Hey! I’m Walkin’ Here: A New York State of Mind

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town. The city so nice they named it twice. Gotham City. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of. Home.
For almost two years I called New York home and every single day of it is ingrained in me. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve been home but every single day that I was there is still fresh in my memory. The bustle of the city and the unforgiving nature of subway carts have prepared me for any trials and tribulations in my life. The bar scene that stays open till 4 a.m. and the establishments that stay open longer have given me an iron liver that can take on any day of drinking. The heat and humidity in the summer hasn’t prepared me for anything because I’m always gonna be a sweaty bollix, but at least I now have lots of cool baseball hats to show people I was in the States.
In short, New York is a training ground that spits out the weak and gets you tough for the years ahead. In the nicest way possible.

Flatiron building

I won’t lie, it has been a struggle to write anything about New York because I’ve been struggling since I came home. I came home for a course in September and decided to just leave in January as I missed the family and friends a bit. I’ve had a great time so far, working with a plumber for a while and now back at the cinema for a while. However, the course doesn’t seem like it’s going ahead and with each passing week of no contact with the co-ordinator I start to wonder if I want to spend 5 Gs on a course that I’m not sure if I want to do anymore. In all likelihood I probably won’t but sure look, I change my mind about ten times a week on every decision I have yet to make.
While the lack of direction in my life at the moment is worrying, I think the thing that is making me struggle the most is that I miss New York. I’ve struggled to write about it necause if I put my actual feelings about the place onto a page or onto a screen it’ll be real and I’ll realise that I want to go back. Some days I do and some days I don’t. Some days I curse the place and most days I yearn to be back there. It doesn’t help that most movies and t.v. shows have at least one scene set in Manhattan. Goddamn urban scenery and diverse population!

The lads

You’d miss the lads, wouldn’t ya? The people you meet and the memories you make are a part of you forever. I see it in my Dad when he talks about the place. The memories have stuck with him. I only spent a fraction of the time that he did in New York but it has had a profound effect on me. Late nights and early mornings under the influence are one set of memories; the matches we played and the concerts, gigs and stand-up sets we went to are another. Each set of memories is as vibrant as the other, taking up all the space in my mind so that I can do nothing but think about going back.

I could spend a paragraph talking about how the money is fantastic but I think we all know that. I could do the same with the food and the drink. Perhaps I’ll do different posts on those. I could write about all the things we did in New York; the scraps we got into; the outrageous nights out that you are a part of; and the days we all just went for dinner and had the craic while trying to eat. I could spend another while waxing lyrical about the greatest city on Earth but I’ll leave it for another day. All I’ll finish with is that lads, and New York, I miss ye.

Spiderman: Far From Home

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

The 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe dropped onto our screens on Tuesday. The third reboot of the Spiderman movies had its first sequel and many critics and fans alike were interested to see whether it would suffer the same curse as the Maguire and Garfield offerings. It was fitting then, that the final movie of the third phase of the MCU was an awesome show.

In Far From Home, Peter Parker is going on a school trip to Europe. Instead of getting to relax in Venice and Paris like he wanted, he is inevitably drawn into a fight with otherworldly monsters. He is aided by Nick Fury, Maria Hill and a new ally, Quentin Beck. Beck hails from Earth but in a different universe. Thanos’ snaps caused a ‘blip’, allowing travel between worlds and timelines. Peter and Quentin, now known as Mysterio, go head to head with these horrible monsters in an attempt to save Spiderman’s world, as well as keep his friends out of harms way.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio

Mysterio is a categorical villain in Spiderman lore. In every comic and game he has appeared in he has been hell bent on Spiderman’s destruction, as well as bringing the world to his feet. We are introduced to him here as an ally of Spiderman. While that won’t mean a thing to the majority of fans going to see it, for the diehards it means they know at least a fraction of the story to come.
In saying that, Beck is a great character. It helps that he is played by Gyllenhaal who gives him the charm and wit necessary to bring that character to life.
Peter Parker is at his wits end in this film. Just off the back of saving the world and losing his friend and mentor, Tony Stark, he is thrust once again into a fight to save humanity. That’s a lot to take for a sixteen year old kid who was snapped away and back again and was none the wiser. Tom Holland plays him effortlessly; capturing a little bit of all of our awkward stages as a teen in his bumbling and stuttering performance. Like I said at the start, this movie defeats the curse of the sequel for the Spiderman movies. This is obviously thanks to the genius of the MCU and all its contributors and directors, but we shouldn’t forget how likeable this Spiderman is compared to his predecessors. Nothing against Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield but Tom Holland just IS Peter Parker.

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

With New York City, Venice, Prague and London as the major backdrops of this movie it was always going to be visually impressive. I was interested to see what damage they could do to which universally known structures. However, the most striking scene, not to mention mind-bending, is one where Spiderman is caught in an illusion and can’t seem to fight his way out. I won’t say much more here because I don’t want to spoil anything properly but that scene is marvelous. It goes on for so long that you’ll be looking around wondering whether the cinema you are in is real and whether you’re just a figment of some mad man’s imagination. Just a normal Tuesday.

With all of my talk about the previous Spiderman franchises, I neglected to mention how this film fared against the first movie, Homecoming (2017). In short, it is better. In my opinion, of course, but I’m sure most people would agree that this just has more bite to it and now that we have met the ensemble characters we can get more out of them. Jacob, Peter’s friend, is hilarious in this movie. Mary-Jane, played by Zendaya, is also delightfully awkward but badass when she needs to be. Hopefully we see more of her in the next movie, whenever that may be, and that she has more of a role than ‘love-interest’.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Numan Acar, and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
Numan Acar, Tom Holland and Jake Gylenhaal

I can’t spoil any credit scenes for you guys because I didn’t get to see them. There was a mix-up in the cinema where I work and the film was put on late. As the credits started to roll two young fellas came in to the theatre. I told them that it would be a few minutes as the boss had to shut off this film and start it again for them. They just looked at me and sat down, oblivious to my power in the Reel Picture. Only as I was leaving did I realise that I wasn’t wearing my uniform as it was my day off. These two young fellas were just told to leave by a weird man watching Spiderman on his own at 1 in the afternoon!
Personally I would say that this is my second favourite MCU film behind Ragnarok. That says a good bit about me I suppose. However, I think it is the third best movie behind Civil War. I loved Infinity War and Endgame but that’s the tea and as always, don’t @ me.

4.5/5.

Shaft: Movie Review

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Let me just start this by saying that this is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time. Each of the three shafts are hilarious in their own way, as well as Regina Hall as Samuel L. Jackson’s ex-wife. Leave your brain at the door for a couple of hours and enjoy the comedy as well as the impressive camera work during the action scenes.

Jess T. Usher is J.J. SHaft who enlists the help of his estranged father for a case on his presumed murdered friend. I am looking forward to seeing Usher in more movies, especially comic roles. His timing is perfect.

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Jackson is himself and plays it so well. Whether he is Shaft, Fury or Kincaid, he is a joy to watch on screen and generates the most laughs.
Rountree also proved that he can still cut it in the action world, breaking through highrise windows and stabbing bad guys for fun.
Regina Hall is fantastic as the protective mother and bitter ex. Her scene in the bathroom of the restaurant towards the end of the movie is comic gold.

I’d recommend this movie for a hangover or just a chill night with bae. If you don’t have a bae that’s cool too, watch it with your brother who has a better social life than you and who probably feels bad for you, like I did. Happy memories.

3.5/5.

Trailer Watch

Point Blank

This remake of the 2010 French film of the same name stars Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo. The pair played opposite each other in several films in the MCU as Hawkeye and Crossbones, respectively. Once again, they are two men on either side of the law but this time around they are forced to work together.
The trailer gives away pretty much all of the story anyways so I won’t even describe it, but it looks funny. With Grillo and Mackie involved, the action scenes are likely to be extravagant and brilliant. Out on the 12th of July on Netflix.

Annabelle Comes Home

Well, I positively almost pooped my pants watching that trailer. Enough said.
The Warrens are away for the weekend and the babysitters they put in charge of their daughter go into the ONE room they were told to stay out of; the room with all the freaky things they’ve kept over the years from different hauntings. Frankly, I have no sympathy for the babysitter who unleashed hell and hope to see her suffer. DON’T GO INTO THE HAUNTED ROOM WITH ALL THE HAUNTED SHIT!

Spiderman: Far From Home

If you haven’t watched Endgame yet then what are you doing with your life? But seriously, if you haven’t, don’t watch this trailer. Or read this part of the blog. Or read my review on the movie tomorrow. Or @ me.
Peter Parker is on vacation but trouble always follows. The fallout from Thanos’ snap is that there are now multiple universes, dimensions, worlds and people. Gylenhaal, the rugged bastard, is playing Mysterio, a traditional villain in the comics and games but an apparent ally in the trailer.
The beauty of Marvel is that their trailers can be misleading or reluctant to give away information. I’m looking forward to seeing this one!

I could tell ye that I’ll be back with a weekly Trailer Watch but who am I kidding? I WILL be back tomorrow with a review of Spiderman. The advantages of working in a cinema are free movies and early screenings. There are downsides but that’s for another post when I’m in another job. Have a good Monday, folks, beat those blues!

Toy Story 4: Film Review

Woodie, Bo Peep and Giggles

*Minor spoilers ahead

The latest installment in the Toy Story series hit our screens last weekend and hit them hard. I’m back working in the cinema for the foreseeable future and by God didn’t we have 1250 people in to see it the Sunday. Exactly 1250 people. It was madness, but it made the day pass and bonded all of us as workers and comrades.

I finally saw the movie last night and it is brilliant. For personal preference I think it dragged on for the last twenty minutes but kids will definitely enjoy the whole thing. As it is rated G, it is a movie for kids first and foremost. However, it is enjoyable for all ages and all fans of the franchise.

Forky and Bonnie

The movie opens with Bo Peep and her sheep being donated from Molly to an unknown man. Woodie almost leaves with her but stays out of loyalty to Andy, leaving Bo off to go to a new child on her own.
It cuts to the present day and we are back with Bonnie, the little girl that Andy gave all of his toys to, except now Woodie is not the favourite and is being left in the closet more often than not.
On a roadtrip with the family to Grand Basin, Woodie and Forky, a new toy voiced by Tony Hale, Woodie stumbles into an adventure involving a scheming doll without a voicebox, two hilarious stuffed birds and his lost friend, Bo.

This movie is really about Woodie. While the movie as a whole deals more directly with the relationship between the toys and their children, even more so than the other movies, this one is all about the sheriff with a snake in his boot. Woodie has to deal with going from being Andy’s favourite to one of Bonnie’s least favourite toys. He takes it upon himself to make sure that Bonnie’s newest toy, Forky, is her new favourite and is by her at all times. As chaos ensues throughout the movie and the toys inevitably escape all animated contact with humans, Woodie’s crisis of confidence is prevalent throughout.
For a child’s movie it really delves deep into how people, or toys, can feel lost in the world. Being lost with no plan can be tough, but as Woodie finds out with the help of his friends, taking a brave new step into somewhere unfamiliar doesn’t have to mean you’re lost.

Buzz, Jessie and some old favourites

The familiar names of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woodie and Buzz are excellent as always. Buzz and Woodie are striking out on different paths, with Buzz being seen as a bit of a leader in the absence of the cowboy.
Key and Peele are hilarious as Ducky and Bunny, while Keanu Reeves is equally as funny as Duke Caboom, a crash-landing expert from the Great White North.
Christina Hendricks plays the villain of the piece, Gabby Gabby, intent on getting a voicebox of her own so she can finally have a child of her own. As always though, don’t judge too harshly in the Pixar world. Not everything is as it seems.

I would highly recommend this movie to every body who enjoyed and watched the other three. I actually can’t remember much of Toy Story 3 bar the main plot but this is brilliant on its own anyways. It might drag a bit for me but its still a fantastic feat of animation, comedy and heartwarming endeavour.

4/5.

Another Exciting Summer in Manchester

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about Manchester United. Laziness, lack of confidence and lack of material are some excuses I could use. The fact of the matter is, when the club is in the turmoil that it is in it’s tough to write anything without sounding pessimistic and defeatist. When the club you’ve loved for as long as you can remember seems to be going down a dark path from which it will be tough to return it is not easy to write match reports and reviews on news and gossip. I mean, in all honesty the club is too far down the dark path and it will take years of patience and rebuilding to get to where Manchester United should rightly be, but maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world. Anyways, I’ll be writing more about United and hopefully this season will be better than last season at least. Even if United are in a tough spot and we, the fans, are having a hard time feeling sympathetic for seemingly uninterested players and a board that is leeching money from the club, the prospect of a quiet summer concerning Manchester United will always be a foreign concept.

Timely Transfers

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With the announcement of Wan-Bissaka extremely close amid leaked pictures of the star and his management team signing his contract, and the announcement of Daniel James from Swansea a few weeks ago, it seems that Ole and the team are moving in the right direction.
However, the fact that not one player has been sold and the surfacing of articles and videos featuring United stars Pogba and Lukaku admitting they want to play elsewhere and face ‘new challenges’, is extremely negative.
I think we can all appreciate that in the modern footballing world and especially concerning Manchester United, transfers are no longer cut and dry. Agents will look for more money from bigger clubs, as will the selling club, especially if they know United have the money. Sometimes players will flirt with United to get a bigger deal at their preferred club, which really pisses me off when I see it happen. I’m going off on a tangent here, but United’s transfer policy over the last six years, if not ten years, has been dreadful.
I must admit that these transfers of young players, James from Wales and Wan-Bissaka from England, bode well for the direction of the club. While Pogba and Lukaku may be petulant and under-performing, the club needs experienced players to help the new young lads through, and I’m not talking about Ashley Young giving Bissaka training tips on how to play right back.
With Bruno Fernandes poised to join Liverpool one day and us the next, and another truckload of midfielder’s names now dumped onto the bag carousel that is United’s summer transfer list, who will be signed and will anyone leave? Will these timely transfers be enough to boost United and keep Ole in the job?

Insolent Influencers

It’s been an interesting few months so far as followers of Lingard, Rashford, Pogba and Lukaku. The former pair, on holiday together before pre season, posted videos on IG messing around, chanting ‘Beans, beans, beans’, and commenting on the state of their hotel rooms. I personally don’t see anything wrong with this and find the reactions of a lot of United fans disturbing and bordering on highly irrational. I also don’t hold any umbridge with Pogba posting videos of himself and his brothers dancing in their room, or Lukaku posting videos of him dunking on his friends who are too afraid to properly defend against him on the court. While Lingard annoys the shit out of me and Rahford frustrates me on the pitch, the two lads are only having a bit of craic and enjoying themselves. Pogba and Lukaku on the other hand have publicly flirted with other clubs and said on video that they more or less would like to leave. I have lost all respect for the two of them and while that doesn’t mean a thing to them, it shows that they don’t care about the fans.

When was the last time that you heard a player from Liverpool, Man. City or Tottenham publicly state that they would like to play in a different country or face new challenges? Nothing in recent memory, and if they ever do they still hold utmost respect to the club and the fans. Pogba and Lukaku, two main names in the United set up, don’t give a toss about the fans. In fairness to Pogba, he does get dog’s abuse even though he is United’s best player, but to go on t.v., in a promotion for Adidas, nonetheless, and say you need a new challenge when you’ve done sweet feck all is laughable.
The players don’t help their cause with their insolence and the fans don’t paint themselves in a great light when they comment horrible abuse on said player’s pages, but it’s all indicative of the ownership of the club and the way it is being run.

#Glazer’sOut

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The biggest news story coming out of United over the summer has been kept quiet by the club itself. The hashtag started a few weeks ago on Twitter and picked up speed straight away. Every tweet from United accounts and fans I follow has #glazersout afterwards, a testament to the fact that United fans are not happy with the current state of the club. The debt the Glazer’s have given the club and the money that they have taken out is staggering when compared to the money that the owners of other clubs have put in their respective clubs.
It is a fantastic movement that has already caused the stock price of the club to fall. It became highly popular again when one of the club’s owners, Darcie Glazer, took out a loan with shares of the club as collateral. Now, I don’t claim to know anything about finances but from what I read and understand, we shouldn’t be getting as riled up about this as we are. Those shares are hers and it’s like she’s putting her house as collateral for the loan. If she fails to repay the loan the shares are taken off her. However, I understand the anger and rage that formed when United fans heard about this. It is similar to seeing videos of players dancing and laughing when the fans that pay money to wear their names on their backs, go to see them in games and pay to watch them in person and on t.v. are sitting at home in despair at the state of the club. It shows disrespect in a time of great sensitivity in the club.
I don’t understand how the P.R. reps of the club and certain players aren’t taking measures to ensure that players and owners don’t do things that paint themselves in an even worse light.
“Hang on there, Jesse, maybe leave the dancing off until pre-season starts, O.K.? And Darcie, maybe put something else as collateral for the loan until there’s a better public feeling about the Glazers. Cheers, boss, nice one.” Maybe I could get a job doing that. C.S.O. Dalton. Common Sense Officer.

In all seriousness though, the movement is important and even if nothing comes of it, at least the Glazers and Woodward know that the fans aren’t stupid. Two signings and removal of deadwood in the club isn’t enough; we want them gone for good.

A Tale of Two Concerts

It was the best of times. It was the drunk of times. It was Snow Patrol. It was Metallica. It was Malahide Castle. It was Slane Castle. It was Heineken. It was more Heineken.

I’ve never been a regular concert-goer. Over the years my friends and peers have gone to acts such as Green Day and Metallica when I wasn’t allowed to go/ had no money for my own ticket! They’ve been to festivals like Oxygen and EP when I’ve been too young, dumb or broke to procure entry. It was a frustrating existence when the summer rolled around as groups would inevitably form to go to gigs and concerts and I’d settle in for another night watching Made In Chelsea.
I make it sound as if I was a recluse and a loner. While that might be somewhat true now it couldn’t have been further from the truth back then. I had many friends and many opportunities to attend events in Dublin or Cork. I couldn’t go either because I was too young or I was too broke.

I don’t have any regrets in this life. I do wish that I had gone to see Metallica in Marlay Park in 2009 when my friends all went up with one of their older brothers. I wish I had gone to see Green Day a few years after when they played in Dublin. I wish I had saved more money when I was that age instead of supporting the BFS in Blarney by buying chicken rolls any chance I got. Alas, these are not regrets. If I ever perfect time travel, and God knows I’ve been trying, I’d go back, ruffle my hair and say, “Eat those chicken rolls Cian. Your metabolism is fast and you’re strong. It won’t be like this in ten years.” And I’d respond, “STRANGER! FAT STRANGER! HEEEEEEEELLLLLPPPPP!!!” And I’d swiftly teleport back to 2040 Cork, where traffic hovers above the city, the river Lee is but a speck in our digital glasses and the Events Centre is still under construction!

I went to a good few concerts in New York and loved ’em all. Vance Joy in Prospect Park was probably my favourite. Although I knew all of the songs from his new album we kept shouting “Play Riptide ya prick.” While I’m confident Vance himself would probably find this funny, the American couples surrounding us obviously didn’t, and we received enough side-eye for another pair of glasses!
A number of us attended a gig in Brooklyn where Florence and the Machine played alongside Muse and AJR for charity. That was really enjoyable. We all got fairly drunk, though, and I apologise to the girl sitting in front of me. I did not mean to spill a whole can of Brooklyn Lager down your back. You were a good sport.

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Gary Lightbody

Snow Patrol were really, really good. I attended with the lovely Katie and we had an absolute ball. Malahide Castle was a cool venue, and it let me feel like I was at some part of a festival for the first time.
I couldn’t get over how smiley Gary Lightbody, the lead singer, was up on stage. Katie told me that the band had taken a break due to his problems with alcohol and he was now completely sober. Despite the fact that I knew perhaps three of their songs and had only listened to their new album about twelve hours previously, I was privileged to attend a concert where the artist was so visibly happy with what they were doing.

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James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett

The next day, still drunk from Coppers and whiskey n’ gingers, I made the long trek from the Green Zone Car Park to the entrance to Slane Castle. An hour and a bit later I arrived at my destination, two bottles of water and three cigarettes in, where I was ready to finally see Metallica. I hadn’t listened to their music in years, bar the day before where I scrambled to see would I still like them. And I did. I really did.
I could go into massive detail about the concert itself and the venue and how great it was and how we all let out a massive roar when the main act came on. I could tell you how nobody took their eyes off the stage and the hush before each song followed by a swelling shout will never leave my memory. I could tell you about Whiskey in the Jar and One and Master of Puppets and all the other classics they laid on us. I’d rather just say that the crowd, the fans, the people who attended the concert made it the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. Ever little interaction me and Sarah had was so delightfully wholesome; two lads from Tipp, where one worked in Blackpool, told us of other metal concerts and European cities; two young fellas who gave Sarah a card for his podcast; Jerry from Wisconsin who came all the way from the States to see the band; the rocker from Ennis who really didn’t like where he was from; the Polish lady in the queue for the food who had a Northern Irish twang; and the countless others.

The band was great.
The atmosphere was terrific.
The crowd stole the show.

If you want to take anything from this piece I wrote today it’s this…Eat all the chicken rolls you want.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

It is with a heavy heart that I must write my first terrible review. Up until now I’ve thought most movies were, at the very least, average. I’ve made excuses for how bad they were. I’ve solved plotholes and bad performances to justify the money I’ve spent on the film. That time has passed. Dark Phoenix has broken the mold, and broken my heart.

The latest installment in the X-Men franchise tells the story of how Jean Grey, played by Winterfell’s own Sophie Turner, becomes the powerful Phoenix. After a rescue mission turns sour, Jean absorbs what seems to be a solar flare and is perfectly fine..for about ten minutes. She subsequently proceeds to kill close friends, alienate all around her and become an intergalactic fugitive. Charles Xavier (James McEvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Blue Beast Man (Nicholas Hoult) and a host of other mutants try to save/kill/contain her in a movie that is not even saved by a fantastic action set piece aboard a train.

Problems

I must admit that I haven’t seen Days of Future Past, so I’m not entirely sure what was wiped out in this timeline. Pretty much everything, I’ve been told. I know that this movie is more truthful to the comics and that The Last Stand has been eradicated, thankfully. Although the aforementioned action scene was fantastic, the first hour and a half are so boring and predictable that it doesn’t really matter.
The X-Men go on a dangerous mission -> Someone nearly dies -> People get annoyed at Charles because he thinks he’s never wrong -> Jean can’t control her powers -> A mysterious villain tries to take over Earth -> A major American city is nearly decimated -> The X-Men and Magneto save the day -> Fin.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jessica Chastain. Ever since Crimson Peak and Molly’s Game she has been one of my favourite actors. It is a shame, then, that she shows no emotion in this movie and has about ten minutes screen time.

I feel like there’s always a scene involving somebody’s parents abandoning or disapproving of their child’s mutant powers in a cul de sac estate in an X-Men movie. Maybe it was only X-Men 2 but the police always get involved and get absolutely owned, not realising that pulling a gun on a powerful being who can control your fu***ng mind is a bad idea. Pulling a gun on any mutant is a bad idea. Wolverine took a bullet in the head, rejected it and kept on keepin’ on. Different timelines, I know, but come on. Don’t pull guns on superheroes and don’t @ me.

I’m like a broken record with this timelines shpiel but I honestly have no problems with it. Keep churning out X-Men movies and I will more than likely go see them. However, different timelines doesn’t mean different appearances I would imagine. So if this movie is set in 1992 and the first X-Men was released in 2000, that means Magneto and Professor X have eight years to go from handsome, charming young men in their forties to totally different looking but no less handsome and charming men in their late sixties.
And yes, you might say to me that it’s a film about mutants walking the Earth and co-existing with a species that can’t even co-exist with other humans of a different colour. And I might say to you that I told you to not @ me and that it makes no Gawd Dayum Sense.

Positives

Train scene. Many fighting and impressive CGI. Cian happy with violence.

Rating

Rotten Tomatoes: 20%

IMDB: 5.9/10

TheRathpeaconRambler: 4/10.

Happy Friday folks and have a good weekend. I’m off to Snow Patrol and Metallica. I haven’t listened to either band since I was 14 so I can’t wait to not know the words and get smashed.

Ballad of the Rescuer – The Lost Gecko

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Artwork for the band’s latest release

Happy Friday, folks. I hope ye all have a lovely weekend planned and that the sun will shine, or at the very least the rain will stay away. In my last post, a review of Meghan Ali’s new song, Far Off Shores, I waxed lyrical about the talent that Cork has to offer. What I would like to clear up is that that is not a new phenomenon. Cork is the real capital and with legends like Rory Gallagher and travelling troubadours like Clare Sands to talk of, we can be very proud! Emerging talents can be found in any number of pubs, clubs and venues around Cork, plying their trade in the hope of making it big.

The band that I’m talking about today are far beyond the moniker of ’emerging talent’. It would be much fairer to call them an established set-up. Having formed in 2006 in Cork, The Lost Gecko have recorded 9 EPs, released an album and are due to release another later this year. They have performed in festivals in Amsterdam, Finland, and numerous ones in Ireland.

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The Lost Gecko merchandise is available on their Facebook page

If you get a chance to listen to their 2018 album, Solasta, meaning ‘Luminous’ in Scots-Gael, I would recommend Fan Liom as the go-to track. This song stood out to me not just because of the Irish language but because the arrangement before the verse kicks in is uplifiting and magical. Which brings me onto the song we’re hear to read about!

Ballad of the Rescuer was released on Spotify on May 20th. It has over a 1’000 plays on Spotify, and a good 100 of them are from me the last few days since I first heard the track. It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I hear the opening section of the song. The fingerpicking pattern that opens is beautiful and sad, especially when the low notes of the cello accompanies it. Then, an ethereal, mystic voice fills your eardrums and the ballad of the rescuer begins. For a brief minute I thought to myself that this song and sound was Bon Iver-esque. I copped myself on and saw it for what it was: authentic, beautiful sound from a talented trio.
“There’s nothing left inside of me” is a line that sticks out from the first verse, the minor notes picked at just the right time. I became invested in the rescuer’s journey, living every dip and dive in his mission.

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Malcolm, John and Elaine at a gig last year

A cacophony of sound greets us toward the end of our journey as the percussion comes to the fore. The ballad of the rescuer rings out as all three members of the band give their all for the last act; Malcolm Urquhart on guitar and vocals, Elaine McCarthy on cello and John O’Connor on percussion. It lifts you up for the final scene of the song, an image of the rescuer, exhausted and on his knees at the end of the day, played out by the same beautiful guitar playing and cello accompaniment that we heard at the start.

Well, that review got quite a bit more emotional than I ever intended! You will agree with me once you hear the haunting opening of the song. I can guarantee that as I never lie. Honest Cian, they call me.

Look out for The Lost Gecko’s new album, The Ghost That Minds the Crows, due to be released this year at Claycastle Studios in Youghal with John Burke. They are on Spotify and Youtube so give their pages a follow! The Lost Gecko are playing a number of gigs around Cork in the coming days but they are also supposrting Meghan Ali next month in Maureen’s bar in Cork City. June 23rd, pencil it in. Keep an eye on the blog for more music reviews and news of the bands and artists I’ve already reviewed. Have a good one!

Far Off Shores – Meghan Ali

Image result for meghan ali

Cork is full of thriving, talented musicians. From rap to traditional, hip hop to indie-pop, the Rebel County is a hotbed of young, up and coming artists. I am lucky to have played with some, attended the gigs of others, but one of my greatest honours is calling some of them my friends.
Meghan Ali is a singer songwriter and guitar player from Rathpeacon. Technically, she is from just off the Mallow Road/Old Mallow Road, but we’ll claim her here in Rathpeacon when she goes big. She has been making music her whole life, but it has really been the last six or seven years in which she has been most productive. She has released popular single after popular single, receiving generous airtime on Cork radio stations. Her latest release might just be the best of the bunch, and that’s saying something.

Far Off Shores was released earlier this week and with already over a thousand plays on Spotify it is showing how Meghan’s star continues to rise. On first listen to the lyrics it espouses the same message as Meg’s previous releases Coming Home for Christmas, which was later re-released as Coming Home (ft. Clare Sands). Each of these songs tells the story of our generation; always going to far off lands, never knowing when we’ll be home next and hoping that our relatives are doing O.K. without us.

The song starts with the low notes of a flute resonating around us, a faint chime in the background, echoing the sounds of the hit Irish animated feature, Song of the Sea. Meghan’s music is undoubtedly Irish, her accent shining through in songs as well as her use of the violin and acoustic guitar. Each instrument provides a light backing for Meghan’s powerful voice through each verse, rising to a crescendo just before each chorus. Far Off Shores is catchy and the chorus will play again and again in your head after each listen.

Watching the video after listening to the song changes the meaning. This is a tribute to Meghan’s late grandfather, played by his twin brother, John. The video is just like the singer herself, full of love for family close and far. It is truly a Maguire and O’Brien affair!
It would be criminal to mention the video and not bring your attention to the awesome panoramic shot that leaves John looking out at a lake/river/water feature, circle around and then back in to the main man himself.

This is a biased review in that I’ve known Meghan for years and love all of her music. However, it is also a truthful article because we’ve all lost someone. Although the song deals with the loss of a loved one, as I said before it could also be a homage to those closest to us departing these shores for a better life abroad. Therein lies the beauty of Meghan’s songwriting.

Meghan Ali can be followed on all social media platforms. Far Off Shores is available on Spotify now, and the video is on Youtube. I’ll even post the video below here so you don’t have to type anything in. No problem guys! Happy Thursday.