the Roundabout' is a laudable concept; as a response to
the biggest event in this city in living memory, the Belltable
(with the support of the Arts Council) have commissioned independent
film-maker, Nicky Larkin, to engage with the regeneration of
certain parts of the city over an eight month period.
to see the film on Wednesday night. I had a personal interest
because I had met with the affable Mr Larkin a number of times
when he was filming, usually in my neighbour's house in Weston
night of the screening the same neighbour was standing outside
the Belltable distributing leaflets that explained his decision
to have his name and his input removed from the film. He had
been ejected from the Belltable before I arrived, on the grounds
that he was prejudicing the opinions of the audience before
they had even seen the film, which was a fair point; he had
certainly coloured my expectations. From his reaction to the
preview, I had imagined a one-sided uncritical vindication of
the Regeneration Project.
surprised. Mr. Larkin's film is not a documentary with bias,
nor is it an even-handed documentary. It is not a documentary
at all, and it doesn't pretend to be. It is a collage of well-composed
and often poignant imagery that proceeds at a deliberately measured
pace, giving the audience plenty of time to think about what
they are seeing. A technique that was, certainly in the beginning,
those of us who live alongside the decay and devastation of
some of these areas it can become easy to 'block it out' after
a while and not really see it anymore. Sitting in a darkened
room and sharing the collective horror and disgust brought it
all back. Mr. Larkin's portrayal of sheer ugliness was unflinching,
and was done well.
for a film of 45 minutes length, he didn't portray anything
else. His use of black space, silence, and half-heard echoes,
which gave the film a disconnected dream-like quality in the
beginning, became simply annoying after a while.
(unidentified) voice of Regeneration Chief, Brendan Kenny is
heard passionlessly defending himself against accusations that
nobody makes. The Residents, when they appear, are nervous,
and the combination of nerves, strong accents and poor sound
quality make them incomprehensible. Also, while what we do see
of the Regeneration areas is beautifully shot, we don't see
very much of them. Mr. Larkin was economical enough to use the
same burnt-out house at least five different times in long-lingering
shots from different angles. This may have been deliberate,
but combined with the black spaces and poor quality sound; it
just came across as lazy.
the most heart breaking of all was his depiction of children
as gangland gargoyles, either literally voiceless, with the
soundtrack removed or "scobing it up" for the camera:
singing rap-songs about stabbing and 'giving the finger'!
very hard to know what, if anything is meant by any of this,
and it can be argued that as a piece of Art, - Mr. Larkin's
film doesn't have to mean anything at all. But if this is the
case, why include the voices of Mr. Kenny and the residents
Larkin's talent and concern is clearly imagery; the inclusion
of unidentified opinions and musings seem totally unnecessary
to his film as Art and feel more like an attempt to pay literal
lip-service to the films stated objective. Aesthetically, it
undermines the experience and confuses the audience as brains
search desperately for a connection between the images and soundtrack,
before finally giving up in frustration.
Aspirations of the Belltable and the Arts council in commissioning
this work remain laudable, so it is doubly tragic that so much
time, money, labour, and good intentions on what amounts to
a visual cliché of gangland Limerick that illustrates
very little except perhaps Mr. Larkin's skill as a photographer
and his limitations as an editor.
FRIENDLY VERSION |