Talking Movies

August 24, 2012

Film Noir @ the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse presents your favourite monochrome cops, gangsters and femmes fatale in a season of classic film noirs showcasing deadly dames Gloria Grahame, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, and Gene Tierney; smouldering 20 foot tall on the silver screen!

 

The Big Heat

Sunday 26th
“A hard cop and soft dame”
Fritz Lang made a number of hard-boiled movies in the 1950s, including the diabolical Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, but this is the pick of the bunch; a vicious and unrelenting film noir stars Glenn Ford as a cop on the trail of a violent gang led by the terrifying Lee Marvin. The luminous Gloria Grahame plays the ultimate tragic gangster’s moll who learns the hard way about betraying Lee Marvin’s trust. Beautifully shot and full of surprises, and featuring a notorious use of hot coffee, this dark, sexy noir is a perfect example of the genre.


The Big Sleep

Wednesday 29th & Sunday 2nd
“The type of man she hated . . . was the type she wanted!”
Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and a lot of sassy dialogue from the pen of Raymond Chandler under the direction of Howard Hawks – what more could you want in a classic noir? Private detective Philip Marlowe, the original shop-soiled Galahad, is hired by a rich family to investigate a case of blackmail. Before the complex case is over, he’s seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love; but not who killed the chauffeur, one of cinema’s enduring mysteries… Don’t miss Bogey and Bacall smouldering on the big screen in glorious 35mm!

Mildred Pierce
Wednesday 12th September & Sunday 16th September
“Please don’t tell anyone what Mildred Pierce did!”
You’ve seen Todd Haynes’ recent leisurely HBO adaptation with the extremely weird original ending so now remind yourself of how the 1940s writers got around novelist James M Cain’s un-filmable pay-off in this sophisticated film noir which forgoes gangsters and dirty cops in favour of a complex look at the relationship between a mother (Joan Crawford) and her spoiled daughter Veda. There is also, of course, a dead man in the kitchen and a smoking gun. Crawford won a well-deserved Oscar for her role as the intelligent, determined woman with one weakness…her daughter.


Laura
“A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s
investigating.”

Celebrated Austrian director Otto Preminger anticipated certain elements of Vertigo with this superbly crafted film noir about three men in love with the same woman…a dead woman. But who could blame them for their nascent necrophilia when the woman in question is the stunning Gene Tierney? Co-starring Clifton Webb and Vincent Price as her lovers, and future Fritz Lang regular Dana Andrews as the investigating detective, these three men trying to solve the mystery of who put a bullet in the beautiful face of Laura. 

Tickets for individual films in the season are €9.00 but a season pass for all five films will set you back a mere €30. The season pass, however, can only be booked by calling into the cinema or phoning 01-8728006. 

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The Watch

Screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg rescue a Ben Stiller sci-fi comedy from the intended clutches of lamestream auteur Shawn Levy and the results are a hoot and a holler.

Ben Stiller is slightly boring Costco manager Evan, who sets up various clubs to build community spirit in Ohio, and is horrified to find his store’s night-watchman murdered and skinned. He promptly sets up a neighbourhood watch to track down the killer. Much to his displeasure, the only people who show up are loudmouth dad Bob (Vince Vaughn), wannabe vigilante Franklin (Jonah Hill) and British divorcee Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). (Well, he’s actually pretty pleased with Jamarcus, as Evan’s been looking for a black friend in the name of diversity.) The watch get no respect from slightly crazed police officer (Will Forte), or their neighbours, but when they find destructive alien technology, and then aliens infiltrating the community, there’s only one thing to do. Save the world… And misbehave royally, of course. Who wouldn’t take pictures with a Hawaiian-shirted dead alien?

This movie is Rogen & Goldberg par excellence, so if you don’t like their shtick you’re better off skipping it. I’m one of the very few who appreciated what they were trying to do with The Green Hornet, and this movie confirms the suspicion I first voiced when reviewing Superbad; that hiding behind their scatology is sweetness. I thought then that the scatology might be there purely to get financing but I now realise that it’s an integral if occasionally uncomfortable part of the package, as if Seth Rogen was a big friendly slob of a dog that you just can’t housetrain but you still love him to bits anyway. “She married you, not your dead ****” is the key line of hidden heart as a ruminant Vaughn tries to comfort a depressed Stiller on whether marriage can survive infertility.

The Watch feels exactly like what it is, a structurally sound script rewritten to insert rambling absurdity and profane hilarity. Some elements are familiar: Will Forte’s cop is a close cousin of SNL co-star Bill Hader’s Superbad maniac, while Hill’s lunatic is a riff on Rogen’s character in Observe and Report, and a key final act detail is pure Superbad. Some elements are totally fresh: Richard Ayoade’s equally deadpan delivery of utter nonsense and total logic, Billy Crudup’s glorious cameo as Stiller’s creepily tactile new neighbour, and some serious ballistic overkill with a hard-to-kill alien. The comic invention on display flags in the middle as screenplay structural conventions take over but roars back for a very funny finale; not least because just when you’ve been lamenting Rosemarie DeWitt being underused as Stiller’s wife she gets her own hilarious motif.

The Watch isn’t quite as hilarious as Superbad but it is far better than any proposed PG-13 version could have been and better than any actual Hangover instalment is.

4/5

August 17, 2012

My Brothers

Accomplished screenwriter Paul Fraser makes his understated directorial debut with a touching movie about three brothers on a sombre but absurdist road trip around Cork.

At the age of 17 aspiring writer Noel (Timmy Creed) is already weighed down by responsibility; taking over the dawn bread-run job from his father (Don Wycherley), who lies in bed slowly dying of lung cancer. When Noel steals his father’s watch to wear himself, a moment every bit as painful to watch as Hal taking the crown from the ailing Henry IV, he soon finds himself surreptitiously driving to Ballybunnion over the 1987 Halloween weekend to get a replacement from the arcade game where the original was won. Noel, however, has to make the trip not only with a bread-van with a comically obstinate door but with the unwelcome company of his younger brothers Paudie (Paul Courtney) and Scwally (TJ Griffin) after Scwally threatens to tell on him to their mother (Kate Ashfield).Breakdowns mechanical and emotional await them…

It’s displayed prominently on the posters but oddly enough the original soundtrack of acoustic guitars from Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody and his producer Jacknife Lee is intrusive and inconsequential. This film is all about the writing, and Will Collins’ IFTA-nominated script is remarkably adept at recreating a real 1980s Irish childhood without getting at all sentimental about it. If you remember RTE’s special 3-D movie presentation you’ll nod in recognition at Scwally’s eagerness to get the coloured glasses and be in front of a TV in time, but you’ll also wince in recognition at the calculated cruelty of Paudie in taking cereal toys Scwally wants because Scwally wants them. Producers Rob Walpole and Rebecca O’Flanagan premiered this film at Tribeca and despite being filmed entirely in Cork it’s a film with universally resonant characters, not least burdened hero Noel.

Timmy Creed is remarkable as Noel. He has the ability to switch from pragmatic adult to awkward teenager depending on where the scene finds Noel’s oscillating self-confidence. Griffin is charming as the enthusiastic 7 year-old Scwally, wielding a light-sabre despite never having seen Star Wars, and delighted to stow away with his big brothers but hurt by their pranks. Courtney gives the most difficult performance as his Paudie is a deeply obnoxious 12 year-old that we only slowly warm to. These three young actors carry the film as due to van trouble they are constantly the only characters onscreen; apart from a sequence with the great Sarah Greene as a publican who welcomes them, and a deeply unnerving encounter with a passing motorist that is one of the few missteps of the movie tonally in its rewriting of the past.

Fraser has written several Shane Meadows films and he and his screenwriter Collins, both being one of three brothers, succeed in their primary aim here – this feels utterly real.

3/5

August 15, 2012

The Expendables 2

66 year-old Sylvester Stallone regrettably returns for the second outing in this postmodern tongue-in-cheek action franchise made by people who don’t know what postmodernism means and don’t have their tongues-in-cheeks.

The Expendables 2 begins with Stallone’s soldiers of fortune rampaging around Nepal, saving a hostage or two, before making their covert getaway in the world’s most conspicuous plane. The film continues in this vein; thunderously loud, with much posturing like 1980s action heroes by the aged cast of 1980s action heroes. Groanworthy references are made from time to time as hundreds of enemies on various continents are dispatched with explosions of CGI blood so ridiculous that they resemble the zombies/water balloons of Planet Terror. But, when Bruce Willis sends Stallone and Jason Statham to Albania to retrieve a Maguffin with the help of Jet Li’s replacement Nan Yu, they (and their loyal crew of Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Liam Hemsworth) meet their match in the villainous Jean-Claude Van Damme… But some familiar faces might balance the odds.

It’s hard not to wish that Robert Rodriguez at the top of his game was in charge of this franchise. You might think that losing Stallone as a director might improve this franchise but, aside from the script, the real shock of this movie is that Simon Con Air West doesn’t bring much visual panache to this nonsense. Instead it’s only slightly better directed than the lensing of Dolph Lundgren’s inert 2004 directorial debut The Defender, and the opening sequence in particular bafflingly shares Lundgren’s utter inability to convey basic action geography. The unrelenting autumnal colour palette employed by West quickly becomes quite dreary. The best moments are Jet Li fighting with pots and pans, the State using a censer as a mace, and Nan Yu letting rip on some goons; to wit the actors young enough for action movies.

Van Damme proved in JCVD that he’s still in shape and can actually act when pushed, but JCVD had a level of playfulness in its writing that is simply beyond The Expendables. Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “I’m back” before a couple of notes of his Terminator motif play isn’t that funny a touch. Chuck Norris delivering the punch-line of a Chuck Norris joke after Stallone feeds him the set-up might be hilarious, if he hadn’t delivered about 5 of them in a row on Jay Leno’s show a few years ago. These touches, which are few and far between, are meant to disguise the fact that this is a veritable computer-generated basic cable action script, worked on by many different writers, that could just as easily have been directed by Dolph Lundgren on a miniscule budget and gone straight to DVD.

For a genuine tongue-in-cheek see Robert Rodriguez or Alexandre Aja because this is just a bad movie shamelessly masquerading as a gleefully bad movie.

1/5

On Refusing to Assemble

I’ll admit it, I’m one of the few people who still haven’t seen The Avengers aka Marvel(’s) Avengers Assemble. It was by choice. I’m going to wait for the DVD.

If you ask why I chose not to see it I have to admit that there were reasons for not seeing it that pre-dated the movie’s release, and then new reasons spawned by the movie’s reception. Perhaps the most important reason for not going to see the super-hero super team-up was that I quite frankly never really cared about it. I don’t like Thor or Thor. From the first moment that Thor and Loki appeared as children I was rooting for Loki, and Tom Hiddleston kept me onboard for the rest of the movie; down to the bitter end I was with Loki. I enjoyed Captain America, but if you check the piece I wrote about it last year you’ll realise that everything I loved about it quite literally died a death in the final scenes. As for the Hulk, I didn’t love either attempt at the grumpy green giant, and Iron Man 2’s introduction of Black Widow did very little for me. I’d effectively be watching The Avengers purely to see Robert Downey Jr wisecrack. But then I could just wait for Iron Man 3 for that, or, indeed, just watch damn near any old Robert Downey Jr movie.

Then there were the new and less important reasons spawned by the movie’s reception. The huge opening had the unfortunate effect of spoiling a key plot point, as with so many people chatting about it I accidentally overheard something. The problem was that ‘something’ struck me as the most aggravatingly clichéd thing that Joss Whedon could possibly do. There’s only so many times in your work that you can subvert a cliché before your subversion of the cliché itself becomes so expected when you’re writing that it is in fact now also a cliché. And anyone who read my review of The Cabin in the Woods will know that my Whedon tolerance has become very low after Buffy Season 8. Then there was the horror of finding out that Marvel had presented a business plan in the mid-2000s to get financing for their own studio which proposed making all the individual hero movies as prep-work for producing the cross-over flick The Avengers as the real money-spinner. So, before any one film even worked artistically, the cross-over film was planned as the payday. I don’t know what horrifies me more, such blatant prioritisation of business over show, or that it worked.

Finally there was Samuel L Jackson’s petulant Twitter war against the New York Timesfilm critic AO Scott, who described Nick Fury as a master of ceremonies rather than a mission commander. I’ve been told that’s actually pretty accurate. But Jackson decided to tweet his 825,315 followers “#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let’s help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!” Was it ever likely that Scott would lose his job? Probably not, which seems to have been Jackson’s belated defence for his actions, but then why call for it in the first place? The last drip of enthusiasm I had for dragging myself to see a film I didn’t care about ebbed away when I thought that I might thereby be endorsing the position that an actor who earns maybe $15 million a year very publicly trying to get his fans to start a witch-hunt so that a man who earns maybe $60,000 a year would lose his job is any way, shape or form acceptable behaviour.

I’ve read Mark Millar’s hilarious and exciting The Ultimates, and prefer his version of those iconic characters to the cinematic imaginings. The Avengers can wait.

Stranger than Fiction @ the IFI

Stranger Than Fiction, the IFI’s documentary film festival returns from 16th to the 19th of August showcasing the best new Irish and international factual cinema.

Stranger Than Fiction has been programmed for the first time by documentary filmmaker and Commissioning Editor of Film Ireland Ross Whitaker who has tracked down a fantastic range of true-to-life stories; from an an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most famous photographers, via a chronicle of the death of the once-great Detroit and a moving record of one Palestinian village’s heroic resistance to oppression, to the story of an Irish boxing champion of the nineteenth century turned actor narrated by boxer turned actor Liam Neeson.Whitaker says “These films will move, shock and inspire you. They will inform you and, in some cases, change the way you think about the world. The truth, they say is stranger than fiction and I think the films on show prove that the best documentaries can be more powerful than any drama.’’

Selected as this year’s opening film, The Imposter is the bizarre tale of a missing Texas teenager who is ‘found’ after three years, in Spain, claiming he was kidnapped. The family are so relieved to have him home they overlook the boy’s European accent, new hair colour and physical changes… But when the FBI start investigating the boy’s kidnapping the murky tale takes an even stranger turn. The Interrupters is Steve (Hoop Dreams) James’ acclaimed story of the Violence Interrupters, ex-Chicago gang members who seek atonement for their past by directly intervening in violent confrontations. It’s a story of heroism which doesn’t shy away from the thankless nature of the task. The troubles of another mid-west city, Detroit, come into focus with Detropia. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s fascinating portrait of the city shows that the decline of the automobile industry and the demographic shifts, so skilfully portrayed in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, have left a city of dreams hovering on the verge of oblivion. Similarly Penny Woolcock’s One Mile Away, sees teenage rap as the only creative spark left in a post-industrial gang-infested Birmingham suffering an epidemic of gun crime.

This year’s festival features two Irish films and two Irish co-productions. Andrew Gallimore’s The Gentleman Prizefighter tells the story of Irish-American heavyweight champion Jim Corbett, remembered for defeating the great Jim Sullivan and turning to film acting after hanging up his gloves. Paul Duane follows up his recent success with his Barbaric Genius portrayal of notorious chess player John Healy with Very Extremely Dangerous, the story of Jerry McGill a terminally-ill former rocker turned bank-robber who, aged 70, returns to the recording studio to make up for lost time. Irish/Dutch co-production Anton CorbijnInside Outprofiles the Dutch photographer and filmmaker largely responsible for the visual style of U2. He also worked extensively with Depeche Mode and Joy Division, before recently moving into film directing with impressive results: Control and The American. This documentary illuminates his life and working methods.

Two films about the Middle East demonstrate the powerful immediacy with which film can capture conflict and political unrest. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s eponymous 5 Broken Cameras met their end while Emad was filming his Palestinian village of Bil’in’s struggle for survival. Sean McAllister’s Reluctant Revolutionary (an Irish/UK co-production) is an intimate portrait of a Yemeni tour guide’s conversion from sceptic to revolutionary during the Arab Spring. From South Korea comes Planet of Snail, a life-affirming observational documentary of a young disabled couple who radiate love and affection – deaf-blind poet Young Chan and Soon-Ho, whose own spinal disability means she’s barely taller than his waist. A big hit on the festival circuit and the Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, Planet of Snail is sure to be one of the weekend’s highlights.

IFI Stranger Than Fiction Schedule

The Imposter

August 16th (19.00)

IFI Afternoon Talk:

Documentary Discussionwith Ross Whitaker and Guests

August 17th (14.00)

5 Broken Cameras

August 17th (18.30)

One Mile Away

August 17th (20.30)

The Gentleman Prizefighter

August 18th (13.20)

Reluctant Revolutionary

August 18th (15.30)

Very Extremely Dangerous

August 18th (17.30)

Anton Corbijn Inside Out

August 18th (20.00)

The Interrupters

August 19th (14.00)

Planet of Snail

August 19th (16.20)

Detropia

August 19th (19.00)

Tickets are available from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 and online at www.ifi.ie.

August 7, 2012

The Lark

Anouilh’s strikingly modern take on Joan of Arc is performed in the strikingly antique Boys School space in Smock Alley.

The audience sit on benches in front of a stage, bare except for chairs and a chest, while the Lord Bishop Cauchon (Gerard Adlum) and the Earl of Warwick (Dave Fleming) discuss how they will conduct the trial, as if the audience were attending it in 1431, and inform us that they can’t enter the battles in evidence as they don’t have enough men to stage them… Eoghan Carrick’s spotlights aid fluid switches between the trial and flashbacks, while the monastic garb (with extra medieval caps and steeple hats for actors playing multiple roles) epitomises director Sarah Finlay’s high seriousness. This is a stripped-down production which demands absolute concentration from the audience on fierce theological arguments debated in front of a centuries old Romanesque wall.

Warwick, a sardonic Machiavellian, wants Joan condemned in order to discredit her crowning of the Dauphin as King of France. Cauchon, however, insists the Maid is not for burning. Joan is allowed perform her family’s disbelief of her visions and her encounters with her local squire and the Dauphin. The father-daughter scenes convince not only because of the striking height difference between the two actors but also Shane Connolly’s nuanced portrayal of an exasperated but loving father, beating his daughter to try and protect her from herself. Sadly the other flashbacks drag. Ian Toner is nicely leering as de Beacourt, eager to exercise his droit de seigneur, and also amuses as the mistress of the Dauphin, but both scenes outstay their welcome. Ruairi Heading’s turn as the Dauphin similarly suffers in comparison to his more tightly written role of the compassionate Brother Ladvenu. Indeed the second act crackles with energy purely because Anouilh eschews flashbacks.

Joan (Caitriona Ennis) is frequently the still centre of a hurricane of ideas. Toner’s hysterical Promoter sees a seductive Devil everywhere. Joan’s suggestion that God could damn a soul, free will be damned is pounced on by him as a terrible heresy but then forgotten, even though it’s arguably proto-Calvinism. More rigorous is Jennifer Laverty’s terrifying Inquisitor, who attacks Joan for elevating Man in importance against and over God. Though ultimately suspiciously Manichean for a defender of Orthodoxy, in insisting that man is evil because he is worldly, the Inquisitor intimidates the other clerics, and if it’s not specified by the script is brilliant casting by Finlay as Laverty stands in ultimate judgement over another woman. Laverty also scoops a great line rebuking someone for confusing “charity, the theological virtue, and the murky liquid known as the milk of human kindness”. Fleming is wonderfully droll as Warwick, but Adlum has the most interesting role and he is riveting every time Cauchon clashes intellectually with Joan.

Cauchon is desperate to save Joan’s soul, and distances himself from Warwick’s politicking. Ennis plays saintly simplicity very well, the ‘sign’ she gives of recognising the disguised Dauphin is done with the playfulness of a child, while her connection to God when rebuking her favourite soldier for swearing is as utterly self-conscious as her performance of God’s voice for the benefit of her interrogators. Ennis also displays some nice signs of self-doubt under the subtle questioning of Cauchon on what Joan would do if one of her soldiers started to hear voices countermanding her orders… The steel and righteous savagery of Joan the soldier though only appears once when, in a speech uncannily similar to the contemporaneous The Crucible, she renounces her abjuration in order to be true to herself.

Fleming’s English accent is close cousin to a certain contemporary politician, suggesting chummy but callous people always triumph. But self-immolating in protest about that won’t change society, and Anouilh refuses to endorse either Joan’s martyrdom or Cauchon’s mercy. Anouilh’s Joan literally prefers burning out to fading away, but a script so focused on complicated ideas surely implicitly endorses thinking over feeling. Joan temporarily changed the world by emotional force of will, but perhaps the question of Calvinism is left hanging to make us realise that if Joan felt the truth of Calvinism it took Calvin’s application of rigorous theology to make it a force. The lesson: only by understanding a conventional wisdom can one hope to permanently change it.

Fast Intent provides an absorbing production of a thought-provoking play.

3/5

The Lark continues its run at Smock Alley Theatre until the 11th of August.

The Plough and the Stars

Director Wayne Jordan reprises his acclaimed 2010 production of O’Casey’s old warhorse, but, even with returning stars Joe Hanley and Gabrielle Reidy on good form, this fails to ever soar…

O’Casey’s final Abbey play sees the 1916 Rising explode into the lives of the extended Clitheroe family and their tenement neighbours. The socially ambitious Nora Clitheroe (Kelly Campbell) is cordially disliked by her neighbours Mrs Gogan (Deirdre Molloy) and Bessie Burgess (Gabrielle Reidy). Cordial dislike also exists within the extended Clitheoroe clan as the preening Citizen Army member Uncle Peter (Frankie McCafferty) is tormented by the Young Covey (Laurence Kinlan) for placing nationalism above socialism. Ignoring these political discussions is Jack Clitheroe (Barry Ward) whose pride has seen him resign from the Citizen Army on being passed over for promotion. However, when it’s revealed that he was promoted, but Nora hid the letter because she wanted him out of danger, Jack furiously leaves her to join a monster rally that stirs the patriotism of even the disreputable Fluther (Joe Hanley). But though the Rising has begun Nora isn’t finished yet…

This show lacks the comic vim of recent O’Casey productions, and this makes it feel slow-paced. Peter and the Covey just don’t strike sparks the way they should, and without that relationship being totally anarchic Nora is no longer trying to keep order in a madhouse but is merely trying to social climb within a tenement, which makes it difficult to empathise with her. Nora’s line “What do I care for th’ others? I can only think of me own self”; an attitude that would’ve brought the French Revolution to a shuddering halt; becomes uncomfortably emblematic, especially as it immediately precedes her pleading with Jack to come home,utterly oblivious to the disturbing squib-enhanced suffering of his dying comrade. Thankfully Hanley is very funny as Fluther, and Reidy very skilfully executes O’Casey’s most complicated character as she lifts the curtain on Burgess’ constant abrasiveness to reveal an equally generous heart.

Kate Brennan’s grimly realistic costume and make-up as the prostitute Rosie Redmond is contradicted by the overly self-performative turn she gives alongside Tony Flynn’s complementarily pouting barman. The effect is disorienting, and when the viciously combative Burgess and Gogan arrive into this milieu it defeats Casey’s satiric intent in juxtaposing Pearse’s rhetoric with poverty the new republic would not ameliorate. The high-flown idealism of the Man in the Window becomes a relief from such petty squalor. The unflattering juxtaposition caused riots in 1926 but here the blood-thirsty speech is instead rendered only slightly more extreme than Jefferson’s “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Oddly enough its genuinely rousing effect is counterpointed by the production’s most moving moments being the unseen troops singing ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ as they march past on their way back to the hell of the trenches, and the two English Tommies climactically crooning ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’. The latter moment saves an act almost ruined by an imaginary window within Tom Piper’s steel scaffolding set being established then sloppily ignored…

This is a decent show overall albeit with serious flaws, but in the wake of tremendous renditions of The Silver Tassie and Juno and the Paycock ‘decent’ can only disappoint.

2.5/5

The Plough and the Stars continues its run at Belvedere College until the 15th of September.

Dublin Theatre Festival: 10 Plays

Beyond the Brooklyn Sky 25 Sep – 6 Oct Touring

Peter Sheridan directs a production that is touring between the Civic, Pavilion, Draoicht, and Axis theatres. Listowel Writers’ Award-winner Michael Hilliard Mulcahy has been supported by Fishamble in developing his debut play about returned emigrants who left Brandon, Kerry for Brooklyn, NY in the late 1980s. There are thematic similarities with Murphy’s The House as a visit by an emigrant who remained in Brooklyn ignites tensions.

Dubliners 26 Sep – 30 SepGaiety

Corn Exchange tackles Joyce’s short story collection in an adaptation by playwright Michael West and director Annie Ryan. Judging by Mark O’Halloran’s make-up this is an almost commedia dell’arte take on Joyce’s tales of paralysis in a dismally provincial capital. This features Talking Movies favourite Derbhle Crotty, who should mine the comedy of Joyce’s seam of dark, epiphany ladennaturalism. This is an experiment worth catching during its short run.

The Select (The Sun Also Rises) 27 Sep – 30 Sep Belvedere College

Hemingway’s 1926 debut novel gets adapted by Elevator Repair Service, the ensemble that performed F Scott epic Gatz in 2008. On a bottle-strewn stage America’s ‘Lost Generation’ carouses aimlessly around Paris and beyond. The maimed war-hero’s girlfriend Brett is as exasperating and alluring a character as Sally Bowles so it’ll be interesting to see how she’s handled. Her, and the Bull Run in Pamplona…

The Talk of the Town 27 Sep – 14 Oct Project Arts Centre

Annabelle Comyn, fresh from directing them in The House, reunites with Catherine Walker, Darragh Kelly and Lorcan Cranitch for Room novelist Emma Donoghue’s original script. Walker plays real life 1950s writer Maeve Brennan who swapped Ranelagh for Manhattan, becoming a New Yorker legend before fading into obscurity. The rediscovery of her chillingly incisive stories has revived her reputation, so Donoghue’s take on her intrigues.

The Picture of Dorian Gray 27 Sep – 14 Oct Abbey

Oscar Wilde’s only novel is adapted for the stage and directed by Neil Bartlett. Bartlett as a collaborator of Robert Lepage brings a flamboyant visual style to everything he does, and he has a cast of 16 to help him realise Wilde’s marriage of Gothic horror and caustic comedy. I’m dubious of the Abbey adapting Great Irish Writers rather than staging Great Irish Playwrights, but this sounds promising.

Tristan Und Isolde 30 Sep – 6 Oct Grand Canal Theatre

Wagner’s epic story of doomed romance between English knight Tristan (Lars Cleveman) and Irish princess Isolde (Miriam Murphy) comes to the Grand Canal Theatre boasting some remarkably reasonable prices for a 5 hour extravaganza. This production originates from Welsh National Opera, and if you’re unfamiliar with Wagner let me tell you that this houses the haunting aria Baz Luhrmann used to indelible effect to end Romeo+Juliet.

Politik 1 Oct– 6 Oct Samuel Beckett Theatre

I’m sceptical of devised theatre because I think it removes the playwright merely to privilege the director, but The Company are a five strong ensemble who won much acclaim for their energetic As you are now so once were we. This devised piece is a show not about living in the ruins after the economic tornado that hit us, or chasing that tornado for wherefores, but building anew.

DruidMurphy 2 Oct – 14 Oct Gaiety

Garry Hynes again directs the flagship festival show, 3 plays by Tom Murphy, which you can see back to back on Saturdays Oct 6th and 13th. Famine, A Whistle in the Dark, and Conversations on a Homecoming tell the story of Irish emigration.Famine is set in 1846 Mayo. The second crop of potato fails and the unfortunately named John Connor is looked to, as the leader of the village, to save his people. Whistle, infamously rejected by the Abbey because Ernest Blythe said no such people existed in Ireland, is set in 1960 Coventry where emigrant Michael Carney and his wife Betty are living with his three brothers when the arrival of more Carney men precipitates violence. Conversations is set in a small 1970s Galway pub where an epic session to mark Michael’s return from a decade in New York leads to much soul searching. The terrific Druid ensemble includes Rory Nolan, Marty Rea, John Olohan, Aaron Monaghan, Beth Cooke, Niall Buggy, Eileen Walsh, Garret Lombard, and Marie Mullen.

Hamlet 4 Oct – 7 Oct Belvedere College

The play’s the thing wherein we’ll catch the Wooster Group making their Dublin debut. Founded in the mid 1970s by director Elizabeth LeCompte, who has led them ever since, this show experiments with Richard Burton’s filmed 1964 Broadway Hamlet. The film footage of perhaps the oldest undergraduate in history is rendered back into theatrical immediacy in a postmodern assault on Shakespeare’s text which includes songs by Casey Spooner (Fischerspooner).

Shibari 4 Oct – 13 Oct Peacock

This Abbey commission by Gary Duggan (Monged) slots perhaps just a bit too neatly into what seems to be one of the defining sub-genres of our time. A bookshop employee, a restaurateur, an English film star, a journalist, a Japanese florist, and a sales team leader fall in and out of love as they accidentally collide in an impeccably multi-cultural present day Dublin. Six Degrees of Separation meets 360?

August 1, 2012

Alfred & Bane: Brothers in Arms

I was picking over the bones of The Dark Knight Rises with Robert O’Hara, when a terrifying spectre arose before us in considering what age Bane is supposed to be when engaged in terrorising Gotham.

Obviously, because Tom Hardy is playing Bane, you just assume that Bane is an alarmingly muscular dude in his early 30s. Well, think about it… Liam Neeson has a cameo as Ras Al’Ghul, but when Ras is glimpsed in flashback he’s played by a different actor. The tangle with the Asian warlord that is depicted occurred therefore at least 20 if not 30 years previously. But when a later flashback shows Bane without the mask as an anonymous inmate of the prison, he’s played by Tom Hardy; that is Bane is young when Ras is young, which means that logic dictates that Bane in The Dark Knight Rises must be somewhere around the age of Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, plus 9 years of story-time…

If we assume that Ras’ child escaped the nightmare prison aged 10, then the child being portrayed as an adult by someone who might be generously held to look 30 would add twenty years to the actor portraying Tom Hardy, who might generously be held to look 25, making Bane 45 in the movie. But that’s being so generous all around, that it’s just absurd. Far more likely is a combination of ages that makes Bane 55 in the movie. But… If we assume that Ras’ child escaped the nightmare prison aged 7, then the child being portrayed as an adult by someone actually aged 37 would add thirty years to Tom Hardy’s actual age of 35, making Bane 65 in the movie quite plausibly.

This raises another disturbing question. Bane’s speaking voice quite often (and I’m thinking particularly of his overly chummy prompting of the scientist in the football stadium here) veers towards the splenetic tones of a British Army Colonel in his club circa 1926barking about “these bloody socialists! Haven’t an ounce of patriotic feelings in their bodies. Hanging’s too good for them I tell you!” But if Bane’s a 65 year old man who has the erect bearing (especially when wearing that coat) and the booming tones of an ex-army man, but was imprisoned over thirty years earlier while arsing about in Asia while not in the army, is it barely possible that the reason Alfred is so perturbed by the idea of Bruce taking on Bane is that Bruce’s ex-army butler (who’s in his 70s and quit the mercenary lifestyle over thirty years earlier for some sedate buttling) recognises in the CCTV footage from the attack on the Gotham Stock Exchange a younger brother in arms from his Burmese days??

Perhaps an earlier version of the scene read like this:

 

INT.BAT-CAVE – DAY.

Alfred and Bruce look at footage of Bane breaking into the Gotham Stock Exchange.

ALFRED: My God!

BRUCE: What?

ALFRED: It’s Corporal Baines!

BRUCE: Alfred, the guy in the mask is called Bane.

ALFRED: Well he weren’t always in a mask, once he was called Baines.

BRUCE: Who?

ALFRED: Many years ago, my friends and I were working in Burma.

BRUCE: Alfred, I do not have the patience to hear about any more tangerines.

ALFRED: One of the younger lads with us was a real nasty piece of work, Corporal Baines. I didn’t want him to join us but I was outvoted by the others and so when we were demobbed and started working as mercenaries we brought him with us. Eventually we lost him when he got into trouble with a local warlord and they flung him into a terrifying, inescapable prison; the Black Pit of Calcutta.

BRUCE: Which is in India, but this allegedly happened in Burma…

ALFRED: (Alfred didn’t hear that) Baines was totally unpredictable, that’s why I didn’t want him around. When we burnt the forest down and finally found the bandit, Baines beat him to within an inch of his life for stealing jewels from our employer. But when we were told by the government to escort the bandit to Rangoon so he could be executed, then Baines wept with compassion, and got so upset that he stayed up drinking with the bandit the whole night before his execution. That bandit was so bloody drunk that when they hung him his thing didn’t even–

BRUCE: I think, Alfred, that this Corporal Baines of yours would be a bit long in the tooth to be as buff as the guy in this video.

ALFRED: Well what else is he going to do in the Black Pit of Calcutta but push-ups? How many push-ups did you do a few years ago when you were living in a bloody mansion?

BRUCE: Alfred, I think I can take a pensioner in a fist-fight!

ALFRED: He’s not just any pensioner, Master Wayne. Look at that training, look at that incredible drive. I see belief. You know they said the only way out of that nightmare of a prison was to scale the walls, and then finally make a leap of faith, jump to a step near the top; a tiny step, the size of a–

BRUCE: Tangerine.

ALFRED: (jumps back in shock) How could you possibly know that??

BRUCE: Because I’m Batman.

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