Talking Movies

November 22, 2022

Lykke Li @ Vega

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 9:23 pm

I’m always loath to post reviews of shows outside of Dublin, but I felt an exception had to be made for Lykke Li at Vega; the Vicar Street of Copenhagen.

This was my first gig since St Vincent at the Iveagh Gardens in 2015. And as I’ve been a fan of the Swedish songstress for even longer than of St Vincent, I was quite overwhelmed when Lykke Li took to the stage and started singing songs of heartbreak and unrequited love. She performed the entirety of her new album Eyeye in sequence, and it was phenomenal. This very physical lithe stage presence but with a cold mannered stare: Part Prince, part Bowie, part St Vincent – all commanding.

And her drummer pounded the rhythms into you – ‘Over’ became thunderous as well as emotional. Something akin to Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ meeting St Vincent’s piano ballad version of ‘Los Ageless’. When Li moved into her back catalogue in the second half of the concert she showed she knew her audience, asking who was heartbroken, and who was the most heartbroken – before turning Never Gonna Love Again into the world’s most unlikeliest singalong, with the Copenhagen crowd giving she said the best rendition of the chorus on the Eyeye tour yet.

5/5

September 29, 2022

Translations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 4:26 pm

It’s impossible for me to review Translations without first confessing that I know the script inside out, having both studied it at college and then taught it…

1833 in Friel’s eternal Donegal setting of Baile Beag finds a hedge school run by drunken master Hugh (Denis Conway) and his lame son Manus (Aaron Monaghan), specialising in Latin and Greek, being menaced by the arrival of a new English speaking National School, specialising in English. This off-stage menace is accompanied by the on-stage arrival of English sappers conducting an ordnance survey of the area for military purposes. But, as their work proceeds with the aid of Hugh’s other son Owen (Barry Ward) returned from Dublin, one of the British soldiers Yolland (Tim Delap) begins to question the morality of his task, even as he falls in love with local girl Maire (Aoife McMahon). The conflict between high civilisation and base commerce, Irish and English, and the noble rhetoric of progress and its low activities of expropriation, are all layered around these emotional conflicts. Maire’s love triangle with Manus and Yolland is very obviously a choice between a maimed native culture and a confident foreign culture…

Naomi Wilkinson’s set design heavily emphasises the squalor of this hedge-school, while Joan O’Clery’s costumes fit in with this approach by clothing the students in tattered earth tones, with the rebellious Maire in bright yellow and Hugh sporting a burnt orange jacket, while Hugh’s successful son Owen returns dressed in a spiffy blue overcoat, closer to the English military’s colour-scheme. Director Conall Morrison, who I’m still wary of on account of his late 1990s adaptation of Tarry Flynn, predictably brings sauciness to Friel’s comedy in the opening act. In the second act, however, he changes gears as the blue sky above the barn-set darkens, so that the rain sound effect heightens a chillingly conveyed sense of doom that anticipates the impending Famine. Rory Nolan as Doalty and Janet Moran as Bridget carry the bulk of Morrison’s slapstick; Nolan does a glorious mime of the English sappers’ baffled reaction to their ‘malfunctioning’ equipment, a result of his mischief; but they also imbue the off-stage Donnelly twins, often interpreted as proto-IRA figures in their campaign against the British presence, with the appropriate menace by their subdued reaction to their names being mentioned.

The inevitable Aaron Monaghan is very sympathetic as the brother whose half-hearted resistance to the British breaks down under personal contact, even as Ward convincingly travels the opposite arc as Owen grasps the political implications of his linguistic ‘collaboration’ with Yolland. McMahon is surprisingly flirtatious as Maire rather than simply determined, and there is a level of anger by Hugh towards her dismissal of his classics that seems alien to the script, as is his appearance as utterly decrepit. It seems absurd to accuse someone with an Irish Times Best Actor Theatre Award of lacking the necessary stature for a role, but Denis Conway is no Ray MacAnally, and he fails to dominate the stage as Hugh should. As a result Hugh’s final speeches to a drenched Maire, which should be tragic, raised some laughs. Conway effectively mixes bombast with moments of self-awareness, but if Hugh’s paraphrasing of George Steiner’s linguistic theories do not grip as the central statement of the self-defeating cultural delusions that colonisation can foist on a materially defeated civilisation then the focus of the play becomes diffuse.

This is well worth seeing, but there are quibbles…

3.5/5

Translations continues its run at the Abbey until the 13th of August.

April 18, 2022

Portia Coughlan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 4:14 pm

The Abbey’s revisiting of Marina Carr’s 1990s coruscating work continued apace with a revival of Portia Coughlan starring Denise Gough.

Portia Coughlan is turning 30. But she has no intention of marking the day with any positivity, instead drinking alone as soon as the kids have gone to school, as her husband Raphael (Marty Rea) discovers to his horror. Despite the best attempts of her friends and family to cheer her up, and her own fumbled affairs with local likely lads, the day is hollowed out by the absence of her twin brother Gabriel who drowned himself years before. And the horror of that long past day will be lived all over again, and then explained, thanks to Carr’s curious structure.

The opening line of the play signals that extreme abrasiveness is about to follow. And the influence of Pulp Fiction is plain to see in the death of Portia, in what seems an incredibly bold stroke, only for the clock to rewind as we follow her up to that point, as Carr once again invests the Midlands with the depravity and ritual horror of Ancient Greek myths. Once again the lack of an interval seems less a means of sustaining tension and more an affectation as an obvious curtain is played through. Caroline Byrne, however, directs with a keen eye for pace and balance between black comedy and harrowing drama.

4/5

February 25, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 2:50 pm

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Hopes: 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 2:50 pm

The Batman

Top Gun: Maverick

Killers of the Flower Moon

John Wick: Chapter 4

Elvis

Jurassic World: Dominion

Don’t Worry Darling

Hallowen Ends

The Flash

The Nightingale

Avatar 2

January 31, 2022

Top 10 Films of 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 9:22 pm

Oxygen

The Velvet Underground

I’m Your Man

Space Sweepers

CODA

The Nest

Meeting Point

The Suicide Squad

Blithe Spirit

Worth

December 24, 2021

O Holy Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 10:53 pm

I’m putting the blog on ice for a bit while I do not cook a turkey for Christmas dinner, and desperately try to get closer to meeting my Goodreads challenge for the year than my current abysmal standing.

Talking Movies proper will return in January with a Top 10 Films of 2021, and previews of 2022′s best and worst films.

The blog has been far more sporadic this year than previously, for various reasons, not least of which was the continuing nightmare for morale of COVID-19. I don’t make any promises that things will improve on the writing front next year, but I do have some hope that normality will ebb back into our lives, and for that reason let us revisit Sorkin Christmas: Part Two.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Roll on Omicron and endemicity.

Any Other Business: Part LXXI

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 10:39 pm

As the title suggests, so forth.

Ladies and gentlemen, to whom it may concern, it’s the Tonight Show

I was recently reading Woody Allen’s Apropos of Nothing and was surprised to find he wrote for Herb Shriner’s TV show. Which I know about purely from a DVD extra showing an episode Orson Welles appeared on that, apart from Welles, had some serious Conan O’Brien vibes – as if America nailed the format in the 1950s and never changed. This started me wondering why nobody ever really attempted that kind of late night comedy talk show here. (Let us not mention Craig Doyle) I mean, besides the obvious – we would run out of guests needed to populate a show every night. Or would we? Suppose you broke apart the Late Late Show, that unwieldy illogical near three hour behemoth, into three shows a week. Put in an opening monologue making fun of the news a la Johnny Carson every night, and then had a guest and a musical slot, maybe some recurring bits, and two long ad breaks. Couldn’t that work in a 50 minute slot?

August 31, 2021

Goodbye to all that

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 10:50 pm
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It has been five months since the Sunday Breakfast Show with Patrick Doyle bowed out after a three year run on Dublin City FM.

I was involved for most of the run as on-air film critic and behind the scenes as contributing writer, cameraman for promo shoots, and on delirious occasion producer.

As with so much else the show changed irrevocably with the coming of the coronavirus, but I think it rose to the technical challenge with some elan.

I shall miss it

April 25, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 8:50 pm

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