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Killer of Sheep (1977) Dir Charles Burnett NFT. Mama Mia (2008) Dir Phlilydia Lloyd Wanted (2008) Dir Timur Bekmambetov Vue Cinema Hull

A Blue Collar black American’s life in ‘Seventies L.A…


Normally the above sentence would conclude with “is brought to life”. Not a chance here.


This was the most pointless film I have ever seen bar non, despite it being bigged up by a bloke from the BFI who introduced it as a defining moment in black, or indeed any genre of Cinema.


He was a black American, so maybe it did resonate with him but, typically the audience was made up almost entirely of earnest, well meaning, right on Guardian readers. Err… yes, people like me.


 It’s a fine line between empathy for the plight of fellow humans and emotional tourism not followed up by actions, and I get the feeling that there are certain types of people who attend these sorts of things and actually are bored shitless, but when drinking the fair trade tea afterwards eulogise about what an “honest portrayal of life” we have just seen. A woman said this to me, but I was too polite to demure and admit the thing bored me to death, so much that I slept soundly for the final half hour.


The bloke went to work, hated it, shouted at his kids for not sticking up for each other in a fight, fiddled about with DIY on his kitchen floor, turned down a chance to earn a few bob as a get away driver, messed about with an engine and then dropped off the back of his pick up truck, was vaguely feeling maritally unfulfilled, and then went to bed.  


Maybe Killer of Sheep was the first time black people had experienced being portrayed as ordinary and with the same problems as their white compatriots, but the speaker (not necessarily the director because I don’t know his motivations), failed to acknowledge, as many have done since and will continue to do, that Class is the issue and that Malcolm X was right on the money when he said, “You can’t have Capitalism without racism”.


The over the top praise for this film is patronising, and reminisent of the reception given to Richard’s all time favourite film, Ten Canoes.


On a totally different note, Mama Mia is a total musical tour de force, and if Meryl Streep doesn’t get nominated for Best Female Actor at the Oscars, then I’m a monkey’s Uncle.


The cheese element is taken as read by the director and as a result the sets and costumes are nothing special, which only serves to enhance the songs and the story, and not cause unnecessary distraction from what is a joyous and tremendously fun film which I thought was just brilliant, positive escapism at it’s best.


Streep was simply sensational in the lead part, driving the whole film with the energy of a woman forty years her junior, and her singing was first class as was the whole cast’s with one notable exception.


Why was Julie Walters in this film? She was utterly pointless to the extent that it annoyed me, which was a shame given how surprisingly good Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stelan Starsgard were.


Abba were brilliant. Great pop numbers crafted with the skill of classical composers at work, and this story brought some of the best songs ever written to exuberant life.


Wanted is a fantastic action movie, which must be experienced in a digital HD cinema, as all that is good about CGI is present in this brilliantly paced, yet strangely existential film.


The dark themes of revenge, self-esteem and morality are here, but not in a preaching, dare I say stereotypical Hollywood way. The story is outlined and you can make your own mind up about how far you want to reflect on what is presented, the story being a revenge of the nerd type affair.


But Wanted’s main appeal is the unbelievably good action, and one of the best car chases committed to celluloid in these hi tech times. 



 James McAvoy has been mentioned as a possible successor to David Tennant in Doctor Who, but on this, and recent showings such as the Last King of Scotland, he is set for mega Hollywood stardom.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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