Belfast Film Festival Review: Records Collecting Dust


Record Store Day was last Saturday and as part of the celebrations I attended a screening of Records Collecting Dust a documentary written and directed by San Diego based musician and filmmaker Jason Blackmore.

Records Collecting Dust documents the vinyl record collections, origins, and holy grails of alternative music stars such as Jello Biafra, Chuck Dukowski, Keith Morris, John Reis, and other underground music comrades.

The best documentary makers are able to make you care about subjects that the viewer wouldn’t normally engage with or have knowledge of. A great example of this is Senna, I (having no F1 knowledge) was able to engage with a documentary with which I knew little of the sport it revolves around or the characters involved. Sadly Records Collecting Dust fails in this regard.

While the topic of vinyl and the influence that a record may hold over a musician would interest me greatly the films execution of this is poor. The stars interviewed are all from the underground music scene. This is not a scene I am familiar with at all however no back story to these stars is given leaving me as the viewer feeling disconnected from those on screen.

The stories told are fine but they are quick and not given any real-time for depth or development. The music they refer to as influential is not played at any point which leaves viewers, who it cannot be assumed know all the refences, clueless as to what they are talking about. They refer to Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Beatles and assume that all of the audience, young or old, immediately know the music to which they refer. While their knowledge of the genre is admirable without the connection to the audience you are essentially watching a panel of interviews without any real content or depth. This sadly makes the film for largely uninteresting aside from one segement regarding ‘black power’ music as told by Matt Johnson who seems to have great knowledge but sadly does not receive enough time to fully impart this.

Records Collecting Dust is an attempt to get at what would be a really interesting topic if approached in the right way. Sadly this is a failed and flawed attempt and not a documentary I would recommend.

Belfast Film Festival : I Am Belfast


Belfast Film Festival opened on 16th April with the latest piece of cinematic wonder from director Mark Cousins, I Am Belfast.

The spirit of Belfast is our guide, embodied in the haunting performance of Helena Bereen and Mark Cousins uses her to bring us a film that is first and foremost a love letter to the city. Part tale of wonder, part tale of mourning tinged with tender regret, this film captures Belfast in a beautiful new light.

Even for this Belfast boy the old and familiar places were given new life and their stories freshly  presented through Cousin’s amazing vision. His attention to detail in some shots of the city are truly breath taking and his moments of revelation pull at all available emotion.

Poignant and heartfelt I Am Belfast is a film that is not purely Belfast-centric but tells a story that makes us wonder what tales other cities would tell.

A sequence depicting the death of the ‘last bigot’ brings hope and gives us a vision that Belfast, or any city, could aspire to.

Our people described a salt and sweet throughout is a perfect summation of our character traits here in Belfast and we are captured well in this outing.

Mark Cousins never fails to impress me and I Am Belfast continues that trend wonderfully. All we can hope is that this part dreamscape part documentarian love letter reaches the wide audience it deserves.

Movies for Lent: Calvary


I’ve written several times on this blog about how great I think Calvary is. It can not be over stated how much of an impact the film has had me on me. It has been roughly a year since I first watched it, to date I have not re-watched it and yet I am still in awe of it.

Calvary is not simply another darkly comedic, McDonagh directed, Irish film. It is not simply a satirical look at the cause and effect of the numerous abuse cases still being uncovered and dealt with in Ireland. It is not just a swipe at the bankers who have crippled Ireland and brought austerity through their negligence. It is not just about the changing relationship between the man/woman in the street and their dwindling relationship with the church. It is about all these things and more.

It is all these things and it is also Easter.

The man accused when he has committed no crime.

The man who encounters and has embraced those that society rejects. The prostitute, the rich young rule (banker) to name just a couple.

The man who receives no help from religious rulers the very people who SHOULD be on his side.

The man who witnesses the community around him change from welcoming him to turn on him within a week

The man who faces his accuser, listens to their lies and takes the blame.

Calvary is Easter and Easter is Calvary.

*Calvary is now streaming on Netflix in the UK