SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
The film begins with the real hero of the story identified as this dear little middle aged
lady in a world war typing pool, who recognises the link between the letter she is typing
to a mother about her son. She has typed three others like it, to the same woman, about
her other sons. All dead. Only a woman would notice. So what happens? We drop her like a
dead rat and follow Tom Hanks on his cross country trek to save young Matt Damon (Ryan).
If this faux pas in story telling weren’t enough, we are taken on to the Omaha Beach
landing, so the real focus is no longer the human story of Saving Private Ryan, but of
young men being killed in battle. Gee, that's original. Anyway, we keep going and soon it
becomes a road movie, except the characters don’t drive very much. They walk. All
three of these movies – the lonely spinster heroine as war hero; the waste of youth
in war; the war-driven road movie – begin well and then wither away. But let’s
be fair: it’s glued together well, with one reel following the other.
WAKING NED DEVINE
A lonely old sod in a tiny village wins the pools, and promptly dies of a heart attack.
The village – almost entirely old folk, too - try to claim the prize, pretending
he’s still alive. They are portrayed as charming and quirky, gently eccentric. These
are mean, nasty, greedy and altogether unpleasant octogenarians with bad breath, who live
in an isolated village (little wonder!) in a hill billy setting. Where are the indignant
cries to ban this film? If we accept this film we condone group theft and community-scale
fraud; we may as well turn a blind eye to social welfare cheating or else be labeled
hypocrites. There is also an ob-scene of one old fart riding full monty on his little
motor bike. It looks grotesque. As if that weren’t enough, when the one person with a
conscience tries to alert authorities, she is skiddled, sent flying into the sea, in what
is a fake accident and everyone cheers. No wonder Aussies love it – it’s right
up their criminal little streets.
History be buggered, and Elizabeth be praised; Cate Blanchett plays the young Queen well
enough, but what a poncy picture the film paints of the court. Geoffrey Rush (another
Aussie – the director clearly got his geography wrong) plays a nervy and villainous
side kick, while Joseph Fiennes minces his way through a role that should have been played
by someone more sturdy, like Tom Conti. Conti’s Australian connections are
impeccable: he’s been booed for taking on a stage role [in ART] which no other
Aussies could or would handle, due to other commitments. This would have given the film
some of the fibre it needs to pass through the system. As it is, it’s a bit high on
hystrionics. But then, director Shekhar Kapur is Indian, and there may be a bit of
anti-Brit baggage there…the Raj and all that.