Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • Il Postino (1994) d. Michael Radford

    The Chilean poet and communist agitator Pablo Neruda may never have set foot on the island of Salina in 1950, but writer-actor Mariamo Troisi’s exploration of the idea is probably more interesting than any account of his actual exiles abroad.
    The eponymous postman of the film, Mario, has never taken to the patrilineal profession of fishing in his family. His widower father understands he never will and releases his seemingly simple son from his duties, to choose an occupation more suited to his abilities. In town, the communist postmaster needs a hand with the flurry of fan mail in the wake of Neruda and his wife’s arrival. He greatly admires the Bolivarian bard and has his new postman run reconnaissance and procure signatures from him. Though their early exchanges may be of little significance, the two very different men of letters soon form a bond through a series of exchanges on poetry, love and politics. When Mario first meets barmaid Beatrice Russo over a game of table football, he instantly falls in love. He is inspired by his mentor to write her love poems, many of which he plagiarizes, and soon wins her heart.
    Michael Radford’s surname may seem a little consonant-heavy for a production of this origin but the writer-director’s English eye can only be clearly detected in the humour of the pacey, racy table football scene; which a native or continental director may have shot a little more seductively. It is really Troisi who leaves his indelible print on the film, which would be his last (dying tragically the day after production wrapped). The actor’s physical frailty comes across as his character’s mumbling humility. When beautiful Maria Grazia Cucinotta falls for his charms (or lack thereof), no one would seem more deserving a husband than he, and it is immensely gratifying to see his son Pablito stumble onto screen at the end. Phillipe Noiret also evokes much feeling in the last scene, imagining his friend’s great yet fatal agitation for change, while walking their familiar beach. We get the feeling they may have liberated one another.
    Il Postino is very much a film that flows like poetry. There is no solid structure as prescribed by the script doctors of the time. No stakes and little drama. When our loveable protagonist dies at the end, it is not played for tears of devastation. I felt quiet elation: he had finally found his voice and could speak up for his people at the rally. He asks Neruda earlier in the film a question regarding the writer’s revolutionary ideals, “So what if we break off our chains? What do we do then?” He obviously has an answer to that question by the end, which is satisfaction enough. In another exchange, when Mario’s plagiarism is discovered by Pablo, he counters “Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it; it belongs to those who need it.” This strikes one as quite humorous in the context of the scene but when recalled or read alone it signifies the point at which Mario has cast the chains off his mind. Sadly the distributors do not live by this dictum, and intellectual copyright law prevails online and elsewhere.
    While it may be a fictional account, the film is very much a celebration of the actual effect Neruda’s poetry had on many of the working people of the world. Not so much a tribute to him, but to the millions of postini worldwide who have been delivered and a rallying call for all those who have yet to be.

  • Akiro Kurosawa Reconstruction Project (Japan)

    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; } Akiro Kurosawa Samurai
    Season at the Star and Shadow

    The Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress,
    Yojimbo, Sanjuro shown between 5 May13 and 26 May 13

    Ticket price for each screening: £5

    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

    Mostly we see films piecemeal, drip fed
    to us by the cinema release system. Of course that’s the way the
    industry works, everyone wants to see the latest movie. But some
    directors make us catch our breath: we may have clocked Darren
    Aronofski, Sofia Coppola, George Romero, Alfred Hitchcock and
    realised that these guys make films we like to see.
    And seeing a number of films close
    togather by the same director can take appreciation to another level.
    Buying the box set and spinning the discs is sometimes the only
    way. But the small screen can fail to do justice to some films, so
    the best way to see retrospectives is at the cinema.
    Today this is a rare treat. In
    Newcastle, however, we are lucky enough to have cinemas that do
    programme retrospectives.

    With director retros, the pleasure lies
    not just in viewing some good films but also having the chance to
    understand the concerns, obsessions and beliefs that drive particular
    directors to make the films they do. What method might lie in the
    madness of movie making?
    For Instance! I am intrigued by the
    way Hitchcock’s films constitute a discrete mapping of his psycho
    sexual disturbamce. His beautifully sublimated scenarios probe his
    own repressed feelings: his need to rage against his mummy, to
    control and mentally torture woman, his castration and his
    inferiority complex.

    Akiro Kurosawa, the Japanese director recently had a retrospective
    season of his Samurai films at the Star and Shadow Cinema, curated by
    Chritian Barron.

    I went to see: the Seven Samurai,
    Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo and Sanjuro and I wondered if the claim for
    Kurosawa being a great director might extend beyond histechnical
    prowess. Was some ulterior deeper vision in his output?

    I was not disappointed.

    As I watched his movies I became aware of an underlying concern
    worked into the grain of these films. These Samurai movies are epic
    in scale and handsomely photographed, the scene on the prison camp
    steps in Hidden Fortress is jaw dropping. But what struck me most was
    the intrinsicly Japanese quality of Kurosawa’s material. These films
    in their imagery represent the quintessential the spirit of Japan.
    This is Japan!

    First and foremost Kurosawa’s sets. The dwellings with their screens,
    shutters, lattice work, eaves, and opened rooms, these constitute a
    full depiction of the traditional spaces that lie at the very heart
    of Japanese life and identity. Yojimbo is outstanding in this
    respect, and these sets also provide Kurosawa’s camera with stunning
    opportunities both to frame and to light his shots.

    The costumes also have a symbolicly essential Japanese quality all
    made using traditional Japanese designs. These patterns on the
    shirts and shifts worn both by peasant and the samurai most notably
    in Sanjuro, refer back to and affirm ancient Japanese ornamental
    traditions. And the erotic style in which the men’s garments are
    worn, tucked up to reveal the flesh, signifies a culture that is not
    ashamed of the body. By the way first in the roll of honour here is
    Toshima Mifune whose bared bottochs and thighs, particularly in
    Hidden Fortress, provide a feast for the eyes.

    Factor in the role played by rice, by rain of tropical intensity, by
    fire and finally by the people. The people Kurosawa depicts are men
    of short stature. At times the screen is filled almost to bursting
    with small bald headed little men. But they run – at full speed! It’s
    as if Kurosawa is saying: “Yes! We are: little people, but we have
    the energy!”

    These expressive visuals extrude in imagary the essential symbols of
    Japan: its soil, its culture its people, a representation of
    traditional Japan that Kurosawa then proceeds to subvert.

    Kurosawa was the son of a samurai, but knew the traditional order of
    Japan had to change. In the mid twentieth century, Japan an
    industrialised nation was still ruled by a Mediaeval militarised
    power structure. This lag in social change led to the disaster of
    Hiroshima, American occupation and the forced adaptation of an alien
    culture and democratic political system.

    Kurosawa determined to use his position
    and ability as a film maker to support these democratic political
    changes, which he saw as being necessary.

    I imagine Kurosawa having an Eurika moment as he watched John Ford
    movies and realised that Samurai could be transformed into a kind of
    cowboy! Korosawa’s genius was to recreate the Samurai as a cowboy,
    appropriating the form of the Hollywood Western, as a means of
    recasting Japan’s past as mythe.
    Over his symbolic elequent images of
    old Japan, Kurosawa castes the shadow of the Samurai. The Samurai
    represents the new man, epitomising the new values needed to remake
    Japan: individualism, lack of repect for authority, the refusal to
    accept fate, and In short Kurosawa’s Samurai got attitude big time,
    and Toshiro Mifune was to Kurosawa what John Wayne was, to John
    Ford, without of course the exposed thighs and bottocks, to John

    And the music! Kurosawa uses
    traditional Japanese music to good effect, but at the most dynamic
    moments, particularly in the Seven Samurai he cuts to jazz, an
    uncompromisingly modern sound created by black of slaves and released
    into the world as everyone’s music. It’s the sound that liberates
    the action from the past.

    So that’s it. I think the four Samurai films were intended as a
    project conceived to resolve the innate Japanese tensions between her
    traditions and her need to develop democratic social relations. As
    if Kurosawa was saying that Japan should always be grounded in her
    traditions, but never in such a way that she be hostage to this past.

    I think Kurosawa’s claim to be a great
    film maker rests on one key insight: cinema creates mythes and in
    making his Samurai movies he stays constant to this realisation.

    Of course the ultimate fate of these films was to be reimported back
    into the tradition of making Westerns, this time to Italy and Sergio
    Leone and the man who has no name. But there again we never catch
    sight of Clint Eastwoods naked buttocks or thighs.
    adrin neatrour

  • The Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann (USA 2013

    The Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann (USA
    2013) Leonado Di Caprio; Carry Mulligan; Tobey Maguire

    Viewed Tyneside Cinema 20 May 13;
    ticket price £10.25 (£1:75 3D supplement)
    Drowning in the shallows

    Before going to see Baz Luhrman’s
    current Hollywood offering, The Great Gatsby, I did something a
    little naughty, I reread the book. I wanted check it out again,
    this after all, is one of the great American novels.

    Of course few films actually deliver
    the impact of their literary credentials (excepted in my view are the
    David Lean adaptations of Dickens); most book / film transpositions
    end up either as insubstantial homage or mis-shapen unhappy
    compromises characterised by inept direction .
    The Great Gatsby is a wonderfully
    observed novel written, from the first person perspective by the
    persona of Nick Carraway (a literary stand-in for Fitzgerald
    himself). It is a tragedy that tells of the fall of House of Gatsby.
    Essentially it’s a chamber piece for four players: Gatsby, Nick
    himself and Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Its setting against the broad
    canvas of the Jazz Age, gives relevance and poignancy to the human
    relations. It has an almost Chekhovian level of intensity, as the
    narrator strives to understand the forces of desire that are
    channeled in and lived out through his characters,

    So how would the Great Gatsby as film
    stack up? Baz Luhrmann as director / script writer of Gatsby was
    not a good omen. From the little I had seen of his work, Moulin
    Rouge, he looked like a man best at home at the circus, filming the
    wonders of the carnival: scantily dressed girls, trapeze artists and
    clowns. And to boot, Gatsby was shot for 3D and I was going to see
    the 3D version.

    The answer is that in the best
    American/Hollywood tradition, technology replaces ideas. Luhrmann’s
    Gatsby a tech fix. He opts to film a roaring 20’s mega party, goes
    for the wow factor; never mind human relations- sex up the image –
    it’s a 3D fest.

    This is a Gatsby defined by and
    dedicated to spectacle and delivered in 3D if you want to wear the
    glasses. It’s difficult to see how to justify delivering a chamber
    piece like Gatsby in 3D unless you want it to look like an endless
    parade of competing images. The problem is that Gatsby is so wrapped
    up in the spectacle of itself that it struggles to unwrap its own
    story. Instead of depth of character, personal motivation and the
    vigour of relations, this Gatsby is filmed using shots that comprise
    multi plane depth of field. My feelings were that 3D gives a
    spurious depth to the Great Gatsby that not only fails to engage with
    the theme but actually works against Fitzgerald’s ideas.
    In the traditional method of filming
    interaction between two characters, directors take the shot using a
    shallow depth of field, so that backgrounds are blurred and offer
    nothing to distract the eye’s attention from the characters. In 3D
    the shots comprise a number of discrete visual planes, all in focus,
    each of which makes a demand for our attention. Our eyes are
    enchanted by multiple distractions, and the intensity of our
    involvement with dialogue and interaction is thereby diluted and
    diminished. And Gatsby suffers consequently in this respect from a
    lack of engagement and involvement with its characters.
    In the large set piece party sequences,
    which dominate the first half of the film, Gatsby’s displays of
    ostentation and conspicuous consumption exist simply for their own
    sake. Seen in 3 D this emphasis on spectacle undermines and works
    against the narrative, because the main characters are not part of
    the spectacle. Gatsby is written in the first person; from the
    point of view of Nick, the outsider. The point is that he observes.
    He isn’t a full participant, he witnesses. But the way Gatsby’s
    week-end parties are shot is intended to provide an immersive
    experience for the audience, undercutting Nick’s point of view rather
    than supporting it, alienating the audience from the tidal ebb of
    his narrative. It looks sexy; its a riotous pop promo; but it
    doesn’t work.

    Even Baz Luhrman’s film structure is
    tired: he uses the old hackneyed formulaic stand by of the
    psychiatric interview to frame Nick’s telling of the story. And the
    manner in which he introduces the flashbacks to Gatsby’s youth are
    clumsy and crudely worked into the flow of the movie, with the effect
    that they slow the film down making it feel overlong and tedious.
    The actors, doomed to compete with technology, struggle to maintain
    the tensions implicit in the plots psychic and social interweaving.
    In the end poor souls, their fate is to become coat hangers; walking
    talking wire frames draped with a pleasing succession of period

    The one element in this Gatsby that had
    value was Luhrman’s development of Fitzgerald’s idea

    that Gatsby was not just a victim of a
    failed obsessional illusion but that he was running out of road. The
    pursuit of Gatsby by the forces that are the source of his wealth is
    suggested by Fitzgerald. There is deep inner corruption of Gatsby.
    And this feeling of the encroachment of evil into the core of the
    plot’s relations is something film can accomplish economically and
    powerfully; but whilst Baz Luhrman develops this theme a little, he
    left me with the feeling that more was possible, but mostly left

    I left the cinema wondering why
    Hollywood makes films like this. What did Baz Luhrman imagine he was
    doing? Are such films a symptom of a film culture where there is
    nothing really left to say, where the only goal is to attract a new
    generation of audiences into the cinema with 3D and keep the industry
    and its workers ticking over on borrowed time? Was it Godard who
    said “Cinema has nothing left to do other than to reproduce
    Anyway I was glad to have had a reason
    to re-read the book.

    Adrin Neatrour

  • Taste Of Cherry (1997) d. Abbas Kiarostami

    Mr Badii wants to kill himself. The problem is he doesn’t have anyone
    to bury him. After a few unsuccessful encounters with men who
    misconstrue his unspoken proposition, he picks up a young Kurdish
    soldier in need of a lift. Having offered the young recruit a generous
    sum in return for the work, the boy leaps out of the car and flees
    across the hillside where Badii has already dug his grave. His second
    prospective candidate is an Afghan seminarian, who objects on religious
    grounds, quoting from scripture to dissuade him. The third is an Azeri
    taxidermist who accepts the offer as he needs the money for his sick
    child, but nonetheless tries to deter him from carrying out his plan.
    He confesses that he too once planned to hang himself from a mulberry
    tree, but upon tasting the mulberries, chose life. As darkness falls
    over the city, Badii climbs into his grave and closes his eyes, and
    darkness falls upon us as the clouds open up.Abbas Kiarostami’s minimalist meditation on the circle of life is
    notable for its use of long shots, such as in the closing sequences.
    The film is punctuated throughout by shots of Badii’s car traversing
    the winding hilly roads, usually while he is conversing with a
    passenger. The visual distancing stands in contrast to the sound of the
    dialogue, which always remains in the foreground as though
    non-diegetic. This fusion of distance with proximity, like the frequent
    framing of landscapes through car windows, generates suspense even in the
    most mundane of moments.’Taste of Cherry’ confounded Western audiences accustomed to dramatic
    performances and emotional manipulation with its apparent absence of
    explanation or conclusion. It is never explained why Badii wants to
    commit suicide but he tells the seminarian that Allah wouldn’t want any
    of his children to suffer so much. We never see him take his pills but
    when the rains fall on his open grave we are encouraged to believe that
    he has ‘tasted the cherries’ and re-evaluated life. In his circuitous
    search for meaning, it could be said that the soldier represents the
    state; the seminarian, religion; and Azeri, what can happen but also
    what has gone before. Badii is in turn ignored; told to continue living
    but not given any reason to; and finally, told to experience nature and
    appreciate the little things. The theocracy has little to offer him.The Iran depicted herein is a melting pot, or cultural mosaic, of other
    Muslim world countries. We assume Badii is ethnically Persian, but his
    fellow travellers all hail from foreign lands. Perhaps this signifies
    the finity of the revolutionary state, in that no one has a vested
    stake in it’s perpetuation. All three nations represented were
    embroiled in conflict at this time, and maybe it was three foreign
    perspectives who had known conflict which Badii needed.Much has been
    said of the very final scene which I neglected to mention above as I do
    not myself consider it part of the narrative. It consists of camcorder
    footage of the director and crew shooting scenes of the Army on patrol
    and would seem to me to be a disclaimer for the Iranian censors who I
    imagine would be concerned with the film’s themes (it’s only a movie).
    And it’s inclusion in the Western release would seem to highlight this
    issue for foreign audiences.

  • Django Unchained (2012) d. Quentin Tarantino

    As someone who was introduced to the films of Quentin Tarantino in the
    2000s with Kill Bill, I have always been more familiar with the
    indulgent fanboy side of him. For a time during his post-Jackie Brown
    hiatus, many believed his next work would be something even more
    low-key and maybe even profound. But all he has done since is lower
    expectations with increasingly violent homages to cult sub-sub-genres
    of movies he grew up with, even indirectly remaking two of his
    favourites, as part of a Spaghetti Western trilogy: Inglourious
    Basterds and now this, a loose remake/homage to the 1966 Spaghetti
    Western Django starring Franco Nero, who features in a cameo here. It begins with the slave Django being unchained by German-born bounty
    hunter ‘Dr’ King Schultz. A giant tooth wiggles atop Schultz’s carriage
    impertinently throughout the picture, though unusually for a Tarantino
    flic’, he at no point performs any impromptu dentistry on the crackers
    and rednecks he’s gunning for. Schultz promises to free Django from
    slavery upon collecting several bounties across the Deep South and then
    repay him by rescuing Django’s conveniently German-speaking wife
    Brunhilde from Francophile plantation owner Calvin Candie
    (played with devilish menace by Leonardo DiCaprio) of Candyland.Jamie Foxx relishes executing every evil white man, reminiscent of
    every Fred Williamson blaxploitation character while Christoph Waltz
    gets to take off the Nazi uniform from his last QT collaboration and
    play the guilty-ass white man. He is the most interesting and complex
    of all the characters herein (though that may not be saying much) as
    his arc of development reflects that of the European-American. He deals
    with his guilt at not having done enough in the latter half of the
    movie when he witnesses a slave’s tearing apart by dogs and one
    Mandingo warrior gouge out another’s eyes for the pleasure of
    ‘Monsieur’ Candie.As with all Tarantini, revenge is served with bombastic effect. If
    there is anything unconventional in the violence of the movie it is the
    disproportionate meting out of cruelty to the slaveholders and Uncle
    Toms, who only receive gunshots to the heart or unceremonious
    kneecappings while innocent slaves are mauled, gouged of their eyes and
    beaten with hammers or robbed of dignity in the aforementioned Mandingo
    fights and of course, their heritage. Perhaps this is Quentin’s way of
    reminding us his stories take place in unjust worlds not unlike the
    ones we live in.Unlike most blaxploitation pictures set in the era, the slaves of the
    movie are only freed after being bought with money by a white man and
    this is why it could be argued it is a blaxploitation movie for white
    audiences, coming to terms with the history of racial oppression in the
    US and a new era where the ‘minorities’ of yesteryear collectively
    comprise the majority but the white plurality is rapidly becoming
    marginalized politically. Blood splatters white lilies, cotton, and
    snow to remind us how white America got where it is. A black-n-white
    President may symbolize the transitional phase the county is in but the
    transformation has not yet been realised. The debt owed by many
    Americans is not merely a monetary one.Although after pondering these issues, the film proceeds for another
    half-hour wherein any remaining do-badders are riddled with bullets or
    blown apart by dynamite in a fairly unimaginative and convoluted way.
    Watching the weak climax one longs for the return of Sally Menke’s
    guiding hand to guide a pair of scissors over the 2:15 mark and
    graciously snip it loose. QT is definitely missing that woman’s
    touch dearly: those scenes deleted could have sold countless ‘Extended Edition’ DVDs.As a genre film however, it is an excellent meshing of two deeply
    entrenched yet juxtaposed American icons: the cowboy and the slave. The
    former symbolizing America’s unity and freedom after the Civil War
    somehow entwined with one representing America’s division (then between
    North and South; a century later, between largely urban and rural) and
    tyranny. In a movie ending on the eve of the Civil War, the future and
    the past. Hip hop music is played to the desired startling effect over
    images of Django’s horse seemingly strutting him into the Candyland
    plantation but everything else has been seen before in one form or
    another.It must sully the memories of cineastes who were once so electrified by
    the jarring chords of the Miserloo nineteen years ago and the overnight
    globalisation of that treasured American epithet, Motherf*cker, to see
    what little Quentin Tarantino has done to show he’s learnt anything
    since. Postmodernist masturbation may be enough for audiences these
    days who disregard ‘elitist’ critics and their analyses but if this is
    the case our filmmakers should unchain their own minds and emancipate
    viewers worldwide with a cinema of meaning.

  • Iron Man 3 Shane Black (Usa 2013)

    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; } Iron Man 3 Shane Black (USA 2013) Robert Downey Gwynith Paltrow Viewed Empire Cinema Newcastle upon Tyne Ticket: £3.75 Spontanious Human Bullshit All I can remember about Iron Man One was that it was full of commercial product placements and as I didn’t use these sort of products, I didn’t go to see Iron Man 2, but I thought I’d check into Iron Man 3. As 3 D makes me feel sick this review is from 2 D land, so I didn’t get the full on CGI show; but I can report that in Iron Man 3, there wasn’t a pack shot in sight. The camera turns its lens away from commercial products like a vestal virgin averting her eyes from the naked statue of Heracles at Helicarnassus. So what did I see in Iron Man 3. The writers of Iron Man 3, Drew Pierce and Shane Black, seem to have been sensitised, perhaps at an early and impressionable stage in their writing careers to the creative possibilities of Spontaneous Human Combustion. Spontaneous Human Combustion (or SHC) is the idea that human beings without warning, can spontaniously burst into flames, catch fire inside themselves and burn themselves out from within like a candle ,before being reduced to small sad pile of ashes. The heat produced in cases of SHC is intense enough to consume all flesh and bone of the unfortunate deceased. Dickens used SHC in Bleak House to dispose of one of his characters, interstingly an alcoholic. The writers of Iron man of course take the idea put a few nobs on it and give it the mad scientist treatment in the character of Aldrich. An experiment by Aldrich – the ‘Bad Guy’ – to induce extreme internal heat to cure drug addicts and alcoholics (?) goes badly wrong. The unfortunate subjects of the experiment burn out and blow everyone up. However in this disaster Aldrich sees – opportunity – as he says: Failure is the fog through which success is glimpsed. So he develops his heat treatment, not to give people a nice tanned look, but to turn people into his personal army of red hot soldiers – litterally. To the casual gaze these hot rods look just like you and me, but at the command of Aldrich they use their internal heat to unleash fire brimstone and death upon his enemies. It’s an idea that didn’t occur to the more prosaic Dickens, but this take on SHC by the scriptwriters provides the movie with an army of formidable enemies for Iron Man to biff and Iron Man likes nothing better than biffing a few bad guys. And they are well met: Iron Man spends a lot of time bolted into his metal exoskeleton, and Aldrich’s hot rod soldiers do their best to make things hot for him inside the suit. The plot if you can call it that, its not so much a plot, more a couple of sets of book ends that serve to keep the unruly meandering set pieces in some sort of time line. After an opening cod philosophical quote of the kind that Terrence Malik has a lot to answer for (the film opens with the portentous voice of Iron Man intoning for our instruction and edification, the sentence: ‘We create our own demons.’) Indeed we do. Anyway after this first Terrence Malik moment, we are whisked off to a scientific convention: Berne 1999 It’s an opening sequence in which Iron Man gives Aldrich – the bad guy – the cold shoulder. He stands him up, forgetting to meet him on the roof on the convention hotel. You see Iron man has the hots for a fruity lady scientist and more interesting things to do than keep an assignation with a geeky young inventor. Now some people might think forgetting an appointment was just one of those things that happen. Shit happens. But not your man Aldrich. No! This event dominates his life and he takes out a vow of revenge on the whole world, the whole cosmos for Iron Man’s unforgivable slight. In the nineteenth century Aldrich would have sent his seconds round to ask Iron Man for satisfaction. In the twenty first century that’s not enough: he has to destroy the world and every one in it to get his own back. That’s it really ! In a way the movie is a computer game scenario based on the ‘Quest’ idea. Stark aka as Iron Man has to find and nullify Aldrich before he ends the world as we know it and the American way of life become history. The script exploits a number of well know game characters: the wise child, the warrior woman, the buddie, the fool, the bad guy, to cue a series of CGI set pieces of graphic intensity. You know the kind of thing: an army of CGI technicians, thousands of them, lackies chained to computers, produce a series of extrordianry images and effects even seen in 2D: explosions on land sea and air, everything you see blows up, there’s fire, the earth quakes people dieing horribly by the bucket load. And another CGI effect also impresses: whenever he needs to fight the good fight, Stark simply whistles up his exoskeleton and piece by piece, it hurtles through space and time and bolts itself onto him, transforming him into a Medieval looking warrior A knight in armour going forth to save damsels and do good. Stark is also fashionably scripted with anxiety attacks and doubt, but protected, in the script, not by the word of God, but by Terrence Malick type gnomic utterances. The other plot device of note is supplied by Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin. The scenario initially creates the impression that the mayhem and destruction abroad in the world is being orchestrated by a comic book Bin Laden look alike, called the Mandarin. The film in exploiting the physical similarities of the Mandarin and Bin Laden walks a tricky line from the point of view of setting up Jihad as plot driver. Undiscriminating audiences may take the suggestion implicit in the image of the Mandarin and connect it with Jihad. And they may not be sophisticated enough to uncouple Jihadists and mainstream Islam. For the film to connect Islam and the annihilation of the USA is to move into criminally culpable zone of incitement. But Iron Man 3 resolves the device of the Mandarin half way through the movie. It is revealed that the Mandarin is a spoof. He is in fact only an actor called Trevor. The Mandarin, the Bin Laden look alike is simply a hapless frontman for the real evil presence, the dread Aldrich, the clean white boy who was slighted all those years ago by Iron Man and is now exacting his terrible revenge. The problem with revelation that the Mandarin is in fact only a stooge is that this leaves an implausible gap in the film’s motivational mechanism. Is revenge for being stood up by Iron Man a sufficiently strong reason to explain why the world has tobe destroyed? Is there perhaps some homerotic undertone at work? Is all this terrible destruction a simple psychic statement, Aldrich’s way of telling Iron Man that he really loves him? This is possible. But might there be some other purpose lurking within the film’s concoction? Why have all these CGI compositors and artists been put to work to make this film? Was it only to indulge the audience’s need to gaze on the detailed mechanics of the annihilation of the world? Or is there something else at work in the script? I thought about this and it occurred to me that perhaps the whole film was an allegory? I wondered if it was an allegory connected to scientology? I mean Hollywood is full of scientologists these days….. OK I agree the world can do without another conspiracy theory… …but the more I think about it….Iron Man somehow epitomises the idea of the superior being evolving out of the limitations of the human species. This proximates to the Scientology myth that homo sapiens is not the fully evolved article; he needs to be further developed by technology. With his exoskeleton Iron Man is the fusion of technology and flesh that is the promise of Scientology which belives we were once superior life forms called Thetans who have since degenerated. So The Scientology proposition is that we have to evolve and reclaim out Thetan identity; or we, as a race, will perish because of our evil our pusillanimity and weakness. Iron Man is a prototype operating Thetan, an advanced technological type who like Ron Hobbard opens the doors to others who are ready: the child the woman the man, enabling them to realise their true techie identity. In so doing Iron Man defeats evil and helps those who can to develop their Thetan identities. Far fetched perhaps. If you looking for high tech effects that roll down over you off the screen and flatten you, then go see Iron Man 3. If you crave meaning from Iron Man then it’ll have to be a do-it-yourself job. Thetans or bust. Adrin Neatrour