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Just when digital artefacts threaten to take over our cultural heritage entirely, Birmingham’s new library in the heart of the English Midlands makes no bones about the fact that the physicality of the printed word still matters. View full article »

BOYHOOD directed by Richard Linklater (USA, 2014)

boyhood changes

"Don't grow up - it's a trap" - T-shirt slogan.
 "So be it when I shall grow old, / or let me die! /  The child is father of the man" - William Wordsworth - My Heart Leaps When I Behold (1802).

What a marvel of a movie this is!

12 years in the making, shooting for a few weeks each year, it follows the growing pains of Mason Jr from the age of 6 to 18. Over the course of 166 minutes, the movie shows this boy becoming a man through selected episodes that function in much the same way as memory does, through a gapped linear narrative.

Some reviewers have criticised Ellar Coltrane’s acting prowess which seems to me to miss the point of the project by a merry mile. To realise his role as Mason Jr, Coltrane is not required to get into character; he just needs to be himself. This means we see him as an ungainly, mumbling teenager and empathize with his discomfort as he reaches puberty. Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei plays his older sister and steals the show in the early scenes but it’s this boy’s life that takes centre stage. View full article »

THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS by J.M. Coetzee (2013)

jesusThis is an odd and frustrating novel.

Calling a book The Childhood of Jesus and then not referring once to Jesus by name is perverse to say the least. On top of this we never learn when and where the story takes place. The protagonists speak Spanish but it’s not their mother tongue (neither is it English).

David is a child with no known natural parents but he doesn’t behave like the son of God. His strangeness and learning difficulties could be due to the fact that he is dyslexic, retarded or too gifted to connect with fellow mortals. The latter would be more in keeping with a religious angle but it’s hard to see that this is Coetzee’s sole motive for writing the novel. View full article »

SLACKER directed by Richard Linklater (USA, 1991)

Two definitions from Urban Dictionary :
SLACKER – Someone who puts off doing things to the last minute, and when the last minutes comes, decides it wasn’t all that important anyways and forgets about it.

SLACKERS – a group of guys who like to hang out and do nothing.

Two typical conversations from ‘Slacker’, the movie:
Q – What’s up man?  A – Not much OR
Q – Hey, what’s going on? A – Nothing

‘Slacker’  follows the day in the life of a cast of youths in Austin, Texas who share the ability to turn idleness into an art form and who are content to spend their days “lolligagging around” or just vaguely hanging out.

One prefers to stay home rather than go out to the lake because he hates the idea of “premeditated fun”. Another can’t decide if he is remembering something that happened to him or whether he saw it on TV. View full article »

BIRTH directed by Jonathan Glazer (USA, 2004)

€3.99 in a bargain bin at Comet suggests this is either a tragically overlooked masterpiece or a bona fide turkey.

Jonathna Glazer is a director who likes to alienate audiences. He takes a mixed reception (including boos) at its Venice Film Festival premiere as a positive sign.

Universal acclaim = mainstream cop-out. Who needs the endorsement from Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert liked it so it must have something going for it.

Either side of this, Glazer made Sexy beast and Under The Skin. If you’ve seen either of these great movies you’ll know why I grabbed the DVD. He is someone who understands that cinema works by the power of suggestion and strong imagery. Great dialogue is optional.

Birth is all plot, it’s a ‘what if’ story in which a 10-year-old boy claims to be the reincarnated husband of Anna (Nicole Kidman). The dead spouse and the boy are both called Sean. Coincidence? If so, how does this kid know so much about this woman. We’re talking intimate secrets here. View full article »

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