Wednesday 30 March 2016

Week Eight: Spaces of Blue

My thanks to the following for their recommendations or offerings:

  Marsha Faubert for recommending an essay by Anne Enright regarding the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, the setting for part of the film Philomena.

Janice Coles for suggesting Peace Direct ( re a local NGO initiative to improve peace-building in Bosnia where identity politics continue to poison the discourse and hold back post war re-building progress.
The 1990's Bosnian war tragedy on the doorstep of Europe was a window on the dark side of human nature but stories of hope and courage are also there.

She recommends a link
and  books re Bosnia and theme of 'Blue Skies' in the darkness of the 1990's.

1. This was not our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace by Swanee Hunt, US ambassador to Austria during the Bosnian conflict

2. Good People in a Evil Time: Portraits of Complicity and Resistance in the Bosnia war by Svetlana Broz MD, granddaughter of Tito

3. The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile and Return by Kenan Trebincevic & Susan Shapiro

Anyone interested in excellent review, see This was not our war

Sunday 20 March 2016

Tensions between History and Film: Bridge of Spies

This review originally appeared in Critics at Large. I have included on this website because the presence of show trials and near-show trials echo those that I discussed in That Line of Darkness: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden (Encompass Editions, 2013)


Mark Rylance (as Rudolf Abel) and Tom Hanks (as James Donovan) in Bridge of Spies.

Near the conclusion of Steven Spielberg’s recent film Bridge of Spies, lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), on a train that takes him from East to West Berlin, looks out in horror at two individuals being shot at the recently built Wall. The scene instantly recalls John le Carré’s 1963 novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and its 1965 Martin Ritt film adaption of the same name that begins and ends with corpses raked with bullets. Moreover, both films are drenched in atmospherics: the washed-out bluish cinematography of East Berlin in Bridge is similar to the black-and-white desolation and soullessness of the earlier film. The cinematography in The Spy suits the cynicism and betrayal inherent in the plot. Similarly, the visual representation of East Berlin in Bridge compliments the cold desolation of a police state that looks more like war-devastated 1945 Berlin than 1961 West Berlin.

Monday 14 March 2016

Spaces of Blue Week Seven: Contemporary Expressions of Humanity

"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”  
"One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
 Malala Yousafzai  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
"Everything falls apart. I lost all my friends....My marriage fell apart. I suffered my second identity crisis. I'm very, very lucky to have been able to get through it." 
― Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the think tank Quilliam

Book review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai by Marie Arana October 11, 2013 from The Washington Post 
Ask social scientists how to end global poverty, and they will tell you: Educate girls. Capture them in that fleeting window between the ages of 10 and 14, give them an education, and watch a community change: Per capita income goes up, infant mortality goes down, the rate of economic growth increases, the rate of HIV/AIDS infection falls. Child marriage becomes less common, as does child labor. Educated mothers tend to educate their children. They tend to be more frugal with family money. Last year, the World Bank reckoned that Kenya’s illiterate girls, if educated, could boost that country’s economy by $27 billion in the course of a lifetime. 

Sunday 6 March 2016

Upending Clichés in Outlander

A review of a novel and television series that originally appeared in Critics at Large about a time-travelling woman may be a surprise to readers of this site but I have included it here because it highlights two characters, seen below, who struggle to maintain their humanity and a third who admits he has crossed a line and dwells in the darkness.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander, adapted from the novels by Diane Gabaldon.

I likely would not have read Diane Gabaldon’s gargantuan 1991 novel Outlander if I had not seen the sixteen-episode first season of the Starz television series, a faithful adaptation of the novel in which large swathes of dialogue are directly transposed to the script. I surprised myself by watching the entire series since I have not paid much attention to the multi-genre of historical fiction/romance and time travel/fantasy. Stephen King’s 2011 Kennedy assassination thriller 11/22/63 was gripping, but to make a substantial investment of time about the life of a twentieth-century woman who stumbles back into eighteenth-century Scotland? My interest was piqued by a few positive notices and a news report that the Irish actress, Caitriona Balfe, had been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in playing Claire Beauchamp. I am pleased to report that the Outlander series, supplemented by reading the source novel, has been an emotionally powerful and aesthetically-satisfying experience. We are treated to luscious cinematography of the Scottish Highlands (inspired by the television drama, Trafalgar tours is sponsoring a trip to the Highlands), haunting Scottish folk music created by Bear McCreary, the creation of a complex believable world, strong performances from actors who inhabit three-dimensional characters and a script that allows them to grow and develop.