From the archive: Looking good in the eye-popping 1970s

By the mid 1970s Feldman’s unmistakable mug was one of the most celebrated on British television. One of Feldman’s biggest successes was in the role of Igor in the Mel Brooks movie Young Frankenstein. This prompted him to direct, co-write and star in a movie of his own in the shape of The Last Remake of Beau Geste. You try to be nice. But though the cast included Spike Milligan, Peter Ustinov and Sinead Cusack, the film was not – to put it mildly – a hit. Just look at that checked cap: only a confident man could carry it off. As a performer he made the most of his hulking frame and those bulging eyes – which, though nobody knew it until it was explained at length in the 2008 BBC film Six Degrees of Separation, had been inflicted on him by a botched operation for his Graves’ disease. Before he ever opened his mouth, Feldman looked funny. It has happened to the best of us. Today’s photograph shows the managing director of Ardmore Studios, Sheamus Smith – better known to most of us in his subsequent incarnation as Ireland’s longest- serving film censor – greeting the British comedian Marty Feldman, who was arriving in Ireland to make the film The Last Remake of Beau Geste. Although to be fair, Mr Smith’s dazzling shirt-and-tie combo would make anybody’s eyes widen. He had begun his comedy career as a radio scriptwriter and initially appeared on TV when John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graham Chapman needed a fourth cast member for their sketch series At Last The 1948 Show. You try to smile, even. Neither Smith nor Feldman was even dimly aware of the critical drubbing to come, of course, on the day they posed for our photographer. ADVERTISEMENT You get all dressed up in your snazziest shirt and tie, and you fluff up your hair, and you head off to meet somebody at the airport – and they make a show of you. But you end up looking abashed at Arrivals.

A tale of two presidents: Tracing Michael Flatley’s steps from Mary Robinson to Trump

Dance, after all, was everywhere in Ireland and Irish dance everywhere in the world during the decade. ADVERTISEMENT His flair, skill and self-aggrandisement onstage matched his business acumen off it. Flatley, then, will have danced for two presidents – one who emphasised inclusivity and plurality at the beginning of the 1990s, and another who wants to build walls. As the journalist Matthew Sweet put it in the opening of Flatley’s autobiography: “Michael Flatley wants to take on the world. But of course there’s a potential business case to be made for Flatley to dance at the inauguration too. As Flatley, with his ruined and aging body, introduces his troupe of dancers at Trump’s inauguration, we can catch a faint whimper from a departing Celtic Tiger, limping across borders with a dance shoe in its jaws. “Dream big enough, work hard enough”, he seemed to say, “and you too could become Michael Flatley”. In his capacity to inspire hatred and adulation in equal measure, Flatley became an embodiment of the ambivalence of the age. ADVERTISEMENT This ambivalence may have come from the fact that Flatley was one of the first people responsible for turning Irish dance from an amateur sport into a global commodity. Later in the decade, Flatley turned dancing and migration into forms of aspiration. Robinson’s invitation to dance emphasised the recognition of the Irish diaspora in 1990, at a time of high unemployment and emigration. To live like an emigrant became a lifestyle choice at a time when the Irish were no longer forced to leave Ireland. His charisma as a performer mapped onto his success as a businessman. When asked yesterday about his decision to dance at Donald Trump’s Inauguration, Michael Flatley made it clear that he had already ‘performed for many presidents.’ Of course he has. The spectrum of feelings that Riverdance provoked, from rapture to discomfort, from cynicism to hopefulness, was a way for Irish audiences to express the cultural vertigo brought about by the boom years. Indeed the spirit behind the light that Robinson kept in the window of Áras an Uachtaráin for the Irish diaspora was embodied by these two Irish-American stars. Indeed, the setting for his most recent show, Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, couldn’t have been further removed from Ireland – it took place on an alien planet with dancers in space suits performing scenes with titles such as ‘Robo-jig’. …

Children’s books: five great titles to start the new year

Does she get any credit for it? ADVERTISEMENT At times painfully real and at others gorgeously dreamy, this is an absolute stunner of a book. In the space of things. When the monkeys arrive, it’s all over. All right, so she’s the queen of it, but even so. She’s a cranky teenager, the daughter of a giantess and a god (the trickster Loki), who’s been banished to the underworld. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out.” From the opening – “The corn was talking to him again” – we are drawn to the strange quasi-orphan Finn, who desperately misses the beautiful Roza and is slowly falling for Petey, the beekeeper’s “ugly” daughter. A bit ungrateful.” Hel is most unimpressed with her assignment, and yearns for the god she loves. ADVERTISEMENT Norse mythology For older readers, Francesca Simon – best known for her Horrid Henry series – ventures into Norse mythology for the third time with The Monstrous Child (Faber & Faber, £7.99). We have gaps in the world. Jodie Parachini and Daniel Rieley’s This is a Serious Book (Faber & Faber, £6.99) takes this one step further by including their own interruptions in what begins as a “thoughtful, proper, respectable” book. And certainly no “bottom parps”. Originally from California, Webber has worked for BookTrust in the United Kingdom and is known as a great YA supporter, so her first novel has been greatly anticipated. Her middle-grade books The Sleeping Army and The Lost Gods explored an alternate Britain where the gods were still worshipped, and her latest – aimed for young teenagers – offering is part of this same canon, although stands alone beautifully. But the donkey protagonist is quickly joined by a zebra (after all, serious books must take place “in black and white”), a snake, and a penguin. That’s a bit harsh. Simon typically uses a third-person narrative, but Hel demands her own voice. Half-black, half-Chinese, she reflects on how there’s no table in the cafeteria for her, no obvious group to join. The attempt to build the spaceship doesn’t go terribly well, leaving the octopus heartbroken (“The word you’re looking for is despondent”) but still capable of playing music – which might just solve the problem. Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davies’s Also An Octopus (Walker, £11.99) has a similar “silly” feel about it, though in this case the nature of storytelling is …

Enjoy this trip: ‘Trainspotting’ 20 years on

To paraphrase Mrs Thatcher on Northern Ireland, Scotland seemed as British as Finchley. Compared to Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance it seems entirely conventional. Much of the baggage that attached itself to Britpop and the Blair ascendency now seems unimaginably silly: in March 1997 Vanity Fair published an issue – decorated with an image of Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit beneath Union flag sheets – that proudly declared “London swings again”. The film reinforced the insecure notion that a new regime would inspire fresh creative energies. The leaflets suggested that it was about nothing but peer pressure. The Glaswegian writer John Hodge, who adapted Welsh’s novel, had trained as a doctor. It is hard to imagine Trainspotting existing without the then recent innovations of Quentin Tarantino. Together they delivered a film that was expected to propel British film towards the new century. Released in 1996, as the United Kingdom began closing the door on a decade and a half of Tory rule, Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle and adapted from Irvine Welsh’s singular 1993 novel, both inspired and reflected a mild but unmistakable cultural conflagration. Once its success was established Trainspotting became drawn into the century-long conversation about the rise and fall (and rise again) of the British film industry. In one of the most amusing speeches, Renton, played by a young Ewan McGregor, after being dragged unwillingly to the countryside, rants about the wretchedness of his homeland. Trainspotting did trigger copycats, but instead of shooting up smack they made films like Human Traffic and Twin Town. Cinematic royalty were on board. This seemed such an absurdly obvious lie that the target audience quite reasonably dismissed every sentence in the anti-drug literature. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. “People think it’s all about misery and desperation and death and all that shit, which is not to be ignored,” Renton says of heroin. Nobody thought much about this at the time. They also included dead babies, violent withdrawal symptoms and a famous immersion in the “worst toilet in Scotland”. “They’re just w***ers. “But what they forget is the pleasure of it. The posters drew from the character-based promotion for Tarantino films, but Mark Blamire and Rob O’Connor’s orange Helvetica-emblazoned designs, slyly referencing train station departure boards, were so strikingly original that they are parodied to this day. Withdrawal symptoms The Trainspotting team admitted that the heroin user felt pleasure. Sadly, it …

Valley Bachelors

They would drift in, predictable twos and threes slowly filling the small room with a week’s news, takes on team selections, name checks, indiscretions, and you’d forget that beyond the general hubbub were whole universes of silence – long lanes, whitewashed yards, bare kitchen tables, until once in a summer the low buttery mid-Cork gobble would unexpectedly pause and for that reason – stop and each man, embarrassed at having been overheard or too shy to be the one to strike up again would stare down into his glass, up along the top shelf, at the door – anywhere for as long as it took for just one voice to break the enemy’s hold. A chapbook is due this year. John FitzGerald’s poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies since he was award the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry prize in 2014.

Just don’t call it the dead zoo: Irish man’s vision for Munich museum

“The commitment and value placed on education, culture and science here in Bavaria is extraordinary ,” said Prof Gorman; something Irish people looking to Germany don’t always realise, with their focus on Berlin. As a fan of Dublin’s soon-to-be-extinct Natural History museum, Prof Gorman is anxious for Biotopia to take the best of that Victorian tradition while dispensing with the worst: the formaldehyde whiff and hands-off approach required with arsenic-stuffed animals. “It was lucky I was hired when there was still a chance to think about what is the best building to support what we want to do,” said Prof Gorman. “The early days in Dublin were tough and Science Gallery ploughed a lonely furrow,” he said. For years she was anxious to find a proper home for Munich’s massive natural history collection. Before the 13,000sq m (139,930sq ft) building’s plans were finalised and the concrete poured, the Irishman insisted on first nailing down the museum’s vision and concept in a 300-page master plan. But the crowd crunching through the snow this evening are arriving for the launch of a third attraction, coming to life under the watch of Ireland’s Michael John Gorman. Drawers of teeth “Biotopia is an idea that enthuses everyone who hears of it,” said Dr von Bayern. To rub locals the right way and hit the ground running, the Dubliner impressed his high-profile launch audience in Nymphenburg with a presentation in fluid German. Instead he wants to pull in the crowds with living research, public lectures and open laboratories. But he hasn’t shied away from asserting control, either. Three things, says Prof Gorman: the chance to work with Bavaria’s world-class researchers, the financial and political backing of the Bavarian state government and the crucial support of August von Bayern and her family. Cross-cutting those big questions will be timely interventions about the risks of climate change or species extinction. Ducks and geese jostle happily on the frozen pond out front as locals turn their hand to curling. “Then we got a few top scientists involved and, because they were highly respected, their sceptical colleagues saw how they attracted 100,000 people and got science on the evening news.” In Munich’s Biotopia, he wants to bring nature to life without resorting to one extreme or the other – neither nailing 35 million objects to the walls nor blowing his budget on wall-to-wall touchscreens. ADVERTISEMENT Instead visitors to the …

Don’t call Trump a gaslighter: he’s just an inveterate liar

Don’t worry. He is to the cheap bedsitting room as Jane Austen is to the Regency estate. George Cukor’s version of Gas Light, a hit in the West End just before the war, remained a fixture on television for decades after its release in 1944. He convinces her that she is imagining the alteration. The phrase “you’re just imagining it” is a common way of shutting down arguments and belittling reasonable complaint. That would be a shame. Thumbed paperbacks of his great novel Hangover Square, the story of an alcoholic struggling with a personality disorder, were passed between boozed-up students in the 1970s and 1980s. This is a column about “gaslighting”, about that word’s recent devolution and about the man who died without knowing he’d coined it. We don’t need to detail the controversies concerning disabled journalists, tax audits or China’s global-warming “hoax”. “Catch 22” is so much neater than “a dilemma whose only apparent solution recreates the initial dilemma”. The word “gaslighting” says something complicated in elegantly brief fashion. Or does he? By the end of the century it had moved beyond cult status and become a classic to rate beside anything by his contemporary Graham Greene. He’s not trying to make us think we’re bonkers. Great works of cinema During Hamilton’s period of obscurity two great works of cinema kept the work, if not the name, in the public eye. ADVERTISEMENT The title (two words on stage, one on film) is extremely well chosen. By the 1980s it was in common usage by academics discussing a precise form of abuse. He’s just lying. “Gaslight” conjures up a Victorian mood. Are you sure about that? When Boyer turns the light on in another part of the building it causes the illumination in Bergman’s room to dim. It’s a useful word. Observers desperate to summarise Trump’s technique have happened upon the word “gaslighting”. Do you see what I’ve done there? (Both were born in 1904). But to ascribe such Machiavellian cunning to Trump is to do him unearned favours. Hamilton thus finds himself in exalted company. As the word is repeatedly used in this manner it begins to alter its meaning. The usage derives from a durable play by the thirsty English writer Patrick Hamilton (and, more precisely, from the 1944 film adaptation). Say it enough and victims may begin to doubt themselves. Brief mention should suffice. “Groundhog Day” is …

If music was a regular job, would anyone do it?

She points out that if you are in a major orchestra, “you can’t walk out of it and say, I didn’t like sitting there with the first violins because they’re mean to me. Mull over the discussions in the music industry in 2016, and a theme begins to emerge. Meanwhile its work continues, most notably with its first regional outreach programme in Northern Ireland, which has a £150,000 (€170,000) budget this year for support services. But there are also variables that come into play – like financial support and luck – and these factors are more important now than ever.” Universal issues These issues were found to be universal across genres, though classical musicians have added pressure as the dedication required is higher and the competition more fierce. Avicii Superstar DJ Tim Bergling aka Avicii has paid a price for his fame: the touring life led him to suffering from acute pancreatitis, partly due to excessive drinking. “There’s so much talk about the positives of music and how good it can be used to express yourself, but I wanted to think, what about the other side, when people spend so much time and effort and self discipline, and are being told all the time they need to believe in themselves, and it often results in anxiety, stress and depression.” There are a number of clear links between music and mental health. Even social media trolling falls into this thread. “When you’re touring, it’s the greatest party in the world. “When successful people come out talking about problems like life on the road and being away from their families, they seem to get a lot less sympathy. “There are observable and measurable difficulties to working in music which can cause anxiety, depression, addiction and other mental health issues,” Gross says. Music is still seen as a folk art, something we pick up at home and go on to do professionally. Talented bands who are left with no choice but to throw in the towel. It doesn’t take into account the conditions that musicians are faced with. “I’ve also found that there’s a lot of bullying in orchestras, whether it’s from a conductor or a fellow musician,” she says. It was always very hard for me. First, as suggested by Gross – and demonstrated in recent weeks by Dublin-based First Fortnight, an Irish arts therapy organisation that has just completed its sixth …

‘People assume football fans go to the bookies, read the Sun and aren’t cultured’

Anyone who tries to define and dissect what they mean in tandem is in for a tough time. For Carew, a graphic designer by trade, the magazine is evidence of the different ways people can express their appreciation for the sport, through and beyond football itself. “It’s for their displays, the atmosphere, as if to say look at me, I’m part of this.” This contrasts completely with the spectacular world of the Premier League, where fans are, in the words of Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness, “milked” for every penny. The internet, globalisation and the media have all definitively changed the way in which this happens, and the people in this series – mostly young, often mobile, typically ultra-connected – are living out an experiment in how to survive and grow within this new environment. “You look at things like the magazines, and the events that Simon is doing, and then you look at attendances at League of Ireland games – it doesn’t add up,” he says. They’re peacocking, I suppose.” ADVERTISEMENT Michael Dickson has witnessed this “peacocking” firsthand: He spent the past five years selling fashionable football apparel to discerning fans from his now-closed Casa Rebelde shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Those things are a backdrop to the stories, so it’s an interesting way to read about the world which might be exhausting if you were to go through the front page of the paper.” The Blizzard was also on Kie Carew’s mind when he and his brother decided to start Póg Mo Goal, an art-directed print magazine with articles focused on the design, architecture and history of football. “Everybody maybe wants to be seen as more informed,” he says. You can get hordes of fans paying good money to a live event with the Second Captains podcast or to a live recording of the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcastin Vicar Street. Well warned but carrying on regardless, this is the first in a series of articles called Modern Tribes, which looks at particular sections of today’s “pop culture” The aim is not to be definitive, but to suggest certain ideas that might resonate outside the scope of these pieces. They want to see themselves reflected in the game. He says the immediacy, the excitement in the terraces and the sense of community are hard to beat. We’re all like, ‘Did you read that, did you see that?’ Sometimes people …

In a word . . . Trump

Iranian? And who could forget wily Vlad’s role in all of this? But it must be done if Russia is to be great again. Brace yourself, Bridget. “Put in Trump to get them out.” With Wikileaks onboard, it worked a dream. A bit like our Celtic Tiger days were at the very beginning. Indeed, that move alone from gilt-edged Trump Tower in New York to a minimalist White House must grate! ADVERTISEMENT And all those immigrants being sent home, driving up labour costs and removing that great engine of growth in any economy – the deep-seated desire of non-nationals to improve themselves and ensure a better life for their children. Yes, Earth is likely to become even hotter in the years ahead, literally and metaphorically. Trump: a German surname from a Bavarian word for drum (Middle High German trumpe). These first few weeks of these first few months in Era Trump promise to be, shall we say, ‘interesting’. “Put him in to get him out” was an old Sinn Féin slogan from a by-election in South Longford almost 100 years ago when Joe McGuinness, then imprisoned, was elected there in May 1917. From Ukraine? Hello and welcome to Day One of Year One, AT (Anno Trump). As some wit quipped last year – it has to be the first time in US history that a white billionaire moved into a state-owned property previously occupied by a black family. But the early part should be fun. Eastern European? “Yurrup” doesn’t rate. And so it is “nyet” to Nato. So it was a case last November of put in Trump to get those Moscow-baiting Democrats out. Oh, those Russians. It’s rocky days ahead. It is, of course, an old Chinese curse, that: “May you live in interesting times!” And it should be particularly interesting with China likely to be so signally involved in the affairs of this “unpresidented” presidency, as the new occupant of the White House might put it himself. Hope you’re sitting comfortably. Beijing? American’s debt will balloon as trillions will be spent on infrastructure and other projects in the US heartlands to create hundreds of thousands of unsustainable jobs, paving the way for another almighty bust. inaword@irishtimes.com Be very afraid. Or the planet. Tread softly, those might be your screams. Sure we know all about it. Be afraid. Palestinian?

Ruth Negga: ‘I didn’t feel my biracial heritage was a problem growing up in Limerick’

But few other actors display her steady focus. Quite a few international profiles of Negga tell us that she grew up in “rural Ireland”. The good people of Dooradoyle might disagree. “People are shocked when they hear that,” she says slightly wearily. People can’t cope with particulars, things that don’t fit into their experience. “People assume certain things about what ought to have happened in your life,” she says. You can catch sight of her in Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto from 2005. We all become actors to hide, to disappear. Now 35, Negga is finally approaching stardom – thanks to turns such as that in the zippy TV series Preacher – but she has had her shoulder to the wheel for well over a decade, including a role in the acclaimed Irish series Love/Hate. “It’s nerve-racking. Yet she admits to nervousness when put before journalists. “I was quite tired. The plan was that her father would follow and they would move to the United States. Tragically, Dr Negga died in a car crash before making it back to his young family. That’s it. I don’t want to get in the way of what I am doing, which is speaking about something very special to me: my work. “You’re shy. A suburb of Limerick city, it boasts a big cinema, a huge hospital and the shopping centre where this writer bought his second David Bowie LP. Will she always need to hide? Ruth Negga accommodates a rare combination of strength and frailty. “Yes, yes. I want to do myself justice and I want to do the work justice. She professes to nervousness when speaking in public. The Oscar rumours that began then have persisted to the brink of next week’s nominations Negga seemed confident, controlled and unfazed when greeting the press. You get a sense of her weighing each word’s place within each cautiously chosen clause. Ha-ha!” Biracial heritage Let us investigate further. What is she hiding from? “All that is daunting,” she says. You have to take a person’s word for it. I then went straight to the airport and flew to Cannes. So, the idea of having no script is daunting.” A mildly disconcerting concentration has now set in. Being on stage – or on camera – and speaking in front of people as oneself are very different things.” ADVERTISEMENT Negga speaks quietly, but with crystalline clarity, in …

Bertie Ahern loses his bottle as Pat Kenny gazes into Brexit’s crystal ball

The discussion predictably yields little in the way of concrete information – as happens when people argue over proposals that haven’t yet been proposed, such as British officials manning Irish immigration checks – but provides a telling vignette of contemporary politics in Ireland, on the left at least. Soothsaying pronouncements on Brexit also feature on the Late Debate (RTÉ Radio 1, Tuesday-Thursday). This street politics route has a romantic but decidedly unrealistic ring, but the reaction of former Labour Party general-secretary Ray Kavanagh is striking. On Tuesday, he greets the news that the Government is to launch a consultation process on the establishment of a new homecare scheme with a wry chuckle. Amid the kerfuffle about tickets for U2’s forthcoming Joshua Tree show being resold for exorbitant prices, listeners can take consolation from another famous figure harking back to his glory days for free. On Monday, he talks to Sky News reporter Enda Brady about problems in the UK’s National Health Service. “Can you hear that,” D’Arcy asks, over what sounds like a tin being rattled. He speaks with an insider’s knowledge about personalities involved, describing the European Parliament’s negotiator Guy Verhofstadt as someone who will “make life hell” for the UK. Radio Moment of the Week: Yes Ray can Having recently received an official warning that he has appeared too biased towards the pro-choice side in items on abortion, Ray D’Arcy (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) has taken a new approach towards contentious issues. Next time, maybe Bertie could be invited along for light relief.   Then, hitting his stride, Ahern muses that the EU’s negotiating team is unlikely to argue with the UK over “who threw the bottle out of the pram”. In the face of Kavanagh’s self-satisfied responses, which pretty much epitomise the concept of “mansplaining”, Smith contemptuously shoots back that all this indicates how much the party founded by James Connolly has changed. That the words of a politician who bullishly presided over a calamitous economic bubble can evoke a perverse nostalgia is an indication of just how grim things have become. Kenny gives extensive coverage to May’s crucial speech, both before and after it has been delivered. When the possibility of a hard Border is raised, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith says such an outcome will be prevented by the protests of outraged northern voters. ADVERTISEMENT On Wednesday’s edition, Cormac Ó hEadhra’s panel discusses how …

Kevin McAleer: the Trump-Putin-Clinton-Flatley fake news axis of evil

Only the reputable news source Time will tell. Clinton’s inner circle of security agents have advised her to make sure she is seated on the right hand of Trump when he is handed the ceremonial briefcase containing the launch codes for a nuclear strike. Can the right honourable James Brokenshire change his name by deed poll to something more inspiring like Seamus Failedstatelet, or can Donald of Orange himself ride in on his naked white horse and fix the border question for good with a nice new concrete wall, the ultimate hard Brexit for slow learners. It now seems increasingly likely that by dawn tomorrow, the only surviving members of the human race will be the Trump-Clinton-Flatley axis of evil, as exclusively predicted in next week’s News of the World; the only missing link in this remake of the Garden of Eden docudrama is who gets to play god. Can the “Make America great again” mantra be grafted onto the dreary spires of Fermanagh? The sensational videos of Donald Trump snogging Vladimir Putin on a clearly drunk semi-naked horse in the allegedly sleepy village of Kallstadt in southern Germany in 1890 could not have been leaked at a better time for the beleagured new multiple vice president of the most powerful nation in America, as he battles to reenergise his hardcore fanbase in the wake of the premature withdrawal of Michael “I Can See Russia from my House” Flatley from the 2020 Republican presidential race to spend more time with his money. The fake videos have been verified as real by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s new Reality Check team, which was set up by Russian hackers to challenge news content that is clearly fabricated and designed to mislead the public into thinking it has been produced by a reputable news organisation, such as the BBC. The real question for the future, in the unlikely event that there is one, is what effect President Trump will have on the Northern Ireland Assembly elections on March 2nd. Kevin McAleer plays the Viking Theatre Clontarf, February 1st-4th www.vikingtheatredublin.com Robert De Niro’s moral high ground was fatally eroded when he let slip to Sean Hannity on Fox News that he didn’t like Mrs Brown’s Boys, despite being opposed to the Holocaust. ADVERTISEMENT Hillary Clinton, herself exposed as the Antitrump by the Christian Science Black & White Monitor, will be standing as close as she …

Nicole Kidman is happy that she “looks Irish”

“I’m just not attached to my physical identity,” she says. “They were everything. She’ll sit there watching a movie and she’ll be heartbroken. I look at that hair now and think: ‘Ooh, you’re not to do anything to that beautiful hair.’ Now my curls are just frizz really. Years and distance have not wearied her Australian accent and irreverence. It is often noted that Kidman – who was married to Tom Cruise from 1990 to 2001 – doesn’t discuss Scientology. “It’s definitely a different territory now. Other people are there to augment and facilitate their vision. ADVERTISEMENT But in real life she’s… And she’ll take a long time to recover. But it’s calming down.” Otherworldly creatures I’m not sure what I was expecting from Nicole Kidman. Perhaps as a by-product of her vast celebrity, she has often seemed as ethereal as the otherworldly creatures she portrayed in The Others, Birth and Rabbit Hole. I know her sister, Antonia Kidman, a journalist and TV presenter, has just finished a law degree. “I’m drawn to visionaries,” she says. If she has one regret, she says, it’s getting out the straightening iron too early and too often on her red curls. Sometimes, it takes a village to raise a child. “I’m wired to like flaws and tragedy. Once the bond is formed with a child and you are the mother, everything is different. I wish I had valued them before they got that way. Half an hour into our conversation and I could write a book. I can sneak up on my daughter to touch hers. I see that same empathy in my oldest daughter. Very warm. Kidman, a tireless cheerleader for auteur-driven cinema, is having none of it. I can be who I want to be. I do have an earnest side. As is Sofia Coppola, who I’ve just finished working with. We’ve covered everything from the rising traffic levels in Nashville to shooting Far and Away in Kerry. Change your physical being. “Ooh, no, I definitely have a space,” she says, excitedly. For as long as I can remember, I have always been slightly offbeat.” The feelgood drama Lion is an exception to the rule. Instead, she greets the news of a nod for her supporting turn in Lion as if she’s won the lottery. And that’s a very beautiful thing.” Lion is on general release But she tells me to …

What happens when an artist becomes commander-in-chief?

The fourth hesitated for a long time. (When Barack Obama recently emphasised the importance of reading during his presidency, the arts seemed to provide as much of a window into the world as a necessary escape.) During the limbo of communism, when the future was always certain but the past was continually redrafted, Havel, like many of his generation, would while away the time with sex, drugs and – you guessed it, Zantovsky even dubs him “the president of rock’n’roll”. Lasting cohesion required something more stirring, personal, artistic, to build a better presence in the mind, he understood. After 13 years in office, in waning health and plummeting popularity, Havel quietly retired and immediately returned to playwriting. He had arrived to Prague Castle with some reluctance (the face of the revolution, he never aspired to the presidency), but he brought with him a team of unlikely advisers drawn largely from the arts world. In power, however, he avoided anything like glib assertions and easy answers. The ordeal of the largest redistribution of property, amid flaws and corruption scandals, without alienating the citizens (“was there a coup overnight?” Havel asked every morning) eventually led to a prosperous modern nation returned to the heart of Europe. His first act was to transfer his skills as a playwright to rigorous speech writing, telling the nation, refreshingly, “our country is not flourishing”. But capitalism brought new concerns, and “living in the truth” was not chief among them. Havel once delivered a speech to the EU, while Czech membership was still pending, in which he said that the Union impressed his reason, but not his heart. The general served for 15 years. He was characteristically stark about the differences between his careers. After some hours of monosyllabic answers to dry questions, Zantovsky had a novel idea: he asked them what they read at night. Charismatic, self-doubting, sometimes deeply depressive, he also knew he could never deliver on the nation’s expectations. He talks as he writes: informed, incisive, affectionate, humorous. Rather than purge their ranks and start afresh, Havel was inclined to give the existing military a chance. Zantovsky – later the Czech ambassador to the USA, Israel and Britain, now director of the Václav Havel Library in Prague – was in Dublin last month to speak on “Václav Havel: Theatre as Politics, Politics as Theatre”. An artist in charge The congruence between art and politics …

Ruth Negga: ‘I became an actor to hide. We all become actors to hide, to disappear’

She professes to nervousness when speaking in public. I want to do myself justice and I want to do the work justice. People can’t cope with particulars, things that don’t fit into their experience. That never happened. Will she always need to hide? You get a sense of her weighing each word’s place within each cautiously chosen clause. But few other actors display her steady focus. What is she hiding from? “Oh, it was my first time talking in public,” she says, with something like a shudder. A suburb of Limerick city, it boasts a big cinema, a huge hospital and the shopping centre where this writer bought his second David Bowie LP. It was very discombobulating.” This is surprising. “It’s fascinating. Over the last few decades, Dooradoyle has become more racially diverse, but I imagine there were not many people of colour there when Negga was a child. Ruth Negga, daughter of an Irish nurse and an Ethiopian doctor, was born in Addis Ababa in 1985. You can catch sight of her in Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto from 2005. I then went straight to the airport and flew to Cannes. “Yes, yes. Ruth Negga accommodates a rare combination of strength and frailty. We all become actors to hide, to disappear. I flew to LA for the premiere of that. “Maybe that’s why I became an actor.” Ruth Negga: ‘There aren’t many black people on film sets’ Six of the Best: Films to see on the big screen this weekend Amy Huberman: School plays gave me confidence to be actor Perhaps without meaning to, Negga has, within a few minutes, talked herself round to her core motivation. “People are shocked when they hear that,” she says slightly wearily. Now 35, Negga is finally approaching stardom – thanks to turns such as that in the zippy TV series Preacher – but she has had her shoulder to the wheel for well over a decade, including a role in the acclaimed Irish series Love/Hate. We’d wrapped Preacher the day beforehand. Negga remembers little of that. Negga eventually got to visit his grave in Ethiopia when she was 18. Acting is a safe way of expressing those qualities and interests without coming under fire for being yourself.” You can always say that somebody else wrote this? “In Dooradoyle? You have to take a person’s word for it. Tragically, Dr Negga died in …

Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Gypsies On The Autobahn, Little Hours and more

<a href=”http://fortevilfruit.bandcamp.com/album/coruscate”>Coruscate by The Last Sound</a> NEW ARTIST OF THE WEEK Telephone Explosions Name-checking Slowdive, Julee Cruise and The Velvet Underground as influences, the Maynooth couple Dolores Fogarty and Adrian Mee released Pocket this week, a song of electronic dream-pop persuasion. Orlando touches down in Dublin for a gig on February 25th. ALBUM OF THE WEEK The Last Sound – Coruscate Dubliner Barry Murphy has released music under the name The Last Sound since 2002 when he was playing at the Lazybird night in Dublin. Shee – Señor Blues Killarney-based David Sheerin released a dance track last year that made its way onto the soundtrack for A Date For Mad Mary. Coruscate is his seventh album, a gauzy collection of shoegaze indie atmospherics and electronics. An EP is coming this summer. VIDEO OF THE WEEK Little Hours – Water Directed by Bold Puppy With more than 230,000 views in four days, Donegal band Little Hours are certainly resonating with an audience by combining their anthemic indie pop with a video which takes the idea of xenophobia towards refugees and places it in a personal context. Orlando Volcano – We Come One The Bray producer and RBMA-alumni moved to the US a few years ago and ever since, his music has been moving in a club direction. This Faithless cover came out on Brooklyn label Mixpak over the holidays. Rebel Phoenix – Off The Books Dublin rapper Rebel Phoenix has been making tunes for a few years now. Originally released as a bonus track on last year’s The Jackpot EP, Off The Books and its smoked late-night production by Drae Da Skimask gets its own time to shine through this city-set video. SONGS OF THE WEEK Gypsies On The Autobahn – Hidden Mixing taut indie-guitar with a pop sensibility, this Cabra band trail the release of their Rob Kirwan-produced major label album Born Brief on Universal Music Ireland, with this pretty little ditty. ADVERTISEMENT His newest one on Tronic Sessions label, under the name Shee, has a Daft Punk-esque French Touch feel.

James Connolly’s secretary and her UVF husband

My mother-in-law explained that it was her favourite old gentleman’s address. They belonged to Shankill Road man George McBride, a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and a soldier in the 15th Battalion of the 36th Ulster Division which fought at the Somme; and Winifred Carney, a founding member of Belfast’s Cumann na mBan, secretary to James Connolly and his adjutant in the GPO during every minute of the Easter Rising. Workers had flocked into the city during the prosperous times, changing the demographics and leading to Catholics becoming one-third of the population. It included the following paragraph: “Speaking from Dublin, Mr McBride’s niece, Mrs Mabel Farrell, said the marriage was a strange alliance for the time and although they argued politics incessantly, they loved each other very much.” My mother-in-law asked me if, when I had the time, I would try to write about George’s life. From this time forward Winnie and George found themselves intimately involved in all the dramatic major events of the decade: the formation of Cumann na mBan and the Young Citizen Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, the War of Independence and the partition of Ireland, the formation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. Despite these divisive events, Winnie and George met, fell in love and married. One was a brown envelope on which was written in shaky cursive script: George McBride, 3 Whitewell Parade, Whitewell Road, Belfast. I should point out that my mother-in-law had no knowledge of history and, in fact, studiously avoided discussing anything related to the past. Despite economic vitality and industrial prowess, these ominous political developments led to an increasing anxiety pervading the streets of the city. When I opened the writing box that warm June evening, I found two pieces of paper inside. While Belfast prospered, sectarian tensions simmered below the surface and, at times, erupted into bloody conflict. The second piece of paper was a cutting from an unidentifiable newspaper that had the headline, “UVF pioneer and Somme veteran dies”. This is their story. The obituary continued by describing Mr McBride’s war record and his wife’s role in the Easter Rising of 1916. In the same period, nationalism in Ireland was also becoming more uncompromising, and movements to strengthen cultural nationalism were growing. She wanted him to be remembered by more than …

Generation F’d review: when there’s a price, these people pay

In other words, the “recovery”. We don’t get dissenting suits or unsympathetic voices, as we did in The Great Irish Sell Off; no TDs or landlords, for example – who, as trade unionist David Gibney points out, often tend to be one and the same. Perhaps the style and content will gel in the next episode, which is primed to fight back. The screen seems to shatter, shudder and glitch, as though caught between a street protest and a communiqué from Anonymous. “There’s no one in government that can relate to a man getting up in the morning knowing that he hasn’t got dinner for his kids,” says Andy Farrell, a Dublin building foreman, to whom this new documentary series very easily relates. As such, it’s like a furious argument against no opponent. “These are the precariat.” This three-part programme prefers starker terms, though: This is Generation F’d (RTE2, Thursday, 10.30pm). That’s one of the reasons, I suspect, the programme is so relentlessly stylised. Andy is just one of several people we meet, but he anchors director Conor Morrissey’s argument, as a direct descendant of Elizabeth O’Farrell, the nurse who delivered the ceasefire of the Rising. Hence the first episode concludes with a salute to “grass-roots movements” and an increasingly politicised generation. I need a lie down’ Heartbreak: Emmet Kirwan’s dazzling short film shows pressures on young Irish women Homeland review: necessary escapism as we succumb to the coming darkness Morrissey knows he is unlikely to find much resistance towards his case, but nor does he seek it. An analysis of life today for Ireland’s 25-35 year olds, it interviews some of those most likely to be contending with the aftershocks of the financial crisis, coming of age in a time of depressed wages, a homeless epidemic, sky-rocketing rents and no access to credit. This is less a discussion than a megaphone chat, closer to a rally than a documentary. ‘The BBC is giving Mrs Brown her own chat show? Activism ought to use every new tool that comes to hand. “Every time there’s a price, these are the people who pay it,” says the economist Stephen Kinsella. ADVERTISEMENT Such self-consciousness feels like compensation; as though the show is worried about holding audience interest (it shouldn’t), wallowing in despair (it doesn’t), or waiting out the episode until it finds its true vigour (it might be). Does the Republic cherish all …

In Trump we trust

In the seismic fallout, there was no presidential phone call to keep the plant from closing. Upon his firing, he bought a gun, spent his time watching zombie-apocalypse movies and occasionally visited to tell me about the Illuminati, a shadowy society behind a New World Order agenda. Nor did it help that Hillary Clinton was discovered to have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street as she advocated a unilateral trade deal that would have extended the reach of the North American Free Trade Agreement , frankly admitting she had one message for Wall Street and another for the average person. Welch’s Juice, another area employer, slashed jobs, making a single-parent, decorated war veteran redundant. Demographically, it just happened the town was almost entirely white, which didn’t make everyone a racist. A few years ago, while at a New York event, I made the innocent comment that I thought we were awash in information, to the point that the Information Age was on the verge of facilitating the Disinformation Age. I also began muting the TV, opting instead to watch the body language of pundits and politicians in the way one might view vintage footage of Hitler and Mussolini. It didn’t help either that healthcare reform was passed by executive order, a political overreach that went against the grain of American individualism, when the better option would have been the creation of well-paying jobs. In the darkening years of the second term, I was left rhetorically asking, “Yes We Can, what?” I asked it in the rural town of Dowagiac, Michigan, after the closure of yet another major employer and the loss of hundreds of jobs. I remember standing within the vast five-football-fields square enclosure of a factory, a veritable cathedral to manufacturing that had seen its production relocated to Mexico. And so we are arrived at the cult of personality that is Donald Trump. The final affront was the disclosure that she had circumvented national security and set up a private server to obfuscate transparency, which led to Trump’s mesmerising lines, “Lock her up!” and “Crooked Hillary!” If Trump and his birther conspiracy was a stretch back in 2008, he set the modus operandi for disseminating disinformation with such broad reach that the stuff of conspiracy morphed into full-blown fake news. After I had made the general observation regarding information overload, an audience member …