Pursued by a Bear »

  • It’s a blue, blue world

    December 29, 2009 @ 4:43 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Oh. Em. Gee. It’s like the most hyped and hyper publicised film, like, EVER. I mean, at least since Titanic. So I succumbed and pegged it out to see Avatar last night. And it was about as predictable as a film about massive blue humanoids struggling to save their planet from smaller, mostly pinky-white humanoids (a.k.a. humans, I guess) can be. Which didn’t make it entirely unenjoyable, mind: there were some cracking action scenes where the dumb dialogue ceased to matter, some pretty cool concepts (call me a tree-hugger, but I liked the neat bonding mechanism with animals slash nature) and the heavy-handed eco-moralising was at least on the right track. My weary eyes are still getting used to 3D, but it served up a good dollop of vertigo and made more than one cinema goer duck bullets and wince at flying particles. It’s cinema by numbers, mostly, and you can’t help but feel that James Cameron could have done so much more with a whole new planet to work with. Instead, it’s another hetero-romance wrapped up in a global conflict. Which makes for decent on-screen entertainment without stretching the intellect, and will surely send box offices into overdrive. And yeah, let’s face it, this is one you probaly shouldn’t wait to see on DVD. But it still kind of grates that Cameron’s imagination couldn’t stretch to a more challenging alternate universe, and that we’ll all reward him for it anyway. But don’t take my word for it: check out what my colleague Donald Clarke had to say about it. And then come back here and tell me what you thought.

  • May your holidays be happy and your grannies be O’Grimm

    December 23, 2009 @ 6:32 pm | by Fiona McCann
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    This bear is crawling into its Christmas cave:  happy festivities to all you charming readers.

  • Slouching towards Christmas

    December 21, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Slouching towards Christmas, and everyone in the blogosphere is going off about this piece by John Burns about Irish bloggers and squawking and (wiggle your fingers in the air to show your disdain for the phrase you’re using) “tipping points”, and their general demise. Hmmm. All I can say is I can see why it may become difficult to keep doing something as time-consuming as blogging without ever getting paid for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to wake (in the funeral sense)  the blogosphere and move over to Twitter. There’s still a lot of excellent writing on Irish blogs (of over 140 characters, often, thereby not quite lending itself to Twitter), and it is writing that doesn’t always make it into newspapers for a myriad of reasons. Which is why I like to big up blogging betimes. It’s not always about breaking stories either, or the search for a “tipping point”. Sometimes it’s just about good writing, about voices that you like to listen to daily that don’t make their way into the broadsheet or the radio, and may not even have anything at all to say about Nama or expense accounts, rather something to say about sex, about love, about Bono, about horses, about train accidents.

    As for current affairs? Look at the latest Christmas chart-topper! Ahem, course that too began online . . .

  • Merry Christmas (I wrapped it up and sent it . . .)

    December 15, 2009 @ 7:06 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Ah yes. You know it’s Christmas when you start to hear the likes of Wham making a sudden and foreceful return to the airwaves, or Slade on the yuletide loop. What I want to know is, are you all about the mistletoe and wine, or do you prefer your Christmases to be spent in the drunk tank? If snow is falling, all around you, and you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, then chances are it’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. In other words, I want to hear about your favourite Christmas songs, and – AND – I need to know why they should be considered any more special (special) than the festive delight that is Wham’s Last Christmas? I’m not just talking carols either, though they can get a look-in too: I want to see the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl battle Mariah Carey, though it should be pointed out that the award for best Christmas song title ever goes directly to Sufjan Stevens for Get Behind Me Santa. But back to the tunes. The Christmas tunes. And to get the jingle bells rolling, there’s nothing like a bit of Bob:

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  • Why they’re all wrong about the Wild Things

    December 11, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Nobody I’ve met so far has been particularly positive about Where the Wild Things Are. Reading lukewarm reviews complaining it’s too hip, too unstructured, too scary/dull for kids, too sacrilegious, too tedious, too Spike, too meh, I wonder if I saw the same film at all. Here’s my colleague Donald Clark’s take on it, not exactly a glowing review. All I can say is I disagree. Well, not all I can say, clearly, as here I go: This is probably the first film I’ve seen in my adult life that brought home to me how the sensitivies and fears of my childhood were a natural part of growing up, and went hand in hand with the wild joys I remember too of being a kid. Max is utterly convincing – heartbreakingly so – as a young child struggling with demons within that become the charming, out of control and tender demons without. It’s frightening, it’s exhilarating, it’s astoundingly empathic and it’s my favourite film of this year so far. And yes, I’ve seen the White Ribbon too.  Am I alone in finding something splendid there? Over to you . . .

  • Let the Great World Spin

    December 10, 2009 @ 1:11 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Colum McCann writes poetically, and the structure of this novel that stretches between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre is clever and fitting. But sometimes a novel that everybody else extolls just doesn’t vibrate on your personal frequency, and so it was for me with Let The Great World Spin. There are moments of beautiful language, arcs of feeling pinned onto the pages in careful prose. But something about these characters remained distant, almost unreal to me, and there is a self-consciousness to the prose style that takes from its emotional resonance. There is music here, and beauty, and an intelligent craftsman at work, but Let The Great World Spin finally fails to complete the human connection. It’s a novel that never reaches the heights that make for its central metaphor, and to which it so clealry aspires. But that’s just what I thought: the New York Times was enamoured and the National Book Award judges clearly impressed. Anyone else remain unconvinced?

  • Flick back

    December 2, 2009 @ 11:24 am | by Fiona McCann

    Having woken up in nightly cold sweats about whether Cormac McCarthy should be in Jonathan Franzen’s place, or whether Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident should bump out Dave Eggers’ Hearbreaking Work, and prevaricated over the inclusion of Freakonomics or Collapse, I made a list, I checked it twice, and here it is. Detractors, do your worst.

  • How did he do it?

    December 1, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Come up with the Ten Commandments, I mean. Because limiting myself to the ten most influential books of the noughties was a fierce challenge altogether, the results of which will be made known in tomorrow’s Irish Times. Many thanks to all the suggestions and contributions: I have been strict in adhering to the caveat that the final inclusions must have been published within the decade, which meant we had to chuck out Dreams of my Father and Harry Potter, both of which made their first appearances in the nineties. But while you’ve all been ruminating on books, I’ve been catching up on other arts, notably Strandline at the Project, the new Abbie Spallen play. Set in a small coastal village in Northern Ireland, this is a play about secrets and lies, perhaps a fitting theme for our times given all that’s been revealed about the church of late. A cracking cast works hard to play with shifting audience sympathies against a fittingly cold and stylish set by Sabine Dargent. Looms loom (yes, I  have waited some years to be able to say that), and dialogue crackles, while Fiona Bell plays the best stage drunk I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s what Peter Crawley had to say about it, and if you’re convinced, you’ve got till Saturday to catch it. If Strandline doesn’t float your boat (SWIDT?), then this week’s highly recommended movie must is Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. Beautifully shot, achingly suspenseful, fittingly slow-paced and with incredible performances elicited from a cast of fabulous faces (yes yes, actors, I know, but the close-ups are expressive and hauntingly memorable), this film leaves the viewer with a myriad of questions, and a discomfort reflective of life’s eternal failure to tie things up satisfactorily. Go. See. It.

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