Film overview — My Scientology Film: ‘Informative fun’

Scientology is fair game for documentary makers, which may possibly explain why none of them has killed it off. They need to have it as hunters need prey. Without having the species — L. Ron Hubbard and his well-known, for some infamous, religious group — what would come about to the season?

Scientology. Feel of it as a prize boar that is never ever a prize bore. We really like to chase it we attempt to chase it down yet we’re fascinated by its eluding, evading impudence. As if aware that Alex Gibney’s 2015 documentary about the Dianetics gang, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, rumbling its bellyful of damning details, was a difficult act to stick to — whilst nonetheless not delivering the death blow — British docu-sleuth Louis Theroux tries the playful approach. In My Scientology Film he goes to California, rounds up a band of wannabe actors and workshops them in recreations of infamous sect tactics for brainwashing or infamous incidents of browbeating and persecution. (The young actors playing Tom Cruise and David Miscavige, Scientology’s head because Hubbard’s death, are dead ringers.)

Theroux’s on-hand specialist, doubling as dramaturge and drama coach, is Hubbard defector Marty Rathbun. He is a garrulous, excitable fellow which may clarify why he keeps losing his temper. Geeky-featured Louis, we all know, is a pseudo-simpleton who stands there asking “naive” concerns. They provoke the innocent and enrage the guilty. Rathbun’s past as a best Hubbardite, an “Inspector General” forsooth, triggers two or 3 Rathbun tantrums. For far better drama still — moving on — there are confrontations with actual camera-wielding snoops sent from Hubbard HQ (1 assumes) to doorstep Louis’s production venues. When he complains about their surveillance, a girl snoop complains that he is harassing her. Louis: “You’re filming me! How can I be harassing you?”

The movie goes nowhere, you might adjudge by the end, if you’re harsh. But it has a lot of informed and informative entertaining going nowhere. And probably a going-nowhere documentary is the appropriate answer to a malignant, hypocritical religious institution — tax-exempt in its native US, of course — that creates its personal Lewis Carroll itineraries for taking believers from Point A to Point A even though convincing them they’re travelling a whole alphabet of growth and enlightenment.

Section: Arts


The Machine, Barbican (Pit), London — ‘Quirky, fun’

All in all you are just another brick in the wall. The functionality business Collectif and Then (operating with Karkatag Kolektiv) take Pink Floyd’s lyric virtually actually, making their audience members, if not bricks in the wall, cogs in the machine: moving parts in an elaborate physical metaphor about society. It’s ingenious and a lot of fun, if larger on concept than content.

Here interactive theatre meets social experiment. You are “part of the machine”, a disembodied voice informs the audience as they wriggle into white lab coats and security goggles and line up at the door, ready to clock in to the method. As soon as inside they are allotted tasks on an absurd Heath Robinson-like production line: pedalling baroque contraptions to drive conveyor belts running from workstation to workstation piling stuff on to pallets — all in order to fill plastic bags with sand, water or hot air. Each now and then, for no reason, every person is essential to jump. Not so various from the day job, some may reflect darkly.

Interactive theatre meets social experiment in ‘The Machine’ © Richard Davenport

The second operation includes loading mentioned bags on to human machines, 3 of the circus performers behind the show. 1, “the human claw” (Lucie N’Duhirahe), dangles from a beam to collect as several bags of air as achievable a second (Natalie Reckert) holds a handstand and invites workers to suspend bags of water from her upturned body. The third (Francesca Hyde), most disconcertingly, is winched into the air by her hair as workers load sandbags on to a suspended platform.

This is where the show becomes most exciting — and where it requirements to expand. As soon as the audience/employees realise that their work is causing her discomfort, they instinctively pause. Some then start to unload — to revolt against The Machine — despite being warned that their disobedience has been noted. But there is no adhere to-up and no further examination of what occurs when social conditioning and moral imperative come into conflict.

And all round there is a sense that the show could dig deeper. It is an intriguing development on circus, taking the co-operation, physicality and physics of circus into interactive and symbolic territory. It touches on considerable questions about the rat-race, about the role of humans in an increasingly mechanised planet, about endurance and about why we operate. But it hasn’t incorporated a way to discover the concerns a lot more totally. As it stands, it’s quirky and inventive, but, like so several machines, it runs out of steam.

To October 8, barbican.org.uk

Section: Arts


Star Trek Beyond — film assessment: ‘Brisk and fun’

Chris Pine, centre, as Captain Kirk in 'Star Trek Beyond'

Chris Pine, centre, as Captain Kirk in ‘Star Trek Beyond’

In a dark corner of space — let’s get in touch with it the final frontier — resentment has taken hold. There is a feeling of obtaining been left behind by a distant centralising power, whose agenda of peace and unity is noticed as an affront. The name of this power is the Federation, spat out in calls to seize back the galaxy and make it the spot it as soon as was. “The Federation has constantly pushed at the frontier,” goes one. “This is where the frontier pushes back!”

Yep. The pleasures of Star Trek Beyond are a lot of. Its digitally magicked action sequences, overseen by director Justin Lin, are loudly spectacular. The mood is brisk and enjoyable. Yet for lots of viewers, particularly British ones, there may not be much in the way of escapism in Simon Pegg’s script, which opens with the slapstick botching of a treaty prior to going ever far more boldly the way of Trexit.

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Nevertheless, the film is jauntily at ease with itself. Comfortable also is Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Beginning his 966th day in deep space, probably too a lot so. “Things have started,” he muses, “to feel a tiny episodic.” The best moment, then, for Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to visit Starbase Yorktown, a vast floating city state. Its individuals could hardly be a lot more cosmopolitan: industrious, harmonious, occasionally lime green.

Quickly Kirk has all the adventure he could want. Initial a false pretext lures the Enterprise into uncharted space then enter a villain, Krall (Idris Elba), hunting like walking seafood. Mayhem ensues, his actual purpose quickly clear. Enraged by its pleased alliance, Krall plans to destroy the Federation — beginning with the metropolitan ways of Yorktown where, he sneers, “Millions of souls hold hands.”

Although its sense of peril would barely raise a sweat in a kindergarten, the film has surprising vim for the third component in a franchise inspired by a 50-year-old Tv show. Deft in accommodating the wants of fans, Lin offers the creak of the old a spot in a symphony of high-end effects. The latter brings warships massed like starlings, the former an ongoing reliance on sudden beamings up.

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Section: Arts