Really quite mesmerising.
About one third of the way through this, quite long (137 minutes) movie the swelling strings and organ of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio for Strings and Organ in G Minor start to stir and build through 8 minutes and 35 seconds.
Unlike traditional screenplay music the classical piece, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, does not subtly grace the background, it grabs you by the throat and dominates the proceedings to the point, almost, of discomfort.
(Some reviewers feel it is heavy-handed, I felt it was well judged.)
The fact that it is in a minor key and is achingly melancholic bursting with sadness, despair and grief absolutely encapsulates the mood of Lonergan’s creation.
I found these lyrics written for the Adagio and they could in fact be the inspiration for Kenneth Lonergan’s Screenplay although I very much doubt he has seen them…
So turn away!
Turn away, turn away
I am alone, I am alone!
I am alone
I am alone
I am alone
Go turn away, go turn away
Turn away, turn away
Turn me away
Gone in darkness
All, is one now!
All, is gone now!
All, is gone
I am gone.
I don’t recall a Hollywood movie so built around grief and that grief is etched into every pore of Casey Affleck’s face. Surely he is a shoe in for best actor at this year’s Oscars.
Lucas Hedges, as his orphaned nephew who Casey Affleck, as Leo – a dead end Janitor – suddenly becomes guardian to after the death of his brother, plays a nuanced role as the troubled teen who can at least find solace in school, sex and band practice; even if his band is dire.
(Actually, there are also a lot of laugh out loud, mainly awkward, moments in it which were entirely unexpected to me.)
It’s essentially a two header between them although Michelle Williams plays a strong support role, albeit brief in screen time.
To be honest, even calling it a two-header is to downplay the importance of Casey Affleck in this movie. In truth it is really a study of him alone with supporting characters used ostensibly as dramatic devices and props.
The trailers do not reveal the depth of the storyline, which is devastatingly sad, and for some almost too much to bear. My wife sobbed almost uncontrollably throughout the third act.
But despite all this, personally, it didn’t quite capture my heart.
Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind. It’s a great, albeit slightly one dimensional, movie with a brilliant central performance and a strong screenplay with a good ensemble supporting cast, but that’s not enough to make it the movie of the year.
That said, I would strongly recommend it.
“It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times.”
So begins the first of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, Autumn.
It’s a riff off Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and she returns to it repeatedly in this extended part prose part, almost, poem.
It’s a study on time and it’s an abstract novel in its form and this can be (at times – no pun) quite tedious as she wordsmiths and wordplays her way through pages and even short chapters at a time, but if you can grimace your way through what I imagine most critics will see as the book’s highlights you find yourself immersed in a rather captivating platonic love story about a dying 100 year old single (gay?) man -a poet and songwriter – and a young, precocious English lecturer who has secretly loved him (her childhood neighbour) since she was 8 years old (and he was 75).
Daniel is dying. Elisabeth (sic) is visiting him in his care home and reflecting on their deeply respectful on-off life together, against a backdrop of a dysfunctional mother and an estranged (or dead) father.
Much has been made of this being the first post-Brexit novel but really it’s really a contextual backdrop give that the timeshiftimg story concludes in Autumn 2016 in the wake of Britain’s extremely divisive and frankly ridiculous decision at the polls.
It’s clear Smith shares my political stance and uses her Scottishness to highlight the differences between our green and pleasant land and the carbuncle that is Englandshire.
A feminist strand that runs through it is Smith’s clear admiration for the World’s only (deceased) female Pop Artist, beauty and actor, Pauline Boty, and, in particular, her painting of Christine Keeler: Scandal 63. An artist of the time but out of her time. Ignored but found, forgotten, found, forgotten, found, forgotten in the years after her unheralded heyday.
At times I found this a challenging read but remarkably it’s also a page turner (it really does race along in very short chapters) and, in that respect that makes it quite an achievement. I will certainly continue to read the quartet as it emerges.
Can you imagine Trump saying this in an interview with the New York Times in four years’ time?
[Obama: to Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic for The New York Times.]
“I’d put the Second Inaugural up against any piece of American writing — as good as anything. One of the great treats of being president is, in the Lincoln Bedroom, there’s a copy of the Gettysburg Address handwritten by him, one of five copies he did for charity. And there have been times in the evening when I’d just walk over, because it’s right next to my office, my home office, and I just read it.”
No doubt you’ve seen yesterday’s superb Sunday Herald TV listing for Trump’s inauguration, but if you haven’t here it is.
Great so see the paper get high quality recognition in this piece in Time.
This award winning case study of a campaign by Argentinian cancer organisation, MACMA, was created in the wake of Facebook and Instagram banning the showing of breasts on their platforms, even, and this was when the controversy really started, when showing women how to self examine for great cancer.
Had I have been asked, I’d likely have said yes, as this brave Argentinian male model did, to step into the breach and find a loophole.
The result is tremendous creativity and genuine originality.
Congratulations MACMA Argentina.
A slightly censored wall from the old pillbox at South Queensferry’s Shellbeds.