Tuesday, April 11, 2006

CĂșchulainn of the North Side

Darren Healy stars in "Crush Proof " a mythic parable set in 1998 Dublin. A flawed but ambitious Irish movie set in my home town.

Hooda Neil (Darren Healy) gets out of jail (Mountjoy) and tries to see his son, the mother tries to bar the door of her flat to him, and things rapidly get out of control from there. "Crushproof" travels, mostly on horseback from the decaying concrete of inner city flats to the mean streets of council estates and finally, climactically, out to the wildes of Wicklow.

"Crushproof" is at once another modern story from the underclass of Dublin, a story of an unemployed working class Dublin sociopath in the jaws of the Celtic Tiger, an Irish Dublin Western and a legend of ancient Irish heroes.

The director (Paul Tickell) throws everything including the kitchen sink at the cinematic wall in the hope that something sticks, and surprisingly most do, but there are moments of glaring awkwardness in the script and some dreadful miscasting (specifically Viviana Verveen as Nuala.)

"Crushproof" works well as cinematic metaphor of the harshness of todays Dublin underclass and their dead end lives and our own ancient heroes who fought like lions despite the inevitable violent death. It looks like someone (specifically script writers John Edwards and James Mathers ) finally saw the parable between the "thug" mentality of Dublin's Lumpenproletariat and our own mythic heroic past. You don't really pick up on the parable till some time into the film, but when you do, the story's bone structure grows into the same as you read in many an Irish myth. The comrades in Arms, the forces of the enemy, the destructive female relationships, and the death of the Sun hero, all there. It's a weird surprise but as my mate Marzy will know if he gets around to watching this, the spirit of "Hyla" lives on.

"Crushproof" boasts a good soundtrack and some great performances, however the director tried too many different techniques, as a result of this the film manages to be both stylised and verite at different points depending on what was thought was needed for the scene. Unfortunately the styles do not seamlessly blend. Also in some moments the mixture of the "humour of the damned" and the more serious scenes are juxtaposed to the point of being jarring and not helping the flow of the film.

Still all in all I would give this gets a seven (out of the IMDB's ten) being at once in touch with both our ancient and modern Irish identities. Many, many great and truthful moments, that do not all hang together comfortably as a film. With any luck the spirit of audacity and originality that got this film made will be harnessed for many more, and if that's the case, the Irish film industry has a while to go before it stagnates into a Hollywood like mire of medocrity and banalness.

"Crushproof" is a must see if you're from or living in Dublin, bone jarring truth through parable.

Peace and Hope


Monday, April 03, 2006

The Death of the American Dream

Robert Fisk reports:

"In Australia a few days ago, I opened The Sydney Morning Herald. It told me, on page six, that AP, using the US Freedom of Information Act, had forced US authorities to turn over 5 000 pages of transcripts of hearings at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

One of them records the trial of Feroz Abbasi, a British prisoner who has since been released, in which Abbasi vainly pleads with his judge, a US air force colonel, to reveal the evidence against him, something he says he has a right to hear under international law. And here is what the American colonel replied:

"Mr Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words 'international law'. We are not concerned about international law."

Alas, these words - which symbolise the very end of the American dream - are buried down the story."

Peace and Hope