College Tribune Entertainment Supplement
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VOLUME 20 - ISSUE 8 - 20TH FEBRUARY 2007
ion | Health Film | Bo oks | Music | Fash
The Immediate Mitch Alban Sugar Daddy
the dublin international film festival page 6 >>
20th February 2007
Love, loss & laughter
Building on the success of their massive performance at last year’s Oxegen, My Alamo are back once again to blow Irish audiences away. Lorcan Archer caught up with guitarist Zach Beckett ahead of their forthcoming gig in Whelans
Birmingham-based rockers ‘My Alamo’ have toured with Director and performed at Oxegen before ever properly releasing any material. Why should you care? Because they’re back in late February for a pan-Ireland tour, and they didn’t even need to pimp themselves to get it. Guitarist and songwriter Zach explains, “The thing was the Promoters of each particular venue have asked us to come and do the shows on the By the end its always strength of the Oxegen performance and the last supporting tour, so it’s completely a mix of really nice to be asked to do all the everybody’s input shows by people on the ground rather than just being pencilled in.” Au Revoir Simone: Page 5 Indeed, with a brand new single entitled ‘1994’ out on Seventh Star Records, and publications such as Kerrang! strongly supporting the band, 2007 looks set to be a good year for My Alamo. Such is the appreciation for the band’s material that respected producer Joe Gibb (Jane’s Addiction, Funeral For a Friend) agreed to work with the band on their upcoming album, sans payment. “We didn’t have any money, and he said ‘Don’t worry about it, I want to produce the record!’ and if it made any money down the line then fine. So we got such a high class production, which was great.” The band sound like something of a strange creature on the current rock “She is famous as scene, with vocalist James’ Chris Cornell-esque vocals and the honest rock much for her unique attack of the music sounding very far sense of style as for indeed from the present crop of both Emo and Indie bands. As Beckett exher acting abilities” plains, “We’re trying to stay away from Audrey Hepburn - Pahe 8 any sort of fashion-obsessed stuff, it’s
all about the songs. It’s about love, loss, and laughter, but also about pure energy.” According to the band, coming from Birmingham has had a significant effect on their development, though more because of the city’s bad reputation than its good qualities. “Its kind of got a bad rap, even though many great bands have come out of the midlands, particularly huge rock and metal groups like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Here we produce bands who are more successful internationally than at home, because we don’t
become attached to the Press in London. We look further afield.” One of the more striking things about the band is its curious name. While it would be easy to imagine the group striking powerchords with sunglasses and flags unfurling behind them, the name has deeper connotations, “The way Western history is documented, and how that seals its attitude is what interests me. Especially incidents like the Alamo, which grew up around the Texan’s last stand. It’s quite trite, and My Alamo, as we stand as a band, is very much about
Offer ends 31st March
challenging these ideals.” So where does Beckett see My Alamo this time next year? “Ideally, we’re going to be headlining Oxygen, partying with Ozzy, headlining the UCD Ball and giving Trinity the usual mention during the show.” He concludes with a laugh “But just successfully making music would be fantastic.” My Alamo play Whelans of Wexford St. on Feb 27th February as the final date of their Irish tour. www.myspace.com/myalamospace www.myalamo.co.uk
Offer ends 31st March
20th February 2007
Going all the way Barra O Fianail speaks to Rob Skipper of ‘The Holloways’ ahead of their upcoming gig in Whelans “It’s a glorified talent show, a load of bollox really”. Rob Skipper; vocalist, guitarist and fiddler for North London band The Holloways doesn’t seem to take Channel 4’s Road to V competition too seriously. His band however, emerged from the ranks of the 2000 bands who took part in the show, and were through to the final before the competition executives decided they didn’t meet the required unknownness of the competition. “We got to the final but then they said our profile had risen too much. They didn’t want to
let us win because we’d got a record deal and sort of progressed more than all the other bands. So, you know, fuck that, we’ll go play our own gigs.” And that they did. Having built up a loyal following through their live shows, The Holloways are selling out venues all over the UK, and they’ve also released two singles that hovered around the top 30 in the UK charts for several weeks. These singles come from their debut album ‘So This Is Great Britain’ which NME described as ‘the most informed ecstatic and goddamn best
guitar-rock record of 2006’. So where’s all this praise and popularity coming from, and is it justified? The band is a prime example of all that is good in genuine British music. Though they may not be at the top of the pile, The Holloways are the brethren of bands like The Stone Roses and Pulp, with messy music full of sharp edges and catchy but clever lyrics. These are just four ordinary blokes and their songs deal with ordinary issues, but aren’t restricted to just singing about love. Some of their songs,
like their second single, ‘Generator’ are simple enough, betterthan-Prozac, feel-good tunes, while others contain pretty hardhitting social commentary. For many The Holloways’ sound harks back to the dirty Britpop days of the 90’s, but the band definitely bring something new to the table. They’re proud of their roots in British music but also take a little inspiration from us Irish among others, as singer Rob Skipper explains: “We’ve got lots of influences - you know we’ve got our fiddle. Irish Folk music really gets us going. I’ve got a couple of Irish friends who’ve thought me the odd Jig and Reel. I’m a fiddler. It’s all good.” The four band members don’t take themselves too seriously, and like to have fun with their music, and this comes across when they perform onstage, as well as in their videos. “We’re going to release ‘Dancefloor’, that will be out on
the 19th of March. We did a cool video with the MTV crew. It’s got lots of page 3 models dressed up as warrior princesses having a battle with us kind of dancing around them.” Though they may have humble beginnings in the Holloway area of London, Skipper and Co certainly harbour some lofty ambitions. He explains that their priority is “becoming a worldwide name. Obviously the UK, that’s our sort of home turf and
that’s priority but there seems to be a lot of interest in Europe and America, and worldwide. So why not, we’re happy to travel around and pick up as many fans as possible.” Their quest for world domination continues in Whelans this Saturday, the 24th of February. Check them out on the web, and if you dig it, the gig is not to be missed. www.myspace.com/theholloways
Simply the best Darragh O’Donoghue speaks to Fujiya & Miyagi vocalist David Best about life, love and the future Fujiya & Miyagi, despite the name, are actually a trio of musicians from Brighton. They take their name from an electronics company and the Karate Kid’s guru, and their musical style from a kaleidoscope of even less obvious sources. Having recently released their second album ‘Transparent Things’, the band are hoping to stir up some commercial success to go with the mountains of critical acclaim that they have already garnered. Their music is a strange mix of the electronic and abstract, but the hypnotically catchy rhythms and understated vocals are intriguing, and have led to an avalanche of comparisons in an effort to categorise their sound. Says vocalist David Best; “It’s quite indebted to a lot of German music from the 70s like Kraftwerk, Can and Neu, while the other half would be more kind of Talking Heads, New York punk. But hopefully there’s a lot of us in there as well.” Their sound has evolved from their early days of homemade electronica, which Best acknowledges; “To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would really be that interested when we started off. We weren’t aiming to play live or any-
thing, but then subsequently we started playing gigs, and that’s when the music really changed. At the outset we were really into Squarepusher and much more electronic stuff, but before that I always loved David Bowie and Roxy Music and all these more vocal bands, and that
At that time everyone was just standing behind laptops and it was a bit dull to watch. We started rallying against that and it changed the music started coming through. “At that time everyone was just standing behind laptops and it was a bit dull to watch. We started rallying against that and it changed the music, because we wanted to entertain people so all the other influences came out and hopefully we’re managing to do that.” On the subject of his lyrics, Best scoffs at the notion that they might
be stream of consciousness; “They’re not, they take me ages. A lot would be taken from reminiscences of childhood, or memories, while some of it would just be how I see things or how I feel about things. Collarbone is just about how I broke my collarbone when I was younger, which in a way is more honest than a thousand indie bands crying about their girlfriend leaving them, but because of the way they’re structured and fitted into the songs they come across as maybe quite jarring, and some people wouldn’t see the sense in them.” Because of the diverse influences the band incorporates, Best himself points to such contemporaries as The Beta Band and Beck as artists he admires. “The Beta Band made us think maybe this kind of music could work, while Beck is also someone who would be into say, Brazilian tropicalia and hip-hop, and be able to combine it all. It’s
just a matter of trying to encapsulate everything you like without it sounding muddled.” So whether or not you’re a fan of German electronica, New York Punk, New Age Glam or New Wave Indie, you should find
something to enjoy in the music of Fujiya and Miyagi, who play live in Crawdaddy this Friday, Feb 23rd. www.myspace.com/fujiyaandmiyagi
20th February 2007
subject matter at its heart, but it was groundbreaking and musically dynamic enough to hold the listener's attention no matter how bleak its lyrics got. The result: a timely yet timeless album. ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Queen' on the other hand, suffers from sounding so consistently doom-laden and musically monochrome that the only word to describe it as a whole is ‘dull', much like the London lifestyle it tries so hard to depict. For most of its thirteen npppp tracks, the album pairs the same You have to hand it to Damon repetitive texture with melodies Albarn. With his latest (and still that sound like mere afterthoughts nameless) side-project, he set out to to the music. ‘Kingdom of Doom' write an album that would encapsounds aimless and half-baked, sulate the social and moral decay of elsewhere ‘80s Life' wouldn't even modern English life. Did he succeed? cut it as a Blur B-side. Do yourself Of course he did. But herein lies the a favour and pick up Bloc Party's ‘A problem: successfully tackling such Weekend In the City'; another rean apocalyptic theme doesn't always cent, and certainly more impressive make for interesting listening. attempt at sound tracking London Exactly a decade ago, Radiourban life. head's ‘OK Computer' had the same Conor Doyle
the good the bad and the queen
we are scientists
jessica simpson nnnpp
This album of ‘B-Sides, Videos, Remixes and Rarities', certainly doesn't live up to its name - in fact its actually quite good. This is a collection of songs that didn't make the cut for the fantastic, ‘With Love and Squalor' album, along with some acoustic versions and remixes of songs from the aforementioned album. If you happen to be a We Are Scientists fan you will definitely enjoy it, not least for the DVD which contains videos for all the songs on ‘With Love and Squalor' as well as a decent helping of live footage. Indeed there are some songs on here that would have been at home on the album. A case in point is the first track ‘Ram it Home' (the B-side for Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt) which conforms neatly to the We Are Scientists formula of hook driven pop rock. The gem of this collection has to be the band's take on the Sigur Ros track ‘Hoppipolla'. This enchanting song is given a We Are Scientists acoustic treatment with amazing results (Icelandic lyrics included). Two of the singles from ‘With Love and Squalor' are also given an acoustic re-working- ‘The Great Escape Under The Sea' and ‘Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt Under the Sea' are both solid acoustic versions of their original selves. In short, this is a fun collection to listen to and a must for any fan. www.myspace.com/wearescientists
a public affair
We've been saturated with Jessica the professional ditz. She's the brain-dead newlywed: confused about the difference between chicken and tuna, thought buffalo wings were actually made of buffalo and thought rigor mortis was a man. But, remember, she also like, sings and stuff? Yay! Well, not really. Lord, if you are out there, why? Why is she still with us? He says it's because she's got a powerful pair of pipes and looks great in hotpants. Fair enough, but the fact remains that this whole breed of pop star, this wave of make-up caked, plasticsculpted planks, serve about as much use to healthy society as bum spots. Their music is atrocious too. This latest offering of Jessica's is all you'd expect really. Empty, disposable songs all about either a) her broken heart b) her love filled heart or c) her independent woman who ‘don't need no man' heart. Yet they all sound painfully the same. In the sleeve of the album Jessica states, “the completion of this album feels like I'm spreading my wings and beginning all over again." For the sake of us all, lets hope she flies into a wall. www.jessicasimpson.com
bowling for soup
the great burrito extortion case nn
For reasons that defy logic, Bowling For Soup have sold over a million albums. This outing is the Texans' ninth release and will find an eager audience amongst fans of the now defunct Blink 182. The lyrics are banal and meaningless, con-
whats the time mr wolf
It's early 2007 and among the many hyped bands for whom this is meant to be their year are the loud and proud London-based band The Noisettes. On first impression, they certainly look the part. This is largely due to their flamboyant front woman Shingai Shoniwa, a sort of Grace Jones meets retro punk style icon- all funky colours and big hair.
cerned with popularity and their lack thereof, and the rhyming schemes ensure that teenagers can happily sing along when they gather in Temple Bar. Each song features completely unimaginative guitar riffs, coupled with a vocalist that sounds like he's just hit puberty. ‘Luckiest Loser' is a song devoted to friendship, which mentions Mel Gibson and Danny Glover for no discernable reason. Some of the vocal harmonies work well, but the overall impression is one of blandness. With sixteen mindless tunes, the bonus track ‘No Opinion' proves to be a slightly redeeming feature. The acoustic guitar works well, and for one brief moment the listener is made aware that the otherwise irritating Jaret Reddick can actually sing. Unfortunately he elects not to do so for the majority of the hour that the album lasts. If you're a fan of commercial pop punk then this might be worth a look but if not avoid like the proverbial plague.
Her voice reflects her sense of style - it's fun and quirky, and lends an attractive vibrancy to every song on the album. She screams, snarls, squeaks and sooths over choppy guitar riffs and relentless drumming to create an in-your-face sound full of attitude and chutzpah. The album opens with a bang with its best song- the stomping ‘Don't Give Up'. This high energy is continued in the delightful ‘Scratch Your Name' and equally rockin' ‘Sister Rosetta'. ‘Count of Monte Christo' and ‘Hierarchy' are softer songs showing the band can, if needed, tone it down without losing the flavour. With bands of this nature there is an ever present danger of favouring style over substance. At times Noisettes stumble into this pit, as on ‘Mind the Gap' and ‘Break Free', but as a whole, ‘What's The Time Mr Wolf' is a lively, likeable and confident first album sure to stamp the Noisettes all over the musical map. Listen with the volume cranked up and it will easily enliven the laziest limbs. Definitely worth checking out. www.myspace.com/noisettesuk
Gig Watch RDS
Thu Feb 22 T. Raumschmiere Wax Fri Feb 23 Tilly and The Wall The Village Ents pres. Dr. Lectroluv* TBMC Danny Howells Tripod Forward Russia! Whelans Fujiya and Miyagi Crawdaddy Sat Feb 24 The Holloways* The Blood Arm DJ Zinc Low-fi-fink The 4 of Us
Whelans The Village TBMC Pod/Crawdaddy Vicar St
Sun Feb 25 Indigo Girls John Spillane
Ambassador The Sugar Club
Tue Feb 27 The Hold Steady My Alamo
Tue-wed The Killers*
Wed Feb 28 Au Revoir Simone* Whelans Choice music prize*Vicar St Fri Mar 2 Amy Winehouse* Ambassador Booka Shade Tripod Sat Mar 3 The Rapture* Saxon Mastodon
Tripod TBMC Ambassador
Mon Mar 5 Arcade Fire*
20th February 2007
Bonjour Simone Electronic music has found a new voice in Au Revoir Simone, three New York women with a passion for keyboard, mixing beats, and layering synthetic and natural sounds. One of the trio, Erika, spoke from her home in New York last week. They are among the few women braving the world of electronic music is this group unique. They are one of the few electronic music groups that perform their full set live on stage, with 5 keyboards, various percussion instruments, vibraphone and vocals. It all began in Brooklyn, New York when then indierock band member Erika met fellow keyboard player, Annie. They started jamming and invited a neighbour, Heather, another keyboard player, to join them. Heather soon “became obsessed with the idea of being in the band”, and so Au Revoir Simone was born. The group began playing covers and learning how to translate rock songs onto keyboard. Not long down the line, their style has dramatically evolved. It’s a delicate mix of classical symphonic instruments, synth sounds, synth versions of symphony instruments, drum beats and the three female voices. Their myspace offers a neat and diverse selection of their sound.
Tue Feb 20 Razorlight*
Linda O’Halloran speaks to Erika from Au Revoir Simone about the passion for music, lyrics and melody ‘Sad Song’, for example, uses brass players, but all the strings are layered from the synth. “It’s interesting that that actually sounded good”, testified Erika. “You’d think that real strings would always sound better, but it actually sounds really full and amazing.” How, then, did this cacophony of natural and synthetic evolve? From all over the place it seems. “We all have kind of different influences”, reported Erika. “Just buying this 80’s synthesiser was probably my biggest influence for learning about synthesisers and how they make sounds.” Adding Annie and Heather’s backgrounds sees David Bowie, Steriolab, Bjork, multitudes of folk singers and punkrock added to the mix. As for their writing style, it is highly democratic. One person usually comes up with the basic idea for every song- the chord progression, a poem or the like. “By the end its always completely a mix of everybody’s input.” Lyrics are collaborative, or at least critically analysed by the group to “make sure they don’t sound stupid”. Erika also believes that another important facet of the band’s style and appeal is in their gender- an all female electronic group is a rare thing. “People that make music on computers, a lot of them tend to be guys.” Thus, the female perspective inherent in their music makes this group all the more special, particu-
larly in this genre. Nowhere will this be better represented than on their latest album, ‘The Bird of Music’, which was their first conscious attempt to make a unified album. While the last album was a mix of everything they had recorded until then, this one had “a cohesive vision”, proclaimed Erika. The band’s first headline tour is now underway to promote the album and is set to play at Whelans on February 28th. Last year they supported We Are Scientists and played in Belfast, Galway and Dublin and loved it, according to Erika. This year’s tour, however, is bigger, better, and all about them. The itinerary includes almost daily gigs all over the world from the US to Ireland to Japan with most travelling being done in their van, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. There may be times when they are “starving and just want a good night’s sleep”, but according to Erika life on the road inevitably makes for a richer tour experience that could only enhance their sound. How lasting Au Revoir Simone will be remains to be seen. However, at their current rate of growth they’ll be mainstream in no time. The question is, is Ireland ready for such a new sound? www.myspace.com/aurevoirsimone
Just buying this 80's synthesiser was probably my biggest influence for learning about synthesisers and how they make sounds
myspace artist of the fortnight Independent American outfit Les Savy Fav are the recommendations for this fortnight with a truly unique blend of jagged post-punk/ aural attack. Refreshingly unencumbered by the posturing so common to other acts of the Gang of Four/ spiky post-punk heritage, the ‘Fav's humorous profile picture is indicative of the more ambivalent attitude towards image to be found only in underground scenes. Operating under their own label (French Kiss Records) and based in Brooklyn NY, Les Savy Fav enjoy a healthy underground following and comparisons to Sonic Youth, Talking Heads and Brainiac. The studio recordings on the page exhibit the kind of vital immediacy most bands could only dream of achieving in a live setting. Strange as it sounds, the production and arrangement is such that each instrumental track on the four songs seems independent, almost ignorant of its fellows, not to mention the overall song. This isn't to suggest that the tracks are discordant, the songs simply move at a pace that is alien to the predictable polyphony of today's standard rock act. There is a blissful sense of spontaneity to the progression of standout The Sweat Descends, with its ripping climax in an unexpected chorus as Tim Harrington screams “wake me up when we get to heaven/let me sleep if we go to hell". Compelling stuff.
Les www.myspace.com Savy Fav /lessavyfav
20th February 2007
A bastion of drama, t If ever you find yourself sitting at the Gyllenhaal dinner table, it might be wise to steer the conversation away from the subject of the Oscars. Having overlooked brother Jake for the Best Supporting Oscar last year (in favour of the admittedly deserving George Clooney) the Academy have chosen to ignore completely the finest performance of Maggie's short but impressive career. True, she can consider herself unlucky to have had such a performance in a year which arguably contains the strongest collection of Best Actress nominees in recent memory, but that will be scant consolation for the actress who deservedly gained a nomination in the Golden Globes for her role in this
touching, if slightly dull, tale of a mother's re-entry into society after serving three years in a New Jersey prison. Gyllenhaal features in every scene from start to finish and gets the opportunity to display her full range as her character attempts to overcome the barriers to living a ‘normal' life. Opening with Sherry's (Gyllenhaal) arrival at a half way house it is evident that the parolee will be in for a rough ride as she is immediately antagonised by her new housemates. This piece does begin with promise, however it quickly descends into a listless, uninspiring affair, rescued only by Gyllenhaal's superb performance. Ironically, this descent is about the only thing that happens with any degree of speed or purpose as Collyer's direction relies too heavily on long, lingering shots of a cast who are ill equipped (with the exception of Gyllenhaal) to carry them and a storyline which is needlessly repetitive. Sherrybaby release date TBA
Falenbu rg Farewe ll Set in a sleepy coastal town in Sweden, Jesper Ganslandt's debut film follows the lives of five 20-something male friends over the course of a few beautiful summer days. David and Holger go swimming, play computer games, trip on magic mushrooms and generally walk about naked a lot. John wanders aimlessly around his house, barely acknowledging his mother's concerned attempts at conversation. Jorgen bristles with frustrated energy, devising ludicrous business ventures and breaking into empty homes. Jesper, the only member of the group to have successfully moved away, watches on from his emotionally superior vantage point. Basically the film is about the awk-
The 5th Dublin International Film Festival started on Friday night. The event opened with a screening of Jindabyne at the Savoy Cinema on Dublin's O'Connell Street. After the screening, the festival director Michael Dwyer presented lead actor Gabriel Byrne with a lifetime achievement award. Introducing the award, Dwyer said it was named ‘Volta' after the first ever cinema in Dublin, the Volta Cinema Theatre that was one of the many entrepreneurial investments of the adventurous James Joyce over 100 years ago,opening in 1909.
ward and sometimes painful period of twilight that occurs at this age, as the friends come to terms with the growing realisation that their idyllic innocent childhoods have come to an end, and it's time they started stepping into the adult world. Bewildered and disturbed by this realisation, they do their best to ignore the inevitable passing of time. But despite their external expressions of satisfaction, it is their internal recognition of their arrested development, which provides the films dramatic tension, and, ultimately, its tragic conclusion. Ganslandt looks to be a promising talent. The film is beautifully shot, making clever use of old super-12 footage of the group as children, intercut
with scenes of real life he filmed in the town. Ganslandt is not out to attack small town life in the way contemporaries like Lukas Moodyson have in the past. The film is informed by a genuine affection for the geography and mood of Falkenberg. Instead it is a warning against becoming suffocated by nostalgia and resisting the inevitable process of growing up. The film's excellent soundtrack, composed by Eric Enochson, perfectly accompanies the quiet, contemplative tone. ‘Garden State' without the cheesy Hollywood pseudo-philosophy. Well worth a look.
Aidan Mac Guill
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20th February 2007
thrills and suspense “Getting a prize feels like being called up to the front of the class" Byrne said on stage at the Savoy. “It means an awful lot to me in my home town and it comes from the people of this town. And I can't tell you how much it means to me, even though I've been out of Dublin for a long time I've never actual left it." The festival will run until next Sunday February 25, the line-up contains over 100 films in the four festival cinemas, the Screen, Savoy, Cineworld and the IFI.
There will be few experiences ore overpowering than watching e Jyono family discuss the abuse hat their daughter suffered at the ands of Irish born priest Oliver O’Grady. In the last few years the subject of child abuse has become an all too familiar feature of both the news media and the entertainment industry. The issue was first explored on the big screen by the 2003 documentary ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ and more recently, by the fictional works ‘The Woodsman’ and ‘Little Children’. However, none of the above quite prepares the viewer for this Oscar nominated documentary ature, which claims to be the first ave a priest go on the record detailcrimes. main focus of the piece is on Fr y, an Irish priest who emigrated to nia when he completed his term Seminary in Thurles and began g children in his care almost immeIt is when the incident begins to o the attention of the hierarchy of urch and the state authorities that m really begins to hit home. O’Grady ed from parish to parish, seemingly he full knowledge of his Bishop, al Mahoney, and also the partial dge of the police. O’Grady was ed in 1993 and served 7 year’s of ar sentence before being deported o Ireland. uth, there is very little of the inforin the film that is actually original undbreaking, anyone with even a st knowledge of the abuse scandals in the church will already be well aware of the cover-up which is Berg’s raison d’etre. What is so powerful about this work is the authenticity of its interviews. Charming and erudite at all times, O’Grady seems
Deliver us from evil more than willing to share his story with the cameras and he casually reveals all the details of his sordid past with what appears to be an unrepentant ease. This calmness is in stark contrast with the demeanour of his victims, and their families, throughout the piece. This is particularly true in the case of the Jyonos, who at first state their story in a matter of fact fashion but gradually lose their calm facades as they begin to address the awfulness of what has happened to them and their daughter. The other victims also recount their stories with their hurt and anger there for all to see but it is Mr. Jyono’s blind rage that is ultimately the film’s most powerful image. A Q & A session followed the screening during which Berg spoke of how the film started almost on a whim, when she rang O’Grady in Ireland and asked him to go on the record, and then just snowballed into what it now an Oscar front-runner (though it is unlikely to beat Al Gore’s more sensationalist An Inconvenient Truth). Maria Jyono, mother of a victim and originally from Ireland, also attended the session and spoke again of the hurt which abuse causes all those connected to its victims. Berg also stated that her reason for shooting the film, and especially showing it in DIFF was that O’Grady is at large in this state, she suspects him to be living in Phibsborough. Though a website, she herself referenced, states that he may be residing in Canada. Likewise her offering that O’Grady’s victims may total over 100, official records state 25 confirmed and proven cases of abuse. Deliver Us From Evil release date TBA
If you or anyone that you know as been raped or abused you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre, freephone, on 1800 778 888
The Good German
It's hard to imagine what would have happened had Hitler not taken things a bit too far back in the 30's; would nuclear bombs exist only in the minds of the most creative sci-fi writers, for example? Would colonialism have gone out of fashion so quickly? And what would Hollywood screenwriters have to fall back on when they run out of ideas but want a commercially appealing, heart-string pulling, Oscar worthy hit? Scarcely an awards season goes by without some sort of reference to the war, though few have anything original to say about what, at this stage, is a truly exhausted subject. It's pleasantly surprising then, to discover that Steven Soderberg's latest offering is an entertaining, tension-laden throw back to the days of classic film noir. Set against the backdrop of the Potsdam Peace Conference, in the
aftermath of the Allies victory in Europe, The Good German centres around Jake Geismer's (Clooney) trip to Berlin to cover the Conference for the New Republic newspaper. Geismer, however, lived in Berlin before the war and soon stumbles into an old lover, Levi Brandt, (Blanchett) who now happens to be seeing his driver, Patrick Tully (Maguire). When Tully is found dead after striking a deal involving Brandt's, supposedly dead, husband, Geismer switches his focus from the conference to unravelling the murder and with it Brandt's chequered past. Soderberg remains true to the genre throughout, filming in black and white to fully utilise the contemporaneous footage of the conference and the devastation in the aftermath of war, while also beautifully crafting each shot to maximise the effect of light and shade.
Emanuele Crialese' film Golden Door is a subtle, playful pleasure. The film is set in the late nineteenth century around the migration of a Sicilian family (the Mancusos) to America. The soundtrack is used very sparingly and the effect of this minimalism is very powerful. The first half of the scene is set in ‘the old world' of rural Sicily. This part of the film has no sound track. Naturalistic sounds are put to use to heighten the feel of technology free earthy life in Sicily. In the opening scene of the film, we watch Salvatore Mancuso and his brother making a curious journey barefoot up ragged rocks. They carry stones in their mouths to drop at the foot of the holy shrine so that they can ask it a question. Fortunata the weatherworn mother played by Aurora Quattrocchi is believed to have contact with the spirits. The half of the film set in the old world is ripe with flavours of pre-modern mysticism and outright magic. The whole film is a balancing act as the humour and fun with which the film is executed could easily make it embarrassingly ridiculous. The film is interspersed with Salvatore's imaginings of trees ripe with money and rivers of milk in the ‘new world'. Yet nowhere in the film do events spill over into the kitchen. Across the board, the quality of acting in this film is first class. The comic nature of Crialese's characters adds to their humanity. Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourgh's) is a mysterious English woman that enters the film as the Mancuso family boards the ship. She becomes a romantic in-
The Oscar nominated score by Thomas Newman is also worthy of mention as it superbly compliments the mounting tension as the film reaches it's climax. However, for all the film's style and charm, it is let down by two of its biggest stars. Tobey Maguire is hopelessly miscast as the morally compromised soldier, while Blanchett is uncharacteristically weak, especially in her scenes opposite Clooney, who gives a brilliantly nuanced turn as a parody of the private dick of the noir pieces of old. These are only minor blips however, in what is an excellent reworking of the familiar murder mystery tale. The Good German opens in Irish cinemas on 9th March
terest for Salvatore. Gainsbourgh is up for an Oscar for her part in the film. The cinematography is highly expressive and highlights and mirrors the story. It is easily the most important tool in the telling of the story. This film is a beautifully told story that's well worth a look.
n e d l Go r Doo
20th February 2007
Screening no excuse to avoid contraception Zoë Faulder examines the results of the College Tribune survey and considers the available options for sexually active students. Two thirds of UCD college students are There are some common side effects, having sex. This statistic may seem such as headaches, breast tenderness, like a good sign to many of us as it mood swings, bloating nausea and leg means on the whole we are a health- cramps. Decreased sex drive can also ily sexually active bunch. However de- occur. Fortunately not all women expespite the joys of such activity we must rience all these side effects and some remember that there can be messy experience none, depending on the type consequences. of pill that is taken. The world of sex is a frightening place. Ireland experiences an extremely high A positive pregnancy test can be a joy- percentage of crisis pregnancies. Of ful surprise for some but a life-shattering woman aged 18 to 24 who become pregdisaster for others. STIs remain a threat nant 56% were crisis pregnancies and 11% and incidents of Chlamydia and genital sought abortions. warts are on the rise in Irish society. There does seem to be a feeling In a survey published in the College among many young people that unTribune it was found that 65% of stu- planned pregnancies happen to other dents are sexually active and of that 39% people and therefore proper precautions have had unprotected sex. Initially this are not always a priority. There needs to may not seem like such a startling sta- be a greater awareness of the different tistic but that’s more than one in every methods of contraception and this is a three people. Almost a third said that subject that could be tackled more thorthe reason they oughly in the eduhad unprotected cation system. sex was because The result of they were under the UCD survey the influence of shows that 85% alcohol. of students have This figure is never been tested actually higher for STIs, a result than that of the which reflects the national average. startling lack of The 2006 Irish focus among UCD Study of Sexual students on their Health and Relasexual health. tionships report Students asked showed that only Dr. Sandra Tighe - UCD Health Centre why they hadn’t 19.7% of people been tested for aged 18 to 24 have had unprotected sex STIs responded with predictable andue to alcohol or drug consumption. swers, for example: “I don’t need to,” or Condoms are the most popular form “I don’t have an STI so why get tested?” of contraception according to the report Ultimately STI screening is an individual with 82% of men and 74% of women choice but it is important to remember aged 18-24 reporting regular use. The that STI symptoms can often go undecontraceptive pill is the second most tected. popular form being used by 30% of men During his lecture on STIs in UCD, and 36% of women. These figures are genito-urinary physician Dr Derek Freedunderstandable as condoms are readily man emphasised that most STIs tend available and affordable in comparison to to be asymptomatic and therefore that hormonal contraception. screening should a priority for students. With a 21% luxury government tax “In the case of some diseases, where condoms cost €3.50 for 3 in pharmacies the symptoms are only present for a and are available in pubs and nightclubs short period, it means they may have costing €4 for 2. It must not be forgot- abated before the person with the inten that condoms are not 100% reliable fection can get an appointment. That and should be used with another form of person will then not bother visiting the contraception. clinic because they think the infection is The female condom is perhaps a bet- gone. They are unaware that they are still ter solution for many women out there carrying the bug.” as it is stronger than the male condom Dr. Sandra Tighe of the UCD Health and can be used with oil-based prod- Service agrees that the facilities are not ucts. It is also useful for women who ideal. suffer allergic reactions to spermicidal “The Health service is already worklubricants used on condoms. However ing on extremely limited resources and they are only 95% effective and can be to add a STI clinic with best practice very tricky to insert, requir- screening would be impossible. Screening a great deal of practice. ing for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, and triThey retail at an expensive chomoniasis is available to any student €5.99 for three. concerned about his or her health but The contraceptive pill is this is not a full screen and dozens of not quite so readily avail- STIs cannot be screened for in the Stuable; one requires a pre- dent Health Service.’ scription from a doctor and STI screening is essential but as Dr. it can be quite expensive. It is Tighe points out “Screening is not a lihowever 99% effective if used cence not to use contraception”. Conproperly and is quite a popu- doms are expensive but essential for lar choice among many young anyone with a sex life. It is to be hoped women. However it is not suitable that the government will revise the nonfor women who have high blood sensical luxury tax imposed on prophypressure, circulatory disease, lactics in the near future and that studiabetes or some other medi- dents can enjoy active sex lives without cal conditions. taking dangerous risks.
"The Health service is already working on extremely limited resources and to add a STI clinic with best practice screening would be impossible"
20th February 2007
Perfect package of imperfection In a recent survey, Audrey Hepburn was voted the most beautiful woman of all time. As we enter a whole new season of disposable fashion trends, Caitrina Cody takes a look back at the quintessential style icon whose influence will never fade Audrey Hepburn - a name that for many of us instantly conjures an image of a solitary figure clad in a classic black dress and strings of pearls meandering along Fifth Avenue, New York and peering into the windows of a certain famous jewellery shop. Hers is a name that will be forever associated with beauty, glamour and old-style sophistication. Known for her roles in films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday and Funny Face, she is famous as much for her unique sense of style as for her acting abilities. The epitome of grace and elegance, she has influenced generations of fashionistas and was responsible for creating a very distinctive and understated style that featured enduring classics such as the black polo neck, the black shift dress and the large round sunglasses. In an era of busty blondes like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield, Hepburn’s appearance was unconventional. “To me, Audrey’s look is interesting in that she is not a classic beauty,” explains Pamela Keogh, author of Audrey Style. “And yet if you look at her she’s extraordinary.” Her strengths lay in maximising
her existing qualities. Hepburn didn’t believe that her figure was admirable but did her best to compliment it by wearing styles that suited her boyish, lithe physique. According to producer Richard Sheppard she had the biggest feet of any actress he’s ever known. She was known for buying her shoes a half a size too big because she believed that they lasted longer and looked better when the feet weren’t squeezed into them. Hepburn knew what suited her body and she adhered firmly to her own rules. Her style was not a question of slavishly following fashion trends year by year; on the contrary she didn’t feel that fashion was that important and instead adopted a more timeless approach to clothes, relying on her own instincts and favouring sleek lines and ballerina style silhouettes. Accessorising was very important to her and often it was the smallest touch that added the most drama to her outfits. During the filming of ‘Roman Holiday’, it was the costume designer that dressed Hepburn in a white shirt and skirt, but it was Hepburn herself who added the scarf and the belt - completing the outfit and making it one of her signature looks.
Dresses The obsession continues- we are sticking with the easiest way to get dressed in the morning.
Fashion Detox Time to give your wardrobe a spring clean and consign your beloved unwearables to the charity shops.
Elements Finally- a comfortable place in which to eat food that is neither a dubiouslooking chicken wrap nor a plate of greasy chips.
The very simplicity of her look was its most endearing quality. According to her friends was most comfortable in a polo shirt and jeans. She is quoted as saying ‘Better to be the only one in a blazer at a black tie event than the only one in black tie at a casual event.’ She never appeared over dressed and kept her make-up and jewellery to a minimum, usually wearing one showstopping diamond necklace or a pair of pearl earrings and leaving it at that. Her signature hairstyle was a sim-
ple pulled back bun or an elegant beehive. Her best-known film is perhaps Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a film responsible for many of the iconic images of Hepburn that we all recognize today. ‘How do I look?’ she asks co-star George Peppard as she emerges from her bedroom, resplendent in an enormous black hat and sparkling earrings. The answer is of course amazing. Who could forget the final scene as Hepburn manages to look elegant in a rain-drenched trench coat with sodden hair and a wet cat in her arms? With the advent of the new trends for spring, Audrey Hepburn would be glad to note the presence of the classic trench coat on the fashion radar, as well as the shift dress (an Audrey staple) and the hourglass silhouette. Her favourite colour will be key this season as black makes a long overdue comeback. It cannot be denied that the fashion world would not be the same without the indelible mark left on it by its heroine, Audrey Hepburn. She has given us the indispensable little black dress and has shown us how to wear it with individual style. She has become an ideal; but to remain true to her influence we must seek to establish our own individual style and suit ourselves - not the fickle whims of fashion.
The price of condoms A 21% luxury tax on something that the government informs us we should all be using? This madness can’t go on!
Visible Knickers Just because Sienna Miller chooses to show the world her shiny black undergarments does not make it right to do so.
Tartan Lay it to rest for another season, along with the animal print. The era of pattern is dead. For now…
20th February 2007
The films that shook our world
Orla Kenny looks at movies that try to bring serious social and political issues to our attention and asks how big an impact Hollywood can really have on our modern interactive society Everyone loves a good film, be it an led by rebel forces, with profit from evening at the cinema or simply a sales being used to fund these rebel night in with a DVD. Billions of cin- factions in their opposition to legitiema tickets are sold across the globe mate government. each year, while the home entertainIn Blood Diamond, the atrocities ment business has boomed in the of such civil war are vividly depicted, last number of years as DVD rentals as is the reality that in order to bring have steadily increased. about an end to such conflict we must Whatever you fancy – action, roman- unequivocally refuse to purchase, or tic comedy, thriller – there’s no doubt condone the purchase of, conflict diathat watching movies has become a monds. hugely popular pastime. However, the It is hoped that the shock the film question being asked is whether film is will deliver to consumers will have a merely just that – a popular pastime. knock-on effect on the jewellery inWhen it comes down to it, is film dustry; forcing jewellers to ensure diasimply an enjoyable form of entertain- monds sold are non-conflict. The film ment that washes over its audience, has sent the World Diamond Council any moral message fading from view- into a panic, as they try and hire PR ers minds before the credits even draw consultants to limit damage on the to a close. jewellery industry. Or instead, is film: inspirational, a Whatever about a radical shake-up powerful medium, an authority that of the diamond trade, the film has, at has the ability to sway public opinion the very least, increased awareness over major social, political and envi- amongst audiences of the existence ronmental issues? Can a film really of conflict diamonds and of efforts change the world? such as Kimberly Process, which atAlthough opinion has always been tempts to prevent the trade of blood divided on the matter, it’s clear that, diamonds. And after all, increasing while films may not succeed in instant- awareness is the first step on the path ly bringing about drastic changes to the to change. way that we live, at the very least they Nor have the perils facing our envihave the ability to drag a huge range of ronment been neglected by the film inissues into the social arena and shed dustry, being most recently addressed light on pressing topics. in Al Gore’s 2006 documentary film An Sure, the film industry can be coat- Inconvenient Truth. Marketed with the ed in the superficial glitter of celeb- tagline – ‘A Global Warning’, Gore imrity, but taking a look back at films pressed upon audiences worldwide the produced within the last five years, it’s gravity of the earth’s situation through also clear that there’s been no short- the use of admirably presented scienage of movies that have tackled con- tific fact and dramatic imagery. Though tentious issues head-on. scientists have been issuing similar One of the major issues that has ex- cautions for years, the facts are much ploded onto cinema screens in recent harder to ignore when laid out in vivid years is that of global injustice, with technicolour. a spate of films The film has such as Lord of had global reperThe film industry cussions, with War, Blood Diamond and The can be coated in the schools in Britain Last King of Scotplanning to show land highlighting superficial glitter of it to all teenagthe grave exploi- celebrity, but it's also ers. The film has tation of African directly led clear that there's also nations by Westto the training of ern governments been no shortage of teams of people and corporations present Gore’s movies that have tooriginal and corruption slide within the na- tackled contentious show in locations tions themselves. across the United issues head-on Directed by States, acting Ed Zwick, Blood as missionaries Diamond, set in 1990’s Sierra Leone, forewarning against global warming. introduces its audience to the concept Another film, The Day After Tomorrow, of conflict diamonds. though decidedly more sensationalist, Conflict or blood diamonds are dia- still shocked people into taking issue monds that are mined in areas control- of climate change more seriously.
Intriguing: Clockwise from top, Supersize Me; Bowling for Columbine; the Last King of Scotland; Blood Diamond and Brokeback Mountain
Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine (2002) was another film that certainly didn’t shy away from litigious issues, with Moore putting forward strongly formed opinions on gun use in America in what was, at the time, the highest grossing documentary ever made. Whether or not you agree with the allegations made by Moore in this fervent, passionate attack on gun control in the USA and America’s aggressive foreign policy, he must be credited with raising increasingly important issues. Though the Pro-gun faction argued that the presentation of facts was highly coloured, Moore shocked audiences worldwide when he exposed one bank’s ‘Free Gun when you open a Bank Account’ scheme and revealed
the high rates of violent gun crime in America. And these are just some of the social issues that Hollywood has tackled in recent times. Other issues such as racism, homophobia and the obesity crisis have been looked at in films such as Crash, Brokeback Mountain and Supersize Me. Closer to home, a number of Irish films have been identifying social problems that exist within Irish society. Films such as Pavee Lackeen, which examines the mistreatment and stigmatisation of Travellers in Ireland and 2004’s Adam and Paul which forces us to acknowledge the rampant drug problem in Dublin. With such an array of films revolving around contemporary social issues, it’s
almost impossible to argue that the influence of film stretches no further than the catwalks of Paris or the gossip columns of magazines. Filmmakers have the unique opportunity of conveying their message to the masses, of holding the complete and undivided attention of thousands, maybe millions, of people as they communicate their views on important issues. That’s not to say that a little mindless entertainment isn’t welcome from time to time but it is important that we recognise that through the medium of film a fire can be lit under significant topics that are being ignored by society. Can a film change the world? Maybe not but it can inspire us to start trying.
20th February 2007
The mystery of 23 - solved
the number 23
Revolved around the enigma surrounding the seemingly powerful number 23, Jim Carrey flexes an entirely different muscle in his new movie, ‘The Number 23’. This deeply intense thriller is full of intelligence, as we see Carrey stray away from his usual roles as the funny guy. When Walter Sparrow (Carrey) finds himself running late, his waiting wife Agatha (Virgina Madsen) distracts herself in a bookstore. As a result, he receives an obscure novel as a birthday gift. Although reluctant to read it at first, Walter soon discovers himself immersed in the world of Detective Fingerling, the book’s main protagonist. He becomes convinced that the story Fingerling
tells is a reflection of his own life. Walter then develops his alter ego’s obsession with the number 23; a digit myth strongly affiliated with higher causes. As his imagination gives life to the story, we become witness to the progression of two parallel worlds. Carrey’s character begins to lose control, overcome by his obsession. And as he descends into a state of insanity, he fears his future will inevitably mirror the murderous Fingerling’s. The film encompasses themes of fate and consequence and is filled with highly concentrated suspense and unpredictability. Throughout the movie, it remains difficult to crack the mysteries troubling the central character and you’ll be kept guessing throughout, most likely incorrectly. Carrey again proves himself on many levels and even manages to integrate some light-hearted humour into the infusion. His natural-
Letters well delivered
ly delirious persona seems to facilitate well the insanity his character inhabits. Virginia Madsen, Carrey’s co-star, also takes on two conflicting roles. She plays the intellectual and loving Agatha, wife to Walter and also the Italian temptress Fabrizia, Fingerling’s love interest. The number 23 is coincidently director Joel Schumacher’s 23rd project. Freaky. Some of his previous works include ‘Batman forever’, ‘Tigerland’, ‘Phonebooth’, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘A time to Kill’, and has also directed music videos for INXS, Seal and The Smashing Pumpkins. Schumacher’s variety of styles is notable within the film as Fingerling and Walter’s worlds are displayed visually very differently. The world of detective Fingerling is dark and sinister with Marvel-style imagery. At times it is also reminiscent of the classic detective drama, being narrated by the hero. The sexually charged scenes from Fingerling’s story are in di-
letters from iwa jima
‘Letter from Iwo Jima' is directed by Clint Eastwood and coincides with the release of Flags of our Fathers' that was also directed by Eastwood and tells the story of the same historic battle of World War II from the American perspective. This film tells the story of the great battle from the Japanese perspective. It begins with Japanese soldiers being treated like slaves by the army hierarchy; making them dig trenches and pill boxes relentlessly in the scorching pacific heat with meagre rations. Rescuing them from despair and the savage punishments of severe officers is General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), the impressive former chief of the Imperial Guard sent to prepare the island for the anticipated American assault. The general completely
revamps the planned defence of the small island against the imminent American invasion much to the disgust of some of the senior officers. Kuribayashi moves the defences to the caves of the island and is met with resistance from fellow officers who question his ideas; these officers are soon dispensed with. Kuribayashi quickly befriends Lieutenant Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), an aristocrat with a meager supply of Johnnie Walker. The shared scotch serves as a reminder of the America they both know personally. At the opposite end of the spectrum are Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a simple baker and an unwilling combatant who longs only to see his infant daughter, and Shimizu (Ryo Kase), whose shortcomings as an MP have earned him this lamen-
table posting. The Japanese are dedicated, ready to kill the enemy and resigned to whatever their fates may be, even as they may have mixed minds about fighting and mostly wish they were somewhere else. The new General impresses Saigo, especially after the general prevented him from receiving a savage beating. As the battle commences, the General's plans are working very well, and we are treated to some of the most graphic and awe inspiring battle scenes ever seen on the big screen. This is one of the best WWII films ever made; it's fresh in the way it is told from the Japanese perspective and in their own language. It also gives us an insight into the Japanese culture at the time.
Misleading ‘School For Scoundrels’ is a misleading title for this film, as one would expect a violent British black comedy. An inert and muddled mash-up of romantic comedy and theatre of stupid cruelty; this ultimately disappointing comedy opens reasonably strongly, delivers a few good laughs, then rolls over and dies. Despite it’s dodgy script, the casting of Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa) and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) was a good move, and the film includes a great ensemble cast; including Ben Stiller (Zoolander), Todd Louiso (High Fidelity), Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile), David Cross (Scary Movie 2) as well as stand-up comedians Sarah Silverman and Horatio Sanz. However, the casting choices are possibly the only thing that kept this film from
school for scoundrels
flopping completely at the US box office and overall the performances were not even up to scratch. Stiller, of course, delivers as usual and is possibly the only good thing to come out of the whole film. Whether the cast can save the film on this side of the globe is questionable as some of the names aren’t as well known in Western Europe. ‘School For Scoundrels’ is a story about Roger (Heder), a blatant loser who suffers from anxiety attacks, and the girl of his dreams Amanda (Jacinta Barrett), his Australian neighbour. Anytime Roger tries to ask her out, he fails miserably. He finally decides to change his life around and become more than a pushover.
Although fairly funny in parts, ‘School For Scoundrels’ focuses too much on the romantic side of things at some points in the film and at these moments it tends to drag on a bit and is even yawn-worthy at times. ‘School for Scoundrels’ varies between taking itself seriously and not, leaving the viewer alternately confused and disappointed. A grim experience, with too little wit and humour to compensate for its faults, and the upbeat ending feels like a cheat. After seeing this you’ll feel as if you’ve wasted two hours of your life that you’ll never get back. Definitely a waste of time and money.
One of the real masterstrokes of this picture is the way in which Eastwood develops their characters through flashbacks from their lives; this gives us a greater understanding of the characters traits and motives. The characters write letters to loved ones at home and this shows us their hopes and fears for their time on the island. All of these tools contribute to making this an incredible picture and a must see for any fan of this genre and history buffs alike.
rect contrast to the Walter Sparrow’s world. However, within both, obsession is set to have dire consequences. There are the odd few scenes centred on death or suicide - but thankfully nothing to cause any prolonged disturbance. And a word of warning to anyone with obsessive personalities; the speculation surrounding the mysterious number 23 may evoke some paranoia. But at the end of the day, it’s just a number. Right?
20th February 2007
Lend me your ears Matthew Parkinson-Bennett reviews Shakespears Julius Caesar at the Abbey
Bible of Adventure According to Jack Kerouac's primary biographer, the novelist became an overnight success - after years in the literary wilderness developing his own ‘spontaneous prose' - when On the Road was published in 1957. In this masterpiece, as in most of his works, he records in detail the life of the American traveller and the experiences of the Beat generation of the 1950's; a generation that was to ultimately spawn the legendary revolutionary free spirit of the 60's. By his late teens, Kerouac had decided to become a lonesome traveller and set out on a quest which in his own words was to “sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was jack kerouac doing all over the country." ‘On the Road' is written in the nnnnp first-person narrative with Sal Paradise as the fictional main character. It is the semi-autobiographical story of the author's travels across America and his experiences along the way. In many ways Kerouac accomplishes his task of experiencing American life by sampling every style and mode of life. Knowing that he is a small fish in an American-sized pond Kerouac lives at as fast a pace as is humanly possible and conveys the magnitude of his accomplishments with beautifully descriptive paragraphs. “We leaned and looked at the great brown father of waters rolling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa vales like things that had drowned in Three Forks, where the secret began in ice." With Kerouac's revolutionary spontaneous prose style, the narrative is disjointed and irregular, more like the thought process of the author than a traditional story. Hunter S. Thompson comments in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' that “No explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in the corner of time, whatever it meant." Kerouac comes as close to reaching ‘that sense of knowing' of which Thompson speaks as any other writer or storyteller. Sal Paradise spends most of his time with Dean Moriarty, a social outcast with an insatiable desire to live to the full. He is a likeable if irresponsible character with boundless energy and has intrigued readers though the years, inspiring research into the enigma that surrounds the actual person that the character is based upon. The book tells the story of the two free-spirited men and their mission to prove to the world that the pursuit of adventure is as noble a profession as there is. Both of the main characters have all the women they can dream of while managing to scrape together enough money to support their frantic lifestyle. Sal and Moriarty both live on the edge and in a few years succeed in seeing more than many people see in a lifetime. Kerouac died prematurely aged forty-seven but with ‘On the Road' left in his wake a lesson in prose and a bible to all seeking the ultimate adventure.
on the road
If it is a mark of genius that it can remain significant beyond its lifetime, Julius Caesar proves, as well as any of Shakespeare’s works, its author’s lasting relevance. If it is the task of ‘lesser mortals’ to give fresh voice to the words of genius, Abbey director Jason Byrne can rest easy that he has succeeded in this mission. Typically of Shakespeare, he prefers not the rise to glory, but the precarious position of the politically powerful, and the inevitable fall of the mighty, as his subject matter. The Roman who gave his name to this play is absent from its second half; the dramatic climax is the speech given by Mark Antony over Caesar’s body, rallying the population of Rome to his side with the words, “Friends, Romans, countrymen! Lend me your ears!” This is a play not of the common man, but of those individuals involved in leading peoples and waging wars. Both personal ambition and concern for the good of the nation are chief in the minds of the main players in the assassination of Caesar. As one man that rules all is felled, the task of government falls to several, and the desire of a few for power over many multiplies the bloodshed as chaos and war engulf Roman public life. This production brilliantly teases-out this tension, between the few and the many, in those scenes which involve both the people of Rome, represented by a rabble who are swayed in their allegiances by the manipulating rhetoric of first one, then another, of Caesar’s would-be heirs. With their back to the audience, this chorus shares the audience’s perspective, and gives voice to its excitement at the brilliant speeches. The individual performances of those figures vying for government are crucial, and the ambiguity, which Shakespeare imbues this drama with, is demonstrated well by the complex performances of several actors. Declan Conlon, as Brutus, portrays with compassion the agony of one at once concerned for the nation and tempted by power; Frank McCusker lends a suitable intensity to the brooding Cassius; and Aidan Kelly’s Mark Antony is a convincing leader of men. The mostly bare set, large and pale, of the first half of this production, both
evokes the magnitude of Imperial Rome and the comparative insignificance of the men within, mere atoms of a greater whole. The dramatic power of the stabbing of Caesar is preserved by the decision to stick with Roman dress and weaponry, and the clarity afforded by the set allows the language to assume prominence. However, the audience returns from the interval to find a very different stage. The actors’ costumes remain in the Ancient past, but now Brutus resides in a twentieth-century tent, complete with folding chairs and a gramophone. The intended effect of these trappings of a world alien to the story may be to evoke the dawn of a new epoch of Roman life; but they are at first confusing, then simply frustrating. There is a difficulty in staging this play, which is that, after Caesar’s death and the speeches that follow, the drama, as war and battle become the matter of the plot, may lag if not handled well. Although the changed attitude to death in those characters once so perturbed by
the prospect of a murder is well communicated, especially by Brutus’ reactions to his wife’s death, and the appearance of Caesar’s ghost, it is unfortunate that the cluttered stage is allowed to detract from the play as a spectacle. This dip in the second half is personified in the character of Octavius. Tadhg Murphy, who seems overwhelmed by the part; fails to convince. The spectacle dips each time he shouts his way though his lines, the jangling armour that seems too large for his slight frame provides a disconcerting metaphor for the over-burdened stage. When a soldier arrives onstage and speaks with a woman’s voice, it is surprising. When they are then referred to as a man, it is confusing. When a male character (Cassius) then kisses them on the lips, the audience cannot know what to make of things. This was a particularly odd instance of the latter scenes of this play that distracted the mind, and took away from the drama of Cassius’ death. But the weakness of this performance is all the more apparent for the strength of those which surround it; and the second half is not bad, but rather somewhat disappointing after the riveting opening acts. The excellent portrayals of the major characters continue to the end. In an election year, it is worth looking beyond manifestoes and the latest scandals of the media. This play demonstrates brilliantly the presence of personal ambition in the actions of politicians, and the hysteria that can be spread through an unsuspecting population by the skilful public figure. In March, the Abbey hosts a talk entitled ‘Lend Me Your Ears’, on the power of political propaganda; the current production effectively communicates one of theatre’s greatest portrayals of the psychology of public action.