Rick O’Shea: On My Culture Radar
RTÉ broadcaster on seeing David Morrissey tread the boards and his love of Francis Bacon
Rick O’Shea: ‘I love Cate Blanchett, I can watch her in anything.’ Photograph: Eric Luke
Current favourite book
I read about 80 books each year, but this week, the one I really want to read is The Escapists. It’s a graphic novel based on the main character in Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. My daughter came home with it. It surprised me that she was reading a graphic novel, and that it was based on a book that I love, so I’ve asked for a loan when she’s finished.
On special occasions, my wife and I love going to Luna, managed by Declan Maxwell, who was formerly in Chapter One. It’s in Drury Street car park, one of the ugliest buildings in Dublin – I like brutalist architecture but that’s an eyesore – but you go to the basement and all of a sudden, you’re in 1950s New York. The staff are dressed like they’re in The Shining but the food is the best I’ve ever had in Dublin. They serve modern European, they do a great meat board, but their dessert comes in a dessert trolley as if it’s the 1950s. It’s very theatrical.
I went to see Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre in London earlier this year with David Morrissey and Ben Whishaw. It was one of those immersive productions where you have seats around the theatre but you can stand in the middle and you’re part of the action. I spent the night being battered around in the middle of battles, with things exploding over my head. David Morrissey put his hand on my shoulder at one point, I felt fantastic when that happened, I love David Morrissey. I go to the theatre a lot. I’m going to New York in January and I’ve four shows booked already.
That’s easy: Francis Bacon. For someone who was born in Ireland, there are very few of Francis Bacon’s great paintings here because they’re either in the biggest galleries in the world, or they’re in expensive private collections. When they opened up his studio at the Dublin City Gallery 17 years ago, they brought together some of the best-known Bacon paintings in one exhibition. I came out feeling like I’d been hit with a sack of doorknobs – it’s one of the more extreme experiences I’ve had in an art gallery. His paintings were so physical and dark and nasty. From that moment on, I seek out his stuff anywhere I can find it. The year before last, I flew to Liverpool for the day just to see his exhibition at the Tate.
I love Cate Blanchett, I can watch her in anything. She’s been in a few stinkers, like the last Indiana Jones movie [the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull], but she manages to make her characters intensely watchable. Then you put her in something like Blue Jasmine, for which she won the Oscar, and she eats up the screen the entire time. Elizabeth was great, and Carol was lovely in an understated way.
The only podcast I listen to every week, for the last five or six years, is Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review on BBC Five Live. It airs on Fridays but I listen to the podcast afterwards. There’s always about 10 minutes at the beginning and end that isn’t on air, in which they witter about anything vaguely to do with pop culture. They’re both about 10 years older than me, but we seem to share the same cultural touchstones, and I like their sense of humour.
Social media profile
Sinéad Burke’s Instagram feed [@thesineadburke] is great. Since I first met her years ago, I’ve seen her become more intellectual and closer to the fashion world that she’s always loved, and I admire that. Her Instagram feed has pictures of her with people like Riz Ahmed and Stella McCartney, and she’s writing for Vogue these days. The last time I saw her, I’d just seen a picture of her and Cate Blanchett and I had to tell her we couldn’t be friends anymore because she’d become far too influential.
I’m watching the final series of House of Cards and it’s just not doing it for me, but I’m sticking with it because I know there’s only four more episodes left and then I’m done. The only things I watch every week are on a Monday night on BBC Two: Only Connect and University Challenge. I’m a quiz show nerd.
I have a grá for When Harry Met Sally. It’s one of the movies I’ve seen most, and these days I watch it once a year. It’s a combination of Billy Crystal being warm and wonderful, Meg Ryan being in the sweet spot of her career, but mostly it was Nora Ephron’s script. It’s hard to get the balance between romance and comedy, but she managed it perfectly – by the time that, spoiler alert, Billy Crystal is telling Meg why he loves her at the end, you feel that it’s real. I will defy anyone who says it’s not the greatest movie ever made, and in fact I will fight them.
The Rick O’Shea Book Club Christmas appeal continues in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust. Donate online at bit.ly/rickoshea. Listen to Rick on RTÉ Gold, weekdays from 10am to 1pm.