Monday 15 May 2017

El Olivo Oyl

Saturday 29th April was the last meeting fro this Winter Season of the Blackstairs Film Society BFS. We stop showing films in the Summer because the black-out curtains are kind of sketchy and it's still light outside at 8pm in May-August (the not oysteR months). The film El Olivo The Olive Tree is a labour of love between Scots screenwriter Paul "Wind that Shakes the Barley" Laverty and the director his partner and Madrileña, Icíar Bollaín. Laverty wrote the screenplay for I, Daniel Blake, a tragedy of the modern world which we saw at BFS last month. Both films premiered in 2016, is there no end to his talents?

El Olivo, like I, Daniel Blake, ends with the death of an older man which leaves a young woman bereft but the eSpanish film is much more upbeat, funny and heart-warming.  My preference for fluffy films wasn't met because there is a thread of edge running through it, dealing with silence in families, social justice and  the grasping of Multinational MegaCorp. The Olive Tree of the title is the gnarled, craggy, patriarch of the family farm, perhaps 2,000 years old, from which scions and cuttings have been taken by generations of small scale farmers.  The grandfather is looking backwards through the rose-tinted mists of nostalgia and heritage and sees the tree as the soul of the farm and hence the soul of the family. His sons see it as an asset that can be stripped to give them a better life in town. The grand-daughter, not co-incidentally, is called Alma [=soul] and she skips a generation of baggage and loves her grandfather unreservedly. The love is reciprocated from the moment of her birth. There is a lovely scene in which a sub-teenage Alma is seen painting Grandpa's nails shocking pink and then applying red gloss to his aged lips "whoa! it tickles". I leaned across and whispered Eddie Izzard in The Beloved's ear.  The second part of the film is a road movie in which Alma, her humble Uncle and the truck-driver who collects the chickens for market all drive off to Dusseldorf in a flat-bed to re-patriate the tree. The lose ends are all tied up in a coda where another slip from the father of all trees is set in the ground to see what the next 2,000 years look like.

The day after we saw the film I was pointed at an article in the LA Times about Sissy Goodwin of Cowpoke, Wyoming. The pointed, as often, was metafilter where you can read some extra commentary and a sweet to-from between Sissy and his wife. Goodwin is a hard-chaw cowboy who did a stint in Vietnam and recently retired from teaching science in the local school. He's married with two kids but, like Eddie Izzard, is waaay happier dressed in a frilly skirt than in tooled leather cowboy-boots with a huge shiny belt-buckle. That's who he is, and he decided long ago that he can't be bothered to rein his cross-dressing into lonely sessions in the bathroom at home. Accordingly, he goes to work, the hardware store and the gas-station dress in is something comfortable to him - even if it makes everyone else around his uncomfortable. That should be fine on the basis of your rights end where my nose begins, but of course it isn't and he has sustained rather more barracking and assaults than his more blend-in neighbours.

Part of the deal with going on the March for Science with Dau.I was an away match with her BLT pals at Dublin Pride on 24th June this year. Since the first Gay Liberation Day of Haight-Ashbury in 1972 Free The Gays has been steadily adding classes to the group: any advance on LGBQTIA, this week? Maybe by June I will added right in [with my leotard and sequins] as part of LGBTQIASWM. You may choose to heed Sir Thomas Beecham's advice "In this life try everything once, except morris-dancing and incest", but I can tell you I've broken 50% of his anathemas. And i don't mind telling <TMI alert!> that along with Eddie Izzard and Sissy Goodwin I've had my 15 minutes of fame TV.  In about 1960, when I was six, my father was put in charge of HMS Vernon [prev], a naval shore-establishment in Portsmouth. A house came with the job right beside the front gate. My older brother bet me half-a-crown = 2/6 = 1/8th of a £ that I wouldn't get into my sisters ballet tutu and dance outside the house at out-muster when all the workers in the place knocked off work for the day. Always up for a challenge [it wasn't about the money] I rose to the bait and spent about 30 seconds cavorting about on the pavement to the bemusement of a couple of hundred sailors. My brother handed over the money but suggested that it would be only fair if we went together to spend the money at the seaside amusements about 600m away on the Promenade at Southsea. And that too was so. It was within the normal range of parental behaviour in 1960 to allow two chaps aged 6 and 9 to bunk off to the other side of town and piss away enough money to buy 10 cigarettes or three loaves of bread.

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