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This is a wonderful `old-fashioned' film in which the
screenplay has been written by the guy who wrote the
original story, Darryl Poniscan, together with the director,
Richard Linklater. Set in the USA in 2003, during the Iraq
war, the story unfolds slowly and quietly, bringing together
three damaged survivors from an earlier American war
Vietnam. Bryan Cranston as Sal has a bar and a functional
dependency on alcohol. Steve Carrell is Larry `Doc'
Sheppard who has served time and just lost a son in Iraq.
Otherwise he's pretty normal. Laurence Fishburne, as the
Reverend Richard Mueller, has found God and is now an
Evangelist. Yul Vasquez has a great part as the pragmatic
Colonel who represents the superficially supportive face of the Military. As a
probably unintentional coincidence, Bryan Cranston reminded me of the
Saddam Hussein they found hidden in a drain. `Doc' reminds us that he's lost one
son, but Saddam lost two. This film made me laugh, made me sigh. Best of all, it
made me think.
Presented by the Poet/Librarian Chris McCabe, this
offered an ambitious line-up of `internationally
famous' poets reading some of their own work.
These were: Claudia Rankine, Arundhathi
Subraniam, Joy Harjo, Sjon, Yang Liam, Vanni
Capildeo, Choman Hardi (on video) and Anne
Carson. Eight live performances, one after the other, added up to two hours of
intense and totally unfamiliar English. Only the Chinese poet, Yang Liam, treated
us to an English poet reading the approved translations after he read them in the
original Chinese. To be brutally honest, three niggling problems emerged: 1. In
terms of tone, the poets were all excessively respectful of the words they were
reading. 2. Chris McCabe may be a good poet. He may be a great librarian. Alas, he
is a monotonous presenter. 3. The live surtitles that were being typed on screen as
the poets spoke were wildly erratic and unhelpful, like predictive text gone wrong.
Surely, the poems themselves could have been set up accurately in advance?
Nevertheless, I'm glad I supported the event and I loved a lot of what I heard.