Irish Film Studies: Disco Pigs

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Disco Pigs (week 12).

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The beginning of Disco Pigs certainly tenderized many people in the class when we watched this film. Indeed,  we could perfectly hear the “aww” (like, “aww it’s so cute”) at the view of the two babies holding each other’s hand. That’s how real friendship should begin, no? When you are born, but not clever enough to be too judgmental. Runt and Pig are, as a matter of fact, almost like brothers and sisters. Well, until Pig becomes clearly interested in Runt in another way than just a friend.

The film first makes us jealous. I mean, does perfect friendship like that can really exist? Sure they do bad things, but their work of solidarity is one to be admired. Disco Pigs is an anti-heroes film just like Badlands or Bonnie & Clyde were. And like many anti-hero films, the spectator will have the tendency to identify more with these particular “villains” more than with the other characters (whom, most of the time, are not portrayed as heroes, so have less chance to gain our sympathy).

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But, at some point, it becomes too much. That concept of doing everything together at the same time surely is a symbolism of “we cannot leave without each other”, but this, to a certain point, almost becomes a dangerous drug. Runt’s parents, who think her relationship with Pig isn’t healthy, send her to a boarding school (where we meet my favourite character of the lot, the daring weird blond girl). And it’s the beginning of a real drama. Sure, they see each other again, but in circumstances that don’t end quite well. Pig takes Runt to a bar and,  furious with jealousy, [spoiler] kills a guy who was dancing with her. The two fellows go on a beach where [spoiler] Pig asks Runt to kill him, to avoid another form of punishment due to what he has done.

Please…

Disco Pigs is an interesting film on the level of insane friendship/relation. It gives you a lesson that, even if you love a person very much, you must learn to be independent (something I understood a long time ago) otherwise you can eventually suffer or be unhappy.

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Where Disco Pigs failed to grab my attention was with the development of the story with many flashbacks weirdly placed. I also had a lot of difficulties with the language. The accents/pronunciations are not obvious and, sometimes, I just couldn’t understand anything that was said. But, luckily, it’s a film where many things are expressed simply by the visual dimension.

At some point, Cillian Murphy seems to actually create a form of language. Oh well, even if we don’t understand everything he has to say, at least we can admire his beautiful blue eyes!

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Words: 455

Images sources

“Cillian Murphy “So New” Disco Pigs soundtrack.” Youtube, Feb. 20, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu_CJKsOZeU.

“Cillian Murphy images Disco Pigs wallpaper and background photos.” Fan pop, n.d,  http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/cillian-murphy/images/19924627/title/disco-pigs-photo.

Disco Pigs (AV Channel) (2001), n.d, http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/Reviews/Reviews.asp?ID=3958.

Irish Film Studies: 32A

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for 32A (week 11).

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Marian Quinn’s 32A was not the only film we saw in class depicting teenagers’ life. It also was the case for Hush-a-Bye Baby and Disco Pigs. However, this one is not as dark as the previous one and is, let’s say, more “ordinary” (not necessarily in a bad way). The fact that the main characters are actually young teenagers (and not almost adults like it is the case for the two other films’ characters) adds a certain aura of innocence and childishness.

Narratively, there’s nothing quite extraordinary about the film. I enjoyed it, but it’s the typical teenager movie story. A young schoolgirl tries to find her place in the social world. She has friends who reject her at one point, but, in the end, they become friends again. There’s the cute rebel boy (but, however, their relationship is abruptly ended). The girls have problems in their family. You know, these are the typical elements someone would expect from a teen movie. What is interesting though, is the fact that this film is not only a teen movie, but it was also made for a young teen audience. Thus, it might be easier for teens to identify with the characters more than it would be the case for Hush-A-Bye Baby for example, which adopts much more mature themes and might be understood better by an older audience.

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It’s interesting how, in her text on the female Bildungsroman (a coming of age story genre), Ellen McWilliams informs us that this literary genre was first not seen well by feminists for “its often unapologetic investment in masculine, bourgeois ideologies.” (1) However, the female Bildungsroman gives a new breath of freshness to the genre as it is explained by McWilliams and became a new form of expression for women. (2) Well, 32A proves it right as the story is seen from a girl’s point of view and, interestingly, it’s the ladies in this film that are the most well developed. There’s nothing very concluding about, let’s say, Jean’s father or her “boyfriend”. However, that’s in a way not so good as it somehow neglects the relationship between the male and female characters in the film or, more precisely, their development.

Aesthetically, the film has some beautiful images that add some visual poetry to it and make it agreeable to watch. The day scenes are very luminous, but not aggressive for our eyes, while the night scenes feature beautiful sky images.

32A is not a revolutionary nor an impressive film, but I enjoyed it and this type of films is sometimes good to see too, to prove us that life, even in movies, can be just normal!

On an aside note, I give this film many bonus points for featuring songs by my musical idols Blondie (Picture This) and David Bowie (Boy Keep Swinging)! These were, for me, the amazing parts of the film.

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Words: 480

Source:

(1) McWilliams, Ellen. “The Coming of Age of the Female Bildungsroman.” Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 0.1-12

(2) Ibid.

Images sources

“A still from Marian Quinn’s Film 32A.” Archives of Irish America, Sep. 30, 2011, https://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/aia/collections/ihoral/quinnm/quinnm.php.

“32A.” Institut Canadien du Film, Nov. 26, 2009, http://www.cfi-icf.ca/index.php?option=com_cfi&task=showscreening&id=248.

Irish Film Studies: Hunger

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Hunger (week 9).

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Hunger was a film on the program that I longed to see since it was directed by Award Winner movie director Steve McQueen (not to confuse with the star of The Towering Inferno and The Great Escape). I hadn’t seen any of his movies before, not even 12 Years a Slave. Dear!!! Well, we had to start somewhere and Hunger was the initiator.

That film made me very uncomfortable, but I think it was meant to be. So, I can positively say he succeed in his task. The film is a one that visually disturbs the viewers by using very crude violence and images of a jail with terrible living conditions. If you feel a bit sick watching those images, you are not the only one.

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There’s something quite clever about this film and that resides both in its aesthetic and narrative aspects. Hunger is an HONEST movie. It doesn’t try to embellish the reality. Of course, all realities are not horrible like the one inside this Irish jail, but life isn’t a bed of roses either. We could definitely call this type of films anti-Hollywood movies. The actors are also terribly convincing, it’s somehow hard to say if they are only acting or if they are truly hurt or hurting people. Of course, a movie is a movie, but how many times have we heard that some movies were physically and mentally hard to shoot? I’m pretty sure it was the case for Hunger.

Now, did I like Hunger? Well, no… I recognize its brilliance for the reasons I’ve already mentioned, but, I honestly prefer movies that are more a form of escapism and this one is far from being one. I’m someone who has always loved beautiful things. On-screen violence can be beautiful depending on how it is executed. But it’s not the case for Hunger. This film is honest but cruel.

Do I want to see more McQueen’s film now? Well, I’m still curious to see 12 Years a Slave one of these days, but let’s say it wasn’t love at first sight with Hunger.

And now, I’m ironically hungry!

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Words: 351

Images sources

Becker Films International, ” Hunger: affiche Michael Fassbender.” Allo Cine, Oct. 15, 2008, http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefilm_gen_cfilm=115096.html.

“Hunger (2008).” A Film a Day, Nov. 26, 2014, http://afilmadaybysonia.blogspot.ca/2014/11/hunger-2008.html.

Irish Film Studies: Nora

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Nora (week 8).

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Nora, a 2000’s film by Pat Murphy, is related to an important figure in Irish history:  writer James Joyce. However, the film mainly focuses on his wife Nora Barnacle, what obviously explains the title. Just like our week on Hush-a-Bye-Baby, we were here interested in the portrayal of women in films. This one, however, is set much sooner, in the early 20th century. Pat Murphy’s film depicts Laura as a deeply interesting woman, free in spirits, an avant-gardiste feminist. During our class discussion, we’ve been asked if we thought Nora would have had any recognition if she wouldn’t have been the wife of James Joyce. Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Yes, she is presented to us as a beautiful, intelligent,  interesting woman, but, however, I believe these qualities were unfortunately not used at their full potential. She, yes, somehow could have been an inspiration to women of her generation and the ones to follow, but, as she didn’t accomplish anything concrete, well, she’s, unfortunately, the type that could have been forgotten soon.

What was very interesting about Nora’s character was to see how she lived with her sexuality and, for a woman of her time, seemed quite comfortable with it. You know, we always have this tendency to think that every woman who didn’t live the sexual revolution of the 60s had the tendency to be very shy and prude concerning this subject. Well, Nora proves the opposite! Of course, it remains a fiction film and not a documentary, but at least it gives us a good preview (especially for someone like me who didn’t know anything about Nora Barnacle).

The depiction of James Joyce in this film was an interesting one as the director chose mainly to focus on him as a man more than as an author. This was relevant as it allowed us to understand better his relation with Nora.

Nora is not a masterpiece, but certainly is an interesting film. Giving a place of choice to women in culture is always something I prioritize and movies like this help to contribute to this task.

Before leaving you, there’s one last thing I’ve got to say: I think Ewan McGregor has an adorable smile!!

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Words: 367

Image sources

“Nora.”Movie Roulette, n.d, http://movie-roulette.com/movie/nora.

“Ohh a game! a game!” Everyday Should Be a Holiday, Jan. 31, 2010, http://norrasims.livejournal.com/2346.html.

 

Irish Film Studies: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

The Wind that Shakes the Barley was an interesting one for me to see, as it is the first Ken Loach’s film I was watching. His name was one of the rare Irish movie director names that rang a bell for me. Obviously, he is pretty important in the history of Irish cinema. I was interested to see what kind of approach he used in his film, what was his “trademark”. In The Wind that Shakes the Barley, I could feel a certain seek for realism. But this realism is presented to us with certain poetry and is not as crude as the one in Steve McQueen’s Hunger. A scene that particularly stroked me is the one at the end where the main character is executed. We feel his distress and that he anticipate the moment with an obvious aversion. This scene somehow made me think of the (unfair) execution scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. One of the three soldiers to be executed can’t stop crying and his sobs are only stopped by his execution. We feel his distress as much as we feel Damien’s one in The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

 The film also remains relevant as in consist an interesting piece of Irish history. Indeed, two major events of Irish history are depicted in this one: the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.

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The spirit of terror that is contained in every kind of wars can also be seen at its most horrific at the beginning when a man is shot by the British opponent for answering in Irish to his questions instead of English. We understand his strong devotion to stand for its own ideologies. He prefers, in a way, to face death, instead of submitting to ideologies and a culture that is not his.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is presented to us in a way to make us understand that the spirit of opposition was strong during those wars. However, all this is presented to us in the beautiful green Irish landscapes, which somehow makes the drama less difficult to watch than Hunger, for example.

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Words: 357

Images sources:

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Film Streams, n.d, http://www.filmstreams.org/film/the-wind-that-shakes-the-barley/.

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” The cinematic Intelligence Agency, n.d, http://thecia.com.au/reviews/w/wind-that-shakes-the-barley/