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Loving

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Sometimes the scariest or, depending on your situation the best news you can hear is the life changing words, “I’m pregnant.” This is how John Nichols’ powerful film, Loving opens, with Mildred (a phenomenal Ruth Negga… who’s one of our own, she was raised in Limerick, wan the parish!) declaring this statement to her partner Richard Loving (a bleached, but wonderful Joel Edgerton). And in one of many silent, but absolutely beautiful moments, he simply takes her hand, kisses her on the forehead and instantly reassures her. And then, Richard  asks Mildred to marry him, she accepts and their marriage is met with a swift arrest as interracial marriage is illegal in Virginia and they are exiled from the place that they both grew up in.

In a clever change of pace, Nichols does not use the film as a platform for shouty, angry speeches, impassioned scenes of change, but instead tells the story of a couple who fell in love with each other and want to raise their family. There is no self righteous, awards baiting speeches, just two people struggling to exist, survive and love each other in a time when their skin color was deemed more important by those in power.

Mildred pens a letter to the then Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy who defers the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. The union appeal to the couple and Richard reluctantly agrees to let them take over the case which ultimately leads all the way to the Supreme Court. This is a pivotal moment, not only in the story and the real life implications that the case would have on humanity, civil rights and the abolition of interracial marriage laws preventing it, but it is also a triumph as Richard does not care a jot for the implications, he just wants to love and raise his family.

The stand out scene is when the civil rights lawyer assigned to the case, a great Nick Kroll asks Richard if there is anything that he wants to say to the judge when they eventually get to the Supreme Court to which he replies, “Tell the judge I love my wife.” Absolutely perfect response. Richard is not a man of many words, he is a man who goes to work, comes home, kisses his wife and kids, eats dinner with them and then tucks them into bed. That one line answer is how he would have responded, from his blue collar heart.

The film goes at a gentle pace and draws wonderful performances from all the cast, the story is allowed to breathe at a natural rate and does not jar or use hype or impassioned speeches. A wonderful film that tells a lovely story about two humans who just wanted to love each other. Tremendous.

4/5

Written by thepanch

February 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Back In Black…. And Yellow

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76 years. 76 years of Batman punching bad guys, brooding, having shitloads of cool gadgets and general bad-assery. It is hard to find a figure that had endured as long in popular culture as The Dark Knight. We’re all very familiar with the story by now. Young child, Bruce Wayne accompanies his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne to a screening of  The Mask of Zorro. They leave the theater and are gunned down by one of Gotham’s many criminals. The young Bruce vows to clean up his city and trains to become the ever present, ever vigilant silent guardian of Gotham CityBatman. And now he’s back in cinemas, in Lego form!

I’m going to put this out there. This is, in my humble opinion, the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight. The movie opens in hilarious fashion with Batman (a hilarious  Will Arnett) narrating what we can see, “Black. All good, serious films start with black. And music, ominous, scary music…..” “This movie is brought to you by DC. The house that Batman built. You heard me Superman, come at me bro!!” There’s your tone for the whole movie. An affectionate, self referential addition to the Batman franchise.

There is so much to love in this movie. As mentioned already, Will Arnett nails the role of our big eared, narcissistic hero. And this is the crux of the story, and essentially the heart at the core of the movie. Batman is a loner, a strong entity that feels he can get by on his own without anyone’s help. The movie joyously sends up the much used image of Batman being a brooding, quiet loner and a gruff hero, ultimately a man’s man who just does what he has to do. Preferably on his own.

The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) tries to take over Gotham. And as is his wont, Batman shows up and puts a stop to his plan. In a glorious showdown, our two leads meet after a huge battle (of which there are many, which all utilize the wonder of building Lego to achieve master builds) and Joker decries Batman for being his “number one enemy” and that “he needs him, because we need each other.” Batman responds in typical bravado, “I don’t have a number one enemy. I fight a lot of villians, I like to fight around.” Joker is morally offended and upset and does not get the validation he needs. So he surrenders freely and this leaves Batman at a loose end and needing to focus on more important things.

Mainly the orphan, Dick Grayson (a charming turn by Michael Cera) who Bruce Wayne unwittingly adopts and invites himself to become Robin. This is where the movie hits a small dip. Overall the story is quite heartening and ultimately it shows a character grow while all the time not changing dramatically. And ultimately sends out a message of the importance of family and indeed friendship. A strong 40 minutes, a weak twenty and then a lovely bright finish.

There are numerous references to the Batman franchise. Visually, aurally and there are lovely nods to the different actors who played The Dark Knight. This movie is aimed at kids but it is an adult’s movie. Very clever, bright and loud and as a love letter to the franchise, it is a valuable addition. And if you’ve forgotten, a character in the movie reminds us, well me specifically how much Batman means to people, when he roars lovingly, “Hey, Batman. I love you more than my kids!”

4.5 / 5

 

Written by thepanch

February 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm

More Of The Same

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Trainspotting had a phenomenal effect on me when I first saw it. Being from a small town, it depicted the sadness that can hang over any small town anywhere in the world. The lifeless eyes, the shuffling to work, the gut -wrenching and soul cleansing humour, the sadness, the social life and the glibness with which death is met when it turns it’s ugly head. However that is where the familiarity ended as I was wildly unaware of the horrors of hardcore drug and substance abuse that can take hold of those, and indeed in later years our very own small town’s inhabitants. The film made me laugh, cry and staunchly opposed to injecting anything into my blood. Powerful imagery and good story telling that resonated then to a problem that was not as widespread as it is now. A sad indictment of modern society and the hopelessness that can engulf some poor soul. That being said it got me thinking of  last friday’s release of T2 Trainspotting and that much lauded and often derided creature that is the motion picture sequel.

If you think about it the sequel can be traced back to a time before movies even existed and we were rocking around with just TB, plague and the printed word for entertainment and company. And further to that point, you could say that the idea of the sequel started with the bible. Now, you couldn’t publish a sequel to the bible to be fair. Unless it featured a ninja Jesus and some dinosaurs…. That could be awesome….. That would be awesome. Take my money, just take it.

But no, serious now. Books were the first victims of the sequel. Gulliver’s Travels (written by one of our own, Jonathan Swift… Up the Parish). Now this book was written in 1726 but the publishers of the novel rushed out many sequels and follow ups in quick succession. I’ve never read them but would you want to? The disappointment possibility is just too risky and would ruin the story. Oh no wait, that was done already by Jack Black. That film was the drizzling shits.

Motion picture sequels can be traced back as far as the insanely good and personal favorites of mine, the Universal movie monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein being the prime examples. The originals are stone cold classics, the follow ups? Lighthearted and harmless but ultimately shite in the bucket and a quick way to plough more money into the franchise and ultimately into the studio. Dolla, dolla, bill y’all!!

The 1970’s saw some questionable sequels and the arrival of the numbered sequel. Studios were bigger, audiences were bigger and the names were big enough to warrant simply putting the same title out with an adjoining 2 or 3 after it. Most notable inclusions being titles such as The Godfather II, The French Connection 2 and the sequel to the first commercial “blockbuster”Jaws, a film so popular and critically acclaimed that some executive got a pay day for coming up with Jaws 2. If you haven’t seen it, don’t rush out and buy it. Buy some nice cake with the money, less chance of being upset.

So the sequel is nothing new to be honest, I am just hoping to myself that T2 Trainspotting won’t disappoint. I am not expecting wonders, but I expect a decent film and a genuine sense of story, character and the heart that lay within the dark bowels of the first film. At least they called it T2 Trainspotting and not Trainspotting 2 : More Drugs, No Trains. Here’s hoping!!!!

 

Written by thepanch

January 30, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Ctrl+Alt+Death

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Being stalked is I would imagine not an overly pleasant experience. Thankfully an experience that I have virtually no association with. So imagine how much worse it would be to be stalked by a dead girl? Well that is exactly what happens to poor Laura Woodson in the recently released cyber-thriller Friend Request. A film that has a fantastic premise, but alas much like other modern horrors does not live up to its trailer hype and delves into familiar overdone territory in the third act.

Laura is lovely, attractive, cultured, educated and most importantly popular. A fact that brings her to the attention of new strange student Ma Rina (one quick grumble, why is anyone in modern teen/horror films that expresses artistic talent or individuality a mopey, whiny prick?? Anyway, I digress….) So Ma Rina attaches to Laura, much like a gloomy window hanger or sad caterpillar, a friend request is sent and then shit starts to unravel. Overbearing Ma Rina bombards our heroine with posts, messages and other pleasantries. A birthday celebration lands Laura into trouble and Ma Rina takes it badly. So badly, she hangs herself and records the act for posterity.

Laura feels suitably although to be fair unjustly guilty. But the fun is only starting. All her friends receive a post notification. A video. The video of Ma Rina in her last act on earth. Then the friend requests come. Laura is hounded and berated by most of her online friends but she cannot delete her account or her friendship with her now deceased classmate. And this was one of my favourite elements of the movie.

As a society we are chained to not only our phones but our dependence on faceless interactions with people we hardly know or met on a night out. The young (and disgustingly attractive) characters in this film are treated subsequently and all meet grisly deaths. An almost kind act of redemption from beyond the grave and there is no way stop any of it. This is where my second favourite element of the movie. Each death is framed and shot in a nod to other movie deaths. In no particular order, The Exorcist (1 & 3), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ringu, The Eye and The Omen are all referenced.

The last act does the film a disservice. I won’t spoil it but the writers chicken out and revert to lazy back story which can be seen halfway through the film. The explanation of the killings and why they were done serves a purpose but it feels flat and uninspired, in the same way the Paranormal Activity series of films relies on the same explanation for every other world experience.

Overall, Friend Request is an above average modern horror film. The premise is incredibly entertaining, the actors are passable and served by a half decent script. The deaths are ridiculously entertaining and the film only loses steam as it drags to its third act. Recommended!!

 

3.5 / 5

Written by thepanch

April 26, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Bastards!!!!

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Jamie’s Good News

As you may or may not be aware dear reader Enniscorthy Drama Group is up and running! And we are hitting the ground running and the 24th of August sees the first productions hitting the stage of the Presentation Centre. The Tinker’s Wedding by JM Synge (directed by Colum Cooney) and Ritual For Dolls by George MacEwan Greene (directed by Siobhan Duggan). I will be playing the role of Bravo, a toy soldier, alongside Caroline Busher (Arabella), Tim Connaughton (Golly) and Eimear Hanlon (Jo-Jo). That’s two great one act plays for the price of one on the 24th August in the Presentation Centre!!

Find us on Facebook: Enniscorthy Drama Group

Twitter: @enniscorthydg

What A B*****d!!!!

Watching Hannibal on Sky Living got me thinking, thinking hard. Now I will not reveal anything about the show apart from the fact that this incarnation of Dr. Lecter played with creepy perfection by Mads Mikkelsen is for all intensive purposes the epitome of pure evil. Cold, calculated genius evil and in short a complete b*****d!! With that in mind, come with me on a journey to discover five of the biggest b******s to ever slink, crawl and run riot on our screens!!

5. Sean Noakes, Sleepers (1996) (played by Kevin Bacon)

One of many prison guards that would ritually and sadistically sexually abuse beat and molest a collection of young men from Hell’s Kitchen who were sent to a Young Offenders Institute for a summertime prank gone horribly wrong. He strides around the Institute with an unmistakable swagger and runs the place like a sadistic prick. His acts of bastardry include knocking over dinner from a tray and making the victim eat if off the floor “if he’s that hungry.”

Ultimate Act of Bastardry:

During the first of many beatings, a young defenceless boy shivers in the dark and looks up at his attackers pleading. “What do you want?” Noakes coldly and coolly replies, “A blowjob.”

4. Percy Whitmore, The Green Mile (1999) (played by Doug Hutchinson)

Percy Whitmore got his job thanks to family connections and the guy seems to have been born with a stick up his derriere. The sense of entitlement he displays is counter balanced by his utter repulsiveness. I have no idea how hard it is to be a prison guard, but I would imagine it would be less hard as long as all guards are a team. Percy does not share this belief for he is out for Percy and Percy alone.
His penultimate act of bastardry is crushing Del’s mouse, Mr. Jingles. That scene gets me every time and I want to reach in and wrap my hands around his smug, gangly neck. But that pales in comparison with his ultimate act.

Ultimate Act of Bastardry: Having pushed his way onto the execution party of Edward Delacroix, he is not contented watching the man fry for his crime. Percy neglects to wet the sponge that will be placed on Del’s head which will go some way as to soften the blow of being shot full of electricity. What follows is absolutely horrific; Del’s body shoots into flames on account of the electricity passing through it. Only upshot is Percy gets the tar knocked out of it by Tom Hanks and the other guards!!

3. Gunnery Sgt Hartman, Full Metal Jacket (1987) (played by R. Lee Emery)

This man oozes b****** from head to foot and for the entire time he’s on screen! So he does not have one “ultimate act”. Instead here’s a choice few quotes:

“Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of shit! Get the fuck off of my obstacle! Get the fuck down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Pyle!”

“Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked shit that high!”

“I bet you’re the kind of guy that would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I’ll be watching you.”

“Private Pyle I’m gonna give you three seconds; exactly three-fucking-seconds to wipe that stupid looking grin off your face or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you! ONE! TWO! THREE!”

“What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”

“Bullshit. It looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama’s ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.”

2. Skeletor, Masters Of The Universe (played by…. Skeletor)

I know, I know. He’s a cartoon! Doesn’t mean he cannot be a bona fide b*****d!! Like any good demented leader, he was unbelievably rude to his crew; his loved ones and he had a whole castle all to himself but spent the majority of the series trying to steal the Sorceress’ castle!! What a prick.

Ultimate Act of Bastardry: In the Filmation TV series Skeletor kills a villager and starts to prey on He Man’s conscience. He has He-Man convinced that he was the killer of the innocent villager, nearly driving He-Man insane. He killed someone in cold blood and tried to convince He-Man he did it! Hardly My Little Pony…

1. Patrick Bateman, American Psycho (2000) (played by Christian Bale)

I hate the 80’s as a whole. The fashion, the music and the general sense of dread, but Patrick Bateman embraces all the hallmarks of the era. Stock market greed, immaculate business suits, technology and oh yea killing ladies. He tries to feed a stray kitten into an ATM machine…. A stray kitten…. He’s demented!!

Ultimate Act of Bastardry: He kills senselessly and then throws on some Phil Collins. End of argument. There’s your Number One B*****d!

N.B. I have not included Darth Vader in this list because he’s overused in these types of polls and he looks like a giant black pedal bin with a fan on his face and suffers from a bad throat. Until next time!!

Written by thepanch

July 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Just One More Thing

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Jamie’s Good News

I entered a competition on TV3 for the Book Club last month. I reviewed David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Yes, I can see your mind working there, that film that was out a while ago where Tom Hanks put on funny wigs and noses, thus making him different people in different times yet somehow the same story strand. I know, you’re confused as hell. Try reading the book. Here’s the review that won me a Blackberry Playbook:

“Cloud Atlas. What? Sprawling. Mental. One story. Two Stories. Many Stories. I don’t get it. He went back. She went forward? Ah here. This is too much like hard work. Oh wait. Hold on. So he was? Jaysis. Mental. He did. She didn’t. I don’t know. Cloud Atlas. Good Jesus.”

That was how I felt while reading the book, a series of short bursts of story followed by disappointment then ultimately confusion. Some of the literary types praise it as “challenging” and that books aren’t meant to be “easy, it was written that way, to be challenging.” You can take your smugness and jump off a cliff, a high one. Books are supposed to challenge you yes, but not to the point where the narrative gets wrapped up and ultimately lost in a shambolic, rambling and ultimately messy story.

And to be fair, you are only supposed to be really challenged by books when you are in school. Maths books, Irish books.

Speaking of schools, this book reeked of could have done better. It had a distinct feel of a writer failing to tie up all the loose ends and just ended a particular story by starting a new one. Oh and the film was atrocious, you know just in case you were wondering. Cloud Atlas? Shit sandwich.

Bye Bye Birdie

Good Oul Bertie. The stuttering bum, the lovable rogue from the old lovable Dubalin. Ah Jaysis, will ya have a short? I will…. I didn’t see ya comin’, yil have a babby power…. Jaysis, we’ll go up The Mero in a bit. Lovable Oul Bertie. As I’m sure you are most astutely aware dear reader, Bertie is neither lovable nor innocent. After presiding over the decimation of the country he left his storied position in The Dail, yet still continued to pocket his pension. Now, think about that. But surely he’s entitled to a pension.

Hold that thought. Only seven out of 116 ministers gave up their pensions when the news about Bertie broke, this was despite the introduction of a system to allow them to do so. Also at this time none of the Fianna Fail ministers chose to give up their pensions despite being the ones presiding over the crash. Now, I don’t blame them entirely, they didn’t crash the money ship, but they were driving it. Let’s talk figures.

On this pension, Good Oul Bertie pockets a tasty €12,500 a month. A month!! I know, right! That’s roughly around €3,000 a week for doing nothing, literally nothing. Well unless you count traipsing around the country giving lectures nothing. Now, why all this anger you say? Well as many of you may or may not know, Good Oul Bertie has been appointed chairman of the IFF (International Forestry Fund). What so ever can this mean, James?

Well dear reader, gather around and I’ll tell you a tale.
Good Oul Bertie was directly involved in giving away lorry loads of our oil and gas during his time in power and now he is chairman of the very organization that the now government are looking to flog our forests and woodlands to. This is an abomination, an absolutely abhorrent way of pulling in more dirty money. There is no other way to describe it, and with a man in power who has no scruples pocketing €3,000 a week for the honour of being a retired Taoiseach, wave bye bye to all your favourite walkways.

Remember those happy memories of bringing your children or indeed being brought for a walk in one of these lovely areas? Well you better hope you took photos because the government will soon have them flogged off to the highest bidder, who will probably be Good Oul Bertie. The snake.

I am putting all politicians on notice for when you decide to campaign for re-election. Well when you all recover from your readily funded rips to the USA for Paddy’s Day so they could all laugh at the poor Paddies. Best to avoid me. Cross the street if you see me and do not even comprehend darkening my door. You are all snakes, cowardly weak snakes. And I know you won’t lose one iota of sleep over this, but this country is on it’s knees and you are going to preside over it being pushed over the edge. For what died the sons of Roisin……..

For anyone interested, there is a Walk In The Woods planned for the 28th of April. It takes place in Avondale House and Forest Park, Rathdrum. It is a walk around the woods and will feature poetry and works from prominent artists, singers and performers. Starts at 1pm. Bring a picnic!!!!

Written by thepanch

April 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm

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New Year, Wha?

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The kids from Sandy Hook went back to school last Thursday. Alarm bells rang, mothers fretted, fathers grunted and reached for the paper, bread was buttered, cereals were wet with milk, shoelaces were tied, buses were chased, boarded and stopped at their destination, Sandy Hook Elementary School, where just a month earlier twenty pupils and six teachers were needlessly gunned down by Adam Lanza. Gunned down as they attended school, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was to go back to that place, that place that would have been full of laughter, finger paints and scraped knees. Now it will forever be associated with a monumental loss and a damning indictment of the gun law in America.
When news broke of the killings, I was physically disgusted. And my mind went back to the killings outside that cinema in Chicago around the time of the release of The Dark Knight Rises. I remember the cry of the ignorant and the right wing that a fictional character, a hero to many of the kids that lost their lives ironically, was responsible for their deaths. A character that does all he can to avoid death and gun violence in his crusade for justice and peace. Yea, it was his fault. Damn you, Bats.
The media whipped up a frenzy again after the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School, looking for a scapegoat to pin the senseless loss of life on. No it wasn’t Superman, it was video games. Yes, those pesky pixelated devils. Adam Lanza was “obsessed” with first person shooters, namely Call Of Duty and Medal Of Honor. Senator Joe Lieberman said, “The violence in the entertainment culture – particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games – does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent.” There are two obvious arguments to this quote. One if the issue of mental health was more prevalent in the media and in health matters in general, would these young men be so “vulnerable”? And secondly, Senator Joe must not have access to a television set in his little bubble world. I watched Sky News for ten minutes yesterday and I saw four people blown to smithereens in a van bomb and a mother searching for her dead son in the rubble. At 4 o clock. In the day. In real life. Hey Senator Joe, the world is violent…
As stated earlier, the pupils and staff returned to some sense of normality last Thursday. A traumatic enough experience, so how do you help these people settle back in? A group in a neighbouring town, Organisation SOS, were offering gift vouchers in exchange for violent video games. These games were then subsequently burned, now to be fair the group did not say the games were directly responsible for the deaths, but they argue that “violent games and films desensitize children to acts of violence.” Turn on your television.
So they are burning what they believe are adding to the problems of violence, crime and unnecessary deaths in the land of the free. I begrudgingly commend them, personally I think they are a mile off, but they are entitled to their beliefs and maybe it will bring some comfort in the wake of the tragedy. Surely the US population would put some effort into a gun burning or ban on firearms? Ha, think again.
The number of FBI background checks required for buying a gun in the US has set a new record in the month of December. The Feds recorded a massive 2.8m background checks during the month, an increase of 2 million since November. Someone who passes a check is officially deemed “able to possess a firearm.” I wonder if one of the questions is “Do you own an X Box?” God Bless America…..

Written by thepanch

February 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm