Talking Movies

July 27, 2012

A Thought of Sligo: Yeats on Film @ Tread Softly…

Tread Softly… (www.seasonofyeats.com) is the inaugural festival celebrating the link between the Yeats brothers, William Butler and Jack B, and Sligo. Featuring a mix of theatre, music, film, readings and visual art the festival runs from the 29th of July to the 11th of August.The film strand comprises of three separate elements which will be screened at The Model in Sligo throughout the course of the festival. Featuring collaborations between visual artists and musicians, as well as intriguing theatre and readings, the festival will also host a vintage day where the whole of Sligo town will come out dressed in Edwardian style. The festival will welcome some amazing talent to Sligo for 10 days of high summer, including musicians from Kíla and Dervish as well as The Waterboys who recently released An Appointment with Mr Yeats, an acclaimed album of interpretations of various poems by WB. Writers such as Nobel laureate poet Seamus Heaney, Solace novelist Belinda McKeon, and versatile writer and Waterboys collaborator Brian Leyden, will also to help celebrate Sligo’s artistic heritage.
Film Listings:
Date: Sunday 29th July, Sunday 5th August.Venue: The Model, The Mall, Sligo.

Time: 4pm Tickets: €4

Soul of Ireland, Sean O’Mordha’s two-part 2007 documentary telling the story of the evolution and development of landscape painting in Ireland through the experience of six living artists: Sean McSweeney, Barrie Cooke, James O’Connor, Mary Lohan, Martin Gale and Dorothy Cross. Each part is 52 minutes and there is a 15-minute break between the first and second part.

Date: Wednesday 1st August, Wednesday 8th August.

Venue: The Model, The Mall, Sligo.

Time: 6pm Tickets: €4

A series of short films including the Oscar-nominated and Golden Bear-winning documentary Yeats Country (1965) directed by Patrick Carey. Also included are Bat Eyes, the beautifully made Australian finalist in this year’s YouTube short film competition, which revolves around Yeats’ poem ‘When You Are Old and Grey’, and archive footage of Yeats in Stockholm accepting his Nobel Prize for Literature (1923), and of his funeral in Sligo at Drumcliff Churchyard (1948). Sinead Dolan’s short film Sligo, Yeats and Me; which explores the relationship between ordinary Sligo people, young and old, and W.B. Yeats’ poetry; rounds off this hour long programme.

Date: Friday 3rd August, Friday 10th August.

Venue: The Model, The Mall, Sligo.

Time: 6pm Tickets: €4

Another programme of short films connected with the Yeats family. The Art of Ireland (1950s) produced by Brian O’Doherty, who was a friend of Jack Yeats, traces the development of visual art and architecture in Ireland over 20 minutes. W.B.Yeats – A Tribute (1950) is a 21 minute a film by George Fleishmann and J.D. Sheridan in which readings of WB Yeats’ poems are set to striking visuals of the Sligo countryside, Dublin and London.

Tread Softly… is an initiative of Blue Raincoat Theatre, The Hawk’s Well Theatre, The Model and Sligo Live. Bookings can be made at Hawk’s Well Theatre, Temple Street, Sligo (www.hawkswell.com)  and for more festival information contact Sligo Tourist Office, O’Connell Street, Sligo (+353 71 9161201).

Fast Intent celebrate Joan of Arc

BBC 2’s recent Hollow Crown Henriad may have focused attention on the looming 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, but 2012 actually sees the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, and, while the occasion had a special commemoration in France, Fast Intent (a theatre company formed in late 2011 by director Sarah Finlay and actors Gerard Adlum and Nessa Matthews) are probably the only Irish arts organisation marking the occasion; with a staging of the perennially relevant story of an individual’s struggle against the hypocrisy of the institutions that surround them – Jean Anouilh’s classic The Lark.

Born mere years before the battle of Agincourt, in which the out-numbered Henry V heroically out-marshalled the French and established English claims to French territory, Joan was destined to eventually rout the English. At the age of 12, she stated that she had received visions from God telling her to drive the English powers from France. For two years, she led armies and a nation to war and to victory. But, captured by the English and tried for heresy, she was then condemned to death and burnt at the stake. Anouilh’s play is set during her trial, and we watch her extraordinary story played out and dramatised by the very people who wish to condemn her. Anouilh’s The Lark, in the celebrated translation by Christopher Fry, himself the author of legendary verse dramas The Lady’s Not for Burning and A Sleep of Prisoners, is receiving its Irish premiere under the direction of Sarah Finlay at the newly renovated Boys School space in Smock Alley Theatre.

The Lark is a dramatic account of the exceptional life of Joan of Arc. Over the centuries, Joan has taken on a mythological status, been utilised as a symbol and rarely recognised as a human being. She has been the subject of films of hysterically varying approach by Luc Besson and Carl Dreyer (among others), portrayed by actresses as different as Ingrid Bergman and Siobhan McKenna, and inspired Bernard Shaw’s St Joan which houses the most disturbing line of dialogue he ever wrote – “Must then a Christ die in every generation for those that have no imagination?” Claimed by the far right as a symbol of ultra-nationalism, by the Church as a Saint, and by the far left due to her ‘lowly’ beginnings as a shepherdess, Anouilh’s script seeks to recapture and explore rather than own or explain Joan’s story. Anouilh (1910-1987) and his 40 plays loom over French theatre because he had a rare facility for both high drama and absurdist farce. His 1952 play Waltz of the Toreadors was filmed with Peter Sellers, while his 1959 play Becket was filmed with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole giving intense performances as St Thomas a Becket and Henry II. Anouilh’s best known play is his version of Sophocle’s Antigone (1942), a pointed attack on Vichy government, and a forerunner of The Lark (1953), another tale of a young woman defying her society’s strictures to do what she believes is right.

Fast Intent seeks to inflect this text with questions essential to modern Ireland. Is there a place for youth and idealism? Do we have a desire for truth? Can one person’s actions make a difference? The Lark is a story of belief, passion and the struggle for a single voice to be heard as Joan fights the classic modes of abusive authority; the government, the church, and older people who fear her idealism. Directed by Sarah Finlay, the production features a cast of 7 (Ger Adlum, Shane Connolly, Dave Fleming, Ruairí Heading, Jennifer Laverty, Ian Toner, and Catriona Ennis as Joan), 4 of whom will play multiple roles, giving an often humorous edge to proceedings. Adlum and Finlay have collaborated before on a previously mentioned production of King Lear as well as Fast Intent’s debut production of Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes in The Complex, Smithfield in August 2011. That show was a riveting rendition of Pinter’s cryptic response to the Balkans Wars of the 1990s and was dubbed “thought-provoking and highly engaging” by DublinCulture.ie. The Boys School at Smock Alley has been a church, a brothel, a school-house and a theatre. Among these ghosts The Lark resurrects St Joan…

The Lark runs from Tuesday 31st July to Saturday 11th August at 8pm in The Boy’s School, Smock Alley Theatre, with matinees on Saturday 4th August and Saturday 11th August at 3pm. Ticket prices are €15 with concessions of €12.50, and a low price preview on 30th July with all tickets €10. Booking information is available at www.smockalley.com (01 – 6770014) and group rates are available.

For more information see https://www.facebook.com/events/413158028722025/

The House

Tom Murphy’s 2000 Abbey commissioned play about the frustrations of returned emigrants in the 1950s returned to the Abbey as its absorbing final show before shutting down for asbestos-removing renovation.

Murphy’s play echoes Chekhov on several levels. There is a decaying gentry family headed by Mrs DeBurca (Eleanor Methven), which is about to be usurped by the man who once laboured for them, Christy (Declan Conlon). Struggling to come to terms with their slide down the social ladder are her three daughters of contrasting personalities; the sensible Marie (Cathy Belton), the slatternly Louise (Niamh McCann), and the sinuous emigrant Susanne (Catherine Walker). And the action plays out in a series of fixed locations into which people flow and eddy; in one bar scene there are no fewer than 13 people on stage as a chaotic drunken speech and fight plays out. This might be a hauntingly tragic tale of a man who gets everything he ever wanted at the cost of destroying the very reason he ever wanted them, but that Murphy’s characters are more complex than they initially appear…

Christy appears to be a charming, salt of the earth type but he brutally sets upon his friend Jimmy (Aonghus Og McAnally) in the local bar for a perceived slight the audience will struggle to remember in their shock at this sudden eruption of violence. Marie’s initial snobbishness towards Christy may have been her nervousness at revealing her love for him, but then her later affection may be mere desperation to retain her social standing. Similarly Susanne’s initial flamboyance gets progressively more over the top as Walker heavies the affected English accent to convey Susanne’s growing panic that she belongs nowhere – failed in London, no longer respected in Ireland. Into this ambiguity of character motivation Murphy injects ambiguity of nationality in Christy’s fellow returned emigrants Goldfish (Karl Shiels) and Peter (Frank Laverty). Peter’s accent continually wanders towards England, while Goldfish’s life in New Jersey has corrupted not just his accent but his thoughts; a grab-bag of Western and gangster movie sentiments. ‘Home’ for the summer, they’re really at home nowhere.

This is a society that is eager to hoover up money from these emigrants, but even more eager that they leave again when they run out of cash. Paul O’Mahony’s set impressively furnishes the claustrophobic pub run by Bunty (Darragh Kelly), the house of sardonic lawyer Kerrigan (Lorcan Cranitch), and the patio and dining room of the Big House. (I unfortunately saw the second last performance which saw an enforced interval after the first scene as the revolving stage revolveth not.) Kelly and Cranitch are both hilarious as they embody the hypocrisy of hail fellow well met attitudes to emigrants whose unfocused energy discomforts them. Bosco Hogan, in a surprisingly small role as local Garda Tarpey, adds steel to their refusal to fix a society so broken that it exports its youth. Murphy’s play is always gripping, and often very funny, but it’s a good rather than a great piece of work, and the supposed post-property boom resonance is tangential to its dramatic success as a melancholic study with barbed commentary on societal failure.

Director Annabelle Comyn doesn’t quite reach the heights of last summer’s Abbey Pygmalion but she draws excellent performances from her cast in a quality show.

3/5

Animation Art Show 2012

The Animation Art Show 2012 is being organized by the people behind the Boulder Art Auction, who promise a bigger, glossier version with amazing art being created and donated by industry people.

The auction will be open to the public so dust off the cheque books, glue the credit cards back together, and get down to the Science Gallery in Trinity College this Sunday the 29th of July because not only could you possibly walk away with a beautiful piece of art, but you’d also be contributing to a fantastic charitable cause: the Children’s Sunshine Home and LauraLynn House. The Children’s Sunshine Home offers respite, home support, transitional care, and both crisis and end of life care to children who have life-limiting conditions and to their families.

Just to whet your appetites feast your eyes on a small selection of the pieces going up for auction from photos to plushys and watercolours – the list goes on. There will be something to suit all tastes, including original animation cels from the Don Bluth movie The Land Before Time. The auction will take place this Sunday, the 29th of July, in Trinity College’s Science Gallery on Pearse Street. Doors open at 1pm, so brighten up your home with some pop art and by doing so help to bring some light into the lives of people during their darkest hours.

For more details on the Animation Art Show check

https://www.facebook.com/groups/147750945358375/

and

http://animationartshow.blogspot.ie/

July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

It turns out that re-watching Batman Begins and reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is actually the perfect way to warm up for Christopher Nolan’s Bat-swansong.

The Dark Knight Rises finds the reclusive Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) unnerving faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine) with his Howard Hughes impersonation. Wayne’s life has been in stasis for eight years after the death of Rachel Dawes, and his psychological damage is equalled by his physical injuries, he needs a walking stick after destroying all the cartilage in his knees. Wayne Enterprises is similarly burdened following an unsuccessful punt on a new type of fusion energy with fellow billionaire Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is also reaching the end of his tether with valorising Harvey Dent in order to keep the mob foot-soldiers off the streets and in prison. Indeed Mayor Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) plans to forcibly retire Gordon as a relic of a grim time. But, just as Bruce returns to his long-abandoned business and high society circles after a delightful encounter with cat-burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), grim times return to Gotham with the appearance of the masked mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy). If Kyle, a cat-burglar who occasionally plays nice, puzzles Bruce’s moral compass, the analgesic-guzzling man-mountain Bane provides a true north of depravity. But just what is his plan for reducing Gotham to ashes, and can an out of shape Bruce really don the cowl again and stop him?

This film is a retrograde step away from the realism of The Dark Knight to the mythic elements of Batman Begins. Legends of impossible feats in Oriental prisons loom large, and Ras Al’Ghul’s League of Shadows return to destroy Gotham at the third time of asking. Bane is impressively brutal in his fighting style and his commitment to causing mental anguish but his muffled dialogue is still incomprehensible in places and, though Hardy adds a few sardonic notes, as a villain he doesn’t match the Joker; even his repetitive rhythmic theme fails to match the Joker’s musical motif. We also have to wait for the first appearance of Batman for an extended period of time only for him to be then immediately absented for acres of screen-time as the Nolans and Goyer get fixated on following other characters, especially Gordon’s young detective protégé Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), suffering under Bane’s Reign of Terror. Dickens, though, explicitly wrote for an audience familiar with Carlyle’s history of the French Revolution. Here we’re fast-forwarded thru Bane’s destruction of Gotham with a total lack of detail of how this is really happening. And the references to Dickens aren’t subtle. The arbitrary show-trials that scream Two Cities even feature a character named Stryver, just in case you didn’t get the homage.

The Dark Knight played like a crime thriller, but this film is less interested in nitty-gritty realism, and more with surfing the Occupy zeitgeist and imagining revolution, however ingenuous, in a modern metropolis. There is a lot to like in this film, but it’s a bit of a mess; so busy that it somehow never actually attends to business. Despite featuring some startling Bat-pod chases it lacks a truly jaw-dropping action sequence, even if, like its predecessor, it does have a number of wonderfully cross-cut shocks and some nice plot twists. The Dark Knight Rises falls down badly though where its predecessors excelled, in giving memorable lines and moments to each member of a large ensemble. Juno Temple, Matthew Modine and Nestor Carbonell are particularly ill served, but even Caine and Cotillard feel desperately under-used, while the relationship between Batman and Kyle is undernourished even if their chemistry convinces. I’ve previously speculated about the ending of this film, and the three strands of the ending cover nearly all the story bases; and, yes, one strand is explicitly Dickensian. The finale does satisfy, but the sense of fun that surely must be part of what keeps Bruce Wayne being Batman is almost entirely absent from this movie, and that loss of espirit is most lamentable.

Christopher Nolan’s final Bat-instalment is a good film, but you can’t help feeling that it’s two movies: a Bat-movie, and a fantasia on the collapse of privileged society.

3/5

July 19, 2012

Trevor/Bowen Literary Festival

History, Architecture and Literature will be intertwined at this year’s Trevor/Bowen Literary Festival when Eoghan Harris officially opens the 6th annual weekend of literary activity in Mitchelstown, Cork this Friday.
 
Outside of the opening ceremony and talk by Tom McCarthy, who has chosen “Bowen, De Valera and the Neutrality of the Dead” as his topic, all the other events over the weekend will be held in buildings whose origins date many centuries. Kingston College was built in the late 18th Century to provide accommodation to the less well-off members of the Church of Ireland community. Its chapel will host readings by members of the local creative writing group earlier on Friday afternoon. Other venues include Farahy Church, originally built in the 12th Century then rebuilt as a rare example of an 18th century rural Church of Ireland church, where Sophia Hillan will speak about “Elizabeth Bowen’s sense of place” on Saturday afternoon. The Kingston Arms, located in Kings’ Square, was built in the 18th Century and on the Saturday and Sunday mornings it will be the venue for Creative Writing Workshops for Adults. The facilitators are John MacKenna and Mary O’Donnell who will mostly concentrate on helping those who are at an earlier stage of their writing efforts. Sharpe screenwriter Eoghan Harris will, on the other hand, be concentrating on the plot as the basis for all good story writing.
 
Mitchelstown Town Hall, which was built as a Catholic Church in the late 18th century before being converted into a school 50 years later, will house all of the remaining weekend’s activities. These events include talks, screenings and readings. “A Childhood friendship with Elizabeth Bowen” by Sally Phipps, daughter of Mollie Keane, will see her talk about her memories of the Elizabeth Bowen she remembers as a child. Stephanie McBride presents her very successful talk “The Films of William Trevor”, as well as showing excerpts from various films made of Trevor’s works, preceding a screening of “The Ballroom of Romance” which will be followed by the eponymous Dance with a three piece band. Jim Ryan presents his interpretation of the Bowen’s novel “The Last September” as a reader and, after showing the film, will chair a discussion regarding the film presentation of the book as against the readers’ interpretation. Finally, Danielle McLaughlin, winner of the Trevor/Bowen Short Story Competition 2012, will read her winning entry.
 
Admission prices per person (excluding workshops) are €10.00 for individual events, €25.00 for a Saturday only ticket, and €45.00 for a weekend ticket. Prices for the Adults Creative Writing Workshops are available on the website. There will be a cheese and wine reception and a short, musical performance by local folk group, Eistigi, on the opening night. There will also be a Festival trad/folk session in Auntie Mae’s pub on the Saturday night at 11.00pm. See www.mitchelstownlit.com for full details.

July 11, 2012

Magic Mike

Steven Sodebergh surely claims the crown of hardest working man in Hollywood by directing an odd and moody movie about male strippers, his third film in 10 months…
 
Channing Tatum’s Mike styles himself an entrepreneur because of his auto detailing and custom furniture businesses. He encounters Adam (Alex Pettyfer) at yet another job, construction, where he has to teach the young slacker how to tile rooves, before running into him again at a nightclub. He uses Adam as a wingman as he entices girls back to Xquisite where, as ‘Magic Mike’, he actually makes his living as lead stripper. When one of the strippers passes out, from taking too much of the refined GHB they use to maintain their energy, Adam is quickly pressed into action nand impresses both Mike and his boss Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn) is less than impressed that her younger brother, who blew a football scholarship, is now stripping as ‘The Kid’ and Mike starts a charm campaign to win her over even as he mentors Adam in the business.
 
Tatum is a fine actor when called on, witness Stop Loss, and indeed one of his Stop Loss producers Reid Carolin scripted this version of Tatum’s own chequered past for Nicolas Winding Refn to direct. Tatum’s charismatic as Mike and delivers a tremendous put-down to a banker who refuses him a loan despite all the cash he earns from ‘event management’: “I read the papers. The only ones who are in distress are y’all.” McConaughey is wonderfully sleazy as a riff on Cabaret’s MC, and at one point puts Mike in his place under some harsh lighting which makes you think – as he gets older the menace of that Texan drawl will surely see him create an iconic villain this decade. Sadly Pettfyer fails to make you remotely care about Adam’s fate, suggesting that loathsome villains like his In Time turn are a far better use of his talents than flawed heroes. Cody Horn is far more engaging, her unimpressed visage continually and wordlessly disapproving of Adam and Mike’s antics.
 
There are odd moments when actors stumble over lines and performances start to fray at the edges towards the end of long takes, which might be attributable to Soderbergh’s new ‘3 takes’ rule, but this film is undone by the writing not the directing. There are some nicely choreographed sequences like the first “It’s Raining Men” dance, but this is an oddly coy film about male stripping, indeed there’s arguably more female nudity, so is this about the degradation of stripping? Brooke hates Adam stripping, but understands the adulation Mike receives is a powerful drug, while still disapproving of his job. Mike is involved with a psychologist (a typically abrasive Olivia Munn) studying the strippers who, especially Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami), are terrifyingly uncharacterised – a gesture to implicate the cinema audience as only interested in their physique, like the Xquisite audience? At times this feels like a male version of Showgirls or All About Eve. Mostly Showgirls. But mostly this feels like a blank record of excess. Its drug-addled decadence in yellow-filter Tampa rehashes scenes and arcs seen far too often before and is ultimately pointless.
 
Tatum is very likeable, and the relationship between Mike and Brooke convinces, but once the sense of drift sets in after the entertaining opening it becomes a riptide that strands Magic Mike drowning in inconsequence.
 
2.5/5

MovieExtras 10 Years

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 10:12 am
Tags: , ,

Have you always wanted to stand around in the background behind Matthew MacFadyen murmuring “mumble, mumble, it be Jack the Ripper”? Well, here’s your chance!

MovieExtras is celebrating 10 years with an Open Casting Weekend, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th July, in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel on Grafton Street. The open casting hours are 10am-7pm for both days. All members of the public are invited to sign up for membership, have their make-up done by MakeupFablicious.com, and have a photo-shoot with an award-winning photographer.

MTV’s Laura Whitmore began her career with MovieExtras.ie, finding out what the behind the scenes world of TV & film was all about. So, for those who want a walk on part beside their favourite celeb or, like Laura, want to feed their curiosity about what really happens on set, MovieExtras.ie is for you. Over 550 companies and casting directors have access to the MovieExtras.ie members profile and can contact them for work as an extra, model, actor or for promotional work. Based in Ardmore Studios, MovieExtras.ie was founded in December 2002 by Derek Quinn and Kevin Gill and has become Ireland’s leading agency that provides extras and background artists to the film, television and advertising industries. MovieExtras.ie has won various Irish Internet Association Net Visionary Awards.

Recent Irish productions include TRIVIA, Asterix and Obelix, Titanic: Blood & Steel, Republic of Telly, Amber, and Ek Tha Tiger (where Bollywood met Dublin). MovieExtras.ie members have also starred in adverts for Bank of Ireland, Heineken, AIB, An Post, Budweiser, Aldi, The Referendum Commission, Dairygold and Paddy Power. And for football enthusiasts, members were part of several Euro 2012 promotions. Currently MovieExtras.ie are working with high profile productions including Ripper Street (starring Matthew MacFadyen), An Crisis, and Stay (starring Aidan Quinn and Mercy heroine Taylor Schilling), which is being shot in the West of Ireland. Previous notable productions include Camelot, The Tudors and Shadow Dancer.

“Our members have been involved in over 1,200 productions and adverts, and have had great stories to tell about amazing experiences and meeting some wonderful people, including lots of international stars including Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell, Glenn Close, Anna Friel, Bob Hoskins and Kiera Knightly,” says co-founder Derek Quinn. Members have received over €8m in fees and have been involved with well over 1,000 productions including films, movies, documentaries, adverts (TV, billboard & print), theatre, soap operas, idents, photocalls and reconstructions since the company was set up 10 years ago. All are welcome to attend the open casting weekend. The cost for an individual one year membership is €99.95 and for a special family package is €299.95 (for up to 6 members) and includes 3 professional photographs. Those who are unable to attend the Open Casting Weekend can register online at www.MovieExtras.ie.

 

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