Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
I watched a film tonight that is available to rent on DVD. It is called This Is England. The film is set in the year 1983, after the Falklands campaign, during Thatcher’s reign during that period in England when there were nearly 4 million people unemployed and the government buoyed itself on Nationalism in the absence of economic success.
The story centres round an ordinary young teenage schoolboy who lost his dad in that war who accidently finds himself involved with a group of skinheads and follows their evolution through the power struggles and splits in the group and the follies that befall them.
What struck me about this was that the group was not everyone’s archetypal image of warlike hate filled skinheads that evolved in the 1970s. It was portrayed as normal people who were just happy community like any other grouping of its time, be it post punks, goths, rockers, or even the new romantics. What turned the film grim was the upheaval caused by the introduction of hard-line Nationalist factions into the group, although the reasonings behind it were as ambiguous and poorly understood by the characters as happens in real life. It gave it a sense of reality in showing how it portrayed, through inaction, fear, intimidation and the strength of character of very few individuals, that a whole group can be changed or splintered into badness; sometimes with many sheepish and unwilling accomplices.
What I noticed about the way this was done in the film was that this group and what happened in it was a microcosm of the Nation as a whole in 1983; whipped up into a frenzy of Nationalism by the government of the day because they had double figure unemployment percentages and no economic success to win the next election. Stirring up National pride with a war is an old tactic to mask the reality throughout history, even today. Misguided and misdirected and for all the wrong reasons in the national and group arenas. The results the same in each, scapegoats! Inocent people getting hurt. Blinded, unquestioning followers doing the leaders bidding. Friendships torn apart.
It made me think back to the start of the 1980s and look at it again. I had almost filed that time away as a non-event in my mind. It was like a void between 1977, the time of jubilee and punks, and the mid 80s, when every brassy bloke from Essex could buy a house and drive a big car. Now I see it again I am shocked by what was going on at the time. The film didn’t touch on the despair of joblessness. It didn’t need to as that wasn’t it’s purpose, there were other depictions of that like Boys from the Black Stuff or Johny Jarvis on TV for that, and I remember that whole sense of hopelessness that was around in those years. No this made me remember the ugliness of what happens to normal friendly people when they are stirred up by vocal extremists. It scared me how people can excuse themselves for terrible deeds and how it seems 90 percent of the population don’t think for themselves, but simply follow others’ leads, be it individuals in gangs or Prime Ministers.
I think the 1980s saw a huge change in how the mass media was able to tell the population exactly what they wanted them to hear. On top of that it heralded a time when government was able to use that mass hysteria through the media on an almost daily basis as a form of control. The scariest thing is how little most of the people think for themselves or act on their own convictions if it goes against the general consensus. I don’t understand why I had forgotten this when I was living in those times. Perhaps I was too young to understand it then but I don’t remember ever being carried along by any of the nationalism around the Falklands campaign. I always felt there was a bigger picture there to see.
I love films that work like this on different levels and this one is excellently done. The best thing for me about the film is the performance of Stephen Graham as Combo, the skinhead just out of jail, hardened by his time inside and carried along on the nationalist wave in the country and blaming any easy target. I was scared of him and he wasn’t even in the room with me. I was scared because he was so utterly unpredictable. The tension around him felt by everyone in every scene he was in kept me on edge and wondering how some of the others could even have the bravery to turn their back on him for a second. Get it out if you see it and see if your recollection of 1983 was as ugly as this was to me. Why didn’t I see it at the time I still don’t get. Just be warned there is a lot of racism and some violence in the film but it has to be there to make you feel it. So don’t be wishy-washy and avoid it because you don’t think you should watch that. To experience is to feel and to feel is to be alive. It’s a brilliant film and it has a super soundtrack so get it out.
In my time ill off I have spent a lot of time researching on the internet into different subjects, some mainstream and some which are on the very edges of human experience.
I have taken the time to look at a lot of art aswell to develop my tastes and find out what really interests me. There is a lot of very different and interesting lifestyles and mindsets represented out there and I have been surprised and amazed by much. It has been a time of self discovery for me.
Now to the point of this blog
In my searches I visited a lot of Photographic Artists websites as I like portrait art. I came across one particular artist who is responsible for the image above and the image on my page.
Now below is and image by the same Photographic Artist upon which I would like you to comment. As you can see it is a properly staged photograph, well lit, modelled, the make up perfect and a certain aura perposefully created.
What I want to ask you all is . . . . . . . . . . .
IS THIS PHOTOGRAPH ART OR, IS IT SOMETHING ELSE ?
What feelings does this image stir in you?
What message does it convey to you?
What message do you think the artist was trying to convey?
Do you feel it has value?
I am not offering my own commentary on it yet as I dont want to have the comments centred on any opinion I might have. So please feel free to comment from whatever standpoint and discuss in my blog comments.
Today in Dublin we say goodbye to an institution. After 240 years Greenes bookshop opposite Trinity College in the very centre of the city, is closing. They are moving to a wharehouse distribution centre and changing to on-line sales only.
This shop is legendary in Dublin and has been one of those landmark buildings for as long as it has existed. How many people over the years have said “I’ll meet you off the bus at Greenes”
It had a famous winding staircase lined with books and crazily an open fire. There was also a post office in the ground floor which acted as a meeting place for the local community
Oscar Wilde lived across the road from the shop on the corner of Merrion Square where his statue now stands (actually it sort of reclines) and was a frequent visitor
It is a sad, sad loss to the city and country as a whole and follows close on the heals of the famous Kennys bookshop and gallery which closed for the same reason in Galway last year
Some things are worth more than profit and should not be lost to pure economics
This is a short potted history:-
• Goodbye To Greene’s Bookshop of 16 Clare Street, Dublin, Ireland •
Greenes is a building that is steeped in more than 240 years of history, having being built in the late 1700’s. The original owners lived and worked here. Many notable authors such as Brendan Behan, W.B. Yeats, Frank O’Connor, Jack B. Yeats and Sammuel Beckett (whose father had an office across the road) have browsed the shelves over the years.
This upstairs room has featured in about half a dozen movies and TV documentaries. And it was in this room that old John Greene, the founder, was laid out in 1899. A visitor to this room in the 1940’s would have found members of the staff frying their sausages and breakfast on a pan over the fire!
Greene’s of Clare Street has been a book shop since 1843, prior to this it has been a ladies Hoisery Store. There are many interesting characteristic features of this store including, the Glass canopy, the old wooden bookstands and the intricate ironwork supports. The original lettering has never been changed since the shop opened in 1843.
The Shop with it’s distinctive Glass Canopy
The Pembrey family has run the business since 1912 when it was taken over by Herbert H. Pembrey, then passed onto his son Herbert Seymour Pembrey, who looked after the business along with his son Eric until the year 2000, when sadly both Eric and Herbert passed away. The family firm is now being run by Eric’s son David.
“…..because of it’s central location, Greene’s has been a handy source for school texts over the years, and generations of Dubliners remember queuing with their book lists in hand…..”
Greene’s Bookshop Ltd. was located in the heart of Georgian Dublin. We are within three minutes walk of Westland Row (Pearse) railway station (suburban & DART services). This station was the first to be built in Ireland (for the line to Dun Laoghaire built by William Dargan in 1831).
Ireland shock sends Pakistan home
|World Cup Group D, Jamaica
Ireland 133-7 beat Pakistan 132 by three wickets
Ireland produced one of the greatest victories in cricket’s rich history by beating Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day amid unbelievable tension in Jamaica.
Led by their brilliant wicket-keeper batsman Niall O’Brien, they reached a rain-adjusted target of 128 with three wickets remaining in near darkness.
Ireland’s fans, who had been there to witness the tie against Zimbabwe, could barely contain themselves afterwards.
The result means Pakistan, ranked fourth in the world, are already out.
Wicket-keeper O’Brien, axed by Kent in 2006 because they rate Geraint Jones above him, hit a brilliant 72, easily the best effort by any of the batsmen on a green wicket which Ireland’s seamer loved.
But when he tried to hit off-spinner Shoaib Malik for six with 21 needed and six wickets still in hand, he was stumped.
Panic set in as Andrew White was caught at short leg and Kyle McCallan edged to slip in the next over, off Rao Iftikhar.
But O’Brien’s brother Kevin stayed to the end as he and skipper Trent Johnston eked out the remaining runs needed.
Ireland could now lose to West Indies and still qualify for the Super Eight stage, but they are not definitely there yet.
Pakistan, on the other hand, rated fourth in the world in one-day internationals, go home.
Ireland held every catch going, produced some inspired stops in the field and even shrugged off some dubious umpiring decisions.
Their only failing was a generous offering of 23 wides, but still Pakistan came up short.
The first opportunity for Irish celebration came when Dave Langford-Smith bowled a peach of a delivery at Mohammad Hafeez in the first over, which the batsman edged behind.
When Boyd Rankin then had Younis Khan caught in the slips for a duck, the Test nation had to rebuild from 15-2.
Imran Nazir (24) and Mohammad Yousuf (15) added 41, but when Rankin and Langford-Smith were replaced by Johnston and Andre Botha, the two big wickets fell.
Yousuf drove a wide ball from Johnston straight to point before Inzamam edged his third ball to the solitary slip.
Given obvious confidence by that strike, Botha (2-5 from eight overs) began to extract huge inswing and made life intolerable for Nazir.
Eventually, the opener departed for 24, Eoin Morgan taking his second catch in the slips.
Wickets continued to tumble, despite the best efforts of Kamran Akmal (27), and Johnston’s captaincy was spot on as he brought back Boyd for some extra pace.
The bowler dug a couple in, and both Akmal and Azhar Mahmood spooned catches to Johnston at mid-wicket.
After Mohammad Sami and Iftikhar had added a gutsy 25 for the ninth wicket, spinner McCallan took the last two wickets as wild slogs were held in the deep.
Pakistan had been bowled out for 132 in the 46th over.
The wicket was still providing assistance for the bowlers when Ireland batted.
Jeremy Bray, the hero against Zimbabwe, was ajudged lbw to Sami, who also trapped Morgan the same way to make it 15-2.
O’Brien, who moved from Kent to Northants in January, and William Porterfield added a vital 37 for the Irish.
Then Hafeez’s arm ball produced the third wicket, Porterfield playing on to his stumps.
But O’Brien took a liking to the off-spinner, cutting and driving for precious boundaries and Pakistan were toiling again.
Suddenly, Inzamam’s men were given a lift when umpire Brian Jerling, who had already made some strange decisions, elected to give Botha out caught at short leg.
Replays showed the ball missed contact with bat or gloves by nearly a foot.
A further 11 runs were added after that before the rain came, and when play resumed the umpires soon began looking at their meters again.
But play continued, and O’Brien continued to bat freely. He hit Malik for one straight six but could not repeat the feat.
When Iftikhar immediately took his two wickets, 16 were still needed and only seven wickets remained.
At this stage, the overs were not an issue, but the ever-decreasing light was.
Kevin O’Brien and skipper Johnston eked out the singles, before a Johnston square cut for four and some Pakistan wides finally eased the tension.
Finally, Johnston freed his arms and slammed Mahmood into the stands at long-on. The party could begin.
Ireland beat Pakistan by 3 wickets (D/L)
Ireland won the toss and decided to field
17 Mar 07, 02:34 PM
Kingston – St Patrick is convinced Ireland would follow up Thursday’s remarkable tie with Zimbabwe by sweeping aside Pakistan.
“St Patrick’s going to perform his greatest miracle yet today,” he said, with a thronging mass cheering his every word and an RTE crew relaying his message back home.
“We killed off all the snakes in Ireland and now we’re going to win our first World Cup game.”
“Unfortunately, the Jamaican police were not believers… in the art of fun and decided to pull the divine one aside for a quick chat. It was one of those Santa Claus having his beard ripped off moments as St Patrick, aka Dave O’Connor from County Dublin, disconsolately handed over his staff for safekeeping.
You need permission for everything at this tournament and there was no way Dave was getting his instrument through to the Party Stand.
I said something in my last blog that described the way things make me feel at the moment. The phrase was “Happy- Sad”. I do and see a lot of things that make me smile and then think, and inside I have my moments, or when no-one can see I have them outwardly. But Happy-Sad describes it perfectly. I can be both in the same situation. Happy because I am enjoying what is going on around me and Sad because it should have been so much better shared with someone else.
The phrase comes from a song by Gemma Hayes, and I want to introduce you to her in this blog because she deserves recognition for her music. (She is also a 10 out of 10 babe LOL)
These are the best tracks from the last 2 albumns
- Back of my Hand
- Happy Sad
This one is called Happy Sad and it is a beautiful track from “The Roads Don’t Love You” albumn
This is called Back of my Hand from her first albumn “Night on my Side”
Now if I have wetted your appetite read on and I urge you to buy her music so she can make more
Gemma Hayes is a singer-songwriter born on August 11, 1977 in Ballyporeen, Tipperary, Ireland.She signed to Source Records in 2001 and issued the folksy 4.35am EP and the more band-orientated Work to a Calm EP before releasing her debut album, Night on my Side, in 2002. The album was nominated for that years Mercury Music Prize but lost out to Ms. Dynamite’s A Little Deeper.After touring Night on my Side Hayes took two years out from the music business; “All I do know is that I didn’t want to listen to music at all. I stopped listening to the radio. It was like I’d overdosed on music”.In late 2005 Hayes returned with her second album, The Roads Don’t Love You, and picked up the Best Irish Female Artist award at the 2006 Meteor Ireland Music Awards shortly before completing a small tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. She then co-wrote a song with Adam Duritz for the Counting Crows’ live album, *New Amsterdam.
This is a piece Euronews did on Gemma in 2002 when it all kicked off for the then 24 year old talent just starting out on the road to success
Night on My Side (2002-05-27)
The Roads Don’t Love You (2005-10-31)
Work To A Calm
Back of My Hand
Let a Good Thing Go (2002-07-29)
Just as a treat and to show you that this artist really has a voice, this is the last song called November from an accoustic set she did for an RTE television programme recently. I think you will agree she has a purity in her voice
I hope you liked Gemma’s music. I think she deserves success outside Ireland. And I hope one day she’s going to be Mrs Door32 (I wish LOL)
For more info go to
This girl is so talented!
As it is the start of Lent there are probably millions of you out there who are using the opportunity to quit cigarettes ….. again ! Most of you will fail of course but I thought this would be a great opportunity to point you in the direction of one of the finest pieces of cinema of the 90s.
If you are giving up the fags the second clip is just for you. . .
Here are 2 films set in Brooklyn based around a Tobacco shop run by “Auggie” Wren (– Harvey Kietel)
The first film was called “Smoke” (1995) by Wayne Wang
It co-starred William Hurt
and also Stockard Channing. Forrest Whitacker and Jarred Harris
The plot of this movie, like smoke itself, drifts and swirls ethereally. Characters and subplots are deftly woven into a tapestry of stories and pictures which only slowly emerges to our view. This film tries to convince us that reality doesn’t matter so much as aesthetic satisfaction. In Auggie’s New York smoke shop, day by day passes, seemingly unchanging until he teaches us to notice the little details of life. Paul Benjamin, a disheartened and broken writer, has a brush with death that is pivotal and sets up an unlikely series of events that afford him a novel glimpse into the life on the street which he saw, but did not truly perceive, every day. Finally, it’s Auggie’s turn to spin a tale. Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story
This clip is the opening sequence starting with a shoplifter in Auggie’s shop. You can see how the feel of the movie reveals itself in this clip and it is set to the song “You’re innocent when you dream” by Tom Waits.
This is a beautiful piece of work
The second film is called “Blue in the Face” (1995)
Again it stars Harvey Kietel as Auggie
but also brings to the screen
Again Jared Harris and it also attracted many all star cameo appearances by people like Michael J Fox, Rosanne, Mira Sorvino, Lilly Tomlin and Madonna
Wayne Wang directed again in this follow-up movie to Smoke and presents a series of improvisational situations strung together to form a pastiche of Brooklyn’s diverse ethnicity, offbeat humor, and essential humanity. Many of the same characters inhabiting Auggie Wren’s Brooklyn Cigar Store in Smoke return here to expound on their philosophy of smoking, relationships, baseball, New York, and Belgian Waffles. Most of all, this is a movie about living life, off-the-cuff
This clip is a pastiche of some of the best parts of the movie and exhalts the good and bad of smoking in a typically New York style
I absolutely adored these films when they came out. They are films you could easily have missed as they were not on wide general release. More art house theatres. However I love this style of film making. lots and lots of dialogue and laid back clever humour. Not enough films like this are made
I recommend you see these if you can
And good luck with the cigarettes. you’ll probably want to smoke more after listening to Lou Reed