Unbelievable

It is rare that a show or movie leaves me speechless. I won’t lie to you. There were a number of times during the show that I was a bit uncomfortable. The subject matter is extremely shocking and it was tough to watch at times. Rape, especially the rape of women, is a common thing that we hear of almost every day. It fills me with a great sadness to hear of any incident of rape or sexual assault, whether it be from a person I know personally or a random person on the internet who is sharing their story. This show, despite me being hooked and enjoying the storytelling and the acting, made me sad. I can only be thankful that I am just sad at what has happened and what is happening and not suffering from it myself. The women depicted in this story, from Marie, Amber, Lily and Sarah to Detectives Duvall and Rasmussen, are all heroes. The women who live with what has happened everyday, all over the world, are heroes.

Unbelievable tells the story of Marie Adler, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart). In 2008, Marie was raped at knifepoint, bound and blindfolded. The detectives who took her report didn’t believe her and Marie, after intense questioning and definite coercion, ended up saying she made the whole thing up. Living with the reputation of a false accuse, Marie’s life spirals out of control. Meanwhile, three years later, two detectives in Colorado, Duvall and Rasmussen, feel like they are both looking for the same rapist. Can they catch the monster, and is it all linked to Marie?

My lame attempt at making you want to see the show is unnecessary. If you want to watch a show that celebrates the power of the victims to hold onto their lives and the power of the female detectives who believed when so many men didn’t, then this is the show for you. If you want to watch a show based on a true story in which a violent monster is taken off the streets and his victims can live with at least a glimmer of hope for a better future, then this is the show for you. If you want to watch a show that is unafraid of exploring the brutality of rape and the aftermath of such a horrific act, then this is the show for you. If you can’t bring yourself to watch and see the toxic nature of a lot of male behaviour in the modern world, then this isn’t the show for you. But you should watch it anyways and learn.

I learned an awful lot from this show. Like any series based around the search, capture and imprisonment of a criminal, the intricacies of a police station is extremely intriguing. The different acronyms for scientific tests are interesting to hear about, as are the different hunches that detectives and their partners have. What struck me the most about this was the fact that rape victims have to relive and relay the information so many times. I know that it is important for police, detectives and doctors to have statements and to know what to look for, but I can’t begin to imagine how vulnerable the victim must feel in that moment.
I know that while I’m writing this it may come across as preachy and full of woe. A man, a big man at that, who has never felt at threat on his own walking down a dark road, or been in danger of being sexually assaulted is lamenting the plight of women and being a ‘white knight’. But it is sickening to think about and this show is important for people to watch.
As uncomfortable as it may be for some people to talk about it, the toxic traits associated with masculinity, mainly the perceived ownership of womens’ bodies or their perceived right to touch and feel women in a pub or club, need to be assessed and talked about in detail.

Rating: 5/5. Unbelievable show, pardon the pun. Go see for yourself.

Please read the Pulitzer Winning article of the true story that the show is based on.

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/12/16/an-unbelievable-story-of-rape

Extra Ordinary

Extra Ordinary (2019)

It is always a pleasure to get Irish movies into the cinema. None will ever reach the heights of Young Offenders. Given that it is set in Cork city and showcases a lot of the suburbs and the city centre, it was always going to be hard beat. Unfortunately, other Irish movies never get the audiences they deserve, at least in our cinema.
I had seen the trailer for this flick a couple of months ago and had a feeling that I would like it. It takes place in an unnamed rural Irish village. Rose, played by Maeve Higgins, is a local driving instructor with a spooky past. She doesn’t use her talents anymore but used to converse with the dead and with spirits with her late father. Martin, played by Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall), is a local man plagued by the spirit of his unhelpfully helpful late wife. When his daughter Sarah is placed under an evil spell by unsuccessful musician Christian Winter (Will Forte), he contacts Rose and so begins their adventure to save Sarah and get Rose her groove back.

Barry Ward and Maeve Higgins

I enjoyed this film. Like every Irish production, the plot is thick and has many different threads. This one doesn’t get too muddled up and is relatively easy to follow. The ending is a bit mad, even for a movie about ghost-whisperers in modern rural Ireland. I won’t ruin anything but you will laugh out loud and wonder whether they will show what they show. They do…tastefully!
I think that a lot of people would be surprised at how much they would enjoy this movie. The twists and turns are delightful and the performances from the principle cast are outstanding. There are a few slapstick moments and a few well constructed jokes. There are a few intense moments followed by silly interactions. The movie has it all, really.
Extra Ordinary plays out like a long episode of The Savage Eye, or Father Ted even. The comedic possibilities of Irish countryside and the folk that inhabit it are endless. You see a bit of people you know from your own road and village in this movie.
Fans of the Channel 4 smash hit Derry Girls will enjoy the cameos of Sr. Michael (Siobhan McSweeney) and Ciaran (Jamie Beamish), who play a town gossip and a self-obsessed county councillor respectively.

Will Forte and Maeve Higgins

Maeve Higgins is extremely funny as the lonely, awkward yet charming Rose. Her bumbling delivery of her lines is perfect, as Rose is constantly thrust into situations she doesn’t ever want to be in again. Higgins is definitely the star of this production.
Will Forte is also hilarious as the evil yet highly incompetent Christian Winter, constantly failing as a musician and in his quest to get back on top.
Special mention must go to Barry Ward for his turn as the many different spirits that inhabited his body.

All in all, this film was extremely enjoyable. I laughed out loud a few times which is always a good sign. I think if more people gave it a chance they would really like it but unfortunately, IT: Chapter 2 and Downton Abbey are both new releases also and will rule the roost for the next few weeks.

Rating: 4/5. Loses a point for Claudia O’Doherty’s character. I really like O’Doherty in Netlfix’s Love, but the character is just too crass and vulgar for this dry, Irish movie.

Dumplin’

Jennifer Aniston and Danielle Macdonald in Dumplin' (2018)

Last night I watched Dumplin’. I was skimming through the lists on Netflix when this caught my eye. My girlfriend sent me a song from the soundtrack, which is provided by the great Dolly Parton, so I thought of her when I saw it and said I’d give it a watch. It was the best decision in an otherwise gloomy day.
Dumplin’ tells the story of Willowdean, played by Danielle MacDonald. She is the daughter of former beauty pageant queen Rosie Dixon (Jennifer Aniston), and there could not be more difference between the two in looks and personality. Will was much closer to her aunt Lucy who instilled in her a love of Dolly Parton. Will finds a chance to rebel against her mother and all of the skinny girls and bullies at her school by entering the same pageant her mother won all those years ago, while also honoring the memory of her late aunt.

I’m sure you can tell from my brief description above that Willowdean, Will for short, is a big girl. She acts like she doesn’t care, and for the most part she doesn’t, until it comes to her Mom and the boy she likes. She feels like he can’t possibly like her back because of her weight, despite his protests of his love. Constant fights and cold silences fill the space between her and her Mom, usually started by Will because of Rosie’s perceived problem with her daughter’s weight or her use of her childhood nickname, Dumplin’. Will fights with her best friend because of her insecurities about her weight. Elle (Odeya Rush), retorts, ‘I never thought of you as fat’.
While Dumplin’ is a celebration of Dolly Parton, her music and the inspiration she brings to people, it also conveys a message of acceptance…but not in a preachy way, thank God. We are shown that once you have a good group of friends you can gain that confidence to be accepting of yourself. Obviously, the real world is a little tougher than that. Sometimes it can be hard to even look at yourself in the mirror, no matter your size. Dumplin’ does a good job of showing the trials and tribulations it takes to get to your happy place. Even in your happy place there can be dark days. There can be very dark days. It is up to you to seek help and accept help when it is given to you. You are beautiful. I’m a ride. We’re all absolute stunners.

This movie is very emotional so from now on I am going to rate them twice. Once on what I thought of it and once more on whether you should watch it hungover.

Rating: 4.5/5. Loses a half point for not having Dolly make an appearance herself. The drag queens make up for it though.

Hangover: No. Don’t do it to yourself. Totes emosh in the last half an hour.

Happiness, Parts 1 and 2.

Happiness – Part 1 – 17th July, 2018.

Oftentimes throughout the day, whatever day it is, I’ll have brief moments of happiness, or frustration, or sadness, or whatever emotion happens to strike me at that point. A hangover could bring a certain emotion. A good meal or a coffee with a cigarette could bring another emotion. What I have been struggling with recently, is that I don’t know when I last felt a pure, raw version of an emotion. When was the last time I felt true happiness? When was the last time I felt pure joy? When was I last in a proper angry mood? When did I last cry out of true sadness? Those are tough questions to ask or answer. I think that, as adults, we tend to gloss over certain periods in our lives with one big emotional brush. A whole season or year could feel sad to us because of a certain event. I can’t remember the last time I was truly sad. That’s not great. Sure, there have been times when I’ve been drinking that I’ve felt down in the dumps. Those weren’t true emotions though. I woke up the next day after these binges and felt fine after a while.

Coincidentally, I haven’t felt pure, red anger in years. I used to reserve that anger for playing G.A.A. matches but a switch flipped one day, and I just stopped caring. Again, I’ve been angry when I’ve been drunk but that isn’t true anger. That’s an anger fueled by two many neat whiskeys and cigarettes. That’s an anger I haven’t felt sober since I was a teenager. Sometimes I miss it.

I can’t for the life of me remember when I last felt true happiness. I’ve been happy when I’ve received tips from work at Christmas. I’ve felt happy when I’ve played well in a match. I’ve been happy when I’m having the craic with the lads and when I get a few likes on my blog posts. The last time I felt true happiness must have been opening my Leaving Cert results and realizing that I did well enough to get into my chosen course. Or when I was a child. I’m not sure. Drink doesn’t bring on true happiness.

This has got me thinking about what could possibly be wrong that I haven’t felt a pure, raw emotion in some shape or form. I can’t keep going on binges. How did this turn into another fucking self-examination of me, my lack of direction, emotion and my problem with drink? I’m done with this. I’m out.

Happiness – Part 2 – 11th September, 2019

A lot can change in a year. People come and go from your life. You may leave one place behind in search of something new. You may leave a place behind in search of something old. It is all a part of your own journey and nobody can judge you or question you for what you decide to do.
A little over a year ago I wrote the above paragraphs. I saved it, exited it and went back to pretending like everything was OK. And everything was, to a certain extent. I was still having the time of my life and I was happy. I was just not totally enjoying the day to day life. I look at it now and realise I should have spoken to someone. One of the lads would have listened to me, but I did the Irish thing and kept it in. In a selfish way I’m glad I did.

I moved home with the hope of doing a Journalism masters in Dublin. As soon as I realised I would be flat broke straight away I declined the offer, opting to apply for one in Cork instead. A couple of weeks later, after accepting my offer, the coordinator told me that the course would not be going ahead. I decided I would make a go of it at home for a while. Strings of rejection letters, calls and emails from jobs followed. Each one felt like a hammer blow to the chest. I wanted to go straight back to the states. I could have been forgiven for upping sticks straight away. But something in me felt like I needed to stay.

A little over a year ago I wrote that I couldn’t remember the last time I was truly sad. Now, I know it was the time I thought I had ruined my chances with my girlfriend. I sat in the car on the way back from the airport and just sunk into the passenger seat, trying to put on a brave face and happily explain my holiday while wanting to scream inside.
Coincidentally, the last time I was truly happy was this morning when I woke up to a snapchat and message from her. Yes, lads, I’ve gone soft. And I love it. And her.

I’ve felt blood red anger on the pitch a few times this year. I wish that I stuck with it a bit more but the politics of Junior football and hurling proved too much. I’ll try leave it all behind me next year and just enjoy the game. But, the anger is back, and while it is not an emotion I wish to always have, it is nice to feel that passion once again.

I do think that I need to give up the drink for a while. Or at least stop drinking spirits. My hangovers turn into all week affairs where I question my life decisions and mistrust everybody in my life. I will try document my progress here. The same goes for junk food and eating meat. I’ll try and cut it down to where I don’t eat meat two days a week. That one will be fun.

If you’ve made it through all my ramblings, I guess I just wanted to say thanks to everybody who has been a positive influence in my life over the past few years. You helped me through some dark times even if you or I didn’t know it. To the lads in America, the friends here at home, my family and girlfriend. Thanks for putting up with me and hopefully ye will be around to see the finished product. Me, as a happy old man, fat with pizza and beer.

A Moment in Time

I humbly come before you today as a mere reviewer of other people’s art. I love watching music videos, t.v. shows and movies because it is someone’s original idea brought to life on the screen. It is the culmination of their work alive in front of us. They have put some serious work into the publication of their craft and it has manifested itself into our entertainment. I review and judge and I have no work of my own that I put out there, or very little. I am afraid of judgement and rejection but I am going to overcome this.

I watched Hudson Taylor’s video for their hit song Feel it Again. The song was released last year sometime, as was the video, but I only discovered it last week. I had heard it before in bits and pieces on the radio but as soon as I heard the full thing I fell in love. I felt like a teenager again, lying on my bed singing the lyrics over and over again. I found the video today. It is a piece of art that the artists obviously enjoy and love and love to perform. Looking at the joy on their faces was something to behold. Something I strive for and struggle to go for. Something I wish to maintain in the future.

I see friends of mine happy in their jobs and happy in the art they create and it is a powerful driving force. It is not always possible to change your job and it is not easy to change your situation but your mindset is very important. It is important to believe in yourself but to also be content with where you end up. And remember, that it is not always the end of the road.
I’ve been giving out about being home and being in different jobs but I have to stop that. It is merely a stepping stone on the way to somewhere better for me.

It sometimes feels like you are stuck in time if you aren’t moving forward. Everybody else is moving onwards and upwards, leaving you in their dust without meaning to. You feel sorry for yourself. You look at their posts about work and work nights out, jealous and trudging to work at odd hours of the day. But if you keep the small things in they grow into big things and make you feel ten times worse.
It’s almost as if everyone is making their way around the clock, holding onto the hands for dear life while you are stuck in some weird sort of limbo between dawn and dusk, not moving forward or backward, just inching back and forth with no idea where to go.

Not to fear, though, because you make your own journey. You make the decisions to move or to stay, and either is fine. Not everything is defined by success or money, but as long as you are happy then that is the main thing. Create, smile, jump and hang on to the hands for dear life. It’ll be a long journey no matter what you do.

Stranger Things 3: Tokyo Drift

Image result for stranger things

Please forgive my title. Whenever I see a sequel or a spinoff I always try and give it the ‘Electric Boogaloo’ treatment or assign it a title from one of the many Fast & Furious Movies. It’s a disease that I will not be seeking help for because it makes me laugh every time.
Anyways, I’m here to tell you about the majesty of Stranger Things 3. I won’t lie, I wasn’t that hopeful going into this season. I mean, how many times can the demigorgon or the mind-flayer terrorise the town of Hawkins without the townsfolk or the people of America taking notice. Every year there was a new story explaining away the deaths of a significant number of members of the community. I think, then, that you’ll forgive me for not waiting with baited breath for Eleven and her comrades. I think, then, that I should hold my hand up and apologise because it was the best season yet.

This season expanded its horizons. The younger kids are growing up and pairing off while the older kids are trying to figure out what to do with their life. The danger has moved away from Hawkins lab and migrated to the Starcourt mall while it is no longer just corrupt Americans that Hopper and the gang have to fight. The Russians have found their own source to the Upside-Down and are trying to break in. It’s what will break out as a result that will be the problem.
I really enjoyed the fact that they explored the kids development and showed them as they tried to navigate relationships and girls. I didn’t care for all the smooching they showed between Mike and Eleven but that’s just me. There are several hilarious scenes between Mike and Lucas in which the latter tries to explain how girls behave when he has no clue himself. He just has a girlfriend for a few months longer than Mike.
This season delved deeper into Hopper and Joyce’s will they/won’t they charade, with comical results in the form of Murray Bauman, the eccentric man who sheltered Nancy and Jonathan in Season 2.
This season also packed some serious emotional punches. While the last two seasons seemed formulaic almost, in the fact that I knew there was no credible danger to the main cast members, this year they differed from type and really let loose with the deaths. I’ll go into detail later.
Overall, a fantastic season and one that will live long in the memories of fans. Unless, of course, you binge watched it and have forgotten most details as it all turns into one massive blur of character, plot and theatre.

Breakout

D’Acre Montgomery, known for his portrayal of Jason in Power Rangers (2017) gave a powerful performance as the tortured Billy. In Season 2 we just saw an angry young man intent on fighting with the local guys and making out with the local girls. He was a colossal douche to his little sister, Max, and was generally unlikable. He was never involved in any of the dealings with the monsters and to the best of my recollection was just used as a device to get the kids to stand up for themselves.
He arrives in season 3 as the hunky lifeguard at the pool. He is the eye candy for every single female in there, especially Mike and Nancy’s mom. He has the town of Hawkins and every female in it at his feet. Unfortunately, he is infected by the mind-flayer and used to do the monster’s dark bidding around the town. His turn as the demented destroyer that Billy evolves into is mesmerising and there seems to be no way out for Eleven and the gang. His final scene in the final episode is beautiful, yet devastating to watch. Montgomery already has plenty of credits under his acting belt but he really showed his acting chops throughout these eight episodes.

Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things (2016)
Dacre Montgomery as Billy

Millie-Bobby Brown turned in another electric performance as Eleven, or Elle. I didn’t see her in Godzilla because I had no interest in the movie, but I heard nobody really came out of that movie looking great. However, if she goes on to other shows and features while putting in the types of performances she has while playing the pre-teen superhero, she will be one of the best actresses of her generation.
In the penultimate episode she is almost struck down and must rely on her friends to save her. Her depiction of unbearable pain and despair was so real that I almost forgot it was a t.v. show for a moment. The agony was etched onto her face and just showed that as well as being the best character in the show, bar Hopper, she is the best performer.

Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things (2016)
Millie Bobby Brown and Sadie Sink as Eleven and Max

Final Goodbye?

I told ye that I would go into detail about the emotional punches that are landed on your heart and soul throughout this season. It was tough guys. It was like Game of Thrones Season 3 when most of the Starks die. Except a bit more lighthearted throughout the rest of the show and not all doom and gloom.
In the final episode, as the final battle with the shadow monster rages on elsewhere, Joyce and Hopper have a chance to end it once and for all. Due to Russians and other unforeseen circumstances, Hopper gets caught on the wrong side of an explosion that will close the gap between worlds forever. Our Dad-bod hero is gone and it seems like there is no way back for David Harbour in the show. It wasn’t his death that got me, although that was devastating; it was his final look at Joyce and into the camera and the emotion that he showed. As his eyes welled up a chill went up my spine and I realised that Hopper had no way out. He would finally give his all to save Eleven, Hawkins and Joyce.
Now, there is a cut scene at the end which shows a prisoner being sacrificed to one of the demidogs from season 2. The scene is set in Russia in a military compound and as the guards approach a certain cell that is blocked from view, they say, “No, not the American.” Certain speculation has gone up online in which the ‘American’ could be Hopper who was somehow rescued from the blast or miraculously survived.
If the Police Chief is to return in the next season, he would have to be changed somehow by the blast and would not be himself. It could be a totally different American but for the moment we have to believe that Harbour will return for another outing as chain smoking legend Jim Hopper.

Winona Ryder and David Harbour in Stranger Things (2016)
Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce and Hopper

What Next?

Will, Jonathan and Joyce are moving away from Hawkins and Elle is going with them. The rest of the gang are staying put. How will the story be played out next time? We know there is a creature in Russia used to eat prisoners and that that creature will most likely facilitate the spread of the monsters again.
Despite the explosion and the inference that the portal to the Upside Down is gone forever, we get no verbal confirmation that this has happened.
Where did the Russians get the demidog?
Will Elle get her powers back? Does she even want them back? She has a chance at a proper normal life now. Well, as normal as being psychologically tortured up until her teens, not getting a chance to know her mother and losing the only caring father she ever knew can be.
Will Mike grow out of being a shithead teenager? Pressing questions indeed.

Verdict

A solid 8/10 for this season. Loses a few marks for all the smooching I was subjected to and that we didn’t get to see more of Wheeler’s mom in a swimsuit. I am but a man.

Trailer Watch – Disney Edition

The world of the cinema is awash with remakes and sequels, and this week’s Trailer Watch is no different. Disney, long the proprietor of heartwarming, animated tales, has now become a relentless machine intent on remaking every single one into a live-action blockbuster. So, naturally, here is three trailers recently released by the corporation.

Image result for movie reel

Mulan (teaser)

The latest in Disney’s attempts to keep their finger in the pie is the remake of the 1998 animated hit, Mulan. The trailer dropped Sunday to millions of views and a clear indication of how well the film will do when it is released.
However, die-hard Disneyites (new knickname I’m trying out for all you Disneyites out there) would do well to read the description for the video on Youtube. This movie is based on the 6th century poem, the Ballad of Mulan. While the animated version is dear to many of us, this one will take a different direction; one more true to the original ballad and more sensitive to Chinese culture and history. I, for one, cannot wait for Spring 2020 and can’t wait to see Yifei Liu as Mulan kick ass.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

I was pleasantly surprised when Maleficent (2014) turned out to be a rather good movie. I wasn’t convinced that a villain’s origin story would be appealing as a Disney movie but it was dark, hopeful and filled with enough emotion that I thought it worked very well.
The trailer for the sequel dropped yesterday and it looks fantastic. More family drama looks in store for Maleficent and Aurora when the young princess is sought out for marriage. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a definite villain judging by her glances to the distance as a plan forms behind those wonderful eyes.
There is a twist in the tale as the trailer gives away pretty much the whole story. But I won’t. So have a look.

Frozen II

2 Frozen 2 Feckin’ Cold will be released towards the end of this year. Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff will reprise their roles in the sequel to the 2013 smash hit which drove parents crazy. This time around Anna, Else, Kristoff and Sven head off to save Arendelle and the world while discovering the origins of Elsa’s powers. Stay strong, Moms and Dads. Stay strong.



Lourdes

I spent six years avoiding going to Lourdes. My aunt Mary had been going for almost thirty years, helping kids with mental and physical disabilities on their pilgrimage to the holy town. When we were younger she would come back and teach us the songs that the kids would learn over there. We heard all about Noah and the his ark and all the animals that would be going on his boat. We read some small books about Lourdes and saw pictures of the place and the people that Mary was helping.
After I finished school and went to U.L., Mary was onto me to go on the pilgrimage. I had excuses at the ready and more often than not just didn’t respond in time to go. I wasn’t too pushed. I was in college and wanted to spend my Easter drinking with school friends or drinking with college friends. After college I went to America and so was unavailable for Mary to try and pressure. As I returned at the start of this year, one of the first things Mary and I talked about was me going to Lourdes. She hadn’t gone in a number of years due to helping take care of Nana at home. I again gave a vague answer with no real desire or inclination to go. I thought that I could just ride this one out aswell, letting Mary forget about it.
Then, the application forms came over. I said to myself and then to Mary that I would fill them out and then let her know if I was going. The deadline was coming up and the people organising the pilgrimage needed to know. (There are different groups from around Ireland that go on the pilgrimage to Lourdes. There are 9 kids with various disabilities in a group and about 12 carers. I was going to be one of the carers in the Limerick group.) I dropped over the form on the Wednesday evening and specifically told Mary that I would let her know the following evening if I would go. I woke up Thursday morning to an email, a missed call and a text welcoming me to the pilgrimage and asking me to fill out training forms and send money for the trip. I wasn’t happy about it but I couldn’t do anything about it. It looked like I was going to Lourdes for a week.

Thank God I did.

View from Pic du Jer

Initial feelings of nervousness, caution and worry were quickly erased at Shannon airport. All the other carers were nice and I was immediately thrown into my idea of the deep end when I had to bring a few of the kids to the bathroom. I waited in the bathroom with them as they did their business and then met another carer outside as we all walked back to the group. This was the whole week in a nutshell; being beside the kids at all times and making sure that none of them go missing while making sure everyone enjoys themselves. It was tiring but extremely rewarding.
There was little time during the day to make connections with the other carers but at the end of the first night I got a knock on my bedroom door to go down for a few pints in the hotel bar. I was right at home with the Limerick group.

We went on a number of excursions throughout the week. We went up a cable car to the top of the Pic du Jer. The cable car, or finuculaire, went up an ascent of a 1’000 feet. The finuculaire itself is over 100 years old. Some of the kids were afraid of the climb but once we reached the top everyone was O.K. Pictures were taken, ice creams were bought and the craic was had.
A few of us walked up the path to the top of Pic du Jer. A beautiful view of the surrounding countryside and the mountains in the distance were like something out of a fantasy movie. It was breathtaking. It was one of the lasting memories of a lifetime.

Gotta let the insta Huns know where it’s at

On the Wednesday we headed to the beach. The group took a two-hour bus journey from Lourdes to St Jean de Luz, a small town in Basque country. Every year the different groups usually take this trip to the beach where the kids could unwind and have a bit of fun outside of the holy town. We picked our spot on the beach, took off our shoes and messed around for a couple of hours. Some of us played hurling, some ran down to the water and some chilled out by our things. Everyone seemed to have a good time, even the kids who swore they wouldn’t!
After soaking each other at the beach we went to one of the local restaurants and had our dinner. Sitting at the table and seeing all the kids happy and in their element was a proud moment. While it may have been a tough week, emotionally and physically, it was only a week out of our lives. Their parents are on call every single day. I’m not saying that the kids were nightmares as they were anything but; they were pleasures for the most part. What I am saying is that if I felt such pride and happiness at seeing these kids enjoy themselves so much in a little fishing town in France, then I can’t fathom how their parents feel when they’re having positive days.

Bozo the Clown and a stylish lady (Kathleen)

Thursday was a fantastic day. We had our usual walk down to the Grotto and then around the grounds. A couple of us went to the baths to get dipped in the holy water. Myself, two of the other helpers and three of the young fellas went in, and while I’d love to give you a description of why it is so significant, I can’t. The freezing cold water knocked everything out of me. I felt like I had been punched in my throat, chest, stomach and crotch all at the same time. I think it absolved me of my sins or something. I hope so.
That night we had the fancy dress party. Yours truly was dressed as a clown, complete with tri-colour wig, glittery beard and massive pants. The kids and carers all dressed up in their own outfits. There was a Robin, of Batman and Robin, a scary priest, a cool dude on the town, a hippy, a cow and many others. It was another night where the kids were in their element. Some of the kids grew as the week went on and you could see their development, especially that night.
Afterwards, once the kids were in bed, a few of us went down to the historic spot of ‘La Bamba’. The nightclub was the stuff of legend and it didn’t disappoint. We drank copious amounts as you do when you’re blowing off steam and danced the night away. I can tell you now that the hangover the next day was a killer but it was totally worth it.

Top of the cathedral In Lourdes

The last day kind of passed by in a blur. We had our last mass with Fr. Brian and then went to the Grotto. We lit candles also and offered them in our prayers for our family and friends. We got the kids all packed for the trip home in the morning and had a few pints together before turning in ourselves. It felt bittersweet. It felt good to be going home and to know that the kids had a good week but it felt odd. Sort of like leaving school at the end of the year. It’s great to be finished but you’ll miss all of your friends and the craic that ye had.
This feeling was compounded at the airport the next day. The kids were so happy to see their families again and to be going home. As was I and the rest of the carers. Maybe it was because it was my first year but I felt a little hollow. Almost as if I wanted there to be just one more night.

Maybe I’ll have to go back next year to get my fill of Lourdes again.

Yesterday: Movie Review

When you hear the plot of the movie Yesterday, you may be forgiven for thinking that it would be better off as a question left for a bunch of stoned people to mull over whilst enjoying a bong hit or two. After seeing the trailer a few months ago I couldn’t help but feel excited for the film. However, I didn’t have the highest hopes for the film going in. I knew that I would like it but I didn’t know what other reviewers or the general public would think. I also realised that despite knowing a lot about the Beatles and their history and their songs, I have never really listened to them. I have never purchased an album or searched them out online. While there are some problems with the movie, the least it has done is give me a few more favourite songs.

Yesterday tells the story of struggling musician Jack (Himesh Patel), as he plays gig after gig with no prospect of success. After a particularly bad show he tells his lifeling friend and manger Ellie (Lily James) that he’s finally giving up. As he makes his way home from her car there is a worldwide blackout. This conveniently happens as he comes to an intersection and is knocked down by a bus. After waking up in hospital and meeting his friends, Jack comes to the horrible realization that nobody remembers, or much worse, nobody knows, who the Beatles are or what their music sounded like. Wrestling with this new knowledge, Jack goes on to find super stardom as he releases their music as his own. However, his relationships and mental health suffer with his new found fame.

I think we can all agree that the plot is formulaic and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is going to happen. Obviously there is an unspoken romantic connection between Jack and Ellie that will either be resolved or not towards the end of the movie. Jack will wrestle with his conscience about stealing the songs and also about leaving his old life behind. Will it be a dream sequence? Will he wake up in the hospital bed and declare his love for Ellie and make sure the Beatles are back in our CD collections?
Himesh Patel has a great voice. He does well as Jack, playing him in a lowkey manner, as if the whole world is against him. He shares great chemistry with Lily James, who is in a supporting role here but does steal the show whenever she is on screen.
Joel Fry is great as deadbeat friend Rocky who accompanies Jack on his worldwide tour when he becomes famous. He provides great comic relief in an already witty movie.
Ed Sheeran has a few scenes as himself and I really enjoyed them. He plays himself as a bit of a jealous friend to Jack who gives him his first break.
Kate McKinnon of SNL fame plays an oily, soul sucking L.A agent who only views Jack as a product rather than a person who writes songs. She treats him as such and is hilarious in any scene she’s in.

Danny Boyle directs this indie-comedy. It is nowhere near as hard hitting or as dark as some of his previous work but it is the mark of a great director that he does work that he loves. His camera shots are universally known and are no different here.
Richard Curtis wrote the screenplay alonside Jack Barth who wrote the story. Curtis’ credits are impressive. He wrote on Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. That dry, British humour is evident here in the quips and jokes made by characters.

I personally liked the movie a lot. I am a fan of musicals and rom-coms. I am a fan of most genres in fairness. I thought this was a solid movie. I wasn’t a fan of the John Lennon part. There was nothing wrong with the idea or the way the character was brought in, but I just didn’t like his face. The make up on the character made him look like he should be working as a teller in Gringotts.
I also don’t think that the Beatles’ music would fare as well as the writer thinks it would in this modern age. However, that is not a plot fall really as it is his movie and not mine.
All in all, a solid movie.

3.5/5.

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.