Country Girls

“Take what you can get from Ireland and scoot… Leave before it takes your belief from you, or worse, buries it within you.” So says Finn, a down on his luck poet living in Dublin, advising our main character Kate to leave the Emerald Isle and seek pastures new. His appearance and announcements coincide with the bleaker view of Ireland we see in the latter parts of the play. At first we are told of the haunting beauty of the lakes and the bogs, learning later that even Irelnad’s rugged beauty can not keep someone whose heart is broken by the people and the place.

Edna O’Brien’s debut novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1960. Like the rest of her work in that decade, the book was banned, as were the two sequels, The Lonely Girls, and Girls in Their Married Bliss. On viewing the play last night, one can see why it was banned in the Irleland of the time; Full of sexual innuendo, some playful scenes, a hint of a lesbian relationship and full on mockery of nuns, the crowd would have been up in arms!

Kate and Baba are our two country girls. After Kate’s mother dies in a boat accident and needing a place to stay away from her drunken, abusive father, she goes to live with Baba and her parents. The two girls go to the prestigious convent, St. Enda’s, where Kate excels in all things studious, while Baba is content to study her body and not much else.
Following an incident at school, the country girls make the move to Dublin. The vibrance and non-stop clock of the city life will set the girls on two different paths; Kate on one of heartbreak; and Baba on one of self-discovery.

Instead of drawling on about the different acts and scenes of the play, I think a good indicator of how good this play was was the ending. After Kate says goodbye to Ireland and her past the whole cast comes out and performs a small dance number, with Kate finally running towards the back of the stage as if towards her future. The stage goes pitch black and you’re left to wonder how will she get on in London? I audibly gasped, which I take as a good sign.
The set design was innovative and enjoyable. Every prop was suspended above the stage, ready to be released down when needed and pulled back up again when the scene finished.
Catriona Ennis who played Baba, the foul mouthed and wayward friend, was hilarious and a joy to watch. She commanded the stage when present, generating healthy laughs from the audience.
While the rest of the play was full of life, music, dance or movement, the scene between Kate, played by Grace Collender and Mr. Gentleman, played by Steven McCarthy fell a bit flat. In contrast, the fantastic Collender was a giant in the scenes with her father.

As the play opened, we saw Kate and her mother dancing and running around the stage. I immediately sank into my chair, preparing myself for two hours of an Irish novel told through interprative dance. I’m very glad I was wrong.

The Country Girls is playing in the Opera House until this Saturday the 20th.

Pet Sematary

For decades now, audiences around the world have been mesmerised, terrorised and astounded by adaptations of Stephen King’s works. The prolific author has seen many of his novels make the big screen. The Shining, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption, to name but a few, are all classics and examples of how well a book can be transferred onto the big screen.
Jeté Laurence in Pet Sematary (2019)

Some of King’s more dark and terrifying pieces have found new audiences over the past few years. It was a hit worldwide and a sequel is now being filmed. Like Pet Sematary, it was a remake of a well received take on the horror master’s work. I saw the latter over the weekend and can inform you now that it is as terrifying as the trailer makes it out to be. As King himslef said, it is the one work that kept him up at night. And that’s saying something ya freak!

Pet Sematary opens with the Creed family on the way to their new home in Ludlow. Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke, is moving to the countryside with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jetee Laurence), son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoje), and cat Church. Trying to escape the frantic city life of Boston, the Creed’s have bought a lovely house with 50 acres of woods attached. In an attempt to work better schedules and reconnect with his kids, Louis takes the day shift at the University health centre where nosebleeds and sprained ankles are the port of call.
Rachel and Ellie discover a graveyard for pets located within their property. They meet Jud (John Lithgow), an older neighnour who seems to know more about the pet cemetery than he’s letting on.
After a shocking death at the univerity, Church being knocked down and terrifying nightmares, Jud shows Louis a place where the living don’t dare to journey and the dead don’t care to stay.

Jason Clarke in Pet Sematary (2019)

Jason Clarke blurs the line between rational professional and unhinged father in this terrifying film. His performance of a man slwoly unravelling while attemting to hold onto his beliefs and what is right was a pleasure to see.
Amy Seimetz was equally as powerful in her role as a guilt ridden wife with a terrible secret. It was in her scenes where she relives her terrible nights alone with her sister that had me fully back in the seat with my eyes almost covered.
The star of the show was young Jetee Laurence. She turns seamlessly from angelic daughter to demonic satan-child at the blink of an eye. I hope she isn’t typecast in the future because she was fanatstic. Terrifying, but great.

I do wish that the film explored the relationship between Rachel and her latte sister. It was terrifying but didn’t finish its journey. The filmmakers teased a horrifying reveal towards the end but left it at that. Just a reveal.
Although I was extremely scared throughout and still don’t know how i manged to eat popcorn while simultaneously, it hasn’t kept me awake at night like I thought it would. I was on edge for a few hours but I’ve moved on. I’ve grown as a person it seems and don’t put too much stock in horror movies anymore. In saying that, give me a romcom anyday.

4/5.

Us – Movie Review

Jordan Peele’s latest horror offering is as mindbending and thrilling as Get Out. However, Us is its own film with its own ideas and impeccable twists and turns. After viewing this earlier tonight and searching twitter for user responses and funny gifs, I’ve decided that it is hard to pick a favourite between the two. There is a lot more going on in this instalment, sometimes to its detriment, but it is clear that it requires at least two viewings.

The film opens in 1986 with a young Adelaide (Madison Currey) walking the boardwalk of Santa Cruz with her father and mother. The parents bicker throughout and when her mother goes to the bathroom and her father ignores her, Adelaide walks down to the beach. She sees a mirror funhouse and enters. Inside, the lights shut off and after trying to find her way out she bumps into a doppelganger of herself. Adleaide begins to scream and the movie cuts to the present day.
Adelaide is now en route back to Santa Cruz with her husband and two children. The adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) does not want to revisit the boardwalk where she encountered that terrible horror all those years ago. Her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), obviously doesn’t share her fears. Gabe and the two kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), are all wrapped up in their own material worlds, choosing image, technology and a mask instead of realising that their mother would rather be anywhere else. Adelaide’s fears come true when a strange family appear at the top of their drive. The doppelgangers have come and are out for blood. What follows is an hour and a bit of intense scares and breathless thrills.

It is another offering from Peele that blurs the lines between horror, psychological thriller and action. The film touches heavily on class divide and the segregation of people. The wealthy and lucky only need worry about their appearance and possessions in life while the doppelgangers, or tethered, only know that they are not worthy of such things and must suffer life down below. Themes such as faith, materialism and ethics are rife throughout. I would implore any viewer to take most of the dialogue very seriously. You don’t know what throwaway line, action or scene might rear its head later on.

Nyong’o steals the show as Adelaide and Red. While Wright Joseph is extremely impressive in her dual performance also, it is the Oscar winner known for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave that blows the audience away. She plays the terrified Adelaide so well while also portraying the deranged and vengeful Red with frightening reality.
As I said earlier, this movie is similar to Get Out in that the twists and turns are impeccable. Us is a proper headscratcher. I won’t give away any spoilers but I guarantee that by the end of the movie you’ll be walking around in your day to day life wondering whether your doppelganger will pop out at any second and take your place. You’ll also be thinking of every line that has been said in the film and linking it all together. The only problem is that just like Det. Kujan, you’ll be too late and Keyser Soze will have been off on his escape already.

Netflix Selection: After Life and Paddleton

Ricky Gervais has found himself, or put himself, in the news again talking about snowflakes and people getting easily offended. While I agree with him about people being a little too quick to jump the gun on what they think is offensive nowadays, he has been spouting the same stuff for well over a decade now. However, it is always good publicity when a new show comes out. Today I’ll be going over his new show After Life and the indie comedy Paddleton that he is not affiliated with.

After Life

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Gervais plays Tony, a miserable, suicidal man mourning the death of his wife. He has a penchant to say horrible things that pop into his head because, as he sees it, he’s going to be shaking off his mortal coil soon. He works at the local free paper and is nasty to his boss who happens to be his brother in law, and everyone else who crosses his path.

I liked the show. I enjoy Gervais, especially as David Brent and in his animated show from a few years ago with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. I appreciate that he is not everybody’s patronising cup of tea. He doesn’t do himself any favours with his constant harping on about offensive material, although i do agree, and the amount of fat jokes aren’t helping him with anyone.
All in all though, I’d recommend this show and would urge people to leave their sensitivity at the door. It is a tad bit predictable but that last episode is worth it.  It’s not for everyone, but the sweet moments are tearfully emotional and the jokes are  barbwire sharp.

Paddleton

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This indie buddy-comedy starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass is another one that hits in the feels. Romano and Duplass are Andy and Michael, two socially awkward neighbours turned best friends. They hang out every night, watch Kung Fu movies, eat pizza and play a made up game derived from squash called Paddleton. Michael is diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, sending the two on a roadtrip for a special kind of medication which lands the two in an emotional, funny and charming look into friendship and love.

As everybody knows I enjoy almost everything I watch. This was no different, although I wouldn’t say I was hooked. It is very slow and the hijinks the guys get up to on their trip are marred by their ineptitude at talking to women and people in general.
There are some poignant moments that are totes, dare I say, emosh, but I’d give it a skip. You won’t miss out if you miss this one.

I’ll be back Sunday with a Paddy’s Day post and/or Monday with more reviews/news and sports.

Netflix Selection: Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll.

The digital streaming behemoth has had a great start to the year. After producing some dubious figures and some questionable stats about the viewing figures of a number of shows, Netflix has come good again with a selection of Originals, their own personally funded and produced shows, and new additions from established artists.

The Umbrella Academy

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The first of these shows that I watched was Umbrella Academy. Revolving around a group of unwilling superheroes who were plucked from their mothers at birth by the eccentric and mean Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the story centres on the apocalypse and how life, or the end of all life, pulls you back to the ones you are closest with; in this case, your superhero brothers and sisters.

I really enjoyed this show. 10 episodes at 55 mins approx. each might seem like a lot but it flowed easily enough. There was a spot around episodes 6, 7 and 8 that dragged a bit but the end of the 8th episode and the final two installments are superb.
Robert Sheehan plays Klaus, one of the troubled supers, almost like a supercharged Nathan from Misfits. He is so effortlessly funny, flighty and camp while also developing as a character throughout the season. Although his accent doesn’t stay true the entire time, much like his role as Darren in Love/Hate, he still steals the show for me.
Aidan Gallagher as Number Five was also a joy to watch, as was Mary J. Blige as one part of a fiersome hitman team out to get Five. Colm Feore’s turn as the madcap billionaire was fun to watch in flashback scenes, even if you did feel for the neglected heroes.

I’d definitely recommend this show to most people and would urge you to power through the mid season lag.

Russian Doll

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Another show that deals with the marching of time and also the reset, is Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne stars and produces in this show about Nadia, a thirty-something New Yorker who spends her nights drinking, smoking and doing whatever she wants. It is her birthday, and after going home with a smooth talker, she gets knocked down while running across the street for her cat. In the blink of an eye she is back up at her party the night before while all the other guests carry on as normal.
Nadia thinks she is on her own until she meets Alan in a hurtling elevator shaft before impending death. He reveals he has the same affliction; they both die and reset to the same point in their lives. The two go on to try and solve their problem, learning some dark truths about each other and themselves along the way.

Lyonne is fantastic as the witty, clever and self-sabotaging Nadia, still suffering from her mother’s abuses and struggling to see a happy ending. I haven’t watched OITNB but she is brilliant in this, playing the tough talking, streetwise New Yorker with ease.
Charlie Barnett plays Alan, Nadia’s unfortunate companion in their horrible situation. He is the polar opposite to Nadia; he is clean, rigid and sticks to a schedule. He is also hiding some mental health issues and refuses to face them, prompting both to wonder why they are in this mess. Barnett comes alive when he shows real emotion and both Lyonne and he work well together.
I enjoyed this show also, partly because it was set in New York and I got to live vicariously through the characters and remember my time there. A word of warning, though, is that the show gets incredibly dark in the last three episodes. The show is not for everyone.

Tomorrow I will review Ricky Gervais’ After Life and the indie buddy-comedy Paddleton, starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass.

 

 

 

Captain Marvel

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The newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit our screens last Friday. Excitement surrounding the Avengers storyline has been high over the last number of years and with Endgame being released next month I wasn’t so sure that this was a necessary movie to release right now. I’m pleased to say that I was completely wrong.
The Marvel films are always enjoyable to watch, mixing action and humour effortlessly. Pithy one liners are a constant and the final face off between the goodies and the baddies are worth the two hour build up. Captain Marvel had all of these in droves while also putting a new spin on some aspects of the filmmaking process.

Captain Marvel tells the story of Vers (pronounced Veers), played by Brie Larson, a Kree soldier being trained to defeat a race called the Skrull, shapeshifters, in an intergalactic war. She has gaps in her memory and can’t remember her life before a Skrull attack six years ago. When she is captured by these shapeshifters and they reveal more about her past she follows them to C-53, Terra, or good old Earth. She meets two young agents, Fury and Coulson and begins to learn her true identity as the first hero of the galaxy.

All in all, I thought the movie was very good. It wan’t as funny as Thor: Ragnarok but was definitely funnier than most of the other films in the MCU. After talking to my friend about the movie, we agreed that if Captain Marvel is to save Tony from almost certain death in space then we cannot wait for the riposte and the banter between the two.
A big part of the movie I liked is that it set a good pace for the story. Due to the fact that Vers has no memory before six years ago and is already imbued with awesome powers we skip the hour/hour and a half of build up and figuring out who she is and who she can become. While this does in fact happen later in the movie, Vers already has her powers, knows how to use them and just gets on with it!
The soundtrack is also perfect. The movie is set in 1995, so the songs chosen are a mixture of Rock, Grunge and Pop/RnB. What a mixture! There is an epic scene between Larson and Anette Bening where Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”, plays. The title of the song is poignant in that moment in the film but it also just fits so well with what is happening on the screen.

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Larson is fantastic as Vers. She plays the soldier/piolet/saviour with confidence and is at ease with other big names such as Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson and Bening. She has won an oscar after all!
Samuel L. Jackson, CGI’d to be twenty years younger in this movie and with both of his eyes, is a scene stealer as always. He and Larson bounce off each other and the characters are like old friends at the end of the movie.
Ben Mendelsohn plays one of the villains of the piece, Talos, a Skrull captain. Although their ability to shapeshift is unnerving and their appearance is undesirable, Mendelsohn is hilarious in this movie. I do have a friend who shall reMuireann nameless who found the Skrull’s attractive. In case anyone wanted to know.

I have read a lot of mixed reviews about this chapter of the MCU. Many, like I did origibnally, thought it was unneccessary and would be forgettable. I only went to see the post credit scene which ironically wasn’t worth staying for, but I’m glad I went.
Reviews I have read since have said it is forgettable and that she isn’t a likeable hero. I respectfully disagree on that count as like all Marvel movies, she has serious help from those around her. The difference is that in the end, she realises her true potential and is powerful enough to do whatever she wants.

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This film is an empowering movie for women without claiming to be one. Anna Boden directed this alongside Ryan Fleck, while Boden, Fleck and three other women wrote the screenplay and the story. Pinar Toprak composed the score, making this Marvel’s first ever film composed by a female. These real life women alongside the fictional powerful female characters in this story make this a film worth watching.

 

Fright Night

As I sit here with the brim of my hat as far down as it can possibly go, The Conjuring 2 playing on the TV in front of me, I have come to the conclusion that if a demon were to appear in front of me unannounced I would simply die of shock and probably defecate in my pants. I am no hero. If I saw a ghost or a banshee out late at night I’d run as fast as I could and I would never look back. There’s a real possibility that I would collapse dead from fright.
I saw Conjuring 2 with a friend and I covered my eyes while he covered his ears. We were one monkey short covering his mouth and we would’ve been on a poster. I just don’t like horrors and never have. I won’t lie and say that the adrenaline rush isn’t fun and there is a thrill from yelling and screaming every few minutes. What I don’t like is walking around a dark house late at night after having the bejaysus scared out of me. I don’t like walking by mirrors and thinking I am going to be snatched by a nun or an old lady out for my soul. I especially don’t like sprinting up the stairs in the dark as a demon tries to snatch my delicious booty.
Of course, then, I’ve seen countless horrors. Here are some of my favourite/hated horror movies I’ve seen.

Insidious

I know there’s like 4 of these movies now but I’ve only watched the first one. The simple reason being that the kid who gets taken into the shadowland or whatever realm he is in is named Dalton. Feck right off with that! Are ye trying to give a man nightmares for the rest of his life??
There are some supremely scary scenes in this film but the one that got me was the very end when all is revealed and the demon trying to catch Patrick Wilson’s soul or whatever it was after almost has him. Give it a watch if ye get a chance.

 

The Woman in Black

Horrors are great movies to bring girls to, in my humble opinion. I rented this from Xtra Vision back in the days when I had stable relationships with females and this film is creepy as f word. I haven’t rewatched it because I am a giant man child and as I said before, I hate horrors but this one is worth at least one look.

 

Crimson Peak
Another date, another horror movie. Jaysus, I’m such a lothario. Set in a Victorian England, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam lead an all star cast. Gore, jumps and a house that hunts you down are all you need. Not as scary as the others on this list but torrent it online or something. Don’t @ me.

 

Paranormal Activity 3
The Paranormal Activity movies brought the found footage genre back into the limelight. The first two were remarkable, although a bit funny at times. The scene in the second movie when the mother runs away from the demon only to be pulled back downstairs by her legs is downright hilaruous. However, there is nothing funny about the scene with the coven of grandmothers advancing towards the man with the camera towards the end of the movie. Anyone who has seen it will know what scene I’m on about and anyone who hasn’t seen it will also know because I’ve just described it perfectly. Journalism.

 

In Irish horror film news, the film The Hole in the Ground will be released in a few weeks. Seana Kerslake stars as a single mother in a new rural town who encounters a mysterious neighbour. She becomes paranoid and mistrustful and must also contend with her son who is becoming increasingly ominous and disturbed. There ya go, straight from IMDb.
Kerslake is well known on Irish television through her starring roles in A Date for Mad Mary and Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. The latter is written by the fantastic Stefanie Preissner.
I don’t know anything about the director, Lee Cronin but if the hype and the trailer are anything to go by he has done an amazing job and will be a major figure in mainstream Irish cinema for years to come.
Check out the trailer and an interview with both Kerslake and Cronin below.

 

 

 

The Sound of Music

With the release for the upcoming film, Yesterday, a story about how the world forgot the Beatles and one man’s cash grabbing journey to bring back their songs, expected in the summer, I began to think about how music plays a role in our viewing experience. Obviously this isn’t a new thought but just imagine watching Inception without the ominous tones in the background, or watching The Lord of the Rings without the epic orchestras in Middle Earth. There wouldn’t be half as much enjoyment.
While the strings, woodwinds and the bass have a special place in my heart when it comes to cinema, I believe there’s nothing more brilliant than a movie that has a beautiful soundtrack of pop, rock and indie songs. Especially when songs are used at the perfect moment.
The catalogue of Beatle’s songs would be enough for two films and another hour of outtakes. I am interested to see what songs are used where and if indeed the trailer didn’t just show us what songs will be used. I’m sure there’ll be a montage where the main character is having the time of his life and all of the songs are rolled into one long medley. Obviously this will then be followed by some crushing revelation from a loved one or a stranger and he will have to rethink his new career choice. Does he go for the money or the love? Oh yeah, it’s in the feckin’ trailer. Predictable? Yes. Will I watch it? Of course. Are you going to get a list of movies with great songs at the right moment right now? Yes.

Me Before You (2016)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m more than a sucker for a romcom; I actively go searching for them and wallow in misery afterwards at how alone I am… wow, got deep very quickly. What am I even doing with my life? Lol jk, that’s a whole other post. Anyways, this particular book turned film tells the story of Lou, a happy young woman with no real direction in life or money, but she has her family and a boyfriend, even if they do drive her up the wall. Enter Will, the posh, rich local boy who lost the power of his body from the chest down after an traffic accident. He has become a negative recluse and Lou becomes his endlessly positive personal carer. Cue fights, snarky remarks-cum-flirting and obviously romance. As Lou travels to Switzerland to see Will for possibly the last time she looks out the plane window and Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” starts to play. I can’t find the exact footage but if you saw the film then you know how gutwrenching the choice of music is and how much you want to cry when seeing it for the first time. But I did not cry for I am man, and man does not cry. We hunt and drink for we are men*.

 

About Time (2013)

What a movie. What a concept. What amazing performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams. What a fantastic use of the song, “How Long Will I Love You”, originally penned by the Waterboys in 1989 and covered in this film by Sam Sweeney, Ben Coleman and Jon Boden. The song plays as a montage of Tim and Mary shows their blossoming romance. Of course, the film has much more poignant moments and delves into the question of time travel and its moral consequences, which is prevalent in any romance! Shout out to Keli for reminding me of this scene and inspiring this post. Go on Kel.

 

Gladiator (2000)

A bit of a break from my romcom filled life but the inclusion of this song at the very end of this masterpiece was a sublime piece of filmmaking, editing and songwriting. “Now We Are Free” begins to play right after the climactic fight scene between Maximus and Commodus. He lies there, dead, his prisoners freed and this absolute tune plays as Marcus Aurelius’ foresight that Maximus would be a far better leader than his own son Commodus rings true. He was a soldier of Rome and if he were around today, would have been a banging DJ.

 

Eighth Grade (2018)

I’ve written about Bo Burnham’s directorial debut already. It will undoubtedly be a contender for film of the decade, not just because of the director’s vision and script but because of the performance of lead actress, Elsie Fisher.
“Orinocco Flow”, one of Enya’s many instantly recognisable songs, has been used in countless films and is a part of numerous people’s Spotify’s Most Played of 2018 soundtracks. It is used flawlessly in this film. Kayla (Fisher) is scrolling through Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram before bed, watching a host of different videos and taking quizzes to find out what imaginary character she would be in a different life. The whole time her face remains expressionless, not registering one piece of emotion, even when one of the mean girls in school who she so desperately wants to be friends with invites her to her pool party. The scene is a perfect contrast to the song, so full of emotion and longing while Kayla longs to be a part of the mainstream and the cool kids.

 

Sex Education (2019)

OK, not a movie but one of the brilliant Netflix originals that has come out recently. Normally, I wouldn’t click on a new Netflix release for a couple of weeks, or even months. I don’t know if it’s because I’m  a bit of a snob with tv and don’t want to be a sheep and watch something that everyone else is watching. Maybe it is because I get quickly bored with tv nowadays and didn’t want to have it sitting in my ‘Continue Watching’ if I wasn’t going to finish it. In reality it is due to the fact that I will continue to watch Friends, The Office and Parks and Rec while leaving new shows pass me by. However, this show drew me in straight away. Probably because the letters ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘X’, were emblazoned across my screen and I am a young male.
The show is funny, topical and fantastic. It introduces some new faces that will be on our screens for years to come and Gillian Anderson of ‘X-Files’ and ‘The Fall’ fame plays a sex therapist. Do with that what you will, guys and gals. The scene below is funny in the context of the show but also it reintroduces you to an absolute banger. Skip to 1:05 for the song.

 

List done. Watch now. Share please. Validate me.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Review.

 

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“Back once again.” The reviews are back! Ger Canning has uttered this iconic phrase in countless G.A.A. matches broadcast on live television over the last number of decades. I reached out to him to ask would he record it for me so I could have it playing whenever someone opened an article of mine. Ger, ever the joker, replied via his family, agent and the Gardai, and said, “For the last time, leave me and my family alone. I rue the day I stopped and talked to you in Tesco in Mahon Point. Legal action will follow unless you stop cold calling me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how you got my house number. I am a human being and you are driving me insane. May God have mercy on your soul.” Ah Ger, what a chancer. If you’re reading this, I’ll get onto you later around 2 a.m. Keep the phone on!

Now, onto serious stuff. The movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? caught my eye due to the many nominations the cast received across multiple academies and committees. Also, it was the only thing that I knew would be quiet at my local cinema, the Reel Picture Blackpool ( hashtag ad). I knew it wasn’t a comedy but with Melissa McCarthy leading and Richard E. Grant in a prominent supporting role I had a feeling there would be some comic moments.

McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a down on her luck author who has just lost her job for drunken behaviour, has a fraught relationship with her agent and is months behind on her rent. Israel does not have any redeemable qualities that we can see and is told by her agent that she, “…is not famous enough to be an asshole.” She has a sick cat that she cannot afford to take care of and the biographies that she is writing to stay afloat are on the sale rack. After selling a letter of a famous author toa bookshop owner played by Dolly Wells, she quickly realises that she could make a hefty profit by forging letters of other well known figures. She has made a living writing books about other people so she knows she can impersonate them in her letters.
She meets Jack Hock, played by Grant, at a bar in Manhattan, remembering when she first met him and he went to the bathroom in a closet (hashtag Jonny Melia, hashtag ad). Hock is hilarious, flamboyant and the perfect positive tonic to Israel’s cynicism and misery. After letting him in on her secret cash cow and after duping half of Manhattan’s bookshops and collectible dealers into believing her ruse, she and Hock come under the suspicion of the FBI. Sabotaging her rathionship with Anna, the bookshop owner and Hock himself, Israel is finally caught and sentenced to house arrest, probation and monetary restitution.
The movie ends with Israel and Hock reuniting in the same grimy bar they met in. They bury the hatchet and he agrees to let her write a book about their escapades, ever his funny, charming self. This never happened in real life but it was a good end to a fine movie.

The movie itself is enjoyable if a bit slow. The topic of literary forgery does not sound all that interesting but the revelations that there are seedy characters in the literary world such as Israel herself, made it an easy watch. The fact that the FBI were involved in her subpoena was amazing to learn. The dynamic between McCarthy and Grant was brilliant and really saved the movie from being a bore. That said, it dragged towards the end and I did find myself looking at the clock on my phone. While I know that with a film such as this the devil is in the details but if the movie was about fifteen minutes shorter then it would’ve been a small bit more enjoyable.
I couldn’t think of anyone that I would recommend the movie to after watching, but it wasn’t a total waste of an hour and forty minutes. If I was to give it a rating out of a number that I will make up right now, I would give it a 3.5/5. Some funny moments but I’m not sure if this book warranted a movie. That said, the performances of McCarthy and Grant saved this production and both, especially McCarthy, deserve their nominations.

 

My movies of 2019

Happy New Year, one and all! A number of people online, as well as publications, have released their favourite movies of 2018 online. I was very tempted to steer away from any creative ideas of my own and just hop on the bandwagon. In the end, I decided to just leave a little list of what my favourite movies were of this year and then start talking about what’s coming up in 2019. Usually I’d have some witty little anecdote or fictional story here but I’ve just told you what I’m going to write so I might as well just do it. Yeah. Read on, I guess.

Top Movies of 2018 – M’List (tips fedora)

  • Molly’s Game – I was sent this by a resident in the building. Impressive leading cast with Jessica Chastain supported by Idris Elba and Michael Cera. It’s about Molly, an Olympic skier who, following an injury, naturally becomes a poker Queenpin and rakes in millions from her underground games. Of course she is then targeted by the law, the mob and disgruntled celebrities because of her money and, more than likely, gender. 4/5.
  • Black 47 – I wrote a review of this in an earlier blog but the Irish famine inspired tale of the deserter soldier who returns home and exacts his own war of vengeance on the British would send any man into a patriotic frenzy. Luckily I was on my own in the cinema and the adrenaline died down after the credits. 4.5/5.
  • A Star is Born – A friend and I watched this again last week in a hungover stupor and both were fairly emotional after it. The film holds up the second time around, as do the songs, both lead actor’s performances, and the intense hatred I felt for Allie’s agent when he practically kills Jack. Prick. 4/5.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – I also wrote a review of this in an earlier blog. I loved this movie. A lot of people gave it crap reviews because of the gaps in the history of the band or the lack of context and background info about certain incidents. For me, it was brilliant. Rami Malek was Freddie Mercury, and the supporting cast were fantastic too. It helps if you love Queen but the movie is solid. The last 20 minutes in Wembley are sublime. 4.5/5.
  • Eighth Grade – Another one I covered, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut was perfect. Telling the story of awkward 13/14 year old Ellie, it encapsulates what it was like to be that age again; awkwardness of crushes, being invited or not being invited to parties and trying to ‘fit in’. Despite being set in the modern day, I think that anybody who watches this movie would cringe at their past selves, but also really enjoy the movie. 5/5.

 

What to look out for in 2019

2019 is going to be the year of sequels and spinoffs with the odd remake thrown in for good measure. Toy Story 4, Men in Black: International, How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, Star Wars Episode IX and Hobbs and Shaw are just some of the titles of instalments in film franchises over the next 12 months. On top of that, Hellboy is getting remade, as is Dumbo and The Lion King, albeit in live action form. I will watch all of these and probably enjoy all of these, but it is just the way cinema has gone. Although there are a few other films I’ll be looking forward to see.

Us will be Jordan Peele’s second horror offering. His film Get Out was hailed as a masterpiece and rightfully so. It is a magnificent film that combines the thriller and horror genres. Jordan rose to fame with Mad TV and the Key and Peele show. The horror stuff came fairly out of left field for me but thankfully so as he’s killing it. The trailer for Us looks intense and will be a must for most cinemagoers this year.

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There is no trailer yet for The Irishman, Scorcese’s gangster epic starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano. This film marks the 9th time Scorcese and DeNiro have worked together and the first time that Pacino and the great director have done so. It tells the story of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and his bodyguard ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran (DeNiro), and the latter’s involvement in the gangster’s assassination. I can’t wait to see it, as Netlfix reportedly bought the rights for $105 million, and the budget has risen to $175 million. It’ll be epic, and hopefully it gets released in cinemas too, as that would be worth the whole year.

I know I was harping on earlier about sequels and spinoffs and yes, this film is a sequel and also a collaborative film between several different stand alone characters in the same universe (that sentence is confusing and should annoy anyone who reads it), BUT, and it’s a big but and it cannot lie, we have all been following this journey since Ironman (2008). We’ve gone through all the Thor movies, the Captain America movies, the Spiderman reboot III, the Avengers movies, the Guardians movies, AntMan and we’ve arrived at Avengers: Endgame. What a time to be alive! Following this I expect there will be a reboot in the casting of the titular heroes so this one will be very special.

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There’s also no trailer for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarrantino’s latest epic, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Margot Robbie also features alongside Al Pacino and a host of other stars. I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this movie is but if it has Pitt, DiCaprio and Robbie in it then I don’t care.

Finally, Glass, the third instalment in this sort of anti-superhero trilogy, looks very good. Jackson and Willis reprise their original roles of Mr. Glass and Mr. Unbreakable, respectively, while the supremely talented McAvoy returns as the Beast. Or Patricia. Depends on his mood.The trailer looks class without giving too much away, and it also has Sarah Paulson and I’m in love with her so it’s already great!

Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully you’ll see some of these movies also in 2019. I also am looking forward to Captain Marvel because I love Brie Larson too but Sarah Paulson’s OK with it so we’re all good.