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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘film

Alcohol And Cannabis. Putting Drugs In Perspective.

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I am not a fan of embedding YouTube clips unless they’re about films or music.  I’ll make an exception for these two though.  They make a very important point very powerfully.

The first is a very short US TV commercial with an anti-drugs messsage.   The second is a witty, incisive stand-up routine that knocks the pomposity, arrogance and stupidity of our drug laws for six.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

September 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry

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A dreadful set of conclusions.  An appalling injustice.  A masterful performance by David Cameron.  It goes a long way to restore some faith in British justice after too many examples of it failing miserably.

Where from here?  Justice must be seen to be done which means that the families of those who were murdered are entitled to expect charges to be brought.  They are also entitled to damages from the British government.

Murder

This makes me ashamed of those who lost control on that terrible day 38 years ago.  It also makes me proud of my country that, eventually, justice has been done.

Truth is often best revealed through art.  I have always thought that the film “In the Name Of The Father” illustrates so well some of the evil and injustice that was perpetrated on the people of Northern Ireland.

In the end, Northern Ireland is a wonderful story of the triumph of good over evil and hope over despair.  Bloody Sunday is a terrible episode in this story.  Today those who fought for justice are vindicated and triumphant.  Those who died are heroes and martyrs to the peace that we now enjoy.  God bless them.

Sex And The City

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I Don't Think Much Of Yours

The sight of these four pitifully deluded women on the sofa today promoting their new film…..eurrghh!  It has to be one of the most embarrassing things I have seen.  I saw the much-more-gorgeous-than-them Susanna Reid interviewing these hags on BBC Breakfast this morning.  I had to switch over urgently it was so excruciating.

The expression “mutton dressed as lamb” isn’t quite right.  It’s more like “sad fifty-something dressed as bad taste hooker”.  In fact, I thought the Bradford hookers also being interviewed today were much better looking.

How can these four preposterous women display themselves in such gaudy, tacky, cringeworthy fashion – fashion?  Do they think those ridiculous shoes, those absurd hairdos, those undignified dresses have any appeal at all?

This is about as far away from sexy as you can get.  It’s almost enough to make me start looking at boys!

The Pacific

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Until more than three-quarters of the way through, I was so, so disappointed in “The Pacific”.  Of course, it had an awful lot to live up to.  “Band Of Brothers”, its forerunner, although produced as  a TV series, has to be one of the very best war movies of all time.  “The Pacific” doesn’t even come close.   That’s not to say that it isn’t excellent in its own right because it is but it isn’t in the same league, battalion or regiment as “Band Of Brothers”.

It’s a ten part series and until epsiode five I was bored.   That’s not just because there’s a lack of action – there is – but there’s also very little characterisation or story.  In “Band Of Brothers” you feel like you’re part of the platoon yourself. You grow to know and love each individual and you experience fear, grief, tension, terror alongside all of them.  It wasn’t until epsiode eight of “The Pacific” when Sergeant Basilone falls in love with Lena, marries her and is then shipped to Iwo Jima that I felt the same searing emotional intensity.  I remember when I first watched “Band Of Brothers”, each epsiode was like experiencing an intense personal tragedy.  I would feel drained, exhausted and traumatised.  It was almost too much but although it finishes well, “The Pacific” is not quite enough.  Perhaps the most moving scene of all is in epsiode nine when Eugene comforts a dying Japanese woman.  This is magnificent film making.

I think war is the ultimate movie genre.  It describes the human condition at the very edge. Like all men, I am fascinated with horror, doubt and uncertainty about how I would behave in combat.  I deplore violent films but when the story requires it, realism is essential.  A war movie should make you understand the reality in detail, explicitly and make you turn away from violence.

My old friend Bruce won an Emmy and a Golden Globe working as a producer on “Band Of Brothers” and I remember talking to him about the sound of gunfire.  He explained the effort involved in achieving a more realistic sound than ever before.  You can hear how in every movie thereafter it’s been picked up and enhanced.

“The Pacific” does take realism even further.  The spray of blood that bursts from a soldier’s body as he is hit, the red mist that appears around a group of soldiers as shrapnel lacerates them is horrifying.  The graphic dismemberment and vile, grotesque injury that nowadays we see soldiers survive is beyond words.  At times the cast is wading through a sea of body parts, of arms, legs, hands, feet.  I think we now accept the shocking reality of this because today we see the survivors of such injury. At last, in the battle for Iwo Jima, “The Pacific” begins to communicate the deeply distressing heroism, the humbling, horrifying courage that these young men, our forefathers, summoned up to free the world from tyranny and allow us to enjoy the freedom that we do today.

There is a real mistake in some of the earlier episodes when many of the scenes are just too dark.  There isn’t even the excuse of it being made for the big screen.  It’s just wrong.  Also some of the CGI, particularly in wide shots of amphibious landings for instance, doesn’t work.  It’s not as convincing as the more primitive, model based effects in “Band Of Brothers”

There is one part of “The Pacific” that deserves the very highest praise.  The titles are quite simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on television or at the cinema.  They consist of extreme close ups of an artist drawing battle scenes with charcoal.  As the charcoal disintegrates into dust and splinters on the page it mixes through to become the detritus of battle, the dirt, dust and shrapnel of combat.  The backgrounds merge with finely textured, laid paper, with live action, graphics and animation.  It really is quite breathtakingly, achingly beautiful.  All the more so so because its subject is precisely the opposite.  The wonderful, haunting theme music is the same as “Band Of Brothers”.  At least that’s the way I hear it.  If it isn’t then it’s been composed to be so similar that they might as well have stuck with the original.

All in all, I did, eventually, greatly enjoy “The Pacific”.  Most of all though it shows just how bloody marvellous  “Band Of Brothers” is.

Invictus

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The Real Thing

This is the new film, directed by Clint Eastwood, about how the South African rugby team, the Springboks, won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and helped to reunite the country on a wave of patriotism just five years after Mandela was released.  Morgan Freeman is simply mesmerising as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon is superb as Francois Pienaar, captain of the team.

I’m a complete believer in the idea that international rugby is more important than most things in life so, granted, I was almost certain to enjoy this movie.  I didn’t expect to be quite so emotionally overwhelmed though.  This film is a wonderful, triumphant experience and a lesson in life.  See here for an excerpt.

Invictus bears no resemblance to the anodyne pap that Hollywood has fed us this year.   It is a work of art, a political manifesto and an inspiration to the human soul.  The title comes from William Ernest Henry’s poem of the same name in which Mandela found comfort while in prison:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

If “Up In The Air” is up its own a*** and an insult to its audience;  “Avatar” is an adolescent technogeek’s fantasy, terribly badly realised; “The Hurt Locker” is just another good but not great war movie then “Invictus” is a wonderful, uplifting story that deserves all the praise, all the admiration and all the awards.

The Movie