Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column. kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk

Friday, December 09, 2005

Film Reviews

COLD MOUNTAIN

Cold Mountain 154 minutes. Miramax VHS and DVD. Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger. Director: Anthony Minghella. (Based on the novel by Charles Frazier.)

IT IS OFTEN said that one picture is worth 5,000 words. Perhaps, it could also be said that five minutes of film is worth 50,000 words. For those caught-up with the growing interest about the American Scots-Irish (Ulster-Scots) the picture Cold Mountain deserves some attention.
Cold Mountain has received mixed reviews. The plot is rather uncomplicated, as it revolves around the romantic relationship between a preacher's daughter (Nicole Kidman), and a farm boy Inman (Jude Law) during the American War Between the States. Inman enlists in the Confederate Army, and he is later wounded at the Battle of Petersburg. Following his recovery he goes AWOL, and then embarks on a long journey back to his beloved Ada at their home in Cold Mountain, North Carolina. Meanwhile Ada struggles to maintain her family farm after the unexpected death of her compassionate preacher father (Donald Sutherland). She finds help from a feisty farm girl Ruby (Renee Zellweger), and this role won Zellweger an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Still, Ada worries over the fate of her soldier sweetheart. Eventually Inman returns home to a warm reunion with his beloved Ada, although the circumstances are bittersweet as they contend with the devastating effects of the war. The film does end with some optimism. The final scenes show a married Ada and Inman with their family on the homestead after the dust of war has settled. Such a story is not too different from many BBC dramas about British sweethearts separated during WWI and WWII.

Where is the Ulster-Scot connection? Words like Ulster-Scot and Scots-Irish are not used, but there is much to infer that the main characters and their families are of Ulster descent. Cold Mountain is situated in the breathtaking hill and mountain country (or up country) of western North Carolina, which is part of the Ulster-Scot Appalachian heartland. (This picture was actually filmed in Romania.) The people of this community are family farmers who are very close-knit and clannish. The town church is obviously Protestant judging from its austerity. There are no large plantations, and few if any Negro slaves. In fact the issue of slavery is barely mentioned. Inman and the other young men of Cold Mountain enlisted to fight due to loyalty to their families, their local community, and their state, and not for the low country slave-owning gentry. In short one finds a vivid snapshot of the Appalachian Ulster-Scots, their slow-paced rural lifestyle, and their values during the time of America's most tragic war.

Perhaps the greatest message of Cold Mountain lays in the interplay of the core Ulster-Scot values in the crucible of war. Like Gone with the Wind, and other such epics, this film clearly shows the destruction of life and livelihood, which the invading Union armies brought upon the South. Inman first encounters this on the battlefield, and then he witnesses the devastation of the countryside as he makes his way home. Inman's desertion is not the sign of a coward. He has no regrets about his army service; however he has concluded that the Confederacy is doomed. Instead of dying to save a lost cause, he will risk his life to return to his woman, and save his kinfolk and community. Upon his return Inman has to muster his courage to defend Ada, Ruby and himself in a gun battle with some scoundrel bounty hunters.
Inman could be called a quintessential Ulster-Scot hero. His decisive actions are done not only because he is a free-spirited individual who takes risks, but because of his 'bottom up' loyalties. Devotion to family and local community come before loyalty to the higher authorities. These basic values are what guided Inman, Ada, Ruby and the Cold Mountain folk in their efforts to survive, and then rebuild their shattered existence. A sense of relief is noticed in the final scenes where Inman and Ada and their new family are having a meal at ease in their front yard of their rebuilt homestead long after the guns have silenced.

Many good books have been written about the American Ulster-Scots. If you want to see them as flesh and blood people in full colour, and visualise their triumphs and tragedies, then Cold Mountain is a must see.



DARK WATER

Certificate: 15. Running time: 105 minutes. Director: Walter Salles. Reviewed by David Kerr.
FOR SHEER scariness, dark Water is hard to beat. Like The Ring and many other sucessful Hollywood horror flicks these days, dark Water is a remake of a Japanese original.
Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) the central character is going through an acrimonios divorce when she moves in with her young daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) to a dilapidated apartment in a rundown part of New York. The dreadful incessant rain makes for an even more depressing atmosphere.

Strange things begin to happen. Her daughter acquires a new invisible friend called Natasha. What is the secret of a Hello Kitty bag found on the roof? Damp patches appear on the ceiling and what is the sinister janitor, Veeck (Peter Postlethaite) up to?
The atmosphere of terror and menace builds up to a real twist. Don’t watch it if you’re looking for a blood and gore slashfest. It’s real edge of the seat psychological stuff. Watch it with a friend and cuddle up close for comfort as the hairs stand up on the back of our neck!



DUKES OF HAZZARD

Certificate: 15. Running time: 106 minutes. Director: Jay Chandrasekhar. Reviewed by Al Martin.

SLOPPY REHASH of the CBS TV series starring Johnny Knoxville (Jackass), Sean William Scott (American Pie) and Jessica Simpson (Summer Music Mania 2000). Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) intent on strip mining Hazzard County, hires a local NASCAR driver to ensure his plans go ahead.
While the Dukes of Hazzard sucks big time, it does feature Jessica Simpson wearing ‘Daisy Dukes’ incredibly short, shorts … so for that at least I’m glad I saw it.
Some interesting car chases, the odd funny joke and general silliness make it worth seeing on DVD or video, but not worth seeing at the cinema.



THE BUSINESS

The Business. Certificate: 18. Running Time: 97 minutes. Directed by Nick Love. Reviewed by Terry Burgoyne.

THIS IS the third film from Nick Love who also did The Football Factory (2004) and Goodbye Charlie Bright (2001).
If you like 80s music and London Gangster films like ‘Snatch’ and ‘Lock, Stock …’ you’ll love this. It’s the story of Frankie (Danny Dyer) trying to make his way amongst the big boys of crime in Spain.

This film has it all: thumping 80s tunes from the likes of Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and even A Flock of Seagulls. Great cast, great locations and bad 80s fashions! Despite some unfair poor reviews it should go down a bomb at the box office.

Cast: Danny Dyer – FrankieTamer Hassan – CharlieGeoff Bell – SammyGeorgina Chapman – Carly.

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