On Friday 10th February I purchased a monthly pass for the Omniplex 13 screen cinema in the Crescent Shopping Centre in Dooradoyle. As it is awards’ season, the quality of films showing on the big screen currently, is higher than the dreary superhero blockbusters which predominate over the summer. At 15 euro per month (with a minimum three month subscription) to see all films showing, I would need to see five films over the next three months to break even (it is ten euro per film if you pay as you go). It turns out I had quite the cinematic week, taking in the following films.
From January 2016 until August 2022 I lived in a flat overlooking the end of the Royal Canal in Dublin . Where it meets the river Liffey. From the balcony in the kitchen I could observe the riverside Convention Centre and a block of gleaming, glass apartments in the IFSC. Living on a corner, the view from my bedroom was different – the Laurence O’Toole church on Seville Place and the statue of Sherriff Street and Dubliners legend Luke Kelly. This was the point where Seville Place turned into Guild Street. If you walked from the river to Guild Street and onwards through Seville Place, underneath the railway bridge, and across Amiens Street, you’d reach Portland Row – from where Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington hails. Portland Row turns into the North Circular Road when you cross Summerhill. The North Circular continues in a loop for several miles until it ends at the Phoenix Park. These are roads that I know well, and which I got to know in great detail from March 2020 when the lockdown was declared and we were mandated not to stray further than specific distances from our homes.
In early December a documentary called ‘North Circular’ was released. It tells the story through music, of how the old working class communities of Dublin are adapting to a city being homogenised for tourists and tech workers. This sounded interesting. It’s a road I had walked hundreds of times over the years – even prior to lockdown, it was the street I walked through to reach Dorset street to take my daily work bus to the Wastelands. Press 2 below for next page
Of late I have been watching a lot of Bette Davis movies. Having come to the realisation that while I knew a lot about her career, marriages, rivalry with Joan Crawford; the only films of hers that I’d seen were the classics ‘All about Eve’ and ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’ My mission was to rectify this. This weekend I watched her Oscar nominated performance in the 1941 film ‘The Little Foxes’ and her breakthrough role in the 1934 film ‘Of Human Bondage’ – the film that made her a star at the age of 26. This wasn’t her first film – she’d been knocking about Hollywood for a few years by that stage, searching for that hit film to put her name above the movie title.
One of her earliest films was called ‘Hell’s House’ from 1932. I also watched this one yesterday. At the time Davis was under contract to Universal Pictures. She was loaned out to BF Zeidman’s Production Ltd for this picture. After which Universal dropped her. Which turned out for the best in fact – her next film was her first with Warner Brothers and became a hit. It was called ‘The Man who played God’ and was the start of her reign as the queen of Warner Brothers.
I have a profound appreciation and respect for mainstream culture and entertainment. Music, film, books, theatre – I love a good crowd-pleaser. There is a deep enjoyment to be had in reading the new Marian Keyes; or watching the latest Ryan Gosling film after listening to Kylie’s newest album. Cultural snobbery is inexplicable. These days the Beatles and Elvis are considered classic rock music; and Shakespeare and Dickens are acknowledged as literary giants. However all of these people dealt in mass-market (for their time) art. Their work was created to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. The only exceptions to my consumption of mass market entertainment are superhero movies and film franchises, which I find dull, dumb, reductive and greedy.
Last night I watched ‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again’ – the 2018 sequel to ‘Mamma Mia’ from 2008.
Recently I have acquired access to Netflix through the kindness of a friend. Diving into TV shows that friends rave about is a temptation that I have so far avoided – it just seems like a commitment too deep. To watch a programme with six series will take an extraordinary length of time. Instead I have been looking at films available on the website. This week I have seen ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Mean Streets’ – both directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Robert De Niro, back when he was a good actor and before he started his more experimental career phase with movies like ‘Meet the Fockers’ and ‘Dirty Grandpa’. Both the Scorcese films were impressive, hard-hitting and violent. I needed a palate cleanser after that testosterone driven sequence of films. Therefore last night I decided to watch a Julia Roberts film – the 2010 adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Continue reading Cinematic: ‘Eat, Pray, Love’→
The most convenient option for my cinema trip this evening was the Odeon to see the festive film ‘Last Christmas’. Today is November 16th. I guess the film makers released the film so early as a cunning stunt – cash in on the holiday season in the run up to Christmas. Continue reading Film: ‘Last Christmas’ – a Yuletide travesty→
‘Hustlers’ is a new, based-on-a-true-story, comedy-crime film directed by Lorene Scaforia which follows a group of New York strippers who drug Wall Street bankers and max out their credit cards at the strip club. It is set during the years following the economic crash of 2008 and stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. It is absolute thrash. I loved it. Continue reading ‘Hustlers’ and J-Lo: The tale of the 50 year old stripper→
Tonight – for the third time in a week – I was at the theatre, this time to see ‘Pasolini’s Salo redubbed’ at the Peacock. Another show from the Dublin Theatre Festival.
‘Salò’ is a 1975 horror art film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and is an adaptation of the book ‘The 120 days of Sodom’ by the Marquis de Sade set during the 2nd world war. The film is about four wealthy, corrupt Italian libertines living in the fascist republic of Salo,(1943–1945). The libertines kidnap eighteen teenagers and subject them to four months of violence, murder, sadism and sexual and mental torture. The film is about corruption, murder, abuse of power, sadism, perversion, and fascism. It was no doubt banned in Ireland on release, and remains banned in Australia. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Pasolini’s Salo redubbed’→
On Sunday I went to see the new Pedro Almodovar film ‘Pain and Glory’ at the Irish Film Institute. It is a wonderful film.
Before the screening I was plonked on my chair watching the adverts when a very strange clip started playing. It was clearly an advert – but for what. There wasn’t a single clue offered. The piece featured an impossibly beautiful young couple lobbing the gob on each other in various, artistically lit, beautiful set pieces. They were shifting in the water, on land, in the woods, in their tastefully appointed, luxurious home, everywhere. Meanwhile a romantic piece of music played over the imagery of the tonsil hockey. The singer telling us of the earth shattering love between the French kissers. About how their love would get each other through. Tragedy in flattering lighting envelops the couple for a brief moment. Their love tastefully endures however. Continue reading Brown Thomas – how we laughed→