Posts Tagged CIA

Who Killed Pablo Neruda? (A Poet’s Journey)


Pablo Neruda

Mystery, poetry and the unknown contents of a white bag spark a young woman’s quest into the life, death and writing of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
Age category: 12+

Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh
7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2HE

Pablo Neruda was to Chile and the Spanish-speaking world what Robert Burns was to the Scots; a national poet with a strong romantic bent; radical politics and a complicated personal life.

This play introduces the great man’s poetry; albeit (for the most part) in its English translation. This play recounts one young American woman’s search to find out more about the life, the mysterious death and the poetry of the Chilean bard.

Neruda had been the Chilean representative in Madrid at the time of the Spanish civil war. He was friendly with the gay Spanish poet Garcia Lorca.  Lorca’s murder by the Francoists led to his political radicalisation.  He became supporter of the Communist Party and lived a life on the run from the Videla regime in the 1940s.

Neruda was a man of great contradictions; he supported Stalin, he was a womaniser, yet he wrote the most wonderful and tender love poetry. This is brought out clearly in this ‘jukebox’ play.

Neruda made many enemies.  He was in hospital suffering from terminal cancer when the Allende government was overthrown in a military coup by General Pinochet  (with covert CIA help) in September 1973.  Within a few days, Neruda was dead. The claim at the time was that he had suffered a heart attack.

For years it was rumoured that he had been poisoned on Pinochet’s orders by a lethal injection given to him by a doctor in the hospital. The results of an autopsy conducted on the poet’s exhumed remains in 2013 were released in June 2015 suggesting that he was infected with a highly toxic bacterium. It looks like Neruda really was murdered.

This production is an affectionate look at the poet; with his imperfections and his sublime verse. The Syracuse University Department of Drama have produced a real gem; a fine introduction to the great man’s work for newcomers and a great reminder of his greatest hits for those who already know and love it.

Reviewed by David Kerr

Four Stars ****


Leave a Comment

Argo (2012)

Argo posterDirector:
Ben Affleck
Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman|

Argo tells the story of the CIA operation to get six US diplomats out of revolutionary Iran.

Argo starts well by giving a ‘potted history’ of US involvement with Iran. It tells how the CIA helped organise a coup d’état against the elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who  nationalised the oil industry. The US put the hated Shah on a throne and helped train his secret police.

Set against the backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis the film conveys the real danger to the six in hiding. 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 day from November 4, 1979 and they were in real fear for their lives. The hostages have described mock executions and being paraded before angry crowds among other ill-treatment and psychological torture.

The story is a gripping one with many tense moments as the diplomats hide-out at the Canadian embassy and a rescue is attempted. It is a very watchable movie which doesn’t rely on firing guns or extreme violence to entertain. Argo keeps you in suspense throughout because of the peril of the diplomats as they risk being found and detained (or worse). Argo also is humourous in parts despite the very serious subject.

I am not, however, an uncritical fan of Argo. I was struck by three things. First, the Iranian people are generally portrayed as continually angry. The only sympathetic Iranian character is a maid who helps the US and leaves the country! All other Iranians are pretty one-dimensional and clearly the ‘bad guys’. This does not fulfil the promise of the opening statements which do give a glimpse of why the Iranian/American relationship is so bad. Second, the role of the Canadians, Swedish and Italians in getting the diplomats out is very underplayed and the CIA role exaggerated. Third, there is no mention of the failed rescue mission of April 24, 1980 where eight American airmen and one Iranian civilian sadly died. Perhaps this was left-out of the narrative so as not to spoil the feel-good nature of the successful rescue that the film centres on?

Reviewed by Pat Harrington


Leave a Comment



Sometimes it’s great just to walk into a cinema with no prior knolwed of the film you’re going to see. I often do this. For every dreadful clunker like Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, you find gems like Michael Clayton or Oh Brother, Where art Thou? I could have waited an hour for the latest Harry Potter episode or taken a risk with the unknown factor, Red.

This proved to be an excellent choice with a stellar cast of veteran actors; Bruce Willis Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and even Ernest Borgnine who isn’t dead after all.

Willis is a lonely, retired former CIA agent who sometimes tears up his pension cheques to get an excuse to talk to a pleasant girl in the call centre to whom he has taken a shine. One evening, just before Christmas, his past catches up with him as a team of assassins try to murder him.

In an effort to keep one step ahead of his pursuers, he teams up with the girl, a bunch of retired former colleagues and an old foe in order to find out who wants him dead and why.

This is one of the best chase movies for quite some time. Don’t think too much about the plot. Just strap yourself in for a fast-moving rollercoaster ride punctuated by helpful animated postcards to let you know where the action is. Oh, and Helen Mirren looks great as she coolly holds off the villains with a huge machine gun.


Robert Schwentke


Jon Hoeber (screenplay), Erich Hoeber (screenplay), and 2 more credits »


Runtime: 111 minutes
Certificate: 12A

Leave a Comment