Talking Movies

February 24, 2018

Any Other Business: Part XIV

What is one to do with thoughts that are too long for Twitter but too short for a proper blog post? Why round them up and turn them into a fourteenth portmanteau post of course!

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Hair today, gone out of style tomorrow

2016 saw me asking everybody what the name of the haircut that everybody under the age of 25 was seemingly legally obliged to have was. Nobody seemed to know. Eventually I got sick of not knowing what it was called and decided to name it myself, the Snowflake; appropriate for the generation that was sporting it. Well it turns out my name was a damn sight better than the ‘official’ name, because this week a school in England banned the style and had to name it to shame it. They called it the ‘Meet me at McDonald’s’. … I think The Snowflake is an infinitely better name. The curious thing about the Snowflake is not that it is a ridiculous hairstyle, but that it is so obviously a ridiculous hairstyle. There are certain styles that date and certain styles that do not. Bell bottoms dated, shoulder pads dated. But if you want to laugh at a Sixties suit it would be hard to do, because you’d have to pin down what defined a 60s suit, and if you have to think about it you can’t laugh at it. So with hairstyles, the more outré the style the worse it will date. The 70s perms and 80s mullets dated far worse than the 90s curtains because it was possible to do the curtain with some subtlety. It is not possible to a Snowflake with subtlety. At 00:01 1/1/2020 the generation which has taken an unprecedented number of self-portraits will shudder at how ‘last decade’ their hair looks in all of them, but it is incredibly dated right now because of its omnipresence and absurdity, and everybody who doesn’t have it can see that fact. We’re just waiting for them to.

mfh_fur_winter_cap_black_1_AMAZSeasonal Clothes for the wrong season

As we await with mingled amusement and trepidation the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’, itself almost another piece on the deliberate decline of journalistic formality, it was interesting to see the huge amount of hats and scarves being sported at Lansdowne Road today. While the poor rugby players ran about in shorts the spectators huddled together for warmth. And it’s going to get colder, much colder… Yet if you walk into Dundrum Town Centre right now and mooch through Penneys or M & S you won’t find woolly hats and rugged scarves, oh no. You will find shorts, bikinis, polo shirts, and sun-hats. Because the clothes on sale in our shops have changed seasons, as always, well in advance of the actual weather. We are about to hit the coldest stretch of the winter and the clothes offered for sale at this moment will be wearable in high summer. I need a practising economist to explain to me how this makes sense – do people really buy their wardrobes that far in advance? – doesn’t anybody suddenly need a new scarf or a heavier hat in February or March when it snows after the shops have shifted seasons? – do the shops not take a commercial beating selling clothes that won’t be needed for another five months? What’s going on, in short, and why does this happen season after season?

Emergency services are the last refuge of the scoundrel

Cinema is the last bastion of advertisements, because you can’t skip them or escape them, and boy does that lead to some punishment. I have sat too many times now thru a PSA about how emergency services won’t be able to find you, you will die, you hear, die, if you don’t use your Eircode; because an ambulance will be fruitlessly roaming rural Ireland trying to find you. I will never use my Eircode. I don’t even know what it is. And I know that this choice will not lead to my death. If people were really dying because ambulances couldn’t find them, why didn’t they lead with that when Eircodes were first being proposed? The minister couldn’t support this assertion with any facts in 2016, and yet we still are suffering thru these preposterous claims! Eircodes are an unnecessary imposition, useful for and desired by businesses for the purpose of junkmail, nothing else. We don’t need postcodes because technology advanced beyond that point before we thought about introducing them. For heaven’s sake, look at the ridiculous addresses people write that somehow, despite eschewing Eircodes, still get delivered. Remember when Phantom and other pirates were forcibly taken off air in 2003? Remember how McDowell thundered his latest killjoy antics were necessary because those stations were interfering with emergency services? Remember how not long after mobile phone companies offered next generation services not interfering with emergency services? Yeah. Emergency services are the last refuge of the scoundrel.

October 16, 2017

King Lear

The Mill Theatre returns to the Shakespearean well in autumn once again with a spirited production of Shakespeare’s bleakest tragedy.

Lear (Philip Judge) has decided to divide his kingdom between his three daughters. But, while sycophantic siblings Goneril (Sharon McCoy) and Regan (Maureen O’Connell) flatter him to get their rightful shares, his truth-telling daughter Cordelia (Clodagh Mooney Duggan) refuses to lie or exaggerate, enraging the vain Lear; and her share is thus split between her sisters’ husbands Cornwall (Fiach Kunz) and Albany (Damien Devaney). Cordelia leaves England sans dowry to become the Queen of France, and the steadfast courtier Kent (Matthew O’Brien) is banished for taking her part in the quarrel. He ‘disguises’ himself to serve Lear, while the scheming bastard Edmund (Michael David McKernan) uses the fraught situation to eliminate his legitimate brother Edgar (Tom Moran) from the line of succession to Gloucester (Damien Devaney again); exploiting the political chaos that Lear’s wise Fool (Clodagh Mooney Duggan again) foresaw…

There is a certain Game of Thrones vibe to this production, from Kent’s ‘disguise’ being a Yorkshire swagger, through the furry ruff of Lear’s greatcoat, to the stylised throne amidst three massive complicated spikes making a crown that dominates Gerard Bourke’s set design. This delivers an unexpected visual payoff when near the finale the villainous Edmund sits on the throne to lean on his sword; so close to possessing absolute power… Comparisons to Selina Cartmell’s 2013 Abbey production are inevitable as that trafficked in medieval visuals, but this production is considerably less expansive; no galleries and wolfhounds here. Director Geoff O’Keefe, however, avoids the muddled paganism Cartmell attempted. But, in a play already replete with disguises, he has doubled a number of parts; most startlingly Cordelia and the Fool being the same actress. That bold choice pays off, as do most of the doublings, though there is one silly wig.

O’Keefe doesn’t quite achieve anything as revelatory as Neill Fleming’s Claudius in last year’s Hamlet, but he adds interesting notes to multiple characters. The Fool is the apex of an uncommon commitment to the bawdiness of the play, and when CMD returns as Cordelia she holds a sword almost as a signal that she has been hardened by her exile; which makes her reunion with the mad Lear, when he finally recognises her, all the more tear-jerking. McCoy’s Goneril is more nuanced than the pantomime villain oft presented, her glances at Regan and Cordelia in the opening scene suggest a panicked resort to flattery and encouragement to her sisters to do likewise to humour a mad old man. O’Keefe perhaps overeggs her late asides to the audience being spot-lit, but McCoy grows into villainy impressively; aided by O’Connell’s novel rendering of Regan as daffy malice, and McKernan bringing out the black comedy of their love triangle as an Edmund cut from Richard III’s gloating cloth.

Judge is a notably conversational Lear in his ‘fast intent’ speech; his decision already made there is no need for pomp or majesty. This is a king in flight from majesty. Whereas previous Lears that I have seen, Owen Roe and Gerard Adlum, favoured camp notes for their madness, Judge’s Lear is childish; running, hiding behind benches, playing games with imaginary friends. His retreat from responsibility while wishing to still enjoy kingship is after all a retreat to childishness, and his shocking spit on Goneril is of a part with the spite of children. The madness on the heath is wonderfully achieved with Kris Mooney’s blue lights raking the audience while Declan Brennan’s sound effects swirl queasily. Judge’s descent into second childhood is expressed through sudden rage that almost outstrips language, perhaps the impulse for the sound design of screeching animals between scenes. In support Tom Ronayne is wonderful comic relief as a put upon servant, fussing over benches and defending himself with a cloth.

This is a fine production that has a number of interesting interpretations, and succeeds in pulling off the extreme ending which still remains the ultimate kick in the guts.

3.5/5

King Lear continues its run at the Mill Theatre until the 28th of October.

June 2, 2011

The First Saturday Book Club

I thought I’d drop in a plug here for a radio appearance I’m making this weekend.

Regular readers will have noticed my fellow academic Graham Price providing a final thought in my theatre reviews of The Silver Tassie and The Cripple of Inishmaan. Well now I’m following in his footsteps by appearing on Dublin South FM’s The First Saturday Book Club. The show will be broadcast from Dundrum Town Centre this Saturday June 4th at 12:30pm. A critical mass of ex-University Observer writers will be present given that I’ll be joined by editor emeritus Sorcha Nic Mhathuna and that the show is hosted by Eve Rowan.

The book under discussion this month is One Day by David Nicholls. BBC scriptwriter Nicholls previously wrote the novel Starter for Ten, and then the screenplay of its film adaptation, and One Day starts off similarly as a class conscious romantic comedy in the late 1980s focused on the intense friendship between two recent graduates Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, before it develops into something a good deal more ambitious. The story of Dexter and Emma becomes nothing less than the story of Britain itself in the last 20 years.

The gimmick blazoned on the title ‘Twenty Years. Two People. One Day’ refers to Nicolls’ audacious decision to surf in and out of the lives of this odd couple by focusing on them for only one day of each year, and always the same day; St Swithin’s Day, the day they graduated and finally talked to each other. Does this technique work, or does it become contrived? Can an unrequited platonic love story really handle being burdened with the symbolic significance of representing a nation’s recent social and political history?

Well, if you want to hear what we all made of the book, tune in to 93.9FM, or listen to the podcast later at http://dublinsouthfm.ie/shows/95/The-First-Saturday-Book-Club.

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