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.

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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.

Captain Fantastic : A Film Review


Directed by Matt Ross.  USA. English. Duration 118mins. Cert. 15.

Produced by Monica Levinson, Jamie Patricof, Shivani Rawat, Lynette Howell Taylor. Written by Matt Ross.

Cast. Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, George MacKay as Bodevan, (18 and eldest child) Samantha Isler as Kielyr, Annalise Basso as Vespyr, Nicholas Hamilton as Rellian, Shree Crooks as Zaja, Charlie Shotwell as Nai, Kathryn Hahn as Harper (Aunt), Trin Miller as Leslie (Mom), Steve Zahn as Dave (Uncle) Elijah Stevenson as Justin, Teddy Van Ee as Jackson, Erin Moriarty as Claire, Missi Pyle as Ellen, Frank Langella as Jack (Leslie’s father) Ann Dowd as Abigail (Leslie’s mother.)

Music by Alex Somers, Cinematography Stéphane Fontaine, Edited by Joseph Krings.


Unconventional hero figure
Viggo Mortensen gets first mention as the lead here simply because he dominates in presence and acting terms this canon of an an idealised future being trammeled by ‘our’ present concepts for living.  He has as his ammunition a brood of six young adults he is intent into shaping into extraordinary adults regardless of what is set in front of him.  I last remember Mortensen from the Patricia Highsmith adapted movie The Two Faces of January which took the familiar rogue elements of her stories and created a decent drama thriller.  It also needs mentioning as a veteran his first break was in the Amish thriller Witness, the unique folk-tome film with Harrison Ford, Kelly Maginnis. There is also (The History of Violence, Eastern Promise, Lord of the Rings – [Aragorn] – and The Road).


What a place to live.

Circumstances dictate Ben Cash played by Viggo Mortensen and the 6 kids, who are aged from six to eighteen, are away from Mom who shares the unconventional home-learning, wilderness approach to child rearing. It sets out with an overview of the massive, clear oxygen filling forest followed us dropping into the pin straight vertical pines and finding our protagonists, Swiss family Robinson on steroids, in a hunting mode all silent and unseen unlike their prey. Once mission achieved they perform the tasks of – a tad clichéd to begin – of utilising their prize and then they clean off in a river returning to the look of normal kids.  There are then campfire bonding, books come out, reading and story setting scenes giving us the ideas of hard learning, maintaining discipline and a wandering dialogue, discourse involving their interests of literature, music, science, spirit all openly discussed. Individual charactaturesxof the children are opened up – one of the middle children is a natural history fiend salvaging all kinds of cast off animal skulls and in a personalized tepee has his own museum developing.  They live in what are basically sheds with tepees on top in true rustic environmentally recycling style.  No bears come and visit them so they might have a off putting aroma unless the bears are in on the philosophy.  Viggo Mortensen has said he regards this role as one of the most complex emotionally he has encountered – a clear justifiable assessment – and the story just begins here around this campfire while we are given the circumstances they find themselves in presently which entail them planning to go on a road trip. After the process of democracy has chosen what to do they set out in Bens’s school bus come camper to the freeways to take them cross country to Washington, it would seem. On route they rub up against forms of authority, informative training excercise said not the fallback of most youngsters are implemented, and several comedic episodes enter.


A weapon chosen is Jesus – with the irony present – not a spoiler as we learn fairly soon of their rejection of organsised spiritual adherence – which they employ under strict parental control as a unit to deflect and dismiss interfering eyes.  It is the tactic in use with most American Evangalism hiding behind a contradictory juxtaposed strait jacket form of religion.  Take West Chigago presently where after a decade of gun crime receding but a remaining threat, the problems of social and racial division have once again spiked.  It is a recurring theme.  Even in East London on the day I seen this film a band of Black protesters came up with the idea of passive protest by crossing the Thames and chaining themselves together on Londons second airport runway at City Airport against the proposal to further intensify environmental degradation in the boroughs around the Airport with additional runways.  The premise being it was these areas that suffer most from the transport hubs enlargement as opposed to rural peripheral locations which could be developed except they are in ‘protected’ constiuencies.


So this is another change of direction given it is a family orientated, though 15 rated – possibly due to strong language, the realism of the hunting, his sans clothes in a brief encounter, and the campfire boldness of topics for his six to eighteen year old brood to confront.  Sexual politics and the other politics occupy this Pacific North-West raw isolated left-wing gang of survivors. From a base initially of Boulder, Colorado, they have moved on – (a place Maggie Thatcher – remember her, adored) and which I attribute to those slightly less ambitious migrants who declined to travel into the place known as California and sat it out near the mountains and freshest nature.  Now the hash state of America.  It never features; the family have long since moved on with Mom ditching a Law career to experiment or invest in burgeoning beliefs with Ben up on this coast and massive forest corner of the Americas.  North East was afflicted with tribalism and Pirates as a staple somewhere and George Washington convinced himself the mix was too ‘refined’ there – North East so began a Social contract of sorts with federalism, did it work out – Bush, Regean, Clinton, Obahma, and where is Donald Trump in this?  Ben on his missions I have just realised gets to play his Scottish bagpipes – a trick not yet mastered by the maternally Scottish Donald. Donald MacDonald?


Mortensens choice

The script deeply warmed to him and he has described it as one of the best he has read.  Civilisation is not his perception nor the writer Matt Ross’s but is that word people ascribe to our vulture, dog eat dog also trammeled world, especially present in America were people in some quarters find little time for their real life’s and down time while spinning someone else’s wheels.  Radical in concept it is immediately in the first few frames showing us the human is still master and the animal kingdom has its place.  Usually in front of a weapon, usually a knife (it avoids the controversy of the right to bear arms question by ignoring guns or possibly making the point through their absent of other means to kill – still only for the animal kingdom.)  Or on a campfire roasting spit envincing wild terrain living. Very Unscandinavian or is it?  As a New Yorker despite his ‘mis-placed’ Scandinavian image and name, he at fifty seven, has been able to make choices in a place were movies can accompany his creative other interests, art, poems, music.  He owns Perceval Press Publishing.  Celina Murphy of the Irish Daily Star Chic weekend magazine got to meet him in Dublins Westbury Hotel and not only did she turn out a great article she saw much depth and elements singular to Vitto as he ‘fits the story’ instead of the usual ‘not because I do something that’s on its own remarkable’ a nuance which includes the possibility of all elements coming together to create a wonder oust blend as they do here.  It is ‘family’ grow your own kids, keep fit, work with your environment. This is also accessible Comedy/Drama and finding it alongside Little Miss Sunshine in its vibe it brings the importance of the realm of ‘education’ to the fore.

Is the dreamer right?

Not only does the question lie with Captain Fantastic, it traverses the parameters, limits, preordained alliances within that most difficult of all jobs, raising children. This film is very taut and focused on this subject on account of the Director/Actor Matt Ross constructing – and all the ‘kidults’ are superb – alongside the stellar in performance if not widely accepted elsewhere – from Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and British actor George McKay.  In other words they haven’t the profile deserved time after time.  Utterly a confrontational set of circumstances exist by way of the absence of mechanisms others; most of the western and increasingly eastern world, rely on to avoid them. It is thoroughly challenging and suggesting the education of children (which it is) being fundamental to they way the earth and people sustain existence as far into the future as realisable.  Curriculum, Curriculums are the nastiest things adults inflict on children and despite the advanced Scandinavian models, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark; Viggo Mortensen, though not in the role play as this is distinctly feral, and others may suggest as being excellent even excelling – the future itself needs more than simply this ‘social contract’ to manage things towards the future the earth spells out in reaction daily.

Pursuit of joy.

Happiness has a cause and a reaction. It is inevitably a political question. See the late, often LSE quoted, political theorist Ghiri Ionescu – my go to modern philosopher on The Pursuit of Happiness. I don’t quite know the implications by any stretch, but it is within the frame of the film and most people’s minds always.  Harmony is digression if learning is conflicting thoughts, projections.  This arc disapates hang ups on the familiar filmic route but nevertheless has itself tied to actions and consequences resulting in, as we share the journey which is a mission here, an ending or payoff which is full of contradictory expectations.  Skillfully crafted it indeed calls on the viewers own collective experiences growing up – after 15 (Cert.) your grown up yes? – as you may empathise with either one of the 6 exuberant, thoughtful, dynamic intellects of these ‘kidults’ who wipe the floor with their age group in practical, physical and mindfulness unwanted time.  So which one were you – slightly?  Which would you have liked to be or even befriend to help?  Comedy introduces plot comparisons with encounters of kids of their age, even a rite of passage nearly if flawed as its rushed preposterously in character but rushed. There is also an introduction to Metropolis (Washington) life.  The way other people live and they make acerbic comment, on overweight over indulgent – Ben describes them as involved in ‘frenzied shopping’.

On an Awayday; on the central mission, I would only spoil the plot by revealing to you, they have a kind of ‘Labor Day holiday’ dedicated to the writers Matt Ross’s hero who will be nameless although Esperanto was an interest of theirs along with related things.  Indeed words are essentiall y a device cleverly utilised in the story.  So interesting is given the low rating of being a non-word.  The hero likewise was and is of a similar stance.  Platos republic is a bit too far distant – along with Marxism and Moaist theory to be of permanent import, important reference points but ‘bad cheese’ new cultures arise, evolve – my view – as Ben is forever trying to penetrate the cerebral cortex of these juveniles ŵith his and absent Moms philosophy rather introspectively and self developmentally.  Both Ben and Lesley have the same ideals.  If only someone told them the Bill of Rights came from a malcontented genius called Thomas Paine, from Lewes, Sussex, whose own conflicts were crippling as these might sometimes seem availing towards.

Conclusion #### 4 1/2

This is an immensely challenging emotionally sharp film about that most difficult job in the world – many parents would say the most difficult they’ve tackled – the raising of their children. Unparalleled and individual as each child is they are at the mercy of their family beliefs and parental guidance however gathered. Cultural, imposed, with or without proper context or grounding.   This then is a complex conflict undertaken by the parents of the 6 siblings evenly gender divided, evenly age divided, and under the shared values system a capable set of ‘kidults’ as their consciousness is opened to the true nature of reality insofar as they are exposed to it by their guardians.  Viggo Mortensen for reasons that evolve from the introduction to the story takes the primary share of the tutelage but shared with their mother Trin Miller as Leslie Cash.  The entourage whose names are listed at the top could easily have individual essays eerie ten about given the fine form of the writing while the eldest, George MacKay as Bodevan has a blistering performance to match the intensity of Viggo Mortensens charismatic, fully charged characterisation of the ‘best father’ construct.  Also entitled to another these net is the other father, Frank Langella as Jack (Leslie’s father) Ann Dowd as Abigail (Leslie’s mother.) Their existence within a New Mexico gated community sets up the other extreme of experience for the children and their input is intensely convincing also in the rounding of the narrative.  This is a very rewarding watch and gives plenty of room to evaluate the times and fragilities of education, upbringing and faces challenges which arose in many people’s lives regardless of plans.  As John Lennon put it ‘Life is what happens when your making plans.’
John Graham

7 September 2016

Belfast.

On at QFT BELFAST from 9 September to 22 September 2016 and selected cinemas elsewhere.

Well worth a viewing.

Week 40 – Una Knox – October 5-11

Let me guess this is simply imperious.

fig-2 loyalty card

fig-2_40_50_12

fig-2_40_50_2When you enter the room the first thing you see is that all of the walls have been drawn into the centre of the space and bound together. The Fig-2 mobile wall structures and book shelves that usually delineate a space within the room have been wrapped up together, and there is nowhere to hide.

fig-2_40_50_4Whether deliberately or intuitively Sylvain Deleu’s photos don’t zoom in on the the central structure but show it surrounded by the exposed space of the studio — balancing the tight compression at the centre with the openness around it. This arrangement has an unsettling effect. Artist Una Knox notes that in drawing things together you illustrate the potential for, or the inevitability of, the opposite: all things will break apart.

unaknoxpvThis is the context of coming to Fig-2: these shows are brought together for seven days and then blown apart. For Week 40 of…

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The Idol : A Film Review


The Idol

Director. Hany Abu-Assad.  Writers. Hany Abu-Assad, Sameh Zoabi. Cast. Tawfeek Barhom, Ahmed Al Rokh, Hiba Attalah, Kais Attalah, Abdel Kareem Barakeh Running Time 1h 40m Genres Biography, Comedy, Drama, Music.


From left, Ahmad Qassim, Qais Atallah and Hiba Atallah in Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Idol.” Credit Adopt Films.

It has a beginning, a middle and an end.

We’re introduced to Assaf (Qais Attallah) as a kid in Gaza, alongside sister Nour (Hiba Attallah) and their friends, Ahmad and Omar (Ahmad Qassim; Abdalkarim Abubaraka). My film ‘poster’ (I make them up from the publicity photos) still is the same Assaf but in 2012 driving a self – enterprising cab to make a living.  He has now reached a level where the harsh realities and day to day existence is for everyone, save one or two including a cameo character played by the Director, showing even war zones have demigods those who prey on their own citizens to live engrandised life’s – very basic.  The early years are full of vitalality and the story begins with a young quartet. Above. They try to form a group around Assaf and have plans to obtain proper instruments and use that scarce commodity, electricity, to perform everywhere. 

These kids act extraordinarily well.  Initially there aren’t some stilted moments but quickly the foot races, the cheeky episodes and funny lines come thick and fast as they negotiate live among their peers.  The picture of the families is built, their ordinary lives of going to school and other kids playing.  There is a lot of running and jumping. Minor scrapes end up as foot races.  Other kids run through frames, building, gap, drop jumping in a running line.  The expanse of the environment thus explored as a source of freedom and expression of self.

1. Assaf (Qais Attallah) teenage years of forming a band full of hope and charged with disappointment and despair escape one way or another. Help from musicians. 

2. Assaf (Tawfeek Barhom – a big presence and talent) as a University student and artist.  The stagnation of a middle period where bombing has yet again intensified (2012) and the attempts to reach a goal is stop/start with the first step being to get to the Palestine Idol auditions. 

3. Assaf (still Tawfeek with intersected at the apogee of the star making TV footage of the real Assaf.)


Film achievements

Early Hany Abu-Assad films Academy nominated were Paradise Now (2005), about two would-be suicide bombers and Omar (2013), love story thriller drama about Palestinian collaborators and Israeli intelligence handlers. This also – while entirely different from his earlier films and PG rated to achieve a global viewing, is similar in ways to Stand by Me, 1986, Rob Reiner.


Politics

Gaza is under seige and there is a strip of sea bordered by a fence between towns along the beautiful coast. The blockade from ’07 and the heavy bombardment from the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza are clear.  The towns standing at the end of theses fences, stand as signatures of the living but also of post conflict survival and precedes more wanton destruction by the Israelis.  The countryside which itself is drained of water by the Israelis for their own use and to create monopolies in agricultural markets (figs) each season, is a rare source of food but it is in a strip of imprisonment and suppression which is enforced so the Israelis can wipe out an entire race.  There are currently just over 50% of the population under 18 and the older generation have paid an enormous price for their faith to Islam and Mohammed  – and the Jewish faith have effectively signed the declaration of intent for Isis and other factions who do not agree with peace as the means to survive according to the Koran but subvert – as the Jewish faith do through imposition, force and suppression of democracy – they laud their own standards of democracy while denying it and their own obligations to their neighbours – through these lands. They allow freedom of expression within sects but denegrate differences between those sects.


Do not forget this film is based very much on fact. Ask why it is made.  Ask what the people of Gaza feel and how these small elements stand up for equality and freedom in such horrendous circumstances and this juxtaposition is political and a voice.  It only altered for the sake of moral proprietary some scenes for dramatic flow.  The same is a continuous process within the UN with non-enforcement of mandates, and USA in cohort with western capatilist nihilism.  All produce the raw component of war here with a vast array and arsenal of weapons.  This film creates a backdrop which puts aside nations leaders and global manipulations making wealth and enormous gains through continued warfare, for the same ‘bread and circuses’ sideline distractions as the only means of expelling the despair.  The west makes an entirely falsified world out of it with sports, non-religious worship, ownership, greed and avarice games, extremes of entertainment for the masses.  The infiltration is The Idol – the TV antenna as well as showing atrocities from other parts of the world – along with environmental ruin – shifts inside the meagre domestic lives of the Gazians. 

Stark reality  PG rated.

It is particularly crazy to be attempting to depict this film in measures or indices of the film industry market.  Viewers and providers.  The network of access to films is burgeoning.  I have been to Palestinian events recently and seen around ten hours of Gaza related film material.  The last was a late visit to the film Death in Gaza. The death, one of many, that of James Millar a filmaker who was shot by an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip. What the Israeli was doing in Gaza with a gun except for powering the cycle of violence, is beyond explanation moral or otherwise.  The journalist is a witness as witnesses exist throughout mankinds presence on earth.  


Stardust

Here we have a film witnessing the Gazians imitating the West in their route of escapism with a jury SMS telecoms driven lavish piece of television theatre where star makers sit – the Simon Cowell formula – buy it up pop music and sell it back to them – and create stardust.  This version of idolatry is Sphinx like. The tombs of Egypt must be rattling with envy of how elevated such trivial things can become hyped.  The bejeweled Nefrititi is twinkling in the heavens looking down.  The borders crossed being the flow of human emotion centered on inner contentment shown brazenly and without irony.  The difference here in this Middle eastern culture, is that from the beginning the essence of the singing is based in distant long carried folk and traditional voice narratives.  In fact the Opera house is mentioned several times as an aside given the level expected of any performer. Ululating, wailing is one form of vocalising, singing used to evoke situation, emotion, will, and Assaf uses his skills by being hired for prayers in Mosques.  The quartet need money and they scour the edges – of the sea for fish to sell, then one keyboards player -see below right! – who obtains through the tunnels to Egypt, hamburgers and buns, starts his own fast food mobile business with apologies to ‘Mockdonalds’.

Initially we see the relatively carefree but street wise children open up to their vision of an alternative future.  Within families girls will sometimes wear or not the Hijab according to their own minds.  The dress is mainly western influenced but it is a’uniform of mutual poverty’.  In – and we visit hospital for a number of related, unrelated things, – the Doctors, we have very determined, driven morally guided, workhorses of survival, balancing with no judgement the fate of strangers and in circumstances where nothing is normal, in basic conditions.  Beds are arranged as all hospitals but with a scarcity of equipment around wards and are shared between the ages and genders.  The nurses wear Hijabs and the hospital is home to some terminally ill and has modern equipment in parts dealing with the worse of cases.

Assaf is not immune to this in his childhood and while nothing is shown by way of the aftermath of bombing or incoming fire these people struggle daily with the everyday things and every family is touched by some unwelcome fate.


They ride their bikes like many kids though this is ordinary Gaza and a prison.

The escape is a task which must overcome the imprisonment and blockade.  I won’t go any further and expand on the tale obviously has global coverage even before the film.  A British newscaster tells the story in the film itself!

So go see and be a witness.

Conclusion. #####5

Since last year when I saw Timbuktu a film of very similar political scope if entirely different in subject matter – it portrays childrens plight in these times though – I have not been so deeply drawn along with the expanse of film making, as it stepping outside the normality, by its constructive insicive informative composition/construction.  The story is not incidental but it carries a very strong message of the fate of a people distraught and also living hopefull of change.  That alone is extraordinary given what has happened.  The film will not disappoint you and reward any reasoning with the issues. You will perhaps not have as strident opinions as myself, have different views and I place this review as only a mere side discussion on the massive problems.  There is much arising however which may not have occured to you as indeed it hadn’t occured to me – the cultural basic retention present within the Palestinian people of their unique place within themselves – the way that Western culture has created ways of enticing people into its ‘snare’.  So it will cause many varied reactions.  It has very sad notes and is emotionally strong with very solid performances.  The film introduces Assafs sister Nour who is a star of the film played by Hiba Atallah.  She is brilliant in the role and faster in her wits and on her feet than some of the boys.  Plenty to recommend.

John Graham 

10 August 2016

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from Friday 10 August through to and including Thursday 18 August 2016.

Also known as Ya Tayr El Tayer.

Highly recommended.