Mr Darcy of Pemberley Updated!

Mr Darcy of Pemberley is a diary illustrated and written by two of Pemberworths members, Parryphrase and Pinkyandrexa. It has recorded the thoughts of young Mr. Darcy, his life at home at Pemberley, his activities at school and the ailing health of his mother.

 

This diary continues to be updated periodically. It is well worth a visit.

The Post.IE Reviews Middletown (Nov 2006)

Reviewed This Week: Middletown

05 November 2006

Reviewed by Helen Boylan
Cinema: Middletown, directed by Brian Kirk, at cinemas nationwide, cert 15A.

The titular setting of this bleak but affecting film is a dreary, colourless everytown.

While there is a Middletown in director Brian Kirk’s home county of Armagh, the film is named after the hundreds of Middletowns around the world.

Drawing on biblical parables such as The Prodigal Son and Cain and Abel, Middletown also follows a timeless, universal story of good versus evil.

Producer Michael Casey and filmmaker Kirk, who wrote the screenplay with playwright Daragh Carville, wanted a village setting that was forgotten by time and progress.





However, for Irish audiences at least, Middletown comes across as a film about religious oppression in the North in the 1960s. Unmistakable Irishisms abound: Mick Lally, Gerard McSorley and Bronagh Gallagher are among the cast; characters speak with strong Northern brogues and down pints of Guinness. Rural misery is rife; the village priest plays an omnipotent role within the small community and the ubiquitous winceyette bed linen that covered Irish beds from the 1960s through to the 1980s adorn the beds here.

One of the central protagonists, Gabriel (played by Matthew MacFadyen), is a reverend whose tested relationships with his God and his family form the fulcrum for the film’s central theme: the fundamentalist perception of morality and the sin.

But on closer inspection however, no specific mention is made of his or any character’s denomination. The effects of fundamentalism are shown through the different view points of the film’s four protagonists - the Christian preacher, his brother Jim (Daniel Mays), their father (McSorley) and Jim’s wife (Eva Birthistle), each of which are performed with assuredness.

As a young boy, Gabriel is singled out for his intelligence and diligence and told he has a destiny to fulfil within the church. The young lad leaves Middletown to spend a decade or so studying to become a reverend.

Separated from his father and his feisty younger brother Jim in order to pursue an academic life of denial and abstinence, Gabriel grows up utterly devoted to the teachings of the Bible.

When he returns to his home town to find his brother married to the town publican’s expectant daughter, his father’s greasy hands still in the till and a bunch of locals who drink on a Sunday and bet on backroom cock fights, he vows to whip the wayward flock of sinners into shape.

Emotionally repressed and ill-equipped to deal with the ups and downs of human relationships, Gabriel’s godly intentions turn malign, marred as they are by his damning sermons and troubled, jealous heart. What he sees as a heaven-sent mission to save his parishioners from eternal damnation, others see as a mad, destructive crusade from which no good can come.

With a handful of strong performances and an unusually balanced portrayal of a fundamentalist ideals and their effects, Middletown is well worth watching.

Rating: ***

RTE Television - The Afternoon Show review of Middletown (2006)

MIDDLETOWN (15A)

 

Michael Doherty's Mad About Movies


Starring
Matthew MacFadyen, Eva Birthistle
Director Brian Kirk
Plot A zealous minister returns home with a mission to clean up his own parish.
Michaels Verdict Traditionally, a tale about religious oppression set in a rural Northern Irish milieu would have one reaching for the service revolver. Too often in the past, this particular genre has been the graveyard of good sense and a haven of bad art. Thankfully, Kirk and his team are too skilled as filmmakers to fall into that trap, with the result that Middletown is one of the finest films to emerge from Ireland in many years.

Beautifully shot in a gothic style by Seamus McGarvey, Middletown is the story of a zealous minister (Matthew Macfadyen), who returns from the missions to take over the pastoral reins of his home village from easygoing Mick Lally, much to the delight of his father, Gerard McSorley, and his brother, Daniel Mays. Soon, however, they realise that the new man is now on a mission to stamp out all the perceived vice in the region, even if it means turning his family and friends against him. Well-written by Daragh Carville, Middletown is a superbly acted and beautifully shot drama. Indeed, feature film debutant, Kirk, frames and lights every shot with skill and precision redolent of the great Terence Davies. Watch out for this guy.

Middletown: Matthew Interview (Nov 2006)

Acting Holy

Although hesitant when discussing acting, his style, or his starring role in Brian Kirk's Middletown, Matthew Macfayden still has a lot to say to Sheena Sweeney.

The first thing that springs to mind before meeting Matthew Macfadyen is what a good actor he is.

His breakout role came when he played Agent Tom Quinn in the TV series Spooks, and later when New Zealander Brad McGann cast him as a weary war photographer alienated from his family in In My Father's Den.

Macfayden gave a further sample of his considerable depth and range before he was introduced to the world in Pride & Prejudice last year.

And now, in grand over-the-top style, he is playing the role of Gabriel, a fundamentalist Northern Irish cleric preaching fire and brimstone, in Brian Kirk's debut feature Middletown.

The most striking thing about Macfayden in person is how different he looks from his screen self. He seems much larger in a lumbering kind of way, with floppy hair and a reddish hue to his nose. He has the accent of a public schoolboy and the charming manner of an Evelyn Waugh character, slightly bewildered by it all.

Middletown: review (Culture Northern Ireland) (2006)

Review: Middletown

Brian Kirk's feature is a timely comment on fundamentalism, finds Francis Jones

Ostensibly the story of a small Ulster town and of two brothers separated at childhood, Middletown, the debut feature from director Brian Kirk, provides an astute commentary on fundamentalism.

The none-more-devout Father Gabriel Hunter (Matthew Macfayden) returns to his hometown as parish priest, and is appalled to find himself in the midst of what he perceives as a latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah. The old town has lost its way, given over to cock-fighting, liquor and licentiousness. He sees it as his God-given duty to return the townsfolk to the path of righteousness.

He begins his mission with his brother Jim (Daniel Mays), a cross-border trader whose vices of drinking and gambling Gabriel castigates as abhorrent to the good Christian life. Soon he has moved on to his heavily pregnant sister-in-law, the atheist Caroline (Eva Birthistle). However, she refuses to kowtow to his sermonising, will not go to church, and in the process fuels a fierce fraternal rivalry.

We watch as Father Gabriel chastises the townspeople, delivering his fire and brimstone speeches, winning them over with his charming religiosity, or scaring them into submission with his rhetoric and threats of eternal damnation. However, as the story unfurls we discover that the maniacal Gabriel may be a few Hail Marys short of the full Rosary.

Playing Father Gabriel, Macfayden is unrecognisable from his 2005 role in Pride and Prejudice. Here he delivers a scenery-chewing tour-de-force, his priest hell-bent on delivering the townsfolk unto heaven, recalling Robert Mitchum’s wayward preacher in The Night Of The Hunter.

Mays provides staunch support as the altogether more human Jim, whilst Birthistle conveys a sense of dignified defiance. The cinematography is superb, stark camerawork and a palette of sombre greys and muddy browns combine to artfully evoke the rural Ulster locale. Incidentally, if director Kirk is to be believed, the titular ‘Middletown’ does not refer to the Co Armagh town of the same name.

When this story takes place is not altogether clear. The script, written by Daragh Carville, alludes to a time when the Church had, what the film suggests, was an unhealthy precedence in Irish life, presumably the 1950s or 60s. As such it is a subject which has been dealt with time and again, but rarely with such élan.

The narrative, although prone to the odd lapse into stereotype, canters along briskly, and as an allegory for religious fundamentalism, be it Islamic, that found in the Deep South or Ulster’s own Bible belt, Middletown’s message could not be more timely.

 

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