Dirty Wars

Some of the camera work and hushed voiced commentary in this Oscar nominate documentary nearly drove me demented. Also the fact that what most seemed to shock Jeremy Scahill was that the US would assassinate US citizens. He was shocked that the US would kill Yemeni and Afghan women and children but once it was a US citizen it seemed to really shocked him. Why is this particularly beyond the pale?
It tells the story of how the US fights covert wars using JSoc (Joint Special Operations Command ) which seems to be an unaccountable hit squad who have to answer no one except the President himself. They are assassins, covert secretive Special Forces who can take out targets in the middle of the night. If they get things wrong they don’t have to face the music because they are doing it in secret They have struck in over 70 countries. 70 countries! In a way they are like Obama’s paramilitary or death squad. What happens if the guy after Obama is even worse than Obama? What happens when they couple this with the intelligence gathering from the NSA? Someone who voices dissent about the US and stirs up trouble (trouble as defined by some secretive people we know nothing about) could find themselves in deep trouble.

I have no time for Obama or the US Government and pontificating about Ukraine and the Crimea or international law. Putin is creepy, Obama is creepy as well.To blow up women in children with cruise missiles in countries or drone strikes or to tell foreign presidents to keep journalists locked up for telling the truth is wrong. The Navy SEAL’s etc aren’t modern day folk heroes, they’re men who kill their enemies and killing isn’t something to be proud of.
So I recommend the film if you can stick with the camera work.


Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Although as a child I was aware of The Troubles on my doorstep I was too young to worry about the state of the wider world.  Things such as the Cold War didn’t effect me. But it must have played on the minds of people like my parents.
I remember dad mentioning in passing that some people thought a meteorite that fell in the late 1960’s over Ulster  was a nuclear bomb. What else would have caused the night sky to light up like that?
Ever since reading Hiroshima last week I have been reflecting on the nuclear arms race and wondering why men raced to produce bombs so powerful and destructive.
It seemed like as good a time as any to watch Dr Strangelove. My feeling about the film is that it is overrated. Yet I am watching now in a world that hasn’t just experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis. So maybe it is like Bob Dylan. I think he is over-rated as well, but if I had been living through the 60’s how would that change my perspective?

There is one line in the film that stands out, a line about one B-52 carrying bombs with the same amount of explosive power as all the bombs exploded by all the sides during World War II. And as for things going wrong by mistake, this is the sort of incident that happened in the 60’s. Part of me is grateful for not being aware of this stuff growing up.

Lego Movie

I probably have two reviews of Lego and I can’t decide which to embrace

Review No.1
This movie has a lot of goodwill in the bank from hours of playing with Lego as a child, back in the days of child like innocence. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for days. It is bonkers and a whirl, so much of a whirl that I feel like I only caught a fraction of the film and want to see it again. The creativity and playfulness of creating with Lego is caught on camera and I was engrossed, it takes the mick out of things such as micro managers and self help manuals and the surly Batman made me smile. There is one part of the movie plot which I think detracts rather than enhances from the experience, but I didn’t even mind it so much. With so much going overall it was almost like a welcome time out.I enjoyed it and want to see it again.

Review No.2
This movie is the work of very clever corporations who have taken creativity and colouring outside the lines and turned it into an extended advertisement that will do wonder for sales of Lego and brand overall as well as film studios. I had fun, enjoyed the experience and wanted to go home immediately and play with my Lego. I walked past ‘The Art and Hobby’ Shop afterwards and the Lego sets seemed to be jumping out wanting to be bought, and I’m an adult. If I was a parent with a child walking past the shop after watching the movie I’d want to buy something. It was like watching a really cool movie about Apple or Coca Cola that you enjoy.

Creativity and believing in your ability to change the world seems to be something that we can’t challenge as it is seen as something good and desirable. The Lego movie gets away with being an extended advertisement as it encourages peoples to play and create. Yet that is also linked up with making a lot of money for Lego. And because that it is at the back of my mind it makes it hard to sit back and enjoy the show. But I did enjoy the show.

Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is a documentary that follows James Balog and his attempt to gather undeniable evidence of climate change.

From an artistic point of view, I didn’t really enjoy it that much.

From the ‘gathering undeniable evidence of climate change’ point of view the photo and film footage of glaciers melting at unprecedented rates are a more persuasive argument than most out there. You can see how much the landscape has changed in a short period of time.

The stuff has been on my mind a lot recently due to the storms of the last month. Walking along the from Salthill to Galway I am suddenly more aware how vulnerable my new home is to flooding and the sea.  Then there are all those places along the coast that got a battering as well.

Something has been stirring in me that I may have been too blasé or that I haven’t done enough about it.

I was reading this article and it was suggesting that climate change is a civil rights issue.

‘In the Civil Rights Movement we marched hand in hand facing dogs and fire hoses, risking imprisonment and worse for the sake of future generations. The same question is in front of us today when it comes to climate change. What are you willing to sacrifice and what are you willing to personally do to hand down a better world to our children?’
Reverend Dr. Gerald L. Durley


Of Gods and Men (and hope?)

H_____ really wanted to go to the cinema on New Year’s Eve and the film that she really wanted to see was ‘Of Gods and Men‘. I wasn’t overly keen to see it as it seemed a bit of  a downer for what is traditionally a day that doesn’t need any extra help to be a downer.
But it was either that or have a domestic downer around the streets of Dublin. So away to the cinema we went.

Coming out of The Lighthouse after watching the film I felt a strange sense of despair. It was a very well crafted film (based on  true story), dealing with faith and Christian suffering in a realistic way. I loved the scenes of the brothers farming the land, going to the market, going about their daily business of housekeeping and the good Christ like lives they lived day in, day out in the small rural village in Algeria.

Yet the final scene of the film, where these ordinary, good Christian men walk and trudge in  a line silently before disappearing into the mist and snow of an African mountain filled me with emptiness and left me despairing.
I don’t know how to explain it except its like they followed Jesus in life and to the cross and died, but where is the good news at the end?

It would be like watching  a very well made, thoughtful and beautiful film about Jesus and the disciples and the final scene of the movie was a beautifully shot image of Jesus being marched up Calvary to be executed then the credits rolling.
I’m not one for happy endings, easy answers and Sunday School but if the best we can aim for in death is a walking into some  beautiful, cold and silent Christmas card scene after struggling and living as best we could  in our community it doesn’t give me any sort of peace or hope.
What about a Promised Land, resurrection and good news?
Where was the hope?