In 500 words: Was Lorne Malvo a Devil in disguise?

FargoThe etymological case for Lorne Malvo being a devil in disguise

Lorne Malvo. The name itself has malevolent undertones and echoes of long-vowelled Shakespearean villains like Iago, Tamora and Shylock. In the French language, ‘mal’ denotes bad and evil; look up the derivative ‘mal’ in an English dictionary and you’ll find 99% of the entries have negative connotations, including; malady, malaria, malnourishment and malignant – you get the idea.

Fargo is essentially a fictional detective story set in Minnesota, USA. Produced by the Coen brothers, the TV series recreates the world of their 1996 film classic Fargo. Lorne Malvo is Fargo’s archetypal villain, superbly played by Billy Bob-Thornton as a cold-blooded, calculating and charismatic psychopath…. Or should that be devil?… Or vampire?

The case for Lorne Malvo as a devil in disguise (includes spoilers)

Like many Cohen brothers’ characters, Malvo revels in toying with Chance and likes a good riddle (think Javier Bardem’s, Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men). Like any devil worth its salt, Malvo taunts little kids with stories about murders that happened in their homes, and has an incredibly charismatic personality, despite murdering a LOT of people. He also made cassette tapes of his victims for presumably sadistic purposes and oozed so much charisma that ordinary-Joe, Lester Nygaard, wanted to be just like him.

Throughout Fargo there is also the hint that Deputy Molly Solverson’s Dad (Lou) may have met him in 1979, when Molly was only 4 years old. Lou was so scared of ‘HE that is never named by Lou’ that Lou had to sit fearfully on his porch overnight with a shotgun. He also refers to a work ‘incident’ when the bodies were, “piled two floors high.” That’s a lot of bodies, and in the environs of Fargo, only Malvo would be capable of such an ‘incident’.

Malvo also seems to shapeshift (see entry below on the Vampire theory).

The case for Lorne Malvo as a vampire (includes spoilers) Continue reading

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12 Years A Slave – Film Review (or why I think it should win the Oscar for Best Film 2014 in 500 words)

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In 2009 I watched The Road at the AMC in Manchester on a cold and grey Autumnal day. The film has never been far from my thoughts, mainly because I have a morbid fascination with post-apocalyptic/dystopian literature. It’s a fascination which probably stems from reading Frankenstein in Year 8 at high school, followed by Lord of the Flies in Year 9.

Anyway, not since watching The Road have I been so affected by a film until I went to watch 12 Years A Slave at Ashton Cineworld on a cold and icy Winter’s evening. Prior to watching the actual film I tried to inspire some English students to go and watch it on release by shoehorning YouTube clips of the trailer into discussions on ‘Crooks’ from Of Mice and Men. Not one student has said they’ve been to watch it.

Steve McQueen’s film is based on the remarkable and emotive biographical account which begins in the year 1841, when Solomon Northup, a black African-American freeman of the state of New York, is forcibly taken into slavery and transported to the cotton fields and sugar plantations of Louisiana.

I think the film should win the award for Best Picture 2014 because:

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12 Years a Slave – Book Review

12 Years a Slave is a remarkable and emotive biographical account that begins in the year 1841, when Solomon Northup, a black African-American freeman of the state of New York, is forcibly taken into slavery and transported to the cotton fields and sugar plantations of Louisiana.

The slave narrative follows Solomon’s incarceration fettered to chains in a Washington DC slave pen and subjected to brutal floggings in the cotton fields of the South. Prior to his bondage, Solomon (aged 21) had acquired, “humble habitation” which provided him with the means of “happiness and comfort.” He married his wife Anne and worked on an old Alden farm until 1834, where he raised his young family of two daughters and a boy. Though the work was hard, Solomon prospered and became a self-sufficient and well-respected member of his community. Anne was also renowned as being a tantalising cook.

In March 1834, Solomon and his family moved to Saratoga Springs where he laboured on the Troy and Saratoga railway. It was here that Solomon, himself the son of an emancipated slave, had his first encounters with subjugated slaves from the South who were accompanying their masters.

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Unseen Forces: A Tribute to Seamus Heaney

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Saturday 14th September, Martin Harris Centre, Manchester University

A night that should have included a recital by a great Irish poet sadly became a posthumous celebration of the greatest Irish poet to have ever lived, Seamus Heaney.

Upon opening the evening’s recital, Irish poet, Vona Groarke, said: “we have been left in the lea of Heaney,” heavy sentiments which were also echoed by renowned poets, Don Paterson and Paul Muldoon.

Irish poet, Paul Muldoon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, was due to appear at the event alongside Heaney, but instead took to the lectern with the Scottish Forward Prize-winning poet, Don Paterson. The event was part of the 3rd British and Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference, held by The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester, in association with the Manchester Literature Festival, 2013.

In 2010, Heaney headlined the Manchester Literature Festival and spoke warmly of his links with the city as it was here that he had some of his earliest works published in a literary magazine set up by Harry Chambers. He also heaped praises on the university’s Centre for New Writing which he said has cultured some of the best Irish poets of recent years.

Paterson began the evening’s recitals acknowledging that, “we cannot disguise the sadness of the situation [...] we’re on our own now.” Despite the melancholia surrounding the event, the night was a celebration and reassessment of Seamus Heaney’s work, the sadness and loss of which was reflected in both poets’ choice of poems. Each poet chose poems that tapped into Heaney’s psyche and borrowed from Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996. They traced Heaney’s upbringing on his parents’ farm at Mossbawn (‘Death of a Naturalist’, ‘Follower’, ‘The Harvest Bow’), Ireland and The Troubles (‘Two Lorries’, ‘A Lough Neagh Sequence’) and ending fittingly with poems associated with peace, such as ‘St Kevin and the Blackbird’ and ‘The Wishing Tree’.

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Buy of the Week – Lily Greenwood Printed Canvas Bag

Lily Greenwood’s studio in Manchester’s Craft & Design centre is a true gem of a shop and is always a pleasure to visit. Lily’s work always brightens  up the greyest of days, and this weekend was no exception. Since interviewing Lily for The Poplar Tree back in September, she has continued to keep busy working on new commissions and preparing for exhibitions.

Lily currently has a busy summer ahead which includes her work appearing at the Barcelona Showcase next month in the spectacular Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s stunning architectural masterpieces.  The exhibition celebrates the best in contemporary fine  art and will feature work by artists from across the world.

The Poplar Tree couldn’t resist buying one of Lily’s Printed Canvas Bags – priced at £10 these canvas bags make a lovely present for someone special, and there’s plenty of gorgeous designs to choose from. The bags feature her Japanese kimono inspired paintings, her iconic butterfly prints and art nouveau designs. The Poplar Tree opted for the blue canvas bag shown above. Not only do these bags look as pretty as her pictures, because they’ve made from canvas they’re really sturdy too!

Photograph taken from Lily Greenwood’s Facebook Page

visit:

studio 25, manchester craft & design centre, 17 oak street, northern quarter , manchester, m4 sjd

contact: mail@lilygreenwood.com  twitter@lilygreenwood

find out more:

www.lilygreenwood.com

facebook.com/lilygreenwoodpainting

lilygreenwood.blogspot.com

buy online:

lilygreenwood.bigcartel.com

etsy.com/shop/lilygreenwood

folksy.com/shops/lilygreenwood

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Home Sweet Home, Manchester – Food Review

Home Sweet Home describes itself as a “gourmet bake house and coffee bar” and it has quickly carved out a niche for itself in an area of Manchester that’s saturated with homemade food outlets and trendy bars. In fact, it’s become so popular they’ve recently had to extend.

What makes Home Sweet Home stand out from the other eateries in the Northern Quarter is its generous portion sizes, great value and delicious menu. Most of the dishes here have an American or Mexican twist to them – there’s pulled pork rolls, the San Diego toastie, chilli dogs, macaroni cheese, clam chowder and a Santa Fe salad. It’s easy to imagine Adam Richman from Man vs Food tucking into a few of these dishes and certainly feeling at home.  Continue reading

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Celebrity Wedding Planners: Jedward – Jepic

The true definition of genii - ladies and gentlemen, JEDWARD

John:                     “I’m John.”

Edward:               “And I’m Edward.”

Jedward:             “And together, we’re Jedward!”

Celebrities and weddings are two massive TV trends from 2011 which collided together in last night’s Celebrity Wedding Planners, a new series from Channel 5 which looks set to emulate the success of C4’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings franchise. Last night’s episode featured Jedward, the tall-haired twins from Dublin who bounded about on the goggle box like two oversized kids maxed out on Smarties and Sunny D. If you were to do a quick mental list of celebrities you wouldn’t want planning your wedding, Jedward would be on a par with The Chuckle Brothers and Des Lynam.

The show was filled with the twins’ Jedisms, “It’s gonna be Jepic,” said Jedward, “We hope it won’t be a Jesaster.” And if their appearance on Celebrity Wedding Planners is anything to go by, the pair could also start a sideline in their trademark PVC high-shouldered ‘Jedsuits’.

So, what better way to avoid racking up a huge wedding debt than by getting an unbeknown celebrity to plan it for you, and Channel 5 to cover the costs. What could possibly go wrong? This scenario didn’t put Beulah and James off, the happy couple who featured in the episode. Beulah is a self-confessed control freak who wears mad glasses that Gok Wan would be proud to sport, and James is a half-Scottish electrician. Beulah wants a ‘Princess wedding’ in an English country mansion, whereas James, if he’s completely honest hasn’t given it much thought. Continue reading

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Hungry the Stars and Everything: Emma Jane Unsworth

Emma Jane Unsworth studied English Literature at Liverpool university and is an accomplished writer of short fiction and a locally acclaimed journalist from Manchester. Her debut novel Hungry the Stars and Everything seamlessly interweaves tales of greed, addiction and love with a little touch of magic realism.

The tale follows Helen Burns, a 29 year old food critic who is assigned to review a mysterious new restaurant called ‘Bethel’ which has been tipped to receive a Michelin star. With each course that is brought out by the maitre de, Helen recalls memories that link together to form the novel’s plot.

The novel delves into teenage fantasies and sexual awakening, as Unsworth explores how the decisions made during adolescence can deeply affect those made later in life. Zipping back and forth in time, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1991 when Helen is on the cusp of puberty and totally fed up of being a good little girl. After sneaking downstairs to eat one of her father’s Christmas presents, the birthmark on her palm begins to burn red hot and it’s at this moment that she sees the devil for the first time.

Unsworth’s writing style blends warm Mancunian humour with a journalist’s eye for detail, and although the novel is at heart a romance, it has a dark pulse beating away. At times it feels as though Unsworth has enjoyed playing with her heroine, as Helen lurches between moments of personal epiphany and the next is plunged into self-annihilation. You never know quite what to expect next in Hungry the Stars and Everything, and it is precisely this kind of plate-spinning of themes and plots which makes Unsworth such a promising new writer.

You really should get down to Waterstone’s on Deansgate and buy a copy.

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Adam Buxton: BUG @ the Zion Arts Centre Hulme

Last night The Poplar Tree went to watch Dr Buckles at the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme doing his BUG routine. BUG was set up in 2007 to showcase the best talents in music video making and shows are regularly held at the British Film Institute (BFI).

Here’s my Top 3 favourite moments of the night:

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Sean O’Brien and John McAuliffe: Manchester Literature Festival 2011

Cladded in zinc like a huge roof tile, some might say that the Martin Harris Centre lacks the gravitas associated with other established poetry venues across the city such as St Anne’s Church, the Cathedral or Whitworth Hall. But once inside the 150-seat theatre, it’s easy to see, or rather hear why the venue has become a favourite place for the MLF to hold its poetry readings.

In 2009 the Irish poets Michael Longley and Tom French graced the Martin Harris Centre for an evening of poetry, and then at last year’s festival the poet émigré, Seamus Heaney, took to the lectern at Whitworth Hall. Can you spot the MLF theme that’s emerging here?

John McAuliffe is the latest Irish poet to showcase his works at an MLF event, when usually he’s the one introducing the Irish poets. Luckily for McAuliffe, Vona Groarke was on hand to introduce the poet from Kerry, and the other highly acclaimed poet of the evening, Sean O’Brien.

At first it might appear (and hear) like McAuliffe and O’Brien are an unlikely pairing, but what unites the poets in their latest collections is an interest for exploring what it is to be away from something you love, be this a person, place or thing. Continue reading

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