Plenty of viewing pleasure – from 1920s Ireland to the future of Star Wars

Plenty of viewing pleasure – from 1920s Ireland to the future of Star Wars

Colin Farrell stars in ‘Banshees of Inisherin,’ set in the 1920s. The film draws parallels between the friendship and the Irish civil war.

Jeff Mellinger Screen Shots(Feb. 11, 2023) — After I didn’t see a single new movie in January, the first week of February proved quite fruitful in the cinematic realm.

I could watch a weekly show starring Colin Farrell as the same bumbling farmer he plays in “Banshees of Inisherin.” Padraic (Farrell) loves his animals, his sister and his (former) best friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson). Padraic is caught off guard when Colm suddenly wants nothing to do with him. Director Martin McDonagh reunites the pair from “In Bruges” for a delightful, yet often melancholy look at a crumbling friendship.

In elementary and middle school, you may be friends with someone for a while, and then one day, they do not want to hang out with you anymore. They likely do not have the skills nor the courage to explain why. Never mind that any excuse they could have given would certainly not make any sense. Such is Padraic’s consternation over Colm’s sudden decision to unfriend him.

McDonagh plays it like a romantic breakup. One side is steadfast in it being over; the other continues to question why it is over in the first place. Yet, this is the breakup of a platonic friendship. Colm claims Padraic is dull and he cannot imagine spending what time he has left listening to boring conversation. He wants to focus on his music instead.

The film is set in the 1920s, a tumultuous time in Ireland (and everywhere else in the world). McDonagh draws parallels between the friendship and the Irish civil war raging on the mainland. Over the course of the film, things escalate between the two as Colm draws a hard line. Despite the best efforts of Padraic’s sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) and local dimwit Dominic (Barry Keoghan), it seems to be an irrevocable situation. Through it all, McDonagh continues his string of excellent films. A-

A conversation worth hearing

‘Women Talking’ depicts the struggles of women living in a Bolivian Mennonite colony in 2010. The cast includes Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara, and Claire Foy.

In “Women Talking,” a group of women spend about 90% of the film deliberating in a barn. All credit to writer/director Sarah Polley and a wonderful ensemble of female actors for making sure it is never boring.

The titular group of women live in a Bolivian Mennonite colony in 2010. For years, they have been putting up with abuse and assaults by the men of the colony.

Directors sometimes create a faceless, speechless enemy for their movies. We are meant to only identify with the good guys. And so Polley gives no voice to the men of the colony. We do not need to hear their side of the story. The bruises, tears and painful recollections by the women tell us everything we need to know.

The women come to realize they cannot sit by and do nothing any longer. They must either stay and fight or leave. Through harrowing debate and conversation, the women bring their own personal views to light. The women do allow one man, previously exiled for the disobedience of his mother, to take their notes and occasionally give his side of the debate.

Though the subject matter is not for everyone, the film deserves to be seen. These women deserve to be heard. A

Taking on alcohol’s demons

Andrea Riseborough and Marc Maron star in ‘To Leslie.’

“Don’t wanna let you down, But I am hell-bound. Though this is all for you, don’t wanna hide the truth.”

I am not an Imagine Dragons fan, but their song “Demons” always hit me pretty hard. Millions of people live with different types of demons, and alcohol is probably the biggest bully of the bunch.

In “To Leslie,” Andrea Riseborough’s title character does not want to let her son down, but she cannot hide from her demons.

The film opens with a scene from six years in the past. Leslie is on the news for winning $190,000 in the lottery. She’s exuberant and ready to conquer the world. Jump to the present and she is getting thrown out of her dingy motel. Drunk more often than sober, Leslie burns bridge after bridge with those willing to give her a second chance. It is only when she meets Sweeney (Marc Maron), the co-owner of a motel, that she finds someone willing to see past her demons.

It’s not always an easy watch, and it doesn’t break new ground on the horrors of alcoholism. However, Riseborough is so phenomenal as Leslie, it is well worth seeking out. A

TV roundup

‘Andor’ depicts the bleak lives of those living under the rule of the Star Wars’ evil Empire.

“Andor” (Disney Plus). By my count, I have seen seven Star Wars films in the theater. The only time I didn’t feel disappointed leaving the theater was with “Rogue One.” Unlike the rest of the 21st century films in the franchise, “Rogue One” is everything a Star Wars movie is supposed to be. Now Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), one of the best characters from “Rogue One,” gets his own prequel show. “Andor” is the best season of Star Wars television to date. A full 12 episodes provide the chance for multiple plot threads and satisfying world-building.

“Gangs of London” (AMC+). Season 2 brings more of the same powerful characters and forceful action as the first. No one ever smiles or laughs, but you do not watch this show for giggles. The Wallace family has lost control of the city to a new rival, Koba (Waleed Zuaiter), who is slowly taking out those who do not follow his decrees. Koba is a menacing figure in a show full of them, yet he is capable of bringing big names to their knees.

“Slow Horses” (Apple+). Gary Oldman could try to sell me dinosaur insurance and I’d probably buy it. There is a scene in the third episode of Season 2 of “Slow Horses” where he fumbles about in a laundromat. It is riveting television. Of course, so is the rest of Season 2 as Jackson Lamb (Oldman) and the rest of his Slough House gang of misfits have another case to solve while still dealing with their mistreatment by the regulars of MI-5.

Jeff Mellinger

Jeff Mellinger is a screen writer and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord.