“I know that all that is required now, in order to bring even this horrible matter to an acceptable conclusion, is to make of this submission, this admission, this fidelity to failure, a new occasion, a new term of relation, and of the act which, unable to act, obliged to act, he makes, an expressive act, even if only of itself, of its impossibility, of its obligation.” Beckett on Van Velde, whereas Loach simply advises don’t bet on it.
The very beautiful thing, apart from the color cinematography, is the vacuous presentation of all the various avenues, such as sport and librarianship and the popular venue, so that only the genuine article may be estimated, at all odds, five bob.
Land and Freedom
You’re standing outside the theater, maybe on a college campus, about to see Ken Loach’s new film, it may be, and some disordered females hawk at you a placid but urgent diatribe and a nicely-printed newsletter from the Revolutionary Communist Party of wherever, complete with Mao’s lonely-flower-poem on the back, all very friendly if hurried, and a request to donate something for support.
For some reason, left to yourself, you look around you for a moment and try to imagine to yourself just what on God’s green earth all this folderol can have in common with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and Hemingway and all that sort of thing a long time ago, and so you make this film.
And so, too, when the local sodality is picketing the theater where you are about to see Godard’s ‘Je vous salue, Marie’, you pay no notice whatsoever.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
The play, as Hitchcock would say, is nominally to do with Ireland in the Twenties. The questions are first whether foreign occupation can be ended, second is the nation to have its own wealth. These have been viewed by film critics as appertaining to Iraq and Marx, respectively.
A sense of anachronism is biting in several places, these shrill Black and Tans have the manner of Cops on TV (“I’ll take you out,” says one), “the energy in this room” could carry the day (said around the treaty), hugs are not forborne.
Loach drops one shoe with color cinematography worth looking at, the other in a final image of Ireland widowed before the bridal bed, the moiety dead and buried, the rest banished, the house a blackened shell. This image is developed out of Lumet’s Lovin’ Molly, where it is built up with great care, and ultimately is an expression of Hitchcock at the end of Juno and the Paycock.
If your Tory is put out of countenance by all this, your Whig sees not at all the satire of himself, only the long yawn between dropped shoes.
The train station from Beckett’s Watt and Ford’s The Rising of the Moon appears, availed of careful set decoration to give an approximation of the time.