Review: The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

The Siege of Jadotville (dir. Richie Smyth, 2016) – In 1961, Irish commandant Pat Quinlan led an army against mercenaries during a peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

Verdict

A riveting true story. The little-known Siege of Jadotville gets a deserving tribute, if lacking in historical context.

4/5

Review

In 1961, 155 Irish soldiers stood their ground on the battlefield against a 3,000-strong Kantangese army, backed by European mercenaries. Following the six-day siege and a month spent as prisoners-of-war, they suffered zero fatalities. If you have never heard of this extraordinary battle, you are not alone.

For decades, The Siege of Jadotville remained unwritten history. None of the young Irishmen were recognised for their military valour. Instead, they were humiliated with the term “Jadotville Jack”. This was invented as a derisive label for their forced surrender, a sensible move that was dismissed as cowardice.

It took 40 long years before the veterans were finally cleared of misconduct. This came nine years too late for Commandant Pat Quinlan, who died in 1997. The tragedy of which makes The Siege of Jadotville an especially powerful story and an essential watch.

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Defending The Flute Scene in ‘Alien: Covenant’

In Hollywood, Ridley Scott can hear you scream. After backlash against his ambitious prequel Prometheus, he admitted that he knew how the fans “were really frustrated” and “wanted to see more of the original [Aliens]”. And so in Alien: Covenant (review), he ensures more monstrous terror and less philosophising.

Still, not everyone is enamoured with his latest venture. For all that is flawed with Alien: Covenant, many complaints fall upon a single point of contention: the flute scene. The strange insert has since baffled many. In it, David (Michael Fassbender) places a recorder/flute in his doppelgänger’s hands.

“Watch me, I’ll do the fingering,” he says to Walter, teaching him the art of music in an intimate test of his loyalties.

But is there something more in this act of eroticism than pure evocation? I find it interesting, and have decided to take a closer look. If you haven’t seen the film, there will be spoilers, so come back later. If you have, let’s discuss the “controversial” scene.

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Devil’s Waiting

For years, summary executions have been routine in the city of Vouna. There are no trials, no judges. President Arete has given the police force full authority – to purge every man he deems a sinner. That was what the voters had wanted, until they saw what it truly meant.

But regret comes too late. Violent arrests curbed the riots, and people started disappearing from detention centres. The country no longer belongs to its citizens, who are now simply tenants borrowing the walkway beneath their feet. Bodies strew the paths, and the national press broadcasts these murders live as a daily warning.

Arete watches the screen intently, his fist wrapped around the cross worn around his neck. He looks at the cop, who has just snatched a teen from his home. Arete knows what will come next. It is his signature on the Execution List after all. Still, he shudders as the cop shoots the teen at point blank range, and lets slip a callous smile.

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The Candy Book Tag

I don’t do tags often, since work doesn’t permit much free time of late. But this one seems fun. Besides, it’s a holiday as I am drafting this. (Confession: All my posts are scheduled and I’m not really here.)

So thank you to the lovely sisters at Twin Bookmarks for the tag. Do check out their wonderful list here. If you love YA novels, you’ve got to follow them! Now, let’s get going.

Apples – Ah. Healthy food. It is deep, meaningful, and probably won a lot of awards but, um, it really isn’t your thing.

Dear David Foster Wallace, you are an enigma. A genius, but a puzzle all the same. No matter how daunting a book gets, I try to finish them all. Sadly, Infinite Jest turns out a challenge that I just cannot accomplish.

It is admittedly brilliant. I have had lines highlighted and re-written, for I truly fell in love with his poetic observations. Yet my focus meandered as the story did. For a year, this book has sat at 26% on my Kindle. Someday, I intend to get back to my personal Everest.

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Review: Alien – Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant (dir. Ridley Scott, 2017) – The crew of a colony ship decides to abandon route in favour of an uncharted planet, where they encounter a fatal parasitic threat.

Verdict

Alien: Covenant strikes a neat balance between Alien’s horror entertainment and Prometheus’ conceptual ambitions.

4/5

Review

Fifteen years after Alien: Resurrection ended the well-loved franchise, Ridley Scott took a bold chance. With Prometheus, he reinvented his familiar story with provocative revelations, complicating a slash-and-dice formula with layered, philosophical mythology.

This alienated some fans, who baulked at reduced body horror and potential answers to the unknown. Mysticism is after all, what had made Alien terrifying in the first place. Others find joy in dissecting theological implications, savouring consequent food for thought.

For a fan who stands in the middle, Alien: Covenant feels like a satisfying compromise. Harmony is attained between the best of both worlds, as the original’s blood fest is dished up with the prequel’s intellectual fodder on the side. An elegant opening plays to the latter, reiterating the complex dynamics between man and machine.

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Strayed In Nowhere

The world wasn’t always darkness. In fact, the last thing you remember was white light. Mesmerising, blinding light of the brightest might. Then came the time when there was nothing but black.

These days, it is impossible to tell where you are. Nor can you know the time for sure. Day and night have become one in the absence of the skies. Your senses are of no help. The air smells of nothing but sanitised steel that you can almost taste. Pain comes in short bursts, too brief to mean a thing.

You try holding onto the voices around you, and barely do. Your own is easy enough. The others are strange and out of reach, as though from a different place altogether. One that is now lost to you. And so you put your hands out, longing for the solace of familiar touch. They find cold, hard concrete. But there is no door on these walls, only gaps that lead onto nothingness.

You feel your way around the labyrinth, praying for a road out. But so many times, you meet a dead end. You double back, with no way of knowing if you are only running in circles. All this time, you try not to let the troubling thought get to you – that walls are all there are.

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