Dilettante's Diary

Dec 2, 2022

Who Do I Think I Am?
Index: Movies
Index: Writing
Index: Theatre
Index: Music
Index: Exhibitions
Artists' Blogs
Index: TV, Radio and Misc
MAY 27, 2024
Nov 3, 2023
Aug 2, 2023
July 4, 2023
Apr 21, 2023
Feb 10, 2023
Jan 24, 2023
Jan 11, 2023
Dec 2, 2022
July 26, 2022
July 4, 2022
June 2, 2022
March 25, 2022
March 11, 2022
Feb 14, 2022
Nov 19, 2021
Oct 2021
Sept 16, 2021
July 21, 2021
July 15, 2021
June 11, 2021
Apr 23, 2021
March 12, 2021
Feb 13, 2021
Jan 5, 2021
December 2020
Autumn Mysteries 2020
Aug 12/20
May 25/20
Apr 30/20
March 12/20
Dec 6/19
Jan 29/20
Nov 10/19
Oct 24/19
Sept 30/19
Aug 2/19
June 22/19
May 26/19
Apr 22/19
Feb 23/19
Jan 15/19
Dec 20/18
Dec 3/18
Oct 3/18
Sept 9/18
Aug 9/18
July 19/18
June 2/18
May 14/18
Apr 23/18
Feb 22/18
Dec 13/17
Nov 22/17
Nov 3/17
Oct 5/17
Sept 21/17
Aug 3/17
June 16/17
Mar 21/17
Feb 26/17
Feb 9/17
Jan 30/17
Dec 19/16
Dec 11/16
Nov 20/16
Sept 17/2016
Aug 21/16
July 17/16
June 29/16
June 2/16
Apr 23/16
Feb 28/16
Feb 1/16
Jan 27/16
Winter Reading 2016
Dec 15/15
Nov 19/15
Fall Reading 2015
Oct 29/15
Sept 16/15
Sept 4/15
July 29, 2015
July 1, 2015
June 7/15
Summer Reading 2015
May 19/15
Apr 30/15
Apr 19/15
Spring Reading 2015
March 23/15
March 11/15
Winter Reading 2015
Feb 20/15
Feb 8/15
Jan 29/15
Jan 20/15
Highs 'N Lows of 2014
Dec 19/14
Dec 2/14
Nov 10/14
Oct 29/14
Fall Reading 2014
Sept 17/14
Summer Reading 2014
Aug 22/14
Aug 8/14
July 11/14
June 16/14
May 28/14
Apr 30/14
Apr 16/14
Apr 2/14
March 21, 2014
March 13/14
Feb 11/14
Sept 23/13
Favourite Works: 2004-2013
Two Novels by BARBARA PYM
Sabbath's Theater by PHILIP ROTH
July 18/13
Summer Reading 2013
June 19/13
May 30/13
Spring Reading 2013
May 10/13
Apr 18/13
Mar 29/13
March 14, 2013
The Artist Project 2013
Feb 25/13
Winter Reading 2013
Feb 7/13
Jan 22/13
Jan 12/13
A Toast to 2012
Dec 19/12
Dec 16/12
Dec 4/12
Fall Reading 2012
Nov 17/12
Nov 6/12
Art Toronto 2012
Oct 23/12
Oct 4/12
Sept 28/12
Summer Reading 2012
Aug 26/12
Aug 8/12
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 2012
July 14/12
June 28/12
May 27/12
May 20/12
May 4/12
La Traviata: Met's Live HD Version
Apr 21/12
Apr 6/12
Mar 22/12
Mar 9/12
The Artist Project 2012
Academy Awards Show 2012
Feb 26/12
Feb 11/12
Jan 23/12
Jan 15/12
Jan 7/12
Dec 20/11
Dec 12/11
Nov 27/11
Nov 18/11
Nov 7/11
Art Toronto 2011
Oct 22/11
Oct 17/11
Sept 30, 2011
Summer Reading 2011
Aug 11/11
July 28, 2011
July 19/11
TOAE 2011
June 25/11
June 20/11
June 2/11
May 14/11
Apr 29/11
Toronto Art Expo 2011
Apr 11/11
March 24/11
The Artist Project 2011
March 11/11
Feb 23/11
Feb 7/11
Jan 21/11
Jan 17/11
Dec 21/10
Dec 6/10
Nov 11/10
Fall Reading 2010
Oct 22/10
Summer Reading 2010
Aug 9/10
Aug 2/10
TOAE 2010
July 16/10
The Shack
June 27/10
June 3/10
May 5/10
April 17/10
Mar 28/10
Mar 17/10
The Artist Project 2010
Toronto Art Expo 2010
Feb 22/10
Feb 3/10
Notables of '09
Jan 11/10
Dec 31/09
Dec 17/09
How Fiction Works
Nov 24/09
Sex for Saints
Nov 11/09
Oct 22/09
Oct 6/09
Sept 18/09
Aug 23/09
July 31/09
July 17/09
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 2009
Toronto Fringe 2009
Zen Wrapped In Karma Dipped In Chocolate
June 28/09
June 6/09
Myriad Mysteries 2009
May 10/09
CBC Radio -- "The New Two"
April 14/09
March 24/09
Toronto Art Expo '09
March 1/09
The Jesus Sayings
Feb 8/09
Jan 26/09
Jan 10/09
Stand-outs of 2008
Dec 24/08
Dec 4/08
Nov 16/08
Oct 27/08
Oct 16/08
Sept 26/08
Sept 5/08
July 21/08
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 08
July 5/08
June 23/08
June 4/08
May 18/08
May 4/08
April 16/08
March 26/08
Head to Head
Feb 26/08
Feb 13/08
Jan 30/08
Jan 17/08
Notables of 2007
Dec 30/07
Dec 8/07
Nov 22/07
Oct 25/07
Oct 4/07
Sept 18/07
Aug 29/07
Aug 8/07
Summer Mysteries '07
July 20/07
June 28/07
June 8/07
May 21/07
May 2/07
April 14/07
March 23/07
Toronto Art Expo 2007
March 8/07
Feb 16/07
Feb 2/07
Jan 24/07
Notables of 2006
Dec 27/06
December 11/06
November 28/06
Nov 8/06
October 14/06
Sept 22/06
Ring Psycho (Wagner on CBC Radio)
Sept 6/06
August 12/06
July 18/06
June 27/06
June 9/06
May 23/06
Me In Manhattan
May 2/06
April 12/06
March 17/06
March 9/06
Feb 16/06
Feb 1/06
Jan 11/06
Dec 31/05
Dec 12/05
Nov 25/05
Nov 4/05
Oct 24/05
Sept 7/05
Sept 16/05
Sept 1/05
Aug 10/05
July 21/05
Me and the Jays
July 10/05
June 15/05
May 18/05
April 27/05
April 18/05
April 8/05
March 21/05
Feb 28/05
Feb 21/05
Feb 4/05
Jan 28/05
Jan 19/05
Jan 5/05
About Me
Dec 20/04
Dec 5/04
OTHER STUFF: Art Exhibitions, Concerts, etc.

Reviewed here: Banshees of Inisherin (Movie); Official Competition (Movie)

Banshees of Inisherin (Movie) written and directed by Martin McDonagh; starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan.

It's 1923 and we're stranded on a barren island off the coast of Ireland. People here eke out a subsistence living. Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) have been the best of friends, but Colm suddenly tells Padraic that he doesn't like him any more. Colm finds Padraic "dull" and doesn't want to waste his remaining years in idle chatter with the likes of Padraic. Colm wants to devote himself to thought and to composing tunes for his fiddle. Admittedly, Padraic is 'nice" but niceness doesn't last, does it? Isn't it artistic creation -- like Colm's compositions -- that will last in the long run?

Here we have the windswept, treeless, rocky island, the rolling, shifting expanse of the sea, the sunsets, the wild birds. The cramped cottages with their thatched roofs, their thick walls, their smoky interiors. No internal combustion vehicles hereabouts; all transportation by donkeys and horses. No radios, no electronic communications. The older women in ankle-length skirts, with shawls pulled up over their heads. It's the kind of place where a fellow can welcome his beloved donkey to share his house with him. Occasonal bursts of canon fire speak of civil war on the mainland, not that it has anything much to do with the plot, but those perturbations help to emphasize the remoteness -- the innocence, you want to call it that -- of island life.

Not exactly idyllic, though. A bitter, gossipy post mistress reads everybody's mail. A brutal policemen beats his son and intrudes on everybody's business. A gaunt, pipe-smoking crone haunts many scenes like a spectre, with her ominous prognostications. In spite of the grim feeling of it all, however, there are generous dollops of earthy humour. How often have you seen a priest and a penitent swearing at each other as they storm out of the confessional?

What a marvellous picture of a different time, a different life. But surely a movie must be something more than a museum piece. I want a movie to tell me something about life that's relevant to me now. In this case, I don't know what that would be. I couldn't understand the intransigence of Colm and Padraic. Colm's insistence that he wouldn't spend his remaining years in chat never really hit home with me. His problem didn't seem crucial enough to lead to what happened.

Nor could I get Padraic's determination to break through to Colm. Why not leave him alone? (We'd never seen anything of their friendship, so we didn't know what Padraic was missing.) Perhaps there's a problem with the casting of Colin Farrell. Padraic is, by general consensus among the islanders, "dull," even a bit "dim." But Colin Farrell isn't. No matter how plalin he tries to appear, there's an unquenchable charisma about him. Maybe the situation would have been more understandable if Padraic seemed a little less attractive and more slow-witted.

Setting aside that problem, what is Mr. McDonagh trying to tell us? That benighted people -- all of us at some time or other -- manage to work ourselves into corners we can't get out of? In this case, the standoff between the two men leads to dire -- one might even say macabre -- consequences. Which brings to mind some of Mr. McDonagh's plays. (The Pillowman, being one example.) They seem to be riddled with an underlying fatalism about the human tendency to violence and destruction, as though it's inevitable. Are human beings that bad? I don't think so. To me, then, the message of this movie is a distortion of human reality, even though the movie does offer some examples of kindlly and humane interaction among people.

Official Competition (Movie) written by Mariano Cohn, Andres Duprat and Gaston Duprat; directed by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat; starring Penelope Crus, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez.

A Spanish tycoon realizes all his accomplishments have amounted to nothing. He wants to leave behind something that will matter. So how about the best movie ever? He pays a fortune for the rights to a book his movie will be based on; he hasn't read the book but never mind, everybody assures him that it's a winner. It's about two brothers who have a long-standing feud. The tycoon hires Lola (Penelope Cruz), Spain's best director. And she hires the country's two best actors: Ivan (Oscar Martinez) and Felix (Antonio Banderas).

At the first reding of the script, the opening line has Ivan answering the phone. "Hello," he says. Lola interrupts: "Again!" This goes on about ten times. Ivan is about ready to give up before she's satisfied with his reading. That obsessiveness sets the tone for the rest of the rehearsals. Lola is meticulously demanding. The two actors can barely endure her punctiliousness. Ms. Cruz, with her sensuous beauty, is perhaps an unexpected choice to play such an odious character; you'd expect someone with a more hardened look. It could be that Ms. Cruz's beauty is meant as an ironic contrast to the draconian asepcts of the character.

We watch the rehearsals -- or fragments of them -- through the following days. The work is taking place in a huge, empty building like a brand new arts centre that nobody has moved into yet: lots of concrete and glass, long, sweeping corridors, vast rooms with a minimum of furnishings. As far as I could tell (the dialogue is in Spanish; I was getting it by way of English subtitles), there's no explanation of the venue. My guess is that it was chosen to emphasize the feeling that this is happening in a sort of other-world, almost a sci-fi contexxt, quite distanced from ordinary life. And the photography is anything but ordinary. One prolonged shot simply shows the top surface of a desk which reflects the slow progress of a jet plane across the sky.

The feeling of something beyond everyday reality lasts pretty much throughout the movie. You're never sure what's going on. There's always a feeling of everything being slightly off-kilter. The actors start playing tricks on each other -- and on us. One day, Lola doesn't show up and her assistant informs the actors that waiting for her constitutes their rehearsal. Scenes are dropped in that seem to have nothing to do with anything else: like Lola lying on the floor, talking into one end of a long thing like a vacuum cleaner's tube while holding the other end to her ear.

Is this a satire on movie-making, on actors and directors? Perhaps, to some extent. The two stars have opposing attitudes to their work, both attitudes being somewhat exaggerated and fatuous. Ivan considers himself very high-brow; he eschews publicity and awards -- so much so that, in the privacy of a bathroom, he practises his speech for declining an award -- if he's ever offered one. Felix, on the other hand, loves being a celebrity. He has a huge fan base including lots of women hoping for sex with him.

But it all seems episodic, not going anywhere or building to any point. Until ... about ten minutes before the end, plot kicks in emphatically and dramatically, with astonishing results. Leaving us with a movie that has been, not exactly enjoyable or fun, but consistently intriguing. Even if you can't quite understand it. In fact, the movie defies you to. One of Lola's memorable speeches has her trashing many accepted notions about movies. Is a movie good because we like it? Do we have to understand it? Do we need to assign a meaning to it? No! It is what it is. It stands on its own!

You can respond to: patrick@dilettantesdiary.com