Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Things we Lost in the Fire

The plan was to have a haircut, enjoy a lunch at home and then take the Metro to Newcastle for a 4pm showing of Frost Nixon at the Tyneside Film Theatre. However I had emailed for confirmation that my free tickets provided when becoming a Friend were still available. Although the mail sent before the theatre opened there was no reply before the time for setting off.

It had otherwise been an excellent morning with a good hair cut buying cherries which later turned out to be sweet at only £1 a lb, amazing value and I shall go out later this morning to acquire as much as is available or will not go off before use. I had collected the free Metro newspaper from the bus station and a paper bank statement and passing by the Ship and Royal Pub on the corner of King Street and Ocean Road I noticed they were offering a coffee with a bacon or sausage roll for the modest price of £1.50. The same deal on Croydon station had cost £2.99 with the roll cold with crispy bacon whereas this had three slices of juicy fatless meat. I enjoyed a relaxed read of the paper and also watched Sky Sports News which was on subtitles. On return I transferred money from savings to current account at the press of the mouse and then paid the credit card account and ordered 3 pairs of Cineworld cinema vouchers with the points that had accumulated. There was a problem with the Rewards screen on Firefox so I did the transaction by phone. I could have gone into Newcastle regardless and enquired at the box office but instead decided to watch a DVD which I had held over, unsure whether I was ready to cope with the subject matter of loss and grief.

I find the pain of others unbearable as it recalls occasions of my own.

Things we lost in the Fire, is a film about grief and loss which is exceptionally crafted and acted. I cannot pretend to have been a fan of Halle Berry until now, but I regard this as her best performance as the young wife with two small children whose husband, played by X Files David Duchovy, goes out for ice cream for the children and intervenes in a domestic on the sidewalk as a man is kicking his female partner on the ground. When David checks the condition of the woman, the man pulls out a gun and kills him.

The marriage is presented as a good one where David is a good lover and father and provider, ensuring that should he die accidentally or from natural causes wife and children would be set up for life. There is a scene in retrospect where the adults are sitting down to a meal shared with a neighbour with whom David goes jogging, a brother of Halle and his wife. It is a relaxed enjoyable occasion where there are no issues between members of the party.

The one thorn in the relationship between Halle and David is that he has maintained contact with a school friend who after studying and practicing as a lawyer took cocaine recreationally and then tried heroin. At one point Halle asks her husband’s friend, what is it like and he explains that the first experience is, “Being kissed by God,” but thereafter it is always an attempt to recapture the experience without success, quickly destroying yourself as human being in all other respects.

Despite his addiction David has remained a friend of the man, brilliantly played by Bernicio Del Torro. This is only one of many portrayals of the heroine addict starting from Sinatra’s The Man with the Golden Arm released in 1955, the year before I left school, which In was too young to be officially admitted to a theatre because of the X rating, but which I did. There is an early scene which Halle wants to make love to her husband and he insists on visiting his friend because it is his birthday/

When Halle’s brother calls to announce the death and take Bernicio to the Funeral, after the shock, the man immediately decides to go to the A.A. Halle who has resented the relationship on impulse invites him to stay in garden guest room that David had been creating and this leads del Torro to establish a relationship with the two children. When the eldest goes missing from school two days in succession Del Toro is able to find her because David had previously confided that over the previous couple of year David had taken his daughter out of school to watch with him one of a season of black and white films from the forties and fifties. Halle finds that fact that David had shared this secret and that Del Torro had found the girl intolerable as she has when swimming in neighbour’s pool, Del Torro had persuaded the younger child to put his head beneath water, something David had previously tried and failed. She demands that Del Torro leaves unable to cope with the situation that has developed.

A female friend of David at the A A meeting then contacts Halle when David does not attend a party for another member celebrating two years without relapsing. She has a common bond with Halle and David having lost her own lover through an overdose of the drug and can instantly tell Halle the precise number of individual days she had managed not to relapse.

Halle who has admitted to Del Torro that she wishes it had been him and not her husband who had been killed insists that the man comes back to live with the family, using the help of her brother and the A A member to help him recover from the relapse and accept the funds for him to attend a rehabilitation clinic. Prior to this Del Torro had established a relationship with the neighbour who had offered him a job in the Mortgage business and which required the passing of an examination which Del Torro had achieved. Now he accepts the money for the clinic on the understanding that it is a loan which he will repay when he is ready to discharge himself and gain paid employment.

The daughter finds it difficult to accept that Del Torro is going away again, losing a friend after losing her father but at the last moment leaves her room to say goodbye, something she had done with her father who had not returned. The film closes as David explains to a meeting at the clinic where he has been for three months, his recurrent nightmare, -- the nightmare of someone who know they can never go back to the person and the life they once had.

This however is not a film with a message but an exploration of the reality of loss and grief between those closest to murdered man, particular people, dealing with an all too familiar tragedy created each and every day by the behaviour of individuals and governments. Some films, within months of seeing, the title does not immediately remind of the story and the emotions engendered. The title of the film is Things we lost in the fire, an account of the fire and the things lost, told at a dinner party involving Halle and her children, her brother and sister in law, Del Torro and the Jogging neighbour plus the A A member who gets Halle and the children to talk about the lost husband and father. One recounts that the father said to them as they grieved over the loss of possessions, they are possessions, we still have each other. The each other was now gone for ever.

The child playing the daughter won an award for the best performance of a child under the age of ten years in a film. Micah Berry is not related to Halle.

In the evening I watched one of the nightly episodes of Pie in the Sky an enjoyable series of police investigations by a man where police work is secondary to the gourmet restaurant which he runs which is wife. It was then time for American Idol where as usual the programme concentrates too much on the awful people who cannot sing and not on those who are voted on to the next round of auditions at Hollywood. I suspect the reason why the majority of these are not featured is because the programme makers already know they have not made the cut to those who will make the final rounds performing before the live audience.

It was then time to be amazed beyond belief. I remain amazed. Piers Merchant was given an hour of prime time TV to reveal the extent of the creation of a 21st century city for the rich created out of the desert in Dubai over the past twenty years. Large villas, sky scrapping hotels and the biggest shopping mall in the world has been created out of the desert. The more spectacular and original the design the more the Royal family approve. They are presently building the tallest in the world 40% taller and extending the city into the sea by dumping billions of tons of sand to creating 400 islands each representing a country of the world upon which villas will be built One villa on an existing fan like series of extensions bought three years ago for $400000 recently was sold for $3.5million. To stay at the best hotel can cost £15000 dollars a night for which you get the use of a Rolls Royce and personal Butler available 24 hours a day.

Remember that I bemoaned the loss of a £50 mobile phone, well a Sheik recently called in to one jewellers to buy four gold plated and bejewelled phones each costing over $100000. May have been pounds. They are now starting on a 100 square mile theme park which will include replicas of the Eifel Tower, the Pyramids, the Houses of Parliament and Los Vegas twice the size of Los Vegas. Piers interviewed one of Britain’s leading chefs who is under contract this winter and the wife of a former rock star who was paying £35000 to rent a house for a year and was only able afford a half year extension at the revised rate of £54000. There was the divorced wife and former Birmingham City Chief Executive as well as the builder involved with Sandbank in Dorset now making x times and a former Jewel thief who said he had told the truth and been admitted and was making money legitimately in jewellery design. The man who bought Man City took Piers on an aerial tour of the city in his private jet before making the land tour.

On one hand there was a party a night for those with connections where you could get drunk, not doubt there would recreational drugs and you may never need to spend a night alone. However the country is run on fundamentalist Muslim law and if you engage in most things within the ex patriot homes in public you risk being imprisoned and thrown out of the country. The ruler makes and changes the law as he likes.

According to the programme about half the population of the emirate is concentrated in the city 1.1 from 2.2 million and of these less than a fifth are original citizens with the Indian Sub continent providing 80% and British 10%. English is the second language hence the number of Brits living there. It was evident from the programme that the Royal and political controlling family are not interested in money as such but in creating bigger and better at everything and also their family life. They do not mix with the ex pats except to pass by as they use the same shopping facilities. This is fantasy made reality intended to create an economy for the country when the oil runs out in ten years and which presently contributes less than ten percent with building and real estate a fifth, Would I go there if I won the Euro lottery For a visit perhaps.

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