art in all its forms

art in all its forms


The undiscovered country

SMB II International Airport's waving gallery

The Waving Gallery, by Mervyn Taylor
(Shearsman Books, ISBN 9781848613300, 80pp.)

TRAVEL does things to you. The traveller is in a position like no other. While in transit, whole nations are stripped away by the journey, leaving the individual on their own. Here, the traveller is reduced to their core being. While in transit from one place to another, you are confronted with the question: who am I? From this position of truth, the traveller is then bestowed a gift. Who would you like to be? The traveller, unlike others who stay at home, is in a position to take up whatever identity they please; is free to make new friends in a foreign land, to become whatever they want.

The poetry of Trinidadian poet Mervyn Taylor reflects these dynamics in his forthcoming collection, The Waving Gallery, which finds him grappling with familiar ground. Moreso than his previous book, No Back Door, his fifth book is organised explicitly around ideas of travel and differing stages of migration. The book, which will be published by Shearsman Books in January, comprises 60 poems divided into three parts: ‘Section 1. Leaving’; ‘Section 2. Overstayed’ and ‘Section 3. In Transit’.

There are ekphrastic poems ("Benefit of the Doubt"); poems ostensibly about poets and writers ("What Poets Wish For" ; "Edwidge’s Voyage"; "And Now This"; "The Old Ways") poems that tell stories; poems about characters; and poems that have the mood and feel of memoir ("Sedona"; "Storyteller"). All track a journey of some sort – whether literal or metaphorical, across countries or within a psychological terrain, over miles or between two people at rest in bed.

In the case of migration away from Trinidad and Tobago to other countries, the rationale for that journey itself is subject to Taylor’s scrutiny in the title poem, “The Waving Gallery.” Here, Taylor presents that phenomenon all Trinidadians of a certain age will remember. At the Piarco International Airport’s old terminal, there was a specific gallery with a view of the runway. It was the place families would go to literally see their loved ones off. I remember, as a child, its large windows, through which you could stare forever at airplanes before you saw the tiny speck of your auntie, tantie, cousin, mommy or daddy climbing up the steps of the airplane taking them away. Even after the plane left, families would hang around for what seemed, as a child, like eternity, mourning, as though at a teary-eyed wake, the loss of yet another loved one. With each trip, a visit to the waving gallery was regarded as inevitable, almost as inexorable as the need for the migration away from this country itself.

The new terminal no longer has a waving gallery but with a few brush-strokes Taylor vividly suggests this place for us. However, his poem questions that which was often not questioned in the gallery: the very rationale for the trip itself. The voice of the poem notes he was, on this occasion, “going away to study English, as if / it were not the language spoken here.” The abrupt diminishing of energy at the poem’s end reflects the point of realisation that English is native, meaning this country is already foreign in a sense: it is already a part of the world out there. What is out there is here. And what is here is out there.

Thus, the theme of migration is revealed to be a red-herring. It is true that it is often a journey away and a return; an alienation; an estrangement, which provokes reflection. But the reflection is possible, even inevitable, no matter who what when or where we are. Every country is the undiscovered country. In this respect, there are no foreign lands. We are always constantly learning and discovering aspects of each place – home or abroad – as we are constantly discovering life itself. And so the voice of “Countryside” is beset by uncertainty as to whether home is really home:

As many times as I’ve been there,

the roads remain strange, going east

when I think we’re headed south,

passing fields of the same farmers

who lift and shake their heads.

I’m sure I was born here, though

when I hold out my hand the fish

swim away, the men toast someone

behind a partition, and only one

aunt claims she still loves me.

Here is an uncertainty one senses even natives might feel. Taylor’s focus on intransigence leads us to see that it is not necessarily travelling which causes a rupture in personality, for it is the idea of personality itself which is malleable. With each minute, with each new experience, each new person, friend, and even stranger encountered, the individual changes. Yes, there is a core to us, but the penumbra of that core shifts like the weather. It is not travelling that changes you, but rather it is you. Taylor deals with those quiet transitional moments where the self is confronted with its own starkness: “Returning”; “Layover Trinidad”; “Life In The Islands”; “Marie, and Juan”. And he shows how that self flips about in poems like “Country of Origin”; “Poet in Peru”; “Language Major”.

The blurring of these lines is not limited to geographic and personal ideas, but also involves art: challenging the mediums though which we grapple with understanding reality itself, such as film. This is the centre of the incredible poem, “First Time Seeing Snow”. Taylor takes a common trope in post-colonial literature and uses it obliquely to raise an unexpected concern. In the poem, we expect some sort of jejune pastoral idyll about a West Indian going to a country with snow and being in awe, but instead we are presented with the idea of a depiction of snow on film, viewed while at home, not abroad in a temperate land. The poem focuses on how film not only presents but also can come to define reality in certain contexts. The voice of the poem reacts strongly to a banal glimpse of snow under a car tire in an old movie. In this way, the first snow is not a physical tangible thing: but something more cutting, almost as powerful, more unshakable: a seed planted in a mind from the screen. When snow falls, cars skid. It is an idea at once alien, exotic and revelatory for the man in the dark.

In these shifting sands, what are the imperatives which we must honour? Taylor has an idea. They include family, memory, society, truth, justice and, above all, love. We are changing, yes, but the heart and its propensity for irresistible impulses will always be the same. And so, in “Another Country” loneliness is compared from one country to the next.

These poems are often sophisticated exercises that find an easy tone. They appear unforced and seduce with their elegance and craft. They greet and surround us, stimulating the mind, making points by not making points, and all the while remaining beautiful – with smooth rhythms, well-chosen images and metaphors, and provocative enjambments – before waving us goodbye, leaving us to think of them when they are lost to us.

Taylor gives us no answers (nor is he asked to) but he moves us to something approaching wisdom. He seeks to teach us the value of the truly examined life, to re-route the trip somewhat: to make it a voyage into the interior. He knows how fast a life fades, as quickly and abruptly as the day ends in the opening poem “Mt Hololo.” 



DOUEN ISLANDS is a poetry e-book by Andre Bagoo produced in collaboration with Kriston Chen, Brianna McCarthy, Sharda Patasar and Rodell Warner. COME INSIDE: 

FOR best viewing, turn up volume, play at full screen. WATCH Part 1 of "In Forest & Wild Skies" here:


Cut him out in little stars

Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars 

-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

NIGEL SCOTT (Theo Van Gogh), Brian Carter Green (Vincent Van Gogh) and Wendell Manwarren (Paul Gauguin) in a scene from the new play by Derek Walcott, O Starry Starry Night.

POET Derek Walcott’s new play is a closet drama. That is, it is perhaps meant to be read and not necessarily performed: its language is what you would expect from the Nobel laureate - rich, seductive, scopious, with lines echoing Shakespeare at one moment then scatological the next; yet always perfectly, poetically devised for the page.

But we are still grateful to have
O Starry Starry Night staged, as it was last Thursday at the Central Bank Auditorium, the start of a four-day run.

The play covers Paul Gauguin’s two-month visit to Vincent van Gogh at Arles, France, 1888. The terrain covers the period when van Gogh’s painting style changed to what we now associate him with: bright, impressionistic with short and sharp brush-strokes, like a melting stained-glass window. (The painting that gives the play its title was actually done after the visit, but nonetheless in the manner devised by van Gogh during it.) But most famously, it was during Gauguin’s visit that van Gogh did that which he became most famous for: cutting off a bit of his left ear after a row with Gauguin.

“Tell him I love him,” van Gogh begs the proprietor of a local cafe near the end of the play after the row is over and Gauguin has left. Elsewhere, after deliberately estranging himself from van Gogh, Gauguin writes a kind of response in a letter, “Tell him nothing except I loved him. But I had to go.”

Though the subject matter is old (painting, two key figures from the 19th century) the play itself is post-modern. It is not concerned in a conventional sense with plot and narrative arc. Instead it paints a picture, sets a mood: it is a mood poem. This means it does not always take off in the way you would like a play to take off. Something of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot —with its pair of two human beings feeding off one another —flows through the veins of this. Beyond the glimmer of the stars, candles, street lamps and paintings onstage are questions of loneliness; of love.  

At moments you can’t help but chuckle at Walcott’s deadpan and often sly sense of humor. Van Gogh, after cutting his ear, has a weird, deranged soliloquy comprising a critical discourse and analysis on the merits of his painting style and Gaugin’s. Even some critics will agree that the speech is madness!

This is a play well-worth seeing, if only for Walcott’s language. It is certainly a play worth reading. The production at the Central Bank was sound. The use of Gene Lawrence’s cuatro was a rare, magical treat. The stage backdrop and set were also stars, as were the stars themselves: Brian Green and Wendell Manwarren. It’s not easy to turn language as rich as Walcott’s into natural-sounding dialogue, though, and this is what the production lacked. However, both actors understood the crisis at the heart of the matter, and sometimes found ways to project this through body language.

Here is a play about love, not necessarily in a carnal sense but about creative tension; about what we leave behind after we die; about who we love and why; who we are permitted to love; and who we permit ourselves to love. The question at the heart of the proceedings is whether love, in whatever form, is not itself a kind of ecstatic madness. Both characters are in an eternal dialogue: one is concerned with ideas, another pragmatism. Neither would have been the same without the other. The ultimate play about one of history’s most famous bro-mances

Newsday, Nov 10, 2013.



For All Hallow’s Eve, enter DOUEN ISLANDS, a poetry e-book written by Andre Bagoo, produced in collaboration with Kriston Chen, Brianna McCarthy, Sharda Patasar and Rodell Warner. COME INSIDE.


LAST NIGHT: Rodell Warner's #lilsun


FIND out MORE here.


FILM REVIEW: Poetry Is An Island

THE FIRST thing to be said of Poetry Is An Island, the fine new documentary about Derek Walcott which had its world premiere at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) last night, is that it is not a full-fledged biography of the great poet. Those seeking to learn about Walcott's entire life, his body of work and its reception at home and abroad, his literary influences and development, the arc of his career - and the attendant trials and tribulations he must have experienced along the way to the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, and since - will not find such here. Instead, this is a film which focuses on one particular aspect of Walcott: his life on the island of St Lucia, his birthplace. It is a psycho-geographic tour that is as unexpected as it is indispensable; the kind of gift you cannot imagine parting with even if you never realized you needed it in the first place. In a sense, Poetry Is An Island, gets down to the essence of things,  giving us an incredibly intimate portrait of the artist and examining an aspect of his life which, while relatively narrow in remit, finds the universal in the specific.

"I did not have the intention of making a biography film," said director Ida Does at the MovieTowne premiere last night. "I was fascinated with his connection with his island. I wanted to catch a bit of his poetry atmosphere. I aimed to get closer to him."

Walcott himself, who attended the premiere, told the crowd that the film reflected, "the continuous astonishment with St Lucia," a paraphrase of his own poetic line, "the perpetual ideal is astonishment."

That is not to say the documentary does not deal with biographical details of the poet and playwright's life. A key theme established is the central role of Walcott's father, Alix Walcott (a St Lucian public servant who died at the relatively young age of 31) in forging Walcott's own propulsion to write poetry.

"He wrote and I thought I would continue that in a sense," Walcott says in the film of his father. "My mother continuously spoke about my father and I found my father's work and my mother recited a lot." Of his own work, Walcott remarks, at one point, that poetry is the "language of love", not in a carnal sense, but "in the spiritual sense."

"That's what Larkin said. What will survive of us is love," he remarks.

The documentary does not go into detail about turbulent times in the poet's life, including the murk surrounding the campaign launched against him by a rival when he seemed poised to take up the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry. Though it is alluded to briefly, we also hear little about his relationship with VS Naipaul, a relationship as remarkable as it has been seemingly caustic on both sides (Walcott has sought to downplay the fallout between the two in recent years). By clear design, the documentary focuses on one country, St Lucia, and though it makes a detour to Trinidad to give us the Ramayana at Felicity, we do not get much else by way of Walcott's family in Trinidad and Tobago or aspects of his time at his Trinidad Theatre Workshop.

However, what we do hear and see amounts to a feast. Of particular note is the film's use of extensive  portions from Walcott's 1992 Nobel lecture - itself a fine essay later collected in his only publication of prose, What the Twilight Says - in which he sets out his audacious vision and roadmap for poetry and for post-colonial society. Incredibly beautiful footage of a re-enactment of the Ramayana at Felicity accompanies the audio of this lecture and forms the central spine of the documentary: giving it a form, structure and power that takes the feature into the realm of cinematic magic. We hear Walcott when he remarked at Oslo:

Felicity is a village in Trinidad on the edge of the Caroni plain, the wide central plain that still grows sugar and to which indentured cane cutters were brought after emancipation, so the small population of Felicity is East Indian, and on the afternoon that I visited it with friends from America, all the faces along its road were Indian, which, as I hope to show, was a moving, beautiful thing, because this Saturday afternoon Ramleela, the epic dramatization of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, was going to be performed, and the costumed actors from the village were assembling on a field strung with different-coloured flags, like a new gas station, and beautiful Indian boys in red and black were aiming arrows haphazardly into the afternoon light. Low blue mountains on the horizon, bright grass, clouds that would gather colour before the light went. Felicity! What a gentle Anglo-Saxon name for an epical memory... 
Poetry, which is perfection's sweat but which must seem as fresh as the raindrops on a statue's brow, combines the natural and the marmoreal; it conjugates both tenses simultaneously: the past and the present, if the past is the sculpture and the present the beads of dew or rain on the forehead of the past. There is the buried language and there is the individual vocabulary, and the process of poetry is one of excavation and of self-discovery. Tonally the individual voice is a dialect; it shapes its own accent, its own vocabulary and melody in defiance of an imperial concept of language, the language of Ozymandias, libraries and dictionaries, law courts and critics, and churches, universities, political dogma, the diction of institutions. Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.     

These snippets alone are worth thinking about carefully and, in a sense, come to stand in for Walcott's poetry. They helped to assuage the disappointment of some members of the audience last night who argued that Poetry Is An Island does not present as much of Walcott's POETRY as one would like. True, we do not get any close textual analysis showing the uninitiated why Walcott is so great; showing how he fits (or does not fit) within a larger, international contemporary poetry scene; neither is his poetry examined in context of its treatment of the natural environment of St Lucia, which is itself a fascinating topic. For instance, his great poem, 'Sainte Lucie', is not presented here, a surprise given the film's focus on the island. We get some mention of Walcott's work ethic, but little discussion of his process as a whole in context of life in St Lucia and how that may have evolved over time. While some politics in relation to the neglect of the arts is included (somewhat didactically toward the end of the film) we do not get a more complex examination of the place of St Lucia amid the peregrinations of the author of The Prodigal. Other Walcott fans looking for their favorite Walcott poem - whichever one from among his massive output that may be - are not likely to find it.

That said, this is not Sunday School. And no documentary can contain all of Walcott's work nor can it say everything about a poet and his relationship with his birthplace. Poetry Is An Island opts, by clear choice, to present a kind of visual poetry instead. In this regard, it is a startling and moving achievement. Ida Does' use of imagery is simply magnificent, bearing the hallmarks of a born filmmaker. This is particularly so in relation to the scenes dealing with the Nobel lecture and Felicity and at some moments when the cameras themselves seem in love with the physical beauty of the island of Les Pitons.

And, in truth, the awesome poetry of the man is there. We get miraculous readings from Walcott of his work. Unforgettably, we hear him read 'Love After Love', as we see him, at age 83, walk around his garden. We also see the barbershop referred to in his great poem about Obama, from his most recent (and very fine) collection, White Egrets. He also breaks down in tears three times during filming while reading a poem about his mother. While we may quibble over what poems are in the documentary or not, these moments alone silence us and move us higher.

There are similarly moving scenes involving Walcott's childhood friends, including Dunstan St Omer and Arthur Jacobs. At one point, Walcott takes Seamus Heaney (now deceased) to a church to see a mural by St Omer.  There is also another scene where Walcott's poet friends from all over the world (including Heaney; Jonathan Galassi and Christian Campbell) all go sailing and then each poet recites two of their favorite lines of poetry for the camera.

There is a long tradition of fine documentaries about the great poets of the 20th century. Several have been made about WH Auden, Robert Frost, TS Eliot, Phillip Larkin, WB Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath. Unlike many of these documentaries, Poetry Is An Island is not a biography or close textual reading: that film is yet to come. Instead, here is a study of Walcott at St Lucia, among his islands and friends. It is a singular achievement, beautiful in its own right and will be an invaluable part of the epic poem of Walcott's own life.

"I don't know what it is, but I am happy: that is as great an emblem anybody could have," Walcott remarks at one point in the film.

*    * 
Poetry Is An Island screens at the TTFF. Find out more here. Read Walcott's Nobel Lecture here.


Draconian Switch 22

Damian Libert's cover alone. MORE here


Poem + flesh

What happens when the amazing designer Kriston Chen takes up Christopher Cozier's breeze block challenge? Sheer explosive magic: he's made a font and a series of amazing things at his site, Notsirk. CHECK IT OUT here.


AMA, CHI TI AMA: Dave Williams 'Press Play'

FORGET all the politics and the gimmicky play on the media of the title ('PRESS play'); forget all the bacchanal implied by the same title (YUMA's Carnival bank this year was also called 'Press PLAY') and strip away all the MacGuffins, for Mr Williams' new work is about love.

Press Play looks at power on a political level in a broad sense, not necessarily that involving Parliamentary seats. Here is a relationship, and all sorts of problems ensue: dependency, abuse, joy, its end, sorrow, its end, children, freedom, prisons, the body and soul eternal (?) Several vignettes are beaded together. As the mysterious force in 'Gondola' marshals the lovers, so too Williams his great theme in all its glory: ama, chi ti ama- love him who loves you.


Jus Now

MORE info here.


Jumbies, saints

FIND out more HERE.



'To present the world in a new light'


"It is not a question of avoiding issues but of being crafty, like the politicians, in portraying them. Literature is above all story-telling. And as China Achebe has said, story-telling is a threat. Story-tellers, poets, writers have always found ways of confronting tyranny, especially in places where conditions are dangerous and deadly. Throughout the ages, writers have developed and employed myriad literary devices and explored the fullsomeness of language through, for example, satire, realism, magical-realism, fables, and so on. Writers throughout the ages have found ways to talk about issues like politics without seeming to talk about them. The function is not to present the world as it is, but to present it in a new light through the narrative power of art. Literature does not ask, 'what is it about?' It asks. 'how do we tell it to make it real?'

"So if I have to answer the question, 'Should literature be political?' I would say, 'Yes, but not in an explicit way.' The purpose of literature is not to represent but to re-present: to hold up that mirror in a light that enables us to see reality both reflected, inflected and refracted. As writers, we live lives that are not navel-gazing but conscious and fully-engaged with the world. Gaugin said, 'Art is either plagarism or revolution'.

"Let me end by taking issue with the title of this debate. Should the subject matter be prescribed by anyone? I say no. Let us end by revolting against those who would apply the word should to art, even in a question. To young writers I say ignore prescription. Don't be left behind. Write on."

* *

Poet, novelist and short-story writer Olive Senior answers the question: Should literature be political? at a special discussion on Sunday at Trinidad and Tobago's Bocas Lit Fest



With this bread

FROM last night's launch of Bread - a new EP by the band with the best band-name ever, Gyazette - at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Belmont. FIND out more here.



Check out Draconian Switch 20

From 'Lightraits' by Kriston Chen, featured in the latest issue of Draconian Switch.

Draconian Switch, Issue 20, ably designed by the excellent Kriston Chen, is now out. Edited by Mariel Brown and published by Richard Rawlins, this issue features fiction from Sharon Millar, art by Sheena Rose, Ewan Avery, Kriston and much more! Am also pleased to be included in this 20th issue via a review of Trinidad artist Steve Ouditt’s latest show at Medulla Gallery (special thanks to Kriston for his company on a recent visit to the Medulla space). CHECK out DS 20 here.

'Bodies clothed in solid colour'

Mohammeds - an exhibition and artist talk by Sandra Brewster at Alice Yard
Sandra Brewster has been artist in residence at Alice Yard during February and March 2013. While in Port of Spain, she has created a new body of work, Mohammeds, which has evolved from her ongoing Smiths series. On Thursday 4 April, to mark the end of her residency, Brewster will show this new work at Alice Yard, and give a short artist’s talk. The exhibition will be open to the public from 7 to 10 pm on 4 April, and from 6 to 9 pm on 5 April.

From the artist:
Among the series I’ve worked on, the Smiths have been a recurring theme. The name Smith, a large section of a North American telephone directory, conjures up ideas of sameness and commonality and invisibility, as there are so many. Offering an element of humour, I use the name to mock the notion of a monolithic Black community — of course not all Smiths are related, or look or act the same. The Smiths are afro-headed characters that I present as paintings on slabs of wood, their bodies clothed in solid colour and their faces replaced with the Smith section of the phone directory. I continue to use them in various visual narratives and pieces that offer a questioning around concerns of identity and representation. Now the Smiths from Toronto have turned into Trinidadian Mohammeds.



'I see myself as a double outsider'

"I see myself as a double outsider.  In Trinidad I am a white person and in the UK I am a Trinidadian, even though Roffey is a British name and I have British passport. I am born here. So I am a Trini in the UK and here I am a white Trini. I’ve learnt how to sort that and make that work. As a writer it is absolutely fantastic because the more marginalized you are, the more accute your perspective is pulled in and you have to deal with that. You have to deal with being an outsider in both cultures. So for me that works..."

The Trini novelist Monique Roffey gives an insightful, provocative and altogether delightful interview at Spaces Between Words. LISTEN to full interview here.


135 drawings and collages by Steve Ouditt


"Visual artist /designer Steve Ouditt will be exhibiting locally for the first time in 18 years at Medulla Art Gallery in March. The exhibition, Proceeds to Mental Health is a prolific body of work comprising 135 drawings and collages exploring mental illness and its correlating transgressions in daily cognitive perception, social behavior, class, politics and corruption.
"Proceeds to Mental Health runs from March 7 to April 4 at Medulla Art Gallery, on Fitt Street, Woodbrook. Medulla has been steadily earning a reputation as a public exhibition space for showcasing contemporary art works that radically challenge traditional and social perceptions while maintaining high aesthetic value. In Medulla, Geoffrey MacLean, Martin Mouttet and Isabel Brash have created a Gallery to promote art, not only as a social expression, but also as a medium for therapy and growth."

FIND out more here.


Neither here nor there

Installation, Eastern Main Road, St. Joseph, Trinidad. 2013

"ALL OVER Trinidad and Tobago, strange sculptures are appearing. Small, angular and at odds with the shapes and geometry of things around them, they look like alien sand-castles beamed down from a space-ship. On the Brian Lara Promenade in the capital, Port of Spain; around the scenic Queen’s Park Savannah; along the busy liming spot of Ariapita Avenue; on an island in the middle of a busy main road or camouflaged on a non-descript pavement that could be anywhere on the island, they provoke stares and wonder. What are they? Where did they come from? Who put them there?

"These objects seem to materialize overnight. Though they look like little sand-castles, the sculptures are made out of grey board, wire, fiber rods, and duct tape. Some are covered with bond paper and then sand is stuck on their surface using wood glue. Beneath their apparently casual incongruence, then, is a careful deliberation. This is the work of the collaboration known as Pinky y Emigrante: artists Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche..."

-From an essay on the collective known as Pinky y Emigrante (P&E) at the ARC website. P&E is a collaboration featuring  Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche, with whom I recently collaborated with for an e-chapbook. READ the full essay here.

P&E will talk about their work at Alice Yard this Thursday. FIND out more here.


Luis' experiment

FIND out more here.

Gerard Gaskin Wins CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

Backstage at the Evisu Ball, Manhattan, 2010. Photograph by Gerard H. Gaskin.

READ about it here.


Film review: Zero Dark Thirty

The central achievement of Zero Dark Thirty is that it manages to be an effective thriller, even though we all have a sense of what the ending is going to be.

Like The Hurt Locker - which must be regarded as this film's logical companion piece - Kathryn Bigelow's thriller seeks to approach the war on terror from the perspective of the human characters on the ground fighting it. This time around, her focus is on an intelligence agent, Maya, who, like the Jeremy Renner bomb expert in the The Hurt Locker, internalises pain and her own mysterious circumstances under a kind of steely, relentless ambition to do the job no matter what. Only at the end is there some kind of release, but we never get close enough to understand what else the ambition may stand for or whether it stands for anything at all besides a purity of devotion; a single-minded integrity.

Once more, there are some excellent set-pieces where the suspense is almost unbearable. A key operation to lure a potentially invaluable source in the hunt to kill Osama Bin Laden turns out to involve incredible risks on the part of many involved; there is much danger lurking in public places where agents search for clues; homes are attacked; there are scenes of torture.

Speaking of torture, there have been claims that the film glorifies torture as a method of getting valuable information. I disagree. The film has no opinion: it simply shows an account of what it says happened and leaves the audience to judge the moral issues involved. This is also the approach to the final, nail-bitingly suspenseful scene at Abbottabad. And, ultimately, this is the film's approach to its central character who at times seems to over-step lines in a manner that sometimes raises questions about whether or not she can be trusted. Something of Claire Danes agent in the TV series Homeland seems to inevitably come to mind here. There is a puzzle at the heart of the performance of Jessica Chastain that asks the audience to decide whether or not we trust her or are willing to make a leap of faith. The film is so good because of this move. The movie lets the audience decide what they need to decide about her without getting in the way, right down to the last scenes.  

Bigelow is not big on lecturing to audiences and it shows with the film's single-mined focus on the action at hand. That focus comes to mirror the resolve of the agent.


Sound System Version 4

"Land of Tomorrow and the University of Kentucky Department of Art, in coordination with the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, are pleased to present Sound System Version 4, a sound collaboration between Christopher Cozier, Daniel Haun, Robin Foster, and Martin Raymond, with sound sequences by Ebony G.Patterson, Sheena Rose, Jomo Slusher, Sheldon Holder, Chantal Esdelle, Christian Campbell and Yvette Grey."

READ MORE AT Visual Matters HERE.