John Lynch

In the Name of the Father (1993, Jim Sheridan)

In the Name of the Father falls into most true story adaptation traps. It has a really long present action, which is unevenly distributed through the runtime. There’s a framing device introducing Emma Thompson’s appeals lawyer first thing–with her popping in from time to time to remind the viewer of the device. That device helps orient Daniel Day-Lewis as a teenager at the beginning (or just a little older), but it’s still a true story adaptation issue.

And it wouldn’t work without Day-Lewis. Director Sheridan doesn’t seem to enjoy the courtroom moments in the film, making Thompson a side character. Not just a side character, but one without much depth. The role works thanks to Thompson’s sincerity and some effective writing from Sheridan and co-screenwriter Terry George.

The framing device doesn’t cover the film’s entire runtime; eventually the turntable needle catches up in the present action. The flashback is Day-Lewis’s personal growth throughout the film, something Sheridan and Day-Lewis are subtle about. There’s a big moment for changing him, sure (it’s a true story adaptation after all), but the groundwork is already there. Responsibly handling the narrative fallout is where Father distinguishes itself.

The film is always well-acted, whether good guys (Pete Postlethwaite is fantastic as Day-Lewis’s always upright father who ends up falsely imprisoned too) or bad guys (Don Baker and Corin Redgrave).

But Day-Lewis, and the true story, are the whole show. Sheridan expertly facilitates them to their successes.



Produced and directed by Jim Sheridan; screenplay by Sheridan and Terry George, based on a book by Gerry Conlon; director of photography, Peter Biziou; edited by Gerry Hambling; music by Trevor Jones; production designer, Caroline Amies; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis (Gerry Conlon), Pete Postlethwaite (Giuseppe Conlon), Emma Thompson (Gareth Peirce), John Lynch (Paul Hill), Corin Redgrave (Robert Dixon), Beatie Edney (Carole Richardson), John Benfield (Chief PO Barker), Paterson Joseph (Benbay), Marie Jones (Sarah Conlon), Gerard McSorley (Detective Pavis), Frank Harper (Ronnie Smalls), Mark Sheppard (Paddy Armstrong) and Don Baker (Joe McAndrew).

Hardware (1990, Richard Stanley)

Hardware looks a lot like an A-ha music video… but not in a bad way. Richard Stanley is a decent enough director.

The plot’s pretty simple, beneath all the sci-fi decorations. It’s the end of a slasher movie, when the hero or heroine has to fight the villain all by him or herself. There’s no actual narrative to Hardware, except in terms of being a narrative mess.

Maybe if Stanley could write well, not having a narrative wouldn’t matter. But he doesn’t write well at all.

Much of the present action is real time, which makes it hard for the film to get a sturdy footing. Like I said before, it’s a slasher movie. Sure, it’s post-apocalyptic, full of Biblical references, but it’s just a slasher movie.

There’s a lot of good acting in it.

John Lynch is really good. William Hootkins has the biggest role I’ve ever seen him in (as a grotesque peeping tom), he’s pretty good. Dylan McDermott can’t surmount the inherent weakness to his character, but he’s still okay.

I thought it was Nancy Travis in Hardware, but it’s Stacey Travis. She’s okay, but it’s hard not to watch it thinking Nancy Travis would have done a better job.

Technically, it’s a jumble. Simon Boswell’s music is bad. But there’s some cool stop motion to make up for it. Stanley does compose a few nice sci-fi shots.

It’s a lot of work to figure out Hardware and it’s not worth the effort.



Directed by Richard Stanley; screenplay by Stanley and Michael Fallon, based on a comic by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill; director of photography, Steven Chivers; edited by Derek Trigg; music by Simon Boswell; production designer, Joseph Bennett; produced by JoAnne Sellar and Paul Trijbits; released by Palace Pictures.

Starring Dylan McDermott (Moses Baxter), Stacey Travis (Jill), John Lynch (Shades), William Hootkins (Lincoln Wineberg Jr.), Iggy Pop (Angry Bob), Carl McCoy (Nomad), Mark Northover (Alvy), Paul McKenzie (Vernon) and Lemmy (Taxi Driver).

Angel Baby (1995, Michael Rymer)

Regardless of quality, Angel Baby will always have a special nostalgia for me. Years ago I was admonishing a friend for not watching foreign films and he challenged me, asking for an example of a recent, excellent foreign film. I gave him Angel Baby. I think it was a few days later he came back and complained Angel Baby, an Australian film, wasn’t really a foreign film. Having just watched it again (as I prepare to retire my laserdiscs), I think will go out and say Australian films are not American films. They are foreign films. Maybe not all of them, probably not most of them, but certainly Angel Baby.

Whenever there’s a Hollywood movie about the mentally ill or handicapped, it tends to fail. These films aren’t necessarily complete failures, but they always somewhat fail. The first major problem with these endeavors is their attempt to make the mental illness or handicap an avenue for (somewhat respectful) comedy. We, the presumably mentally fit audience, are expected to laugh at the characters. We might think they’re cute, but they’re still funny. The characters immediately are not treated with respect. Angel Baby never lets the audience laugh after the opening credits, doesn’t even let them crack a smile, at these characters. It does let the audience sympathize with the “fit” characters, but it never lets the mentally ill characters become pitiable. Never even approaches it.

The second major difference is in the conclusion. Most of these films promise a bright future. The film being the story of reaching the bright future. Except the bright future is tacked, so the film isn’t really that journey, but that’s not the point. Angel Baby doesn’t pander in that way. It tells its story and it tells it beautifully. Michael Rymer is still around (after years of Hollywood dreck), he’s directing “Battlestar Galactica” and co-writing a few of the episodes too. That work, however, good, doesn’t compare to Angel Baby. Angel Baby is perfectly directed, beautifully written, beautifully acted. Jacqueline McKenzie was so good in it, I almost saw Deep Blue Sea. She’s still making interesting films, however, you just have to get them from Australia. John Lynch is sort of around, but not in anything I’d see. Of the two, I suppose Lynch is best.

Angel Baby is not out on DVD in the US (I think Paramount’s got the rights, so it’ll probably never happen) and the Australian disc is hard to find and appears to be pan and scan.



Written and directed by Michael Rymer; director of photography, Ellery Ryan; edited by Danny Cooper; music by Chris Gough; production designer, Chris Kennedy; produced by Timothy White and Jonathan Shteinman; released by Cinepix Film Properties.

Starring John Lynch (Harry), Jacqueline McKenzie (Kate), Colin Friels (Morris) and Deborra-Lee Furness (Louise).

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