Monday, December 20, 2004

Gonna fiesta like it's 1999

Friday: sitting at work, patiently tapping my computer keyboard in a vain attempt to appear busy

Phone rings: sister on other end with inexplicable fake German accent announces that my license has arrived

Thought occurs: someone could find a fax machine and copy & fax said license to me in order that I might be insured

Thought grows: Poppa is travelling to Dublin and could do it on his way

Chance taken: call Dad and ask him, he agrees (albeit unwillingly)

Friday: sitting at work, patiently tapping my computer keyboard in a vain attempt to appear busy whilst glancing at the phone watching the LCD clock tot up the minutes…closer and closer to four

Impatience: call home, sister has discarded fake German accent for one of simple annoyance (perhaps I was disturbing her busy sitting-around schedule) to discover that Pops has taken a ‘lie down’

Bright idea: text Dads mobile faking no knowledge of his sleeping extravaganza telling him how thankful I am that he is doing this for me, and how he is a life-saver, and how I owe him for this one, etc. etc. and sign off as his loving daughter

Friday: sitting at work, patiently tapping my computer keyboard in a vain attempt to appear busy whilst glancing at the phone and listening to the fax

Noise: fax machine bursts into action and copies come through

Hallelujah: call unhappy father and don’t care about his ‘attitude’ as favour has now been done and don't bloody need him now

Insurance: requested and received through much perseverance

Drinks: celebratory knees-up in local hostelry, soon I shall be a ‘designated driver’ and unable to enjoy uninhibited drinking

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I took to the road on Sunday with my dutiful Dad in the passenger seat and my sister, now quite devoid of any remaining Germanic tendencies, in the back. I kindly drove her to work. Traffic lights, winding roads, crazy pedestrians, and rabid dogs – in fact, everything a budding driver needs or wants. I overcame it all, and proceeded to take my car out on more adventurous journeys, culminating in an adventurous night time trip to Blessington to collect my darling cranky-puss from the bus. From there, we went home, but then – the driving itch slowly taking over – I drove to Baltinglass for a Chinese (take-away, not person).

I love my Fiesta. My little, little Fiesta.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Napoleon Who?

Every so often an independent movie comes out of left field and catches cinemagoers completely by surprise with its insight and voracity. This is almost that movie. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is a new anti-hero – the Holden Caulfield of the MTV generation, though with slightly less social ability – and embodies every outsider who ever sat front row centre of the class with his mouth hanging open.

Napoleon is introduced on screen giving a speech about Japanese scientists planting explosives in Loch Ness to blow anything there out of the water, and local wizards clubbing together to cast a spell over the lake to protect ‘Nessie’ - this being, of course, his entry for the current events section of class! Napoleon lives with his (much) older brother Kip and his grandmother. When she breaks a bone whilst dune-buggying, their strange Uncle Rico comes to 'babysit'. Kip and Rico find a connection and are soon selling Tupperware together in order to buy a time machine, and they both conspire to make Napoleon's already complicated life unbearable. Introduce a monosyllabic Mexican new kid, a dysfunctional 80’s throwaway girl, a hungry Llama, a dozen roads to nowhere, one of the funniest dance sequences since ‘Flashdance’, and the mix is complete.

'Napoleon Dynamite' is one of the most hilarious films I have seen this year – it is smart, poignant and utterly watchable, drawing threads of anguish (what else can you call the embarrassments of youth?) with threads of humour. Saying that, I am not sure it can cross any huge generational gaps – some of the scenes are too quintessentially teenager, and typically American, to maintain a very wide (as it deserves) following.

A welcome offering from the fairytale land of man-with-camera, I take movies that are full of life and character, like this, over the blockbuster tosh that can sometimes poison our perception of cinema. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is an absolute gem of independent cinema, and a welcome relief from mediocrity.

Though it deserves a much fuller audience, 'Napoleon Dynamite' will probably dominate the cult classic section of Laser for a good many years to come.

If stars are the quantification of a movie, then this dynamite (it had to be done) offering gets a blistering four-and-three-quarters stars!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

A Fare to Remember (see what I did?!)

Watched Taxi Driver last night. Again. Does Travis Bickle ever loose his sting? As it turns out, yes! Last night, whilst watching it, I just felt incredibly sorry for him – that one line ‘Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.’ Got me right here (*points to general area of heart*)!! And his big one ‘Here is a man who would not take it anymore…..Here is a man who stood up!’ But he DID take it, and came out smiling the smile of the gormless – contented in life or death, a bullet or a smile from strangers would have served the same purpose and brought the same effect! Last night was the first time in my life that I have watched Taxi Driver and actually choked up!

I still STILL STILL haven’t got my license. What is the story with Wicklow County Council??? Have they got no soul, no heart, no overtime??!!

Christmas is drawing near (extra marks for originality of statement!), and I thought I had all my gifts bought – but yesterday I realised that I have only bought for one person (you know who you are!). So, now I’ve panicked and started buying more unneeded things online…must spend day in town shopping! Must stop avoiding it! Must not forget that the meaning of Christmas is not presents, but is all about Jesus’ birthday.

Quick reminiscence – Spike Milligan once told a story of Jesus College in England. The phone rings on Christmas Day,
…Gatehouse guard answers
…voice on the other end of the line,
‘Is this Jesus?’
…guard replies,
…raucous singing,
‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you’!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Life I could'a/ should'a/ would'a had!

We went to see ‘Riding Giants’ at the weekend – a documentary on the history of surfing, from Greg Noll to Laird Hamilton, made by the same genius that brought us ‘Dogtown and Z Boys’ (fabulous documentary on the history of skateboarding!). It was fantastic – the cinematography and skilful shots were breathtaking (hardly an effort when your palate includes Hawaii and the Californian coastline), but my entire imagination was taken up with the footage of the fifties group of surfers who hiked sticks and moved to Hawaii to live beside the greatest swell they had ever known. Living on pineapples and whatever fish they could catch (plus a few stolen chickens) they spent hours in the water every day, living a life of complete freedom. To them, surfing became an actual way of life – they were the original hippies, before flower power and free love were even thought of! There, in the ‘repressed’ fifties were these young men living the dream, and living my dream (if you take away the obsession with surfing, obviously!!). My dream being, of course, to live off the land/sea/air and not have to pay taxes, drive to work, sit in traffic, partake in office politics (damn those office politics!!), attend meetings, take notes, shake people’s hand whilst simultaneously smiling, say things like ‘sorry Garda but the tax is in the post’, pay rent, make constant conversation with people I don’t like, etc. etc.

So, instead, I want to live by the ocean. Preferably in a shack. Eating pineapples.

Ok – so that’s probably not going to happen (well, it might – I will be taking a couple of years off and spend it travelling around, so a few months could be spent in that proverbial ‘shack’).

Anyway, back on track – I would highly recommend ‘Riding Giants’. It is a superb and sublime piece of celluloid that has heightened my ambitions to ‘spread these broken wings and learn to fly again’ (and, yes, I DID just quote 80’s legend Mr. Mister!!). What are you gonna do about it?!

Also saw ‘The Incredibles’ at the weekend. It was incroyable, to say the least!

Nothing more to report…license still hasn’t arrived! I wait patiently…(well – not quite patiently. I wait. Let’s leave it at that!).

Monday, November 29, 2004

My first car...!

The trials of buying a car! I had a price limit (obviously) that is quite low by most people’s standards – a measly €3000. However, I thought I was being bloody generous to some of the bangers advertised in the indispensable Buy & Sell (where else could you buy someone else’s black and white portable TV for €10 o.n.o.?!). How wrong was I, dear friends! Turns out most ‘decent’ cars were gone before I’d lifted the phone…so, when I saw a Fiat Punto (I know, I know!!) with 37k miles on it (and in showroom condition) advertised, I jumped at it’s €2600 price! When the man who answered the phone appeared to be about 17 billion years old, I rejoiced – I asked him was he the first owner, and he informed me that he wasn’t…that he had bought the car from ‘Brigid above there in Ballymun’. I smiled at his quaintness, and offered to come view the car on Saturday. My Garda friend came along for the ride, and we dropped into a Ford garage in Phibsboro to ask would they take a look at it if we brought it up. Great lads as they were, they agreed wholeheartedly!

We pulled into a pleasantly old estate on Botanic Road, and were greeted by the sight of Old-Man-River himself stumbling down the road on his age-worn legs…blatant opportunists that we were, we rubbed our hands in glee at the thoughts of this man driving down to the shops once a week in the car – barely using it, in fact! He showed us to the car-port and started the engine of the car – alarm bells rang in our not-exactly-mechanics-but-still-not-completely-stupid heads! It sounded as if it hadn’t been used in six months or more…so we asked him how often he drove it, and he informed us that he didn’t actually own the car – it belonged to his sister who had recently gone into a nursing home. We took the car off his hands for a wee test drive up to the garage, and on the way my Garda friend rang the registration number through to the station…we pulled into the garage, and the lads there almost laughed at the car. What we, inexperienced buffoons, had not noticed was the extremely dodgy spray job on the rear…before another word was spoken, Garda-friend’s phone rang and we were informed that the car had been rear-ended in 2001, and had also had all the windows smashed in with a sledgehammer (separate incidents? I don’t know!). Good enough, then! The mechanic-boys let us know of another garage down the road owned by an ex-Garda, where we might get a deal…so we returned to the oldest man in Ireland, and told him that we couldn’t buy the car as it wasn’t in great ‘nick’ at all. He then proceeded to LIE to us – he said he had had it serviced every three or four months. Damning him for his treachery, I spat on the ground in front of him and stormed out of there! (OK – only figuratively speaking! What I actually did was thank him for his time, and say goodbye in that nice ‘we-have-guests’ tone my Momma had always taught me!)….

Abba Moters, on North Circular, looked alright – in a dodgy-U-Turn kind of way – so we strolled confidently into it’s darkened interior! Suddenly, a shaft of light broke through the overcast day, and lit up an angel-car sandwiched between a big saloon-type car and another big saloon-type automobile……the car that would be mine – a beautiful ’97 Ford Fiesta!!!

Ok, so I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t the car of my dreams – the car of my dreams is an old-style, convertible VW Beetle, painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Failing that, I originally wanted a VW Golf.

But it was a car that I liked the look of, a car that I could drive and, most importantly, a car that I could afford! It had two years NCT on it, and was taxed until September of next year…plus a service and valet-ing was included in the price. We brought it down to the first garage, and the lovely mechanics test drove it with us, checked under the bonnet, looked at all the outside work and pronounced it ‘a little goer’. One phone call to the station later proved that it was clean as a whistle, and twice as shiny! Refusing any money from me (lovely chaps!), the mechanics waved us off in my little car, and wished me much good luck! We returned to the garage, and the man told us that it would cost me €3000…we half-heartedly tried to bargain, but he’d already knocked €250 from the price, and wasn’t inclined to go any further. I agreed, we shook hands in a professional manner, signed a receipt in an even MORE professional manner, and I managed to hold in my un-professional squeals of delight until I had exited the garage.

The deal is made, and I collect it Wednesday. Hallelujah, hallelujah – ladies and gentlemen, my first car!!!!

(**Suppressed squeal of delight and simultaneous hand-clapping**)

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Passion vs Guy Richie

I’ve been sick for a week, and spent my time at first watching all the extras on my various DVD’s (which led me to discover, by the way, that ‘Shaun of the Dead’ is the ultimate DVD package!), and then wallowing in the mire that is daytime TV. Sad days they were – with Ricki Lake shows such as ‘You’re fat!’ and ‘My dream job – I want to be a stripper!’, and Oprah God-bless-‘em’s such as ‘Holding my wedding dress ransom’, ‘What cigarettes are REALLY doing to you’ and ‘I left my wife and kids so that I could be happy’. It was tough, I tell you! I can really see how, with all their free cable channels and constant stream of public access TV, Americans really are conditioning themselves to be the most moronic species this world has ever seen (and I’m including amoebas in this). The only homogenising things between each state are shows like Oprah and Ricki Lake, news stations like CNN and FOX (both hopelessly partisan) and presidential addresses – all other TV is manufactured within their own state, and therefore cannot hope to give a world view – or even continent view – of anything. It is a sad state of affairs, and after seeing how it affected my own brain to be subjected to it for a mere five days, I can really see no hope for America at all. Maybe the makers of ‘Supersize Me’ could make a documentary where one only watched daytime TV, and didn’t read a book or newspaper at all. Would make for interesting results, methinks!

On another note, myself and Alan (he has requested that I refrain from calling him ‘my lover’ – apparently it makes him feel like a piece of meat!) watched ‘Snatch’ last night followed by ‘The Passion’. My good Lord above, what a contrast! ‘Snatch’ was so heavily stylised that is was a chore not to snort derisively at each new cockney rhyming slang in place of words, and each shot to shot jump that made your head ache with its lack of spontaneity – Guy Richie is just the most unbelievable flake…using the ultimate in cash-cowing, uninspiring rehashing, he merely remakes the same styled movie as ‘Lock, Stock’ and ups the ante by exaggerating all that seemed fresh and new in the original. Shameful!

‘The Passion’, on the other hand, was a horse of a different colour! It was good, I suppose, but I really did NOT see what all the fuss was about. I also think Mel Gibson was heavy handed with the gore – not in a gratuitous way, because he obviously believed that this is what happened, but he made the whole movie about Jesus’ pain and blood, without ever questioning the man. Jim Caviezel does his best with meaningful looks and blood-soaked groans, but no insight is given into Christ. There are a few painfully silly dun dun DUUUNNN moments – like, for instance, the opening scene in The Garden, when Jesus speaks to the disciples in rushed and harried tones. They question each other ‘Why does he speak like this’, ‘What is wrong with him’, etc., to which Peter replies ‘He is afraid’. (as I said – dun dun DDUUUNNN!! – as though this is a remarkable insight and startling news for all who worship!)

There really is the very minimum of back-story as to how things led to this moment, and no actual concept of who Jesus was or what He had done was given. Flashback sequences are really just flabby and lazy storytelling, and it did nothing for the tale in the least – merely gave brief moments of sunshine to alleviate the gruesome spectacle on screen. And that, basically is what I thought of ‘The Passion’ – it was a spectacle of pain, a theatre of the macabre. Mel Gibson obviously felt passionately (excuse the pun) about the movie, but it gave me no insight into my own faith. It merely dwelt on the most distressing 48 hours of Jesus’ life – hours that I have already thought on long and hard being, as they are, the basis of the Catholic Church. I prefer, however, to continue to think on Jesus as I always have – a man who had some great ideas on how to live life, and one who’s own existence was cut short far too soon by the same naysayers that still exist today in their various forms. Indeed, those who dwell on this fantastical production of Jesus’ death are the same ones who greedily take in and condemn newscasts of people being hacked to pieces in Iraq, or children torn to shreds in Sudan, without lifting a finger to stop it. Seeing such things on screen creates a sense of detachment – Jesus’ life becomes ample fodder for a movie, and so much of the good work is undone. Commercialism takes on religion, and commercialism wins. For whatever reason Mel Gibson chose to undertake this quest for his own affirmation of faith – and I’m sure his intentions were good – the movie reeks of humbug and belittling, undermining what faith may be the basis.

However (and it’s a pretty big however) it did touch me, and did make me feel slightly closer to some truth of Jesus’ last hours of pain – pain that He undertook so that man could be saved. I won’t be buying this movie, or ever watching it again, but this is not to imply that it is too powerful to sit through – I just feel that it wasn’t substantial enough to warrant a second viewing. I don’t want to be excessively negative about the film, but I thought about it again this morning, and I still draw the same conclusions on it.

Two minutes are all that are given to the resurrection – surely the most amazing and faith-inspiring moments that came after His horrific crucifixion – and a shameful CGI shot of Jesus’ thigh seen through the holes in his hands. It is ironic that I draw almost the same conclusion from ‘The Passion’ as I did from ‘Snatch’. Shameful!

(Perhaps I speak too harshly. It was a powerful production which, not withstanding the crap Titanic-like music throughout, was moving and thought provoking…if only for a few minutes. Sad, really, that I feel this need to offset my negativity with an afterthought……….maybe it’s the guilty Catholic in me!)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Still shaking!

Holy crap…when I saw ‘Ringu’ for the first time, about three years ago, I was living in a house in Dundrum with two guys that I didn’t know well enough to wake with my screams. It was during the Channel Four season of ‘extreme’ movies, and it scared the CRAP out of me! I was alone in the sitting room, it was about three in the morning, and when she started climbing out of the television, I thought I would actually seize up and die…of course, it didn’t help that the TV I was watching was sitting in the same position on the floor as the telly in the movie – the very one that she was CRAWLING OUT OF!! God, I can still remember pulling away from the scene, trying to push myself into the chair, but unable to look away from her jerky form crawling closer and closer and…aaarrrggghhh – gives me the jitters just thinking about it!!

So, last night I went to see ‘The Grudge’ with my lover and two friends…and holy crap, it happened all over again! Since seeing ‘Ringu’ I have seen ‘The Eye’ (also Japanese), which did, of course, also scare the bejeeesus out of me. What is it about the human psyche that loves a good scare? Watching ‘The Grudge’ last night was certainly an experience – noisy young ‘uns soon shut up as they froze with fear to their seats, screams rang out among the audience (followed by the obligatory nervous laughter, and glance-exchange between strangers to assure themselves that everyone else is reacting the same way!), and my rock beside me shook and jumped with the best of them! Lacking originality (some scenes were practically lifted from ‘Ringu’), this movie nonetheless scared the pants off me and, were it not for a bedmate last night, I would most CERTAINLY have been sleeping with the light on!

I also saw ‘Finding Neverland’ which was, despite some sterling acting, merely alright. I cried like a baby, but that is no sign of a good movie, as I am extremely easily manipulated during films (I most certainly comply with the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ needed to lose yourself in someone else’s story). I’ll pop in a review of them both later today, or during the week – not that anyone waits with baited breath, but since this blog was originally set up to keep track of my movie-going life, it would be a shame to waste such a movie-filled weekend!

Watch this space…

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Should I joke?

I went to see a movie last night with my surprisingly (and quite frighteningly) enlightened partner - and came out (unfortunate word usage) slightly stunned! However, I shall do my best to review it - or at least write down my initial feelings on the subject. As you can see, I have resisted the urge to call the movie 'A Homo at the End of the World'. Ok, not so must resist the urge as completely give in.....damn it! Here's what I thought, anyway!

A Home at the End of the World

Director: Michael Mayer
Writer: Michael Cunningham (Novel & Screenplay)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Sissy Spacek, Dallas Roberts

Considering I had been largely oblivious to this movie’s production, it is no surprise (to anyone else) that the content completely blind-sided me. I was in no way prepared for the story that followed, having only seen one advert – which, sadly, made the movie look more like a TV3 ‘triumph over adversity’ story of friendship than the quite serious drama it actually is. I still have my reservations, strongly built upon this first impression – any movie where two characters sing a song together whilst driving in a pick-up tends to make me squirm…ooh, la fromage!

However, despite the many insultingly lame moments, the actual structure was shocking and realistic. The actors have the credit of displaying some of the finest skills I’ve seen this side of ‘Eternal Sunshine…’, amply filling their characters shoes – Colin Farrell in particular making me proud to be Irish, just for the sake of saying he’s ‘ours’. I mention ‘Eternal Sunshine’ because Jim Carrey is ostensibly the ‘star’ pulling-power of that movie, as is Colin Farrell for ‘A Home at the End of the World’, yet both maintain their own thunder, stealing none from their co-stars. They both underplay marvellously, and are so generous with their screen time that it really does not seem like their movie at all, but in each case gives the audience a true ensemble piece worthy of the story. They allow more time for other characters to evolve and become something more substantial than story fillers – a selflessness that is sadly lacking in many star vehicles. Moreover, the screenplay – which stands just the right side of pretentious – manages to reel you in, weaving Bobby’s magical influence around you, so that everything that happens in his life, and everything he feels, is transmitted directly to you via Colin Farrell’s remarkable talent.

The reason that I found it somewhat uncomfortable to watch was, of course, the homosexual storyline. It’s not that I find anything offensive about a movie that shows this life that I cannot fathom, but the fact is I was not prepared for it. I am not usually one to use trailers as my basis for a movie, but unfortunately that did happen to me here. I came into the show expecting a simple, albeit well told, tale about Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn, and was rather taken aback by the turn the story took. However, there is nothing gratuitous in this entire movie – the romance is dealt with by dint of such patience and timing, that it is truly hard to see it as anything other than love. All actors involved give this tough and dramatic tale a human edge sadly lacking in the writers previous outing, ‘The Hours’ – even though, I must say, I haven’t thought much about it or its ‘issues’ since. There was an element of the rushed about it – too much story to cram into under two hours of footage – so some scenes skipped by, belying their importance, and others dwelt too long on the unimpressive. My biggest quibble would be the fact that there is always a punishment for anyone in Hollywood movies that venture outside the norm. Without giving too much away, everyone who does anything ‘bad’ in this movie – homosexuality, drugs, promiscuity, etc. – ends up ‘paying for it’ in some way or another. Not the most powerful of movies to tell a tale that has become slightly hackneyed at this stage, but it has some shining moments of redemption. However, it remains for me a forgettable drama, though eloquently told.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

George Lucas - is he Satan?

Why must George Lucas do it? I watched Return of the Jedi last night with my lover and, incredibly, fell asleep during the Yoda death scene (intensely Jim Henson, you are) – much to my consternation – and awoke just as Luke escapes the Death Star Mark 2 with the remains of his father, Darth (or ‘Mr. Vader’, as I’m sure he’s known!). Up until now I had some qualms on Lucas’ remastering and tinkering – I mean, out of all sequences least deserving of extension, Jabba’s musical interludes stands out! Who needs orgasmic semi-Great Gig-esque pop music sung by an overweight single lip? Especially when its function seems to be to ‘lighten the mood’ and distract viewers from the sex-slave undertones of Jabba’s dragging the chained and bikini-ed alien girl towards his Tony Soprano sized libido! It is a travesty that George Lucas cannot leave well enough alone! The accompanying scene includes Boba Fett lasciviously caressing two of the backing singers to this awful musical intermission. Tasteless stuff!

However, my quivering rage is reserved for the closing scenes. As I said, I awoke to Luke’s fleeing the Death Star (Mark 2) and flying down to Endor (was it Endor?) to oh-so-solemnly burn his pops, after which he heads to the Ewok city to meet Solo and Leia. So far so-Jedi, but suddenly there is a new scene introduced where Luke flies over a remarkably advanced city (with no sign of any Ewok) to cheers of multitudes gathered below. This is a several-minute-long sequence of ‘Hail to the Chief’ cheering and applauding, possibly saluting the end of the Empire, whilst ignoring the errant Imperial star fighter flying overhead (how would they know Luke was inside?), and then he is on the bridge, hugging Han and Leia. The Ewok sequence is buffed up (though most CGI scenes throughout the movie are) – their city also looks more advanced and ‘futuristic’, and it includes a far longer and edgier dance track, followed by the most galling sequence ever committed to celluloid…

Luke turns from his ‘sister’ and friend to see Obi Wan and Yoda glow approvingly at him, and then beside them??? I can’t even bring myself to say it – lurks HAYDEN CHRISTIANSEN!! Beside Alec Guinness and Fraggle Rock, looking…can you believe it…sheepish!!! All but ahh-shucks scuffing his feet on the ground, and looking endearingly at Luke.

I feel ill, I really do! Why would they put a twenty-year-old man beside the older Alec and Big Bird? What explanation could there be?

But what I really want to know is (since I was asleep during the Emperor vs Luke scene, and have no real intention of watching this ‘remastered’ version again) whose face was under the mask when Luke finally took it off on the Death Star??

I close by saying DEATH TO GEORGE LUCAS. He has soiled the once-great empire of Star Wars and left in its place a cruel joke of a trilogy! I weep over the un-named Jedi’s grave……

P.S. Here's a photo of my gorgeous boyfriend!! I don't know who the gimp on the left is, though...!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Terror on the 65

Picture it…I’m on the 65 on my way to Dublin, I get on at Ballymore (the stop before Blessington), I put Zeppelin 3 on and sit back, reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’. I am calm…I am happy. The bus pulls in at Blessington, two men get on. One sits two seats in front of me, the other sits at the top of the bus. Next of all the obligatory un-supervised large group of 8-14 year old feckers get on the bus, wreaking havoc and running for the back seat. I simply turn up the volume on my walkman, and loose myself in Tangerine and stories of amino acids.

The scene is set.

SUDDENLY I get a whack at the back of my head, I turn around and there's two of the little feckers (I'll call them LF's), about ten years old, having a 'mess-fight' on the seat behind me, and one had hit into me. I turn around and glare (that old trick!), but they ignore me, and continue fighting and pushing up against me, again and again....

Me: What the f**k?! Get back down to your seats, you little fu**ers, and pis* off away from me!

LF's: **Silence**

So, I assumed they'd learned their lesson. HA! Suddenly I got another whack at my head, and the main little fecker (I'll call him MLF) was walking over the top of the seats, on the bars, and had walked above my head, kicking me in the process. So I reached up, grabbed his foot, and pushed it into the air, throwing him over onto the ground (I think I hurt him. I think I may have even WANTED to hurt him!), so then he got up....

MLF: F**k you, you stupid bi**h. I'll f***ing kill you. Who cut your hair?

Me: **Just stared angrily at him, wondering what's wrong with my hair?? I paid good money for this! (Damn you Sarah Weldon, this would never have happend if you had cut it!!)**

MLF: Who got your bag? Who cut your hair? Where'd you get your stupid clothes?

Me: Right, that's it! (I happened to be wearing a particularily fetching multi-coloured stripey Pepe top. It cost me 40 euro, and was most certainly NOT stupid!) Get the f**k away from me right now, or I'll go downstairs and tell the driver, and he'll call the f**ing Guards, and they'll f**k the lot of yez off the f***ing bus! Now f**k off away from me, you little f***ing pri*k!

MLF: **Glares at me with his little buck teeth sticking out, and his little ganky eyes fixing my gaze in what can only be described as some sort of attempt at a stand-off**
{**Friends down the back shout things at me and say more things about my hair (damn you Sarah!!). Generally try to intimidate me.**}

MLF then walks off (I won the stand-off, it would seem - we take the little victories in life!) to the guy two seats in front of me and starts slagging HIS hair. Guy in front doesn't stick up for himself, or say anything much. He continues to abuse him, much to his friends amusement. He moves on to the guy at the front and starts annoying him, then the little baxtard turns around and says something else to me, (probably, let’s face it, about my hair again) so I shout…possibly shout quite loudly too (psychotic anger had taken over – I felt like the Hulk!)…

Me: Leave me alone, and leave everyone else on the bus alone, or that is f***ing it. Do you want to be dumped here in the middle of nowhere, because the Garda can be here in five minutes to drag the lot of you little f***ers off the bus.

MLF then returns to the back of the bus. I replace my walkman. ‘That’s The Way’ is just drawing to a close, I try to calm down with the music. Another person gets on the bus. He sits at the front. SUDDENLY, MLF is back!!! He goes up the bus to the seat behind this new guy, and looks back at me with a really bold (evil, if I’m being honest) look, and sits in behind the guy. He leans forward, taunting me with his about-to-disobey-me misbehaviour…

Me: Go on! I f***ing dare you, I f***ing DARE you to try anything else.
MLF & Friends: He’s not even doing anything to you…it’s none of your business, he’s not saying anything to you!
Me: It doesn’t make a difference, I told you if you kept annoying me OR anyone else on the bus, I was getting you kicked off, so that’s what I’m doing.
MLF: F**k off!
Me: Right, that's it, you're all off the bus, you little f***ing ba**ards!

So, then all his friends come up and sit on all the seats around me in a big semi-circle and start abusing me, and/or staring at me open mouthed (possibly a trick of the trade intimidation-wise amongst the skanger kinder that has yet to catch on nationwide). I sit and stare back at them, refusing to be intimidated (grrrr).

MLF (possibly their leader which, to give credit where it's due, is quite an achievement for a ten year old!) comes over and stands in beside me in my seat, then takes an actual swing at my face with his fist - an actual SWING (it was like Rocky, I tell you!). I grab his fist and push him against the seat-back beside me (quite roughly, I’ll admit) and say "Don't you dare EVER raise your f***ing hand to me, you little sh*t!", and then I push him away from me onto the ground.

Suddenly he just goes flipping mental, and starts trying to kick and punch me, so I drew back as far as my little flip-flops would go, and kicked him in the stomach. Yes, that's right, I kicked a ten year old in the stomach. And I'd do it again, if I had to!! (I actually meant to just push him away, but I was so mad that I used more force than necessary. But I really do still have big bruises on my legs from him kicking me, so I feel less sorry than I probably should!!)

I think they may have possibly, at this stage, thought I was some kind of psychotic mental case, because they all got off the bus very rapidly at this point, and didn’t even shout anything much back at me. Certainly nothing about my hair (perhaps they sensed it was a sore point that could send me off the edge of reason!).

Note to passengers - If the three ‘men’ (I’ll use that term very, very, very, very, very loosely) on the bus ever chance to read this blog, shame on all of you for sitting with your backs to me, and not even turning around at any point to see was I ok – a girl, by myself, up against a very large group of evil-kinder-minus-morals-or-fear-of-repercussion. Shame on you!

There’s probably a file in Tallaght Garda station at this moment with footage of a woman’s unsolicited attack on a defenseless ten year old. But we know the truth, don’t we? I feel bad, though. I mean, he was only a kid! Writing it all down, it does seem as if I may have overreacted a bit……

Oh the joys of Dublin Bus…next stop, those people who sit down the back smoking. You, my friends, are next!

The bus avenger...what should my super-hero name be?

Monday, October 11, 2004

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road.

Much like my boyfriend Alan (in his blog page), I feel the need to clarify some things about myself before I continue with the blog. I’m probably giving the wrong kind of cinematic impression of myself with mainstream reviews, so here goes my attempt at setting the record straight!

The kind of movies I like tend to veer from the very stupid to the very highbrow (stopping just short of the likes of ‘Andrei Rublev’), so I do – rightly or wrongly – consider myself to have somewhat eclectic tastes. There are, of course, some variables…I like Rocky, but don’t like the sequels. I love The Godfather, but prefer Godfather 2. I love Close Encounters… but hate The Terminal. I adore The Big Lebowski, but will hopefully die before I ever have to see The Ladykillers or Intolerable Cruelty again. Basically, no director is safely embalmed in a canon, and no actor has a firm grip on the upper rung of my ladder (so to speak). In consequence, I often find myself watching, as I did last weekend, crap like The Last Samurai next to classics like The Deer Hunter and Glengarry Glen Ross.

It keeps me rounded (and grounded).

I watched Heathers at the weekend with Alan – he had never seen it, I own it on DVD, so I think I owe it a quick ‘my thoughts on…’


Director: Michael Lehmann
Writer: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Kim Walker, Shannon Doherty.
Starring: Daniel Waters

The trouble with reviewing an already well-known movie is that everyone has their minds made up. If you have seen it, then you love it or hate it, and if you haven’t seen it, then this masterpiece has probably dated just a little too much to be appreciated fully. Woe, I say, to those who were introduced too late!

Heathers is a remarkably well-written piece – probably a career-best from Mr. Waters (adored Batman Returns…but Demolition Man?), who gives incredible insight into the evil mind of teenage girls, and exposes the warts-n-all underbelly of sisterhood á la suburban 80’s Yuppiedom. The movie is quips a-go-go, as each line delivers with a black-packed punch, offering social commentary and guilty laughs with each line. Directed competently, if somewhat uninspiringly, (for a career that was to continue with such gems as The Truth About Cats And Dogs and the laughable – for all the wrong reasons – 40 Days and 40 Nights), the movie does at least have it’s own colour and mood infused in each scene. Blackly comic turns from Slater and Ryder turn teen suicide (don’t do it!) into social commentary of the tacky kind, and give high school pep-rally’s the same mass-murder appeal as Carrie’s overture at the prom.

The movie promises much, however with all the ‘teen angst bullshit’ that eventually achieves ‘a body count’, the ending shies away from full-on carnage, opting instead for morals and neatly wrapped ending – though still maintaining it’s caustic edge. Movies just are not made like this anymore – the recent Mean Girls proving that even when Hollywood tries to make good girls bad, it just ends up making the bad girls good. Hail to Heathers, then, as the only bad girl movie where not everyone gets their just desserts! An edgy, though in places soggy, social exposé of the squirming mess American high schools embody – something soberingly brought to mind by events such as Columbine – and a telling indictment of US foreign policy today. If they treat each other this badly, then the rest of the world doesn’t stand a chance.

In the spirit of Total Film’s latest letter’s page invite for two word reviews…

Heathers: How Very!

{By the way, Alan's blogg (as I have yet to discover how to change my 'link' settings) is, and Boney-Woney's blogg is Alan is the love of my life, and Bones is a very good friend and fellow movie-maniac!}

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Epilogue for Hoffman...?

Again, I am in work. Caring less and less about it all, because Bex can’t (won’t) change the date of her 21st, so therefore I will indeed be working the Friday and Saturday of her party. Of course, fingers crossed, I will have my car by then, so maybe it is do-able…maybe, maybe, maybe!

Ok, since I’m so busy in work, there won’t be another blog for a while! However, just to keep you informed of my movie life, last weekend I bought and watched;

The Deer Hunter (which I give 9/10)
Millers Crossing (6/10)
Glengarry Glen Ross (8/10)

……and rented The Last Samurai. Which I give a very very very very VERY generous 2/10. Do not watch this movie, people!

So, a good weekend was had, movie-wise! It’s always good to watch something crap in between classics – that way you can really appreciate the awesome power of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, et al. By the way, what is UP with ‘Empire’ these past two years??? How unbelievably crap has that magazine become (rhetorical question – you don’t have to answer!)?!!? Yesterday all my feelings for the tosh were justified by seeing their ‘top five living actors’ list in all its ignominy – from the top; Al Pacino (certainly no arguments), Marlon Brando (quibble slightly, but really would be ok with his inclusion – apart from the obvious lack-of-life thing…but that hadn’t happened at time of print, and now it is a glorious epitaph!), Jack Nicholson (agree wholeheartedly), Paul Newman (hell and no – this is what galls me!!) and Robert de Niro (apart from the odd slump – including pretty much everything he has done in the past seven years – he still amazes, but mainly through his earlier work). But here is the rub – where for art thou Dustin Hoffman???? Why, pray tell, was he not included?! The man is an absolute legend, and I cannot fathom why he would be knocked out by the likes of PAUL NEWMAN! My God, the man may make good dressing and without doubt can act, but please, people!!

Am I alone in thinking this??

Monday, October 04, 2004

Hanging on in quiet desperation!

Ok, I really feel like quitting right now! This big giant conference is a big giant pain in the ass – I mean, work should be work, and life should be life, and never the twain shall meet. But look at me (DON’T LOOK AT ME!!) – I’m a nervous wreck trying to sort this bloody thing out. Me…MEEEE caring about deadlines!!

Something is very wrong with the world, let me tell you!! But I did have a deadly weekend/Saturday-night-&-Sunday with my gorgeous boyfriend Alan…so I guess there are compensations.

But here comes a spanner in the works – the next conference I’ve to organise (taking place on the Friday 5th and Saturday 6th of November) coincides with my sisters 21st ON THE FRIDAY! I’ll just have to quit, or get her to move the day – whichever is easiest!! I cannot miss this night – and work is NOT a good enough excuse to miss anything!

I shall prevail (or end up crying for a long, long, long time……).

Mommy and Daddy got back from Scotland yesterday and brought me crystals – Bloodstone for decision-making, Druids Stone for destiny and Amethyst for spiritual well being. With a second name like Peace, you’d think I’d be prepared for having Hippy parents. Seemingly not – but at least they bought me a giant Toblerone too (sucks to you, Billy Connolly – they don’t attack my mouth!)!!

Thanks Momma and Poppa – I hope the crystals work!!

P.S. LOOK AT ME – Still in work at 5.20, and not due to leave until 8. That’s a 12 hour day, people!!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

And on the sixth day....

I’m in work on a Saturday.


Doesn’t seem right, does it? And I wouldn’t mind but it’s one of those beautiful Saturdays that I would normally spend walking around town with my gorgeous boyfriend…do a little shopping, mess around in HMV for a couple of hours (DVD a-go-go), get some lunch in exciting places like Yamamori Noodles, Zaytoon, Gotham Café, Burger King and Eddie Rockets…and then, naturally, stroll over to UGC and catch a movie!

But where am I?? Running around the largely empty office like a lunatic trying to get as much work done as possible!! Well, you can be damn sure I’m going to enjoy my night off tonight – free house (except for my sister) and gorgeous boyf down for the night…it’s gonna be wild-n-crazy! Just in case your dirty mind is running away with you, my night tonight will consist of: Making and eating dinner (probably chicken stir fry); going out to a 21st to make an appearance for an hour or so with a couple of friends; coming home and lighting the fire; putting on a few DVD’s and eating lots of crap (chocolate, mighty munch, etc. etc.) whilst dozing in front of telly; eventually sleeping.

Well, screw you – it’s my kind of night!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman & Emma Thompson.
Screenplay: JK Rowling (novel) & Stephen Kloves (script).

I hated the two previous Harry Potters. I really did! I have also never read the books, and have no intention of ever doing so unless forced. I have a very strong dislike for Chris Columbus, and was delighted to see him go, taking his insipid direction with him. And what a difference it has made! Though the ‘kids’ (teenagers, now) still embroil themselves Famous-Five like in every passing dilemma, the darker direction on this movie made it an actual pleasure to watch. Cameos from Emma Thompson, Paul Whitehouse, Dawn French and Julie Christie kept the laughter permeating the general air of doom, and I found each actor lent their own flavour to the proceedings. How sad it is, however, that Daniel Radcliffe cannot quite seem to pull off this acting ‘lark’. Rupurt Grint and Emma Watson, Ron and Hermione respectively, compound the matter by over-exaggerating and hamming every scene. They are only forgivable because they really do embody the irritatingly pretentious middle-class prep-school characters of the book to a tee.

The saving grace of this movie was its portrayal of the story being one of terror. Finally the Potter ensemble are given the dark wizardry and frightening spells they deserve – no more pigs tails on cousins, or snakes on tables – it’s monstrous beasts and wicked Dementors all the way. These Dementors, in particular, chilled the entire film (quite literally) and brought the darkness completely to bear on each scene. The Guards of Azkaban, they set out to find escaped prisoner Sirius Black, who has made his way to Hogwarts to find Harry – for what reason, we can only guess. Gary Oldman is the aptly named Black, and he revels in this role as he does every other – a genius to watch onscreen no matter what the character.

All in all this instalment earns four stars from me on the basis that it is by far the superior of the three, and shows a well placed step in the direction these movies should be heading. Some say Cuarón has made it too dark, but he is dealing with very dark subject matter…magic and wickedness combined with that most horrifying of states – adolescence.

Friday, October 01, 2004


So, now I’m facing a dilemma – work is getting tough, I’ve just embarked on a college certificate course with Open University (Humanities) in an effort to keep my mind working, and I’m trying to sort myself out so that by the end of October I have a license and a car (albeit a small, old, shaky car – but a car, nonetheless!). So, what’s the dilemma, I hear you ask…? Well, my dilemma is that I am probably the laziest person in the world. Ok, maybe lazy is the wrong word, but unmotivated, certainly! And can I force myself to care enough about this course, this work, and this car to actually make the constant effort and follow it all through to the end???

Work is fine, because I always work hard (makes the day go quicker), but the college bit is the bit that scares me – it’s costing so much, and on top of the car I’m going to be in nothing but debt for the next few months.

Then there’s the work involved – budgeting for petrol, paying for insurance, paying for college, DOING the actual assignments for college! It’s going to be crazy, but hopefully all worth it at the end. Hopefully!

Anyway, on another note, the huge conference thing is next week – so I’ve to pull out all the stops for that one and sort myself out. Oh, the pressures of adult life! I took a day off during the week, and I was reminded of how it felt when I worked in the Irish Film Centre (now Institute) and went (occasionally) to Maynooth…just strolling around while everyone else was at work – not a care in the world! Happy days indeed!

Spiderman 2

Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst & Alfred Molina
Screenplay: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (comic) & Alvin Sargent (script

Sam Raimi has managed the impossible – turning a wishy-washy first Spidey outing containing too much dialogue and too little serious action into a franchise worthy of Tolkien-like kudos. And, like the Lord of the Rings movies, the second one is even better than the first.

It introduces a nemesis that greatly surpasses the frankly derisive Green Goblin – the enigmatically named Doctor Otto Octavius who (no loss of irony here) becomes a mechanical beast bearing eight limbs – and plays Peter’s conscience and scientific mind against Spiderman’s heroic calling. Though frankly flawed (it’s hardly an art piece) the movie manages to grip you in ways the first failed – dragging you along with it’s action packed trajectory, making you laugh with it’s nods and winks to the audience and pulling you into a New York where a hero protects and serves.

Raimi mixes musical medleys and soft focus freeze frames (comic book tricks) to give it an overall ‘B-movie’ effect sadly lacking in the first. The spate of comic-to-film transformations over the last few years has created a black hole of talent (‘Daredevil’ anyone?) where comic books are not seen as the escape they were, but simply a chance to cash in on merchandising and throw out a simple kids movie. What makes ‘Spiderman’ so special is that it crosses over the levels and draws all ages. It does not pander, in the Disney sense, to balmy morals (though they are there) and simple story. Spiderman is torn by his inner demons and fights constantly with real life issues as well as the occasional grotesquely deformed and predatory archrival.

The film has downfalls, but they’re not fatal, and genuinely comic (excuse the pun) moments pull things back from the precipice whenever Aunt May goes into one of her ‘this-is-what-they-pay-me-for’ dialogue moments. ‘Spiderman’ performs well, and is as believable and enjoyable as any franchise that relies on a scientific disaster every year to create it’s story. Smart cameos from Bruce Campbell and Stan Lee keep things rolling nicely – though the inevitable conclusion, also like Lord of the Rings, looses the run of itself and unravels some of the good work done. However, great performances and even better action keep this movie at the level deserving of Spidey – swinging high and in anticipation of the next.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Goodbye, blue sky....

Well, all has changed in RUSH…
Sarah has gone to Thailand/rest of world (sob sob),
Alan is back in college (less time with my man),
Kelly can legally drive (no more jokes on bad driving),
EJ has got a job (no more tea),
Bones is building character (selling out to the online-CV) and
Barry, Mark, Laura and Glen have come back from Eurasia (dreaded hair).

My-my, how the tables have turned…the summer is truly over! All that’s left now is little landmarks on the road to Christmas – Halloween; my sister’s 21st; getting my provisional licence; getting a car! Of course, the only certain things are Halloween and my sister’s 21st – everything else is me with my fingers crossed saying please, please, please, please!!

So, in honour of the many changes in life, and the crap day I’m having in work, and the fact that I bought the excellent Shaun of the Dead on DVD last week, I’ve included an old review of a movie that kind of describes how it feels to work in the civil service, sometimes!!

Dawn of the Dead

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer
Screenplay: George A. Romero, James Gunn.

Trivially (and just-as-an-opener), Zack Snyder, the director of Dawn of the Dead, turned down SWAT in order to make his first movie an ‘R’ rated. Obviously a fan of the genre, Snyder’s first feature length is a remake that doesn’t make you gag and scream pillage on the original (!!!). Based loosely around the 1978 George A. Romero (schlock-maestro of horror) classic, this version can certainly stand on its own merits. The screenplay is Romero’s, tweaked by James Gunn – this being his only meritable mention, as his present other screenplay is now haunting parents everywhere as Scooby Doo 2 – and really does offer plenty of belly laughs along with out and out adrenalin-pumping terror.

The story begins with soft undertones of things to come –disquiet is raging in the background of idyllic suburbia, and hell is unleashed before the movie title even lands onscreen. Your blood is pumping while narrow escape after narrow escape is launched, and your skin tingles at the thoughts of waking up from a settled sleep to discover that the world has gone mad and, as the tagline goes, hell has overflowed onto earth. The zombies have graduated to moveable frights – they still have the familiar shuffle of the original ‘Dead’ trilogy, but once spying human flesh, they become more like the terrifying windmill speed demons of ‘28 Days Later’. They trail towards the mall en masse, and moan and drag until the scent of human flesh drives them into frenzies. Our heroes barricade themselves inside, all human stereotypes – the jock, the kid, the tough- cookie, the hard man, the redneck, the mother, the pregnant woman (even a dog joins the foray), as zombies wage war on their prospective dinners.

The movie genuinely does make you jump, (stay past the credits for the ending) and the comedy/terror combination of the original does not falter – watch out for the jazz version of ‘Down with the Sickness’ at a perfectly timed moment. Johnny Cash also provides a scary tune (no shock there), and the music ties in perfectly with high tension moments – particularly a zombie chase which ends in a lift with elevator-music…‘I like this song’, quips a cast member. To follow his train of thought, and finish on a plaudit, ‘I definitely like this movie’.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

How long a piece of string?

It has been said that my reviews are too long. Ok, I accept that criticism - my reviews ARE too long! However, since I've only really been writing for myself up until now, it can be forgiven (let's hope!!). Anyway, from here on in I'm going to assume that somebody out there - besides my increasingly gorgeous and amazingly-intelligent boyfriend Alan - is reading this, and write reviews of a more palpable nature!

Warning, though: All old reviews will still be bloody long, ok?

The Ladykillers

Director: Joel Coen
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall & Marlon Wayans
Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen.

The brothers Coen were once such Hollywood luminaries that, Midas-like, all they touched turned to gold, and each new release was welcomed and anticipated with certainty of it’s quality. Those days – and here I pause to wipe away a tear – are gone. With the horrific advent of ‘Intolerable Cruelty’, seeds that were sown with the less-than-laudable ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’ flourished into utter tosh, and the Coens almost lost their infallible tag. Here, I’m afraid, the last nail is hammered home.

‘The Ladykillers’ never quite manages to claw itself up from its raucous stereotypes – a system that normally works (think ‘Fargo’ and ‘The Big Lebowski’), but here only serves to highlight the films inadequacies. Tom Hanks performs admirably and, at times, with the great comic fervour he so often attacks, but something is lacking in his hissing, wheezing, slimy Professor. Irma P. Hall, lady-stalwart, is merely a gabbling southern ‘momma’, reminiscent of Martin Laurence’s awful dress-ups, and even she cannot pull together the unravelling cords of the film. The ‘motley crew’ are comic relief – at best Marlon Wayans provides his ‘home-boy’ jiggling, and at worst Tzi Ma fluffs schtum-faced anger.

The premise – tunnelling underground to empty a casino vault – is well portrayed, with some fine comic turns from feline and canine alike (!). The intermittent moments of extensive dialogue, however, slow down the movie to a crawl, and allow an overall blandness to pervade the film, making it a bit of a struggle to stay awake and interested.

In the end, whether they kill the ‘old lady’ becomes incidental, as the wish for them all to die just so they stop pontificating becomes the prevailing feeling.

However, not to be all bad, the movie does provide some laugh-out-loud moments, which the cinema duly complied with, so I cannot quite write it off completely. My disappointment lies in the fact that I know the Coens can do better – with a remake of an originally unsatisfying movie, the least they could have done was improved on the original. Peter Sellers, I’m afraid, would turn in his grave!

Monday, September 27, 2004

A break from being broken

Ok, review number three - in between tales of woe!

Actually, as social commentary goes, it doesn't get more bleak than Lars Von Trier.........maybe I should pitch him a screenplay based on my horrific experiences of robbery and treachery?
Should be right up his alley.......


Director & Writer: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Lauren Bacall, John Hurt (Narrator).

Though Lars Von Trier once again courts controversy and dances with various media interruptions, his movie should truly speak for itself (as ‘Dancer in the Dark’ eventually did) without reference to headlines or personalities. For three hours I was entranced, strangled and released in the amazing world he created using chalk and sound – this film truly has to be seen to understand the magnitude of what he has undertaken and appreciate the skill with which his ideas are presented. A single sound stage contains all the trials and tribulations of the cast in question, chalk outlines denote houses and extras (Moses the dog being a notable example), and characters mime the opening of invisible doors to the appropriate noise track. Cars and people appear and disappear over the edge – the outside world being literally anything beyond the stretch of stage, giving the not-unintentional picture that Dogville is a world apart.

It is beyond the power of words to describe how this looks and feels, but certain scenes embody the flavour of what Lars Von Trier is trying to achieve much better than others. The moment, for instance, when Nicole Kidman’s character, Grace, opens the curtains of a blind mans darkened room to show the man that he truly cannot see is particularly poignant. He has lived in the town for years, convinced that he has kept his blindness from his neighbours, and Grace pulls down his façade in a rare moment of clarity and anger at the town’s apathy (and barely concealed hypocrisy). This moment is allowed peace under Von Trier’s direction, and he lets the beautiful red and gold light explode over Grace’s face as her expression alone shows us that she sees what we and the blind man cannot – a beautiful deep canyon and a fabulous sunset.

The lighting plays the strongest part in giving focus and depth to the simple sets, and because of this attention is drawn to each of the players in subtle ways. There are moments of such emotional and impressive content that it is truly a wonder that all is being achieved by a single sound stage with a non-theatre cast (for the majority). When Grace has been shackled and chained after suffering rape and pillage by the townspeople, has spoken out against them (in her soft and non-accusatory way) at their town meeting, and now retired to her bed where she has fended off the loving, though insistent, attentions of the town moralist, Tom (Paul Bettany), the lighting almost becomes a character in itself. Tom leaves her room and a soft light shows Grace in the foreground as she curls up as best she can on her bed, the glow adding to the vulnerability and innocence of her character. In the centre-to-back-ground the townsfolk still sit in the chalk outlined mission-house, assessing the information that Grace has given them. Their indecision and immobility is lit lowly and their presence merely emphasised as a much-repeated event – one that takes place while others of more import are happening. Tom has a light to follow his soulful journey to the rear of the stage, and as he moves to the background (ambling suggestively) the area denoting his home is suddenly illuminated. Three settings lit differently allow the viewer to focus on each separately – Grace’s weariness and defeat, the towns agitation and attempt to brush off what has been said, and in the background Tom’s indignation and impotence (quickly changed to furtiveness and action), without taking away from the ensemble tableau.

The script does not quite do enough justice to the fantastical ideas of stage Lars Von Trier had envisaged and, for the most part, followed through on for this production. The lines are spoken with fervour, but contain little passion in their wording, so by times the conversations are nonsensical to the point of incoherence. However, that said, because the movie was written scene-for-scene by Von Trier, his enigmatic direction brings forth performances that make words unnecessary, and so nullifies any qualms one may harbour about where the characters speeches originate or, indeed, their destination.

Minor script faults aside, the make-up of the town and the expressions used by the indigenous people as opposed to Grace, who seems blown in from a different time, recall something older and primal – as though Cain and Able could both have fought and died on this very mountain. These people are truly biblical, hacking a living from the rough terrain, and trying to hold on to things that represent to them their humanity and nature – moral lectures, gooseberry pie, checkers, intellectualism, the beauty of apples, the sophist theories – but ultimately proving that the fight is in vain, and at their base they are animals not far from their bloody origins in Genesis. Grace becomes the lamb, laid out to bear all their fears and pain – a scapegoat sent out into the desert to die with their sins on her shoulders, whilst they continue their existence, content in its mediocrity and wallowing in its lack of introspection.

At times the length of the narrative became too much. At three hours, this is a movie you must make a total commitment to from the opening scene. Towards the middle, when all your conceptions of the people of Dogville have been established and defined, it becomes almost claustrophobic as they are dashed, and you are bombarded with some truly horrible images and a frightening turn to the story. The momentum is carried through in almost Lynchian undertones – something about the town does not sit right from the moment its inhabitants are introduced, and this anticipation is a buzzing sound easily ignored through focus on Von Triers settings, but soon it all comes to the forefront. It becomes a chore, by times, to struggle through the layers of shock and schlock to find what the director/writer was really trying to demonstrate, and he becomes so heavy-handed in his moral lectures (as forceful and repetitive as you imagine Tom’s weekly lectures on moral, social and philosophical issues were to the townspeople) that you find yourself not really caring as much anymore what happens to the people involved. Grace’s initial saviour, Tom, gradually goes from butterfly to caterpillar, struggling against the animal within unsuccessfully. Dogville, it would appear, is the absolute power – corrupting absolutely.

The feeling of being cheated does not materialise because Von Trier handles his topics with such eloquence and stunning prose. Grace loses our compassion, because of her willingness to submit, but she does not lose our belief in her right to a better existence -which is why the characters around her must become more and more base and animalistic. Without this descent into primeval glop we might never have reached closure on the issue – a variation on the ‘sky is always darkest before the dawn’ scenario, and therefore the eruption of chaos and disbelief in the finale comes as a release for all the feelings caged in throughout the movie. So, in the end, Von Trier bows to that most trite of Hollywood pastiches – the happy ending, and leaves us with an almost sweet aftertaste from a somewhat bitter cinematic experience.

Breaking rocks in the hot sun

Ok…to update! I called the Square and braced myself to be really angry – then asked to be put through to security (growl). The girl that answered was friendly enough, until I queried how many times an hour the security was supposed to patrol the car parks.

Girl: Who are you?
Míse: I’m someone who had my car broken into last night.
(Slightly enraged voice!)

So, then she decided that she couldn’t answer my questions and told me a manager would call me back…which he did! An absolutely lovely man – but hey, I thought the Garda in Tallaght was lovely, and it turns out he didn’t know his stuff at all (the plot thickens) – the security firm that Mr. Garda said were giving the nod to the local THIEVES were fired two weeks ago, and the new firm have some pretty fancy credentials, let me tell you! (God bless the Internet – I checked them out thoroughly!) Anyway, the upshot of my angry conversation with Mr. Manager is that he is aware of a thieving ring that have been targeting Hyundai jeeps and Honda cars for their radios in the car parks of The Square, Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown. They are doing all they can, but that – I’m afraid – didn’t stop me from giving out yards to him. After all, I waited for the Gardaí for 30-40 minutes in the car park, and saw not one security patrol in that time. He stated that this was because of two cars being stolen on the other side of the centre. I then pointed out how badly lit the whole area is, to which he argued that he has been in meetings with the management of the centre to get that changed. Fat lot of good that does me now! I also asked about the cameras – i.e., is only one camera monitored at a time, as per Mr. Oh-so-helpful-Garda, which was denied outright by Mr. Manager. So, anyway, he’s pulling the CCTV footage of the car park to see can he find anything for me. Turns out the Gardaí hadn’t even come across there Friday to check the footage – Mr. Manager says they seem to think it’s a waste of time following up these cases. Not good enough, Garda Force – this robbery will not stand!

Next stop Tallaght Garda Station!!!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Death to THE SQUARE!!

Well, I don’t feel much like putting a review on right now (that may change by the end of the day) because last night I was exposed to the underbelly of Irish Society (sic). I have spent my life defending the people who rob, who steal and who attack because I’ve always felt that we, as a society, need to take responsibility for the people we have created through neglect and detrimental social laws and care. However, last night whilst my practically-sister’s (brother’s fiancée) jeep was parked in The Square, Tallaght with my newly-bought-for-my-neice-and-nephew birthday presents inside, it was broken in to and fleeced. The radio – worth 2000 yo-yo’s – was ripped out, but worst of all they took the kids presents! I mean, what kind of scum steals from kids, I ask you?!?! Imagine if that had have been Christmas, and the car full of presents…? Ok, I still feel that society should take blame, but I don’t bloody see why I should (another ‘sic’)! I have done nothing but defend these people to my family and friends, and now I feel betrayed! What leg have I to stand on now? How can I defend the indefensible?

The Garda (most helpful – kudos to Tallaght Garda Shickoliní) was very impressive, and told us that there had been three other cars broken into that night, and two others had actually been stolen – so, in the grand scheme of things, at least we had a way home! Most interestingly/scarily enough, he told us that they had put an undercover Garda into the car park of The Square for a month’s reconnaissance work and, in that time, not a single car was broken into or robbed. He feels, and I tend to agree, that the Security Guards who work in the centre are ‘giving the nod’, so to speak, to local gurriers as to which car to go for. And they were also telling them that the undercover Garda was on the beat.

I still feel that a society is only as strong as it’s weakest members the same way that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, and that we need to protect and help those in lesser circumstances than us…not in a Nietzsche superman way, but in simple day-to-day ways. And I will still argue that we need to protect ourselves as much as we need to protect others, and the easiest thing to lose in these situations would be our sympathy…but that doesn’t stop me from feeling this way! Right now, if I saw some scum with a game of Screwball Scramble under his arm I would take a baseball bat to his head. No kidding.

And, I suppose, the lesson in all this is that to lose our humanity would be to let this aggression change our life. Something I am not willing to do for the sake of a Spiderman web-shooter, a chemistry set, a ballet centre, a marble game and an insurance-covered radio. Not just yet, anyway.

My next port of call is The Square itself. I stood waiting for a squad car for 30-40 minutes and in that time not a single Security Guard was to be seen. The area was badly lit and, according to the Garda, the security cameras are just for show (I’m sure the security scum/guards are telling the car-robbing scum/people this vital piece of info). Now, someone will take the blame for this. If not today, then soon. If not The Square, then the security firm it hires.

I will not rest until I see someone’s head on a platter and policy in The Square change to stop this kind of thievery.

And so the quest begins……(I’ll keep you posted)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Review number 2 - and it's really looking as if I'm NOT that busy, isn't it??

Anyway, I adored this movie, and I think it's a good one to follow Lost in Translation, because it really does follow on from where Lost... left off - the feel-good factor that is so formulaic in other movies works so perfectly in both! Another of my 2004 favourites, and the best relationship movie since Annie Hall!

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Charlie Kaufman (screenplay & story). Michel Gondry
& Pierre Bismuth (story)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst,
Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood.

How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.
Alexander Pope

‘Adaptation’ gave us a bird’s eye (minds eye?) view of Charlie Kaufman’s story problems – finishing in a flurry of madness, ill-defined (though entertaining) narrative and nonsensical twists. The lesson of third-act panic personified by Cage’s character has already been displayed in all previous ventures; ‘Human Nature’, ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’, even ‘Being John Malcovich’ finishes on a crawl. Kaufman, it would appear, cannot finish strongly. Until now, that is. The movie to silence all doubters, ‘Eternal Sunshine…’ succeeds on levels that Kaufman’s other ventures have not – the connection you feel with each character not being the least of these achievements. The characterisation and actual acting bring life and soul to an already excellent screenplay, and all in all ‘Eternal Sunshine…’ gives a more comprehensive view of human relationships and love than any other movie. Ever. Broad statement this may be, but think about ‘Annie Hall’, ‘When Harry met Sally’ or ‘Say Anything’ (it slipped in)…they all profess to give us a beginning to end study, but only Eternal Sunshine gives us an end to a beginning followed by an end to a beginning. The reverse pattern with quirky (technically excellent) editing and montage clipping (take a bow Mssr. Gondry) give us an astounding insight into the main characters. We get to hate them as they hate each other at the end of the relationship, and then we are privy to their slow, backward dance to love and happiness through Joel’s (Jim Carrey) mind.

The awkwardness of youth, embarrassments of childhood and the introspection of adult life are explored in depth throughout the film, charting the fall and rise (and fall again) of Joel’s love life. Kate Winslet is at her un-Titanic best, appearing likeable and quirk-ridden as well as fallible and narcissistic. Showing a previously unseen side to herself, she replaces Merchant Ivory’s corset heaving and Titanic’s crocodile tears with real passion and power – giving Clementine faucets of personality that Kaufman himself probably hadn’t yet visualised. Coaxed by Gondry’s sensitive and quizzically probing direction, both actors embody the physical tics, the personable quirks and the likeable traits of each character, giving them flesh and soul beyond expectation. Reiterating a constant refrain, it must be said again that Jim Carrey is a fine actor! Constantly an issue up for debate, he now inhabits a man, Joel, who is actually described as ‘tight lipped’ and is depression-prone, hysterical, boring and human. Carrey gives him life and will, silencing all doubters with this display of fine thespian fervour. The movie seems to suit even his face – weather worn and even hangdog, reminiscent of Bill Murray, Carrey dispels with all ‘rubber-faced’ tags, and puts in a performance to be proud of.

Gondry’s intensive and pro-active editing, mixed with his camera motion and music choice, forms an equal match to Kaufman’s foil than even Spike Jonze managed (lending credence to a script that may otherwise have fallen into the trap of ‘Adaptation’ or, indeed, Gondry’s own ‘Human Nature’ – that of lack of audience connection or sympathy). Kaufman’s stellar rise has brought subsequent resting on script-laurels, and this fault is rectified by Gondry’s light touch and obvious affiliation with actors. His singular use of camera, honed from years of music video’s and short film, offers insight and caress to the individual problems and trials Kaufman so expertly describes.

Gondry was the original story man – coming up with the idea of a man discovering his recent love has erased him from her memory, only to erase her in retaliation. The actual mind erasure, along with the peripheral characters of Dunst, Ruffalo, Wilkinson and Wood (who play out a night of intense proportion in Joel’s bedroom around his sleeping body), are incidental to the true story at the base of this fight for memories – love found, love lost, and love sought. A common theme uncommonly told, this is Kaufman’s most commercial film to date. Those unfamiliar with Kaufman’s style may still find this a slog of sorts, and those familiar may smirk at the many traits of ‘Adaptation’, but both mindsets should appreciate the level of storytelling on display, and the home truths it draws the audience to. Allowing you to choose a character, and sympathise with them, it then dashes all your expectations without denting your appreciation. It makes you smile, it makes you laugh, and it makes you sad. In short, the movie connects.

Lost in Translation

Ok, I'm going to stick an old review in here because I'm MENTALLY busy in work at the moment, and haven't had time to write a review in ages! Actually, I'll probably put in all my old reviews here over the next few days - just to keep everything up to date!!

Anyway, review 1 is one of my top movies of 2004....


Director & Writer: Sofia Coppolla
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi.

The moment the movie opened I was captivated beyond belief. Tokyo spreads out and fills the screen, accompanied by such haunting music that I was placed slap-bang in the middle of Bob Harris’ mind, joining him in his feeling of desolation and ennui. Though Tokyo’s electric city is a common view Sofia Coppola manages to instil an almost immediate impression of weariness – the camera not only shows us Bob Harris’ view, but it has become his eyes, and we (de rigueur) voyeurs are suddenly allowed a glimpse not only of who this character is, but who he was and who he has become. As soon as Bill Murray’s world-weary face comes into view, those who have not already grasped the complexities of Bob Harris’ character do so now with this first glimpse. The car pulls into a tall, grey hotel and Bob is surrounded by Japanese concierges, attempting to pull him every way and pressing packages into each available nook. However, Sofia Coppola chose well in Bob Harris’ image-maker, giving Bill Murray the starring role he truly deserves. He remains the hypnotic eye-of-the-storm, his face never changing from its bleak and tired crinkle, even as the dervishes spin around him. This first introduction to Bob Harris permeates the whole movie and his whole character – Bob Harris is every job you ever felt was beneath you, every trip you wish you’d stayed at home, every relationship you can’t understand how you got in to, and every day that feels like the long, dark Sunday-afternoon of the soul.

‘The Virgin Suicides’ looked great and, for all its faults, was a good story, but if the ultimate aim was connection, then it failed. ‘Lost…’ does not fail, which is why the main factor for me will always be the satiated feeling I got from watching it. I left the theatre smiling, and so many trimmings combined to give this to me that the result as a whole is as near to perfection as I’ve seen in a long time. Sofia Coppola is rapidly maturing into a fine filmmaker and a sterling writer. The direction is flawless and, as Ms. Coppola is wont to do, the music perfectly matches the camera flow and character movement. From its haunting introduction of Tokyo to the ebbing and flowing of the obligatory karaoke scene, the camera and score are so in tune with each other that they appear as one. ‘Air’ and Sofia Coppola gave a sense of fantasy and wonderment in ‘The Virgin Suicides’, but here she takes it all a leap further, where the original music sounds so much the better for having being written specifically.

Scarlett Johansson is a revelation in the making. Though not proud, in her own words, of the character she played in ‘Ghost World’, that is exactly where she first came to my attention, outstripping the wonderful Thora Birch and proving herself worthy of notice. Again in ‘The Man who Wasn’t There’ she shone, and I am purposely ignoring Scarlett’s earlier performances in ‘The Horse Whisperer’, etc, as I am now dealing with Scarlett Johansson the adult. She interacts perfectly with the young Giovanni Ribisi (unobtrusively great – he stays in the background as much as his character, rumoured to be based on the erstwhile husband of the Director, Spike Jonze), and transfers this pleasant skill onto the older character of Bob. This movie shows Johansson at her obstinate, spoilt, aloof, lonely, lost best – allowing her to fill out Charlotte as she chooses with smiles and gazes and body movements so simple you almost miss the glimpses of inner-character she is offering you.

However, this is undeniably Bill Murray’s film. Every scene, every moment, he fills with this character and forces you to take stock of his loneliness and unbearable ache of being. Sympathy goes one step further and the viewer is forced to feel and be Bob Harris, drowning in the pain of existence and willing him to do anything to change it. That is why, when a girl smiles at him in an elevator, his face instantly lights up and we begin to feel the warmth enter us as it has entered Bob. Coppola’s strength is her simplicity, and moments that stand out for me are the tableau of the two strangers and soul mates lying on a bed, she curled up and he straight as a board, his hand resting lightly on her bare foot. The moment screams with emotion, but represses it until the final departing, where both characters reveal their underlying fears. Another scene finds the two seated in a hallway, Bob in uncharacteristically ‘hip’ t-shirt and Charlotte in a platinum wig, finally succumbing to who they really are. Not the singer in a karaoke or the drinking woman, but two lost and lonely souls who just need to sit down for a while.
Take-on-take, this movie offers one of the most stunningly inventive and intuitive glimpses at human nature and its resistance of fate that I have seen – a stunning portrayal of friendship forged of desperation and the recognition of a kindred spirit. If this film is about anything, it is about two people about to go under, grabbing at the only life preserver they can see – each other. The writing, though perfectly good, covers a quarter of how the feeling comes across in this movie. The direction and acting extend this beyond mediocrity to excellence, the actors especially allowing the many quiet moments of reflection to speak for themselves. Silence is strength itself, and more is shown through the character interaction and facial tweaks than a thousand words could manage. True life depiction at its finest, and that rarest of creatures – a movie to be truly proud of.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The beginning....

Besides IMDB, I get a bit frustrated that there is nowhere else to post reviews. Also, IMDB isn’t exactly selective in which review it shows up front – so you don’t get any feelings of satisfaction from seeing yours there because, basically, you might as well be posting it on your own web page – that’s how good/bad/indifferent anyone is judging it to be. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and do that – use this free blogging thing to document my movie-life. Beginning now. (Soon).