Irish Film New York: Series Starts Tomorrow

IFNY bigger Irish Film New York: Series Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening the IFNY weekend series of new Irish films kicks off with a reception at NYU Glucksman Ireland House at 5:30pm, followed by Steph Green’s Run and Jump – with SNL’s Will Forte in a dramatic role – over at the Cantor Film Center, where all the screenings will take place, through Sunday, October 6th.

runandjumpposter 211x300 Irish Film New York: Series Starts Tomorrow

The weekend has an interesting mix of a little bit of everything, including the New York premiere of the documentary When Ali Came to Ireland on Sunday evening.  Other films include Made in Belfast, Silence, King of the Travellers and The Hardy Bucks Movie.  The directors of many of the films will be present for post-screening discussions.

whenali 300x253 Irish Film New York: Series Starts Tomorrow

The festival runs from October 4th through the 6th.  All details about IFNY can be found here.


Traveler Ganapati

Tipperary water swirls 2 Traveler Ganapati

Some people always carry one or more special items with them whenever they travel; I’m no different.

For years now, this small Ganesha, originally purchased in a little shop off Astor Place, has come along with me in my carry-on bag, and sat on nightstands around Asia and Europe for the duration:

Ganesh iHome 2 Traveler Ganapati

On this Ganesh Chathurti, when so many are celebrating this very clever son of Shiva and Parvati, I thought it a good time to post a few pictures of my travel companion on his most recent visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Ganesha over BOI Traveler Ganapati

Ganapati Bappa Moriya

Some Dublin photos

Hello again after a very long time……

After extolling the virtues of visiting Dublin in winter in this piece for the January issue of JetWings, I went over for a winter break myself.  Here’s a few pictures from the trip:

Sweet little flowers that I’d never seen before:

snowdrops%202 Some Dublin photos



I guess you know you’re close to the sea when the gulls in your capital outnumber the pigeons:

gulls%20on%20Pearse%20Street%202 Some Dublin photos

gulls on Pearse Street


Crossing the Boyne:

Drogheda%202 Some Dublin photos



One beautiful, sunny Saturday spent down south in Co. Cork:

Liscarroll%20countryside%202 Some Dublin photos

Liscarroll countryside


At the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll:

donkeys%20up%20close%202 Some Dublin photos

some of the lovely residents at the Donkey Sanctuary


And finally, after one failed attempt a few years back due to unsatisfactory photos:

passport%202%202 Some Dublin photos



The Oranges

The Cast of THE ORANGES%202 The Oranges

I attended a screening of The Oranges as the last hot, steamy days of summer trailed off, and beside wanting to see a film with so many favorite actors (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener), I relished the thought of spending 90 minutes watching a holiday comedy set in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  (Every August, the only thing that keeps me slogging through day after day of 90-degree+ temps and stifling dew points is the thought that crisp, sunny days, cool nights and the big wind-up to the holiday season are right around the corner.)

The trouble that ensues when the husband (Laurie) of one of two very close couples starts an affair with the twenty-four-year-old daughter (Leighton Meester) of the other pair sounded like an interesting prospect, to see how the writers would handle it and how this talented quartet would make it happen.

But the execution of the affair and the days leading up to it (Meester’s character returns home to suburban West Orange, New Jersey for Thanksgiving after having suffered a bad break-up out in California) gave no indication of any attraction or connection between Nina and David.  Both long-married couples’ relationships are just treading water and surviving through some general malaise.  Janney and Keener’s characters regard their husbands as generally bumbling goofballs whom they should both just work around to save themselves any trouble.

On Thanksgiving night, after the rest of the families have headed to bed, Nina joins David, who spends most nights in the guest house, and out of nowhere, they suddenly kiss while watching TV and start an affair, which is soon discovered, wrecking the Christmas season for everyone.

Oliver Platt is adorable as a shambling, muddled, gadget-crazy father, but we don’t really get to know much more about him than that, not even why he seems more concerned by his wife’s outrage at their daughter’s behavior, than over the affair itself.

Hugh Laurie is a milder version of the American guy we know as House, affable and unruffled, but again, we don’t get to know why things disintegrated between his character and Keener’s to the point where they began living apart on the same property.

Both wives are written as brittle, dismissive women and we never crack the surface of either.  As far as the wronged spouse goes, when watching the character of Paige (Keener) after the affair came to light, I couldn’t help but think of the distraught reaction of Emma Thompson in Love Actually (also set over the Christmas holidays, funny enough) when she learns that her husband (Alan Rickman) is involved with his young, nubile secretary, and I realized that it was that sort of heart that was absent from The Oranges.

oranges%20Alia%20Shawkat%202 The Oranges

For me, the brightest part of the film was discovering the Kurdish-Irish-Norwegian-American Alia Shawkat in the role of Vanessa, the daughter of Cathy and Terry (Janney and Platt).  It was a discovery because I never got into Arrested Development, her big calling card.  She’s fresh and different and interesting.  By comparison, when Hugh Laurie’s David goes cow-eyed over Nina, we never have a chance to appreciate what is so special about her (other than her looks), and so the affair seems all the more puzzling, since there’s no display of any steamy clinches between the May-December couple, and we’re given to assume that he’s just turned his life upside down for something more than awesome sex, dude, but we have no clue.

Final thoughts

Even if you find the cast incredibly appealing, unless you’re a die-hard fan of one of them and can’t help yourself but rush out to the theater, I’d wait for the DVD, if even that.
For a movie that could have been darker, or funnier, or sexier, or more poignant, instead it suffers from the two things that people either love or hate about the suburbs: blandness and boredom.

Opening tonight: Hard Times

Hard%20Times%20poster%202 Opening tonight: Hard Times

Am very excited and curious to see (and hear) the musical drama Hard Times, which opens tonight at The Cell theater on West 23rd Street in New York.

It’s set in the Five Points area of Manhattan in July 1863.  The location will ring a bell if you’ve seen Gangs of New York  or are currently watching the BBC’s Copper, and takes place during the course of one day in the life of Stephen Foster.

The play’s author is Larry Kirwan, founding member and front man of Black 47.  Here’s how he describes the time and place in which Hard Times is set:

“In July 1863 the Civil War was raging, Gettysburg had just been won, and yet there was major discontent in New York City over the recently enacted Draft, particularly among the teeming Irish immigrant population.  This was compounded by President Lincoln’s perceived change in war policy from defense of the union to emancipation of the slaves – the fear being that thousands of newly freed African-Americans would flood the already saturated labor market.

The discontent boiled over on July 13th and forever changed the city, particularly the notorious Five Points area where up until then African-Americans and Irish cohabited peacefully, sometimes in marital relationships.  Foster lived in the Five Points, famous for its tolerance, loose behavior, music and dancing (Tap evolved there from the fusion of Irish step-dancing and African-American shuffle).

When the smoke cleared from three days of rioting people retreated to the safety of their own ethnic groups; the United States set out on its hundred year path of segregation and racial divide, and Stephen Foster wrote some of his most heartfelt and personal songs, including Beautiful Dreamer, before his penniless death six months later.”

Hard Times will be performed at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd St., NYC from Sept. 13-30th as part of the First Irish Theatre Festival.

Signs of Political Animals in NYC

Political%20Animals%20full%202 Signs of Political Animals in NYC

Last week ads for the USA Network‘s summer mini-series Political Animals started appearing around Manhattan.

The six-part series stars Sigourney Weaver and (Belfast-born)  Ciáran Hinds as the ersatz Hillary and Bill, here known as Elaine Barrish Hammond and Bud Hammond.

Also part of the cast – and in a role that looks like good fun – is Ellen Burstyn as the opinionated mother of the Secretary of State, Margaret Barrish.

Political%20Animals%20partial%202 Signs of Political Animals in NYC

Sadly, so far all of the short cast promos the USA Network has been running feature everyone but Ciáran Hinds, which is a pity because even if audiences don’t recognize his name, they will know his face, given his work in so many movies, both mainstream and independent.