Pan of Aran

January 25, 2016

As first jobs go, mine’s a bit of a doozy.

Six times a day, with the help of my adopted pup Streak, I took to the airfield at Inis Mor Airport to clear it of rabbits and donkeys that may have wandered onto the runway, allowing for the safe landing of the daily flights from the mainland that brought with them- not only passengers, but the post, the papers and perishables.

Another donkey has wandered into the path of Aer Arann of late, and alas, Streak is no longer with us to chase him off.

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Spotlight

January 24, 2016

If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to abuse one, a point proved, beyond all doubt by director Tom McCarthy in the excellent Spotlight. Looking at how the Catholic Church covered up and facilitated the actions of Paedophile priests in Boston, while hot-shot lawyers profited off of those same actions, it’s a well deserved ode to the journalistic profession, so often portrayed in a venal hue on the silver screen.

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Horrible Histories

January 24, 2016

Starting the same week as RTE’s Rebellion, it was easy for BBC’s War & Peace to obliterate the competition when it came to making a first impression. A proper, all-star cast playing characters that could stand up to the celebrity playing them. Stunning exteriors and interiors of the Russian palaces and country retreats that hosted balls and bacchanals that dripped with fur, glittered with bling and featured beautiful people that were sloshed on snobbery. While the gripping fight scenes actually stimulated the sense of being in the middle of a battlefield, as opposed to being on the outskirts of a suburban estate with the bangers going off in the distance.

Based on what’s considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time, it also had the advantage of not being a scripted shitshow, brimming with simplistic reductions of political ideologies, historical inaccuracies that undercut -rather than charged, the drama and characters so threadbare they fail to engage on any level.

But as both shows hit their midway point, Rebellion’s soapy histrionics are being pulled up by a cast who fly through the action like stray bullets, making accidental emotional impact as they ricochet from one implausible set piece to the next.

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In spite of what the metal band on my third finger, left hand says, I’ve never had any desire to get married. Engaged yes. There’s something romantic and hopeful about the promise of a lifetime together. But I always imagined the day after the white dress was tucked away, and the rice had killed off a few pigeons, I would feel like Kate Winslet in the movie Titanic, the post-ceremony comedown dragging me back to reality in chains. A wedding is (supposed to be) for life, not just the party, gifts and salmon-sparked indigestion.

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Trumbo

January 19, 2016

Being aware of the waspish word of mouth Trumbo received when it was released in the United States may have helped me see it, not as the missed opportunity it very clearly is, but as the inoffensive, entertaining biopic it ended up being. Like Carol and Brooklyn, which similarly lost themselves to a fan girls flit of fifties fashions – divorced from the politics and peculiarities of the day, the movie is more an aesthetic pleasure than an inciting watch.

It draws no parallels between the self-censorship of the entertainment industries, then and now. Between the demonising of certain sects and creeds in the name of patriotism. Or the line between an artist’s politics and their work.

It’s wholly unoriginal, uninspiring and underdeveloped.

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Rebellion

January 19, 2016

Three different women, under the influence of three different men, get caught up in the action of Easter Week 1916 in Colin Teevan’s nice looking, slow moving, typically tarted-up costume drama. The tent pole in the national broadcasters coverage of the centenary, there are moustachioed Brits, comic colloquialisms, unwanted pregnancies and adulterous actions, as the signatories of the proclamation drop on by in ‘would you look who it is’ cameos, in a drama that keeps its focus on ‘the real people’ of Dublin, made up, here, for the purposes of our entertainment.

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Mozart in the Jungle

January 19, 2016

Why is it so difficult for television makers to create an involving series about the arts or entertainment industry? Following on from the hate watch that was SMASH, the soap infused drag show that is Empire, plus that skaggy ballet bore Flesh & Bone, comes Mozart in the Jungle, a programme that shocked everyone when it was renewed for a second season by Amazon, and then stunned critics when it was nominated for -then won, two awards at The Golden Globes last week. 

Based on the 2005 Roman-A-Clef of the same name, it charts the bumpy rise of a young Oboist, Hailey, played by Lola Kirke (sister of Girls Jemima) as she battles through the flanks of the made up New York Symphony. 

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Transparent

January 19, 2016

The problem with the mass dumping of entire seasons of TV shows onto streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon is that once you’ve ingested them whole, you’ve a good 12 months to go before you can next digest fresh plot. It can be difficult to find your way back into the intricacies of the story, to remember who raped who, who aborted whose child or who was attacked by what prostitute, where, when and why.

The joy of a show like Transparent- which is back on Amazon as we speak, is that unlike, say, House of Cards, it’s the minute details- the feeling, suppressing and transducing of emotions- that grip. The details of the story may be foggy, yet the spray from the emotional swell is bitterly familiar and addictively distressing.

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Deutschland 83

January 19, 2016

Just like there are people who will excuse Rebellion its many faults because it’s a homegrown production, so too are there people who will forgive Deutschland 83 the same because it’s a fancy, foreign import showing on Channel Four’s new Walter Presents service, that specialises in showing the best foreign-language drama series from around the world.

What you think of it will depend on how you like your TV done.

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Grandma

January 19, 2016

“You’re just a footnote,” Lilly Tomlin callously tells her girlfriend as she casts her aside at the start of Grandma, a movie that seems to believe the same thing about its plot. The main reason to see this movie is to see the excellent Lilli Tomlin in a leading role for the first time in almost three decades. 

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