Detroit: Movie Review. Kathryn Bigelow just keeps on delivering.


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It’s fair to say that Kathryn Bigelow is on a roll.

Her last three movies (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and now Detroit) have been gut busting horror shows about the human condition.

I love that Kathryn Bigelow sits in the ‘male’ directors’ chair.  I love hat she must be and should be a feminist icon, because she does the sort of movies that she makes much better than most men make them.

Kathryn Bigelow likes an explosion, a gun, a death.  But her female perspective on this raises it from guts and gory/glory into something higher.  Something more profound.

Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker both took on war as the subject matter.  This does too, but it’s the war of the races.  The war of oppression by white men upon black in the Summer of Love.

Ironic, because this is a film about hate.  Racism. Supremacy.

It opens with a short animation that perfectly encapsulates America’s fundamental tic.  The thing that won’t go away.  The displacement of race.  From the displacement of American Indians to the displacement of Africans to the slave plantations of  the Deep South and latterly their displacement into the Northern industrial cities like Detroit.

This displacement, in fact, displaces the white ruling class into the suburbs and that’s the start of deep tension and resentment.

We have witnessed this in the UK too, as gentrification of once unfashionable districts has displaced both black and white working classes into modern day ghettos.  And it aint stopping any day soon.

What Bigelow achieves with this movie is a political calling cry to any liberal minded decent human being, regardless of colour or creed.  It vilifies the atrocious white police force of late sixties Detroit  (Yet, I don’t think Detroit itself was much different from other places – there were riots in Harlem for instance and we all know about 1980’s LA).

She creates an almost documentary feel that is more 4D than any of the 4D Sh!t you’ll see in multiplexes.  Because this is for real.

Apart from the relatively well known John Botega (brilliant thank you) her massive ensemble cast is star-free.  That’s kinda how she rolls.

But each and every one of the 20 or so leads (yes 20) will have had life-affirming, and early career defining, roles in this epic.

But one stands out above all else in this majestic movie.

Will Poulter.

The actual devil incarnate.

Were he real, not an actor, he should rot in hell.  But he’s only an actor and his performance is surely Oscar worthy. You simply despise this evil racist bastard.  And he is unflinching in his evilness.  The smirk at the end of the movie almost gets you out of your seat.

This is a truly great movie.  A movie that should be syllabus material on any High School history course.

Kathryn Bigelow and her team (especially writer Mark Boal) deserve all the awards that this movie will hopefully receive.

Mother!: Movie Review. Will have film students hard at work for years.


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Darren Aronofsky has followed up his biblical epic, Noah, with another biblical horror story starring Jennifer Lawrence (his partner in real life) and Javier Bardem.

Whilst advance publicity had suggested this might be heavily inspired by Rosemary’s Baby this is not in fact the case.  Far from it.  Rosemary’s Baby is about the birth of Satan. This is not.

I found it helpful to know in advance what the premise of this film was and there is  a brilliant deconstruction of the plot in this article in the Telegraph.  You may not want to know before you see it, but it’s a great read after the fact and confirmed most of my assumptions about the heavy allegory and metaphor used in the movie.

To make two consecutive biblical films is surprising because Aronofsky has declared his atheism but presumably the source material is such brilliant storytelling that he simply could’t resist.

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What results in mother! is a film of such epic proportions, such horror, such artistry that at times your jaw actually drops.  Aronofsky stops at nothing.  There are no sacred beliefs that he cannot explore or visualise.  What he does not do is ridicule them.  This is a representative telling of Genesis, the New Testament,  earth science theory and sustainability all wrapped in one great gothic whole.

And it’s gorgeous, sumptuous and creepy.

The performances by Bardem and Lawrence are electrifying, albeit their togetherness as man and wife seems unlikely, but as the plot unravels it’s obvious why.

The appearance of a married couple in the shape of Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer (both extraordinary performances) into their lives is startling in its aloofness and cruelty.  One feels Lawrence’s panic bubbling over as the idyll she is trying to create in an island home is about to gradually unwind.

And unwind it does; in increasingly spectacular fashion.

I’m not going to go into spoiler territory (read the Telegraph article for that (after you’ve seen the movie) so I’ll stop here.

Suffice it to say that although this won’t appeal to many; for those that it does this is a truly great movie.

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Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile. Separated at Birth.


This is outrageously great; both as a meeting of songwriting minds with its resultant musical output, but also as a video.

It’s genius.  “Hey guys, you look like each other.” let’s swap your voices and dress Kurt in all white and Courtney in all black then mirror all your moves in black and white in the countryside.”

“Dude, done!”

(I wonder if one’s shot in Oz and one in USA? That would seem to make sense as they never actually come together.)

Boom! what a fucking result.

Extraordinary.

(And there’s an album to come.  I canna wait for that.)

It: Movie review.


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Right.  This is ‘Stranger Things: The Fucking Nightmare’.

Which means it’s; ‘ET, The Goonies, Stand by Me: The Fucking Nightmare.’

Not least because it stars Finn Wolfhard.

And, if nothing else it has unearthed the preternaturally beautiful Sophia Lillis, as Beverley, who, like Wolfhard, surely has a massive career ahead of her.

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It is proper scary.

Kids fight monsters.  What’s not to like?

Nothing beats proper scary in my book and few writers create scariness better than Stephen King.  The Shining and Carrie are two of the best horror films ever made and this is his hat-trick.

We open in year 27 (1989 with lots of neat historical references) of a 27 year cycle in which mayhem descends on the small town of Derry (in Maine?) and follows a group of Losers; geeks, fatties, stutterers, black kids, scaredycats and a tomboy with attitude (Beverley) who also provides the love interest.

The movie starts with stutterer Bill (beautifully played by Jaeden Leiberher) losing his beloved younger brother, Georgie, to a demonic clown who lives in the town’s sewers.  It’s the start of a series of disappearances amongst children in the town.  And the clown, played superbly by Bill Skarskgard, called Pennywise is out to wreak havoc having been let loose in year 27.

The movie has plenty of jumps.  And some of the appearances of Pennywise are frankly terrifying.

Despite its length, over two hours, it maintains interest throughout and the story develops brilliantly.  Top marks to director Andy Muschietti who is adept at creating mood, atmosphere and moments of humour.

“Who invited Molly Ringwold” asks Wolfhard in reference to the short red haired Beverley.  It’s a laugh out loud moment (and Wolfhard has them all).

There’s a neat subplot about school bullying (that begins a little cliched but develops nicely) with a good performance from Nicholas Hamilton as a proper bully, Henry Bowers.

But the heart of the movie is dedicated to scaring the fucking shite out of you.

And it succeeds triumphantly.

It’s a great horror movie.  It really is.

 

 

Our House. A pact with Guru Dudu.


In an earlier post I told you how Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour was one of five star hits of the festival.

So much so that when he said on his Facebook page on Sunday that he needed a room for a few days we offered the room in our Air B’nB free of charge.

On one condition.

He put on a Silent Disco Walking Tour here in South Queensferry.

It was particularly relevant as today was the day the Queen opened the new Queensferry Crossing so it seemed like an excellent way to celebrate.

He agreed and I put the jungle drums into motion.  24 hours later 45 Guru Dudu virgins were assembled in Scotmid’s Car Park and the tour began.

Starting with his legendary East meets West Yoga/Disco warm up we all found our inner Disco Chakra’s to Chic’s Le Freak.  And what’s more, with Guru Dudu having implored the Disco Divas to take the relentless rain away, they did, and we were treated to a pleasant autumnal evening’s weather.

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Moving to The Loan we were further uninhibited as we each took to the dance stage in our own style which was echoed by the assembled.

Next stop the harbour, with the 53 year old Road bridge and the aforementioned 12 hour old Queensferry crossing as our background to the West and the iconic 145 year old Rail Bridge as the dance canvas to the East.

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Post bridge orgy we headed to the High Street for our mass choir performance of Bohemian Rhapsody to the Orocco Pier posse.  It was awesome (plenty of air guitars on show).

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Up the West Terrace past the Ferry Tap to the East Terrace where we did a ‘Soul Train’ to Rose Royce’s Car Wash.

Next up we performed Our House by Madness.  IN. A. HOUSE.  (The pink one on East Terrace)

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Not to be outdone, a resident of West Terrace took us up The Vennel (painful) before inviting us into her back garden, where we jigged to Rihanna.

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As we basked in a glorious sunset we headed back to Scotmid for the piece de resistance and finale.

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Scotmid staff and customers were utterly bemused as this flash mob descended on their favourite supermarket.

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And just to top it all off we did a collection for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute that has a station in South Queensferry.  (Again it seemed appropriate, on this special day, as they have been saving lives around the bridges for many, many years.)

£280 later…

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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: Book Review


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“And America too is a delusion, the grandest one of all.  The White race believes – believes with all its heart – that it is their right to take the land.  To kill Indians.  Make War. Enslave their brothers.  This nation shouldn’t exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft and cruelty.  Yet here we are.”

“The word we.  In some ways, the only thing we have in common is the colour of our skin.  Our ancestors came from all over the African continent.  It’s quite large.”

“Black hands built the White House, the seat of our nation’s government.  The word we.  We are not one people but many different people.  How can one person speak for this great, beautiful race – which is not one race but many, with a million desires and hopes and wishes for ourselves and our children.”

The words of black activist Lander at the conclusion of Colson Whitehead’s monumental novel about slavery.

And yet, this man, made it to the White House.

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A white man that dies his skin orange.  Perhaps because of the shame of his innermost thoughts.

In Whitehead’s novel he makes the Underground Railroad a real thing.  A metaphor for the metaphor that was the actual Underground Railroad.  A nationwide collaboration between white slavery abolitionists.

It’s genius to do that.

The story is one slave’s journey (Cora) from Georgia to ‘The North’ where slavery has been abolished in, well I don’t know, maybe the 1860’s.

It deservedly won, not only the National Book Award, but the Pulitzer Prize for fiction too.

It really is monumental.  Cora is chased from here to there, stumbling upon the Underground Railroad, again and again.  And all the while pursued by an evil slave catcher set to the task by her owner, Terence Randall, of cotton picking Georgia.

I won’t say any more, I don’t want to spoil it for you.  Just promise me one thing; you’ll read it.

Whitehead’s prose takes a little getting used to and there’s many a stumble along the way.  Appropriately so.

And while it’s all fiction, its resonance and sense of history, of evilness, is breathtaking in its grip.

Many books are called masterpieces.  This should be one of them.

Devastating.

 

 

Yerma by the Young Vic. Review of National Theatre live show.


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This is a ferocious theatrical experience.

It’s a little odd to see in a cinema because the episodic nature of it, and the titling that addresses each chapter and subchapter are rendered as video. In the theatre is it a lightbox or is video suspended above the stage?  I know not.

Accompanying each title is music that starts out loud and ends up deafening, moving from luscious Spanish folk to out and out death metal.

It’s a suitable underscore to the action on stage which charts the descent into madness of the main protagonist ‘Her’ played mindblowingly by Billie Piper.

Yerma is Spanish for ‘Barren’ and it’s a 1930’s tale by Lorca reimagined for 21st century London by Director Simon Stone in a dazzling production.  It starts in almost chaos with ‘Her’ and her future husband John (Brendan Cowell) raging against each other in drunken love with a disturbing undertone of violence, almost hatred, underpinning their love.

He’s a succesful consultant, she a struggling blogger.  Their highly sexual relationship is turning as she has notions of motherhood, he anything but.  Nevertheless ‘Her’ wins the day and he agrees to conceive.

They never do.

Perhaps her abortion of a foetus from previous lover, Victor (John Macmillan), is the reason.  But she has fertile eggs, he has strong sperm.

It seems it just isn’t destined to be.

And that drives him to erectile disfunction and stress, her to madness.

The sense of despair is tangible and grows unremittingly.

The pace picks up constantly.

The chapters flow faster.

The noise ratchets.

The glass box in which they perform is a goldfish bowl of voyeuriam.  We shouldn’t be here.  It’s JUST. TOO. INTIMATE.  JUST. TOO. PRIVATE. We REALLY shouldn’t be here looking in as this relationship collapses and erupts in total anger.

Technically the play is a masterpiece.  It reminded me of Malthouse Theatre’s incredible imagining of Picnic at Hanging Rock.  Massive snap blackouts.  Seconds later a carpet of grass, of carpet, of soil.

How?

Billie Piper is collosal.

Brendan Cowell is her match.

Simon Stone has imagined a masterpiece.