Let's talk about death, BA-BY!

“After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 1997.

I sensed the white, freezing feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach before the thought even entered my head. Initially, I put it down to the combination of chocolate, popcorn and coke zero as I stared up at the images dancing on the cinema screen. I had a tendency to overeat at the cinema. I had a tendency to overeat wherever I went. As I wondered whether a trip to the bathroom was imminent and I deliberated whether I should leave there and then or wait till the end of the scene, a little voice, my inner monologue, piped up and sent chills down my spine.
“You’re going to die someday…you’re going to be dead and cold in the ground and you won’t exist anymore. OK, enjoy the rest of your movie!”
Almost as soon as it entered my mind it was gone. I settled back into the movie and yes, I did enjoy it. I can’t remember what I watched but it was funny and had a happy ending. However, for those ten or so seconds where I realised my own mortality, I was in a state of dreaded fear. But still, it passed and I moved on and it didn’t affect my life.

However, this intrusive thought has not really gone away. It is by no means constant and as I said, it does not affect my life; it is there, though, in the back of my mind somedays. It has grown legs too, including my family and loved ones in its dark encapsulation of my biggest fear; DEATH! Death will come for us all and leaves no one behind. There is no point running for you will only be out of breath when the end comes. So, instead, live your life to its fullest and accept that while death is inevitable, you decide what you do with your time here.
I wish I could accept that and live by my own rules.

Image result for the grim reaper

I have started listening to the Blindboy Podcast a lot recently. It took me a few goes to get into as I was starting at whatever the most recent podcast was and was probably daunted by the sheer amount of content online. Third time’s the charm, I started from the start, as mathematicians so intended, (Praise be to maths) and I am hooked. While I don’t agree with everything that he says I do enjoy the podcasts and as a fan of the RubberBandits and their music, I am a fan of Blindboy and his hot takes.
I was listening to a podcast today from April or May in 2018. You never really know what you’re in for with his podcasts, and death found its way in to this one. He was talking about older people enjoying things like comic book movie and how people aren’t really grown up until their mid 30s. He said that part of life and growing up into a proper, responsible adult is accepting that death is inevitable. We are all going to die someday. While I don’t agree with his thoughts on people who enjoy things like comic book movies being real adults, he was not saying it in a malicious way. I do agree that death is inevitable and I have accepted that but sometimes that little voice pipes back up and reminds me that my family and friends won’t be around some day, and neither will I.

I don’t know if it is the fact that I’ve never lost anyone extremely close to me before their time or if I am going through some sort of existential crisis, but I think one of these two factors outisde of my control are contributing to these thoughts. I don’t want to alarm anyone either! This post is not meant to worry anyone because as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen that regularly and it doesn’t affect my day to day life. I don’t shuffle around the place, hugging the corners of buildings and crawling down the road in my car for fear of the hooded reaper slamming on the breaks and collecting my soul. I don’t worry about my family and friends and girlfriend every minute of the day and bombard them with texts about their health. I text them to make sure they are worried about me and if I’m eating properly because I’m precious! Seriously, though, everyone gets intrusive thoughts sometimes. As I have no significant mental health problems I can brush them aside and decide to live and breathe and enjoy. For others, it is not so easy.
Be kind, always.

Image result for helping hand

How do you deal with death and the thoughts of our own mortality? Let me know in the comment section if you like! Also, I’m always open for people who need to talk or vent ✌

The Gentlemen

Title: The Gentlemen
Director: Guy Ritchie
Genre: Gangster, Comedy, Violent thriller.
Main Cast: Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Matthew McConaughey, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong.
Runtime: 113 mins.
IMDb rating: 8.1/10.
My rating: 9/10.
Quick summary: A typical Guy Ritchie flick with an all star cast. Matthew McConaughey is the drug lord in danger of losing it all when a suspicious American, a violent rival and an unpredictable Irishman put multiple spanners in all of his works.

Colin Farrell and Charlie Hunnam in The Gentlemen (2019)
Colin Farrell and Charlie Hunnam up to nefarious deeds

Plot

Mickey Pearson is trying to leave his dirty, violent underworld life behind him and go legit. However, selling his vast empire to the mysterious and eccentric Matthew (Strong) proves to be much more dangerous and treacherous than he first envisioned. While he battles with an up and coming rival Dry Eye (Golding), tries to figure out his new business partner’s motives and protect his wife Rosalind (Dockery), Pearson is risking everything he holds dear to start a new life with a clean conscience. Does blood stain consciences like a white shirt or does it come straight off?

McConaughey gives Henry Golding the what for in a meeting

Verdict

I am obviously a fan of Ritchie’s earlier films like Snatch and Lock, Stock. This is a film in the same vein. If you didn’t know who the director was going into the movie you would soon know it was the master of dialogue himself. This film is full of Guy Ritchie’s trademark twists and turns and last gasp escapes. The writing is superb and full of the Cockney humour we know and love. The very first scene paints a story in our minds and we digest each scene with that ending embedded in our brains. When that turns out to be a red herring and the story is turned on its head we fully appreciate the mastery of the director.

A movie like this with a high number of high profile actors and considerable talent could fall into the trap of trying to get everyone on screen as much as possible. This film doesn’t fall foul of this trope. Every main character gets to make a lasting impression on the audience. Matthew McConaughey is charismatic and dark as the main hero/villain; Colin Farrell returns to type as a fast-talkin’ Irish boxing coach with a penchant for violence; and Henry Golding surprised me with how well he played the smarmy and angry rival. I had grown used to seeing him in rom coms or dramedies but he was good here.
Hugh Grant was hilarious as the untrustworthy narrator. His role obviously throws up the conundrum of whether we can even trust his version of events? Granted, Charlie Hunnam does catch him leaving a producers office at the very end and locks him in a cab with the obvious intention of driving him somewhere to beat him silly, but the fact remains that we don’t know what is true and what is not. Nonetheless, the events are enjoyable and fantastical and make for great cinema.

Hugh Grant spins elaborate yarns as a cheeky Cockney

There is a distinct lack of female representation in Gentlemen. Michelle Dockery plays Pearson’s wife, Rosalind. Dockery is a fantastic actress and is sparsely used in this film, only really as an object for Pearson to save from rape and death. It is a shame that her actual acting skills aren’t used more. It is also a shame that she is really the only main female character throughout. There is no other female character that moves the story along. Sure, there are women who need saving and wives of other characters but only one solid female character. It was a bit disappointing.

Michelle Dockery stands by her man

Overall, this film was tremendously enjoyable. The action and comedy blended together well but the lack of diversity in the cast was noticeable. If it is still in cinemas near you then definitely check it out!

Bombshell

Title: Bombshell
Director: Jay Roach
Genre: True Story, Dramatisation, Comedy, Sexual Assault
Main Cast: Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, John Lithgow.
Runtime: 109 mins.
IMDb rating: 6.8/10.
My rating: 6/10.
Quick summary: How much must women put up with everyday before they have enough? Before they’re called names and labelled ‘sensitive’ for simply not wanting to put up with male sexual harassment anymore? How much are people willing to lose financially and personally in order to keep their jobs and save face? Step inside Fox News circa 2015 and find out.

Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon

Plot

It would be remiss of me to say that I knew the details of this story. Of course, it can unfortunately be assumed that America’s right-leaning news network might not have the best record when it comes to treating their female employees fairly and properly. This story tells the tale of the bravery of Gretchen Carlson (Kidman), Megyn Kelly (Theron) and fictional character Kayla Pospisil (Robbie), and how they took a stand against the seedy and powerful Roger Ailes (Lithgow). Gretchen Carlson, after being fired, sues Roger Ailes and the Fox Network for sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. We follow Megyn Kelly and her struggles with picking a side while battling a feud with Donald Trump and his fans, and Kayla as she discovers what Ailes is really like behind closed doors.

John Lithgow as Roger Ailes

Verdict

I feel like this was an important film. It brought a crusade by powerful women who had been unsuccessfully kept quiet to an international audience. Despite what some Americans might think, the rest of the world doesn’t know the exact ins and outs of everything that’s going on in the United States. I was amazed, though, that I hadn’t heard of this story. Maybe I am not as clued in as I thought.
I enjoyed this movie. Enjoyed is possibly a weird word to use given the subject matter. I was gripped by this movie, let’s say. I had heard of Kelly and Carlson. I know who Rupert Murdoch is and had heard Ailes’ name associated with Trump before. I suppose I had a general interest in the movie before knowing the story.
It was shot well, giving the impression that we were in the busy newsrooms with these people as the camera swung wildly around the more frantic the story became.

Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson

As far as individual performances go I just have to commend Charlize Theron on being one of the best actors around right now. She is believable in every single role she takes on, including this one. I saw her in Longshot and Tully most recently and she was equally brilliant in both. She can do action, comedy, drama and romance with no problems flitting between the genres with ease.
We don’t actually see much of Nicole Kidman but her performance in the latter parts of the movie is superb. She plays the angry, broken and hurt Carlson so very well, shedding a tear at her pyrrhic victory.
John Lithgow must have borrowed from his portrayal of Churchill in The Crown because he was just as boorish and misogynistic in this role. He exudes sleaze and the scene in which he forces Margot Robbie to hike up her skirt gave me chills.

Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly

As I said before, I enjoyed this movie. I think that I liked it for the individual performances rather than the actual storytelling. I feel that because the three leads command such respect and contain so much talent in themselves, we spent too much time flitting between the three characters. In this case, despite her story being resolved, Gretchen Carlson’s tale and part in the story and the wider implications of the story was left behind a bit in favour of Megyn Kelly and Kayla Pospisil.
This will be a big hit on Sky Cinema and whatever other broadcaster will give it airtime. It portrays a hopeful ending and a bright future for Kayla (Robbie), but unfortunately that hasn’t really transformed itself into truth in real life. Should that affect my rating of the movie? Probably not, but unfortunately it did.

The Three Amigos

Brain Fart

Lads…I had the biggest brainfart of my life this morning. I was driving down the road, going a slightly different route than I would normally take because I was picking someone up for work. Nevertheless, I have driven this road countless times in the past. In the recent past, mind. I passed under the One Eye Bridge, turned the bend and a car was stopped in the middle of the road. A truck was stopped on the other side of the road with a big line of traffic behind it. I wondered what they were all doing? How did so many cars break down at once??
As I indicated out and overtook these buffoons I locked eyes with the woman in the stationary car. Her eyes bored into mine with a mixture of confusion and anger. I mirrored her gaze. What wa she looking at? I indicated back in and continued on down the road, only concerned with making my way into town to pick up my co-worker. I noticed angry faces glowering at me as I slowly, mockingly rolled by them. It was only as I turned the next bend and faced the roundabout that I realised my monumental howler. To those people it looked like I was the meanest See You Next Tuesday in the world who flouted basic morality and road-formalities whenever I felt like it. Little did they know that all sense left my body and instead of seeing a woman letting a long line of traffic make its way from behind a parked truck, I saw people too indecisive to drive their cars and said I better drive myself or I’d be late. And you know what? I’d feckin’ do it again! Let them rot!*

Have you ever had a moment where you messed up like this? Have you ever wanted to let those people know that you’re actually not an asshole?; You’re just a little bit slow on the uptake in the mornings like me?

*I deeply apologise to all involved. Especially the woman who I fear might have her mouth permanently stuck like that after witnessing my jaw-dropping arrogance.

Prague

Apologies for the brief hiatus, guys. I was on holidays in the beautiful city of Prague, as can be seen from my well thought out title. Please have a quick read of what I got up to on my travels. First trip of 2020 was a success and I’m back to write more shite. I missed ye all, my lovely word-readers.

Hotel Pariz in Prague, near Old Town square

Prague was somewhere that I did not know much about. I had seen it in the most recent Marvel movie; Spiderman: Far From Home is one of my favourite instalments in the franchise. I had briefly looked at it as a possible holiday destination before but had never cared about travelling there on my own or with anyone. As luck would have it, Lastminute.com had an unbelievable deal for two people for three nights for extremely cheap. Both flights and accommodation were included so myself and K decided we would have our first holiday together in the Czech capital.
After talking to people who had been there and spent a similar amount of time in the city, we felt that we had enough time to get some culture in, drink some cocktails and fill ourselves with lovely food.

Food

There was no shortage of restaurants, cafés and eateries in Prague. Little coffee shops were on every streets. The local dessert, a chimney roll, was supplied in multiple shops on the major streets once you cross Charles Bridge. You could get the sugared roll filled with chocolate sauce as well as ice-cream, but K and I preferred it with plain old diabetes inducing warm chocolate liquid.
There were several pizza places and kebab shops near our hotel but these looked unclean and unappetising. The restaurants in the city centre were much more appealing, albeit a lot more expensive. Bear in mind, though, that that expensiveness is still relatively cheap compared to Ireland, America or wherever you come from.
We ate local the first night in a bar called U Kurelu. The beer was unreal and my burger was fantastic. The disco fries were insane and K’s burrito was also good. The service was exceptional, which also goes for everywhere we ate in the city. After two mains, a starter and five or six beers we only paid the equivalent of about €40 – including tip!

Me drinking a local delicacy called a ‘cocktail’. Very new and weird to me and not at all familiar

Our second night we treated ourselves to an Italian spot, Pepenero, in an upmarket part of town. Once again the meal was relatively cheap and the food was superb. The service was great and we felt like it was a young person’s city. In fact, it was a city for all ages, but especially for those in love and full of life.
After trekking all over the city once again we went for something easier on our final day. There is a shopping mall with five floors and over 200 shops just outside the old town square near Broadway. The top floor is a food hall with so many different cuisines that it was hard to choose. We eventually settled on a sushi place where it was all you can eat and the food comes on a little carousel while you sit and pluck out what you want. While I may not have eaten much Czech food, I did try a lot of new things. Maybe Japan will be on the cards?

Drink

Prague is also full of pubs, cocktail bars and clubs. The clubs looked a little seedy for us but we made great use of the pubs and bars. We are both fond of the odd cocktail so Prague was our heaven. Our first stop was Bukowski’s bar. It seemed really cool inside and the drinks were good and coming fast. We would have been content to go there for the three days but it only got better from there.

Hemingway’s absinthe cocktail! Knocked my socks off 😳

I found a place on Google Maps called Hemingway’s Bar. It was a specialty cocktail bar that put thought, care and precision into their drinks. Each drink had a distinct taste, explanation and unique glass.

There is a vodka based cocktail inside this little man!

I can’t remember our server’s name but she was lovely and really cared about whether we enjoyed our drinks. We went to a few other bars where the beer was good but nowhere will compare to Hemingway’s. Although it was the most expensive of the lot!

History

Prague relies on tourism to fuel their economy. They have a beautiful city rife with history, oppression and suffering. We didn’t see much of the recent side of history, unfortunately. I think whenever we go back that we will take more of a look at the recent history of the Czech capital. However, the medieval history of the cobbled city was beautiful. We took a tour around Prague Castle and all of the many magnificent buildings inside the grounds. We strolled along the Golden Lane and saw the house where Franz Kafka wrote some of his works.

Charles Bridge in the distance

We strolled around the Old Town square and walked the city streets. We crossed the Charles Bridge and explored that side of the city. We also saw the John Lennon wall. Both the Charles Bridge and John Lennon wall were awash with tourists and crowded. I hate to say it but it took the gleam off it for me and I wasn’t too bothered with either landmark.
We took a tour around the Klementinum library, seeing a codex worth €40,000,000 and an astrological tower used for telling the time for the whole of Prague. It was very interesting. The city gave off these ancient vibes from the cobbled streets. Some parts of the city seemed like they were pulled straight from the Soviet era while others were hip and modern. It was conflicting. I don’t know much about the place but it seemed to me that there was a great divide between the wealthy and the poor.

An ancient war hero and his cannon on Golden Lane

Overall

I would definitely recommend Prague for a short city break. It is a bit of an oxymoron in that it is a quiet enough city that is full of tourists. It is possible to get lost there in the cobbles and the side streets and suddenly emerge onto the bustling Charles Bridge or find a busy bar. Perhaps my eyes were glued to my girlfriend the whole time and my mind was closed to any outside sound or distraction. The whole world could be buzzing around me and I would only hear her. Prague was great, but it was made better by being there with K.

All wrapped up

Must see sights in Cork

I have written some lovely descriptive pieces about the beauty in the hills of Kerry and the rugged charm of Sugarloaf, all the while forgetting some of the lovely places that I’ve been in Cork. Come to the real capital of Éire and the actual European capital of culture 2005 and feast your eyes on the glorious nature of the Rebel County.

Old Head Kinsale

Old Head Kinsale sounds like the name of an auld lad that’s been on the same stool in the same bar for decades, supping away at the dregs of a pint of Guinness and pawing at the greasy end of a bag of bacon fries. In reality it’s a magnificent, jutting piece of rock that looks like it was carved from a giant’s side. An absolutely stunning view awaits you across the Atlantic, seagulls dotting the horizon and occasionally stealing closer to see if you have any food. One time, my buddy Dave brought his pasta with him in a lunchbox ‘coz he’s a healthy boy and the seagulls nearly converged on us as we sat on a rock.
Steeped in ancient history, passing hands from the original settlers to the Vikings and to the Normans, there is a golf link behind the tower at the entrance. Dún Cearna is now a tourist spot and probably my favourite viewpoint in all of Ireland. It genuinely feels like you’re on the edge of the world and that you’re about to start off on a great adventure like the many great warriors that settled there of old.
Stop into Kinsale town on the way back home for some quality seafood and a nice, friendly vibe.

The edge of the void

Inchydoney beach

Lcated outside Clonakilty, this beach is picture-perfect. While myself and the friends found it hard to actually fin our way onto the beach from the car without a ten-foot drop, it was worth the journey. We looked so out of place with our high-brow fashion and multicultural garments, intimidating the locals as we walked by in a haze of arrogance that only people from closer to the city could muster. It was as far west as any of us would ever go again…

Follow me on Insta hunz xo

Farran woods

Come with me now to the magical wood of Farran, almost halfway between the two dreaded lands of Macroom and Balincollig. Most places that I don’t like or loathe in Cork are in my bad books as a result of fights in underage G.A.A. I need to let this stuff go. I made the pilgrimage to Farran Woods and feel cleansed again. Perhaps one day I may set foot in each revolting town once more.

Oh deer!

Spike Island

Ireland’s Alcatraz has an eventful history. It passed from Irish hands to Normans, from the Normans to the English after the Act of Union in 1800 and then finally back into Irish control after the Bunreacht na hÉireann in 1938. It was then used as a prison until 2004 while the prison guards and some civilians actually lived on the island. The famous riot of 1985 should be known to all viewers of Reeling in the Years, where prisoners escaped and made camp on the roof of what is now known as the Burnt Block.
The island now hosts tours of the old facilities. Myself and K did one there at the end of last year and it is really interesting. They also host horror movie nights and events for horror movies. We attended one where several famous Irish and English actors, producers and casting directors answered questions. We then watched Dog Soldiers, a cult horror classic. Get online and book a tour, you’ll enjoy it.
Unfortunately, Cobh is another town that I don’t like becasue of G.A.A. and I had to drive into the town and spend a bit of time walking through it. A hellish place, so just bear that in mind when you’re making your decision.

One of the prison guards and I making up after I shanked him on the way to dinner yday evening. It’s a dog eat dog world behind bars but at the end of the day, we’re family.

Fota

Despite this fine establishment residing just outside the dark hole that is Cobh, this zoo is definitely the best in Ireland. The walk around is beautiful and while you are separated safely from the animals, seeing the creatures so close is unreal. The restaurant is standard enough and there were some construction going on around the lemur enclosure that made the place look like an Eastern-European slum. The lemurs had gained the clarity to rob cigarettes and wallets from visitors. They had begun a bartering system and had even held some kids captive. They ran the zoo that day with an iron fist. Other than that, though, it remains a family friendly and enjoyable walk around the grounds.

Lady Bantry’s Lookout

This steep walk, similar to my recent trek up the Cardiac Steps, has one of the best views I’ve ever seen. Just outside, you guessed it, Bantry, thestory goes that Lady Bantry, wife of an Earl, had muscular Irish men carry her up the steep climb as she was in a wheelchair. Goddamn Brits making us do humiliating things for them.

I must confess a sin and say that I have actually never been to Gougane Barra or Mizen Head. Otherwise they would definitely be on this list. Please let me know if you would like to know more about Ireland’s glorious nature and various walks and hikes. Or if you think i missed out on any of the Rebel County’s must-se sights, drop me a message or give me a follow and enjoy my fantasies and reviews of Éire.

Too Far

What happened last night was sick. The reaction on Twitter was even sicker. Ed Woodward’s Cheshire home was targeted by between twenty and thirty Manchester United ‘fans’, who lit flares and let them off in the direction of the home. Luckily, no one was home. Despite what you think of the job he is doing as executive vice-chairman of United, and he is doing a woeful one, it is beyond malicious and evil to attack his home in such a way.
Woodward is married with two young daughters. Twins. What might have happened if he or his wife were home and opened the door to see the commotion and received a flare into the face or into their home where it could have caused more damage? Would those fans have been happy if Woodward or his loved ones received physical harm or life-changing injuries? Unfortunately, probably.

Recently, at Old Trafford, chants have been sung around the ground calling for the Glazers and Woodward to be put into a burning bonfire. The snapchat video that the perpetrators stupidly uploaded had the caption, ‘Ed Woodwards gonna die.’ While it is perfectly fine to be riled up and sing chants about the demise of the succubus of a once great club, to actually go to his home and try and spread terror and cause harm is beyond the pale.

Manchester United released a statement condemning the attack along with a host of sports journalists. The sick reaction came from United ‘fan’ accounts run by xenophobes, bigots and guys looking for reactions. All of us United fans know who these accounts are so I don’t need to name names but I have reported several accounts and will do more later. They have lamented the fact that no actual harm came to Woodward and his family. These fans from far corners of the world and dark corners of the web, along with those thugs from Manchester, will never be true fans of the club. If they think it is bad now, what would they have done when City relegated us in 1973? When a former Manchester United hero scored the winning goal with a backheel? They wouldn’t have done anything because they wouldn’t be fans of a club in the bottom half of the table.

If United continue to fall, which I don’t think will happen, these fans will be gone. Hopefully, though, they will be found by the club and the authorities and banned for life. They took the stance against our vile owners too far. Now the sympathy is in their court instead of the suffering fans. Thanks for that.

Why Would you say That??

People all around Ireland must surely be wondering the above when it comes to Catherine Noone today. Anyone with an ounce of human compassion, morality or even a bit of sense will be scratching their heads and wondering how someone could be so callous. Especially if that person was a running mate of the person they commented about in a general election before. At the same time, Fine Gael candidates, ministers and senators would be bewildered as to why the senator would say such sensitive and disrespectful things after such recent FG scandals like last year’s swing incident as well as Verona Murphy’s disparaging remarks regarding immigrants.

I am of course talking about Senator Noone’s comments about our Taoiseach, Leo Varadker. She labeled him, “Autistic”, and that he was on the spectrum. She doubled down on her statements saying she did not mean it literally but that it was used to indicate that he was a bit wooden. She even went as far as to liken the offensive slur to the N-word, a slur used to negatively describe and belittle people of colour, as something that could be taken out of context. It beggars belief that she even continued speaking after digging herself this hole.

Ms. Noone has apologized for her comments and has said she will be making no further comment. Health Minister Simon Harris has denounced the comments, as has his brother Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, a charity dedicated to helping those with Autism and the people they rely on, in 2013. With the condition affecting one in every 100 people in Ireland, as of April 2018 and when a condition which affects so many people in such a small country, and one which is debilitating and strains the affected person’s life and their loved ones so drastically, why would Ms. Noone say such a thing?

It all boils down to the arrogance that these people possess. They genuinely believe that what they say and do will not bear any consequence in the future. Maria Bailey’s swing and insurance circus; Verona Murphy’s racism; and Catherine Noone’s recent comments. I really don’t want anyone to think that I am focusing on the despicable Fine Gael female candidates here. Eoghan Murphy is the most out of touch politician I have ever seen. He gave a recent interview to Joe.Ie with fantastic journalist Ellen Coyne where he talked about how difficult it was to get a house in Dublin. He was housing minister at the time.
Leo Varadkar recently opened up about his own triumphs and tribulations regarding the housing situation, letting us know how happy he was when he bought his first house at the age of 24. There are only two types of people who can buy a house at 24 in this day and age; the obscenely wealthy or someone who has discovered a time machine and has traveled back to the ’60s.
Shane Ross is another who shows how out of touch he is every chance he gets. After letting John Delaney run the most corrupt ship going since the Black Pearl into the ground, he posted a totally out of touch Christmas post in which he was ‘cooking’ the FAI’s goose. He paid little heed to the plights of the ordinary staff at the FAI who didn’t know whether they would have jobs come the New Year or not.

The bottom line is that the party who are supposed to have our vested interests at heart, who are supposed to be leading this country through a turbulent period, do not give much of a shit about us. Rents are rising, there are people literally dying in the street, crime is going up and public morale is going down. Get these people out of office so that the next time they make a public gaffe and apologize for it the next day we can laugh and rejoice that they aren’t the ruling party. Now, the laughter is that of a people repressed and growing used to it. Let’s make a change on February 8th.

1917

Title: 1917
Director: Sam Mendes
Genre: Drama, Action, War, Historical.
Main Cast: Dean Charles Chapman, George MacKay.
Runtime: 119 mins.
IMDb rating: 8.5/10.
My rating: 8.5/10.
Quick summary: Two soldiers are entrusted with a vital mission to save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers. Traversing across No Mans Land, German-occupied cities and harsh conditions, the brothers in arms must rely on each other and themselves to stop a catastrophic ambush in war-torn France.

Plot

Lance Corporals Blake (Chapman) and Schofield (McKay) are given a mission that could save thousands of lives. Blake’s brother is part of a force that are advancing on retreating Germans. What the older Blake brother doesn’t know, along with over one thousand other men, is that the Germans are feigning this retreat and plan on decimating the English forces. The two soldiers are ensured that the German occupied trenches on the other side of No Mans Land are deserted and, reluctantly on Schofield’s part, head on their treacherous journey.
What follows is almost two hours of intense, dramatic cinema. We follow the two soldiers on their descent into hell and chaos as they battle booby-traps, desperate Germans, waterfalls and hails of bullets as they struggle to get their message to the right people in time.

Verdict

This is truly edge-of-your-seat, handrail-gripping cinema. From the moment our two heroes set out on their ill-fated journey your heart begins to pound in your ear as the actors, the soundtrack and the audience have fallen quiet. Even in the louder action scenes towards the end of the movie you can still hear the THUMP THUMP against your chest. When Blake and Schofield are caught in a bomb blast in the bowels of a German trench you would be forgiven or thinking that this was the end of our soldiers. This is a bleak movie and although it has a somewhat happy ending, you may still feel hollow and drained walking out of the theatre. It is wonderfully shot and the locations for the production were beautiful against the dark setting.

Chapan (left) and MacKay

Chapman is best known for his role as Tommen on Game of Thrones. He still has a boyish innocence about him, making his performance that more real as he talks of home and plans for the future despite the hopelessness of his situation.
MacKay is someone who I have known to be in a number of interesting films. I just haven’t seen any of them. After this film, though, I will be looking out for him in any future or past work. He plays the traumatised Schofield incredibly well. Both numbed by war but horrified by death, Schofield’s blank stare and unbreakable will keep you invested in this story and as I said before, on the edge of your seat.

Te screen time is taken up mainly by the two young stars but the film boasts a star-studded supporting cast. Colin Firth plays the general who thrusts the mission on the two corporals. Mark Strong cameos as a general who assists Schofield after a tragic encounter with a fallen German pilot. Benedict Cumberbatch features as the trigger-happy general in charge of the doomed attack, incensed with rage at Schofield’s message of withdrawal. Richard Madden, another Thrones alum plays Blake’s older brother.
What I loved about this stellar supporting cast was that they didn’t take away from the story. None of these veteran actors/soldiers joined our protagonists on their journey. The limelight was solely on Chapman and MacKay. If Mark Strong joined MacKay on his almost fatal journey through a German-occupied French city we wouldn’t be as invested in the story. We genuinely feel that the young soldier will not make it through as he is on his own. The stars only add to the performance; They don’t take away from it.

George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman in 1917 (2019)
MacKay

Sam Mendes is a terrific storyteller. He has directed two of Daniel Craig’s Bond performances and also directed one of my favourite films, Revolutionary Road. He is not restricted by period or genre with each film as dramatic and suspenseful as the last. This film is up for ten different categories at theAcademy Awards and has already won Best Director at the Golden Globes. Its presentation as one-shot has a lot to do with this as you are on the same time path and journey as Blake and Schofield. In particular, the scene where Schofield runs across the front line of battle through soldiers, bullets and debris. It is a sight to behold and one of the many reasons that you should go and watch this film.

Face Your Fears

This post began as a sort of tribute to Lourdes and my appreciation for the place, the pilgrimage and all it has done for me. As I finished up with my plan and read through my notes (That’s right, I do plan my blogs out even if it seems like they’re thrown together willy-nilly) I realised that this was a piece about facing your fears. Because I was absolutely terrified of going to the holy town in the south west of France.

My Godmother was part of a number of groups that went on pilgrimages to Lourdes every year during Holy Week. The Irish Pilgrimage Trust is made up of groups from all around Ireland. There are groups from Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Dublin, and many more. The groups bring nine kids with special needs over to Lourdes. It is a week away for the kids and a much needed break for their parents.
The aforementioned Godmother was part of the Limerick group and the Cork group for a while and ever since I left secondary school she was trying to get me to go. I fobbed her off with excuse after excuse, not really wanting to go. It is only recently that I realised that I was making excuses because I was so scared.
Exams were falling around Easter in college so I could never go. The fact that I barely studied in college and my results show this makes it quite obvious that I could have done something meaningful with my weekoff instead of stay home and scratch myself!
I suppose I was scared that I wasn’t good enough. I was scared that I would make a mistake with one of the kids and be sent home in disgrace. I hid behind my excuses and then, all of a sudden, it was time for me to head to America.

It is just over a year since I moved back and almost immediately, Mary (Godmother) was on my case to go. The forms were thrust into my hands, the pen was nearly forced into my hands and, not joking here, the forms were sent off without my consent. I was scared again. I kept telling her I might go and I’d let her know. I dropped over the forms to her and said I’d let her know. When I was told I was going I threatened to not go at all! I wasn’t threatening anyone but myself. I was letting the fear get to me.
Standing in Shannon airport departures I remember being terrified. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach and just wasn’t happy. As I looked around I realised that while some of the kids were in their element, there were a lot more that were probably equally as terrified as I was. It’s always handy to know that there are other people absolutely shitting themselves at the same time as you.
I decided to smarten up and get on with it. I was in the airport and leaving was not an option. Plus, there was an absolutely stunning girl who was one of the helpers for the group. We chatted briefly and had a bit of shared banter about Limerick, where she was from, before getting on the plane. 8 months later and we are going out for five of those months, madly in love and I’m falling for her more and more each day.

Picture this? Great band. Every song sounds similar but they’re catchy so what harm! Seriously, picture this. I give into my fears and refuse to go on the pilgrimage last year. I stay home for the week and continue working part time with one of the lads from home and then eventually when the work dries up I would be back in the cinema. I keep working away, too afraid to go back to college or spring out and get a new job. I would probably be moving back to America as we speak or planning on it at least. I would be miserable. Instead, although I was given a hefty push out the door, I got on with it and had one of the best weeks of my life. I made some fantastic memories, had great craic with the kids and fell in love. I fell in love with the place and fell in love with K. She didn’t know it or hear it until months later but I can say, hand on heart, the moment we kissed that was it for me. Stick an arrow in me Cupid you creepy young fella, I’m in LOVE!

Why not go and book that solo holiday? Why not head to the festival or the gig? Why not take a chance on that guy or girl and stop lamenting your lack of a love life when you’re sat inside? Why not just take a chance and get hurt. Go to the gym class and struggle to walk the next morning. Admit your love of things. For once, be real with the ones who matter, and that includes yourself. You don’t get anywhere by staying at home, standing still, or watching the proverbial plane flying off without you. I didn’t mean for this to get preachy and almost like a ‘wellness’ meeting but face some of those fears. Not spiders though. Fuck spiders.