Talking Movies

October 21, 2018

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid: Discussion Groups

Award-winning new Irish film The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, on release now, will be accompanied by a series of panel discussions after selected screenings to reflect on the issues raised in the film. Panels will take place at the Omniplex, Rathmines and the Eye Cinema, Galway.


Ward’s film investigates Kildare farmer Thomas Reid’s long struggle to resist a Compulsory Purchase Order from IDA Ireland who had identified his farm as having prime industrial development potential. Reid vowed to resist the sale under any circumstances and at any price. His story and the Irish Government’s subsequent response asks searching questions of how much one individual can be asked to sacrifice for the ‘national interest’.

Panel Details
Omniplex Rathmines  – Sunday 21st Oct 6.30pm
Lenny Abrahamson, Oscar-nominated director; Feargal Ward, director & Tara Brady, journalist Irish Times (moderating). Book here

Thursday, 25th Oct Eye Cinema Galway 6.50pm Lelia Doolan, filmmaker and activist; Luke McManus, producer & Dr. Tony Tracy, (Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUIG) (moderating) Book here

Filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson said “What is so excellent about The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, is that, despite Reid’s deep peculiarity and quiet dysfunction, it is not the world of his crumbling Leixlip farm but the Ireland which surrounds it which comes to seem most in need of explanation and redemption. It’s our world, not his, which is the more troubling. I would urge anyone who values creative documentary film making to seek out this excellent, haunting and original film.”

Clare Daly TD spoke forcefully in Dáil Éireann during the debate on the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill on 28th March 2018 saying ‘I compliment Thomas Reid. In many ways he has been inspirational, a lone wolf taking on a giant single-handedly and winning, with five Supreme Court judges agreeing with him. However, that was not good enough. A multinational had to be given the land from under him and the law had to be changed to facilitate it. One can talk about selling and prostituting ourselves and giving it away, but today is a new low in that regard.’

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid is in selected cinemas including IFI; Rathmines Omniplex; Mahon Point Omniplex, Cork; IMC Dún Laoghaire and Eye Cinema, Galway.

www.lonelybattle.com

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October 20, 2018

Greg Sestero hits the Lighthouse

Oh, hi Mark. Greg Sestero is in town next weekend, to attend the Irish premiere of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 on October 26th at the Lighthouse.                                                                                                              

Sestero is of course one of the unfortunate stars of success de scandale The Room, who managed to spin a best-selling memoir, The Disaster Artist, out of the experience, and was portrayed by Dave Franco in James Franco’s hilarious film adaptation. Sestero will attend the screening of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 and do a Q & A hosted by Derek O’Connor.

Billed as the thrilling conclusion of the Sestero-Wiseau Saga, and picking up where the first volume left off, Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 is heralded as bringing the saga to a satisfying close. Jon (Sestero) is on the run across the American Southwest, where he meets an array of wild and amazing characters and finds himself in ever-stranger situations…which go a long way in giving a better handle on the reality he’s fleeing. Of course there’s still one more encounter and one last reckoning to bring this strange journey full circle. The saga is the best (sic) of Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau distilled into pure ecstasy: charming, unexpected, dramatic, dark, and above all, endlessly entertaining (addictive). Wiseau wisely is not involved in writing or directing, just acting. Sestero is the writer this time, and Justin MacGregor has the unenviable task of taming the craziness.

Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 will screen at 18.15 in advance of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 at 20.30.

Tickets for both films as a double bill can be bought at the reduced rate of €25 by calling the box office on (01) 872 8006.

Screening times and tickets can be found here:

Best F(r)iends: Volume 1: https://lighthousecinema.ie//showing/showing-39243

Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 + Q&A with Greg Sestero: https://lighthousecinema.ie//showing/showing-43261

Any Other Business: Part XIX

Filed under: Talking Television — Fergal Casey @ 11:42 pm
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BBC 2

Oh no, not again. BBC 2 has ditched its 1990s idents for new ones that aren’t as good. Here we bloody go again. Back around Christmas 2014 it was a delight to see the inventive, practical magic of the 1990s idents reappear for the 50th anniversary of the station’s founding. The response seemed so unanimously enthusiastic that it was heard at BBC HQ and lo, the crummy idents of the 2010s faded away, and the glorious old idents of the 1990s marched forth before programmes once again. Until now, and a new set of crummy idents are here to end the 2010s as it began, not with a bang but a whimper.

Politik: Part VIII

Hopefully this eight regrettable portmanteau of politics will be the last descent into such commentary for a good long while.

I serve at the displeasure of the Queen

I conceived of a wonderful wheeze last week. Theresa May should spring on Queen Elizabeth II at one of their legally obligatory weekly waste of time chats that she needs help dealing with Brexit. Specifically she needs three great minds (sic) to do the job, without the worry of party political or electoral considerations. So would Her Majesty mind awfully making Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Nigel Farage Ministers life Peers and also Extraordinary and Plenopentiary Ministers, acting above the Cabinet and answering directly to the Queen herself. Their task? To negotiate the Brexit they seem to have such strong opinions yet scant details on. The Queen, slightly taken aback, will agree, forgetting to ask whether the trio have assented to such an unusual move. They will not. The first they will hear of it is when Theresa May bounds out of the car as soon as it gets outside the grounds of Buckingham Palace and announces to one man and his camera that she is delighted that the three men have accepted to personally serve Queen and Country in this way, but mostly the Queen. Now. The ball is in their court. Will these men have the utter gall to refuse to serve the Queen when it has been announced that she has graciously made them Lords and given them a rank and function exceeding the Prime Minister? And when they make an absolute balls of Brexit who can they blame? The Queen? Perish the thought!

October 14, 2018

Macbeth

Director Geoff O’Keefe reunites with actor Neill Fleming, following his memorable Claudius in the Mill’s 2016 Hamlet, for an eerie take on Shakespeare’s Scottish play.

Civil War rages in Scotland. King Duncan (Damien Devaney) is only kept on the throne by the bloody valour of the Thane of Glamis, Macbeth (Neill Fleming). But when three witches prophesy that Macbeth shall be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland hereafter fatal ambition seizes the mind of both his wife (Nichola MacEvilly) and he. Obstacles in his path are Duncan, and his son Malcolm (Matthew O’Brien); and obstacles to security as King are friend Banquo (Andrew Kenny), and his son Fleance (Eanna Hardwicke). And having filed his mind for the sake of his ambition all morality and sanity go by the wayside for Macbeth…

Gerard Bourke’s set and Kris Mooney’s lighting design create a powerfully eerie atmosphere. A skeleton and a decaying body hang over the stage emphasising the brutal nature of this Dark Ages kingdom, while Olga Criado Monleon’s costume design of flowing robes with all-encompassing hoods for the witches unsex them, allowing a terrific initial jolt when they seem to exit on one side and immediately appear on the other by magic, and also continually allowing them to prowl in the shadows of a stage replete with nooks and crannies. Their constant surveillance of the action makes them appear like irresponsible Greek gods toying their chosen mortals, and allows a terrific interval when they close the curtains with some theatrical magic.

If Michael Fassbender’s cinematic interpretation seemed to focus on the line ‘Full of scorpions is my mind’, Fleming’s turn here seemed to pivot on his agonised complaint to Lady M, ‘I have filed my mind’. MacEvilly’s Lady Macbeth is wonderfully contemptuous of Macbeth’s weakness during the feast, and in her sleepwalking seems less to be plagued by guilt as to be reciting both sides of her fight with Macbeth for his blundering with the knives. But despite the darkness O’Keefe finds some unexpected comedy in the text. Devaney’s Porter is played as still reeking of drink, and Macbeth arrives as if after carousing, concluding the recitations of ominous portents with a tart ‘It was a rough night’. There is also a delirious moment where Macbeth wheels around during the feast to check if Banquo is still there precisely when Banquo has melted away temporarily, the better to appal him later.

Playing Shakespeare with a cast of nine requires much doubling, and bar the predictably Lynchian moment when Devaney’s Porter appears right after the murder of Devaney’s Duncan, it works very well. Ailbhe Cowley very effectively switches between Lady Ross and Lady Macbeth’s servant with quick changes of hair, costume, and accent, while Kenny makes his doctor unrecognisable from his Banquo. Jed Murray’s imposing Macduff is a gruffer character than we’re used to, and his sword-fight with Macbeth ends with a piece of derring-do that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood swashbuckler.

The gruesome coup de grace may not work for all, but this is a fast-moving production of much dark magic.

4/5

Macbeth continues its run at the Mill Theatre until the 26th of October.

Notes on Venom

This week’s edition of Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle saw us belatedly get round to Tom Hardy’s Venom.

There are a number of ways to approach this movie. The 5 word summary -Tom Hardy Eats Bad People. Or the title from the point of view of his character, Eddie Brock -How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Love Venom. Or the pithy one word summary -Shambolic.
My fevered suspicion is that Kelly Marcel, who punched up Bronson and Mad Max: Fury Road for her old friend, saw the Bat-signal being flashed, yet again, and decamped to Hollywood to find Tom weeping in his trailer.
TH: It’s a mess.
KM: Page One rewite?
TH: No time. Just take my pages, give me good repartee with myself as Venom.
KM: What about Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate and Michelle Williams?
TH: I don’t give a hoot about them! Are they friends with you? No! I am! Please! For the love of God fix it…
KM: Okay, calm down. I’ll give it a polish. Just your pages.

October 9, 2018

Richard III

DruidShakespeare finally makes it to the capital having kept the Henriad away, and yes, the wait has been well worth it.

Photo: Robbie Jack

Richard (Aaron Monaghan) has been sent into this world before his time, scarce half made up.  And in a time of peace after the Wars of the Roses he embraces the role of villain. With gusto, informing us of his scheming before he undertakes each deceit. His machinations against his brother Clarence (Marty Rea) are only the beginning of an escalating palace intrigue that will undo Buckingham (Rory Nolan), Hastings (Garrett Lombard), Rivers (Peter Daly), Lady Anne (Siobhan Cullen), and the little Princes in the Tower (Zara Devlin, Siobhan Cullen again), before it brings back a time of war and undoes Richard himself.

This is not a short production but its 150 minutes with interval gallops by so gripping does director Garry Hynes make the action. There are numerous moments throughout that change forever how you will read passages in the text. Whether it be Marty Rea’s incredible turn as Catesby, the fastidious assassin with his ritualised use of a captive bolt gun, or Garrett Lombard’s unexpected and sublime ‘Whoa’ worthy of Keanu Reeves as Hastings suddenly realises that the doors have shut, the extractor fan and fluorescent light has come on, and he’s the only one left on the stage along with Catesby – bogus.

5/5

Richard III continues its run at the Abbey until the 27th of October.

September 30, 2018

Notes on Cold War

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 5:40 pm
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This week saw a catch-up film of the week, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War.

Shot in 1:1 ratio, like Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, and featuring luminous monochrome cinematography this was an unusually sombre film to be discussing on Sunday breakfast radio. Zula and Wiktor play out a tortured romance across 15 years from Poland to France via East Germany and Yugoslavia.

There are a lot of other films in Cold War‘s DNA, from Dr Zhivago to Betty Blue, Jules et Jim to A Star is Born, and while it manages to assert its own independence from them it never truly feels as original as its opening sequences suggest it could have been.

September 26, 2018

From the Archives: Taken

Ten years ago today Taken was released in Ireland.

Liam Neeson admitted that he only took this part because at 56 he didn’t expect to be offered an action role again, from such inauspicious beginnings comes an unexpected joy as Neeson has the time of his life in Taken as effectively he gets to play Jack Bauer at age 56.

His operative secret agent (or “preventer” as he describes himself, think CTU…) has retired to spend more time with his estranged daughter. She is living with her aggravatingly wealthy stepfather Xander Berkeley (yes, that’s right Jack Bauer’s boss George Mason in 24) and Neeson’s bitter ex-wife Famke Janssen, a thankless role which is becoming so prevalent that someone really needs to have a character riposte “Well, if you’re ex is that much of a loser, it doesn’t say much about you that you married them, does it?” to get rid of it. LOST’s Maggie Grace plays Jack’s daughter Kim. Yes that’s right, French writer/producer Luc Besson has brilliantly pre-empted the planned 24 movie to the extent of having a permanently in peril daughter Kim. Kim travels to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) and, Kims being Kims, they get kidnapped by a gang trafficking in sex slaves. It’s worth sighing at this point that both actresses are far too old for their roles and ‘act young’ by jumping around a lot and screaming, which is not much of a stretch for Grace it must be admitted but is quite disappointing from Cassidy given her very cool role as a taciturn demon on Supernatural.

Neeson, as you might have seen from the absurd trailer, talks Kim through her kidnap and threatens the kidnappers before they hang up on him. He jets over, courtesy of the private plane belonging to Berkeley’s wealthy businessman, and gets medieval on the kidnappers. This isn’t “ooh look at our fancy fight choreography” fighting, this is down and dirty “how many punches, jabs and kicks do I really need to give in order to cripple this person?” fighting and bone-crunchingly realistic it looks too. This is the adrenaline rush that 24 provided before it got ridiculous. Neeson is superbly cast for this, his 6, 4” frame dominating any room he walks into, while his boxing past makes his fight scenes more plausible than is usual in a Besson produced action flick. Neeson finds the gang holding his daughter through a mix of dogged detective work, old contacts (including a mentor who features in a scene outrageously lifted directly by Besson from Day 5 of 24), old fashioned brutality and yes, you guessed it, one very nasty torture scene involving a lecture by Neeson on the joys of a constant supply of electricity when trying to beat confessions out of bad guys. Besson sure knows his 24… By the end of this film you feel sure that Neeson has killed or maimed half the Parisian underworld and, quelle surprise, the big bad turns out to be an evil Arab.

If one wanted to gripe about all this one could say that Pierre Morel’s film endorses the sort of pop-fascism espoused by 24 but analysing the politics of this nonsense would really be pushing it. This is not high art. What it is is gripping, plausible, brutal and ultimately awesome fun. Highly recommended.

4/5

September 25, 2018

Politik: Part VII

Filed under: Talking Politics — Fergal Casey @ 6:53 pm
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It beggars belief that we can be back here again, but here we are, making the same old mistakes all over again. Leo Varadkar wants a bit of that Bertie populism to go with his Bertie opacity, and so suggests another SSIA scheme. Charlie McCreevy’s wonderful little SSIA scheme kicked us coming and going – it sucked money out of the economy just as the tech bubble burst, and then it flooded the economy with the money it could have used then at a time when it absolutely did not need it, turbocharging the madness of the Celtic Tiger’s house prices just before that bubble burst. And so with our country returned to another iteration of that madness, which was clearly Michael Noonan’s only idea; get the bubble going again, rather than say get a proper economy going; Leo steps up to the plate to double down on the idiocy. If this SSIA gets going when it will start sucking money out of the economy? Next year and the year after probably. Nothing happening then right? No, just Brexit and the calamitous fallout. We wouldn’t that extra money floating around the economy then though would we? Nah, sure it’ll be grand.

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