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mervyn-peake

Mervyn Peake (9th July 1911 – 17rh November 1968)

“The world is falling to pieces but some of the pieces taste good” wrote Adrian Mitchell in Peace Is Milk.

Amid the ceaseless quest for power and control as we seek to quench the thirst of the ego, it is all too easy to forget that we are flesh and blood and overlook the sentiments expressed in another memorable poem about the beauty and fragility of our brief lives:

 

TO LIVE IS MIRACLE ENOUGH by Mervyn Peake 

To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.

Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.

Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.

Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.

SPOTLIGHT directed by Tom McCarthy (USA, 2015)

 oscarometro2016spotlightHoly shit! Never has this exclamation carried more significance.

Based on actual events (isn’t everything?), the shit uncovered by the Spotlight team of fearless reporters of the Boston Globe at the turn of the Millennium indeed had the holiest of stenches.

The Roman Catholic priests in Boston who molested and abused young boys and girls turned out the be the tip of a dung heap of global proportions. As the credits roll, the printed list of subsequent cases found in parishes around the world is enough to make Jesus and the rest of us mere mortals weep.

Anything which widens the scope of the negative publicity against the hypocritical church establishment is welcome but I doubt that the Pope is quaking in his satin slippers after seeing this lackluster movie. In toning down the sensationalist elements of the story, it becomes more of a celebration of investigative journalism than a full-blooded indictment of this holy disorder. View full article »

HAIL CAESAR! directed by Joel & Ethan Coen (USA,2016)

large_large_ux5y8qjkszufab5vsaqxhndmyt3Friends, Romans,countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Hail Caesar!, not to praise it.

We all love the Coen Brothers, and not without cause, yet I am sad to report that this is one mess of a movie.

It’s as if the siblings decided to do a cut and paste job based on ideas left over from earlier films, then phoned round all their favorite actors to see who was available for a two hour love in.

There are some clever and amusing scenes but none of them lead anywhere because there is no coherent storyline to tie them together.

Along with the equally dire Burn After Reading from 2008, it is plain that what we have here is an ensemble cast that had more fun making a movie than the audience have watching it. View full article »

BRIDGE OF SPIES directed by Steven Spielberg (USA; 2015)

220px-bridge_of_spies_posterAs a self-confessed movie nerd I can’t get enough of the ironic post-modernism to be found in directors like David Lynch, Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch. I identify strongly with the cynical and often surreal gaze they direct towards the modern world.

In my book, The Coen Brothers fit squarely into this category so it comes as something of shock to find Ethan and Joel’s names (alongside British playwright Matt Charman) on the screenwriting credits for Spielberg’s very conventional drama. Apparently, their remit was to add some zip to a story which, with shades of Fargo, is “inspired by real events”.

Lawyer James B. Donovan played by Tom Hanks is the decent, upstanding all American family man appointed to defend the devious Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) in what is initially conceived as little more than a show trial.

I suspect it is the Coens who came up with the best line in the movie when, in response to Donovan’s comment that Abel never seems to worry, the spy asks “Would it help?” This is funny the first time around, but when he poses the same question on two further occasions, it loses its novelty value. Otherwise, the script is tight and workmanlike although has none of the wisecracks or lively verbal exchanges you come to expect in Coen Brothers movies. View full article »

ROOM directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Canada/Ireland/UK, 2015)

room-movie-five

Joy and Jack look for light in the darkness.

Room is the story of survival. The main victim is Joy Newcombe ( which evokes the idea that he is the devil in human form. While in captivity he has fathered Joy’s 5-year-old son Jack and you imagine that sexual abuse is the prime motive for his actions.

There is always a morbid curiosity to uncover the dark secrets that drive this kind of depraved behavior. A weakness of the movie is that we learn so little about this man’s background or what happens to him after being apprehended. We hear of, but never really see any physical abuse and only the sound of a creaking bed tells us that he is repeatedly raping her. View full article »

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