Movie Review: The Banshees Of Inisherin

The small Irish island of Inisherin, 1923. Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) have been friends for as long as anyone can remember. But one day, while civil war rages on the mainland nearby, Colm suddenly announces that the friendship is over. Pádraic is confused and devastated, while Colm starts taking incomprehensibly drastic measures.

How do you break up with a best friend? It’s a good question, tackled brilliantly by Seinfeld way back in its first season. After all, the rules of social disengagement are pretty clear when it comes to sexual relationships, even more so when they involve divorce. But separating from a buddy you just don’t like anymore? When the pair of you live on a small, scantily populated island with only one pub? How do you go about that?

In Martin McDonagh’s world, the answer is: brutally. After resolving to dissolve his friendship with the dependable but dull Pádraic (Colin Farrell), Colm (Brendan Gleeson) bluntly tells his ex-friend he doesn’t want talk to him or drink with him ever again. No explanation given. No attempt made to soften the blow. Of course, if you’re familiar with writer-director McDonagh’s previous film work, from In Bruges to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, such tactlessness should come as no surprise — McDonagh’s scripts are so abrasive, you could use them as sandpaper. So the focus of the film is less on Colm’s decision, and more on Pádraic’s reaction, not to mention the impact it has on his “limited” (another character’s word, not ours) life.

Ironically, for a story about a friendship-wreck, The Banshees Of Inisherin is also a reunion: of McDonagh with the double act that made the hitman antics of In Bruges such a piquant treat. However, Farrell and Gleeson don’t spend nearly as much time on screen together here, for self-evident reasons. It’s a shame, in a small way, but it does add to the pervading sense of wrongness.

Colm is largely inscrutable, despite the occasional revelation of sorts, and the odd flash of kindliness. McDonagh never fully reveals what drives him to the Pádraic-alienating extremes he goes to later in the film, and that makes him the more emotionally distant of the two men.

This is primarily Pádraic’s story; the tale of a good, decent fella who, through an enforced process of self-examination, finds and embraces other, sharper facets to his personality. Farrell is fantastic in the role, delivering one of his best-ever performances. He takes on a kind of sagging anti-charisma, a seeming guilelessness which he initially plays for laughs, but then gradually and convincingly brews into something much darker.

Complementing him perfectly is Kerry Condon as Pádraic’s savvy sister, Siobhan. Her exasperation at her brother’s response to Colm’s ultra-dick move is thoroughly relatable, and you’ll welcome every moment she spends on screen. Siobhan also evokes the most sympathy as a woman who has clearly, desperately outgrown this cliff- edged, wall-scarred speck of an island — a realisation only underlined by the clumsy amorous attentions of Barry Keoghan’s damaged youth, Dominic, a character that sadly gets the shortest narrative shrift of the bunch.

Tenderly scored by Carter Burwell and gorgeously shot by cinematographer Ben Davis — the drama may be intimate, but the backdrop feels epic — The Banshees Of Inisherin is a film whose unhurried pace never drags. It is, we suppose, McDonagh’s gentlest offering yet (and the fact that his gentlest film involves acts of mutilation says a lot about his other work). That said, you could also argue it is his first war movie. And not just because it is set during the Irish Civil War of 1922-23, which is heard raging just a few miles across the water. After all, Colm and Pádraic’s split is really just that war in microcosm. The causes are obscure and confusing, the emerging conflict escalates fast, the previously close participants employ tactics that would have once been unthinkable. And the after-effects will be felt for years to come.

McDonagh has never been one for neat resolutions, so it’s not giving anything away to say that we’re denied one here, too. This is no bromantic-comedy, and you really shouldn’t be hoping for any feel-good vibes (though there are plenty of laughs, if your humour verges on the dark side). But the film is engrossing and beautifully mounted, and is sure to not disappoint anyone who’s enjoyed McDonagh’s previous rough rides.

Another great feel-bad treat from Martin McDonagh, featuring one of Colin Farrell’s best performances yet as a guy trying (and failing) to deal with the fallout of a falling out.

Source: The Banshees Of Inisherin

Rodrigo’s “Concierto d’Aranjuez” from the film “Brassed Off”

One of THE HOBBLEDEOY’S all-time favorite films is writer/director Mark Herman’s Brassed Off (1996). This scene features the legendary Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Tompkinson, and Ewan McGregor, but the true star here is the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who perform the music.

The Concierto de Aranjuez is by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Written in 1939, it is by far Rodrigo’s best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the 20th century.

Usually performed as a guitar concerto, the flugelhorn arrangement of the Adagio was by Kevin Bolton.

If you have not seen this film, you must. Not currently available on Netflix or Amazon, it’s worth a trip to borrow from the local library.

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Director Terence Davies reveals challenges of Siegfried Sassoon biopic

Terrence Davies says it was “hard to write” his Siegfried Sassoon biopic, Benediction, because “there was so much material”.

Terrence Davies says it was “hard to write” his Siegfried Sassoon biopic, Benediction, because “there was so much material”.

The biographical drama, which stars Jack Lowden as Sassoon, tells of the story of the famed British poet whose anti-war stance notoriously culminated in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital.

Benediction also explores the soldier’s gay love affairs with Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine), Stephen Tennant (Calam Lynch) and Glen Byam Shaw (Tom Blyth), as well as his conversion to Catholicism.

Davies, one of the most critically-acclaimed British filmmakers of all time, tells GAY TIMES that taking on the project was a “daunting” prospect.

“How do you cram his life into two hours?” he says. “It was a question of what to leave out more than anything else. It was quite hard to write in that sense, as there was so much material. I tried to respond to the things which I could write about.”

The director resonated with Sassoon due to his homosexuality and poetry documenting the horrors of the First World War.

Davies also identified with Sassoon’s search for redemption, admitting: “I think that’s the most autobiographical part of the film. I’ve been searching for that redemption and I haven’t found it either.”

His only “issue” with the poet and his illustrious life, however, is his foray into Catholicism.

“Why anyone would want to be Catholic? It’s interesting because when you are born a Catholic, you don’t have to go through any time of conversion. The conversion goes on and on and on,” he states.

“It had to be incorporated because I didn’t know about that side of the church, as I was never involved in it. To manage that life within two hours…. It was those things that drew me to the picture.”

 

With an intimate sex scene between Sassoon and Novello, Benediction doesn’t shy away from Sassoon’s queerness. This was important for Davies, as well as depicting a less glamorous approach to sex.

“That’s what is so tedious about sex scenes, everyone has makeup on!” Davies says of how intimacy is depiction in the mainstream. “They look like they have been to the gym, and nobody ever gets cramps. Nobody ever farts!

“That’s why I almost wanted to make this more matter-of-fact.”

Benediction has received universal critical acclaim for Davies’ direction and script, as well as for the performances of Lowden and Peter Capaldi, who portrays an older Siegfried Sassoon.

Davies, whose filmography includes lauded autobiographical dramas such as Distant Voices, Still Lives, The Long Day Closes and Of Time and the City, reveals that his next film is based on Stefan Zwieg’s The Post Office Girl.

The novel chronicles the story of Christine Hoflehner, a post-office clerk in an impoverished post-World War I Austrian city.

“The script is done. I would love to do that as it’s a marvellous novel,” he says. “A novel that he never finished, he just tinkered with it. It gives the ending the most extraordinary, ambitious ending which is terrific.

“It’s about the destruction of hope and it’s very powerful.”

Benediction is now available in UK cinemas.

Source: Exclusive: Benediction director Terence Davies reveals challenges of Siegfried Sassoon biopic

The Essex Serpent: Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston in gripping, gothic TV

For better or worse, this is serious, thinky telly where the serpents are metaphorical

By Ed Power

With Game of Thrones on the way back with a dragon-enriched prequel series, many of us will suddenly be in the mood once more for stirring tales of long-necked beasts losing their tempers in a variety of destructive ways. Being unfamiliar with Sarah Perry’s 2016 bestseller The Essex Serpent, I therefore went into Apple’s adaptation (Apple TV +, Friday) foolishly expecting at least one CGI monster before the end of the first episode.

But this, for better or worse, is serious, thinky telly where the serpents are metaphorical and the biggest special effect is the stubble dappling Tom Hiddleston’s A-lister chin.

He plays a worldly rector aghast when his flock starts to pay heed to rumours of a long-necked monster prowling his parish of Aldwinter in coastal Essex in 1893. Hiddleston is best known as charming anti-hero Loki in the Marvel films. Here, however, he is rigorously buttoned down as a man of reason opposite Claire Danes, who portrays Cora Seaborne, a well-to-do widow who has taken up amateur palaeontology following the death from throat cancer of her abusive husband.

With Netflix having gone all in on reality TV and Shonda Rhimes capers, Apple is one of the few remaining repositories of what used to be called “prestige television”. This, as we all know, means slow-moving fare featuring big names grappling with big ideas – and typically adapted from a middle-brow novel.

All those boxes are ticked with The Essex Serpent. Now, obviously, this sort of thing isn’t for everyone. As one of those who likes their serpents very much nonfigurative and given to biting people’s heads off, I find myself constantly yelling “get on with it” while hoping that Hiddleston would suddenly transform into Loki, the whole fandango revealed to be a secret Marvel spin-off.

Yet it is solidly assembled. Danes’s English accent is impeccable – even better than Joe Alwyn’s in Conversations with Friends – and Hiddleston gives good “hunky vicar” as he casts meaningful gazes as Cora (despite being married to Clémence Poésy’s Stella). In other words, it has everything apart from the actual serpent – and, as reminder why prestige television is important and we should continue to watch it, adds up to a gripping gothic slow-burner.

Source: The Essex Serpent: Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston in gripping, gothic TV