The Journey, a modern parable

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A terrific movie that rehearses the big arguments that we should appreciate as two sworn enemies brokered the St.Andrew’s Agreement in 2006.
The Journey” takes the trip Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness made for an urgent flight after the agreement was reached.
Here, critics appear to have a wobble. For one Northern Ireland correspondent, too much disregard for the facts; the characters not sufficiently captured. For one film critic, the dramatic device of the journey being monitored by all the other key participants not adding drama. Too harsh.
A parable has been created that entertains and illuminates, and reminds us well of just what a political journey these leaders took.

Line of Duty series 4

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Another excellent series (broadcast on BBC tv).
The theme of this series was (institutional) sexism, kinda reinforced by public criticism of Thandie Newton’s performance as a bit reserved when that was the nature of the character she was playing.
Other characteristics of the series remains –
– masking what’s really going on until the finale; so even though it’s always about the fight against highly organised crime, viewers seem to forget;
– AC12, the anti-corruption unit, around which the series is based, again continue to not be good enough in their duties;
– compelling witness interview scenes;
– hands always get hurt.
As in other drama series there are bits that seem implausible (e.g. main characters back at work very quickly after suffering very serious injuries) and plenty has been left unresolved for another series.

Their finest

A celebration of cinema and when Britain and its empire stood alone against the Nazis.
A reminder of the sexist nature of the world of work.
An entertainment.

And how the screenwriters must have enjoyed writing a screenplay where the screenwriter is the hero in a war film.
(No doubt learning from journalists who make themselves the hero in a political story.)
One bigger quibble – the female lead makes strides for women and without any real reason, falls for the boss at work (having fallen previously for an artist who didn’t champion her) without any kind of narratve to suggest there had been real warmth.  Surely the screenwriters should have spotted that.

Selma and Pentrich

I missed Selma on its release (and have only just seen it on BBC 2 tv).  The film brings some stunning moments from the past to life – of government spying & brutality, of racism, of fear, of defiance.
Some controversy over the portrayal of President Johnson’s politics and actions – a shame the film couldn’t be more positive about him.
Still the big story – people denied political rights, people putting themselves at some risk from government sides and brutality.
Similar to the Hampden clubs / Luddites of 200 years ago who started marches on London, including the one from the industrial villages in Derbyshire such as Pentrich, who marched 200 years ago this June.
There would have been the same discussions over the problems life presents, how they have no power to get things changed, and how the actions they might be taking will be dangerous.  Even discussions when they’d realised they were being spied upon.
There are limits to the parallels.  Unlike the Southern Christrian Leadership Confrence, the rebels from 200 years ago were not non-violent, although their weapons were basic and not significant enough to make them do anything but run when they saw government forces ahead.
There are books and plays on the movements of the day – but not films.  Just don’t give such a movie to Mel Gibson.

Watney’s red planet

Martian growing potatoes… and that’s not even my joke. But the author naming the hero of “The Martian” as Mark Watney could not have known British ’70s culture.
Released in October, it is on in a 3D effect IMAX format for £3 for a week and it is an entertaining and compelling film.
Quite long, and some of the twists seemed odd – that launching a supplies rocket to Mars needed a new design when spaceships and supplies had already been sent; that you’d slow a large spaceship down with a makeshift bomb (made with a bottle of sugar); oh and that we’ll go to Mars (c’mon).
Yet, the science does seem compelling – hey we all know you start a new field by growing potatoes.
Funny at times, but famously not a comedy, despite its classification at the BAFTAs.
Excellent entertainment – go see.

Free Fire

If the “Free Fire” trailer passes the “six laughs test”, why doesn’t the movie?
A surprise and a disappointment.
The scenario is great, the characters should be interesting, the costumes evoke the seventies.  What goes wrong?
The dialogue that builds up to the shoot-out is interesting enough, but it’s kinda hard to laugh when it’s the IRA (or UDA), and a South African arms dealer.   And once the shoot-out began, was there not more space for dialogue?  (It got hard to follow sometimes when characters were crawling around in dim lighting.)  And just not sure “Annie’s Song” works as a drama vehicle in the way “Stuck in the middle with you” did for “Reservoir Dogs”.

A first look Guardian review was also disappointedA second look wasn’t.