Directed by: #AaronONeill
It’s unclear how this extract fits into the wider film of Butter 77 but it opens with a chaotic, cacophonous blend of screeching jazz, amateurish sound effects and crackling confused narration, layered over documentary style footage splattered with clashing colours and Pythonesque Dadaist experimental animation. It’s messy, it’s ugly, it’s painful to watch and even more so to listen to. I loved it.
However, we then jump from this madcap circus of the senses into a one-on-one dialogue scene. They’re apparently arguing over something pretty serious, but the performances are flat and unengaged. The writing seems to be going for the quick-witted exchanges displayed by the likes of Tarantino and McDonough, but the actors don’t manage to bounce off each other and the editing doesn’t help to speed up the exchanges either. Instead, we’re left with a slow droll conversation with the occasional quip. Credit must be given to the line “you couldn’t knock out a wank, never mind that wee fella” for making me genuinely laugh out loud, but unfortunately this is one of the first lines in the scene and it’s all pretty much downhill from there.
Credit must also be extended towards the cinematography. I recently wrote a review in which I condemned the poor lighting but let them of the hook because its hard to film at night, after all. However, if Butter 77 proves one thing, it’s that you can shoot at night and still make your film look fantastic. The characters are cast in shadow, but the soft streetlights bring out the textures and subtleties in their faces, and the soft focus blurs out the streets of Derry behind them and it really is just beautiful.
The scene isn’t bad, but the opening animation hyped me up and prepared me for a wild, unorthodox ride. It seemed as though it was going to touch upon pressing political and historical issues with a wry satirical, absurdist edge. When the scene actually started it seemed so conflicted with the previously established tone and I was disappointed. Then we got the fantastic wank knocking out line and I figured that maybe it would be pretty good anyway, and then it never lived up to what it had established. Then the closing credits brought back the music and style from the opening and it was as though I was being reminded of the great film that I could have watched but instead was refused. I can’t say I’m not interested to see how the finished feature looks, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it either.