Keep Going

Keep Going is a cowboy movie of a kind. Two partners cross the Kyrgyzstan steppe on horseback. An angry young man and his estranged mother, struggling to find common ground across this trying journey. In another way it is a love story, of a man letting go of years of resentment and allowing himself to love his mother.

Kissing Candice

An Irish film about a lassie whose epilepsy may or may not be giving her psychic visions, and a local gang of drooges who are responsible for the disappearance of a young boy. That being said, it feels like the film’s about nothing. I got bored very early in (although it felt long enough for me) and there was nothing to regain my attention for the rest of the film.

The Cured

A zombie allegory for the release of political and paramilitary prisoners and their reintegration back into their community after the end of The Troubles. To hammer it home, the zombie virus is called the Maze virus (Maze Prison, Maze virus, gedit?) It’s one of those films where I actually would have preferred to read as a book. There’s a lot of really interesting ideas, but the actual characters feel more vehicles for that than real, lived in people. It’s also one of those horror films that confuses loud for scary. But it does have plenty of good zombie shit so I was still happy.

In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America

John Hume was instrumental in utilising the American Irish diaspora to provide political influence to drive the peace process in Northern Ireland. You may remember him from news reports your dad put on when you wanted to watch Home And Away.

This is not so much of a documentary as a eulogy. More time is dedicated to extolling how amiable and likeable John is than actually quantifying what his actions were and what their impact was.

It was a rather curious pick for the festival because, on the one hand, it had such a huge array of key figures from Irish, British and American politics, on the other hand it had some of the worst actual filmmaking I’ve seen. Seriously, I would have guessed this as a final year or master’s student’s end of term project, rather than an internationally funded professional film. It is surprisingly redundant visually. This could easily have been made for radio and then stock footage added to show in a cinema. Everything is either a talking head in a chair, Evocative Image of the Sea #1, or time-lapse landscapes. What little historical footage is used is ridiculously brief and short on context.

When information is provided, it is provided in a frustratingly corkscrew fashion. At one point a quotation appeared on screen, over a background of two letters of dense text in a similar font going in opposing slanting directions, then the paragraph started to slide up the screen, before, after a pause, a static line of text appeared at the bottom of the screen explaining who the quotation was from and where it had been published. And I just thought, “Are you fucking kidding me?! Is that seriously the easiest way you could have presented that information? Not even had it read out by the narrator who is LIAM FUCKING NEESON?! No, no, I mean why pay for Liam Neeson and then make him read out piddling paragraphs of text scrolling lazily up a screen of overlapping text?! Fuck!”

So yeah, that annoyed me. What also annoyed me was this was possibly the best gathering of key figures in ending the Troubles and yet this documentary failed to give any idea of when the Troubles started, ended, why it was prolonged or what contributed to its end. While the documentary seems to list slavveringly all the famous people John Hume met, the actual tracing of the conflict all this was in reference to was glaringly absent.

Perhaps the documentary presumed a level of knowledge on the part of the viewer that I was lacking, but isn’t that the point of a documentary? To educate? And CONTEXT. Necessary to establish no matter how informed your viewer. At one point they mention the reaction to the death of Bobby Sands without having ever mentioned Bobby Sands before or who he was. Come on!

So you come away feeling distinctly uninformed despite this procession of talking heads. Everyone from Bill Clinton to Jimmy Carter to Gerry Adams to Tony Blair to Bono. Ugh, Bono. Can anything happen about Ireland without that guy sticking his oar in? Yes, let’s all hear Bono’s analysis.

And, and, AND, the *cringeworthy* comparisons of John Hume to Martin Luther King. Aye, only if you completely whitewash and neuter Dr. King’s actual legacy do you then get to compare him to a guy you are also holding somehow above and separate from the very violent contexts in which they both existed. For the record, Martin Luther King is not the loveable teddy bear mascot of black people who calmly steered both hang-dog whites and polite blacks to agreeing to do better before shaking hands and calling it a draw. He’s not just a word that can bubble up out of your mouth whenever you need to invoke a warm feeling in the room.

AND how can you make a full-length documentary about the peace process and not mention the actual violence? Outside of Bloody Sunday, there is almost no mention of the actual violence of the Troubles. No mention of the attempted assassination of Margaret Thatcher. No mention of the Omagh bombing. No actual context to what might have been causing resistance to concessions to Republicans as the conflict wore on.

And this elevation of non-violence as though it always glides elegantly into peace if only others would listen. No one would have given John Hume a seat at the table or had any reason to listen to him were it not for the spectre of a very non-non-violent resolution otherwise. All those conflicts where oppression met with nothing but non-violence tend to get called massacres. You may not agree with violent resistance in general or the violence in Northern Ireland especially, but for fuck’s sake, it is crucial and vital to the context of any history of The Troubles. How can you not mention it?!

In conclusion, Whit? 

Angry Inuk

An engaging and challenging look at seal hunting by Inuit people. It sets out very clearly what seal hunting means to Inuit and the Inuit way of life, and how the portrayal of seal hunting and anti-seal hunting campaigns have impacted them. What I found astounding is that in the 8 years it took to make this movie, despite constant requests to a variety of the major anti-sealing campaign groups, and despite the fact that animal rights groups and indigenous peoples should be effectively be on the same side, not one person would meet with the filmmaker or any of the Inuit activists to discuss the matter, or hear their side of the story. I’d actually highly recommend you see this one, you don’t commonly come across Inuit perspectives and this is a great film.

The Demons

Fuck me, I thought that would never end. Just saw The Demons. Boring as fuck.

I know you’re not supposed to say films are boring, in the same way that you’re not supposed to say people are ugly – they’re not ugly, they’re just not beautiful in the way you like – but fuck it! This film was boring! I was watching a shot about an hour and a half in, when I’d lost all patience, and was just like, “What is this for? What is this shot for? Huh?” It’s not even pretentious, self-indulgent filmmaking which can sometimes bore me but I get that the person thinks they’re making something entrancing because they’re in love with their own work. This just felt poorly made, aimless, flat and dull.

I can’t even tell you what it was about. I’m not sure it had a point. At first I was like, oh it’s a coming-of-age film, but I’m not sure anyone came of age or learned anything or grew. After a solid hour and twenty minutes, the film decides to have its first dramatic incident when a paedo kills a kid. Some might call that overdoing it. This incident floats disjointed like the rest of the mundane happenstances in the film, with no emotional resonance. This film is emotionally dead and it’s chronic sitting through it.

Werewolf

A film about a couple of junkies trying to come clean, and the struggle as they sabotage themselves and each other. Opens with a suicide, so you know it’s gonna be cheery.

I liked that the film was beautiful and humanising while not sugar-coating the characters, not making them super-likable or cast as martyrs. They’re in a shit situation, they shouldn’t have to be saints just to offset the stigma of being substance-addicted.

Also that it focused on how boring addiction is, instead of the dramatic sexy capers they get in to feed their habit, it’s two people trying to put right a very fucked up life with no tools – no support, no home, no income, no dignity.

Below Her Mouth

Well, that fair wakes you up in the morning! Just out of Below Her Mouth, a hot as fuck erotic romance between semi-reformed rogue Dallas and closeted soon-to-be married woman Jasmine. Erika Linder is absolutely gorgeous as Dallas, the complete asshole you know you’re gonna fall for despite yourself. Everyone in this is fit as fuck, six-pack sporting. 90% of the scenes are folk without their kit on, sex scene after sex scene. It’s one of those movies that when you leave, you can’t look anybody in the eye. Ooft!