Archive for August, 2012

Imposter, The

August 24th, 2012 - Graham Eley

Naturalism in dramatic cinema has been often within touching distance of reality in exploring found stories that most fully embrace the purest form of photographic reproduction in artistic form.  Ever since documentary filmmakers turned things on their head by introducing reconstructions as a narrative alternative to talking heads, they have increasingly looked towards dramatic filmmaking conventions for more engaging ways of communicating with their audience.  With the two forms more frequently operating in the same territory and sometimes merging, it raises new questions of fidelity, which come to the fore in Bart Layton’s debut film, ‘The Imposter’.

 

A captivating ‘edge of the seat’ thriller of a documentary, it depicts an outrageous real life case of identify theft that would be far too absurd for any fiction.  A serial imposter, Frédéric Bourdin, randomly assumes the identity of a thirteen year old boy, Nicholas Barclay, who was reported missing from his San Antonio home three years earlier.  Plausible you would think if the imposter was from the area or, at least, the same country and, perhaps, there were no inconvenient living relatives to identify the lie and alert the authorities.  Less so, when a man in his twenties with a strong French accent, much darker skin and different coloured eyes, makes the claim from Spain and successfully plants himself into the missing boy’s extended family’s home in a remote part of Texas where the locals never cross the state line.  You really couldn’t make it up, but it gets worse; Bourdin, thinking on his feet, covering off questions before they are raised – how did he leave the US without a passport? –  fools the FBI and the national media into accepting an outlandish explanation involving a military orchestrated international paedophile ring, seemingly without the authorities making any serious investigations to check his story or identity.  And, just to complete the truly surreal circle, it takes an old school private dick, a throwback to cliché-ridden 1970’s TV ‘sleuth and snoop’ fare, to smell a rat in the form of – wait for it – different size lugholes.

 

There you have it; and yet, we take this jaw-dropping story very seriously, lapping up every twist and turn along the way and, when, the focal point shifts from imposter to the missing boy’s family, the mocumentary sounding synopsis is firmly grounded in an altogether darker reality.

 

An ongoing commentary from Bourdin unsurprisingly confirms him as the ultimate unreliable narrator; planting unverified snippets into our minds that take on more sinister meanings when he subsequently points a finger of guilt at the family over Nicholas’ disappearance.  Providing a unique insight into a truly warped sense of reality, we gain a feel for his character, a measuring stick upon which to judge his claims and version of events.

 

Nicholas’ sister, the main spokesperson for the family, reacts with expected indignation to Bourdin’s allegations but there are undeniably troubling circumstances that go beyond the family’s remarkable failure to believe the evidence of their own eyes.  A dysfunctional family with a history of drug abuse and ferocious arguments, often involving Nicholas, it does not require Bourdin to raise serious concerns.

 

Layton knits it together superbly with a Hitchcockian craft for storytelling but it begs the question whether such editorial control of our emotions inevitably compromises the film as a documentary?  Maybe, in the purest ethical sense, but it still makes for fantastic entertainment and leaves us with a sneaky feeling that this approximation of reality in the Errol Morris sense is a close as we are going to get to the truth.

 

It has something in common with Carol Morley’s outstanding ‘Dreams Of A Life’ and, in a similar way, nagging questions prod us afterwards; the irresistible attraction of the unresolvable as we contemplate whether we have witnessed a family whose desperation mutates into an extreme and terribly sad case of absolute self-delusion and wish fulfilment or one exploiting a ready made ‘gift wrapped’ opportunity to conceal a shocking secret of their own.buy motilium tabletsdomperidone buy order domperidone from canadathuoc domperidone where to buy motilium in the usdomperidone suspension buy domperidone from canada

Shadow Dancer

August 24th, 2012 - Graham Eley

TV political correspondent, Tom Bradby, who reported from Northern Ireland during the mid-Nineties, adapted his own IRA supergrass novel set during that period, ‘Shadow Dancer’, for James Marsh’s latest feature of the same name.

 

Marsh has made his name engaging with the final decades of the last century both in dramatic form with ‘In the Year of Our Lord 1980’, the final segment of the ‘Red Riding’ trilogy and in his documentaries, the Oscar winning recreation of Philippe Petit’s high-wire Seventies exploits in ‘Man on Wire’ and the even better ‘Project Nim’, an exploration of Herb Terrace’s broadly contemporaneous ruthless and exploitative attempt to communicate with a chimpanzee through sign language.

 

It is not surprising, therefore, that this low-key knowing political thriller, unfolding against the backdrop of the Irish peace talks, feels very real indeed, without need for genre conventions to heighten the natural drama that emanates from the engrossing script and the intelligent and perceptive performances from a superb cast on top of its game.

 

This is a film that captures the unique moment when IRA diehards and duplicitous Brit intelligence officers were no longer calling the shots.  They were yesterday’s men fighting the inevitable tide of change as much as themselves, swimming around in a quagmire of uncertainty, irrelevance and a terror for a future no longer resting upon the politics of fear that both sides had created.

 

Caught in the middle of it all were a terrorist single mother from a hardline IRA Belfast family, intolerant of their own leadership’s willingness to negotiate, and an M15 officer, whose moral compass – up to a point –  left him on the outside of a secret service that treated any morality as a weakness.  Played by Andrea Riseborough and Clive Owen, these two highly compromised characters come together when his well rehearsed scare tactics secure her services as a mole, only for positions to shift within the secret service leaving them both potentially hanging out to dry.  They share a complex relationship, moving in one direction and then another, just like the peace process itself; Riseborough subtly sending out mixed messages that retain a deceptive inscrutability that contrasts with Owen’s portrayal of old school confidence evaporating.

 

The opening scene is a flashback to the Seventies and the height of the troubles when we see Riseborough’s character as a young girl, who persuades her youngest brother to run an errand from which he will not return.  This is more than simply a context for the family’s extreme hatred but as one of the many episodes that intrinsically ties its own internal politics with those of the IRA, which always shapes their lives but not necessarily in predictable ways.  It makes for compelling drama – one layer of ambiguity on top of another –  as her older brothers adopt different priorities in later life without damaging their dedication to the cause and, yet, they both despise the local IRA enforcer, who is notionally on their side.  And there is the family matriarch, who communicates by meaningful stares and seems one step ahead of everybody until a shocking secret raises its ugly head above the surface.

 

Rob Hardy, who was cinematographer on Julian Jarrold’s Red Riding segment, mixes carefully composed scenes that do much to capture the depressed atmosphere of West Belfast during these times with spasmodic injections of urgency.  Watch out for one remarkable episode on the London Underground where Riseborough’s gestures and Hardy’s cinematography combine in a moment of electrifying tension that wonderfully plays with our expectations.

 

The various threads of this multifarious film provide an absorbing look at the very authentic and deep-rooted historical and political obstructions that can place a wedge between activists and their leadership during peace negotiations; agreements are one thing, compliance is something else completely.buy motilium tabletsdomperidone buy order domperidone from canadathuoc domperidone where to buy motilium in the usdomperidone suspension buy domperidone from canada

 

Forgiveness Of Blood, The

August 10th, 2012 - Graham Eley

An unforced slice of social realism from Joshua Marston, as the long awaited feature follow-up to his multi-award winning debut, ‘Maria Full of Life’, takes us to the backwaters of rural Albania and the barbaric traditions that resurfaced in these parts following the collapse of communism.

 

‘The Forgiveness of Blood’ received its world premiere at Berlin 2011 where Marston won the best screenplay with co-writer, Andamion Murataj, and like the recipient of the previous year’s Golden Lion, ‘Bal’ (‘Honey’), it carries a sense of profound importance in its intimate depiction of a remote culture of the kind that would ordinarily fall well below the radar of world cinema.

 

A right of way dispute escalates into a reciprocal vendetta of absolute hate and the eventual murder/self defence killing of one farmer by two others.  One perpetrator is caught but when the other goes on the run, it triggers the ancient custom of blood vengeance and retribution through the death of the next in line as regulated by the ancient, ‘Kanun’.

 

Reflecting the plight of many innocent victims in contemporary Albania, this is the study of the fugitive’s eldest son, removed from his final year at school into a ‘de facto’ house arrest for his own protection, and his resourceful sister, who single handedly runs the family’s bread business from a horse and creaky cart that is outmoded even by the standards of this impoverished region.

 

Marston superbly realises the desperate resentment of a younger generation destined to pay for the sins of their fathers, the power of destructive rituals that replace law and order and the neutralising of globalisation where flashy smart phones serve as little more than toys.  It forms an engaging and troubling portrayal of a harsh society seemingly impervious to structural change, which is all the more remarkable for Marston being an outsider.

 

Newcomers, Tristan Halilaj and Sinsi Lacej, excel as the two leads and cinematographer, Rob Hardy, who won a BAFTA TV award for his work on John Crowley’s ‘Boy A’, complements the realism with his measured photography.buy motilium tabletsdomperidone buy order domperidone from canadathuoc domperidone where to buy motilium in the usdomperidone suspension buy domperidone from canada

 

This is significant cinema both in its scope and execution.