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Posts Tagged ‘ World War 2 ’

Creating Paradise : The Jock Stein Story

Jock+Stein

It was the September 10th 1985, Scotland had just earned a valiant one all draw with Wales at Ninian Park in Cardiff, securing a vital play off with Austria which would eventually lead to Scotland’s qualification for the 1986 FIFA world cup.

The game was rendered meaningless, however, after the news filtered through about the tragic and sudden death of legendary Scottish boss Jock Stein. Continue reading

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News in Brief-Controversy Reigns Supreme At Government HQ While Irish Fans Mock Merkel

The biggest story this week has to be the publication, by the ESRI, of a report claiming hat four out of ten families would be financially better off on benefits than going out to work. Almost as soon as the news broke fierce denials were issued from the government claiming the report had not been reviewed or approved before being published online.

Although denying they came under pressure from the government the Economic and Social Research Institute later revised their findings, saying the analysis contained in the paper was ‘seriously flawed’, and that a more realistic figure for those families better off on benefits was closer to 10% than 44%.
From the ESRI’s own goals to no goals, sadly for football fans the Euro dream is already over, losing as Ireland did last night to Spain. Here comes the inevitable onslaught of criticism – all those Trap-branded consumer deals better quickly revert to their pre-Euro names as the football manager is now bound for a battering from the pundits.
Some football fans however are having a better time of it. The now famous ‘Angela Merkel Thinks We’re At Work’ flag holders are playing into extra time as photos of their flag have gone viral. Even making it as far as Angela Merkel’s office. Disappointingly though, this time next week, they will be at work.
Irish World War II veterans that were ostracised for absenting from Irish Defence Forces and joining the British Army are to be given an amnesty according to Alan Shatter. Not as an excuse for desertion the amnesty is to reverse rulings put into pace under De Valera that prevented dissenters claiming a service pension or gaining state employment for seven years on their return. Whilst this re-evaluation of the struggles of the armed forces is welcome, just how many WWII veterans are left to enjoy it?
Mick Wallace has dominated the papers this week not only because of a €2.1million outstanding tax bill but also in the debate over Dáil dress code. Apparently his trademark pink t-shirt “because Wallace is worth it” hair isn’t appropriate for the Dáil and instead male politicians will be expected to swap beauty tips in business attire. Shoddy dressing has been largely blamed on independent TD’s such as Wallace who’s refusal to conform to ‘the man’ could see him put in the corner.
Dressing appropriately isn’t an issue for Madonna who when it doubt whips them out, flashing her various bits and bobs whilst on her current European tour. Piers Morgan really took offence to the middle-aged mammary pointing at him from the tabloids branding Madge ‘cringe-worthy’ and ‘desperate’. What a boob.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The problem with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is pacing. It consistently relies on wunderkind Thomas Horn to carry scenes that should be weightless – if only the intervening narrative wasn’t so dense. Having said that…

First off, let’s hear it for Thomas Horn. The guy went from winning Kids Week on Jeopardy! to starring in this year’s most-blatant-Oscar-bait so far. And he’s Good. We’re talking Corey Feldman good here.

There’s something very engaging about him, in an earnest, endearing sort of way. Like a young Owen Wilson. He’s believably wise, while innocent enough to still come across like a kid – even if his dialogue does get a bit pretentious at times.

Spurred by a perceived message from his late father, Oskar Schell (Horn) goes on a systematic search through the five boroughs of New York for answers to a question too vague for him to put into words. Superficially, he’s found something that belonged to his father and wants to know more about it. But the subtext here doesn’t so much hide between the lines as hover between the screen and your face.

On September 11th, 2001 – Oskar’s father jumped from the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. In the same way that if it weren’t for World War 2 we wouldn’t have The Pianist, Band of Brothers or the Call of Duty franchise, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close wouldn’t exist were it not for 9/11.

What’s effective about this film is the frustrating reality of the WTC attacks. More than once Oskar laments the maddening concept that his father was killed by someone he never met, because they decided to fly a plane into a building.

So we watch him try to make sense of something that basically doesn’t make any. And somehow it manages to feel simultaneously abnormal and authentic. I’m gonna put that one mostly down to the casting.

With just a few short scenes Tom Hanks, once again showing us why they pay him the big bucks, quickly creates a character that you miss as soon as he’s gone. There’s never a question why Oskar is so driven to maintain the fresh memory of his father – you can Feel Hanks’ absence in the latter half of the film.

Equally compelling as the shell of Oskar’s mother is Sandra Bullock, reminding us why she used to be famous by delivering a careful performance as a numb, hollowed out mom trying to keep it together. Her shaky relationship with the undeniably difficult Oskar forms the raw, exposed heart of the piece.

Playing Hanks’ understudy is Max Von Sydow; a mute, similarly shell-shocked neighbour-with-a-secret who stands in as ‘daddy’ during the second act.

And rounding it out is the sprawling network of surprisingly fleshy bit parts given to the dozen or so strangers who act as stops along Oskar’s locomotive quest. Most prominent is Abbey and William Black (Viola Davis and Jeffery Wright) – a couple in the midst of a divorce (in America – can you believe it?) when Oskar comes knocking on their lives waving his tambourine.

Oskar also suffers from what looks like extreme agoraphobia, with the noise of his tambourine standing in for the calming presence of Hanks while he’s out on his solo adventure. The scenes that elucidate his fears are some of the most visceral in the film. The volume of certain things – doorbells, sirens, planes overhead – is uncomfortably loud and serves to put you in his mind-set as he tries to steel himself against his own fear.

Despite its dark subject matter it’s an optimistic film. In fact it left me thinking that, cynicism notwithstanding, if this film is anything to go by – maybe America is finally starting to get over 9/11.

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