TRAINSPOTTING 2 directed by Danny Boyle (UK, 2016)
I was a big fan of the 1970s British sit com ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads’ in which two buddies meet up again after drifting apart for five years.
When they reconnect, one, Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) is nurturing nouveau riche trappings and getting settled into a cosy, middle-class suburban niche complete with a conventional, status conscious, fiancé. Meanwhile, Terry Collier (James Bolan) remains stubbornly working class. He is back from Germany after a failed marriage and a wound sustained during military service that he prefers not to talk about.
“What became of those people we used to be”, ran the show’s theme tune and this is also the unspoken question that hangs over Danny Boyle’s sequel to the hugely successly 1996 Trainspotting movie. Continue reading
I, DANIEL BLAKE directed by Ken Loach (UK, 2016)
In part 12 of his illuminating Channel 4 documentary series on The Story Of Film, Mark Cousins focused on notable directors from around the world like John Sayles in the US and Krzysztof Kieslowski in Poland who were prepared to stand up for worthy, though unfashionable, political causes.
The connecting theme was what Cousins frequently referred to as ‘speaking truth to power’, a phrase that originated with the Quaker movement in the 1950s and was later adopted in the United States as a rallying call to those opposing the dark forces of Fascism and totalitarianism.
For half a century, Ken Loach has followed this principle by being a voice for the dispossessed and downtrodden in society. He opposes the political establishment that serves the masters yet ignores the slaves. He stands against systems which sustain the healthy and the wealthy but provide little nourishment to the poor and needy. Continue reading
ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello (Canongate Books, 2014)
Mary Costello’s bold and compassionate debut novel initially gives the impression it will be an uplifting life story of female empowerment.
It begins in the 1940s and is set in Western Ireland. In this time and place we meet Tess, aged 8, immediately after the sudden death of her beloved mother.
The bewilderment and uncertainty this loss produces is brilliantly evoked as is the child’s difficult relationship with her harsh and uncommunicative father.
Surely things can only get better and with Angela’s Ashes in mind you envisage emigration from Ireland to America to be the harbinger of hope and good fortune. Continue reading