Above – Steve Coogan and Judi Dench
Below – the real Martin Sixsmith & Philomena Lee
PHILOMENA – directed by Stephen Frears (UK, 2013)
There’s one reference to the clitoris and a few ‘fucks’ but otherwise this is the kind of film you could watch with your mom without fear of embarrassment.
The presence of Dame Judi Dench in the title role adds a further weight of respectability to proceedings.
Peter Mullen’s The Magdalene Sisters touches on similar themes of vindictive nuns doing bad things to ‘fallen’ women in Ireland but that movie was much fiercer.
The rage in Philomena comes not from the wronged woman but from Alex Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), the BBC journalist who helps her trace the long lost son who was sold to a wealthy American couple 50 years before.
The human interest story of Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) and Philomena means that is not simply a rant against religious hypocrisy although we are left in no doubt about Sixsmith’s views on Catholicism! The film is based on a true story but since Philomena never actually travelled to the U.S. with Sixsmith many parts have obviously been made up for dramatic effect.
Ultimately, it’s a cosy buddy movie with a message and, paradoxically, the gentle, warm-hearted tone is probably more effective than Mullen’s film in highlighting the injustice done to Philomena and many other women like her.
The real story of Philomena Lee (Daily Mail)
I was thoroughly entertained by the BBC 4 profile on John Cooper Clarke and it was a pleasure to see that he is miraculously still in the land of the living after kicking his longstanding heroine addiction.
It’s heartening too to see that he is winning a whole new audience, some of whom were alerted to his genius when a neutered version of Evidently Chicken Town featured on the closing credits of an episode of The Sopranos.
This is still one of his funniest and powerful poems even when the emphatic adjective has been altered from ‘fucking’ to the milder ‘bloody’. Film of his performance in the documentary shows that there’s nothing to beat the original when it comes to the venomous delivery of peerless lines like:
“a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed
waiting for the fucking cab
you fucking stay at fucking home
the fucking neighbours fucking moan
keep the fucking racket down
this is fucking chicken town”.
Poems like this and Beezley Street (which rhymes with uneasy cheesy greasy queasy and beastly) are Britain’s answer to Desolation Row although comparisons to Dylan are exaggerated for someone who has passed the best part of two decades without writing anything new. Continue reading
The acceptable face of journalism : Steve Coogan being interviewed by The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger
“It’s all about being decent” is the line that sums up Steve Coogan’s arguments against the way the press abused their powers and intruded on his privacy.
He has been at the forefront of the campaign to expose the dirty tactics in the UK media and one of the victims of the phone hacking scandal currently being investigated by The Leveson Inquiry.
In a video interview with The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, he looks nervous and uncomfortable but pumped up too. He’s among those who is mad as hell at the and is not prepared take it anymore.
Coogan constantly states that he is happy to be judged by his work as a popular/populist entertainer but does not accept that being in the public eye means his every move and mistake should be publicly scrutinised. Continue reading