Sunday, March 26, 2017
( 4:19 PM ) posted by Setsuled
There were some really lovely visuals in last night's two part season finale of Star Wars: Rebels, "Zero Hour", and I appreciated references to The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi Knight, and Lord of the Rings. Lars Mikkelsen continues to impress as Grand Admiral Thrawn, Vanessa Marshall is solid as always as Hera, and Tom Baker loomed large in a very satisfying way. It's a pity the teleplay was a complete mess though I can't entirely fault writers Steven Melching, Henry Gilroy, and Matt Michnovetz. The problems that led to "Zero Hour" being such a featherweight are part of the foundations of the series as a whole and Disney's stewardship of Star Wars in general.
Spoilers after the screenshot
The episode began with a cool reference to the Jedi Knight video games--Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) uses a mouse droid in a service duct to spy on Trawn's briefing. This comes from a level in the 2002 video game Jedi Outcast which was in turn based on a user made mod to 1997's Jedi Knight. You see, Paramount? While you're busy suing Star Trek fan films, LucasArts found a way to respond to fan creativity where everyone won and in a way that's still paying dividends to-day. I sense the hand of Gary Whitta in this.
Back at Chopper Base, Ezra (Taylor Gray) seems to've become Oliver Twist, humbly talking to Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) about all the wonderful things other people do. I don't think Ezra's meant to come off like he's fishing like hell for complements, but he does, and Kanan inexplicably is happy to shower them on the kid with the whiny voice. Ezra thanks Kanan for teaching him how to be a good person, which we really haven't seen demonstrated. I get the sense there's an outline from early on that said this was supposed to be clear by this point. In reality, Ezra's been all over the place in a way that feels like a lot of conflict and indecision behind the scenes--in season 2, he became the nature child who was friend to all animals, then he lost that as he seemed to be going to the Dark Side, then he lost his flirtation with the Dark Side for no apparent reason, giving moralising lectures to Saw Gerrera, and now he seems to be in total character limbo. Considering there's a whole story group designed to keep everything in Star Wars canon consistent, the story in Rebels feels surprisingly scattershot. Or maybe that's the reason. In Star Wars parlance, the more they tighten their grip, the more plot points slip through their fingers.
The Bendu is a good example. Kanan doesn't sound too high minded when his strategy for getting the Bendu involved is to call him a coward. Is Disney's message here to say, "Bullying is wrong. Unless you need to"? It's weird that this all wise being is so easily manipulated, but then, it doesn't make much sense for Kanan to have to beg for his help when the Bendu has already gone out of his way to help Kanan and Ezra in the past.
It seems like the show was paying homage to Lord of the Rings here as it felt very much like Merry and Pippin trying to get the Ents involved in the war in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Two Towers. Of course, in the book, Merry and Pippin witness the Ents decide on their own to attack Isengard, but due to the modern mania for agency in protagonists, Jackson and crew had to make the Ents' decision something Merry and/or Pippin actually made happen in a more active way than just providing intel. Similarly, to give Kanan an active role in the story, we can't just have the Bendu decide on his own to help the Rebels, despite the fact that this would have made more sense, if for no other reason than the fact that an assault on the Rebel base is an assault on the Bendu's world. But at least Jackson and his writers found a somewhat clever way of getting Pippin to trick the Ents into beholding the destruction Saruman was causing (though they ought to've known without Pippin's help that the forests were being destroyed). Having Kanan just resort to calling the Bendu a coward undercuts the moral authority the show repeatedly fails to establish in Kanan and it undercuts the Bendu as a character.
But, okay, Bendu turning into a storm was pretty cool and Tom Baker's performance coupled with the cgi wind and lightning really was like watching a Greek god rain hellfire. That is until the Imperial forces shot him down. With lasers.
Rain, rain, go away, or I'll shoot at you.
The Bendu goes out like Ahsoka--ambiguously because the writers can't or won't make a decision. It seems silly for the Bendu to be so easily taken down by blasters. But did the Bendu vanish because he was immune all along or was this like a Jedi Force Ghost death? Who knows. I suppose it is slightly better than Ahsoka's death/not death because at least it makes sense that the Bendu doesn't meet up with the rest of the protagonists afterwards if he is alive.
I like the fact that Thrawn was only stopped because of the Bendu. Thrawn came off as pretty effective even if going for a fist fight with Kallus and leading the ground assault seems more like Vader's style. Finally the Empire gets sort of a win on Rebels. Sort of. Ships were destroyed. The Rebels lost Commander Sato (Keone Young), though he took out an Imperial ship in the process. Just wait for Mart's revenge! You remember Mart, right?
Poor doddering old General Dodonna (Michael Bell) who refers to a planned Rebel attack as their first blow against the Empire. Apparently no-one's told him the Rebels destroy a capital ship every other week. Maybe Dodonna wrote the Episode IV opening crawl.
Thrawn pin-points the location of the Rebel Base because a planet that does not appear on Imperial charts is one that shows up in art from the region. Why would the Empire not have this planet on their charts? Maybe it simply hadn't been discovered by Imperial or Republic explorers, or was this supposed to be the planet Ezra deleted from Thrawn's computer a few episodes back? Of course by now Thrawn would have seen charts on other computers and the fact that one had been deleted would be suspicious, but that would be too obvious so there needed to be another explanation, so what was the point of Ezra deleting the planet . . . Wait, if the planet weren't on Imperial charts, why would it be on Thrawn's chart to begin with?
I guess Ezra did get a useful ship back on Tatooine which may or may not have been Maul's ship--if it was, why was Maul roaming alone in the desert? If it wasn't, how did Ezra get it--well, if it was, how did Ezra find it if Maul couldn't?
Anyway, it was a lucky find as it allowed Ezra to heroically run away and ask Sabine for help and somehow bring her and ships back in time to actually be helpful because I guess the Imperial ships have to do a lot of prep work before they blow up a sitting duck. Anyway, sounds like next season they'll be on Yavin which should be fun.
Oh, I wanted to mention Hera called Kanan "Love" in the episode, hinting at the relationship that Dares Not Speak It's Name for No Apparent Reason. This is a reflection of what seems to be Disney's edict for shows and movies not to include clear romantic relationships, despite the fact that Han and Leia's relationship was one of the highlights of the original trilogy. I know Anakin and Padme were pretty infamously awkward but is that really a good reason to stay away from romance forever? On the other hand, Hera can do so much better than Kanan.
Twitter Sonnet #976
A burning ear can thwart a list'ning can.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
( 3:23 PM ) posted by Setsuled
Like nearly all Science Fiction and Fantasy franchises, Doctor Who has made its share of Lovecraft references, both directly and indirectly. The 2010 Seventh Doctor audio play, Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge, injects an extraordinary number of references (more, I suspect, than I caught) to turn into a commentary on Lovecraft himself. An entertaining story for a Lovecraft fan, I was nonetheless a little annoyed by its simplistic psychoanalysis, though I suppose it's better than plush Cthulhus. Why must people relentlessly take the fun out of Lovecraft? Well, maybe it's a sign of how effective Lovecraft is that people feel the need to make him feel safe with ironic jokes and merchandise.
The story picks up from the excellent Death in the Family with the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), Ace (Sophie Aldred), and Hex (Philip Olivier) materialising in Alaska where they encounter a sanatorium and a research team investigating alien artefacts. A professor named August Corbin (Alex Lowe), I think based on Joseph Curwen from The Curious Case of Charles Dexter Ward, is leading the investigation which calls to mind At the Mountains of Madness. At the sanatorium is a patient named CP Doveday, based both on Charles Dexter Ward and on Lovecraft himself, though Michael Brandon, who plays Doveday, makes the questionable choice of making Doveday sound like a stevedore.
Like many Lovecraft stories, Doveday finds he has nightmares with more reality to him than he has courage to contemplate and the ultimate horror inherent in them is the knowledge that he himself is not human. Doveday doesn't have a lot of experience with women, finding he regards them as something like an alien species. He tells this to Ace before falling for her. I guess that's a cute idea, if you really must have a cute idea in Lovecraft, though the two never have much chemistry, mostly for Brandon's wooden and oddly cheerful performance.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and one of the other professors are trying to get their hands on a Golden Key, apparently based on Lovecraft's "The Silver Key" which I happened to have been reading again recently. Pretty much any time I feel nostalgic about anything I think of "The Silver Key".#
Friday, March 24, 2017
( 4:57 PM ) posted by Setsuled
If you like men, be thankful you haven't met this one, the dangerously attractive subject of Wong Kar-wai's 1990 film noir Days of Being Wild (阿飛正傳). Maybe I should call it a film chartreuse since cinematographer Christopher Doyle seems to've put the whole thing through a green filter. But it gives the film an appropriately drowned quality. Green also being a colour typically associated with obsession, particularly via Hitchcock, the characters in this nice drama seem to be chained to the bottom of a pond choked with aphrodisiac algae.
The film stars three famous Cheungs--Leslie, Maggie, and Jacky, none of whom are related. Leslie Cheung plays the homme fatale named Yuddy who spends most of the film barely conscious, seemingly unsure reality deserves being fully awake for. For some reason, two beautiful women lose their minds over him.
The first heart he slouches his way into belongs to a clerk named Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung). She seems annoyed by him at first but he tells her she'll dream about him. We later see her sleeping with a smile on her face and in her next encounter with Yuddy, even though she never confirms that she did in fact see him in her dream, Maggie Cheung makes it clear with her performance. Even as she tells him to leave she makes a point of finding ways to stand as near him as possible.
Their relationship doesn't last long and soon Yuddy's sleeping with a fractious showgirl named Mimi (Carina Lau). Both women sleep with Yuddy against their better judgement--Su Lizhen because she doesn't believe in casual sex and Mimi because her pride won't suffer a guy like Yuddy whose indolence requires him to be in charge of a relationship. Yuddy has a plot where he's seeking his birth parents and maybe there's some suggestion that his foster mother, a prostitute (Rebecca Pan), somehow explains his simultaneous appeal to and disconnect from women. Mostly he functions as a sort of black hole as we watch Mimi and Su Lizhen struggle with the mysterious gravitational pull of his charisma.
The film certainly lacks the psychological insight of Kar-wai's later dramas which are hinted at in a friendship between Su Lizhen and a police officer (Andy Lau). But with such beautiful actors in the smoky, lovely cinematography, some idea is conveyed of the maddening lure presented by the prospect of a physical relationship with Yuddy.#
Thursday, March 23, 2017
( 7:27 PM ) posted by Setsuled
Last night's new episode of The Expanse was called "The Weeping Somnambulist". Certainly an intriguing title, I'm not exactly sure what it means beyond referencing the ship Holden's crew hitch a ride on. It's not quite of the Eros crashing into Venus level of plain use of name or title to convey a message. I'm still not sure if I like how broad that is, at the very least a character should comment on love putting a crater in the Goddess of love. Anyway, it was a good episode.
Spoilers after the screenshot
Maybe you could say the title refers to Bobbie (Frankie Adams). She has to sell that story to Earth about one of her comrades firing at the Earth troops--even though she knows he wasn't actually a coward because the truth is she encountered an alien. One can see this waking dream, the phony story, as a sort of somnambulism and she's weeping because she has to tell it and because of the bright Earth sky's effect on Martian eyes. I love how the Martians aren't acclimated to Earth--people say it all the time about this show, but it bears repeating--it's great how The Expanse thinks about all these little things.
Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) sure is good in this episode. The fact that she sounds like she's smoked ten packs of cigarettes a day for fifty years adds real punch when she delivers the already delicious comeback to the Martian who asks where she's going with her line of questioning--"Wherever I goddamn like."
And yet another fabulous outfit. I really hope there's going to be more scenes between her and Bobbie, Avasarala seems like just the influence Bobbie needs in her life.
Meanwhile, Holden's (Steven Strait) getting another lesson in how he can't be a straight forward hero in this universe. In trying to help the crew of that Weeping Somnambulist, the ship, he ends up getting one of them killed. Though, to be fair, it sounded like both members of the crew were going to be killed if Holden and Amos hadn't stepped in, Holden sure didn't take it that way. Are we watching Holden's descent into pessimism? I don't know, and compared to Avarsarala and Bobbie, I'm not sure I care.
Twitter Sonnet #975
A braver thought sits idly in the grass.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
( 4:43 PM ) posted by Setsuled
There are a few reasons it seems strange that Winston Churchill wanted Laurence Olivier's 1944 film version of Henry V as part of the propaganda effort for Britain. While it does feature the beautiful Saint Crispin's Day, "band of brothers", speech and features the English fighting in France, the motives for doing so are far less noble than those of Britain in World War II. It's also awkward to read or watch Henry V in isolation from the rest of Shakespeare's Henriad but there's no denying the impressive beauty and splendour of this film and the greatness of the performances.
I dearly love how this film opens, with a fantastic model of London in 1600, simulating an aerial shot that transitions into a full, somewhat accurate recreation of the Globe theatre on a soundstage. The first portion of the play is an extravagant recreation of what the first performance of the play might have been like, a joy to behold in Technicolour with wonderful costumes and amusing business with the actors backstage, including some improbable comedy from Robert Helpmann as the Bishop of Ely.
I suspect Olivier wished to do more than recreate a late Elizabethan theatre atmosphere for the audience--this stuff also misdirects the audience from the actual content of the play a bit and downplays the fact that the King (Olivier) is choosing to invade France to redress a petty insult, using as excuse the flimsy pretexts cooked up by Ely and the Archbishop of Canterbury (Felix Aylmer).
Without having seen or read the preceding two parts of Henry IV, it must have been difficult for the audience to understand why the French nobles think this new English king is a trivial, feckless lad. Though my impression of the character is that he really doesn't change all that much. Is he really such a layabout in his days with Falstaff? We see him pulling complex pranks with Poins involving highway robbery. He's an adventurer with Falstaff, and he's an adventurer as King, his lust for excitement outweighing his sensitivity. I think he has genuine affection for his father. But I think an actor could very easily play the scene of Hal trying on the crown in a way that does not flatter the future Henry V as much as it normally does.
Olivier imports some dialogue from Henry IV part II to give us a brief glimpse of Falstaff (George Robey) on his deathbed. A particularly confusing decision on Olivier's part as it has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the film. Though it is followed by a lovely rainy scene outside the Boar's Head featuring Falstaff's cohorts.
Most wonderful is Robert Newton as Pistol, six years before he portrayed the definitive Long John Silver in Treasure Island. He would have been a magnificent Falstaff but Pistol in Henry V basically fills the Falstaff role. I wonder if Shakespeare killed off Falstaff because, while he still needed a Falstaff type, he knew he didn't have the same quality material for him as he had in the Henry IV plays, so Pistol allowed Shakespeare to include a Falstaff type while allowing Falstaff himself to end on a higher note. Though there's also the fact that Falstaff's death puts an effective period on Henry IV part II's ruminations on death and further emphasises King Henry V's callow nature that he really doesn't seem to care about Falstaff's death.
Falstaff's famous speech about honour in Henry IV part I is a thematic precursor to the famous scene in Henry V of the King walking among his troops disguised. Williams' speech about the responsibility of rulers sending their loyal soldiers to kill or die, and the reckoning such rulers would face in the afterlife for starting wars for unjust causes, seems more applicable to Hitler. It's not hard to think of the common argument about Nazi soldiers "just following orders". The King's counterargument about a merchant's son seems petty in the context. His real counterargument is the Saint Crispin's Day speech.
Here we have finally the direct rebuke to Falstaff's condemnation of honour as a thing that leads men to death and bloodlust. King Henry V says, in reply to those wishing the English had greater numbers,
If we are marked to die, we are enough
Olivier's is my favourite version of the Saint Crispin's Day speech on film. For one thing because he understands it needs to be shouted, it needs to be heard by a massive crowd of guys in armour. Too many actors drop to dramatic whispers. And in this, he drops the dodgy argument about a merchant's son abroad being responsible for his father's orders and owns his real argument, that the joy of battle and conquest is the sign of truly living. He becomes Errol Flynn's Robin Hood taken to true psychosis. But even though Olivier removes some harsher elements from the play, he does leave in the French slaughter of English youth. I find Henry's speech really inspiring and I do think it's important to have a lust for adventure and strength of will. But remembering where that sort of thing can lead makes me like Falstaff's speech a lot more.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
( 6:26 PM ) posted by Setsuled
Few films have the courage to contemplate the dread possibility of a Nazi colony thriving on the dark side of the moon. Such was the courage required to make 2012's Iron Sky which, among other far fetched ideas, postulates a United States where the ignorant and narcissistic president is manipulated and supported by a foreign fascist state. Half modern comic book action film, half ode to Doctor Strangelove and The Great Dictator, Iron Sky, as a comedy, is more captivating for the absurdity of its flow of ideas than it is for being genuinely funny, though it has some laughs. It's surprisingly thoughtful at times, plain dumb at others, and a bit prophetic.
The film opens with a group of American astronauts landing on the moon as part of a publicity stunt for the President's re-election. Along for the ride is one of the film's two protagonists, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), a clumsy male model slightly more realistically drawn than Derek Zoolander.
This is one of the film's problems as James really ought to have known what all the swastikas meant when he's dragged into the Nazi base. He just seems surprised that everyone's speaking German. They, in turn, are surprised by the sight of a black man.
The film's other protagonist is Renate Richter, played fetchingly by Julia Dietze, is a Nazi schoolteacher who believes the propaganda she's teaching, that the Nazis have no desire to hurt anyone and aim only for world peace. The movie avoids discussing too much her belief in racial superiority.
But maybe things have changed, though whether or not for the better would be a debatable, as Renate's mad scientist father turns James into a white person instead of exterminating him. This leads to some obvious jokes and the bit goes on for maybe a bit too long.
The film makes its first direct reference to Doctor Strangelove when James, brought out in a wheel chair after his operation, struggles to prevent his arm from compulsively raising in a Hitler salute. Though the fuhrer now is Wolfgang Kortzfleisch, played by Udo Kier. Kier plays it nicely straight, exasperated as he has to explain over and over to people to say "Heil Kortzfleisch" not "Heil Hitler".
Led by the man who has been genetically matched with Renate to be her mate, Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto), Renate and James head to earth to seek power supplies for the Nazi superweapon in the form of cell phone batteries.
A lot about the plot makes no sense. The motivation to find cell phone batteries falls apart when the end of the movie features a fleet of Nazi flying saucers fighting a fleet of Earth ships, which also makes the old school moon landing at the beginning make no sense. But as the film is at pains to point out, the logic here is the same that allows Slim Pickens to ride an atom bomb.
The U.S. President, played by Stephanie Paul, is a thinly veiled parody of Sarah Palin. When the sadomasochistic fashionista in charge of her P.R., Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant), runs into the moon Nazis, she soon exploits Renate's propaganda training to help bolster the President's re-election campaign with results like this:
One senses the President isn't a Nazi but has no moral compunctions about profiting from Nazi supporters (I'm still talking about the movie). With her casual attitude about ordering military actions without concern for civilian casualties, the film, which is a Finnish-German-Australian production, reflects the impression many countries have of the U.S., or the impression they had in 2012. One can only imagine what the sequel will be like.#
Monday, March 20, 2017
( 3:09 PM ) posted by Setsuled
A decent episode of The Walking Dead last night, "The Other Side", featuring some more nice one-on-one character scenes, particularly between Gregory and Simon and Sasha and Rosita.
Spoilers after the screenshot
Jeez, can Rosita (Christian Serratos) catch a break? Foiled again! How many times have her plans gone awry for extremely improbable reasons? Negan's bat just somehow happening to be in the way of her bullet and then Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) spontaneously deciding to deny Rosita the death in battle she wanted by somehow closing up that gate faster than Rosita could react. The gods, that is the writers, are holding Rosita's forehead while she swings her fists at the air. Good grief.
But wait, what's this? A crossbowman appears! Is it Daryl or Dwight ? I guess I hope it's Daryl though that wouldn't make much sense after the talk he'd had with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) a few scenes earlier. I have a feeling that's Norman Reedus in the shot but it'll turn out to be Dwight next week.
Rosita and Sasha finally bonding was nice though you'd think Negan's people would've taken precautions regarding nearby buildings with perfect sniper positions. It's a bit surprising Sasha and Rosita didn't feel remotely apprehensive about having a heart to heart right there.
The other stand out pair in the episode was Simon (Steven Ogg) and Gregory (Xander Berkeley). Berkeley in particular is so good at being perfectly two-faced, pained at being forced into obsequiousness through his habitual lordly pose. Meanwhile, he just got a password to get into the Saviours' base, didn't he? I have a feeling the reason he's particularly an asshole at the end of the episode and in the trailers for next week is misdirection--I think he's going to give that password to Rick or Maggie. If he hasn't already given it to Daryl.
Twitter Sonnet #974
In cotton candy carts, the miners grin.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
( 5:46 PM ) posted by Setsuled
When last night's new Star Wars Rebels, "Twin Suns", began with a shot of Darth Maul wandering alone and worse for wear through the deserts of Tatooine, trying desperately to find Obi-Wan Kenobi, I was excited. I thought, maybe they won't shoehorn Ezra into this episode and we'll simply get the promised showdown between Maul and Obi-Wan. I should have known better. But despite the presence of Ezra, the episode had some things I really liked.
Spoilers after the screenshot
I understand that Ezra (Taylor Gray) is kind of supposed to be annoying, the fact that he selfishly runs off to Tatooine is meant to show his immaturity. Luke Skywalker sounded pretty whiny in Episode IV, after all. Though Luke at least always seemed like he wanted to help people while proving himself and his rashly running off from Dagobah in Episode V was with the aim of saving Han and Leia from certain doom. Ezra goes to Tatooine with some vague idea of warning Obi-Wan (Stephen Stanton) about Maul (Sam Witwer). I'm not sure which strains credibility more--the fact that Chopper somehow sneaked into that A-wing or the fact that Ezra thought it would get him to Obi-Wan before Maul.
One of the ways the episode could have better spent the time would have been explaining how, exactly, Maul has found himself bereft of ship or speeder or why he couldn't use some innocent moisture farmer or Jawa as his lure for Obi-Wan instead of dragging Ezra halfway across the galaxy.
But, wow, Tatooine sure looked great. The backgrounds almost looked painted, the episode was definitely one of the best looking of the series. I also loved the fact that Dave Filoni made the actual fight between Obi-Wan and Maul quick, modelled on Kyuzo's first kill in Seven Samurai. That being said, Obi-Wan's strike didn't look convincingly like a killing blow but I guess there's a limit on what can be shown on a kid's show.
Ezra even sounds whiny when he's happily talking about his family at the end, it's kind of extraordinary how he so consistently maintains that grating tone. If you ask me, Hera should've been a lot more pissed off with him and he absolutely should be grounded for at least a week. I mean, all she knows for sure is that he went off, jeopardised their Lothal assault, and lost an A-wing. A whole A-wing, for nothing, doing what he wasn't supposed to do. Imagine if Wedge had done that, he'd be in the brig. But not His Highness, Ezra.
He's not the Chosen One, though. For the first time in any movie or television episode, Luke Skywalker was given that title. Personally, I've always liked the fan theory that Anakin really was the Chosen One. After all, if the prophecy was that he'd bring balance to the Force, the only way he could do that would be to bring in more Sith or reduce the Jedi numbers drastically. And then he is the one who killed Palpatine. It also raises the question, why is Obi-Wan so sure Luke's the Chosen One and not Leia? The answer: sexism. "No, there is another," said Yoda, adding, "You fucking Neanderthal."#
Saturday, March 18, 2017
( 6:32 PM ) posted by Setsuled
It always seemed strange to me that John Lennon is dead and Elvis Presley is dead but Chuck Berry was still not only alive but, until just a few years ago, still performing. But now he's passed away at the age of 90.
I can't add anything to what John Lennon and Keith Richards and Eric Clapton have said about Chuck Berry. "If you had to give rock’n’roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry," John Lennon once said. We could blame all the troubles with the law Berry had for the fact that he's not as often discussed or the fact that he was black and recorded his first great songs in 1950s America. I'd suggest his corporeal longevity was a part of it. "Oh, how they'll love me after I'm dead," Orson Welles once said to Peter Bognadovich and of course he was right. A living man is harder to make into a legend in the public imagination because there's always a chance he'll go and do something human.
But you can't deny the power that man had with a guitar, the razor precision of his vocals, his playful, often unabashedly sexual lyrics. His song "My Ding a Ling" was about exactly what you think it's about.
The guy seemed inexhaustible, certainly insatiable.
Friday, March 17, 2017
( 4:01 PM ) posted by Setsuled
After the surprise success of The Quiet Man in 1952, director John Ford returned to Ireland to film the 1957 anthology film The Rising of the Moon. Based on a short story and two plays, each by different Irish authors, the film is beautifully shot and contains entertaining, if somewhat broad, anecdotes but suffers from a lack of The Quiet Man's more complex characters.
The stories are introduced by Tyrone Power of all people who immediately assures the viewer that his grandparents were Irish immigrants. I'm guessing the studio insisted on Power's presence as the film otherwise has no star. Power is charming enough but he's not as at home hosting as he is in a swashbuckler. I don't know why Ford couldn't have used Maureen O'Hara or maybe Barry Fitzgerald.
Each of the stories is higher on mythical, stereotypical Irish charm than on realism. The first story, based on a short story by Frank O'Connor, features Jack MacGowran in a small role as a scrappy man who illegally brews liquor. Most of the story is set in the home of Dan O'Flaherty (Noel Purcell) who is due to be arrested by a police inspector named Dillon (Cyril Cusack) but not before the three of them enjoy a bit of poitin together. There's no more question of the inspector dragging O'Flaherty off immediately than there is of O'Flaherty not delivering himself to prison a few days later, the never directly stated joke of the whole thing being the points of honour observed in the community before any written law. It's pretty cute.
The second story involves a train stopping for "just a minute!" at a station where one little thing after another keeps it from going for at least a half hour. "A Minute's Wait", based on a play by Martin J. McHugh, cuts between a large cast of colourful characters as they spend the time. Many rush into the bar where a little woman named Pegeen (Maureen Potter) is constantly obliged to leap over the counter as customers constantly go in and out for the indecisive train. It's a funny story but here especially one gets restless without that focus seen in The Quiet Man.
The final story, based on a play also called The Rising of the Moon by Lady Gregory, must have been the cause of the controversy in Ireland vaguely referred to in John Ford's Wikipedia entry as regards the film. Set during the Irish War of Independence, it involves the scheme of a few rebels to spring a rebel leader named Sean Curran (Donal Donnelly) from a prison where he's kept by British soldiers. The story is written like a slightly comedic caper starring once again a cast of funny Irish caricatures. The charm kind of pales in the context and it's difficult to enjoy this sensitive issue papered over with dialogue about drinking and ballads. Curren is eventually helped to escape and makes his way to the docks leading a donkey, posing as a balladeer with the help of some Irish Americans.
Twitter Sonnet #973
A rusted bridge'll cede its strength to sky.