13th Nov 2012 Issue V Volume XIX
The Arts & Culture Supplement of the University Observer
“I’ve based it around the number three. It’s encompassed my whole life. Then I realised you couldn’t have three wives at the same time.”
Des Bishop Also inside >>
Emeli Sandé | Mick Flannery | Joe Randazzo
Mystic Mittens’ feline fortunes
Page 2 – Regulars
Mystic Mittens enlightens us with all her psychic abilities, What’s Hot and What’s Not tells us what’s cool and what drools, while Emily Mullen gets in a huff about rappers and their bitches.
Page 3 –Travel
Claudine Murphy is on hand in this issue’s travel section to inform you of Boston’s best bits.
September 23rd – October 22nd It’s time you stopped being duped and taken advantage of. To find out how, send €100 to Mystic Mittens, 122 Meow Meow Road, Dublin.
Page 5 – Hidden Gems
Conor Luke Barry is secretly a 70-year-old man, and thus the perfect person to inform you of Dublin’s best old man pubs in this fortnight’s Hidden Gems.
Page 6 – Games
The mind behind gaming sensation Contrast chats to Steven Balbirnie, while new releases Medal of Honor and AC3 are reviewed.
Page 9 – Film
Otwo assess cinema’s latest endeavours, while Nicolas Cage’s most cringe worthy attempts at acting form the basis of this issue’s Top Ten. Casey Lehman examines the relationship between Third World cinema and Hollywood, and Laura Bell looks at how the internet affects our TV viewing habits.
Page 12 - Features
Aoife Valentine chats with the ever-charming Des Bishop while Evan O’Quigley attempts to get to grips with the man and the mystery that is Jack White.
Page 16 – Music
Otwo has the pleasure of chatting to Emeli Sandé, Stars, and Mick Flannery, Caitriona O’Malley lists the greatest moments of moustachioed music, Heathers give us the low down on life in the music business, and all the latest album releases get the Otwo going over.
Page 22 – Special Feature
Conor Luke Barry chats to the man behind the Onion. The online satirical newspaper that is, not the vegetable.
Page 23 – Fashion
Learn how to make the most from one investment piece, and discover the exciting designers making a name for themselves in fashion.
March 21st – April 19th If you get into some type of disagreement today, don’t miss the point of the conflict. Stand by your principles. If the final chicken fillet isn’t worth arguing over, what is?
April 20th - May 20th You may find yourself propositioned to try something new this week. Just remember that the lift to the library’s 5th floor stops working after 11pm. Once you’re there there’s no turning back.
May 21st - June 20th Others may say you have taken leave of your senses, and perhaps you have, but if you feel comfortable in your one-piece leopard print suit, to hell with them.
June 21st - July 22nd Now is the time to take a risk. Test out the college canteen, but if you find yourself with salmonella as a result, you only have yourself to blame. And this advice.
Page 26 – Otwo Attempts…
July 23rd - August 22nd Instead of blaming fate for making a mess of things, you should blame Librocop. He stole your Wispa, made you turn off your iPod, and fined you €20. Asshole.
Emily Longworth attempts the impossible, as she embarks on a journey to become a hipster.
Page 27 – Fatal Fourway
It’s all about sequels in this issue’s Fourway, as things get nasty in the battle over which follow up reigns supreme.
University Observer Volume XIX Issue V Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.universityobserver.ie
August 23rd - September 22nd Listen to Mittens: that lingering odour is a warning sign. No one night stand is worth a lifetime of reoccurring VD.
Editor Emer Sugrue Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine Art, Design & Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan
Music Editor Emily Mullen Film Editor Casey Lehman Television Editor Laura Bell
Chief Designer Gary Kealy
Chief Stylist Sophie Lioe
Otwo Editors Conor Luke Barry Anna Burzlaff
Games Editor Steven Balbirnie
October 23rd – Novermber 21st While your ruling planet Venus is making it hard to think with your head as well as your heart, Saturn promises to stop that irritating itch, Mars is off doing God knows what to your sleeping pattern, and Uranus is just being a general messer. Sagittarius November 22nd - December 21st Gambling with your money will have the same result as eating a three-day old tuna sandwich from the Student Centre. No good can come from it, and the awful results will be stomach wrenching.
December 22nd – Jan 19th If you see a cow trapped in a class room, calm down. You haven’t accidentally taken LSD, you’ve just stumbled into the Ag Science building by mistake.
January 20th – February 18th Complex emotions flowing in the waters of your mind can be reassuring, as you Fish are comfortable swimming in symbolic realms and Mittens paddles in a sea of gullibility.
February 19th– March 20th Make contact with someone who has been in your dreams, but not necessarily in your day-to-day life. Just remember that if Gary Barlow doesn’t tweet you back, it doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about you.
Chief Photographer Caoimhe McDonnell Illustrator Emily Longworth Contributors Fionn Claffey Deane Connolly Heathers Edward Kearns Emily Longworth Claudine Murphy Grainne Loughran Fiona Lynch Caitriona O’Malley
Evan O’Quigley Jack Walsh Laura Woulfe Special Thanks Guy, Colm, Orla and Rory at MCD Promotions, Laura, Chantal, Caroline and Amy at Universal, Ciaran at Warner Music, Pringles, Gravy, Tooty Fruities, Paracetamol, Puddles, Seamus and Oswald.
SWAAAAAAAG WHAT’s HOT And WHAT’s nOT
WhAT’S hOT uCd House ConneCTion
With midterms killing all that is good and pure in the hearts of the Belfield socialite, the absence of a student bar has become near unbearable. To combat this, UCD House Connection has been founded. The music trade group aims to promote house music that goes beyond the playing of Avicii’s ‘Levels’ at predrink sessions. Check them out on Facebook.
THe iFi’s FRenCH FilM FesTiVAl
What can we say, there’s nothing sexier than a chain smoking modelalike whispering sweet nothings about the futility of existence en francais. Well, maybe not everyone will agree with that, but as long as your tastes run more towards smouldering glances than sweltering gimp mask, we’re on the right track. Massive clichés aside, some seriously good work fresh from the land of Sartre and cheese, running from the 14th - 25th November.
In everybody’s collective efforts to be especially cool all of the time, many naff and outdated terms have become cornerstones of the Cool Person’s Vernacular. Frequently-heard sayings from the original Batman series have come to include ‘wowzers’ and ‘jiminny cricket’. Alternatively, describe everything you’re doing with verbal sound effects like ‘KAPOW!’, ‘THUNK!’ and ‘ZOWIE!’. Your friends will love it.
WhAT’S nOT THe KnACKeR TAsH
Although dodgey facial hair is an integral part of Movember, we can’t help but take issue with the immediate and widespread abundance of knacker tashes everywhere. Even after a year of mental preparation, the visual woe of a poorly-grown moustache still hurts us inside. At the very least, get it right. If you’re going to dress up your new Tom Selleck look at the end of the month, you may as well complete your early-stage ensemble with a can of Dutch Gold.
HAsHTAGs on FACeBooK
A symbol so aggressively useless on Facebook that employing it unironically makes those of us who’ve finished a book that doesn’t contain the word “Edward” in every sentence wish that our old secondary school classmates would go back to misspelling you’re and making albums with 2k7 in the title. Maybe we’re just old fashioned, but you’re not #winning. You’re #devolving.
neWMAn loVenesTs Couples misusing public spaces in the Newman Building is the number one Annoying Thing to Have to Put Up With On Campus. The only thing worse than areas sealed off for construction work, dirty stairwells, and floorspace where communal chairs should be, is the violation of Cardinal Newman’s respect that occurs everytime couples decide to transform any of the aforementioned locations into their own love shack. For the good of the colony, stop.
soapbox As yet another rap album is released into society, Emily Mullen looks at the relationship between rappers and their bitches “We got bitches, we got bitches, we got bitches, we got bitches, we got bitches.” As much as I love Odd Future, and even though the loud blaring of misogynistic rap has been a thoroughly productive aid to my latest foray into running, I can’t help but feel myself growing tired of a certain ‘B’ term. Perhaps I have been listening to too much rap for any semi-straight laced UCD student to handle, but I am developing a bit of ‘beef ’ or ‘ham’ with rappers that talk about their bitches. Is it really necessary to call women these names? From solidly listening to rap for a while now, I have not heard a rapper refer to a female as anything other than a ‘hoe’ or the more common ‘bitch’. Descriptions range from comparing ‘bitches’ to accessories, see A$AP Rocky’s song ‘Pussy, Money, Weed’, in which women are collectable in many different colours and sizes, to bitches whose sole function seems to be to give blowjobs, delightfully expressed by Odd Future with the words: “Oh shit yo bitch, look at how I’m doing you. Bitches on my dick but look at me I’m fucking beautiful.” Is this misogynistic discourse just part and parcel of the swag-phenomenon? You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Rappers Guide to Contracting Swag demands rhyming charming phrases such as “Bitch’s shit in my draws like you piss in my draws, nigga my dick’s in her jaw.” A$AP, the breakaway rapper, contemplates being romantic with his rather starry-eyed depiction of a lady who does not require a weave: “Got a bad bitch from Belize, another overseas. If she don’t wear no weave, then her hair down to her knees. Got my wifeys smokin’ trees, my bad bitch on that E.” But A$AP reverts back to his bad old rapper ways, and reiterates that he does not require any of those romantic bitches on E, or smokin trees, the romantic business, but your bog standard “pussy, money, weed” because after all “shit, that’s all a nigga need.” Now while these crooners speak about the vast array of ‘bitches’ that are on offer to them at any given time, what are the women’s objectives in engaging in coitus with these vastly wealthy, highly prolific men? Love? Marriage perhaps? Or maybe a white picket fence “with pregnant golden retrievers”? Nah. These women are not in love, nor hearing marriage bells when they are with Tyler or Fiddy or Riff Raff, they‘re hearing the ching-a-ling-a-ling of money in their low-strung jeans, or even the snap of photographers or the vindictive tweet of a gossip column. Rappers don’t seem to consider that ‘bitches’ aren’t really attracted to them, but are as a rule of thumb are attracted to their money and their fame. They rap about how many ‘bitches’ want them, reducing the women down to pathetic slags, when in actual fact these females are just playing the game, perhaps even better than the rappers themselves.
Boston’s Brightest Boston is famous for more than just its baked beans, and Claudine Murphy uncovers just some of the many delights this New England city has to offer
he J1 journey has become a rite of passage for Irish college students during recent years. Chicago, New York City, Montauk, San Diego & California to name but a few, welcome hundreds of J1ers to spend a summer of work, parties and fun. Boston, Massachusetts has always been a popular destination for the Irish student, as it is known for its strong Irish community and roots. Home to more than four million residents, Boston is large enough to spend a whole summer enjoying and exploring, yet its size allows you to easily get from one end of the city to the other. Boston is famous for its world class Universities such as Harvard and also MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Both are located within walking distance of each other, and boast beautiful architecture which one should not miss upon visiting the city. MIT’s impressive Roman-inspired buildings can be seen upon travelling down ‘Mass. Ave’ (Massachusetts Avenue). A day trip to Harvard square is the highlight of an entire trip to Boston, and should not be missed. Firstly, avail of a free walking tour of the campus led by Harvard students, who will point out to you famous landmarks, such as the statute of John Harvard and also the dorms where past pupils such as actor Matt Damon and Facebook super-nerd, Mark Zuckerberg, resided during their college years. After your tour, be
sure to visit the Harvard Co-Op Store to purchase some Harvard memorabilia or enjoy a stroll around the busy square. A journey to Harvard wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the most popular places for visitors and locals alike, ‘J.P. Licks’ Ice cream parlour, where the queues tend to even go out the door during peak times, but is certainly worth the wait. Boston’s excellent Froyo (frozen yogurt) places, ‘PinkBerry’ and ‘Berryline’, are also extremely popular, the latter which was actually set up and run by Harvard students. Transport in Boston is very good; buses run regularly and the local subway, the T, is a popular method of getting around for Bostonians. It is very frequent and a ‘Charlie Card’ pass can be purchased for $18, which will give you unlimited travel on the Bus and T services for one week. This is a deal which most students will avail of, and it will tempt you to visit other parts of Boston. A different vehicle which can often be seen driving the streets of Boston and sailing down the Charles River, is the Boston ‘Duck Tour’, and this is an excellent way to see the city’s landmarks from a different perspective. Of course a trip to Boston would be incomplete for any Irish student, whether a sports fanatic or not, without going to a Red Sox game in the legendary stadium, Fenway Park. The Red Sox play games there almost every second day during the season, and there is a brilliant atmosphere in the stadium. From the diehard Sox fans to the hot dog sellers in the stands, the almost four hour game will definitely entertain you and a trip to Fenway really is the ultimate American experience. Also not to be missed is the view of the city by night, from the top of the city ’s second tallest building, the Prudential centre. Admission is not too expensive at $12, and it is a way to enjoy the
view of the entire city lit up under the moonlight. In terms of shopping, Boston has all the American stores that are popular among students, and the malls in Boston are large enough to spend hours and your entire summer’s wages in. Visit Cambridgeside Galleria for the huge stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, American Eagle, GAP and Old Navy. Alternatively, you can visit Newbury Street, the main shopping area in Boston, which has a mixture of high street brands and designer. Visit the food hall in Quincy Market and also Faneuil Hall which contains a wealth of shops and restaurants, including the famous Christmas shop which is open all year round. New England is known for its history, making it worth a visit for this alone. Towns such as Salem attract thousands of visitors each year to its witchcraft exhibitions, and Boston is no exception. Boston, Massachusetts and Hyannis Port are home to the iconic political dynasty that is the Kennedy family, and their history is rooted in the state of Massachusetts. For anyone with an interest in John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy Onassis
or the legendary Kennedy clan, a trip to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum is a must. The museum honours all aspects of the political and family life of the former U.S. president and boasts several exhibitions which take the visitor through each stage of his life, political successes, and eventually his tragic assassination. An admirer of the Kennedys will enjoy many items from JFK’s time in the Oval Office, as well as viewing pieces from Jackie Kennedy’s White House wardrobe. If you were to visit one museum during your time in Boston, of which there are many, this should be the one. If travelling with a group of friends, you may be keen to experience a different side of Boston. The New England Aquarium is always a popular trip for Irish students, as is the Six Flags Adventure Park. Although it is expensive, you can easily spend the entire day there with access to all areas of the theme park. In a city with such a chilled and friendly vibe, along with the endless activities which one can engage in, you are sure to enjoy every minute spent in Boston.
Hidden Gems: Old Man Pubs In celebration of the fact that Irish culture’s socialising and worrying drinking habit are intrinsically linked, Conor Luke Barry hunts down the best locations for a quiet, geriatric beverage.
John Mulligan’s, 8 Poolbeg Street. Dublin 2 Upon entering this fine establishment your nostrils are greeted with that reassuringly familiar ‘Irish pub’ smell, which is presumably a combination of spilt stout, decomposing furniture and regret. Mulligan’s is somewhat of a cultural landmark in that it was featured in one of James Joyce’s short stories, though with the amount of drinking that goes down in his work, it would be statistically more impressive to be an Irish pub not mentioned. According to ponces in the know, Mulligan’s serve the best Guinness in Dublin, a point we’ll have to agree
Grogan’s, 15 South William Street, Dublin 2 In a fantastic clash of traditional and modern Ireland, Grogan’s is located across the road from the self-consciously stylish hip-cat bar Pygmalion. In fact, the entire surrounding area is home to ‘young folk’ venues, such as some shop that sells some clothes, as well as directly in front of the Powerscourt centre, a mall that tricks you into thinking the Celtic Tiger is alive and well. Making literally no effort to adapt to its hip surroundings, Grogan’s charm is partially down to how little it fits in. Also, it’s tiny. And there are never enough chairs. And it’s quite difficult to actually order a drink. In fact, if you were to plan out a bar today, Grogan’s would tick all the boxes of what should drive customers away. Obviously they’re doing something right, however, as the impossibility of getting a seat is due to the fact that the place is always jammers with people, exploding out onto the street if necessary. Of course, get there during the day and it’s just a quiet, charming sitting room in the hustle and bustle of mad trendy Dublin. A public house, if you will.
with, having not visited every pub ever. But the fact that you’ll barely see anyone drinking anything else lends this lofty statement some credence. The superior Guinness is said to be due the angle of pouring, the maintenance of the taps, as well as the small amount of magic they put in each glass. It’s the kind of place that you would tell a tourist to visit to get the ‘genuine Irish pub’ experience, though they’d ignore you and just wander around Temple Bar. Which is probably for the best, as there’s something quite reassuring about having a proper Irish pub untainted by tourism (*Irish flag waving in the background, tears cloud eyes*).
The Long Hall, 51 South Great George’s St, Dublin 2 Steeped in history, The Long Hall is one of Ireland’s finest examples of an original Victorian pub, the original licensee of the bar actually helping to finance the 1916 Rising. But screw the history, we just want a place to get drunk. One of the nicer looking pubs; the staff are clearly proud to be a part of the establishment, always helpful and unnervingly happy. It also happens to be a listed building, hence how it retains its unusual shape, which also makes it one of Dublin’s larger pubs. This can be stressful for getting back and forth from the bar but spectacular if you actually want a place to sit down. Also, for some reason, there seems to be a sort of hunting motif throughout. With replica muskets and oldfashioned etchings and hunting scenes, it’s equally impressive and bizarre. It’s the kind of place you figure you’ll drop into at the beginning of your night, only to realise you’ve been sitting there for fours hours. Wonderful stuff.
Central Hotel Library Bar, 1-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 Perhaps stretching the old man pub umbrella a bit too wide, it is definitely not frequented by youths. Not as packed as some of the others, potentially because people feel dissuaded from wandering through a hotel foyer to ‘booze it up’. Overcoming this apprehension is well worth it, as you’re greeted with a giant fireplace, high ceilings and fancy chairs that let you briefly enjoy the life of a high-flying aristocrat. Bear in mind, all this high brow revelry comes with appropriately high prices so don’t expect to board the booze train to boozeville USA, unless you happen to be some sort of Duke. Instead, use it as a place to impress potential mates and act as if you’re always hanging out there, high fiving staff and pointing at paintings saying ‘I did that one while in my villa in Portugal’. Not great for a raging bantsfest but good for one or two pints to whet your monocle. And they do a dynamite coffee. Which is also a bit expensive.
ReVieWs ASSASSINS CREED III
pening in an opera house watching a rendition of ‘The Beggars Opera’, Assassins Creed 3 allows players to drink in the full scope and clarity of this, the finale of the series. Ubisoft really want to finish the series with a graceful bow, and with a lengthy prologue covering the opera house to an expedition to colonial America, players can’t argue with the epic scope of the project. Sheer size doesn’t make the game. What does, however, is the finely tuned continent crafted to not only suit the traditional gameplay of the franchise, but to open up and explore why this gameplay is so fun and engaging with a variety of new ideas, from sea battles to the magnificent battle of Bunker Hill. Assuming the role of a Native American descendent, Connor Kenway, players follow his entire life span, which consequently allows hours and hours of interaction with the open world frontier crafted by the new ‘Anvil Engine’. In terms of the actual story, the franchise’s unique blend of fiction fused with historical events are entertaining, mixing some superb voice acting with well-paced scripting, Connor’s fable doing justice to his predecessors. Coupled with the mercifully short Desmond scenes and the overblown finale, these emerge as the weakest fragments of the package. The series’ bread and butter, free
running and combat, is as entertaining as it was back in 2007, the two button parry system made more entertaining with some brutal and bloodthirsty kill animations. Free running through the American wilderness is also a highlight, with the changing scenery and seasons making for some breathtaking expanses. The former outweighs the latter however in terms of playability, as open combat takes centre stage for the first time in the series. Frustration, however comes from the pace and predictability of the main story. The start stop, start stop style of expanding the story is not only irritating, but also limits the promise of the ‘open world’ system. This ‘open world’ is just that, an entire continent full with a variety of options on how to spend your time, yet the main distraction comes in the form of captaining your own ship. An incredibly cinematic experience, it’s mildly puzzling just how quickly Connor has picked up naval tactics and the general running of a full blown ship. With so many things going on within the game, a lack of structure is prevalent, and it becomes quite clear that ideas were not fully thought out to their potential. Despite these shortcomings, it’s a fitting end to one of the most important action series of the last decade. By Jack Walsh
Title: Assassins Creed III Publishers: Ubisoft Developers: Ubisoft Montreal Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox360, PC
MEDAL OF HONOR: WARFIGHTER
t was always going to be a challenge for the Medal of Honor franchise to compete against the most recent releases for the FPS heavyweights, Battlefield and Call of Duty; but the latest instalment, Warfighter, has launched the series into a league of its own with its slick and breathtaking graphics and a compelling storyline. Based on true events, the storyline follows the Tier 1 Operators, Stump and Preacher, as they pursue their mission objectives in a variety of war zones throughout the world. Warfighter boasts a truly immersive playing experience; whether it be the deafening explosion of an incoming RPG, returning fire against enemies taking pot shots at your position or losing sight of a target during a fire fight, these well-crafted details contribute to the game’s overwhelming sense of realism. Warfighter is also a thinking man’s shooter where you have to assess the given situation tactically and form a strategy rather than taking a gung-ho approach of going in all guns blazing. This, coupled with the game’s firm attention to the most minute of details, helps to immerse you in the game’s world and creates a much more believable experience. One example of this attention to detail is the system whereby you replenish your weapons’ ammo. There are no convenient ammo
crates or boxes lying around on the ground. If you are running low on ammunition you can approach one of your squad and they’ll be more than happy to oblige and give you some. Even when reloading with a 30 round magazine and a bullet still left in the chamber, it will say on your HUD that you’ve 31 bullets loaded and ready to go. It’s these little but noticeable visuals that make Warfighter what it is. There is a hint of Battlefield in the game owing to the fact that they use the same engine as each other: Frostbite. However, Warfighter delivers more in terms of both graphics and realism. The core game’s attention to realism is also reflected in online play where it’s a whole different ball game to the likes of Call of Duty. Online kills in Warfighter are much more satisfying as you really have to have your wits about you and cooperate tactically with your online team mates in order to win. Overall Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a superb game with spectacular missions and mindblowing graphics that will warrant multiple playthroughs. By Deane Connolly
Title: Medal of Honor: Warﬁghter Publishers: EA Developers: Danger Close Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Emerging from the Shadows
Steven Balbirnie talks to Sam Abbott of Compulsion Games about Contrast, a puzzle platformer of light and shadows
ontrast, a puzzle platformer currently in development, will follow the plight of two protagonists, Didi and Dawn, as they unravel the mysteries surrounding Didi’s family. When asked about the characters, Sam Abbott of Compulsion Games, the team behind Contrast, says: “Didi is a young girl, part of a family that’s in a bit of trouble. She needs to find out what’s going on and Dawn, the playable character, is a young woman who is there to help out. But, Dawn’s a bit of an enigma. Didi is the only one who can see her. Dawn has some special powers that she can use to help Didi, but Didi also helps Dawn along the way.” While Compulsion don’t want to give too much away about the game’s plot at this stage, Abbott has stated that: “With Contrast, we’re aiming to have a more interesting storyline than the standard ‘Let’s go and kill the bad guy’ narrative.” Contrast’s style has been described as a surrealistic 1920s vaudevillian dreamscape. Abbott explains why the team decided on such a distinctive visual aesthetic: “We wanted a setting that was familiar and yet relatively unused in games so far. We have had a range of influences: film noir, vaudeville, burlesque and art deco architectural style pull together to create the environments you can see in our trailer. We also love the character design in Tim Burton’s films/Tim Schaefer’s games (for example, Grim Fandango), and the ideas of surrealism and dreams.” T h e d i st i n c t i ve v i s u a l s a re matched by equally distinctive game play mechanics. Dawn has the unique ability to shift between
the worlds of light and dark; an intriguing dynamic that draws on an unexpected source of inspiration, Valve’s hit puzzle platformer, Portal. “Portal was inspirational to a lot of people because it encouraged people to go back and try out alternative methods of gaming. Essentially, it reinvigorated the puzzle platformer for the modern gamer. For us, we began to think about alternative gameplay mechanics that changed how you perceive puzzles; shadow manipulation came t o
challenge. We’re creating puzzles in a way no one else is, which leads to more than the occasional issue. You might put in some nice new decoration in the level, or modify the size of a 3D jump, but some unintentional shadowing might completely break another part of the level. It’s a lot of trial and error, but we’re now pretty on top of things. Josh and Trevor, our level designers, have created some really fantastic areas that we can’t wait for you guys to experience.” T h e challenges are clearl y
mind, so we st a r t e d t o think about what we could do with that,” says Abbott. What makes Dawn’s ability even more striking is that shifting from the world of light to the shadows also switches the style of gameplay from 3D to 2D. Abbott explains the challenges that this dynamic has posed for the development team. “Implementing the mechanic meant modifying our game engine [Unreal 3] to allow for this mechanic. It took a fair amount of work, as Unreal is a bit of a stubborn thing to deal with, but, the level design was definitely a big
outweighed by the rewards however, as this mechanic has offered Compulsion Games a wide creative scope in terms of the puzzles that they can design for Contrast. “I think one of the best things we’ve been able to make is puzzles that genuinely look cool,” says Abbott. As an example he points out “one of the neat features is that you can move objects to change where their shadows hit on the wall. Even better, you can move light sources to completely change the shadows of an entire area. Or do a combination of both, or neither
and just see what you can do on your own.” This will offer players many options in terms of how they choose to tackle a given situation. “There’s a whole bunch of permutations that give you opportunities, and us headaches, as there are multiple ways to solve puzzles.” The game has already been getting a positive reception, notably appealing to both genders in focus test sessions. Abbott attributes this fact to the game’s portrayal of its female lead characters. “We think women gamers are becoming a more and more important part of the industry. Guys have always been interested in games, but it’s only been relatively recently that women have begun to really get into the industry. Social games, for example, are dominated by women. We think that part of the reason why women have been slower to adopt more traditional gaming is that women have not been portrayed all that well by games - they’re usually big breasted, shallow characters, that only exist to be saved/romanced by the male protagonist, although there are exceptions. We don’t have that. Our characters are strong and smart, and don’t fit the traditional mould. We think that this is particularly appealing to women gamers and hopefully guys find it refreshing too.” Gamers of all demographics will however, have to be patient. “We haven’t set a release date yet, but I’d keep an eye out for Contrast at the beginning of 2013,” says Abbott. We may have to wait for more details about Contrast but it’s already shaping up to be one to watch for 2013. More details on the upcoming game will be available at contrastgame.com.
REVIEWS Title: Death of a Superhero Director: Ian FitzGibbon Starring: Andy Serkis, Thomas Sangster, Michael McElhatton Release Date: November 30th
tudies of adolescents are hard to create. With Death of a Superhero, director Ian Fitzgibbon tackles an even harder problem: creating a comingof-age story when the protagonist can inevitably never actually do so. The story follows Donald (Thomas Sangster), a 15 year old south Dublin teen coming towards the end of a fight with terminal cancer. Finding solace in his drawings, his parents have him begin sessions with a death psychologist (Andy Serkis). Sangster portrays a likeable lead, one that subscribes to the done to death adolescent trope of only wanting to have sex before he dies. It is highly unfortunate that within a film centred on a young man’s final months, the films weakest aspects are when it entirely focuses on its younger cast. Whilst Aisling Loftus portrays love interest with brilliant Dublinese eccentricity, their sub plot has no real spark of originality, leaving the audience wanting. Meanwhile, Donald’s circle of friends are a pack of eejits without
Death of a Superhero a sentimental bone in their bodies and their search for Donald’s first ride becomes tiresome quickly. An inevitable point of argument is the film’s animations, which provide a glimpse into Donald’s coping mechanism for dealing with death. The artwork is suitably over the top, depicting scenes with a tonne of violent and sexual motifs. These scenes are meant to be drawn from the perspective of a 15 year old juvenile, angry because all he can think of is sex and death, yet that’s exactly how they come across: juvenile. This isn’t to say that what’s on offer is a bad production, far from that. Donald’s parents are to be
praised, each flitting between wearied strength and doe-eyed uncertainty of what to do next. A scene with Donald and his father smoking weed however, recedes back toward an immature line. Serkis is arguably the highlight, portraying a sense of understanding as he watches and consoles Donald, infused with the wonderful whimsy of the actor who once played King Kong. His scenes with Sangster are smile inducing, and there is a real sense of tutelage from the two. Perhaps the best scene of such an interaction is when the two discuss artwork. Serkis explains what a Pieta is, and shows Donald examples he has painted. Whilst noting
that his are never any good, Serkis wishes so much to be able to fully express the various emotions that can be played out from only a few simple strokes. That, in essence, describes this film as a whole, a series of elements that attempt to convey a true storyline, yet ultimately are unable to come together to create the full pay-off. In a Nutshell: What Richard Didn’t Do. Simply isn’t the sum of its parts, creating all the wrong emotions. by Jack Walsh Title: Here Comes the Boom Director: Frank Coraci Starring: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler Release Date: Out now
Here Comes the Boom
ollywood movies generally require the viewer to suspend their disbelief at the unlikely events happening on-screen. This is particularly true of Here Comes the Boom, because there is absolutely no way Kevin James could ever be a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Once you get past that though, you should be okay. Directed by Frank Coraci, whose previous work includes Adam Sandler vehicles like The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer, Here Comes the Boom is the story of Scott Voss (James), a high school biology
teacher who takes up MMA in order to earn money to save his school’s music program. Scott is aided by Niko (Bas Rutten), an ex-fighter and attendee of his nighttime citizenship class; Marty (the Fonz himself, Mr. Henry Winkler), the music teacher whose job is in jeopardy; and the incongruously attractive school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek). The looming threat of budget cuts is certainly topical, and MMA’s popularity has never been higher, yet this film does not engage the viewer as much as it should. This could be down to the lack of sympathy we
feel for the central character; at the beginning of the film he’s a lazy slob, inhabiting the kind of middle-aged slacker role that he has been playing for years. When we first see him he is asleep, late for his own class. He stumbles into his good deed, and eventually does put in some effort, but it all seems just a bit too easy for him. His success as a fighter builds (complete with a predictable ‘getting better’ montage, not a million miles away from the parody-scene of puppets practising karate in Team America: World Police), his faith in teaching
is rejuvenated, and he helps his brother out in a hastily dealt-with and rather unnecessary sub-plot. And spoiler! He gets the girl (the criminally underused Hayek). The fight scenes are reasonably well done, invoking all the prowrestling-style stereotypes that we’re used to, but they’re never brilliant. It all trundles along with no surprises, no real standout moments, and worst of all, a severe lack of jokes. This is supposed to be a comedy film after all, but the writing is stilted and awkward (and there’s an annoying amount of exposition through dialogue). James gives an admirable effort at carrying the film but even he looks uncomfortable saying the flat lines he’s been given. They actually resort to pie-in-the-face gags at one point. It’s like a cross between School of Rock and Rocky, only not as fun as either. This is comedy by the numbers, with a bit of fighting and loud nu-metal music thrown in. In a Nutshell: Acceptable, but never exciting. by Edward Kearns
In a Nutshell: Everything Dreamgirls should have been. by Emer Sugrue
Worst Nicolas Cage Films 10. The Rock (1996) A tag team of the worst director in the world, Nicolas Cage, a way-past-his-prime Sean Connery (the original Bond plays an ex-MI6 agent), and a cookie-cutter plot. Cage plays the whimsicallynamed Dr Stanley Goodspeed, a chemical weapons expert who also has the ability to best trained Marines in hand-to-hand combat. 9. Gone In 60 Seconds (2000) Adolescent crush on Angelina Jolie aside, this flick whet the popular appetite for The Fast and the Furious the following year, and the rest is annoying, douchey history. Cage plays a car thief who has to steal a lot of cars to save Giovanni Ribisi from a villain who is diabolically clever enough to shoot you in the head when you ask him to shoot you in the chest.
o doubt courting endless comparisons to Dreamgirls, The Sapphires is the musical tale of four girls with amazing singing talent, rising to stardom against the background of the political and racial issues of the 1960s. However, in stark contrast to the slick Motown superstar Dreamgirls, the girls of The Sapphires are Aboriginals living in a remote part of Australia, who on entering, and being snubbed by, a local singing contest are discovered by Dave Lovelace, a former cruise ship entertainer down on his luck, played by Chris O’Dowd. Lovelace takes it upon himself to manage the group and gets them a gig in Vietnam to entertain the troops. The film focuses primarily on the relationships of the girls, and issues of discrimination and racial identity both in Australia and in America. While undoubtedly many elements of the film have been done countless times elsewhere, the strength of the script and performances make it feel completely fresh. O’Dowd puts in a spectacular performance as Lovelace, keeping the boozy unreliable character sympathetic and humorous at all times, carrying the film along in the brief moments it begins to lag a little. The film deals with many heavy issues, war, loss, racial identity, but it never lets itself or the audience get bogged down. The film is equal parts moving, light, and funny, and you are never left too long without a smile. The subject matter shifts back and forth, jumping between musical montages, fights, drunken flirting with soldiers and falling in love, but every moment flows perfectly from one to the other, and is never jarring. The musical element is also handled in a way that feels very natural. Rather than standard Hollywood musical style, with people communicating with each other through song, the singing is in-world so to speak; the characters only sing in a way that makes sense such as when practising their set or to comfort their mother. The music ranges from traditional aboriginal, to Country and Western before, at the behest of Lovelace and practically essentially for a movie featuring Vietnam, settling on the very best of ‘60s soul. There are no original songs for the film, just beautiful renditions of old favourites, and it’s extremely effective. While it does cover big issues, The Sapphires is overall a fairly light and fluffy movie. It doesn’t demand too much of the audience, just carries you along with it’s wonderful mix of humour, drama and awesome music. The undoubted highlight is O’Dowd’s manager character, but there is plenty to love about every part of this film.
8. Season of the Witch (2011) Cage and companions escort a witch to a monastery where her curse can be lifted. Plenty of violence, bad CGI, and vague references to The Seventh Seal give this film the feel of B-grade Hollywood horror .
Title: The Sapphires Director: Wayne Blair Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens Release Date: Out now
7. World Trade Center (2006) Released alongside Paul Greengrass’ equally nauseating 9/11-sploitation apocalypse United 93, World Trade Center presents Cage as a Port Authority officer patrolling a bus station, a job he perhaps might have held had he not become an actor. Cage and his crew are among the first responders when the Twin Towers are attacked. 6. Stolen (2012) Reunites Cage with Con-Air director Simon West. Ex-con Cage attempts to reunite with his estranged daughter after getting out of prison, only to have her Taken. I mean, stolen. 5. National Treasure (2004) & National Treasure 2 (2007) Turtletaub gets a pass for directing Cool Runnings. Jon Voight slums as Cage’s father, and Cage himself steals the Declaration of Independence, and a book containing ALL THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD. The worst travesty is Glenn Beck’s cameo as Abraham Lincoln. 4. Next (2007) One of many bummers in the realm of Hollywood adaptations of Philip K. Dick stories, Next lends Cage the power to see a whole two minutes into the future. It’s almost cool when this ability is shown working, but the effect is overshadowed by below par acting, clunky dialogue, and Jessica Biel. 3. Ghost Rider (2007) and Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) Nicolas Cage the superhero! Probably one of the darker Marvel characters turned into a joke by the director of Daredevil. Insult was added to injury when Marvel turned the sequel over to the pair of geniuses that made Crank. 2. Knowing (2009) Cage’s oft-parodied whispering/screaming bipolarity is on grand display here, as he portrays an astrophysicist whose son uncovers a prediction of the apocalypse. Cage runs around in hysterics while a succession of literally predictable disasters befalls the world. 1. The WickerMan (2006) A remake of a Jimmy Stewart movie. It is impossible to do this movie justice in a short space, but suffice to say; bear suit, “how’d it get burned”, and “not the bees”. You really just have to see it. by Casey Lehman
Rejection of Assimilation: Hollywood vs. Third World Cinema
Casey Lehman takes a look at the relationship between Third World Cinema and Hollywood, and examines how the two represent divergent currents of assimilation or rejection of Hollywood norms
igerian director Chico Ejiro, aka ‘Mr. Prolific’ directed 15 films in 2001. He added 65 more in the ensuing four years, totaling 80 in that span. His case is a typical one in the fast-paced, guerrilla-style world of Nigeria’s home video market, where movies are almost literally a dime a dozen. Ejiro and his colleagues shoot on video and often hire actors from among passersby on the street; they can sometimes complete a film in as little as a week. Though still considered a product of the Third World, the Nigerian movie industry, or “Nollywood”, as it’s known, now ranks second in world film production (behind Bollywood, ahead of Hollywood, and yes, there is a pattern to these names). In spite of that, its appeal is largely restricted to the domestic market. This is intentional, it seems, as Nollywood products tend to steer clear of the slick production and Eurocentric stories of Hollywood films, preferring to utilise homegrown talent and plots pulled directly from their own headlines and history. Such a mindset has actually fostered a preference in the viewing public for domestic pictures over imports. The lack of big budgets and expensive equipment lends Nollywood (and many other Third World) films a markedly populist or democratic quality that reflects their target market. For directors like Ejiro, difficult conditions such as unreliable electricity and rushed shooting schedules cause their myriad movies to exude an air of “almost anyone can make films”. This is not the case for Izu Ojukwu, whose Sitanda (2006) was an ambitious attempt by a serious artist to create his country’s version of a historical epic. The contrast between Ejiro’s and Ojukwu’s respective styles reflects the struggle for legitimacy inherent in the cinema of the Third World, for theirs is nothing less than the ages-old struggle of economics versus art. Germany in the Weimar Period, Italy in the years between the World Wars, and developing nations such as Nigeria today all have one thing
in common: their respective domestic film industries are at once a product of, a reaction to, and in direct competition with films from Hollywood. What is unique to the Third World, however, is a confrontation of their colonial past through cinema. Ejrio’s Slave (1998), for example, is a fictionalised account of an African King selling a conquered tribe into slavery, and their subsequent revolt. Ejiro’s critique of the complicity of locals in European colonial practices is a current that runs through a good deal of Third World cinema, even as far back as 1976 with Carlos Diegues’ Xica da Silva, a product of Brazil. Diegues’ film tells a story similar to Slave, with a mulatto man selling black Brazilians to whites. The title character is a black woman who utilizes her “exotic” sexuality to manipulate her white master into essentially treating her like a princess. When he is inevitably disgraced, however, the rest of the black community rejects her return, forcing her to take refuge with a band of revolutionaries. The implication with the story of Xica da Silva is simply that, though it is possible to achieve a measure of socio-economic uplift through collaboration with colonial forces, it’s not generally worth the loss of one’s racial identity. The destructive culture clash inherent in confronting a history of colonialism is perhaps best exemplified by another Brazilian film, Walter Salles’ Foreign Land (1996), which consciously incorporates obvious Hollywood influences in its mix of action and sex in a film noir-style idiom. It concerns several citizens of former Portuguese colonies that have “returned” to their roots (though none of them had previously physically travelled to Portugal) and fallen almost instantly into Lisbon’s jazz-heavy criminal underworld. Paco, the film’s protagonist, gets wrapped up, in classic film noir style, in intrigue involving stolen
diamonds hidden in a Stradivarius violin. With Hollywood’s clear influence and Salles’ deft directorial hand, Paco’s whirlwind relationship with Alex (a poor, white, Portuguese woman) and his violent death at the film’s climax showcase interesting developments in the Brazilian film industry in several key areas. First, Salles’ acceptance of Hollywood production norms in this tribute to a classic American genre stands in stark contrast to the Afrocentric aesthetic practice of Nollywood directors. Salles certainly entertained concerns of an international audience, something Nollywood films consciously neglect. His ambition for a wider audience has since been fulfilled, in spite of an unfortunate foray into horror with Dark Water (2005), Salles garnered praise recently for his adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (2011). Second, the development of more sophisticated cinematography and storytelling in Foreign Land lent it an appeal that drew outside attention to Brazilian cinema as a whole. These two currents in Third World cinema represent divergent attitudes towards engagement with the worldwide mainstream of Hollywood cinema. On one hand, the Nollywood industry is known as a producer of comparatively low-budget, low “quality” works that have few pretensions towards artistry. Filmmakers do, however, consciously attempt to create particularly Nigerian images and stories in their work, forging a homegrown identity not defined for them by outside influence. Brazilian directors, on the other hand, have always acknowledged the confrontation between European colonisers and the people they colonise. With a significant portion of the viewing public coming from a racially mixed background, it seems almost inevitable that Brazilian films would embody the collision of Hollywood and Third World or “alternative” Cinema. This collision, whether influential or consciously rejected, forms the heart of the majority of the world movie market today.
A Stream Runs Through It Laura Bell looks at the future of television, and how the show-runners plan to get us there
elevision thrives in times of recession. It is the ever-present alternative to overpriced cinema tickets, club entry, drinks and meals, and just about anything else being sold in a city. Cheaper still is online viewing, with video providers being, arguably, not too many years off monopolising the market. The sentimental among us may rue the knowledge that the days of illegal streaming are numbered, as television providers and large corporations seek to legitimise and, of course, cash-in on the massive number of people who have forsaken the so-called “idiot box” for a more intelligent way of viewing. Google’s 2006, $1.65 billion takeover of YouTube was arguably the first successful attempt at consolidating the seemingly sovereign state of streaming video. While illegal downloading had long been seen as the internet’s biggest and best threat to copyright holders, the sudden standardisation of high speed internet seemed to change the game entirely. Corporations felt themselves to be fighting an uphill battle against piracy. Illegal video hosting sites were like weeds, their population apparently irreducible and their origins decidedly indecipherable. In the midst of this content war, Google’s purchase of YouTube innovated the obvious. The plan was, simply, to work with freedom of content, and not futilely against it. Within the year, pioneering Google had tamed the rampant copyright violation that had become
synonymous with the wilds of YouTube; negotiating deals with record labels, film studios, and other multimedia creators, and implementing ‘Content ID’ the programme that is responsible for notifying the relevant conglomerates each and every time a 30 second clip containing some branded intellectual property shows up online. Thereafter, the content can be either written from history or riddled with advertisements, some lasting longer than the clips they preface. Despite being a hive of commercials, banners and pop ups, YouTube finds a challenge in simply making ends meet. The expense of bandwidth often exceeds revenue. In 2009, the site lost an estimated $470 million. Ad Agency Universal McCann described that aspect of YouTube as “not brand safe . . . [its streets] were not clean and well lit.” The YouTube team have worked to combat this via homepage suggestions, the seemingly random videos that are recommended to viewers upon opening the site being the result of a highly complex and carefully written algorithm that makes choices based on data most people wouldn’t even suspect YouTube of collecting. Online streaming combined with data collection means that viewers have advertisements catered to the interests they express online. If you Google search “flights to Rome”, chances are that the next time you’re having a cat video marathon during a lecture, one of your pop-ups will want you to learn Italian, and the banner at the top of the page will
be informing you of the best places to stay this side of the Trevi Fountain. When it comes to fighting the bloated four hours of television the average person consumes per day, however, YouTube’s 15 minute average still has a long way to go. Yet other sites are standing up and off to traditional television. “Internet TV is the future of television,” says Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix. “And we are leading the charge.” But the arrogance of rushing too quickly into a self-predicted future and unknown territory is damaging. Netflix began as a DVD-by-mail service, and largely abandoning this aspect of service has cost the company a third of their subscribers within the year, and a revenue drop of $100 million per quarter for the last three. Competition from Amazon Prime, Hulu (owned by Walt Disney, which, if those cryogenics rumours are anything to go by, is always ready to invest in what’s next), HBO Go, and various other services, including 4oD from Channel 4 and Sky Go in the UK and Ireland is formidable. Inconsistent numbers and open-ended competition translate into inflexibility on the part of many major networks, and scepticism of the change the internet can bring is not yet considered entirely myopic. Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes scathingly declared to the New York Times that, “It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so.”
ack White is a prolific musician. As well as having played in three bands, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, he has just released his first solo album entitled Blunderbuss in April and has been touring ever since. On October 30th 2012 he stopped by UCD’s Astra Hall for a talk and questions and answers session with a group of eager fan boys and fan girls alike. The hall was packed to the brim, with students still scrounging for seats right up until White was due to arrive. In walks Jack White, fashionably ten-minutes or so late, strolling down the steps, not paying any heed to the people around him. Many fans cheekily tried grabbing him or getting a highfive from the rock star as he walked through the aisle but White is too cool for any of that. The first question asked was one he must get often. “What happened to Meg?” Meg White, Jacks ex-wife and ex-band mate, has been the subject of some amount of controversy and speculation since last year when The White Stripes decided to part ways after 13 years together. It was originally speculated that this may have been due to Meg White’s health issues. When the band cancelled several big shows in 2007 much of the media speculated it was due to Meg White’s anxiety and severe stage-fright which had impeded her confidence in performing. She still has not played on stage since the tours cancellation that year. Upon the bands break up Jack White announced however that the break up was due to a “myriad of reasons,” and would not divulge this information regarding his exwife, and who he has described as like a sister. White seemed surprisingly put-off by the question regarding his ex-band mate, but instead of showing dismay or anger, replied instead simply with a bemused: “I don’t know”. White is known for refusing to indulge fans and the media with personal information and prefers to stick to questions about his music, rather than his life outside of art. It is for this reason that White must get somewhat tired of answering questions regarding his ex-band mate. When asked how he began his career as a musician, and how he got into the ‘music business’, his reply was much less brief than when talking about his ex-wife. “I was just interested in playing the drums. I didn’t really think I was going to be in the music business or do anything other than playing small bars and things like that. That’s all I really cared about that back then.” So did White make a conscious decision to try to make it in the music business? “I did not at all. I honestly had no thought in my head that I could possibly play music professionally or whatever that means, to go out and make albums in studios, I never thought could happen. Where I was from, in Detroit, me owning my own shop and maybe playing in bars on a weekend, and recording in my attic was all I ever thought of. Up till the point that the White Stripes were recording our first album I still thought that way. I thought, I play blues music, there’s no way people are going to like this in other towns, maybe ten people in every town or something. So it’s strange.” Since starting the music business, he has left his home town of Detroit and travelled the world, but he has not forgotten where he came
from, and still considers his home town to be an important part of his music. “The first album I made was the White Stripes’ first album, and when it was finished I said to Meg this sounds very Detroit to me. It sounds like Detroit to me, and it still does. I don’t really know what that is, or what the ingredients, tones or frequencies are on that. I don’t think it’s a great album, but it’s an old one that seems like something The Stooges or something would do, and the same thing is that it came from that we’re all drinking the same water. That led onto something else, but that was the first step to recording something very much Detroit. I was very much proud of that, because all I ever wanted to be was in that zone, it just took a different life later on.” It was blues music that turned White onto the guitar, and onto the idea of being a musician. “When I was a teenager I thought I liked blues music … not just American music, it was mostly English bands like the Yard Birds and Cream, who were sort of re-educating Americans about their roots. So I got that through these rock ‘n’ roll bands and thought ‘yeah I like blues,’ like Muddy Waters. It wasn’t till I was a later teenager that I discovered and listened to people like Slum House and Charlie Patton, which really made me re-think everything, that I could maybe write music myself. Not just record something, but actually write something for myself. Even though it was a different time period and a different culture those people spoke to me later on.” His music today might not be roots-blues, but traces of the genre can be felt on both his works in bands, and on his solo effort Blunderbuss. White has been in three bands before, but found working on his first solo record to be a major
As Jack White visits UCD, Evan O’Quigley discovers his influences, experiences and eccentricities
change. “When you work a band, and write and record, you don’t really tell other people what to do. You have your little platoon, you’re army, and you work together as brothers and sisters. I wouldn’t walk over and say this is what you play, this is your part. It’s a collaborative effort. To work on songs on my own for the first time I had hired guns coming in. A fiddle player and everything. I had them asking ‘what would you like me to do?’ That’s what makes it extremely different. To produce your own music, and to tell musicians what to play is a strange place. You can’t get egotistical, or get a buzz from it; you have to just think of the music.” White has his own independent style of performance. On stage White does not use a set-list, believing shows work better when they are unplanned. “We don’t have a set-list, the crowd tells me what to do. I listen to what the crowd’s asking for. It could be subconscious or out loud but I think a show has more electricity to it if you let the crowd tell you what to do.” He also uses two bands, one all-male and one all-female. When asked for the reason behind this Jack smiled and joked simply that: “It was just a way for me to meet girls.” In reality, he has a much more thought-out reason for this decision that began in the studio before his tour. “When you’re writing an album, recording and producing you are putting on a lot of different hats. You get into a rut if you start to do the same thing the same way. Once in a while you need to shake things around, and messing up the whole jigsaw puzzle and starting over again. So I thought one day, why don’t we record whatever we can get today with all female musicians,
and then do the exact same thing tomorrow with the other band. In the end we ended up mixing both the bands together, and it was a technique to record songs differently.” White believes strongly in the idea that small changes in his surroundings can affect the vibe of his songs. “The vibe in the room changes. If I invited my mother in the room and sat her down the song would sound differently, just having her sitting there would make things sound differently. It’s the same if you brought three Vietnam vet soldiers in the room, it would be totally different. So if you have all of the same gender in one room, the vibe is going to be extremely different. People think it might not make much difference. Especially recording live music, the environment is different if you record outside, or in a warehouse, or wherever you play.” White has recorded with a variety of different musicians over the years including Insane Clown Posse (he says the experience of working with them is “Everything you think it was”), Alicia Keys, and Wanda Sykes. On working with Sykes, a musician who has been playing before Rock ‘n’ Roll began and was encouraged to start singing in the genre by her then boyfriend Elvis Presley, White said: “It’s very much a challenge to work with people in their ‘70s and ‘80s because they have such a different outlook on life. It’s very much difficult for me to turn around and say ‘let’s try it like this, because you were doing Rock ‘n’ Roll before I was even born. But something good comes out of that one. People of different age groups, different genders and different cultures coming together to try something.” Other collaborations he was not as happy to divulge, such as his appearance in Electric Six’s ‘Danger! High Voltage’, something which has remained a mystery for years. White is credited on the song under the pseudonym John S. O’Leary, and has never spoken about appearing on the track officially. White is known for his many eccentricities. He wears certain colours to match certain tours, based on the imagery of the record he’s promoting. He has been known to have an obsession with the number three, briefly changing his name on a UK tour to ‘Three Quid’. Explaining where he became interested in the number three White said: “It’s always come to me subconsciously. When I was younger, when I was an apprentice at an upholstery shop in Detroit, there was some fabric I was upholstering and I had three staples, and temporarily attached it”. It is this kind of imagery that drives White as an artist. “It sort of hypnotised me I thought, this is the minimum amount of staples that I can put into the fabric to keep this in place. Left, right and centre. This is the easiest way to do it, three staples. You couldn’t do any less. I became hypnotised by the idea, of three being the minimum amount of everything. Three chords in a song, three lines in a verse. I do that with everything I’ve worked on. Sculpture, furniture, poetry, upholstery. I’ve based it around the number three. It’s encompassed my whole life. Then I realised you couldn’t have three wives at the same time, so I’m still working on that.” Whether or not White figures out how to get away legally with polygamy, it seems that the number three and his eccentricities will stay with him for the time being.
es Bishop has made his name in comedy by knowing Irish people better than they know themselves. It is perhaps for this reason that his thick Queen’s accent is so startling in conversation. For someone who has so famously immersed himself in Irish life since he moved here from New York at the age of 14, it is somewhat bizarre that his accent has not really gained a hint of an Irish tilt. It’s not completely unreasonable to assume that his American accent is a little exaggerated on stage, to add comedic value to his sets which are based so heavily in observing Irish society. If anything though, his American accent is even stronger off-stage. It’s difficult to know where to start with Bishop. Though he began his career as just a stand-up comedian, he has since done everything from television and film, to writing a book, to scaling the iTunes charts, to being one of the most well-known ambassadors for the Irish language in the country. With his accent taking me by surprise, cultural crossovers and hybrid identities quickly presents itself as we discuss how Bishop views his ‘Irishness’. Earlier this year, Irish beauty blog Beaut.ie ran their annual ‘50 Fine Things’ poll to find the 50 hottest Irish men of the year. They quickly established that football rules don’t apply, stating that Bishop, along with the likes of Dermot O’Leary and Aidan Quinn, weren’t eligible as the official rules stated candidates “must be Irish”. This small addition to the T&Cs didn’t go down too well with Bishop, who complained via Twitter about his exclusion. Bishop explained: “It was the second year in a row where they distinctly, directly list me as a non-Irish person. I couldn’t care less about the competition, but I was a little offended at being told I’m not Irish. I hate that, actually… They changed it. I just don’t like being told I’m not Irish. I hate that.” The rules were amended to include a Bishop clause, given the efforts made by Bishop to “become more Irish than the Irish themselves” as well as speaking the language better than most of the people born on the island. This was probably a reasonable exception, given Bishop’s passion for our native tongue. It is a passion borne out of an inquisitiveness which built when he was in school. “I had a curiosity about Irish because I was exempt from Irish at school, but I went to school here so I just had this feeling that one day I might learn Irish. Then when I was making the work experience show, I was chatting with the director about how I always wanted to learn Irish and we had this thing where it was like, wouldn’t it be interesting to go to the Gaeltacht and it took years for it to happen after that, but the idea was kind
of borne out of my own curiosity but then my own awareness that I was now able to make television shows, so the two things came together.” Learning Irish and then broadcasting In the Name of the Fada documenting his journey through the Gaeltacht to sitting the Irish Leaving Cert paper, is how Bishop now finds himself now touring Irish Universities. “Why I started doing [college gigs] was; a lot of teachers show In the Name of the Fada and I did a Fresher’s gig last year and I was really taken aback that that generation of people engaged with me on In the Name of the Fada. It was like ‘Wow, this is a whole other group of people who see me a bit differently’ so I was into it. They’re good fun, the college gigs. I get a weird kick out of how much of a generation gap there is. Basically these people who are watching me tonight are a different generation to me and I can’t believe that’s happened so that’s an indulgence, but also it makes me feel young.” Bishop may be acutely aware of the age gap between himself and his audience, given how long it has been since he graced lecture theatres as a student himself. It was, however, while he was in UCC that his comedy career began. “I was in the drama society. I did a few gigs, but the following year was my final year in UCC. I ran, with a few people from a brand new comedy society, we ran some shows. With the guys that I had met over the summer in Dublin, because I had moved up to Dublin, I brought down Tommy Tiernan, Joe Rooney, Ardal O’Hanlon. I got everybody down that I had met, they did me the favour and that’s where I got my proper experience.” Having just turned 37 this week, Bishop’s college days are well behind him. Maybe Bishop was inspired by his college experience when he decided to call his show Des Bishop Likes To Bang; though it seems he isn’t overly bothered by his disappearing youth as he devotes several minutes of the show to talking about the perils of buying hair dye to cover greys for men and how it should be more acceptable. The show, however, has changed somewhat from what it first started out as. Having seen a rough Edinburgh preview show in the Twisted Pepper early this summer, I was curious to find out whether the show had ever properly come together. In late July, almost to be expected of a preview show, Bishop wasn’t quite sure of most of his jokes or in what order he should tell them. The presence of his niece in the front row seemed to shake him further, as he was conscious of leaving out those jokes that would be inappropriate for her young ears. Just to pile on a little more pressure at the first of four preview shows, this was the first time he had taken to the stage with his harpist and sound engineer. They hadn’t even had a chance to soundcheck together, and instead just did it on-stage, as the show was happening. A little improvisation however, didn’t spoil the premise of the show. Having been given a set of electronic drums as a present, Bishop worked them in to create “a comedy show with a bit of rhythm in it.” Speaking about everything from the Irish hip hop scene to middle class Ireland to period sex, Bishop easily combined his ‘normal’ stand up with segments with some drums, and others with some hiphop harp-playing by Christiane O’Mahony. Bishop commented on that preview, saying: “That show was the first time the three of us were on stage together ever. The second one that night was actually much smoother even by the second show. I mean, thank god. We were sound-checking live [at the first]. The
Before going on stage in the Astra Hall last week, Des Bishop took some time out to talk harrowing shows, middle class Ireland and tackling Chinese with Aoife Valentine
second show, even from that point of view, was a little bit more organised. It was fun that night.” However after a number of shows in Edinburgh, Bishop started to slowly phase out the drumming aspect, that the show was originally based around. He explained: “Originally it was like a drumming thing and it worked out that way. By the time we got to Edinburgh, it was like a lot of electronic drums, some sound effects, some music, some normal stand up. It’s not because that show wasn’t good, but I got a bit bored with it. I started to phase out the drumming but I still have a couple of numbers in the show… I fucking tied myself up in knots with it, which actually turned out to be more formulaic than I wanted. I actually wanted freedom and the drumming; I had to actually commit to doing more work on the drums than I expected which was almost kind of like a distraction, an unnecessary one in the end. I figured it out in the end but it took me a little longer to figure out than I wanted.” The show is noticeably a lot more free and lighthearted than his previous show, My Dad Was Nearly James Bond, which centred on the story of his father, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and has since passed away. Though Bishop is no stranger to talking about difficult subjects in his comedy, having previously done material on his own testicular cancer, it seemed the full weight of this didn’t hit him until he had completed the entire run of shows. He described the experience of continuing to do the same show even after his father had passed away as a way to still feel connected to him, however once that ended there was “another level of loss” as then he really, truly had to let go. How easy then, is it to move on and deal with much lighter subject matter? Such a vast contrast between the shows must have caused some strain on him. He explained: “I guess it was difficult. It’s easier to do a show like this. It just took me a while to feel comfortable doing normal ass jokes again but once I got into the groove, I realised that doing that show was actually quite difficult but I didn’t notice it at the time because I was consumed by it. That was pretty draining, but I didn’t notice until it was done. Now it’s just great to be able to do whatever, [to have] the freedom.” However, his new show is not all froth. He was keen to get down to some nitty gritty stuff, beyond how much he likes the ride, even if he wasn’t going to touch on anything as emotionally gruelling as his previous show. As the drums were phased out more and more, it made room for more time to be devoted to the subject of alcohol abuse. Bishop once struggled with alcohol addiction, but has been sober for a number of years now. Though he has previously been a little shy to talk about it, it is something which he now feels is extremely important to get out in the open. He explained why: “I’ve skirted around the issue in the past on stage sometimes but I’ve always had an opinion that Irish people drink too much and that society is too tolerant of drunkenness. For a few years I thought about maybe doing something with it and then when I started to see all the chatter I thought: “I think I have an interesting way of talking about this that isn’t typical kind of prime time documentary girl-in-a-short-skirt-puking, friend-behind-her-holding-her-hair-back, usual sort of “This is Ireland. We’re disgusting”. I felt I had a bit of a different take on it and also hopefully the confidence to talk about my opinions and other people’s opinions on what’s driving it, rather than the usual ‘booze is too cheap’, ‘people are drinking
Des Bishop performing in UCD. Photo by Martin Lawless. at home’; maybe get into what’s been driving it along. That’s only the reasons that it’s increased lately, but what’s been driving it that it’s been a problem for hundreds of years. I’m kind of trying to look at it from that point of view.” Given his focus on Irish people’s drinking habits, was that segment of the show difficult to translate for a Scottish audience during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? “There’s a big thing in Scotland. They wanted to bring in minimum pricing and then the EU said it was anti-competitive, because they were lobbied by the alcohol companies, which is exactly what happened, so it was relevant enough there; particularly because I focus a lot on wine drinking as one of the strange developments that has added to the increase in alcohol consumption. That’s definitely a British and Irish middle class phenomenon. It’s not just an Irish phenomenon, it’s a middle class thing, which actually goes down well in Edinburgh because it’s quite middle class.” Following on from the show, Bishop is now working on a television series with RTÉ on Ireland’s relationship with alcohol. He says: “I’m really enjoying doing that material and it’s just taking more and more space and there literally wasn’t enough time in a show. Should be out in like, February or something. It’s commissioned but the transmission date is unknown.” This isn’t Bishop’s first television series, nor will it be his last. As soon as filming is complete and this run of shows is over, he is planning on “fucking off to China” where he’ll be working on another series, quite similar to In the Name of the Fada, which will centre on him immersing himself in Chinese culture, and trying to learn the language. Seemingly the Gaeltacht wasn’t enough of a culture shock, and he can’t get enough of different languages. Whether he’ll feel the same connection to China as he did for our little island is questionable however. Perhaps all we can judge that by is how much controversy he causes among the Chinese beauty bloggers, once he’s mastered their native tongue. Des Bishop is currently touring Ireland with his show Des Bishop Likes to Bang.
A man of few ‘mumbly’ sharp witted words, Mick Flannery speaks to Emily Mullen about giving up the day job, crafting his sorrow and selling his musical wares
ick Flannery, the man behind the sorrow, is on the other end of the phone. In truth, he sounds quite happy on the line, nothing like the gruffly sad vocals of his harrowing records Evening Train and White Lies. He is up in windy Belfast, though he doesn’t appear quite sure why he’s ended up there. “Eh, I don’t know what’s going on really. It’s this recording for some internet TV. Ah, I’m just mumbling and projecting my misery to poor people, just through a different medium really.” This self-deprecatingly good-humoured response is one that reared its ugly, hilarious head numerous times during the conversation; droll responses to questions were as varied as his opinion on the success of his latest album Red to Blue. “I always think that people maybe bought it thinking it was a lovely pop album and then got disappointed when they listened to it. I don’t know, I couldn’t really say what the appealing factor was. That kind of question puts me in the position of having to blow my own trumpet, and I’m not very good at that.” A stonemason by trade, Flannery has persisted in working and touring for over a decade now: “I wasn’t going to sit in a room and write songs seven days a week and live on bread and beans. I liked doing stonemasonry as well.” Although he has had a change in his attitude towards his career, the Corkonian is committed to becoming a famous musician now. “I’m going to America in January to try and sell my wares, my wearing wares, because it’s neigh-on impossible to make a living in Ireland through gigs, so it’s either take Europe and America or face another slog around Ireland. Try and sell this depression abroad; where they might have a romantic idea of the Irish or something.”
It’s nice to see that Flannery is still retaining his sense of humour despite the challenging period that stretches before him. He is more than prepared to put in the graft and see where music will take him and his career in the future. His album Red to Blue held the number one spot back in March for three weeks, and despite this Flannery is remarkably humble about the record. “It’s not nice listening to your own voice anyway, you become hypercritical of yourself through doing it. Especially for the first album there was a lot of American twang, and it kind of just jars a bit. I personally just don’t think that I had it all ironed out at that stage, it just feels a little bit fake when I hear it now. I don’t listen to it very often mind you, but if I get caught listening to it like by my brothers they’ll mock me for a week. But I don’t mind if they stick on Red to Blue so much. I remember when we were recording it, you have to kind of listen to it while its being edited and tweaked, and I found it easier to listen back to then than the other records.” Red to Blue is an unusual album for Flannery. His standpoint has shifted from the raw and aching personal experiences to be replaced by more universal sounding tracks. “The record company, they didn’t want to release it at a time when I thought it was ready. They didn’t have the same opinion, and I think they were right in hindsight. A lot of the songs were too self-involved, and they were lacking universal themes in them. So I was glad that they stood their ground and that they made me wait another six months.” “Some of it is just me talking to myself, which is kind of a way of distancing myself from the song, just in case you don’t believe it in the future you can say ‘oh I’m talking about someone else.’ But for the most part when I say ‘you’ I’m talking about myself, giving out to myself. It’s just a different way
of doing it I suppose, maybe I got a bit tired of the first-person. Sometimes it can get a bit draining if your singing songs about yourself, that are obviously about your own personal experiences, especially when those experiences are drifting further and further into the past, and you don’t feel the same amount of hurt as you did at the time. So you can’t really put the same kind of emotion in there, you have to try the emotions of someone else.” From listening to Mick Flannery’s albums, you can’t escape the feeling that there was one particular relationship that cleaved his heart in two, and his musical output seems to reflect the hurt of this experience. Yet no Adele-style breakup ever affected him to the extent that his albums lead most to believe, for according to Flannery: “It’s not all about the one person, no one has really struck a knife in my heart or anything. I mean I’ve had more than one breakup, sometimes I’ve thieved other people’s misery to be honest, and then added it to my own.” Flannery is drawn to unhappiness with a somewhat magpie-like tendency of collecting sorrow and woe around him just like the shiny tin foil that the birds are so attracted to. “It’s not all autobiographical, you can’t help but pick up on others’ view points and opinions. My inspiration comes from other people as well as my own.” Mick Flannery, the connoisseur of sorrow, writes to relieve himself of thoughts and painful memories: “If you have something on your mind and you can’t talk to anyone about it then it’s just kind of a tool a vehicle that I use to say what I want to say without actually talking to anyone.” Mick Flannery plays The Olympia on November 23rd. Tickets are priced at €27. His album Red to Blue is out now.
Emeli Sandé The ever composed Emeli Sandé speaks to Anna Burzlaff about song writing and women in pop
aybe it was growing-up in a small Scottish town, maybe it was her family, or maybe it was the influence of artists like Nina Simone that drew Emeli Sandé’s connection to music so deep. Regardless of the cause, the effect has been astounding. Sandé’s debut album, Our Version of Events, has been a resounding success, and her performance at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games not only cemented her position in Ireland and England, but catapulted her to a worldwide audience; if you’d never of Emeli Sandé before, things were about to change. But this wasn’t a question of instantaneous success. Unlike the ceaseless stream of faux musicians Simon Cowell gives birth to at such an alarming rate it makes you question the validity of his humanity, Sandé worked long and hard for the place she is in now. The Scot was writing for the likes of Susan Boyle and Cheryl Cole long before her name struck any resonance in the public’s mind. Working in a climate where her songs were wanted but her voice wasn’t was far from easy. “When I was trying to get signed as an artist it was really difficult because people wanted my songs but they didn’t want me to sing them, so that can really get you down,” she says. So much for the notion of the hedonistic pop star, Sandé is so grounded it’s almost difficult to believe. Yet then again her source of influence is unusual, and arguably her upbringing, in a small Scottish town, played a role in her humility. “It definitely made music more important to me because I used it to create my own world, somewhere where I was normal because I could associate myself with any other musician, so it was very important for me to have music. I don’t know whether it influenced my lyrics or anything like that. It just made music so important to me and
I just spent so many hours trying to create, and trying to create this new world for myself.” Names such as Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf are more likely to be listed as a feminist academic’s inspirations as opposed to a pop star’s. However as is becoming clear, Sandé is no ordinary pop star. The term even seems somewhat incongruous when applied to her. In an industry which often displays more exposed midriffs than it does genuine talent, the need for figures like Sandé is there, and the artist herself is the first to acknowledge it: “I think that as far as we’ve come as a society, women still come second in a lot of industries. Having been in the medical industry and the music industry, women still don’t get to be strong and maintain their dignity even after so many of these powerful women have come. I just think it’s important that there is a lot of fun out there in the pop world, but you should also use that platform to encourage young people, especially young females, that this is a way you can be and it’s important to be educated and to be the best at what you’re doing.” This argument is nothing new. There are constant debates within the media about the role of pop stars and their influence on an often impressionable young audience. However, avoiding any notions of didacticism, it’s refreshing to hear someone within the industry speaking about the topic in a balanced way. Sandé neither attacks the industry nor endorses it. Perhaps it’s her Scottish tone that makes her words seem so well-meaning. “There are two different sides to it. In some ways I think almost it is empowering in the way that women can get up there, say what they want, tell people what they’re going through, but at the same time it’s dangerous because young kids aren’t looking up to scientists or academics, they’re looking up to people they see on TV every day, so we definitely have
a responsibility. But there are great people coming through, like Adele; you’re getting people recognised in song writing and real, proper musicianship. So it’s a balance, I just hope it can stay even and that we can have more women that have a strong message to give to kids.” It would seem the doubts that wrapped Sandé on entering the industry has built a singer and songwriter that is incredibly humble. When a camera comes close to her during the interview she grows uncomfortable and she is quick to acknowledge that she’ll have to keep her hair the way it is for fear people may not recognise her: “I don’t think I can change my hair until at least the third album.” Yet, on the other hand Sandé is assertive. She doesn’t shy away from messages of female empowerment and seems steadfast in providing the world with a different
kind of pop star. Watching Sandé play to an intimate audience in a small lecture theatre as she accepts the James Joyce Award from the L&H, does resonate with her appraisal of the art form she holds so dear. Maybe it’s her song writing skills, maybe it’s her ability to translate emotion so well, or maybe it’s that rich tone to her voice, but as she plays to the crowd her description of what music meant to her as a child becomes quite clear. As she fondly puts it: “I felt like [music] was a magic power. You know, when you’re standing there you can just create something from nothing.” Emeli Sandé’s debut album Our Version of Events is out now.
photos by Martin Lawless
Stars’ Pat McGee chats to Fiona Lynch about Montreal’s indie music renaissance, and how after 12 years and six albums they’re still burning brightly “It’s a strange narcissistic process. I mean, if they like you then you kind of pump up your feathers, and on the next page you read someone shits all over your record and then you hate yourself. Neither one of those feelings is all that rewarding for me.” “
hy b a n d s a re coming out all over the place around here, I can’t say. Maybe people around the world just like that Canadian sound,” begins Pat McGee, drummer for Stars, and you just can’t help but think he could be onto something. Canada does give off the impression of quietly and consistently developing a high quality indierock output over the last ten years. The creative “melting pot” that is Montreal, where Stars cut their teeth along with the likes of Arcade Fire, was certainly conducive to this musical evolution. According to McGee, the Quebecois metropolis “managed to maintain its culture and vibrancy and fun,” despite years of economic depression and fiscal neglect. For this reason, Montreal “drew a lot of people to it who were artistic and didn’t feel like working too hard, but felt like making a lot of music.” Indeed, Stars spent their early days in good company, sharing stages with the likes of Leslie Feist, Emily Haines of Metric fame, and other members of the Broken Social Scene collective. He refers to them all as “just a group of friends from high school.” The resultant Canadian indie sound, however, was different to that of its guitar-wielding skinny-jeaned UK and US counterparts; more romantic, symphonic and distinctly Francophile. It was perhaps the release of Arcade Fire’s stunningly salient Funeral in 2004 that marked Montreal’s emergence from anonymity and established it firmly on the musical map. Meanwhile, on the crest of this wave, Stars were discovering their own emotion-wrought melodic niche. Their music has always been nostalgic, confessional and somewhat self-indulgently laden with sweeping string sections. McGee rather verbosely describes them as “a warm digital romantic dance band.” With their third album, this sound first resonated with the masses. Opening with the obscure epigram: ‘When there’s nothing left
to burn you have to set yourself on fire’, 2004’s Set Yourself on Fire is a masterful musical catharsis. Although they have a loyal and devout following, with McGee commenting that it’s almost “cultish”, Stars are the first to admit they haven’t always been the darlings of media critics: “The cool kids have never really liked us that much”. Set Yourself on Fire, which first catapulted them into the indie stratosphere, has been their only critically lauded album to date, and as McGee puts it, “our most successful venture into the critic’s hearts.” Do they look back on this time as the peak of their career as songwriters? It would appear not. McGee admits that he no longer pays much attention to critics and their reviews: “It’s a strange narcissistic process. I mean, if they like you then you kind of pump up your feathers, and on the next page you read someone shits all over your record and then you hate yourself. Neither one of those feelings is all that rewarding for me.”
Indeed, the all-knowing, all-powerful music critics of this world are by no means concerned with hurting their subjects’ feelings. It is a cut-throat industry out there. That said, McGee maintains that the greatest thing a band can have is a dedicated fan base. “The people who love this band, still love this band. It’s a lot more rewarding for me to just go out in the world without knowing what people think, and then when people show up to your concert it doesn’t matter if there’s like 50 people there or 1,500 people there.” In the wake of two under-achieving albums, Stars’ most recent effort, The North has been comparatively well received. McGee puts it down to a new approach to music making. Where they used to be “totally anal architects of synthetic music,” they have now reverted to the traditional band model. “This is new. It’s what we’ve grown into. We’re sort of going backwards, discovering our roots that we never had, it’s great.” The resultant sound is less nostalgic and more hopeful. Tracks such as ‘‘The Theory of Relativity’, fizz with new energy and aspirations with lines such as “Don’t be scared, there will be things we never dared” making it ever more apparent. For The North, the five members of Stars abandoned their fragmented layer by layer approach to song writing and instead got together, wrote
and recorded “as one cohesive unit.” Their reversion to this format is perhaps a rebellion against the current music industry trend. Nowadays any average Joe can write a symphony from the comfort of his own computer and DIY musicians are finding fame all over YouTube. Meanwhile, looking to satisfy their increasingly short attention spans, the youth of today trawl through the cacophony of the internet for sonic stimulation. This makes one wonder if there is a future for the traditional band model. Having emerged only a decade ago with a fresh and nuanced sound, are Stars already getting left behind? Have they have been relegated to indie has-beens of the CD rack indie in favour of David Guetta’s latest free mp3 download? If so, they don’t seem to care. “At least we can put on a good performance for people, you know. People are jumping around and having a good time and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we’re here to do, you know.” Ahead of a European tour this winter, Stars seem re-energised and reinvigorated. Rest assured their supernova shows no signs of burning out. Stars play The Academy, Dublin on November 30th and Róisín Dubh, Galway on December 1st . The North is out now.
mixtape Top ten moustachioed artists
With Movember in full-bloom Caitríona O’Malley twirls her imaginary moustache and looks at some of the most impressive facial fuzz that music has to offer ‘Molly’s Chambers’- Kings of Leon From their masses of goatees, beards and ‘tashes you just know that this band of brothers and the ugly cousin drink whiskey from a leather pouch, went hunting for their din-dins and went to mass every Sunday morning with blood on their knuckles. It is the wayward approach to male grooming that leaves us with this impression.
‘On Raglan Road’- Luke Kelly A beautiful song from a legendary Irishman who wore his enormous and fearsome ginger beard with understandable pride. Luke Kelly’s beard allegedly increased Irish tourism in the year 1971 by a whopping 10%, Americans charged up to 10 pence for a rub of the ‘giant man’s magical leprechaun beard’.
‘Monkey Wrench’- Foo Fighters Marvel at that badass raven goatee seductively caressing Dave Grohl’s chin. This man can work a beard with great passion and agility; it becomes a part of him like a silent whisper of razors past.
‘Radio Ga Ga’- Queen No one pulled off the slick, faintly porn star moustache quite like the late Freddie Mercury. Somewhat homoerotic and very cool, some say it was cultivated to draw attention away from his teeth, with questionable success as the moustache actually bypassing his mouth and heading straight for his chin.
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’- The Beatles By the late ‘60s, the Liverpool lads had abandoned the moptops and warmly embraced peachy fluff fuzz. Two words: Ringo’s moustache. Be stricken with awe at its seemingly limitless powers. ‘Gay Bar’- Electric Six Admittedly, these suave beards are fake, but could still fell a man from 50 paces, such is their level of burly sophistication. Rumour has it Daniel Day-Lewis watched this while massaging his chinny chin chin to prepare for his role as Abraham Lincoln. ‘In Bloom’- Nirvana A trim and barely there little goatee from Kurt here. He may prance around in a nightdress as see-through as his moustache at one point in the video, but that neatly tended rectangular bit of fluff oozes with masculinity. ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’- Thin Lizzy Phil Lynott’s moustache was thinner and more shapely than Ben’s, but no less fabulous. It takes a brave man to risk a moustache with an Afro and Phil did it with buckets of swag.
‘Stand by Me’- Ben E. King Originally recorded in 1961 and rereleased to coincide with Rob Reiner’s 1986 coming of age film of the same name. This one is bushy, bristling and simply bursting with unbridled testosterone. It is also, dare one use this adjective, funky? ‘Champagne Supernova’- Oasis At over seven minutes long, this song can only be described as an epic. It was released in the undeniable heyday of Oasis in the mid ‘90s, 1996 to be precise. Gaze in wonder at the impressive brown beard on Liam Gallagher’s previously clean shaven face. Add to this those round glasses and he’s certainly rocking a very distinguished look. Everyone knows men with beards are deep and philosophical, even if we may never know if they use shampoo or shower gel on their face fuzz.
Heathers Hello Everyone! Hope you all survived Halloween and have purchased your Advent calendar. If it doesn’t have chocolate in it and you haven’t eaten them all already I’m afraid it doesn’t count! We’ve been quite busy since our last entry, working hard and having some fun in between! We went to see Marina and the Diamonds play in the Olympia at the end of October. It was fantastic. What a woman. We also had the opportunity to meet her, which was amazing. We secretly know all the words to her new album. In other news, we’ve been invited to play at the Oscar Wilde party in LA in the new year during Oscar week. It’s an incredible event, honouring the Irish in film at J.J Abrams’ Bad Robot. Yes, he’s the guy who brought us Star Trek and LOST and Super 8 and Mission Impossible. This weekend we will be attending our very first award ceremony, the ‘Tatler Woman of the Year’ awards! We’ll be there on behalf of the wonderful Maria Doyle Kennedy who has been nominated for Music’s Woman of the Year! I am having a recurring nightmare where I get caught in a table and trip up in front of everyone so let’s hope that doesn’t happen. We mentioned in our last entry that we will be announcing some Heathers tour dates shortly. The first to be announced is a Dublin gig in the beautiful Pepper Canister church. Both James Vincent McMorrow and Lisa Hannigan have played here recently enough and it’s meant to be stunning. It’s also an all ages gig which is exciting! It will be a slightly paired back set and our fabulous band mates Tom and Boomer will be joining us. Tickets are on sale from Ticketmaster now. We’ll have lots of nice surprises in store! Lastly, tomorrow we trek up to Belfast to do a TV recording for gifted live which we can’t wait for! It will be filmed in front of a live audience and we’ll be playing along side the likes of Mick Flannery and Jerry Fish. We’re also hoping we’ll be able to stop off in the Titanic Museum while we’re there! Until next time! Hugs and Kisses xox Ellie and Louise
Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, m.A.A.d City Grade: B+
Calvin Harris 18 months
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most exciting things to happen to hip-hop in a long time. His latest album, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, gives new depth to the notion of rap as poetry in its description of the harsh realities of a life growing up in Compton. To many, hip-hop has become more about sleeping with strippers and glamorising gang violence than dealing with issues of racial inequality and crime. Lamar takes Hip Hop back to the days of the greats. ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’, a look at the pervasive violence in black neighbourhoods, is as harrowing as it is affecting, with the repeating line “Me and the homies”, looping in a haunting cycle much like its subject matter. There is no doubt that Lamar is making a statement. Lamar’s album is a not only thematically riveting but also structurally complex, with the music often broken by recordings taken from Lamar’s voicemail. Tracks such as ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’, ‘Money Tress’ and ‘Poetic Justice’ are both catchy tunes and innovative feats of musicianship. There’s certainly a new generation of Hip Hop artists emerging at the moment. With the likes of A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, and Lamar turning away from some of the superficiality that had characterised the genre as of late and back towards Hip Hop’s original roots, the future, simply put, is looking very exciting indeed.
Since the release of the catchy pingponged chorused ‘Bounce’ featuring Kelis in April last year, we have waited over a year and a half for the full collection, prompting the album’s not so creative title 18 Months. While achieving State-side acclaim with the chart-toppling ‘We Found Love’, which was a collaboration with Rihanna, Calvin Harris has remained faithful to the British heavyweights, working with Example to create the anthem ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’ and Florence (minus the Machine) on the throbbing floor-filler ‘Sweet Nothing’. Calvin Harris’ use of lasers rivals any Bond villain, evident in ‘Awooga’. Keeping true to the unique Calvin Harris sound, this album runs the risk of sounding generic from ironically the very genre that the Scot created. Through following the familiar recipe of upbeat dance hooks and high-octane beats combined with synth, lasers and arcade sounds. One of the more refreshing tracks on the album is his collaboration with Ellie Goulding on ‘I Need Your Love’. Her vulnerability and warmth juxtaposed with the Calvinesque beat is a breath of electro-free air. Dizzee Rascals’ ‘Here 2 China’ serves as a pastiche of the hit ‘Dance Wiv Me’ yet brings a bit of variety to the compilation with a layer grime and grit. The downfall of this album is the simple fact that it fails to become anything more than a collection of singles, Harris does not embrace change and, save for ‘Feel So Close’, takes a back seat with the syrupy vocals which dominated his last album, AWOL.
In a Nutshell: A complex album, exciting in content and moving in sentiment. by Laura Wolfe
In a Nutshell: Hook, line & sinker: Calvin Harris sticks to his successful formula. by Fionn Claffey
Crystal Castles - III Grade: D It’s not unusual for bands to use the release of a new album to take their music in a new and unexpected direction; though this is not always a change for the better. III certainly marks a departure for Toronto duo Crystal Castles, but their new direction may disappoint many of their fans. The band’s trademark mixture of chip tunes and fevered vocals have been jettisoned in favour of an altogether more generic sounding collection of songs. This record lacks the energy and intensity of their previous albums, with Alice Glass being underused and her vocals being absorbed by the music rather than complimenting it. None of III’s tracks are as aggressive or anthemic as ‘Baptism’, nor can they match the soothing, dreamy quality of ‘Suffocation’. The only song that stands out in any way among the album’s subdued, heavily distorted dozen tracks is ‘Wrath of God’, though even this is an unremarkable effort when compared with the weaker songs on their previous two albums.
With this record, Crystal Castles have lost their distinctive sound and are instead now running the risk of becoming indistinguishable from the current morass of lacklustre dance acts. Ethan Kath may need to reconsider the new direction he’s taken towards producing the band’s music if he wants to recapture the appeal of their previous records. In a Nutshell: A new direction for Crystal Castles which may divide rather than please their fans. by Steven Balbirnie
What’s On: UCD Cinema
Week 10: 12/11/2012 - 16/11/2012 The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Robocop (Sci-Fi Soc) 18:00
Airplane (Filmsoc) Team America (Filmsoc)
Opera: Hansel & Gretal Week 11: 19/11/2012 - 23/11/2012 Looper Ruby Sparks Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Filmsoc & Artsoc)
13:00 & 20:30
13:00 & 20:30
Tickets to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Looper are €5 for students and €6 for non students. Other screenings are €4.50 for students, €5.50 for non-students. Society screenings are free for members. Tickets for screenings are available at the student centre desk 30 minutes before the screening, 50¢ discount for Filmsoc members.
A man with many layers
Ex-Onion editor Joe Randazzo gets serious about comedy and tries to explain his purposely vague new project, Thing X to Conor Luke Barry
or such a humorous man, the Onion ex-editor Joe Randazzo is very serious when it comes to comedy. In fairness, taking jokes seriously is part of his job. After all, as editor of the satirical news website, there’s a fine line between funny and plain insulting. During his tenure, did it ever bother him if he upset people? “No. They don’t get the joke, usually. I really feel like people download a form email from this disgruntled website or something where it says: ‘Normally I love the Onion but this time you’ve gone too far’. What they mean by ‘this time you’ve gone to far’ is usually ‘this is a thing that affects me personally’. It could be a joke about shoes. Something like ‘My mother has shoes and she’s hurt her feet several times, it’s not funny to make fun of’. I think there are some people who can’t look at what’s funny in themselves and you have to be able to do that. That’s where most of those complaints will come from.” People taking a joke badly is just one of the reactions the writers of the Onion have to deal with, but some people take missing the point to an entirely new level. “Sometimes people completely misunderstand it’s fake because it so closely mirrors the news format; it’s written so authentically.” Getting noticeably more animated, Randazzo gives one of his favourite examples: “There was a headline that the Onion ran a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago. Planned Parenthood is the Women’s Reproductive Rights major organisation in America and right-wingers are very paranoid about them, you know, destroying our culture. We wrote this story that Planned Parenthood opened a seven billion dollar ‘Abortion-plex’; multi-level, there’s waterslides, you could drink a martini, get an abortion. We tried to write a conservative Christian’s worst nightmare story. Because there was something in the news about Planned Parenthood losing it’s funding and that’s always a debate, whether the government should be funding this. The great thing about that was a U.S. Congressman cited that as fact. ‘Why is our government spending seven billion dollars on an Abortion-plex with waterslides?’ The other side of it is that the people who did get it, our fans, created a Yelp page (the online review service) for the Abortion-plex. They gave it an address, they rated it, and there were over a hundred reviews in there. Stuff like ‘It was great! My husband and I went there for our anniversary, we’re gonna come back every year’. On their own, our fans took this story and really fleshed it out, gave it a life of its own.” An unusual point for a popular website is that
the Onion’s main focus is long form articles, which is surprising for the notoriously short attention span of the internet age. It’s a point that even Randazzo, a man who has built a career out of long form writing, can empathise with. “Frankly, I don’t have the attention span that I used to. And to read something that’s 600, 700 words, it has to be really good. But I think there are still enough people out there who want to read it. One of the things we’re going to be doing with Thing X, we’ll eventually have a mobile version of the site where, once a month, we accumulate all the stuff written and produced on a certain theme. It’ll sort of be a digital magazine. We’re taking time to really craft well-written, thoughtful comedy pieces and I don’t think many other people are doing that. I’m also really interested in playing with memes and doing comedy that is much more internet-centric and based around the kinds of things you encounter online. And that’s the new exciting challenge with Thing X, making it very much a product of the internet age.” This ‘Thing X’ that Randazzo keeps referring to is his new project. The Onion recently relocated from New York to Chicago, Randazzo and a few other staff members taking this as their opportunity
to work on a new website. Similar to the Onion, it contains videos and long form articles, but instead of being a parody of the news, it’s a parody of internet culture as a whole. “It came about very organically, and at one point someone was like ‘well, why don’t we have top format, be like a web portal?’ like a Yahoo homepage or something. And we thought that was great because we’ve got all this different kinds of content in there so we don’t have to have this strong conceit like the Onion did. That was one of the things that was really nice about leaving the Onion, the conceit of the newspaper voice is very limiting. It’s great for comedy but it also is limiting. So we wanted to break free of that. But it also allowed us to unabashedly say that ‘we just want to get page views, we just want to get page views’. That’s all we’re trying to do, to get clicks and clicks and clicks. So that’s sort of our mantra, that’s sort of the message of Thing X. Just click on stuff. Which is what the internet basically comes down to. When you commodify it, you have to get a person pushing a button, literally. That’s how they measure its value.” Remembering that he should probably be advertising his fledgling website he adds: “So please visit it. Eight million times, if you can.”
Fashion’s forward thinkers Fashion is often accused of being the refugee of the wealthy and superficial, yet these upand-coming designers are pushing the boundaries of functionality, writes Anna Burzlaff Rodarte
For those who dispute the validity of the statement ‘fashion is art’, a quick look at the latest collection from Kate and Laura Mulleavy is sure to set any doubts aside. The Mulleavy sisters’ label, Rodarte, is a powerful expression of culture in clothing. These are by no means ordinary designers, drawing inspiration from Japanese horror movies and apocalyptic visions; Rodarte is the dark side of pretty. This is not necessarily always a sure-fire way to ensure commercial success, and the label’s financial rewards have been far from astounding. This is not surprising; a label inspired by notions of apocalypse may not transfer so smoothly to the clothes rail. However, the sisters have showed no signs of succumbing to the pressures of commercial viability and have continued to pursue a complexity of design that explores a more sinister aspect of fashion. Influenced heavily by their work for costume design, Rodarte’s Spring/Summer ‘13 collection was piece after piece of perfectly crafted clothing. Inspired by medieval and fantasy role-playing games, the collection included gunmetal lace, chains, and red leather flames. The label may not always be the most transferable in terms of everyday wearability, however as Laura Mulleavy herself states: “Wearability is subjective.” The Mulleavy sisters are embarking on something very exciting. In essence, Rodarte is a label with its emphasis placed firmly on the artistic. Its pieces are a testament to the idea of art in motion, an idea that, despite its questionable practicality, the sisters appear firmly in favour of holding on to.
Prabal Gurung is the new classicist. Having dressed some of the world’s biggest names, such as Michelle Obama and Demi Moore, Gurung is an exciting face bringing new twists to old designs. Beginning his eponymous label in February 2009, Gurung has chosen to turn away from transitory trends, and concerned himself instead with creating timeless pieces that accentuate a woman’s beauty. Having trained at Parson’s School of Fashion in New York, and worked under fashion heavyweights such as Cynthia Rowley and Ben Simms, the designer’s tailoring abilities are well honed, and this is perhaps his master stroke. Gurung’s focus is on creating clean lines, accentuating and celebrating the female frame. He attributes his passion for design as a passion for women; each creation is a construction of empowerment for the figure of the female form. Yet there is an edge to Gurung’s work, and like all masterful designers his look is not simply monothematic. His latest Spring/Summer collection had all the hallmarks of Prabal, with flowing white feathers and sheer chiffon capes, it was purity in its most unadulterated form, yet he was sure to throw in a few glaring contradictions, using bold red stripes and rich layering. Gurung was making a statement: women are not just pure and feminine, they are also strong, dark, sinister and edgy. The Nepalese designer is undoubtedly developing and is learning to appreciate the multifaceted nature of dressing. To dress women, Gurung has learned that you must address all sides of their beauty, both the light and the dark.
Fashion’s latest wunderkind, Alexander Wang’s edgy design, reminiscent of Helmut Lang circa the 1990s, has pushed the boundaries of contemporary fashion to extraordinary heights. Urban and dark, Wang’s vision is a realm aghast of leather cut-outs and menacing fetish face masks, juxtaposed with flowing feminine silk and draping sheer chiffon. Wang is in many ways a paradox; on the one hand his clothes exude a raw toughness few have managed to encapsulate so well, yet there always exists, on the other, a stroke of fragility in his work. It is perhaps Wang’s contradictions that makes him so intriguing as a designer. Wang was the ‘It Boy’ of New York Fashion Week this September. His Spring/Summer collection quashed any doubts as to his commercial sustainability and artistic reach. Shirt dresses tacked like sutures, strips of material covering the models’ hair parting, right angle cuts everywhere and leather, leather, leather. The audience was left in no doubt that this was an Alexander Wang show; in fact the industrial setting in itself was clue enough. There is indeed something about Wang’s clothing that makes you feel as if you’ve just entered a German warehouse turned techno club. Wang’s design screams raw urbanity. The woman who wears Alexander Wang is often viewed as one who wears an urban uniform; his clothing is in many ways a piece of armour for those in a constantly battling world. Alexander Wang is all about making a statement, in an especially powerful way.
One piece, three looks Shoes - €20 - Penneys Cream blouse - €10 - The Harlequin Denim jacket - €49 - The Harlequin Scarf - €4 - Penneys Socks - Model’s own
Snake Print Trousers €17 from Penneys
t’s getting to that time of year again when we’re all still broke from the excesses of Halloween and starting to think about the approaching costs of Christmas. These worries don’t even extend as far as scrounging together enough money to buy your entire family presents; we’re more concerned with affording a new winter wardrobe. This time of year, most people will be looking to cut back on fashion expenditure as much as possible. Looking out for statement pieces that can be worn a number of different ways can be a simple method of looking on-trend, without looking like
you’ve forgotten that the washing machine exists. You want to look out for pieces that will get you to class, to town and out on a Friday night, without anyone noticing that you’re reusing the same piece over and over. This season, your best bet is a decent pair of patterned trousers. Patterned items have been all over the runways for Autumn/ Winter, and depending on what you team them with, they can be super versatile and fresh. Take inspiration from the likes of Gwen Stefani, Jessica Alba and Kirsten Stewart, who’ve been rocking the look in a number of different ways. Here we’ve taken a pair of snake print trousers, which won’t break the bank at only €17 from Penneys. It’s not difficult to shake things up with pieces like these and as the pattern is quite subtle in quite neutral colours, you can afford to be more outlandish in what you team them with. This allows you to easily transform your look multiple times over, while still basing it around the same key piece.
It’s important to think about your key piece before investing. That luminous pink top might seem like a good idea, but it won’t be your most versatile piece. Once you’ve worn it once or twice, people will definitely have noticed it. What you’re looking for is something that you can pair with a lot of what you already own, but that will just do enough to bring your wardrobe into this season so you don’t get left behind. Patterned trousers may seem daunting at first, but they can easily be paired with a denim jacket or your favourite boots to take you through the day, or throw a sequin top on to glam it up for an evening out. Teaming your patterns with block colours is the simplest way avoid clashing the wrong way, and you’re sure to have a multitude of items in your wardrobe which fit the bill. If patterns aren’t your thing, this can easily be applied to a great jacket or a easily adaptable skirt from this season’s collections. Take your cue from model Daisy Lowe’s studded biker jacket: she’s worn it with denim shirts or shorts during the day and with girly dresses out at night for a more sophisticated, but edgy look. Keep it simple and think just a little outside the box. Maybe you don’t need a whole new wardrobe, but just one new item that brings everything together and makes it look fresh again. It’s so easy to completely transform a dull wardrobe into something exciting, just choose your key items wisely.
Investing in a key piece that can be styled in different ways will ensure a look that stays versatile and fresh without breaking the bank, writes Grainne Loughran
Beaded top - €98 - The Harlequin Clutch bag - €9 - Penneys Necklace - €5 - Penneys
Shoes - €20 - Penneys Coat - €89 - The Harlequin Bag - Model’s own Photographer - Caoimhe McDonnell Model - Fara Courtney Make Up Artist - Kate Kelly
Stylist - Sophie Lioe Assistant Stylist - Grainne Loughran
Becoming a Hipster
he first time s o m e o n e explained the concept of a hipster to me, all I could think was: “Who are these beautiful people and why can’t I be one of them?”. Two years later, my question remains unanswered. Hipsters have become a sort of unspoken movement. What started as trend has become a way of life, and now, without any real rationale bar wanting a cooler wardrobe, I suddenly wanted to become a hipster more than anything. This in itself was my first mistake. No one ever intends to be a hipster in spoken word. Being a hipster is like a mutual understanding. It’s like the game everybody played when they were a cruel, heartless child; the one where you see your friend coming but everybody in the group pretends they can’t see or hear them, for kicks. Nothing is said, and no one acknowledges anything. But a silent agreement exists between all parties excluding the outsider. Essentially, that was exactly the challenge I faced in my quest to be ‘one of those people’. This suited me fine because my childhood gave me plenty of practice in the ‘Let’s Ignore Emily’ game, and this was my time to forcibly shine. So my revised plan was this: intentionally become an unintentional hipster. It was foolproof. By hiding behind my newfound philosophy that stereotyping is a superficial frivolity that creates social barriers, I could disprove anyone’s claims that I conformed to a stereotype, while at the same time, I could become the most obnoxiously intentional fullyfledged hipster there ever was. Therein lay the secret. Of course people have been jokingly calling me a hipster for many months now because I have an undying fondness of jumpers, but that was different. With this I had to define what exactly makes the term ‘hipster’ an insult, and then become it. I set myself the task of becoming self-aware. I no longer had assets, because I myself was an asset. I first chose to act on this by revolutionising my eyebrows. For too long they’ve had a natural outline that blended aesthetically into the frame of my face. What I needed was to define my eyebrows so perfectly and heavily, with dark shades, that I
would resemble a cartoon every time I expressed surprise. It worked perfectly. With more eyebrow I felt like more of a person, and I was happy to start changing everything else about myself until I met the brief. My next task was to make my look completely unique and individual to me, but done in such a way that it still matched what all my contemporaries were wearing. For this I recruited a lot of miscellaneous accessories and childhood possessions that I could somehow incorporate into my everyday wardrobe. My statement necklace of choice was fashioned from a neon green Ethernet cable and a director’s clapperboard. I wasn’t sure of the origin of either, which was exactly how it should be. Meanwhile, I tried to source as many of my actual clothes as possible from other people’s wardrobes. Having the appearance of someone who’s not arsed finding clothes that actually fit, is the definition of cool. Or at least, it was in the skater/grunge era of the ‘90s, and I referenced this every time someone told me to stop wearing my father’s clothes. My next task was to adopt the right taste in music. Of course, no such thing truly exists, as musical taste is measured subjectively, and everyone in
their own eyes has a good taste in music. But this was more than that, I had to appreciate the things that were mutually understood to be worthwhile listening to. To source some good electronic music, I consulted one of my reputable hipster friends who wears unnecessary Buddy Holly glasses, so you know he’s legit. I was recommended to visit Resident Advisor, but after repeated failed attempts to get advice from my neighbouring residents, I gave up. None of them seemed to own any electronica. When my efforts here failed, I decided to work on the social side of my musical interest, which was the largest part of it anyway. I hung around urban environments and Dublin rave nights in an attempt to make myself known to people on the club scene. I wasn’t even sure if there was a club scene. Do the kids still say that even? ‘The club scene’? Regardless, I was going to try to achieve something by hanging around and looking cool. While doing so, I had many conversations in which the terms ‘creative synergy’, ‘postmodern minimalism’ and ‘introspective reality’ featured highly. I can’t recall the exact premise of any of these discussions, but I know they were profound and thought-provoking. Something like that anyway. I can’t be entirely sure because I did have to leave midway through one to top-up my eyebrows. At the end of my first week, I was wholly exhausted, I’d read so much about abstract idealism that I wasn’t quite sure what was real and what wasn’t anymore. I didn’t have the energy to figure it out, because I was cold from having worn an entire wardrobe of ill-fitting clothes for a week, and my pointy accessories were starting to hurt me from all the accidental self-stabbing they caused. I figured that I could either keep this up for the indefinite future, and maybe someday know what it would feel like to be one of the beautiful people, or give up on the game now, and quickly revert to my old life of being out of the loop and unattractive, but comfortable. Naturally, I opted for the latter. I’ve since made a killer saving on eyebrow pencils, so I regret nothing. by Emily Longworth
Best movie Sequels
In the ﬁrst frantic Fatal Fourway of Volume XIX, our editors ﬁght it out to decide which TV series most deserves to be back on our screens
The Dark Knight emer Sugrue Any time a film makes a huge box office splash, a sequel is as sure to follow as night following day and indigestion following Jimmy Chungs. Rather than Gremlins 2, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which, frankly, I’m not going to even bother arguing against, there is but one case of a sequel being truly better than the original, and that is The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight, sequel to Batman Begins, is a phenomenal piece of film which blew wide open the world’s expectations of what a superhero film could be. While Batman Begins is a good film, Liam Neeson as an Irish ninja aside, it suffers from Origin Story Fatigue. Batman is the most famous superhero ever and everyone knows his origin story: Parents killed, scared of bats, training montage, yadda yadda yadda. When rebooting a franchise this is essential, but it’s boring, and it takes up a sizeable chunk of the film. And Katie Holmes is in it. So there was clearly room for improvement. Despite the fixable flaws of the first though, no one expected the genius of the sequel. Gone is unbelievable baddie Liam Neeson (come on, an Irish ninja? That’s just stupid) and in his stead is the Joker. The Joker is one of the great movie antagonists, taking all the usual bad-guy motives and MOs and turning them on their heads. He is the perfect foe of Batman, a hero defined by rules and classic motivations, and their stand-off makes this film an almost perfect viewing experience. The Dark Knight is so good you barely even remember it’s a sequel, and that’s why it is the best sequel of all time.
Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Conor Luke Barry
Sequels are rarely better than the original, but in the case of the Harry Potter series, all the sequels are better than the original. Except Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Nothing about that book or film was any good, even if it set up about 70% of the plot for the following five books and six films. Why is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the best of the best? Not only is it really lovely to see the relationship between Harry Potter and his godfather, Sirius Black, play out, but also, Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face. Don’t even try and tell me you didn’t want to do the same. More important than that, however, is that this is the film where Alfonso Cuaron took over from Christopher Columbus as the director. As good as Columbus was, Cuaron was far better, really capturing the spirit of the book, without forgetting that it was a film, and everyone wants a proper adventure story. He also brought a darkness, and faded colour scheme that the series really needed to feel legit. It’s also the first film that treats its lead characters like teenagers instead of children, even down to how they dress. It makes the feel more mature, and more real. Not only that, but the introduction of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black all in one film, along with the addition of some slightly more human qualities to Severus Snape? What more do you want.
They told us not to feed them after midnight, they told to keep them away from the light, and most importantly they told us to never ever get them wet, however, being the idiotic excuse for living beings that we are, we ignored them, and thus Gremlins 2: The New Batch was born. Gremlins 2 may not have the same artistic credentials as some of my competitors, but it does have a furry thing dressing up as Rambo and some weird lizard-like creature with a British accent. Perhaps the cracks in my knowledge of credential worthy sequels may be beginning to show, or perhaps, this film is the genre of black comedy at its most inventive. Okay, it’s more than likely the former, but still Gremlins 2 does contain some pretty epic moments. There’s an exploding lab, a giant mutated spider, and a pretty fantastic soundtrack that combines such disparate tracks as ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by Gershwin and ‘Surprise! Your Dead’ by Faith No More. Despite being released in 1990, Gremlins 2 still has that amazingly cheesy and naff feeling which only a film spawned from ‘80s culture could have. To top it all off, there’s one of the most disturbing yet amusing attempts at love seduction, one which would make Glen Close from Fatal Attraction appear timid in comparison, as Greta the Gremlin tries to seduce Matt the geek to a degree of hilarity that will make you slap your knee in glee and say “Oh that Greta!”
Sequels are in their nature dull affairs, a pale imitation trying to cash in on the original’s success. There’s only one sequel for me that truly stands the test of time. And it happens to be a prequel. I saw the original Star Wars trilogy when I was a wee lad and it was well and truly a snoozefest. Some blonde haired chap wandered about the place, found some sword made of laser beams and then got upset that his dad was a robot. There were too many emotions for my liking, and all the robots were boring and didn’t even have Wi-Fi. Everyone kept saying “But Conor, it’s an epic tale of good versus evil, man confronting his true self”. To which I replied “Whatever, dorks. I got some being popular to attend to”. Needless to say, I wasn’t holding out much hope when I heard they were continuing the series. Were they really going to be able to redeem themselves after the embarrassment of the original trilogy? Boy was I wrong for being sceptical. The Phantom Menace had all the things the originals were missing. Phantom Menace not only shows you Anakin running about the place being irritating, it also makes you sit through an action-packed four and a half hours of pod races, which Anakin was clearly going to win from the outset or else the plot wasn’t going to make sense. The Phantom Menace proved that all you need to make a successful follow-up to a box-office smash is the same title and a complete disregard for what the fans liked in the first place.