Peter Mackie Burns
With a few echoes from Paul Morrissey’s Flesh (cross-reference below), Burns realizes Mark O’Halloran’s wide-ranging screenplay with subtlety, emotion and depth.
Imagine being 46, in a 30-year career job, having two children and a devoted wife, only to realize that holding a young man’s penis or feeling it deep inside is all that matters.
Meet Colm (heroically and masterfully played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) is just that man, working assiduously at a shipping firm on the docks of Dublin, only to be ensnared (at first in a public washroom) by the beauty and heat of blonde bombshell, Jay (Tom Glynn-Carney would tempt all comers of any sexual orientation). Trouble is, Jay doodles men just for cash in order to support himself, his wife and baby daughter Chloe.
Sinking into alcoholism, quarreling with homophobe son Shane (Scott Graham, too angry by half), receiving some comfort from likely lesbian daughter Caroline (Deirdre Molloy is a delight in any hair colour), and perpetually puzzling devoted wife Claire (stoically done by Monica Dolan). Colm seems ready to end it all (especially after getting the news that his job has been declared redundant by the new owners…), yet, like a siren call, repeatedly goes back to Jay after every calamity rears its ugly head.
It’s a film that lays a few hearts bare and the hope that “cleaning up the backyard” might be rewarded by the love that dare not speak its name. JWR
Cheryl Jacobs Crim
To connect and support
I purposely waited to write this review the day after the last Presidential Debate of 2020. Sadly, I had to give up on the verbal slugfest after an hour. Sure, Trump was a tad more civil (largely due to the enforcement of mic mutings during “two minutes, uninterrupted”), but the faint hope that the worst president ever had learned anything over the past few weeks was immediately dashed with his “sunny” (er, hello there Prime Minster Trudeau) outlook on the taming of COVID-19, (“We’re rounding the corner” even as cases and deaths continue unabated).
Crim’s film begins just after the 2016 election, documenting the protests, burgeoning women’s groups and relentless advocacy of those who feel the country has had anything but mannered, logical, inclusive leadership since Trump changed his country club digs to the White House.
And it didn’t take long for public outcry. The Women’s March (January 21, 2017—the day after the man with no tax returns’ inauguration), ably set the mood and tone of the production.
Zeroing in on “out” professional soccer star, Joanna Lohman (forced to retire after an injury only to become an untiring LGBTQ+ activist) provides the personal perspective of an individual after thousands took to the Capitol, staging the “largest single-day protest in U.S. history”.
Tellingly in 2020, on Day 5 of Trump’s term of office, he set the legal hounds on the unfindable trail of voter fraud, ~5,000,000—only because he was desperately annoyed that he “won” the presidency thanks to the outdated Electoral College system rather than the popular vote (Clinton = 65,853, 514; Trump = 62.984.828 or about 2% points). Nothing ever came of that witch hunt.
The charmer of the documentary is Egyptian-born Mimi Hassanein, who arrived in America years ago, couldn’t speak the language, but managed to establish her bona fide credentials in the community through her mouth-watering baklava. In due course, she was elected to office and has inspired her family to do likewise, should the opportunity arise.
The remainder of the film juxtaposes Trump’s uncaring attitudes (“Build the Wall“, “No to DACA”), sexual harassment and inability to stem the carnage of wanton killings (notably the 61 deaths, October 1, 2017 at the Las Vegas Paradise Hotel—ironies everywhere).
Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh (October 6, 2018 with a two-vote margin in the Senate), after numerous #MeToo complaints, the heart-felt appeal “2020 can’t come soon enough” is heard.
With more women elected in the 2018 mid-terms than ever, one can only hope that that trend will continue. Certainly, the men on both sides of the aisle have buggered things up since Abraham Lincoln’s time. Here’s to the “sisters” bringing sanity back to a country deeply divided. Just know that win or lose, Trump’s selfishness at the expense of all others will never abate. JWR
Measure for Measure
What price, redemption?
Several centuries after Shakespeare’s tragicomedic tale of “What goes around, comes around,” Ireland, along with co-writer/co-producer Damian Hall has come up with a present-day cautionary tale that most distinctly lacks an “All’s well that ends well” conclusion.
The first 13.5 minutes establishes a pace, tone and narrative that, unfortunately only wanes from there.
Set in Melbourne, the issues abound: unwanted (by some) multiculturalism; overt racism, greedy, ruthless drug lords, Muslim intolerance (both within and beyond “the faithful”), PTSD and brutal revenge as the antidote to everything.
The fine ensemble cast (headed by Hugo Weaving, Harrison Gilbertson, Megan Smart and Mark Leonard Winter), do their best to feed off each other even as the scenes become a tad saccharine (feeding the ducks) or somewhat lazy (the Duke using CCTV cams to watch over his No. 2 instead of disguising himself in order to view the “action first hand”). Both love scenes fade to black, albeit for far different reasons.
The music tracks (original score Tristan Dewey, Tai Jordan—notable for the drum-laden opening; lyrically reinforcing songs—including Radiohead’s “4 Minute Warning”) add much to the proceedings.
But by journey’s end, it is clear that the Bard faces no competition from this 2019 adaptation. JWR