That’s Steve McQueen the artist who everyone pretended to have heard of when this came out, a naked Warholian who recreates Buster Keaton stunts and projects them onto art gallery walls, not Steve McQueen the actor who everyone has actually heard of, who jumped a nazi barbed-wire fence on a motorcycle.

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For a director who talks up innovation and rulebreaking, he’s made a rather classic-looking film, with much attention paid to capturing beautiful shots in what should be an ugly story – a hunger strike unto death by physically abused political prisoners inside the shit-smeared walls of a British prison. I expected more subjective views, more filmic art-stuff a la Diving Bell and the Butterfly (also by a former art-gallery sensationalist) but it seems most of the experimentalism was narrative, and who knows if that’s due to McQueen or experienced co-screenwriter Enda Walsh.

I ultimately got less, narratively and emotionally, than from the more conventional IRA/prison flick In the Name of the Father.

Extremely-long-take centerpiece, in which priest Liam Cunningham (Wind That Shakes The Barley, The Mummy 3) fails to talk Bobby (Michael Fassbender, the Inglorious Basterds brit who gets shot up in the basement bar):
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Prison guard who gets his own arc, ending with execution in his senile mum’s lap:
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Another prison guard, who does not enjoy beating prisoners:
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Secret messages:
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Visions of Europe is a 2004 anthology film with shorts by various directors about the current state of the continent, which I’ve already started to watch earlier and still may never finish. Pretty hit or miss.

The Miracle (Martin Sulik)
An immaculate conception story, the girl’s parents and priest trying to get answers. God’s message, via the girl, “We mustn’t build tower blocks. The big ones must heed the small. We need to travel more to resist the false messiah.” Weird, kinda spooky. Not sure if the floating coffee cup at the end helped or not.
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Anna Lives In Marghera (Francesca Comencini)
Briskly edited montage of an Italian student who participates in Rage Against The Machine-soundtracked political protests and prays when she’s not working on her thesis about industrial pollution.
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Children Lose Nothing (Sharunas Bartas)
A girl collects frogs. Two boys fight over a girl. A paper boat! Finely photographed brownish little art short. Symbolic of something!
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Room For All (Constantine Giannaris)
Talking heads tell us about the immigrant experience in Greece. Giannaris just made a movie called Gender Pop – the title alone is more interesting than this.

Prologue (Béla Tarr)
Loooong black-and-white dolly shot (imagine that) with pretty music by Mihaly Vig showing hundreds of people waiting in line to get food. Tibor Takacs was one name in the credits – could it be the director of The Gate?
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Invisible State (Aisling Walsh)
A serious man in a suit tells us angrily about human trafficking. “They will tell of Irish eyes not smiling.” Walsh made a teary Aidan Quinn drama the previous year.
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Crossroad (Malgorzata Szumowska)
The adventures of a catholic cross outdoors at a crossroad. Eventually some coroners take down the classic Jesus and replace it with a blobby new plastic Jesus. Was it supposed to be funny? I found it kinda funny.
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Paris By Night (Tony Gatlif)
Immigrants on the run, one of them injured, run through the Paris streets to some good music. Jarmuschy. Same year as Gatlif’s acclaimed Exiles.
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Let’s see, this opened last July and apparently I was too busy watching classic Hollywood comedies, french auteur cinema, documentaries and Wall*E to go see it. Also I wasn’t so wowed by Pan’s Labyrinth and I figured an action-comedy sequel could only be worse than that. Turns out it’s a very good action-comedy sequel. I should’ve guessed. Anyway, looked great in high-def.

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I guess Hellboy was dating fire woman Selma Blair in the first one – I barely remember the movie even though I’ve seen it twice. Anyway she’s pregnant in this one with twin fire demons, but that’s hardly discussed because we are busy being introduced to, then figuring out how to kill, various wonderful creatures.

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Also Doug “Silver Surfer” Jones is back as Abe the aquatic poetry-reading scientist psychic fellow, Jeffrey Tambor as the comic relief operations manager, and introducing the voice of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane as the ectoplasmic being encased in a steamy glass-topped robot suit.

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This time the crew goes to Ireland (actually filmed in Budapest) to fight some Lord of the Rings holdovers.

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They win at the end.

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Did I mention John Hurt appears in the intro?

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Katy and I liked this one, a musical almost-romance drama about a struggling musician in Ireland.
We even bought the soundtrack.
On vinyl.

Not much to this one, plot-wise. Street musician (but with job, family, home) performs in the evenings, gets attention of young married immigrant mom with an ear for harmonies who practices piano in a shop. They encourage and inspire each other, he decides to pursue his dreams and record a demo, gets together some other guys and they hit the studio. Engineer is impressed by their sound, hangs out and helps all weekend. Guy goes his own way, girl reunites with her husband, and guy gets her a piano as a parting gift.

A not-quite-love-story… don’t think the two leads so much as kiss (maybe once), but they have more mutual respect than in most true-love movies. “Guy” (no character names) is Glen Hansard of The Frames and “Girl” is 18-year-old Czech musical collaborator Markéta Irglová. Nobody else I’ve heard of, writer/director included (turns out he’s a member of The Frames). Beautiful movie, plays each song all the way through, lingers long enough on each scene, each moment, well acted and written, with more restraint and emotion than one could rightfully expect from an indie musical.

Kind of ruins the Atlanta Film Festival to take a break from their offerings and watch a movie this good.

I don’t know much about Ireland vs. England but it looks like a bad scene. Bros Cillian and Teddy turn to rebellion after being terrorized by brits, then when their guy signs a peace agreement, Teddy joins the new government while Cillian keeps fighting. ‘ventually Ted kills his own brother.

Family vs. country / neighbor vs. neighbor thing plays out very effectively. Movie leaves me with my stomach burning. All shots of countryside are heartbreakingly wonderful. No death is taken lightly. Loach takes his “socialist realism” to a Serious Historical Topic and succeeds hilariously. Best picture at Cannes no duh. I’m only writing so little because I waited too long and have lost some details.