Subscribe to industry newsletters

Search jobs

Lifestyle jobs

MoreSubmit a jobOpen account

#OnTheBigScreen: Belfast and The Batman

Two films are being released this week: Belfast is the personal story of one boy's childhood during the tumult of the late 1960 and The Batman is an epic, high-octane action film on a massive visual scale and a gritty, edgy and emotional exploration into the twisted inner workings of the mind.
A scene from Belfast
A scene from Belfast


If there’s one film you cannot miss, it’s this soulful journey into the heart of one boy’s childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s in the city of writer-director Kenneth Branagh’s birth.

In the summer of 1969, nine-year-old Buddy knows exactly who he is and where he belongs. He’s working-class, North Belfast, happy, loved and safe. His world is a fast and funny street life, lived large in the heart of a community that laughs together and sticks together. But as the 1960s stagger to a close, even as man stands on the moon itself, the dog days of August turn Buddy’s childhood dreams into a nightmare.

Simmering social discontent suddenly explodes in Buddy’s own street and escalates, fast. First a masked attack, then a riot and finally a city-wide conflict, with religion fanning the flames further afield. Catholics vs Protestants, loving neighbours just a heartbeat ago, set on to be deadly foes now. Buddy must make sense of the chaos and hysteria and of this new physical landscape of lockdown, peopled by heroes and villains, once only glimpsed on the cinema screen but now threatening to upturn everything he knows and loves as an epic struggle plays out in his own backyard.

His Ma struggles to cope while his Pa works away in England, trying to make enough money to support the family. Vigilante law rules, innocent lives are threatened. Buddy knows what to expect from his heroes – he’s spent hours in front of Westerns like High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – but can his father be the hero he needs him to be? Will his mother sacrifice her past in order to protect her family’s future? How can his beloved grandparents be kept safe? And how can he love the girl of his dreams?

The answers lie in Buddy’s compelling, funny, poignant and heartbreaking journey through riots, violence, the joy and despair of family relationships and the agony of first love, all accompanied by the dancing, music and laughter that only the Irish can muster when the world turns upside down.

Because what else can Buddy do? This is his only world. This is Belfast.

“‘Belfast is a city of stories,” says Branagh. “And in the late 1960s, it went through an incredibly tumultuous period of its history, very dramatic, sometimes violent, that my family and I were caught up in. It’s taken me fifty years to find the right way to write about it, to find the tone I wanted. It can take a very long time to understand just how simple things can be and finding that perspective, years on provides a great focus.”

Read more here.

The Batman

More than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.

When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Oz, aka The Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka The Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.

When writer-director Matt Reeves embarked upon his own journey into the Batman canon, he was thrilled by the idea of working with the icon that has lived for over eight decades in comic books and graphic novels—and taking him back to his earliest roots. Penned with screenwriter Peter Craig, Reeves’ screenplay for The Batman exists in its own carved-out portion of the DC filmdom, unconnected to previously (or soon-to-be) explored territory within the Multiverse.

“Batman started as a detective,” says Reeves. “So, to find a way to go back to that, to strip away the fantasy aspect of a DC Super Hero but to still have him be aspirational, was a really exciting idea.”

Read more here.

Read more about the latest and upcoming films here.

About Daniel Dercksen

Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit

Let's do Biz