Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
There is a strange muted-ness to the performances in ‘Hidden’. The whole film seems an exercise in observation rather than one engrossing us in the world of the film. Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie scaling Mount Rushmore in ‘North by North-West’ came to mind - even as they are hanging precariously to their lives, they manage somehow to maintain their poise. Just as Hitchcock’s eye for style means we don’t necessarily grow an attachment to the enigmatic everymen and ice cool blondes in his movies, the detachment from the characters here as played by Daniel Auteil and Juliette Binoche so too is a creation of a distinctive delivery. The view of their world seems that sent to us by a camcorder positioned on a stand, with characters walking off screen and overall minimal movement, so that you can‘t help but feel like the peeping tom of the movie they are threatened by. The distinction between when we are watching video tape and when we are following events of the film is blurred throughout and neither is there any score, a masterful touch, which adds to this idea of watching a recording. Some mention is due of course to the characters, with Auteil and Binocche, both French acting royalty, playing intellectuals, living comfortably in a monotone apartment shared with their son. They already seem emotionally muted before the events of the film cause further strain in their lives, again adding to the sense we are watching rather than empathising.
The absence of the score is a touch that intrigues me. I have come across this omission of a score only twice before (from what I can remember) - in an episode of ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’, dealing with the sudden death of her mother and also in the original version of ‘The Stepford Wives’. The omission in both was to add a strange sombreness and unease to the images on screen and worked very well, and I feel it added immeasurably to ’Hidden’. As well as complimenting the shooting style, you are left unsure as how to feel, there is a greater sense of nerve at all points, you can only pick out recurring themes or make an impression of a character based on their words and actions not based on a score added in the editing room to create dramatic effect. The heart of the film still beats, finding a rhythm in the story.
Said story dapples briefly in politics - the supposed motives for the stalkers actions stemming from the killing of Algerian protesters in Paris in 1961, and indeed the director interviewed in the extras this is the type of film that could be set in any country, as our histories each have skeletons shadowing them. The film is just as successful watched purely as a thriller, as a web of lies and a sorry past come to bear consequences. I don’t doubt this film will divide opinions and in fact I chose to review it because I heard such polarised views. I am more than impressed with the finished product. I don’t want to be spoon fed stories and answers, I want to see innovation on screen. For many the chance to appreciate a film fully is curtailed so much more than the time we can give to a piece of music or a piece of writing. Pressing repeat is another 2 hour commitment. ‘Hidden’ for its two hours challenges and delivers, with singular scenes littering hints of deeper mystery and letting the audience be the judge of events. I will be re-watching this movie.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I picked up this book, part of a set of 5 I was given as a present, without even knowing it was a Sherlock Holmes story. If ever I was unable to put down a book it was this. Never a moment set aside to see what proportion of the bulk of pages I had made my way through or sense of reading a book I wanted to get to the end of (a bad habit I have developed recently). The story, the pace, the wit and logic of Holmes inspiring me. There is so much to be said for rooting out the source material for the characters that have survived the ages – Dracula, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde or even Bond and meeting them as originally intended. Holmes is a classic example of a character, who's name entered the vernacular, is readily recognised by attire we all associate him with but the fact is this is very far removed from the man on the page. Not unknown to dabbling in drugs, evading the rigours of the law and thining himself incapable of love, Holmes was the original and best at pulling a rabbit out of a hat to reveal to the comfused faces all around who had dunnit'.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
The death of Tom Robinson, disrupted every convention I knew as to how a story should progress. Writers aim to shock with twists, there is an inevitability to them with so many of the stories told today. The build up to Robinsons trial, Atticus Finch ably defending him as the black people of the town watch segregated from the public gallery overhead and the unjust verdict were harpooned with the sudden news of Robinsons botched escape and killing. Boo Radley's reveal paled into significance to this. I still remember where I was sitting the day I read the line.I know it is an injustice to the book to highlight this moment, out of the countless rich characters and perfect descriptions throughout but this stays with me.
3. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
There are those small little moments of realisation that can destroy you. They can come from nowhere, a passing remark, an awakening to a situation you never realised, a reality check on yourself or someone you know. Stephen Dedalus has one of these. A great feeling of vindication he felt on having a dean confront a bully of his, while in secondary school in Clongowes Wood, something great time is given to in the book to enshrine its importance in his mind, is taken away in an instant. The dean in conversation with his father tells him he essentially laughed at the boy behind his back underining in such a subtle moment of devastation a truly important moment to him. So much achieved with such insightful writing.
The leaving cert play, it can never be appreciated for what it is. At that formative age when learning by rote was my chief concern, the moment where Hamlet meets the Norweigan Prince Fortinbras, whose undoubting resolve to head to war over a barren piece of land is the example I bring to bear when I want to get perspective on things. For Hamlet this adds to his questioning of his inaction over his fathers death, when this king is willing to fight and give up lives for a piece of worthless land. Hamlets comparison of himself to the neighbouring prince leads to him finally taking action. It is an important, smart tangent, often left out of adaptations (mistakenly I think) triggering the events of the final drama.
5. The Road
This book I finished just last night and was the reason I wrote this list. It is simply written but has imagery and poetry laden in every line. There is a lyrical essence to the book, a quiet tragic story with more meaning and impact than the most densely written tomes. One moment where the father and son of the story are sitting in dense blackness, has the father about to lose his temper waiting for the sons agreement only to realise that the boy has been nodding, unknown to him in the pitch dark. There are so many great touches like this and paragraphs of beautiful description you feel a life's worth of writing couldn't produce but have here.
6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
I went through an Agatha Christie phase and John Grisham phase in quick succession. Neither are fine art, but Christies work I appreciate more, if for nothing else than her great ideas. People in her world come up with the most elaborate and precisely timed and consructed crimes, motivated more often than not by money they go to great extents, consructing new identities involving years of plotting. The final pages see some impecabbly dressed yet highly dysfunctional people gathered in a drawing room as we wait for the pieces to come together and read the logic appear on page. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is still the subject of discussion, for how it treats the reader and the type of information it provides. An unprecedented plot twist sees the storys narrator and Hercule Poirots assistant revealed as the murderer. Immediately you feel cheated, the murderer has been telling the story. Christie explained afterwards that everything the narrator had told us was true, he had however failed to include some vital information!The truth of course is that there are plenty of clues for those who chose to see them, which I did, on the second reading however.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
16.45 - RTE report on calls for Dempseys resignation.
This referendum as far as I am concerned fed on and encouraged these biases. The motive for the referendum stemmed from inconclusive evidence and the idea that our maternity hospitals were overloaded with pregnant asylum seekers. We didn’t know then and we don’t know the level of immigration into Ireland, and however much the number inflates, and impacts on the make up of Irish society that our first reaction is to seek to deny human rights to these individuals is a poor testament to the decision making of policy makers and the public opinion they feel they want to satisfy.
My understanding is that a significant number of children born in this country, no longer entitled to be termed citizens, could be denied the rights accorded to citizens by the Constitution. How is this not discrimination? Where have the legislative provisions been made to protect the vulnerable people living on the island? Our Constitution was disrespected, used as nothing more than a crowd pleasing tool, an add on to a troubled second go at Nice, set to please those who vote, not those who struggle.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Local government should be great it should be local people fixing issues on the ground with local know how, but it is not . For the simple reason that
But if we are going to have it, do we tax at a local level. I live in the
Tax should be progressive, the more you earn the more you should pay. This is one of the reasons I dislike VAT and carbon tax. They hit the poor the hardest in an ideal world all tax would be raised based on earnings. But we do not live in a ideal world. If we dropped VAT totally then how many retailers would reduce their prices to un VAT levels?
But if we do care about progressive tax, then we need not to introduce a council tax. Most forms of council tax be they local VAT rates or flat fees evolve regressive taxation Not something we should be pursuing. And if the solution is a local income tax. Why not just take it from income tax anyway.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
We need Proper Soup. Join the Facebook group here if you think restaurants should server more real soups.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Well it was positive responses all round, a trio of lead singers - one with the deep trench of a voice we associate with the Sopranos’ ‘Woke up this Morning’, a nymph of a woman who could drown out the a gospel choir and a guy who seemed to deliver a rap chant type performance reminding me of Vincent Price, performed every song with adrenaline rising enthusiasm. The most dominant influence on their music is country and blues. At times there were riffs and indeed whole songs that could have tipped the balance in favour of Cotton Eye Joe hokey poke, at others there were songs laden with blues. At one point there even seemed to be line dancing going on but all the time the rocky edges to the music and energy earned them a respected niche of their own.
There were some angry themes running through their music, but not for a moment did the energy of their music lull and the Tripod, a nicely intimate yet accommodating venue, carried the sound well, every bit of me vibrating for a track ‘Soldier’ which was the tune of the night. And in a summer where I’ve seen some big names these guys outright did the best encore. So too, the Republic of Loose, delivered a great show but playing for only half an hour I was left feeling short changed. Especially as I had not even realised they were the support until late in the day, nevertheless it was an unexpected surprise as a great fan of their music. The unnecessarily long break between the acts only dissipated the good vibes of the Kilkenny bands performances. Don't let there be any doubt it was a great night all around. I posted Dave Matthews Band clips earlier in the year but the reality is that Youtube can't do justice to such great live music, instead I've linked the official websites below.
Friday, October 12, 2007
5.George Orwell. One of the greatest writers of all time.Geoffrey Rush could do him justice
4.Margaret Thatcher. Changed the course of British politics the Iron lady. Could see Helen Mirrian playing this role.
3. The rolling Stones. Need I say any more. Who to play them. I think Clive Owen could play Jagger he has the swagger. Colin Farrell has the hell rasing reputation could pull it off. Kieran Culken could play Brian Jones. I really like igby goes down.
2. Martin Luther King Jr. I am surprised that a movie has never to been made to my knowledge about this man. Certainly one of the most if not most important American of the 20th century. But who to play him? Personally it would have be an unknown. Otherwise it is someone else movie.
1. Meat loaf the movie. The part of Meat Loaf can only be played by one man. Jack Black.Watch the video and you will see.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
‘Sicko’ is a strange mix of commentary. It captures injustice at all levels and draws in corporate greed, references 9/11, questions Americans anathema to socialism, with Moore’s trademark ability to make a point using archive film footage and soundbites. We meet people who cannot afford health care, people who have health care but have been bankrupted by the medical costs not covered by their policies. We meet former employees who look for loop holes to avoid payment, doctors who openly admit they have looked for ways to avoid providing treatment. The documentary travels to Europe, Canada, Gunatanemo Bay and Cuba looking at the free health care in those respective places, as volunteers from 9/11 who have suffered lasting injuries, look on as the US authorities claim they were not employees of the city so are not entitled to benefits.
You cannot but be cautious in how much of the information you embrace. Some of it seems over simplified, there are over idealised versions of the French and UK health systems, and always the sense that an alleged 500 hours of footage have been cut very selectively, using the most convincing people, while some scenes in Cuba in particular seem staged. Always, though the horrific stories and the sorry state people have been left in are testament to a hugely problematic system. The problem with Moore’s wide canvas is that at times he veers too much off course, whether it be clinging to saccharine sentiments as opposed to hitting us with more facts or aiming unnecessarily for sensation when he already has a shocking story to tell. I found myself at times confused by the agenda of the film, showing clips from various Bush administration personnel testifying to the happy state of the ill in Gunatanemo to unceremoniously brandishing both Hilary Clinton and Bush as easily bribed at the expense of the public. Maybe there is no politically aligned agenda and Moore’s mission is simply to demonstrate the flaws in the system, irrespective of who is in power. This is in of itself a noble cause, though ultimately the impact of the film is slightly diluted by generalisations thrown in for little but sarcastic or dramatic effect.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
In other news, contrary to reports that Liam Neeson was being lined up to play Abraham Lincoln in Spielbergs upcoming biopic, the unknown actor John W. Booth has instead been confirmed in the title role.
6. The twist at the end of last years final episode was of course that we had been viewing a flash forward as opposed to flash back, subtely revealing that Jack and Kate had left the island. Producers have revealed that the coming episodes will have both flash backs and flash forwards, leaving us guessing as to the structure of the show as well as the character the episodes will centre on.
5. Michael and his son Walt, who appeared to have been given their freedom from the island by 'the Others' at the end of series two will return. His son of course 'appeared' to John Locke in the final episode of the last series and producers have stated they have a solution to the fact that the actor playing Walt will have grown substantially, even though the character has only been away from the island for a number of weeks.
4. The first episode will focus on multiple characters as opposed to just one.
3. Libby, a short-lived character, thanks to a gun wielding Michael, who never the less played a part in the past lives of both Hurley and Desmond, will reappear in multiple flashbacks.
2. The show's producers have already figured out what they will do with the mysterious character of Jacob, who to date has literally has been an invisible man. Picking his words carefully, executive producer Carlton Cuse said, "Yes, we do know how Jacob will be depicted. Notice the careful wording of my answer. And no, Jacob did not appear before he was met by Locke." Cuse also declined to say whether an actor had been chosen to portray the character.
1. In the spirit of some of the episodes find here a nicely obscure teaser video presented at Comic Con, a specially made clip, with a familiar face making a confession.