Irish Film Studies: Irish Horror and The Hallow

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 Iris horror cinema and The Hallow (week 13).

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I’m not really a fan of horror films, because I don’t like that much being scared, but, as a subject of discussion, I’ve always found it fascinating. Our last class was about Irish horror cinema and the film The Hallow (a quite recent one as it was released in 2015). It allowed me to have a view of the genre in a more analytical way than simply watch a scary movie and hide behind my pillows.

This semester, we’ve explored the way many different genres were expressed through the Irish nationalism: war movie with The Wind the Shakes the Barkley, biopic with Nora, Western with The Quiet Man, Noir with Odd Man Out (although Noir is not a genre, but more an aesthetic), teen movie with Disco Pigs, etc. It is always interesting to see the approach that is taken by different movie industries in order to develop a genre with their own signature. Sure,  The Quiet Man is an American film, but it takes place in Ireland and the idea of Irish nationalism is present enough.

But let’s get back to our main subject.

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In the 2000s, Ireland began to witness a new wave or Irish horror movies such as Winter’s Head, Eclipse or, of course, The Hallow. Ian Cornish says of contemporary horror that it “provides a transcultural experience, one that demonstrates the striking presence of the genre globally and the levels of influence and crossover between different national forms and identities ” (1). Indeed, it seems that the different symbols of this nationalism have to be expressed in a horrific form. The thing is to find what the various elements of the film have anything to do with Irish culture and try to find their meaning, importance.

Sure, The Hallow is set in an Irish forest, but, except for this obvious element of “Irishness”, there’s more to it. Indeed, for example, in one of the two film reviews we read in class, it was indicated that the film was inspired by Irish mythology. The idea of folklore certainly has an important place in this film where the characters isolate themselves in a forest in a context of economic crisis.

Finally, I found interesting the observation that horror films are often very conservatives (fear of the unknown, the change, the madness, etc.). This goes in the same line of our week on Hush-a-Bye Baby where we learn about the Irish conservatism toward sexuality. Of course, this is something different, but the idea of traditional values is still here.

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Words: 417

Source:

(1) Conrich, Ian. ‘Introduction: Horror Zone.’ Horror Zone: the Cultural Experience of Contemporary Horror Cinema. IB Tauris, 2009.

Images sources

“Film Review: The Hallow (2015).” Horror News, Sept. 2, 2016, http://horrornews.net/105577/film-review-the-hallow-2015/.

“The Hallow: la critique.” Films- Horreur.com, Mar. 10, 2016, http://www.films-horreur.com/2016/03/the-hallow/.

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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: The Crying Game

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 The Crying Game (week 10).

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It’s a funny coincidence that we watched The Crying Game on week 10 as I had just recently watched a video where the film was mentioned. I had never seen it before, but this movie poster with a lady looking like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (film made AFTER The Crying Game) was one that had a mysterious appeal and, to me,  and an aura of mystery just the way I like it.

The film is one that didn’t disappoint me. I have to say, I think it’s one of my favourite ones we watched in class. The subject of transsexuality is one that is not often exploited in cinema,so this film remains a significant one on that level. On this subject, what we could call the situation reversal is something that is significant in The Crying Game. I’ll explain. The relations between the characters definitely are an important element of this film. When Fergus (Stephen Rea) discovers that the beautiful Dil (Jaye Davidson) is, in fact, a man, his reaction (throwing up) is the most shocking element of the situation. But, as the film advances, Fergus manages to see the situation from another angle as he is, despite all, still attracted by Dil. So, it’s interesting to see how this element of the plot is developed in a favourable light (to a certain point).

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Aesthetically, the film remains a very special one by borrowing touches of film noir as the smoky poster à la femme fatale proves it. But, as it is not a black and white film, the colour cinematography is used to its full potential, with images that sometimes almost like paintings. This colour becomes particularly majestic, thanks to Dil’s sparkling costumes. There’s also something about this colourful cinematography (and the subject of transsexuality) that also made me think a bit of Almodovar movies.

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Despite its mainly dramatic background, there are some touches of humour in The Crying Game that are agreeably appreciated and make the film less heavy. Of course, it is far from being a comedy, but this scene where Dil throws the aquarium of her ex-lover by the window doesn’t fail to make us laugh.

Now, one last thing I wonder: why is this film called The Crying Game? Sure, Dil sings the song of the same name at one point of the film. But wouldn’t there be a deeper meaning? Could it evoke the sadness of the characters? There are probably many possibilities.

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Words: 410

Image sources

Gracenote, ” Movie Photo: The Crying Game.” Cineplex, 2015, https://www.cineplex.com/Movie/the-crying-game/Photos.

“The Crying Game.” Coral Gables Art Cinema, n.d, http://www.gablescinema.com/events/the-crying-game/.

“The Crying Game.” Roger Ebert.com, n.d, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-crying-game-1992.

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.

29 Hunger (2008)

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.