Reviews written by registered user
|42 reviews in total|
I am not a big fan of early morning chat shows. I find it quite
difficult to watch people so bright and cheery at 7 o'clock in the
morning. Every smile and sarcastic line that is presented from the
presenters makes me recoil in torment and I really want to hit him or
her over the head with the sledgehammer. It was therefore quite
refreshing to come across Ireland AM on TV3.
I began watching Ireland AM when I was unemployed after graduating. It became apart of my daily routine to wake at 7 A.M. and watch the entire three hours it runs for till 10 AM when I would go to the Job Centre in search of employment. During this period of unemployment I became very familiar with the lay out of the show and the persona that all the presenters took on. I also found myself becoming very fond of their attitudes towards certain topics. Since getting a job I do not have the time to spare in the morning but I make the point of watching the Best of Ireland AM at the weekends.
What I have found quite refreshing about this show is that the producers, presenters & researchers go above and beyond the call of duty to cover all topics of interest. Their attitudes are that of genuine encouragement and support for all pieces on the show. The mainstream interests such as sport and popular entertainment are naturally covered but with Ireland AM you can also count on the team presenting quirky and eccentric items that I guarantee will get your interest. There devotion to health items is particularly impressive. Health debates have ranged from ingrown toenails to breast cancer awareness. I find these exposes very interesting as in recent years in Ireland the focus has been on preventive medicine. Certainly Ireland AM can accredit themselves to this because they also answer peoples worries about health problems with professional experts invited to talk about illness symptoms and routes to diagnosis's and hopefully cures.
The presenters are great. They do not come across as stuck up middle class idiots but they are the kind of people you would enjoy a pint in their company. However it did take me along time to warm to Mark Cagney. I found his method of interviewing sometimes very irritating. His technique mainly consists of asking an interviewee a question and then answering his own question with his own opinion. This at times is very annoying. We know the man is very intelligent but his constant need to prove it every morning becomes tiresome. But I will admit he is brilliant at his job and he has many years experience in the media industry. What's more amazing is that his enthusiasm has never waned and he is very spirited especially when it comes to criticizing Irelands prejudiced attitude to all things that are different. He was accompanied by the stunningly beautiful Maura Derrane up until recently but she resigned and now he his accompanied by the equally beautiful Sinead Desmond. In the wings to help with the shows mammoth amount of topics is the ever happy Alan Hughes.
A great effort from TV3 to brighten up Irelands morning TV schedule and I hope it continues on for a long time to come. No major faults from me. It ticks all the boxes for me that are required for me to thoroughly enjoy a show. It has something for everyone and is really worth the watch on cold winter mornings. 8 out of 10.
Had you asked me in 1998 would this show been still running in 2006 I
would have said definitely not. I would have said that the critic's
constant criticism of the script and the acting would have been enough
for Damon Quinn, Tim McGarry and Michael McDowell to fold their tents.
But to my surprise the three writers who make up half of the Hole in
the wall gang are still going strong.
Set in Belfast it documents the lives of two northern Irish families each representing the loyalist and republican sides. The republican family consists of Sinn Fein members Da & Cal, the long-suffering Ma and voluptuous daughters Dymphna & Emer. The loyalist side is made up of the P.S.N.I Officer (formerly R.U.C) Billy and his loyalist mad uncle called Andy. One day the police raid the republican household and Protestant policeman Billy falls in love with Roman Catholic Emer and they marry. This sets the scene for one of Northern Irelands most dysfunctional mixed marriages ever.
I will first point out that I do not go out of my way to watch this show but when I do sit down and watch I find it quite enjoyable and at times very funny. But I also find certain areas of this show very tedious which has lead to me developing a love hate relationship with the show. The loyalist characters like Uncle Andy, Big Mervyn and Red Hand Luke make me laugh till my sides are sore, simply because there is extra thought incorporated into all their characterizations. From how they speak right down to what they wear and how they walk has me stitches. The walk in particular is my favorite. It is a combination of a strut and a march. This is the side of the show I like and it is always a delight too watch. This is because they rarely need to name check politicians or continuously remind us that they are loyalists. When we see them we know outright where their political beliefs lie. But seldom do they ever play the political angle and their main comedy source is their ignorance to what is different. This invariably leads to them having better story lines and when they do get a great story line none of the actors involved of making the plot work.
The side I hate of the show manifests itself with the republican characters whose antics are just simply annoying. The scripts never change. The actors who play the characters, with the exception of Ma, are terrible and their characterizations when compared to their loyalist counterparts I consider to be very lazy. They constantly sell the nationalist/republican side and although I am catholic and from Ireland I find it really annoying because it is nothing we haven't heard or spoofed before. There is very little entertainment in it for me. Some would argue that the loyalist characters suffer from the same problems. Yes they are stereotypical but it is evident that they do it better.
Yes it is stereotypical and two dimensional but this show still has a large fan base throughout Ireland. It's inoffensive and full of daft story lines to keep the fans entertained. The critics hate it but the public can't get enough. I personally won't be making a note in my TV diary to watch it, but if push come to shove and there is nothing else on I could do a lot worse. 4 out of 10
Hollyoak's is the brainchild of Phil Redmond. Redmond has provided the
British public with some of the best cutting edge drama in the last 30
years. Beginning with Grange Hill in 1978 he established what has now
become a legendary national treasure depicting the trials and
tribulations of teenagers in their G.C.S.E and A-Levels. He then
created Brookside, which changed the story lines of British Soaps
forever with its continuous devotion to depict gritty, real suburban
live. A programme set in Redmond's native Liverpool that revolved
around a community of adults. Then in the 1990's came Hollyoaks. This
was Redmond's project to depict live of the twenty something's in
On its release in 1995 it was considered typical Redmond's style. Its depiction of real live issues was sometimes relentlessly hard to watch but in other areas it was terrifically funny. It's cast were wonderful with the emphasis was on a naturalistic performance. The writing was crisp and fresh and very inventive. It dealt in a very mature fashion with the issues depicted and its sensitive approach meant that the soap was held very high in both the public and industries eyes. But as the old cast began to move on and replacements were drafting in it became clear that the previous hard work was being replaced by glamour and over the top story lines. The new actors were looks friendly and not very talented and the acting descended from well thought out characterizations to populist acting. This consists of over the top performances throughout the episode. It is quite frustrating to see this considering whatever went before them were genuine actors and actresses. This is not helped by the over the top story lines. Since January 2006 there has been a kidnapping, incarceration of a rapist who then escapes and commits mass murder. It is now Sept 2006 and the big action packed story lines are still coming. This is not helped by the cheesy camera direction that is employed in some of the scripts. One particular sequence involved a tomato ketchup mustard shoot out involving two girls. This was shot to the style of a John Woo. Some people say this is inspirational but to me its just rubbish and it quite clearly pisses upon what Phil Redmond set out to achieve in 1995. What was a good British Soap full of characters that you would genuinely care for have now been forsaken for a more Americanised product full of whining wannabes.
In it's time it has tread some ground that has met Phil Redmond's brief of Realism. The most powerful storyline to date was the male rape of Luke Morgan. This was the last time that Hollyoaks generated such a response from the public. Many of whom welcomed such a topic that had until then been swept under the carpet as a taboo issue. Since then the cheese has been processed weekly and distributed on a daily basis. In the film The Insider the Christopher Plummer character says in relation to media " You will only be remembered for what you did last night ". If this statement is true I really hope Phil Redmond has another ace up his sleeve because at the moment it looks like Hollyoaks current mediocrity will be remembered. 4 out of 10
When you put Hamlet into the search engine on the IMDb over 50 matches
turn up. Which brings me to my first question does the world really
need another adaptation of Hamlet ? My second question is " Does there
need to be another adaptation that has a modern setting in Derry,
Northern Ireland ". My answer to both is NO. But unfortunately
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/screen writer and leading actor
Stephen Cavanagh says yes. The result is these 93 minutes of
excruciating bad acting that is accompanied by painfully bad
cinematography that was the cause of giving me a bad headache. After
seeing this it is becomes blatantly clear that every one on the
production side of this film Mr. Cavanagh, Keith O'Grady, Richard
Hughes & Ellen Factor (yes that is all that is credited) are so much
out of their depth and very inexperienced to bring such a complicated
text such as Hamlet to the big screen. I can safely say that William
Shakespeare must be turning in his grave.
The story remains the same the twist is that Hamlet is now an avid filmmaker from Derry. Its cinematography style is a documentary style that is shot in a similar fashion to the Blair Witch project. To shot a very similar style to the Blair Witch Project was a suicidal move on behalf of the film makers because of the transparent amateurish attitude of the film makers that the chosen style of the Blair witch should make it appealing to audiences. This backfires badly and inevitability shows that the makers never fully thought out the consequences of shooting in such an elaborate style and the requirement of having one fully committed person who would take responsibility of being cinematographer. A consistent tone with accompany imagery would have been established and it might have saved the film from the fate of my review. Instead we have three untrained individuals. Therefore we attain three very different interpretations of the text.
The acting is okay. It does not help that the accents are of a heavy northern Irish dialect, which is sometimes very hard to decipher. The only real talent to emerge from the film is Simone Kirby. She is consistent in her portrayal of Ophelia. Cavanagh as Hamlet once again is another let down to a film that was already doomed. You get the feeling every time he is on the screen that he thinks he knows better about the text than anyone else. But his performance says otherwise.
Overall it is a terrible adaptation of a Shakespearean text. It is quite obvious from the outset that there were some serious delusions of grandeur on behalf of the Director/Writer/Producer/Cinematographer and lead actor Cavanagh. If he was to drop 4 out of the 5 positions he held then maybe he might have had some objectivity and the film might have been very different. He should also acknowledge that he is no Brannagh or Olivier and he never will be. A terribly bad product that gives independent Irish films a bad name. 1 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gracie's Choice is about Gracie Thompson. She is a 17-year-old girl who
at a very young age becomes a surrogate mother for her half brothers
and half sister. To make matters even more complicated all her siblings
have different surnames and nobody knows who their real father is. They
live an itinerant life style with their mother. The mother Rowena is
heavily involved with drugs and boasts two dependency problems. Her
different boyfriends they move from town to town, from school to school
and in their mother's case man to man. It is only when they move back
to their mother's hometown and the introduction of their Christian
grand mother that their unorthodox family situation begins to
deteriorate. Their grand mother is a lovely woman whose Christian
beliefs bring relief to her in times of trouble. She is totally unlike
her daughter in every way but becomes an easy target for the desperate
Rowena as she free loads on her. Gracie's attitude towards her mother
changes during this period. Sexual advances that her mother's current
druggie boyfriend is making towards her bring it on. A situation that
makes her mother turns a blind eye towards because she feels that this
man is the one for her. Of course this excuse and behavior is something
that Gracie has heard seen time and time again. With the arrest of her
mother and her subsequent incarceration we see Gracie comfortably take
the reigns of her family, with the stability provided by them staying
at their grandmothers Gracie without any hesitation or arguments
decides to fight for her right to adopt her brothers and protect them
from the every present threat of their real mothers return.
As far as these TV Movies go this is in my opinion definitely one of the better ones. Bearing in mind that it is based on a true story and many of the events filmed are invariably dramatized to appeal to the audience. What I really hate about these movies is the fairy tale tone that is applied to the overall presentation. Principle character is involved with some nasty people, a moment of clarity dawns on the principle character, a fight for their right to survive ensues, and the principle character wins. They all live happily ever after. I am sure the people who this was based on are now happy but that did not happen over the stroke of the judge's gavel like it did in this film. The story is very strong and credible up until the end and after seeing it I felt somewhat cheated.
The one aspect of this film I really did enjoy however was the performances of the leading actors. Anne Heche as Rowena is very strong and consistent but typical of the over dramatization that happens in the adaptations of true stories. Diane Ladd as the grand mother is also very strong but Kristin Bell who plays the lead character Gracie out shines both of these experienced actresses. I really disliked her as an actress before I saw this and I thought she was only capable of repeating her Veronica Mars persona (a show I utterly despise). But as Gracie Thompson she plays her trademark persona of being an independent young woman but she ingenuously gels the emotions of confusion, loneliness, fear, love, warmth and intelligence. This marks her out as being a mature actress for her age group. She really made me sit up and take notice and in this day in age where pretty so called actresses are a dime a dozen she not only walks the walk, but talks the talk.
Gracie's Choice will not be for everybody's taste but it is well worth the watch for the inspiring story alone. 8 out of 10.
Grandad is a product from the University of Salford Media department.
To mention the University of Salford and Media department in the same
sentence will immediately raise the eyebrows of many people in the
Greater Manchester area and make them wonder what other pretentiously
bad rubbish this place can produce. I know it did for me and that is
bad considering I am a graduate from the same University and I am very
aware of the rubbish that students can produce when given a budget.
They immediately assume that the audience should sit up and take notice
of their films simply because the directors and writers think they
should. This ends up with self-pontificating crap that makes many
wonder is University a worthwhile place to go and study the arts.
However this is where writer and director Colin Spencer succeeds in
many areas where a lot of student film makers fail.
Grandad tells the story of Vincent a teenager on the cusp of manhood who on the day he receives the results of his state exams which will dictate his future he has to bury his beloved grand father. To receive the results of your state examinations is a landmark day for any young person in any country. It is seen as a your final steps into adulthood and a process that determines your quality of life as an adult. The day you bury one of your grand parents is also a landmark day because for many it marks the beginning of the end of your childhood and all you have is memories. This is what is quite special about Spencer's script it fuses together one if not two events that everybody has in their lives at some stage and it is the perfect hook in the script to keep the audience interested in the central character Vincent and his conflicting emotions as he tries to keep in perspective these huge events happening in his life on the same day.
Gerard Kearns of the hit television show Shameless plays Vincent. This helps the creditability of the script immediately as Kearns is an astute actor whose role in Shameless gives him the adequate experience with dealing with adolescent emotions. Compare his performance to that of the others in and it is chalk and cheese and it becomes quite understandable why he is a professional actor and the others are not. The supporting cast are adequate for the script demands and although at times wooden and stereotypical they do create a good portrayal of a family trying to cope with the stress of a burying a loved one.
To me Grandad is sickeningly sweet at times but it is the performance of the leading man and the event depicted that will keep the audience from getting bored. Although it is a good short film Spencer's script has got some holes in it. The one that really annoys me is that because of the lack of speech I found myself guessing as to whom some of the characters where and not finding there out their proper identity. Certain aspects aren't fleshed out enough to make enough of an impact but I finally managed to figure everything out on the third viewing on youtube.
The director/writer Colin Spencer proves that he is more than capable to direct such themes with this short, although to make any snap judgments on his career at yet could prove me wrong, but I do think Spencer should have a good career in the industry. What really holds him back this short is that it is a student production therefore finding creditability and success on the major festival circuits was always very unlikely. The quality of the cameras used is terrible and this really detracts from the quality of the final film. With this short Colin Spencer proves that he deserves funding for other projects and I sincerely hope he does. A bright future in television directing might beckon for him if he plays his cards right in developing the appropriate projects that suit him. Grandad is definitely a very fine example of the rare talent that does exist in Britain's Universities and I hope to see more from Spencer in the future. 5 out of 10.
Agnes Browne is a recently bereaved, stall owner and mother of seven
children. With her best friend and fellow stall owner Marion Monks, she
works hard every day to feed, house and clothe herself and her
children. This has all to be done while still trying to pay off a
ruthless loan shark called Mister Billy. She enjoys a pint and a
singsong in the pub but when she has a rare moment to herself she likes
to dance to her Tom Jones records.
Agnes Browne is another directorial effort from the wonderful Anjelica Huston and with her in the main role I would expect a lot better than what I received for my moneys worth. The problem with this film is that John Goldsmith's adaptation of Brendan O'Carroll's hit " The Mammy " is terrible and it plays to the worst kind of paddy whackery since Darby O'Gill and the little people. Goldsmith totally misses the point of the book and it is very obvious by surname alone that Goldsmith is not Irish and his comprehension of Irish humor is zero considering it has been more successfully demonstrated in different films by different writers. He totally leaves out the essential components that made O'Carroll's book so successful. " The Mammy " is certainly about a woman in 1960's Dublin fighting to bring up her kids, but the books more endearing feature is the respect that the children have for their mother. One example I can give is the relationship that builds between Agnes Browne and her eldest son Mark. In the book it demonstrates greatly that Mark's desire to get a job is not just to get out of the boredom of school but it is in necessity to provide for his family. The book also richly illustrates how Mark through careful observation of his mother gains her financial resourcefulness and how he thoughtfully gives back to his family. In return he receives the respect an adult would receive from his mother and siblings because of his willingness to accept adult responsibility at the tender age of 14. This kindness is also encouraged by his new boss and mentor Henry Wise a Jewish man whose fireside chats with Mark on his Sabbath encourage Mark to look to a brighter horizon and realizes the values of his mothers words. Great substantial stuff is replaced by mediocre trash by re-naming Mr. Henry Wise to Mr Ahern and cutting his influence right out and creating the rubbish loan shark Mister Billy. This is of course is to create tension and entertainment for the fickle international audiences. John Goldsmith should never have been hired to adapt this script.
Because of the script it is very hard to know what the supporting actors are like individually but I they gain my respect as they give heart and soul to characters despite the storyline. It is will great difficultly I will say that it is the first time I have had to badmouth Ray Winstone who I am a great fan of. His Irish accent is as bad as the script he may have played a relocated English loan shark. Anjelica Huston is good, not great, I think the dual duties of acting and directing may have got the better of her. Her role was a very hard one and I think she would have been casting a prominent English actress like Julia Walters or Emma Thompson in the role. Anjelica may have lived in Ireland in her youth but her compression of Irish Humour is as bad as John Goldsmiths. She misses a lot of great moments in both her direction and acting. Some of which might have saved the film from this reviewer's disdain.
To cut a long story short. I love the book on which this was based. On it's initial release I went to the cinema eagerly to watch it but hopes and anticipation were replaced by scorn and loathing for all American productions based in Ireland. Granted families will love this but what I am saying is instead of becoming another family hour movie on some television station, it could have been ten times better and more beneficial for us all. 4 out of 10
Coronation Street is now nearing its 50th birthday and even today it
remains one of Britain's most popular series. The reason for its
continuous popularity is very simple. It has good story lines, humor
and wit, drama and tension, colorful characters, excellent lightning
and direction, simple locations and it evokes the majority's emotions
on a weekly basis.
These things are very simple and most soap operas incorporate them but Coronation Street has the upper hand continuously because they juggle all them in every episode and there is never central focus on any particular theme it is all dealt with equality of division.
The star of the show is not the actors or the story lines but the characters. When people tune in they do not do so to watch Bruce Jones who plays Les Battersby but they do so to watch Les Battersby. Les Battersby and the other characters have become as real as the actors that are playing them and in most cases more famous. The characters are wonderfully written and in most cases portrayed by very talented individuals who seldom over act but are willing. They successfully cover a wide spectrum of human emotions and their acting ability should be honored considering that being an actor on Coronation Street could sometimes mean story lines that require 24:7 attendances on the set.
The story lines are very good also and they always have two to three separate story lines going at all times. But there will always be a major theme covered over a pro-longed period. At the moment they are dealing with Post-Natal Depression a topic that has been touched upon before in many soaps but not as vividly as it has been done in Coronation Street. Not only is it a hooking storyline but also it is very educational on it can manifest itself in different people and the adverse effect it can have on the families and friends that are involved.
Coronation Street has consistently been the publics favorite for many years because of it's down to earth approach to characters and story lines but it only loses out to other soaps because it has a reluctance to over do it with crime or natural disaster stories. It does from time to time have larger than life story lines consisting of serial killers or murders but these are few and far between. Unfortunately it's attempts to keep with up with rival soaps means that it is transmitted four times a week also means that this provides me with my only fault and this is viewers can be over exposed to heavy story lines and this can be quite daunting even for the most hardcore fan. Other than this I would say you could do a lot worse.
Compared to the soap operas that are based in Great Britain and
Australia, Irelands Fair City looks amateurish in it's execution. Set
in the fictional town of carrigstown in Dublin City it charters the
lives of its inhabitants in the area. Among them is the business elite
consisting of Pub owners, a deli, and a restaurant called the Bistro
plus other modern day business's you would expect to find in Ireland.
Along with the owners of these premises we also meet there customers
and between these places of business and pleasure and the citizens of
carrigstown's homes we are given what the folks in RTE's scripting
rooms think is their version of Irish life.
Fair City is of a very poor standard and in this day and age it really should not be tolerated. The acting is so bad that for many of it's cast it is first time on television, and for many more it will be their last. The problem lies in that many of the actors have been working in theater for many years that they are not able to relate to the camera. What maybe considered as consistent acting on the boards of Irelands national theaters can be considered as a wooden performance on television. What's worse is that you would expect that with time and experience that they might improve but it is never to be. The acting in this is so bad that the Fair City cast makes the cast of Hollyoak's look like Academy Award material.
The story lines that are crafted are sloppy and listening to the words it makes you wonder was it five year old that were let loose at the type writer. The story lines of course are supposed to reflect modern Irish therefore most of the men by the time they hit 40 will be on their third marriage have two children to two different women. We will show up at a wedding in pursuit of the bride whom we have discovered as the love of our lives. She'll die tragically in car crash but we will end up looking after the kids whom are beginning to get difficult because of their age and are seriously becoming an handful. But we will still find time to have a drink in a nightclub that is owned by one of Irelands most dangerous gangland leaders. But not before we have battled alcoholism, impotence, went bankrupt and paid our mortgage. After witnessing some of these story lines I only wish the lifestyle of the Irish male was as exciting. If for any other reason I would not half to sit down and watch this drivel called Fair City. Of course to be truthful most soaps are overly dramatic and that is the whole point to their existence. But other soaps while do it better by employing actors that are somewhat like their characters in real life and writing decent scripts.
I hate this soap with a passion. I find it is a real pity that a the majority of Irelands population are put off by it's crap acting and writing yet it is allowed to continue to run on television. Crap. 1 out of 10.
No one could argue that Billy Connolly has had a good career in regards
to his stand up comedy career. It's just a pity that this DVD could
well be his last. Recorded in the unfamiliar setting of a New York
Theatre we watch Billy Connolly engage with his New York audience. We
observe 90 minutes of old and new material some of it taken from his
Live 1994 DVD. To be honest the performance is half hearted and only
rarely attains glimpses of a comic genius working. I don't think it's
got anything to do with material being unfunny but the energy levels
normally associated with a Billy Connolly Stand up gig aren't there and
we get the feeling that Billy Connolly is like every other person in
their 60's feeling their age.
The crowd do not help matters. They are boisterous and noisy during the performance and Connolly appears to be having a really bad night with keeping his audiences attention. It does not help that right on at the beginning when he is just settling into the performance he is interrupted by latecomers to his show. At one stage this happening would have been the start to a great night. But instead of putting them down in his traditional way Connolly reverts to a skit about the theater being built on a Native American trail and that's why people are walking all over the place. It doesn't go anywhere. At times he makes a breakthrough particularly during the last story but it is sadly a case of too little too late. He has one great story about a party his roadies had on tour but it is really filled with ideas that amount to nothing.
They say comedians lose their edge when success comes their way and that is why many of them move into film and television and some would apply this to Connolly. But to be fair Connolly has proved them wrong with many of his tours and it is just a pity that this show was recorded in the aftermath of his hasty retreat back to the states after some unsavory comments about the late Ken Bigley. Maybe his confidence has taken a severe battering on account of this. This could well explain his decision to record the concert in New York and not in his native U.K. homeland. I need not remind fans of the outrage caused by his Bigley comments. So recording in an environment that is a first and looks to be boisterous and hostile probably prevented him in presenting his best performance. Or maybe he really is feeling his age. All in all not what I expected from my favorite comedian but has a few skits to entertain but not enough to hold my attention long enough. A disappointing 3 out of 10.
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