Saturday, August 02, 2014

Song of the day

"The Dolphins", by Fred Neil.

Over the last couple of years we have been quick to recommend to anybody who will listen, and to many who won't, the Irish movie "The Guard". Now its director and lead actor, John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson respectively, have returned in a new, much darker, but still excellent film, "Calvary". It's a kind of riff on "High Noon", in its own way. You know from the outset that things are going to end up with some kind of a showdown (but on a beach rather than on the main street). The writing is perhaps not quite as crisp as it was in "The Guard", and it sometimes steers a bit close to cliche, but the wide cast of characters and the many stories they have to tell keep you interested. The Big Theme is what is the use of the Catholic church in Ireland in what has become, by and large, a godless society, and particularly in an environment where the church has been painted, and not without reason, as the bad guy. It's a large and weighty theme, and the comedy that is interspersed with the drama can sit a bit more awkwardly than it did in the earlier film. But, you know, it's a powerful picture, set in a bleakly stunning landscape, and Gleeson is extraordinary. Also of note is the appearance of Dylan Moran, cast somewhat against type as the nouveau riche Lord of the Manor. (Only slightly against type: he's still a bastard.)

"The Dolphins" appears early in the film. It's a good omen.