Talking Movies

September 25, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 6:46 pm

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September 9, 2018

Notes on The Seagull

The Seagull belatedly swooped into cinemas Friday. Here are some notes on’t, prepared for Dublin City FM’s Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle early this morning.

The impecunious teacher Semyon (Michael Zegen) loves the sullen housekeeper’s daughter Masha (Elisabeth Moss), who loves the temperamental young writer Constantin (Billy Howle), who loves the flighty girl next door Nina (Saoirse Ronan), who loves the cynical famous writer Trigorin (Corey Stoll), who is the lover of the self-absorbed great actress Arkadina (Annette Bening), who had an affair with the dashing doctor Dorn (Jon Tenney), who the downtrodden housekeeper Polina (Mare Winningham) still loves after all these years by the lake. No wonder the master of this chaotic Russian dacha, Sorin (Brian Dennehy), feels that he has never truly lived in his 60 years because he never got married or became a writer but ground away in the government bureaucracy till he had ground himself down. But grinding people down is what life does, as Constantin and Nina painfully discover…

If you can’t steal The Seagull from the role of Masha then you’re not awake. Elisabeth Moss is wide awake.

You get Hoynes/Trump!

It’s been a nostalgic blast watching The West Wing from the start on TG4 this past week. Coming at the exact moment that Bob Woodward’s new book of nasty quotes and the New York Times’ anonymous op-ed painted a picture of the workings of a very different Oval Office it led to disquieting thoughts about Presidents Bartlet, Obama and Trump.

The Ringer recently produced a list of the 100 best TV episodes since 2000. I got the impression reading that one contributor would almost rather say ‘not anti-hero’ than ‘hero’ because if they said hero that would bespeak not being the kind of world-weary sophisticate who writes for The Ringer. This excerpt is fairly characteristic of them:

I don’t disagree about the Bartlet hagiography, but to me that’s almost a charm of the show; in the world of Walter Whites and Hannah Horvaths and the sociopaths of Succession, the idea of the “good guy we’re rooting for” is almost quaint.

But… if the media, especially the unlimited digital ink allowed by the internet, spends its time praising only anti-heroes, difficult men… and the Emmys and Golden Globes go only to shows on cable about anti-heroes, difficult men… and both the media and industry generally deride when they don’t ignore shows  (usually on network, like, say NCIS) that feature principled heroes, can both media and industry (as seen at every awards show) really get up on such a moral high horse when an anti-hero, difficult man becomes the President? If Obama now says Trump is a symptom not the cause, is the media and industry not partially culpable? Did they not prepare the culture to bring forth just that?

Years ago I wrote but never posted a lengthy piece based around a reading of a segment of Obama’s Dreams From My Father and the complaints on BBC of a Hillary Clinton staffer that Obama had had an unfair advantage because pop culture had prepared the way for a black President via Morgan Freeman and Denis Haysbert but there was nobody similarly making straight a path in the wilderness for Hillary. But if Deep Impact and 24 were literally held to have given Obama an advantage then surely The West Wing must have contributed mightily too. During the dark days of Bush Jr’s inarticulate incompetence there was a President who was charming, articulate, intelligent, a university lecturer; he was fictional, but you can’t have everything; and Bush Jr was replaced by a President who was charming, articulate, intelligent, and a university lecturer.

But then after a decade of anti-heroes, difficult men, what do you know but the American public went and elected one of those cultural icons as President – the anti-hero-in-chief. Where could they have got such a weird idea?

Oh, for one of those crassly commercial network notes now! “Can you make President Trump more likeable?”

The Rockford Gambit

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There may be a curious region where satirical ideas are actually more practical than the supposedly practical ideas on offer.

The Rockford Gambit ™ is a short term fix for the housing crisis which Leo Varadkar seems thoroughly uninterested in solving in either the short or long term. We buy everyone a trailer, modelled on the one that Jim Rockford lived in in The Rockford Files; each trailer will come with a cookie jar containing a pop gun. Now everybody that needs one has a roof over their heads, and in minimal time. 20 million Americans live in trailers, so there’s no reason we can’t adopt that lifestyle as a short term solution to an intractable problem. At a cost, converted into Euros, of between 25,925 to 60,500 for the basic model trailer, it is clearly much cheaper than the affordable housing we hear so much about and see so little of.

But that’s only a short term solution. In the long term we need to grasp the nettle, something which no politician has wanted to for these fifty years…

Clearly we need higher density housing. But that nobody really wants to live in that kind of housing. But… what if we take our inspiration from The Donald? Sutherland, not Trump. Who wouldn’t want to live in an apartment like the Tripps in Dirty Sexy Money? But those are not the kind of apartments that get built for regular folk. Well, why not? Conceive of a development of blocks of six storeys, which are effectively three houses stacked on top of each other; as it were. A two storey apartment, another two storey apartment, and a final two storey apartment. Each with their own separate entrance, and a shared green space rounding one side and to the back, to deal with the shadows cast by these six storey blocks. Absolutely imperative is soundproofing so perfect that you could rehearse Beethoven’s 9th in your apartment and your neighbours would have no idea save for the toing and froing of so many people with curious shaped cases to your door. A place of one’s own, a door of one’s own, a patch of green of one’s own, and bob’s your uncle; the resistance to high density housing is killed with creature comforts.

Any Other Business: Part XVIII

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What is one to do with thoughts that are far too long for Twitter but not nearly long enough for a proper blog post? Why round them up and turn them into a eighteenth portmanteau post on media of course!

Catch more flies with honey…

I am not a fan of the hyper-hostile campaign recently run by Dublin councils to encourage people to stop using disposable coffee cups. On the rare occasions I get coffee on the go it’s an impulsive decision, quite often it’s an impulsive decision during the summer to get an iced coffee on the go as I walk a long distance. So here am I, dressed in summer clothes, especially in the summer we just had, walking instead of driving, and being called a dick for impulsively getting an iced coffee to cool down as I complete my odyssey. The solution apparently is to always encumber myself with a man-bag to carry a reusable mug I will rarely ever use. Then I won’t be a dick. I rather think anything that involves using public money to call some people names and encourage other people to turn on them is a bad use of public money. And I am getting rather annoyed at how often I seem to write about such follies. Perhaps the real solution would be to stop being so damn American as we have apparently become in the last twenty years and stop drinking coffee and on the go.

September 2, 2018

The Second Spring

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 10:29 am

July 20, 2018

On the Purity of the Turf: Part IV

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 2:00 pm

Ahem. Like a certain Douglas Adams trilogy, I sheepishly offer a second finale to an already declared finished series.

I enjoyed Putin’s umbrella power play at the World Cup final far more than the match that preceded it.

I find it very hard to stomach that the French were happy to have won in such a corrupt manner. The first goal was cheating, because Antoine Griezmann clearly dived to win a free kick. He was already beginning his fall before his trailing leg managed to clip a Croatian to provide the casus belli. As if that wasn’t enough a French player was offside when the damn free was taken. Yet the referee and the vaunted VAR had nothing to say about this. The second goal shouldn’t have been a penalty. And then with an advantage gained from cheating the French sat back and did nothing.  At the 80 minute mark you could witness the disgraceful disillusioning spectacle of all 11 French players standing in their own half. Determined to defend to the death their ill-found lead.

July 15, 2018

On the Purity of the Turf: Part III

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 1:12 pm

One final entry in an unexpected series.

Please let Croatia beat France today for the sake of the game.

The behaviour of the French players during the last minutes of their semi-final against Belgium can only be described in words like pathetic, craven, and despicable. Mbappe was perhaps the worst offender, as he has been cheating for most of the tournament, despite his speed and skill. And that’s the kicker, why in the hell do these players spend so much time cheating when they don’t need to?

July 13, 2018

D

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 2:52 pm

July 8, 2018

On the Purity of the Turf: Part II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 9:20 pm

Ronaldo is gone, Suarez is gone, and last but not least Neymar is gone. And good riddance to his cheating.

It was disheartening to see a pundit on CNN and a writer for The Atlantic both defending the grotesque cheating of the Brazilian striker. It’s disheartening writing this piece and consciously deploying no euphemisms but the simple factual description each time. Neymar cheated, constantly, consistently, and with a twinkle in his eye at what a fine fellow he was for getting away with all this cheating. Who exactly does such behaviour benefit?

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