awielsThey are, you know: if I could work four days for a fifth less salary, I’d do it. On the other hand, I have a friend who argues that holidays are unhealthy for busy people. This, he says, is because when they relax their defences come down and they become prone to infections. Whether he’s right or wrong, I caught a cold on Labour Day, chiz, chiz. Still, I finished the other half of Free Agent (some excellent twists in the plot – see 26 April post), visited the Luc Tuymans exhibition at the Wiels Gallery and took in Gomorra as a DVD in the evening. Oh for a few more days like that!

Free Agent is set in Africa, in Nigeria, during the Biafran conflict. That brought back a few vivid images; all those pot bellied, wide eyed starving children. In my childhood memory (I was ten when Nigeria’s civil war broke out) images of that ghastly Cold War-by-proxy-struggle competed with the Vietnamese War on the evening news bulletins. The author, Jeremy Duns, gets a number of clever twists of the ‘what if?’ variety into his plot.

The Wiels Gallery is one of those buildings (like London’s Oxo Tower) which, I can honestly say, I helped to survive. I did this by donating occasionally (very, very modestly) and lending my name to campaigns and, therefore, it has a special place in my affections. With its distinctive modernist architecture, the old Wielemans brewery (brewing hall picture above) has been wonderfully transformed into a brilliant series of hanging spaces, with lots of natural light and tall, broad walls.

In the end, Gomorra left me feeling irritated and frustrated. Yes, it is well-acted and filmed on the whole. But, as a film, it is self-indulgent and could have done with some rigorous pruning, and as a sort of ‘docu-drama’ I felt it over-egged the pudding. I don’t doubt the horror stories detailed in Roberto Saviano’s original book, but the film gave me the impression of wanting to bring the gangster film back from New York. As entertainment, it pales in comparison with Le Conseguenze dell’amore  or Il Divo  (both Sorrentino films).