well have been witness to new occupants in their garden.

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Burglars

Director : Phillip Lewis, Writers : Richard Kearney and Phillip Lewis.

The key to this short film is not believing all you see as it turns out.  It starts of with a drive in – leaving the car keys in and bold as brass use of the long driveway – then a balaclaved daytime saunter through a luscious well kept garden to a period house and rear conservatory.  No garden today then! In the audacity of the film maker putting the thought these burglars know what their doing – they have their own key – it sets up questions you flick through – workmen copying them in clay or making a quick replica somehow etc etc and you are a dope on rope. As I say all things are not as they seem and is anyone in the house? Will they get their comeuppance swiftly and violently?

The expectations are out there and grabbing you in.  For the two boyos their audacity is to be completed dumbfounded.  The results are a mixture of comedy, tragedy, misplaced hope and a divisive turning point.  The sometimes misplaced simplicity and from a film angle occasional untidy piecemeal passages of script are unconvincing and required better treatment or a less obvious and less wordy might have driven it harder and more frenetically to the ultimate fallout.

3* I am being a bit ruthless here but I honestly was not taken or carried along with this particular piece of lunacy.  Even with its salutary lesson or moral message it lacked a dynamic to match the acting and locational advantages.  Good entertainment but not that memorable.

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Leap of faith

Leap of Faith is written by Dave Thorpe, directed by Mark Smyth and produced by Jonny Farrelly for PIO Media.

The new rejuvenated apartment saturated domestic scene in Dublin is a far cry from the unplanned City from the sixties onward. The prosperity brought about by creating a sovereign state as a tax haven resulted in boom and the despair of bust is recognised by having a plan in absentia for Forty years down the road has freshness and renewal concocted now jam and biscuits tomorrow. The impossible burden of debt accumulated, written off for the Banks is sitting obstinately on the edges of the working world. Superman is needed to enter the mix. So the story provides an escapist adventure in the splendor of a pair of youthful optimistic singletons those realities don’t visit. While on her top floor balcony one day across the communal architecturally clean courtyard she sees in an adjacent block a young man exercising and taking it very seriously to the limits and she is engrossed in his routine. It turns out all is not as it seems. An incident is witnessed which changes her outlook entirely and she is more than intrigued but compelled to find out what is going on. By following him and shadowing him some things become clearer. The spooky and surreal is visited while the obvious is not followed. The shape shifters and decievers are in the building and normality is put to the side as found nonsense everyone else behaves in accordance with.

3* From the outset I found the discomfort of this vision of the Dublin altering unappealing like Seoul without the soul was and taken to a place where reality does not fit in only allowed and the film became one lacking substance while simultaneously carrying all the models of the genre competently and with fluidity. Cinematically a very good piece of photography neatly rounded and sufficiently different to keep its edge however blunt or sharp it was from time to time, was vaguely entertaining. Some folk like this escapist genre for its examples of otherness. It never reached into the zone of Blade Runner nor harvested or borrowed from another trope but relied too much on intended ordinariness to go just above the surface of believable narrative. Simple Japanese films (Taiwan/South Korea are also fine sources of inspirational work) have a gauge of this sort off to a tee and are the main point of reference I would use. The filmmakers could be served by looking into the similarities they seek to harvest or convey as they have sufficient talent, skills and dexterity to robustly shape an idea to succeed somewhere along the line. Disappointed viewer here. No religion, no guru, no faith.

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Coranna

Director Steve Wood, Producers Steve Woods – Cel’ Division.

Chester racecourse at the time of the famine is the improbable destination for George Moore’s (beneficiary of land due to The Napoleonic battle of that name) racehorse Coranna. The Moore family were the owners of a large tract of Antrim land in perpetuity.  They made good use of it and it’s inhabitants.  The one element this story fancifully takes for a story is probably less interesting than the actual facts. The jockey on a Coranna was one Francis (Frank) whose far from indifferent persona as played on intbhis animation was torridly fierce and a huge success. Born into the family of The Duke of Richmond’s family in 1817 he became a formidable horseman with tenacity and bright eyed sharpness. None of this appear in this laconic tale. The young man thrown up in the saddle of a brilliant mare to win the Chester Oaks in 1846 was far from the depicted boy in a mans job. Conceit or lack or research may have made this famine tale more palatable but in it as with Irish rejection still of large holdings by current British landowners in this province it actually galls. The Chifney brothers were as the extracts from the Sporting Life Book on Frank Butler are testified to in the accompanying extracts the opponents and in the writing it too lacks proper regard of the circumstances. There is no way a moderate filly would finish second in the Oaks ((Epsom) as it was the oldest most valuable contest on the turf alongside its brother The Derby. It would have to have been a very bad year. The animation is repedatative and loose while conveying something of an attractive story if your wanting to underpin regardless of fact the lack of ponying up of the British state to feed the itinerant famine plagued Irish. It’s obscenity is tenuously touched upon.  The famine I saw seen as basically an aside without the horror conveyed other than the screenshot I’ve shown (my title). The story effects a bluster and cod English mocking approach which is simplified beyond fathoming.

2* I was interested initially in how the exposing of a families attempt at saving their skins by duping a young jockey and the fallout fro all concerned might take me. The shallow end is where it went despite the very good rendering painstakingly shoring up (an unwalled) Chester racecourse. I once sat on a horse the day before, training on the sand of Strangford and he went to race and win at the tight bowl of the town walled Chester Racecourse a valuable handicap the day after. To capture the real buzz and effort of the achievement was no in and out venture. Even the lovely Dee is not noted.

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Echoes

Directed by: John Carlin, Written by: Aaron Gray and Paul Skillen.  Cast : Katie Goldfinch, Antony Achaempong, Nigel O’Neill.

A disclaimer for film school aficionados is given, I dislike the genre of most Sci Fi outreach portals cinema of no particular sense or form. Those seeing Silent Running, I grew up in a generation spell bound by it (namesake local band were not bad either!) or 2001 A Space Odyssey will be curling up in perplexed bewildered angst given the paucity of the story here. It was presumably put together with strong endeavour. The filmic quality, cinematography, is very assured as are some of the leaner dialogue passages but it is very static predicable and unsharpened in lots of elements. Set mainly and primarily in a cage of a dystopian altered enigmatic film genre inspired container on a transit loco (foley is brutal reminder) and two male – security as a name check – so they still don’t d The bogey room of vessels with in transit bodies is appallingly trite. There are problems in finding a new angle which are not addressed here. A story without robust and conspicuous conflict and endangerment is not one the confused Echoes appears to me in creative juices. What Echoes are we looking at, what drama is unfolding, what is the mission really in aid of. The time signatures put in text, in the frame, sometimes almost missed because of their duration and the changing background serve only to indicate the time it will take to come to some sort of conclusion.

3* it is a very attractively filmed and polished VFX rendered film all the way through and actress, Katie Goldfinch as Gouldine to hold the premise together is the saviour of the film and its uninteresting fodder commonplace fodder.  Amidst the dry ice and ball of confusion which probably fell out of the doughnut of a story. Somewhere related to Planet of the Doughnuts? was the injection of the younger couple as the tedious grew with apathic Monet after moment. Some have called this the best Sci-Fi short film of 2018.The. It lacks any intensity or shock value and originality rests with its integral internalised viewpoint. A big disappointment and along the lines of the reviewed Leap of faith above, (horror) I would suggest a similar rethinking tales place. Simple Japanese films (Taiwan/South Korea are also fine sources of inspirational work) have a gauge of this sort off to a tee and are the main point of reference I would use. The filmmakers could be served by looking into the similarities they seek to harvest or convey as they have sufficient talent, skills and dexterity to robustly shape an idea to succeed somewhere along the line. Disappointed viewer here. No religion, no guru, no faith.

See Katie Goldfinch in Animus for a better shot of a film.

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The Wedding Speech

Turning a tragic story into something of a comedy is a false move to begin with. This film will be in the provinces record of loss of life in circumstances other than the troubles is stretching good taste. Maybe it has been one way the joint writers – a short story version s credited to Isabelle Broom – has of dealing with very personal loss and tragedy it certainly is. The premise aside I was not greatly enamoured either with the stain and strained efforts excellently made all the more obvious by the grimacing ‘principal boy’ virtually continually coiled like a small Chris Eccleston, in fending off the moment he would have to greet instead of rehearse The Wedding Speech which was to be non-standard.

Perfectly sound in its filming and evenness of dialogue and following the ludicrous concept it managed to weave through on dialogue and characterization something meaningful.

3* A relatively safe short but made difficult because of the nearness particularly in this community of the central subject and is immediacy or reveal which may horror some in less strong positions to encounter this core life consequence. I was left wishing I had locked out of it rather that take it through such was it’s I’ll regard at least in my own mind remarkably not to be made mockery or comedy of.

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Unforgotten

Cast : Mel Tuck, Director: Alexander Wilson Flynn
Writer: Alexander Wilson Flynn, Cast: Mel Tuck, Alex Kilner, Justin Turnbull, Joyce and Jaqueline Robbins.

The far off Canadian province of British Columbia is where this is set.  It was formerly once occupied by Indians whose land down to Washington was wrested from them by force of arms destroy for communities once having several dialects, languages, and freedoms which heck, Trudeau and Trump don’t actually relate to. This is a revenge film. At the old folks home setting is in black comedy gainful nuancing, having a couple of grey haired young old lady twins at peace and mirrors of the age on inactive promise, the scene is built for a story with added value throughout.  Its balance of intrigue and intention is nevertheless built without tension. However it sets the scene for some bizarre outcome it seems.  The direction it will take is held in uncertainty.  There is a picture of tranquility with an old man watching the summer pass him by and as he surveys the pleasant outlook across a table next the main window looking into the car park we are given several red herrings.  No food jokes here.  The roominess and comfort is beyond question and the staff pleasant and unhurriedly carrying out this pace of daily routine.  A car pulls up and a young family disembarks. There is fateful twist to this peaceful environment.  A new male patient arrives and is shown to his new abode which is a delight and airy. He looks a bit like the Hundred Year Old Man and I wonder if he’s to get up immediately his belongings are packed away and escape through this new window on life. I could tell you more but that’s not the point. What happens is entirely plausible and very dark indeed with a universal theme and as I say it is a revenge black dark drama of no quivering or disjointed misplaced weight.

4* This film carries its subject very well and extremely professionally.  Engaging from the outset it carries on keeping you thinking and in its conclusion shocks beyond any measure of expectation at least as I found it to appear and reveal its darkness. Excellent dramatic short film and very cleverly observed in the gentle persuasive making.

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The Music Room

Director: Mick Gordon, Writer: Eugene O’Hare, Cast:: Isaac Heslip, Patrick O’Kane, Aislín McGuckin, Terry Keely as older Ben. The Ulster Orchestra. Production Kevin Jackson & Chris Parr, Cinematography by Ryan Kernaghan, Film Editing by Brian Philip Davis, Production Design by John Leslie, Costume Design by Diana Ennis, Makeup Department Sarah Blair assistant makeup artist. Duration: 14mins

Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Johan Pachabel perhaps even Sergey Prokofiev, and Dmitriy Shostakovich all would be grist to the baton of the 10 year old Ben, who puts up with a lonely home life having an irritable father who is not pleased with his sons choice of hobby or obsession which is taken to a level he himself was not expecting. After a good spell in the TV drama My mother and other Strangers, Mr Heslip is in command of his acting. With the very accomplished Theatre Director  and now by Mike Gordon this is the outstanding work seen at this festival in my view.

From a home which is full of modern advantages, his life within it is claustrophobic and to this he puts a solution into practice in the expanse of the music room he makes his attic retreat. The school he attends has a music teacher whose guidance and soft persuasion allows his passion to grow and evolve. The sublime understated love and well placed tutelage of Stella McCusker the very leafy surrounds of his school, puts this combination totally into the great onward tracking of the actual flashback and dreamlike smooth passage of story telling at its best. The comfort is also in the music which is performed with – a cinema elevates the receiving – of an outstanding stirring set of combined pieces to many to relay here. A little divertissement with a fellow pupil raised a laugh of musical criticism. You will be blown away I hope by the audacious ‘orchestration’ of the piece and the play of the baton skilled Mr Ben in action and his command of the music source which I will say little more of given the splendid and fantastic delivery it brings to the viewer, listener. Thoroughly rounded and extremely well filmed and edited giving a smoothness which belies its undercut complexity to deliver a many layered opus.

5* A very well rewarding piece in the viewing and full of brilliant playing and with twists and core intense delivery for such a short film. A perfect little masterpiece for all involved and will be seen in the near future on wider screenings and wider audiences.

Simon Rattle is old news Ben is the new kid on the block. Thoroughly enjoyable. Finis coronat opus.

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Safe Haven

Safe Haven’ features actors Bronagh Taggert (The Fall), Brenda McNeill, Luke Walford, and Sid Ralph. Produced by Margaret McGoldrick and Chris Patterson, and written by Spence Wright

This turns out to be a well conceived short horror pice wth fright and a child’s peril adding to the mix when he is left alone. His mother is called away from their Belfast flat on receiving a phone call from a person she is a carer to and despite it being her day off and she has to attend to their things she puts herself out to respond and therein lies the danger for young Zoran left behind. A volcanic ash cloud has enveloped the whole province and Belfast is under an umbrella of darkening skies. The television is the initial bringer of bad news on the Ash cloud and the views of twenty four hour news delivery on a lessening scale the impact. All is not as it would normally seem with much more to this than the grounding of airplanes and reduction in utility delivery, communications and movement.

 

 

The mother is played by Bronagh Taggart whose Guard is reviewed earlier.  She is a very talented actor this time slipping into the role of an East European single parent with pathos depth and energy in which she delivers the arch of the dilemma and the peril element as an underestimation. There is a clear mother’s affection.  Another character who enters is an elderly neighbour whose take on his name, Zoran, for Belfast woman is an aside and showing detail is paid to fill every local treatment in this well written story. It plays like any other European country would be proud to give exposure to. It is up with any comparable fear and horror of its kind in the field heavily populated by poor fudge. In the telling the young boy becomes the focus and his acting is well caught and unhesitatingly gripping for such a young lad. There is an ectoplasmic overtone which is not overworked and the close up attention is gripping when the story bites.

4* An excellent drama which is full of tension and altering perceptions as it approaches its conclusions. Bronagh Taggart excels in giving it a heft and gravitas which in lesser hands would have lessened the high resolution impact of this doom laden story. To my mind too much is told in the explanation of the film in the programme so avoid the notes they gave!

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The Date

Sinead and Brian, played by Charlene McKenna and Rory Fleck-Byrne. Director : Selina Cartmell,  produced by Claore Gormley for Parallel Films. Writer : Liz Quinn with a layering of Owen Roe, Camille O’Sullivan and Donnacha Crowley. Plus the band “Darktown”.

In a misty evening with the sun having gone down on Bray the Dublin Bay lights fringe the town as a young woman enters the neon fashioned Ballroom of romance known as The Bray Head in a normal life. Life here is in suspension with her entering a spot singer holding his vintage microphone doing an awesome job of the blues set which will permeate and wet the appetite for loves fling. The bar is empty and a lonesome lady sits like a fixed mannequin (Camille O’Sullivan) while a few bar flys talk next the slot machines at the end of the bar.

‘If I can’t smoke it, I don’t want to know’.  What film of its kind doesn’t have a lasting line.  A bad one.  The young girl sidles up to the bar and is given a cocktail an awaits her date. For the date not to be first is a step back and the film is paced in this negative turning back of time. Rather than the alternative route of the evening racing forward into the unknown, deliberately there is time taken here to ponder. The encounter is friendly and a match is made in a place on the edge of need. Both are wanting this to be the return or frontier of golden promises. What is told by this simple tale is fairly bluesy in its fragile tenuous existence.  The players both in the band and on the floor of romance are very clearly on their game. Only slight awkward moments arise occasionally when they seem to momentarily run out of ideas where to take it.

4* A very good feel of a film with great music (Darktown) and steady as she goes easy acting makes this a very decent short with no great expectations with the foi pace indicating you are not going to be in for a rollercoaster.  Sit back and enjoy.  The word I used is very appropriate it comes to mind again. The piece is a frontier imagining of loves promise ahead taken at an easy pace.

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Kubrick by Candlelight

Shot in Tullamore, County Offaly by David O’Reilly, Cast, Darragh O’Toole (Red Rock, South), Amy Hughes (Dad’s Army, Vikings) and Phelim Drew (My Left Foot, Angela’s Ashes) crew DOP Stil Williams (Convenience, Gone Too Far) and producer Vinnie Jassal (Fast & Furious Six, Kingsman). Brian Cox as The Narrator.

A short film on a much loved historical excursion by Stanley Kubrick. Like Stone in your Pockets did the business of theatrical musing around a film being made this is a romantic costume drama Barry Lyndon (rereleased last year) mixed into the Seventies and ‘73 in Ireland to be precise.  A posh portrayal of a young Kubrick is a bit Brass Eye in its presence.  Also the young extras are sent into a world of absurdity even for seventies rhetoric.  Given that the scene set is once again a very good delivery of the genus loci of the set at this time.  In an Ireland at the edge of extinguishing itself the last thing you want to see are British redcoats in your border town of anywhere else with garrisons all over Ireland put to the back of British legacy this serves as a stark reminder of the undercurrents still in 2018 not lost on us. A third director is blonde, something about Mary, out of your league and beautiful, just as the stereo type black haired and ravishingly attractive Irish girl would be the counterpart the decorative elements and irony is laid on thickly and very comically though not in the unmatchable Graham Linehan irony of Father Ted or Black Books and IT. The crowd pleasing of making a film is even for Barry Lyndon with Kubrick perhaps spotting the irony of the historical context in the period he is returning to the soil soiled there is a fabulous multi-layering of the mindfulness played in rich tonal and an embracing realism of contrasts in the story. It has comic candle capers and beyond the pale politics in Offaly pleasurably recalled.

 

 

4* A very rewarding and thought provoking piece if only for the preposterous fixed repetitiveness of our own history being juxtaposed and shown in a very flavoursome visual treatment. It only ran for a short time but it could promise expansion into area# which we would have similar anxieties towards. I liked it the more I thought about it afterwards which in itself tells you something assured was working in the telling of it as it unfolded.

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Soil Engineers

Directed and Written by Dominic Curran

Of the worlds fauna Darwin we are told favour the most productive and elemental to be the worm. This is the worm turning the soil of purgative dynamism recycling the organic of life we depend on. In a time when there is a massive depletion in insect life putting our kingdom at risk the keys to the locker room who transform the earth are busy as this film endeavors to trace. It unlocks only tentatively the story and there is one in there. In the Lough fisherman’s eyes these worms are only bait to allow him to catch fish. Every time he returns for more to the same sort of location he is drawn into thinking, as we are about the life of the worm.  It is something of a ponderous tale and the word (not worm) in the notes preceding the film showing which is used is Sisyphean – the meaning of which – a son of Aeolus and ruler of Corinth, noted for his trickery: he was punished in Tartarus by being compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope, the stone always escaping him near the top and rolling down again. Has its own methodology in comparison to the fisherman’s tale.

3*  While it was an interesting film taking a viewpoint and extrapolating a curveball on it I thought it was visually static and only occasionally of sufficient vitality to continue going with the story. It was of course original and it had its moments without doubt.

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Recruited

The film was produced by Elaine Forde from The Playhouse, directed by Declan Keeney from Island Hill Productions, filmed by Chis Byrne from Pillarpix Media, and features a whole host of local acting talent.
The film was funded by the Department of Justice through the Policing and Community Safety Partnership Assets Recovery Community Scheme, BBC Children In Need, The Department of Foreign Affairs and a private donation through The Ireland Funds. The Playhouse is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Derry City & Strabane District Council and the Community Relations Council.

Sometimes films are carefully constructed to draw out a proskomide prophetic preachy script to follow.  The writing of Colin Bateman here takes a set of standards conditioned to within not an inch of their lives, with young paramilitaries and immediate family in stereotypes suffered for ages by the Northern Ireland public that we are sick to death of all them.  Here they are though one dimensioned and so institutionalised are the parameters, no references to Dublin, the East European criminality or the middle class small pond wheeler dealing linked with various mafia types in their twisted property dealings, embracing Portuguese and Spanish money floats. No instead of the who, why, what and where of a good streak of journalistic  drama we get the street criminal hiding behind a car with his mate, his tearful mum, his journey across town, the Bolshevik drama queen, if only doorstepped and ecclesiastical on rendition about you wasters think you run the place.

Friars Bush graveyard gets a visit from the Derry crew for famine input? and we get a drama of flashback and staunchly anally receptive security messengers foresaking film originality for something like a TV pre Christmas Don’t drink and Drive warning. Very tedious and fun the ball.

2* They threw the works at this one.  So much for Justice a quantity of worthy flag wavers stuck up their logo of support in credits flowing out afterwards. Technically proficient, sharply edited and with ongoing action and excellent characterisations by the principal players it was intact from beginning to end. The only problem was the condescending viewpoint it placed the apparent protagonists and audience it imagined would wish to be receptive of it goes into the millions of pound of funds sent to cure this ill.

Peace processes aside and outside looking in.  Absolutely dreadful but well acted. Friars Bush graveyard awakened too.

Within a few yards of the funeral was a wall where in 1847 or thereabouts, (Black ‘47 is the Season opener) 2,000 people whose names where not recorded were cremated alongside the burials of the – recorded in a tablet next to the entrance lodge – and never once recognised. My how times have changed. It even had a **** drone aerial view introduced for extra flavour!

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The Hidden People

Director Ronan Corrigan, Writer Callum Dziedzic

In the calibration of photographic history comes the Cootingley Fairies. Someone has happened upon this Yorkshire phenomenon in setting it to a contemporary setting which seeks to extrapolate a continuance of familial resonance. By taking as a central character a boy whose own happening upon this phenomenon brings out some pubescent lodgings and predicaments. While he is scolded by others familiar with this ‘nonsense’ this boy has wider thoughts of its living form. Out of the nest he is in a precocial state and is reliant only on his own senses.

3*  The tensions between brothers is played out effectively around the story it centres on. While it is visually entertaining and maintains its interest I found it lacking in that special hard to find electricity a subject such as this might light upon. A decent but unmoving piece.

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The Gift

‘The Gift’ comes with the simple tagline “A gift can be a blessing…or a CURSE!”. Writer/director Murat Akser is a filmmaker based in Belfast but born in Istanbul, Turkey.  Murat is currently developing his first feature film and teaching film production at Ulster University..

Much misunderstanding exists around ritual and religion.  Myths and superstition is often a particular disturbance deflecting from spiritual gain or guidance. The reward for adherancece is often extremely negative and even life threatening. So the story here venture to flake us into a foreign fantasy. The early appearance of the retiree ‘Your Highness’ Roma Tomelty is a gift to begin with. She is bedecked in barbles, scarf and rings when she evokes and conjures up a spell for a wedding couple and sets their future life on a steady force which must for its sanction appear to be compliant with the inherent culture. The inherent culture includes symbolic knives and imagery to be taken none too literally.

Telling this story is only the half of it. Enter the NI security forces as a SWAT team and then entered an idiotic in accurate cop interview pressing a claim to a verve it fails to present. Mr Stuart Graham of recent things such as Line of Duty is brow beaten into regurgitating hateful demeaning words and puts into plat a NI trope of Racial hatred.  Well done there then.  Only the absurdity and misreads, perhaps my doing also, were of any genuine value to me.  I was out of sorts with the lack of core substance and even believable characters ntent to sway me. Not forthcoming.  If a political message were invested in this it is dealt with in a narrow and purple way.  Well documented and common images of swat operations are universal and here it is a case of not moving on.  The treatment is too overplayed and the focus of the intention of placing traditional misunderstanding at the heart of this is lost or diminished.

3* Great to see the lovely Roma once more in a fashionably exotic if over the top role. She delivered it in a lovely, very great dramatic soft timbre. The remaining content was unable to keep up.

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Good Girls

Good Girls, written and directed by Niamh McKeown and produced by Jack Cowhig, is about Pinkman’s finest student and head girl, Bonnie, who takes us on a tour of her school as she tries to round up the school captains in time for the school photo.

Made by students at Edinburgh Napier University as their final year project, the film has been praised for its visual style, cinematography, set design and direction, with the judges commenting that it was like “St Trinian’s meets Wes Anderson”. The spiel not my words! Or view!  The Kubrick film was superior in many respects but still failed to be my no. 1!

St Trinians and modern finishing school for posh girls is an area where knickers, bare thigh flesh and unabashed girl attitudes are often fashioned into a hedonistic trial of the state of the nation. From the primordial to the eloquence of educated civility is a step not to be taken at the gallop. Henrittas and Georgina’s are inescaple and top of the pile is a Scots head girl with attitude, Bonnie. She is on the case of further publicity to enable the floundering school to survive. A Green Wing type is cast, thrown to the dogs as headmistress and in order to fulfill this the wonderful school architecture becomes a backdrop for rounding up the needed party for a group photo. From tennis course to gym to libraries to corridors to courtyards they are sought. The voyerism of St T’s is in the ante as is the fruity language and interplay of frustration Association in a closed community of learning. Very Theresa May I thought.

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3* This film packs a good wallop but covers with nods very often to similar comedy set in the boarding schools of England something staid and worn. Albeit never attempting to become the Girls School version of Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange it just came and went. The woman from the former constituency of Merton has no connection to the film. I would not tarnish it with her madness. Bombs – where do we keep them girls? Oh in the Chemistry lab. Good oh.! Put her in a strait jacket until she wise’s up please.

E463EC67-91DC-4168-91BA-EF29F0D04C26Calling Home

Director and writer Megan K. Fox Cast. Natalia Kostrzewa and Aaron Taylor.

In the setting of contemporary London this is a story of a young Polish girl hoping to pursue a design course to become a fashion designer. There is a vibrancy to begin with which is quickly arrested by the notion she may not have chosen the best boyfriend who is controlling jealous and a prat. They drink and carouse with the boyfriend seeming to want to impress his friends rather than commit to a loving relationship. Dorothy is played by Natalia Kostrzewa and Aaron Taylor unfortunate to be cast as the abusive boyfriend.

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Dorota moves to London with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but her path is altered by an abusive relationship. Despairingly this becomes a story which is indicative of the plight of a woman whose fortune alters drastically and she is left in a very dangerous situation without a home or money. One third of homeless women are victims of domestic abuse. The film brilliantly portrays how homelessness, sadly, could be a possibility for anyone as Megan Fox points out. She builds the tension and predicament compellingly with Natalia Kostrzewa creating the part brilliantly and believably she imparts the terror of this dreadful situation. It als has been compared with the American film of last year The Florida Project as it shows the vulnerability of homelessness and the various ways it materialises.

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‘Calling Home’ is an impactful short film about domestic violence and female homelessness. The film was made with the support of leading homeless organisations including Inside Housing, Shelter and Women’s Aid. With its inspiration in part coming from documenting homelessness and it coming 50 years after Cathy Come Home by Ken Loach this film achieved the award to commemorate that anniversary last year in the Reel Homes Competition organised by Inside Housing a Homeless organisation.

It can be supported on this link where it can be viewed also.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/calling-home-festival-fees-film#/

By supporting the film you will aid its entry to further Film Festivals and also extend its outreach. Soha Housing also support it.

4*  Film can show our society as we may have not experienced it and this film shows how homelessness is pervasive and the lack of housing or proper social mechanisms to deal with sudden problems is shown to be very harrowing.  It is more than that of course but the film highlights and does it in a very dramatic way just one pathway to extreme hardship.  It is well shot and there is an outstanding performance from Natalia Kostrzewa.

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The Overcoat

Director Patrick Myles. Cast Jason Watkins, Tim Key, Vicki Pepperdine, Alex Macqueen and Dominic Coleman.

I loved this story when I first read it years ago and have sen a few stage versions, one of a very high standard at the Hammersmith Theatre late ‘80’s. This is a variable feast of filmic playful black comedy which is slightly less than the sum of the story despite the huge efforts of this costly high end production. The sense one is meant to feel is Kafkaesque or with the satirical heft of a Terry Gilliam film. Not exactly 12 Monkeys or Messing with Don Quixote but this one is tilting at windmills with the ever daft Jason Watkins. This is a fairytale telling and adaption which follows a well worn path. There is a 1926 version of over 1hr and several shorts and an animated version short last year. The story is revamped not a Orwellian/Dickensian working office and the withdrawn and isolated man, (Jason Watkins) of the story is consumed by his lack of esteem and is forced into acquiring a new overcoat to show the world his worth. He is then toiled with acquiring the funds to buy the best he can possibly afford and this is beset with many threads of woven dramatic pathos and philosophical nuance as well as salutary lessons which the original story in effect delivers in spades. Ownership is not without its trials. The Nell Gwynn Tavern gets a look in along with Zadok the Priest.

4* This is a very decent effort but given the revamped version I would have hoped for more of the originals darkness and gravitas. It comes across a little to lightly unfortunately given the dynamism of the exuberant casting acting overlayering the effect rather than pulling back. Cillian Murphy does the voice over to the animated version and it is good fun comparing the others as this is a favourite story and fable not to be missed or mislaid.

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Young blood

Director: Rian Lennon. Cast: Helena Bereen, Niall Cusack, Aimee McGoldrick

Ever bold and horrific in finding new ways to disturb us the Northern Ireland director Rian Lennon comes up with a dark and gruesome tale of Lazarus type rejuvenation and older folk trying desperately to hold on to any life they still have. Earlier short work include student Devour winning film The Dick of similar small room but widely removed ilk. By giving them the tools of Methuselah an elderly couple, in becoming the authors of their revival, the writer provides, creates a scenario involving a small living room, a couple whose life is etched and close up and crazed with a captive believed to be the answer to their prayers. There is a medical basis to their ideas and like Kith Richards they surround complete blood transfusion employed in Privacy to inject some much needed vigour. Consuming the vial of renewal can come in many forms and these two veterans of the Northern Ireland acting scene give it all too a horrific edge and don’t disappoint in their madness.

3* A grim and overthe top renewal of a story of impeccable implausibility which is the trope of certain filmmakers. The more dubious and contrived the better. Unfortunately I give these a miss and with the dimwork confined to shock and awe with facial expression s very important in the telling of a conspicuously predicated Line to follow it takes the breath away, not. It leaks out after a while to pale desperation in conclusion. One or two end up dead bad.

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A Break in the Clouds

Director: Tristan Heanue, Writer: Tristan Heanue

Cast: Gemma-Leah Devereux as Sarah, Marie Ruane as Natalie, Tristan Heanue as Jack, Linda Bhreathnac as Ally.

In the beginning there was a child. It was found in Connemara. We will call the child First born.

This is a thought provoking film of depth and formidable weight in a contemporary telling of the way families have in most locations; there are happily some exceptions I’m sure, become fractured. The modern pressures of a simple homelife are a struggle and loneliness along with post natal depression are foremost in this story. Compellingly insular despite the vast beautiful scenery. It cannot be called a backdrop as the sky is huge and land vast on the Atlantic seaboard. The place is stunning and the hopes of many generations have yet to come to terms with the society that they inhabit. Even down through many previous generations the demands are immense. No less so here though contemporarily communications are better there is still distance between family units who might previously been relied upon to assist child rearing but are now apart. This is the dilemma and the heart of the story to my mind. It is accompanied by the problems of identifying quickly and adequately responding to the problem arising. Tristan Heanue who I spoke to after the screening was not giving much away in responding to my take on it which was to that immediate effect. I might have caught him off guard as this is s very profound piece.

An interview I’ve subsequently read tells the origin of it partially.

Tristan Heanue Plays the father and is not afraid to have him show his inability to cope or communicate his feelings. He covers the ground in very perceptible darkness and vulnerability himself with much

It came from a few different places. A few friends of mine had babies in quick succession and I saw first hand the different types of strain that it had on them. It just stuck with me and I wanted to tell a story that showed what the pressures were like for both sides during this time. I guess it was me also putting myself in their position and wondering how I would cope with it. The same http://gearr.scannain.com interview told of the significance of that location. Under the Direction of Paddy Slattery it took on new meaning.

It was surprisingly very enjoyable. Mainly because I was blessed with an absolutely amazing cast & crew who worked so hard and made it all happen. I also had one of the best cinematographers in the country shooting it, Narayan Van Maele. He was a dream to work with. We spent a day down in Connemara planning all our shots and also left things loose enough that we could change stuff up on the day if we felt it needed something different. When you surround yourself with very talented people it really does make your job a lot easier.

Also in conversation his film Today could not be overlooked. Made by them in 2015 it was in the same setting of Derryinver/Letterfrack/Tullycross region of Co. Galway and featured John Connors and Lalor Roddy. It is a film I won’t forget.

5* It is an inspiring film given it is made with the thrust and knowhow of being in touch with a particular take on humanity in its writing and ease of communication through the direct medium of film. It is of a young couple at a point of crisis and thereby figuring out and responding to the messages the film opens up, partakes of and delivers in quantities seldom found in film brief or otherwise. I hope it will reach a lot of people and provide some comfort and degree of information for parents old and new in such an important time of their lives.

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Bless me Father

Director and writer Paul Martin Horan, Cast: Francis Magee, Phelim Drew, Glynis Casson.

At the end of the day the truth will out or will it? As time moves on a man is preparing for his leaving the earth’s parish and decides he needs to fess up to his past misdeeds. Some of them might do with placing low down the scale of levity but others may cause great problems in their revealing. It is confession time and box no. 1 in the local House of God is calling. As for the third character she is perhaps the face of rectitude.

For the Priest the confession he is about to hear is to affect him deeply. He is faced with a dilemma. There is no violent crime confessed nevertheless it is a life changing thing he will hear. Where does the duty lie with the person hearing the confession and is he to give absolution to Michael who is now lifted of this burden which he has carried for years.

It goes to the heart of life in a small rural Irish community and its strength lies in the deliverance it brings to the people who are lost and nor solely under the protection of their maker. They have their own to contend with without the Catholic hierarchy deciding what’s right or wrong for them.

4* A much tighter film you could hardly construct. Set in the Church of the confession box it focuses in on the Donfeesion box itself with a close camera angle fixed on both sides playing out this dialogue between parishioner and Priest. It is a delight to watch and is essential Irish while universally full of primary primordial life aspects unfolding as the years go on.

A lot of these films are available online to view and I hope you get to see a few and support the filmmakers whose time and effort is on the screen as created.

I disagreed with the Grand Jury!

For a film to be totally on score and brilliantly entertaining there is no doubt and it got the no.1 vote was The Music Room.

If I can nominate in a parallel position against the rules of having another to be up there it is as follows.

My favourite film of them all was Guard which was a local copiewpoint with many aspects and a valued insightful piece of provocative film making

Leaving the damage central to the arch the unspoken and unknown event was itself disturbing along with the craft of Bronagh Taggart whose film story this was to put across.

A Break in the Clouds and Callng Home were both excellent broad scoping films which are exceptional and well worth seeing.

John Graham

26 April 2018

Belfast

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The Final Year : A Film Review

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The Final Year

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

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The Final President

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

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

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

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Term of Office

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

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Adjust the War

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

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

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Global Diplomacy

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

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

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

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Dressing wounds

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

Imperialist allies

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

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

Hell is in the clouds and earth.

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

Conclusion ###3

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

John Graham

18 January 2018

Belfast

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

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Sanctuary : A Film Review

Sanctuary

Director. Len Collin, Writer. Christian O’Reilly, Production. Edwina Forkin, Director of Photography. Russell Gleeson, Editor. Julian Ulrichs, Design. Sonja Mohlich, Eleanor Wood, Music. Joseph Conlan, Cast. Kieran Coppinger, Charlene Kelly, Robert Doherty, Michael Hayes, Emer Macken, Paul Connolly, Frank Butcher, Patrick Becker, Jennifer Cox, Valerie Egan.

Cert 15. Duration 1hr 27mins.

Loves logic and laughs logistics

Screenwriter Christian O’Reilly with a previous disability themed feature Inside I’m Dancing (2004)) has adapted Sanctuary from his play of the same name produced by Blue Teapot Theatre Company between 2012 and 2014.

Director Len Collin and his team have reinstalled the same cast from the original stage production. Mainly Larry (Kieran Coppinger) and Sophie (Charlene Kelly) and Tom (Robert Doherty) their care worker, whose step outside the usual routine creates a havoc and brilliant set piece for antics of Rom-Com notions and with pathos and a heartfelt journey through common emotions and the premise of arranging for Sophie and Larry to have some time alone brings about for the group around them as well a bold adventure in the ancient Galway citadel. A day out at the Cinema is the arch and a day passes with happenings breaking down many barriers and showing many of societies silent and muddled thinking. There is a dark central theme of abuse and it is not necessarily lodged in the past and remains undealt with properly or with dignity. The sexual power is wrested away from individuals who are loving and unrecognised equals and in the course of dealing with their sexual driver without guidance help or educational means to construct each of their own narratives.

Modern Love and Loving

Now as 2017 comes to a close this new Irish Film brings a very high intensity tale of human frailty and thoughtful, thought provoking film now to be screened on general release. Sanctuary is a word only partially conveying the entry and subject of the story. It sets about totally opening human emotional constructs in its portrayal of the love sought and enveloped in every part of our existence. As an Irish black comedy/drama/thriller/ …. its a sum of many parts …. it may be, will be one of the best things your likely to see over the Christmas period and it has the solidity of being a universally themed and therefore poignant drama significantly pointing up the world of disabilities visited on people in ill health. With a cast of people with learning disabilities – mostly Down’s syndrome which Tom (Robert Doherty) the person whose job it is to look after the groups activities tactful describes his group to a Gard (PSNI equivalent but unarmed mostly!) itself a script crafted nuance which this film has in spades.

Nuances are aplenty and there is a central theme of a Rom-Com for the cast and audience to feast on. Set in the Galway of last Christmas, filmed also out of sequence during this year presumably in the interior stories, it is a journey into the unknown and is teased out joyfully and at times laugh out loudly – lol – as the plot thickens and never overdoses its prescripted meds pathos.

Complex emotional theatre

Hard as it is to imagine for myself the dilemmas uniquely faced by disabilities other that tertiary glimpses, I see the story being given artistic licence and the work is scripted by someone whose knowledge has constructed a story and avoided complexities of sexual education and also angst, anxiety, panic attacks which must occur under the circumstances which are to everyone more than a ‘given’ – emotional worlds do not come with an instruction manual – so a degree of leniency in absorbing the arch of the story is carefully written in without loosing the very real juxtaposition of societies and the caring communities different rules and constraints. In taking on the task of delivering a coherent and fully entertaining instruct full insightful – a word which is bound to turn up on its reflection – there is a commitment to drama and theatre which is delivering in the ancient dramatic techniques of fictionalised performance around since no theatre and dance verbal communications etc. I thought of it as similar to Theatre of Witness work in Derry Playhouse as drama used as a tool of understanding in the circle and womb of commune with the universes foundations.

Mary O’Malley of the Lyric Theatre fame saw this vehicle as other numerous Irish dramatists have and still encounter to pu5 before us the intractable. La La No on Yeats excursion into No theatre and with Basil Blackshaw’s (Igor Stravinsky and Picasso and Rivera invoked) set design – a revival is overdue!!! Cinema is used here within the film. I jotted down these three, Punky – possibly made in connection with this film, ScrewBack, Maiden of the Sea. These are the fodder of the Eye Cinema Multiplex the group visit as a daytime Christmas outing which is viewed in individuals own tastes carefully comically observed and counterpoint to the off screen romantic and otherwise interactions which come rich and varied.

Tom the believer.

Key worker and helper par excellence Tom (Robert Doherty) takes his caring a bit far and therein lies the drama – and story.  The effect is a brilliantly delivered cinematic excursion of multiple advantages and rewarding for the watching of, as well I can see for the cast whose everyday life is a daily battle with the present, with the past a place they tend not to dwell on. Therein is another reality, the fact that the demands of the everyday are unlike this for most of us and as such careful attention needs to be taken in respect of the physical world, bodies get programmed to and in routine, depending in the individual expectations. This equates and permeates as different tasks not to be taken as ‘given’ for those with very significant health problems.   Lots of the cast have challenges which are dealt with with dignity and solace derived from the care and fellowship – not always present in the past or present – received by a society trining to adjust and often failing to care.

Title leanings and meanings

Seeking the sanctuary of companionship and a partner is profoundly, instinctively programmed as a right of birth while it is found wanting for many including and often beyond the scope of infirmity visited on the body disabled by unknown (why all humans are factored in with flaws) these biological demons chemically damage our constructs bewilderingly. From early life the dna of ourselves is implanted and does strange things which the rest of life is often fully occupied with redressing.

1 immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.

2 any place of refuge; asylum.

3 a tract of land where birds and wildlife, especially those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.

Plot pivot

as described above Tom is a master of mayhem and is not the smartest cog in the machine of managing complex situations. His own Rom-Com adventure is a mirror of the main pivot as he through his ‘girlfriend’ – it’s a treading on loves first tender footsteps ladder for him – arranges a Hotel interlude for Larry and Sophie. Sophie is managing tempts and severe epilepsy and the trip to the Cinema is craftily interrupted which enables the plans to detour to a hotel to come about. While three depart the Cinema another set of side stories is put in motion. Some delightful sub-plots or situational devices bring out the companion actors whose part is to either go with the flow or go and do their own thing or even stay put. The balloons of momentary delight are plentiful and very funny and helpful in telling the often oblique unconsidered tales individuals have in their orbit. Delight is often short lived and the good feelings are let go by other interventions.

Directions taken

Director of Photography Russell Gleeson uses mostly intimateclose framed shots to convey the focus of individuals immediate always dangerous present time existence. Very few landscape walking the dog type shots are used – the theatrical origins is one reason perhaps for this but it is very evident the past where a lot of people cannot move on from or compartmentise is a secondary unhelpful adjunct when disability has presented. The world of dialogue is meticulously held and each scene is a fine edged element in relation to the ongoing story. Rita whose early part in the story is as an Agatha Christie type sleuth with eyes for everything and covert occupational reconnaissance of her friends in the group is eventually given another role nd another side of her character blooms or is enabled. The love she watches hawk eyed and in the margins is hers if she she so desires. These little sidelines are intricately woven and just as illuminating as the core Larry and Sophie tryst. The Galway we see is full of hope and expectation. By some prophetic, intended mirror devised by writer Christian O’Reilly this Yuletide is taken at the flood of goodness in its magical often surreal never never-land. Rita gets to visit the Winter Christmas market and enjoys a friendly meeting with bored citizens of the magic. Often children don’t believe in Christmas for too long but load their expectations on the adults who in turn deal with it among family and friends to escape the problems of health, homelessness, separation, bereavement, work and home related for a short time. The spectacle is very convincing often. Seeing the (drone) overhead of the River Corrib flowing beneath the bridge towards the Atlantic as a torrent and the city fall into a nightime for the returning day to follow is mesmerising in a away. The tumble of the short run from the interior Lough is a miraculous event of continuity.

Conclusion ####4

This is an outstandingly uplifting and conflicting film. It presents the central topic of relationships on a universal and mirror reflecting everyone multiple illusions and realities. The story of lives confronting and dealing with disabilities is profoundly achieved in a well conceived theatrical way. It is as mentioned above like a theatre of witness into urges and emotions and the sanctuary of thought in communicating love and finding giving and receiving love in a life disordered since the beginning of time. Human instincts are to seek out meaning and purpose while forming a personal narrative. This is a very ambitious and never patronising approach to a subject of sexual urges and relationships empowering individuals in their own pathway towards discovery and their assembly of reasoning. The intellectual worth of the story is treated with concern and awareness of how it will be read or viewed. The questions are put with entertaining disturbing sometimes clarity. It may not be as simple as the narrative takes forward but it holds the essential messages without getting lost unlike the wandering of the Cinema escapees.

Sex education could do with a makeover in all corners of these islands and abroad with abuse knowing no borders it is continental, universal while Churches, institutions, authorities, the Film world etc, play down the effects and perceptions by concealment and failure to address core issues. Challenges are made by this film and answers are not its purpose but considerations of Sanctuary are ever present. Tom has no priors before this moment of unprofessional caring. Society appears as a bystander sometimes and this is how Larry and Sophie see as their barrier to love. If you have to choose between the latest Star Wars film and this its a no-brainier – go for this it is so much more than the sum of its parts and it was a privilege to see such fine performances in a range of very difficult circumstances. A great achievement worth of seeing more than once as you might miss some of the hidden gems stretching out before you. You need to be as observant as Rita who has an education through this independent in every way, film.

John Graham

20 December 2017

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre from 29 December 2017 until 04 January 2018

At QFT the 18:20 screening on Wed 3 January will be followed by a Q&A with director Len Collin and members of the cast.

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Paterson : A Film Review

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Paterson

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

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

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Stepping back

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

 

 

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Disembarking the Bus

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

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Culturally bagged

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

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

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

img_6514 Whose on next?

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Paterson in Paterson New Jersey

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

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Home and her indoors.

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

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

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

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Conclusion ###3

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

John Graham

25 November 2016

Belfast

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

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

Scratch my Progress Vol. 5 : A CD Launch

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

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


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

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and then


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

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

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

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Petty Youth

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

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

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

What are your songs about? – interviewer

About three minutes – Bob Dylan.
John Graham

12 November 2016

Belfast

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

Hunt for the Wilderpeople : A Film Review                                     

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Director and Writer. Taika Waititi. Cast. Sam Neill … Hec, Julian Dennison … Ricky, Rima Te Wiata … Bella, Rachel House … Paula, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne … Kahu, Oscar Kightley … Andy, Stan Walker … Ron, Mike Minogue … Joe, Cohen Holloway … Hugh, Rhys Darby … Psycho Sam, Troy Kingi … TK, Taika Waititi … Minister, Hamish Parkinson … Gavin, Stu Giles … Sick Man, Lloyd Scott … Tourist, Selina Woulfe … Organ Player, Mabelle Dennison … Church Lady, Sonia Spyve … Court Lawyer, Timothy Herbert … Court Lawyer, Tuss … Tupac, Finn … Zag, John Campbell … John Campbell, Mihingarangi Forbes … Mihingarangi Forbes, Nadine Chalmers Ross … Nadine Chalmers Ross, Sam Wallace ..  Sam Wallace.

Preceding this review is one for the remarkable Iranian debut film Under the Shadow set in the midst of Tehran at the beginning of the 1980 to 1988 Iraq andIran war.  A brilliant non-archetypal horror film.  See the review as it casts off at QFT on the same dates and perhaps line up the two!

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New Zealand on a quiet day

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a type of road (forest/bush) movie but isn’t.  It’s really a human interest story on the estrangement through foster care and youth struggling in a data ‘enriched’ world and the reversal back out of it to basic needs and desires.  Pared down but ‘enriched’ environment and people lessons are in abundance here.  Ricky says ‘You just said Bush!’ with Ricky the lynchpin who is at first potentially a thickset irritating troubled youngster whose attention seeking personality brings conflict by the bucketload. Except he doesn’t, isn’t, is endearing and infuriating as his potential is locked in a place not of his making – governship wise. His mind is alert but a jumble.  He has a ‘Walkman’ – the Director presumably kept this as some sort of tokenism to it having got a mention in the original inspiration, the book, see next segment..  Ricky performs a bit of hip hop which you would find hard to replicate.

Wild Pork and Watercress

The book Hunt For The Wilderpeople, is supposed to be based on, I haven’t read it or sought it out is Taika Waititi’s adaptation of Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress. He’s currently Directing the mega Thor in New Zealand where this book and film are obviously based, with, you will recall perhaps, Tom Hiddlestone and at one point watching on, Taylor Swift. He is no shrinking violet Mr Waititi as he performs an assault on the book which is no mean feat given it is a memorable national treasure for some of the mere 4.4 million residents and diaspora of New Zealand.  Surprising that, a population less than that of Ireland, and around the same as Greater Manchester or Lancashire?

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He tears up the story and inserts huge blocks for comedic and to great effect; two characters for instance.  The Social worker whose business it is to be the one who inserts the straight and narrow into wayward kids life’s – the shock chick, bonkers Paula played for satire and laughs, (Rachel House) and her local cop friend and colleague (Oscar Kightley) whose farcical performance has you laughing (hopefully) as the story is then bound to deliver another bountiful twist. He actually has a brilliant part at an important element of the story which is redemptive for many. This is typical as description because it is the nature of this – and the book is followed though entirely off narrative with new bits (as I mentioned it became a bastardised version) in Chaptered segments 1 – 11 with a wind up epiphany which is also a saviour.  Each chapter is about five minutes of usually fairly gripping action, eye poppingly radiant of the natural beauty of New Zealand and even an animated bird appears. Also there is a sequence – some reviewer mentioned a pan – which is not landscape centered though the vastness and extent of the Wilderness (title clue there!) is delivered by several helicopters, strangely silent in some films, intensely loud in others! We have a share of each with the former more prevalent. The pan is of the characters, providing as a film needs, variations on attack to the viewers expectations.

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The Performers and presentation.

Chapter driven we have, the normality of introduction which here I describe briefly also wishing not to be any kind of plot spoiler – so character introduction only. Waititi in this low budget movie was able to find the young teen actor Julian Dennison as his lead working on a commercial. In came New Zealand soap star Rima Te Wiata as Aunt Bella. The cast includes in a small but significant part, Flight Of The Concords Rhys Darby as the isolated bushman “Psycho Sam,” with finally in a stroke of good fortune Waititi sent a script to the approving New Zealand-raised Sam Neill to play Hec.

Our child-cookie monster social worker brings along to Bella and Hector to their outback forest/bush edge homestead.  All self sufficient theory – they are nonchalant killers of boar, deer, eels, you na,e it and this s kept true to the book with chapters in which the animals get a part to play – at least in short sharp animatronics style.  No animals were harmed etc.

The farcical and frontier mishaps, several of which in normal life would had been, end of show, build in mostly a hyper dense abundance of that other caharacter trees – the tracking shots through trees must have done the head in of several crew as canyons, well drops of ten feet or so stop them in their tracks.  Location manager gets applause for finding a locality which presumably catered for several variations which appear convincingly different on screen.  Rivers and even a high mountain lake with waterfall.  It is obvious to seasoned travels – I exclude myself – these treasures locations have long since been discovered and feature on many tourist and trip advisor bulletin of seen previously in a Cinema near you In Lord of the Rings.  Cue joke and yes there is one for you to key your ears pealed for!

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Characterising foster care children.

This is an advertisement for foster care.  Ricky is a hard sell but he shines with character individual survivors instinct and is also one in need of some decent parenting.  Now Bella and Hec (Hector) simultaneously are to e applauded and castigated for giving from early on a gun.  His own rifle.  He gets a dog also.  A very helpful nurture beast who he is responsible for! Bella and Hec have one of their own and the meld is carried throughout with non-speaking parts, though Taika Waititi’s take is nothing is spared for a laugh.

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Lord of Lordy

To be recognised maybe as a boy with a right to create his own life and set his own path so the normal rules go. Well all well and good but parenting involves supporting the boy and providing for his needs. Independence can come later but he is determined to make a break for it early. Looking at the cast list reveals the Director Taika Waititi plays the part of a Minister so we get the director spelling out the moral angle for us. Mabelle Dennison, Ricky’s real life Mum, plays a Church lady so we get the perspective of what a real Mum wants of her son. The Ministerial ‘Address’ is Taika Waititi’s take on religion – his confusion is real. The train of thought is not exactly mind blowing for you to follow. It is a beautiful as a stretched canvas of relationships primarily, cockamamie farcical escape from the boring sometimes hurtful everyday, Ricky is wise enough to realise this semi-wild life is next to his real desires if he could be allowed to pursue its discovery for himself. It is also imposing and beatific almost reverential and God like as paradise. Lost Lords, is that what their after?

Conclusion ####4

This 12a rated film has been given a rapturous acclaimed response by critics, most notably Mark Kermode of more local expansive recall.  It is an obvious bonding catalyst for fahter son and is immersive in emotionally solidity and depth through the superb delivery of the ‘natural’ actor Ricky who bides his time with thoughtful gaze at times, gives us his moves and does prat ful with no self concious holding back.  Alongside Bella whose warmth is instant, Paula whose splendour is full on Rosie Barr comedic, to her partner under the hood with Sam Neill pivotal as the hard soft man of the country who has his own story and the expression of sympathy, empathy, wisdom, sorrow, and most of al human grace are a long way from the blockbuster heroics good as they’ve been and also delivered. It may not fit the gold dust of Lord of the Rings as epic but it’s cast, crew and the overly confident but extremely talented and likeable Taika Waititi (but did he actually say ‘Take it away Selina’! I’ll have to see it again!) falls into few traps. Temerity is not a trait he holds and the Chapter Ten is to some extent over played routine as the form sometimes lapse into but thoroughly entertaining so badges all round if not Oscars.  Though maybe Sam should get one for the very, very real depiction of an empathetic character with limited choices (the character has little of life’s reward’s) to show.  They come across as a bounty.

 

John Graham

29 September 2016

Belfast

On at QFT Belfast from Friday 29 October until 6 October 2016.

 

Also at selected Cinemas and on various formats and outlets.