Actor Bill Paxton dies, aged 61, following surgery

“My love to Bunny, James and Lydia.” He added: “In his memory, on this Oscar Sunday, watch ”One False Move“ or ”A Simple Plan“ to see this lovely leading man, at his finest.” Actor Josh Gad said the loss was “beyond crushing”. His friendship was a blessing. His light will be missed in this world.” Actor Rob Lowe tweeted: “Devastated by the sudden loss of my close friend and one of the finest actors in the business, Bill Paxton. The actor, who starred in Twister, True Lies and Aliens, died on Saturday. “Renaissance man, raconteur and uniquely American national treasure. “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.” Paxton had two children and was married for 30 years. Goodbye Private Hudson,” he tweeted, referring to Paxton’s character in Aliens. He wrote: “He was a kind man and a true gentlemen. “Once again, an icon, far too young, gone far too soon. “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Actor Bill Paxton (61) has died after complications following surgery. Star Trek’s William Shatner said: “Condolences to the family of Bill Paxton. A family representative said in a statement: “It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. His filmography speaks for itself. Actor Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies, was among the first to pay his respects on social media. I just heard the news.” PA

Give Casey Affleck the Oscar – enough about sex allegations against him

Manchester by the Sea review: A hyper-real dissection of macho despair Casey Affleck: ‘It’s no fun being a giant movie star’ As a woman and the mother of a daughter, I resent being asked why I went to see “a movie with a sex offender in it”. His main rival, Denzel Washington, directing Fences, is stagey and forced, reprising his Tony award-winning role and is in need of a director in a predictable film still obviously a polemical play, part of a theatrical cycle about the experience of Black America. Polanski and Parker Affleck is not a sex offender and does not feature on the US sex offenders register yet he is now being mentioned in the same breath as director Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl when he was 43. One has to wonder about the fuss the Oscars generate, considering that hype (see La La Land – yawn), race, gender, topicality, politics and the old “it’s their time” often appear to have more of a say in the outcome, than performance. Parker expressed his sympathy, yet reiterated his innocence – but his Oscars hopes for his ambitious remake of The Birth of a Nation (which included a vicious rape scene) were quashed. I don’t condone sexual harassment or bad behaviour but I am weary and embarrassed in general with the way many shout “abuse” nowadays; and am particularly wary about the witch-hunt that has surrounded this actor in recent months. Apparently there is a statute of limitations, even on Oscars. Intended as a satire about fame and celebrity, it was revealed by Affleck as a hoax and was dismissed as a clever disaster. Polanski still faces imprisonment should he attempt to re-enter the US. Scrutiny Why didn’t stories about the allegations dominate coverage of his roles in Triple 9 or The Finest Hours, both of which were released last year? On-set allegations Affleck wrote and directed the spoof documentary I’m Still Here, in which actor Joaquim Phoenix claims to be giving up acting in favour of hip hop. Both of Affleck’s accusers, producer Amanda White, who had worked on Good Will Hunting, and Magdalena Gorka, director of photography, had complained about the behaviour on set and the prevailing male sexual innuendo. Why did they not decline to present the award, when it was certain he was going to win. This …

Had there been no Reformation would England have been spared Brexit?

ADVERTISEMENT Religion of Revolt In England – initially as a result of the fear of invasion from Catholic France and Ireland, Protestantism was the religion of patriotism. He was Primate of an irrevocably Protestant nation. But Ireland had begun to establish itself in the English mind as a rebel nation in which every Catholic was suspected of treason. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign Protestantism had taken root. He fought a by-election in Co Clare and won by a landslide. The other stimulus was the product of a different sort of Irish militancy. He could afford to be generous. The Irish Relief Act, as well as abolishing most of the historic penalties imposed on Catholics -limitations on residence and travel, restrictions on employment and extra taxation – removed the prohibition on Irishmen serving with the colours. The English establishment only listened to Ireland when the Irish forced themselves on England’s attention. So attacks on Irish Catholics and Catholicism were sporadic and usually followed the revelation of a ‘papist conspiracy,’ real or imaginary. The insurrection was easily put down. Lord Castlereagh made the point with stark simplicity. But it also created social problems in the areas where they congregated. It was said that Wellington assembled Tory peers and told them, ‘Attention! In 1641 Galway and Munster rose up ‘to shake off the tyranny of England’ and to establish the right ‘to exercise our holy religion.’ Both uprisings were suppressed with a brutality which was justified by the invention of atrocities – including ‘the boiling of little children’ – which, it was claimed, were being committed against ‘poor Protestants.’ Oliver Cromwell, who prided himself on ‘not meddling with any man’s conscience’, made an exception for Irish Catholics. The English Reformation was political – certainly not theological. But he knew that that his analysis was, at best, an over-simplification. The prosecution of Saint Oliver Plunkett – acquitted in Ireland but convicted in England – illustrates the fundamental difference between the English Reformation and the Reformation as it affected Ireland. By the end of his life Henry was having men burned to death for denying the basic truths of Catholic theology. The King’s determination to marry Anne Boleyn and the Pope’s refusal to endorse the divorce which would have made it possible was more the occasion than the cause of the historic schism. The notion that Irish Catholics drank too much and worked too …

Constance Kopp and Sean Duffy back in best of crime fiction

Constance Kopp should be a fascinating character as she embarks on her twin battles with male prejudice and the criminals of New Jersey, particularly as Stewart’s meticulous research provides the reader with a wealth of period detail. Crouch coined the term “domestic noir” to describe crime fiction’s latest sub-genre, and this offering is unlikely to disappoint fans, being a full-throttle romp through the paranoid delusions of a cast of grotesques, each more repellent than the last. Persecuted by internal affairs and fending off IRA attacks, Duffy digs deep into Northern Ireland’s recent past to uncover a tale of collusion and unsolved murder. However, as the bullying at her new school reaches a crisis point, bad Milly finds herself wondering about the extent to which her mother’s perverted nurturing has poisoned her nature. However, it’s a hugely addictive read as Crouch, having set up an apparently open-and-shut case of domestic abuse, gleefully rips to shreds both the characters’ pretensions and the reader’s expectations. ADVERTISEMENT Despite being rooted in real events, however, the plot is a plodding affair. A novel of complex motivations that will test readers’ capacity for empathy, Good Me Bad Me is already a strong contender for debut of the year. References to Peter Pan and The Lord of the Flies recur throughout, emphasising the extent to which Milly is a lost innocent in a world where young adolescents engineer their own reality, a bleak and pitiless society where might is right and a flair for cruelty confers authority. Set in 1915, Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Scribe, €14.99) opens with Kopp allowing a conman, the self-styled Baron von Matthesius, to escape from prison, a lapse which provides critics of the newly established role of woman deputy with plenty of ammunition, but could also result in Kopp’s boss, Sheriff Heath, going to prison. That said, even the most generous reader will likely baulk at one character’s suggestion that the story is reminiscent of Capote’s In Cold Blood, and Chirovici’s invoking of “the great French writer” and his remembrance of things past is, at best, ill-advised. The plot is as tortuously twisting as McKinty’s readers have come to expect but it’s the tone that proves the novel’s most enjoyable aspect. McKinty delivers a first-person tale of cheerfully grim fatalism and Prod-Taig banter, the story chock-a-block with cultural references, from NWA and Kylie Minogue to Miami Vice and The Myth of Sisyphus …

This thing

She knows now what this is. This inverse relationship. This thing has not come in and taken over. ADVERTISEMENT “Instead of getting more attractive you end up losing your looks,” Sister Bernadette says, careful not to single her out by looking straight at her. If only her mother could see that. Like all the others, shuffling along, weighted and miserable. Their mother scrutinises, until every last morsel of the white sludge is gone. Doing nothing at all to work for it. Black coffee. It is as if she’d like to take back the gift. Her father will visit tonight and he will notice and he will stay longer. If she could, she would tell her about the discipline and control that it brings. “I’ll weigh you every day. That some of it lurks in her obeying her mother’s wishes. She pours coffee granules, tinkling, into the bottom of a brown glass cup and before the kettle boils she fills the cup. Inviting attention when not deserving it. Not now at least. As if a touch of this thing could lead there. She watches then as her sister scoffs it on the spot and she is flooded with relief at how simple it is. She has her mother to thank for this thing, really. She listens to it blasting its rhythm out into the quiet dawn. There’s a new ruddiness to her cheeks. She knows the exact moment of her choice, she would like to tell Sister Bernadette. How the milk disguises the true flavour. ADVERTISEMENT “Jesus Christ, you’re only seven and a quarter stone.” Her mother’s fiery green eyes lock with hers. She is hyperalert. Since she began this thing a great deal of clarity has come to her. Just thrashing about in a pool of muddied sameness – look at me, look at me. Right here, right now, there’s that pang of love mixed with guilt at the pudge layered over her sister, courtesy of her own surpluses. A see-saw. You see something which is not there. No bother, she thinks, as this will be gone, gone. There aren’t too many in the class as successful as she is with this thing. It shuts down. Little gems that she sparkles in. At break-time she digs her hand into her bag and crumbles little bits of All Bran, powdering it into her mouth. Pink for effects and benefits. How it …

Hennessy New Irish Writing winning poems: February 2017

Hammers in specific places, ear cocked, Carlo doesn’t speak: he listens to the cheese. Sunshine fires Stone, gilds the perched village of Gordes. A view of Vaucluse From the cocoon of winter’s kitchen, Wrap my hands around the Le Crueset pot, Stealing heat. Parmesan crumbles the colour of wheat, It tastes of memories and flowers, Eight centuries with hints of grass. Face a sea that would swamp me to advance. Listen to the Cheese In Modena, they heed the aging process, No short cuts, just the slow passing of time. She lives in Dublin with her family. A stalk of marram grass, I bear the seasons. Carlo, 50 years a cheesemaker – Parmigiano reggiano – hauls a wheel Onto a wooden block, taps around the crust. Summer Opens reliable skies with wide Possibilities of light. Desiccated, buried, I hold my resolve, Watch my stock grow tall. Cast a blanket of roots, Bind shifting sands to hold us together. Dig for earth colours, Goulash of carrot, beef, tomato Turn ochre, umber, sienna. We stand on a balcony of gold, Overlook the plains of Cavaillon, Bunched olive groves, a braided scalp of vines, Weave green to the bedrock of the Luberon. At the timbre of the density that sounds Maturity, Carlo nods his peaked cap, Only then can the art of cutting commence. Notes in Hopes Envelope Each girl is a line Her mark in time Scripted in Biro Red, green, black, blue Classroom scribblers Study Hall scribes Each word curved By a four button Bic On torn off corners From backs of journals An origami of dreams ADVERTISEMENT Sent fist to fist In hopes envelope These dawdling days You own even chance And haven’t yet Disappointed yourself Sinéad Griffin was runner-up in the Reclaim the Vision of 1916 Poetry competition. Eyes of the foredune, I scan every change, Gilt of sun on water, spume of algal bloom, I read the drift lines, the suck and pull of tides. I slow the wind I am coastguard, dunemaker, hideout, I stand stiff and sharp, look resilient.

Neil Jordan: ‘Apparently I have a terrifying temper’

I was unemployable. I was always surprised to be published.” And in film the world that allowed him to flourish back then “was a very specific world and basically was the world of Channel 4 and the reviving of British films. The lesson I had to learn was not to let them mess you about.” A still from Jordan’s Oscar winning film The Crying Game, starring Stephen Rea and Jaye Davidson In between times he continued to write books. At the heart is a boy who gets trapped in the carnival’s hall of mirrors, and has to watch his terrifying clone walk away hand in hand with his mother. He has never taken any of it for granted. I had no option. And Stephen Rea always. I found I could visualise things, and I was writing the kind of story I would never write as a piece of fiction. There’s nothing natural about it. Then again, some of his work has been famously confessional. I’m very nice.” Pause. But for now television and film are quite different genres, he says. Few places are more soul-sapping than a bleak airport hotel on a Sunday at lunchtime. Did it change his life? As a father of five children, three now grown men and two women, aged from 42 down to 22, Jordan has had a ringside seat on adolescent changelings. And as he lives, famously, in a double house in Dalkey where visitors speak of little else but the panoramic view of Killiney Bay, does it please him greatly? Carnivalesque, the result, is a touch unhinged, a fantasy set in Ireland in which Jordan builds an entire race of people, spirit folk who travel as a carnival and have their own logic, history, genealogy and mythology. David Rose and Walter Donohue set up Film on Four, and they financed Angel and financed my career. He was an inspirational man.’ ” His father kept diaries about each of his children. They didn’t play football. Didn’t everyone back then? In the 35 years since then he has made a film every two years or so, on average. “Maybe I didn’t know my father enough to make him a real character.” Could his father have been afraid for him? At one level is the poignant story of a confused adolescent in a confusing world, feeling responsible for his parents’ tottering marriage on top of everything else. …

Why Donald Trump is the undisputed king of all media

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or Cpac, on Thursday, Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, declared that “every day it will be a fight”. His blog’s name reflects the feelings of many people around the world who wake up every day to yet more stories of norms being broken and blatant lies being told, along with extraordinary allegations that the new American presidency has been compromised by a hostile foreign power. The media commentator Michael Wolff derided the New York Times for its one-sided approach to the president. Within four weeks Kiser’s chronicle of “the daily shock and awe in Trump’s America” had more than 48,000 newsletter subscribers and is now getting more than 2.5 million pageviews a month. Every new story prompts outrage, which puts the stories higher in your feed, which prompts more coverage, which encourages more talk, and on and on. But experience suggests that the dialling down is temporary. “More crucially, with the notable exception of the travel ban, almost none of these orders have mandated much action or clear change of current regulations,” he says. The Post’s revelation that Trump had been informed of the facts weeks previously precipitated the final firing. His criticism does highlight a potential problem for newspapers such as the Times when it takes unprecedented editorial decisions such as using the word “lie” to describe a presidential statement. The context is rarely reassuring. “There is no journalism in between.” Wolff criticised the newspaper for its analysis of tensions that have emerged in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, where reporters have complained of stories being toned down, citing judgment-neutral headlines such as “Trump seeks election fraud probe”. He is the Harambe of politics, the undisputed king of all media.” The illusion of a presidency In the 36 days since his inauguration the president has, among other things, sparked outrage and mass demonstrations with a ban on travellers from Muslim-majority countries, fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend the ban and questioned the authority of the federal judges who blocked the policy as unconstitutional. But social signals – likes, retweets and more – are amplifying it. “The news cycle begins at sunrise, as groggy reporters hear the ping of a presidential tweet, and ends sometime in the overnight hours, as newspaper editors tear up planned front pages scrambled by the latest revelation from Washington. A long time ago, around the …

The bamboo ceiling: Hollywood’s problem with Asian actors

Has there ever been an otherwise great film dragged down so severely by one brutal flaw? One is Ben Kingsley, whose father was of Gujarati Indian ancestry. But of seemingly little interest to the industry is its eternal problems with the depictions of Asians and Asian-Americans. That argument doesn’t carry much force. If there’s any justice in Hollywood their lasting legacy will be the #OscarsSoWhite movement. Katharine Hepburn in Dragon Seed, in 1944, and Marlon Brando in The Teahouse of the August Moon, in 1956, are just two of the culprits. But potential roles are still being snatched away. Studios want bankable stars, right? Let’s go back five decades, to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hollywood has a sordid history of white actors playing east Asians by performing in offensive yellowface. Plenty needs to change before we see them regularly collect gongs. They don’t get to star as the valiant hero or romantic lead. The star plays a western mercenary who gets caught up in a battle between Chinese warriors and supernatural forces. Yet Asian actors make up only 1 per cent of Hollywood’s leading roles– whose variety is dubious. Little will change as long as Hollywood continues to lock them out. #OscarsSoWhite wasn’t about Smith being passed over for a nomination; it was about extra obstacles people of colour face trying to make it to the ceremony. And without the roles to establish them, how are Asian actors supposed to grow into commercially viable stars? The upcoming Ghost in the Shell is based on the manga series of the same name. A lack of diversity is often pinned on economic reasons. He won a best-actor Oscar for Gandhi, in 1982. Terrible stereotyping, a lack of parts for Asian actors, the whitewashing of roles and a drought of Asian-American-themed films have been problems for as long as moving pictures have been captured on celluloid. The Revenant star laid waste to one of the internet’s longest-running movie memes by finally collecting the Oscar he’d long sought for his mantelpiece. It’s an ugly thing that just 16 years after American atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this depiction dehumanised Japanese people for US audiences. The absence of actors of colour from the 20 acting nominees for the second year running sparked a boycott. Reports of the movement paid lip service to the racial imbalance but seldom covered its causes. Its protagonist, Maj Motoko …

Ray Davies: My new question to people is, do you know who you really are

We are in a Liverpool hotel lounge room, a short walk from the city’s Royal Court Theatre, where later that night, Davies’s latest foray into long-form story ideas, Sunny Afternoon, makes its Liverpudlian debut. “I think I’ve always stayed away from politicising music, but I couldn’t help writing about the society I lived in at any given time. It was a big deal for me to actually complete a song without faltering; the confidence came later, after the hit singles, but initially I was über shy.” Expression through song – which, he says with a sly grin, “is seemingly, a simple art form”– really helped him. It is also no surprise that Davies sees no point in glossing over some of his less than charming characteristics. The conceptualisation of pop music was evolving quickly then, and it’s fair to say that by the end of the 1960s, pop singles culture was quickly being replaced by concept-driven pop music.” The Kinks in the 1960s heyday: Ray Davies (centre) with Mick Avory, Dave Davies and Pete Quaife Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Image The idea behind the musical, he says, references The Rake’s Progress, an octet of narrative paintings by the 18th century British artist William Hogarth. After the first workshop, I spoke to the actors doing the parts, and I said they were never to think about me, just to be the character they were there to portray.” Sociopolitical observations Between such portrayals and throughout the show (with almost 30 songs performed), what is most radiantly highlighted is the range of classic pop music underpinned by keen sociopolitical observations. The big lure to us eventually signing to a major label such as RCA was to put out albums like 1971’s Muswell Hillbillies; we found record labels that were willing to help and to sustain and to believe in the content of the albums. Photograph: Kevin Cummins It’s no surprise that during its 2015 run at London’s West End (at the Harold Pinter Theatre), Sunny Afternoon won four Laurence Olivier awards. ADVERTISEMENT “When I was coming up with ideas for something like this, I was thinking about The Kinks’ story, and it’s a strange one – the kinds of things we gave away to become what we turned out to be, all of it wrapped up in not knowing what or who we were. “It’s interesting that many of the younger people, younger musicians, I’ve …

Poetry: An Isotope and Ground Truth

                         Soon the heart weakly glows sacred as in any pious lithograph, radiating a wounded shape onto the slowly orbiting film of measured fact. Loss is a dear salt like any other, but its half-life remains unknown. Nights of it. Muted, blows of a pile-driver reach up from the diggings for the new North Wing.                 Poor Tom takes us by the hand to the brown of our hill. The pickup speared, the limb crack’d, our dog crushed, and our bedding shredded across raked fields.                                                        I recalled this room as underground, brick-walled, but truth took it two storeys up, where I wait as the tincture of thallium chloride and its half-life answers the beating heart’s hunger for potassium. AN ISOTOPE                wheat that springeth green                       – An Easter Carol Kindly, they help you lie dead still in your clothes, left arm above the head in the antique posture of grief. Thomas Dillon Redshaw’s poems have appeared in publications in Ireland and the US since the 1960s. The Weather Channel animating in smears and commas of florid color streams of digital echo, Doppler signatures of debris and states in disarray all endlessly explained in running duets of expertise sounded and shown above the thin line typing out names of good Christian towns that lie splintered and prone aside flooded highways. His new collection, Mortal, will be published by Brighthorse Books next month. GROUND TRUTH Days of it.

From the archive: Alternative energy and tilting at windmills

And that’s on a good day. Back in 1981, the notion of wind energy would have been widely regarded in Ireland as just so much hot air. In the background, three young fellas have scrambled on to a scaffolding to check up on their DIY windmill. You can see why our photographer might not have been convinced by what he found at the grandly-named Alternative Energy Camp in Ballsbridge. ‘Windmills turned lazily on the lawns of the RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion,” reads the caption on this image from the summer of 1981. The windmills in the foreground are becalmed, though one is pegged down lest it take off into the skies while the other has been planted into a couple of breeze blocks. Hands on hips, he gazes resolutely at the ground while the lady with the pageboy hair – clutch bag gripped to her side, hands going 10 to the dozen – sings to him from some eco-tastic hymn sheet or other. More than three decades later, wind power accounts for just 4 per cent of worldwide electricity usage. The bowler-hatted gentleman looks as if he, too, might take some convincing. One sports an impressive Afro while the other has gone for more of a Donatello look (the painter, not the ninja turtle). Which, to our more knowing 21st-century eyes, looks more like an actual source of alternative energy and less like the sort of thing kids stick on top of sandcastles at the seaside. Not so much as a whisper of wind is in evidence. Did they get out of that Starsky and Hutch-style car, brush off their skinny jeans and stroll towards the action, in the hope that “alternative energy” might just have something to do with rock music? It adds, in a bemused sort of way, that wind was being explored as an alternative fuel, “instead of using coal and/or turf”. The real joy of the photo, however, is the two dudes at the centre of the shot. ADVERTISEMENT If so, they were to be disappointed As, indeed, are we all. Arminta Wallace

In a Word . . . Football

It ended in a draw as I lay down and wept. But whatever the hysterical histrionics of overpaid soccer players, the greatest crime of that game is its sheer, bloody boring dumbness. Except for soccer. As for the king of field games – hurling – it is the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum, a melody from a symphony by Strauss, by comparison. And please don’t tell me this is a class thing. Even when referees are blatantly wrong, or a Television Match Official decides an obvious try is no such thing, or when a deliberate spear tackle is missed. First historical records are from around 1400, though ball-kicking games date back to the armies of Rome Even then I always bring along a good book to help me through the boring bits – usually most of the 90 minutes. And for 90 minutes! Compared even to a bad Gaelic match, soccer is about as exciting as watching participants in Operation Transformation on a treadmill. Not accounting for all the dives, mock-heroic “fatalities”, endless haggling with referees, and blow-me-down-like-a-leaf dramatic collapses as an opponent comes within five metres. Though I did see one Gaelic football game last year which made me feel, on the whole, I would have preferred to watch soccer. That was the first Connacht final between Roscommon and Galway in Salthill’s Pearse stadium as the Atlantic took up temporary residence there, assisted by a gale. Galway won the replay but I didn’t care. The only soccer I will watch voluntarily is edited television highlights or an international involving Ireland. Is there a more boring game on earth? Watching sport has to be one of the great joys in life for people beyond a certain age. Discipline rules. Football, from Middle English fut ball, Old English fot beal. It is not a class thing in the Welsh valleys, or at Thomond Park, or among All Black Kiwis, even in France. If it was a soccer match there would be a raucous riot on the pitch at any of those incidents. Repeatedly. ADVERTISEMENT No. Players assume position, and the game goes on. By contrast it is simply amazing how disciplined rugby players are in what can be some brutally physical games. Worse than the weather was the defensive play by both teams – each determined not to lose, neither seemingly wanting to win.

Scorsese ‘surprised and moved’ when told of Trinity College honour

His most recent film, Silence, competes for a best cinematography Academy Award on Sunday evening. “Hey, if a film is made in 1978 and people say they like it, then it has to have some staying power. Somebody still has to do the work.” When I saw the cheering for Bin Laden I thought: we have created thousands and thousands of Travis Bickles. He remembered being told that no studio would finance a film so apparently nihilistic as Taxi Driver.  “How can I make films in an industry that needs a certain kind of product?” he said. Heh, heh!” ADVERTISEMENT Today Scorsese will receive the John Ford Award from President Michael D Higgins at an event hosted by the Irish Film and Television Academy. “I’ve been working for 45 years through all these metamorphoses of Hollywood. “Well, it is fun to go to a film festival and have your photo taken,” he laughed. When Robert De Niro, who ended up playing Bickle, won an Oscar for The Godfather Part II the financiers budged. He was particularly interesting on the legacy of Travis Bickle, the disturbed protagonist of his groundbreaking film Taxi Driver. One of the world’s most acclaimed film directors, Martin Scorsese, said he was both “surprised and moved” on learning he would receive a gold medal from Trinity College’s philosophical society. “But then it’s hard to get work done. “And then the Iraq invasion. Scorsese finally won an Oscar in 2007 for The Departed. “When the attack occurred on September 11th, I knew this was going to be a never-ending situation,” he said. But I’ve always been lucky to find somebody I can work with.” Asked if he watched his old films, he said there were films he made a during a difficult time that he would rather not see again. Taxi Driver really has a kind of terrible resonance.” Oscar win Born and raised in New York City, Scorsese achieved fame in the mid-1970s with films such as Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More. With admirable positivity, Scorsese pondered the many battles he has had with financiers and studios down through the decades. Scorsese last night touched upon his influences, his ambitions and his concerns about contemporary politics, in an articulate and energetic interview before an appreciative audience at the college’s Examination Hall. I felt something is wrong. Scorsese addressed the increasing dominance …

Oscars 2017: This year’s best picture nominees, from grand to great

A “crowd pleaser” that has not been seen by sufficiently large crowds. ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve) Villeneuve’s alien visitation drama is at home to one or two clichés of the genre. Can it win anything? Picture, director, actress and score are in the bag. This is most unfair. Starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two half-competent desperadoes in West Texas, Hell or High Water debuted in Cannes to warm reviews and no great expectations of awards. The film bravely refuses to accommodate traditional arcs. Jenkins is an equally strong favourite for best adapted screenplay. Box office: $166 million (third) 6. Viola has best supporting actress in the bag. Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck in the compelling story of a man failing to process his own guilt and grief. A remarkable clash of genres in one film: part historical drama, part buddy flick, part inspirational fable. The film is not a masterpiece for the ages, but it remains a beautiful experiment that – like the films of Jacques Demy – uses its stars’ limited singing skills to fragile advantage. Box office: $60 million (sixth) 2. His comeback is now complete. Probably not. An original film musical hasn’t won here since 1958. Probably not. Mahershala Ali is a strong favourite for best supporting actor. HIDDEN FIGURES (Theodore Melfi) Yes, the study of three African-American women’s travails as mathematicians at NASA never engages much with the science. Viola Davis is even better as the wife who, stoical to a fault, eventually cracks at one outrage too many. There is something of Howard Hawks in this tale of men doing what they feel they have to do. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Kenneth Lonergan) What a long, strange journey it has been for Lonergan. Second favourite for best picture, but way behind La La Land in that race. Dev Patel is great as the adult Saroo Brierley, but the show is defiantly stolen by young Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo lost in an unforgiving city. Amy Adams is reliably excellent as the linguist whose own emotional traumas interweave with the visitors’ lessons. Can it win anything? But Moonlight probably has that in the bag. Box office: $108 million (fourth highest-grossing of the nominees) 8. Affleck is neck and neck with Denzel Washington for best actor. Can it win anything? A slim chance for editing, but that usually goes to the best picture …

Mia Gallagher happy to have book judged by its cover

I had so many ideas for this book initially it was almost overwhelming; it’s such a full and rich novel! These ideas don’t usually emerge while I’m reading, they tend to come when I’m thinking about it afterwards. Four of them featured faces while the fifth was more abstract. I feel connected with the language and the rhythms of Irish writing. Georgia was so complex, her psychological struggle interwoven with the grief in her life, I found it so compelling. I felt it worked well for this book, like pieces of a puzzle. Mia: Can you tell me about the idea of the “stripes” that became the dominant theme of the jacket we used? Anna Morrison is a UK-based freelance art director, designer and sometime illustrator. They tend to publish really exciting books by Irish authors and being Irish (from Belfast), it’s fantastic to work on books from home. It’s vast and covers many themes and characters, often going into side stories. After graduating I had to figure out a way to make some cash – London is expensive! I completed a foundation course at Leeds College of Art and that gave me an opportunity to try out different disciplines. I feel the job of a book cover designer is to translate the text to pique people’s interest to pick it up to read. annamorrison.com I love that over-saturated colour that you get with super 8 film; also, it has a kind of looking into the past, vintage photograph, memory feel. I have to read so many books in my job and it’s not often I love a book I’m working on this much, but I really did with Beautiful Pictures. The colour scheme was inspired by a chapter in the book that talked about super 8 film. Mia: This is a bit like asking a lover about their old flames – but did you borrow on previous work you’d done for this book? It attracts readers, it communicates the book’s essence. The two faces are from Shutterstock (online photolibrary). It was the only subject I enjoyed in school. I did look for a trans image, but most stock imagery is pretty straightforward unless you have a specific image in mind or have the money in the budget for a particular photographer. Designer Anna Morrison: I felt using a collage would best represent the different layers within the novel, how …

Berkeley Library: A ‘hand-crafted’ rarity of modern architecture

Apart from some Wicklow granite cladding on the exterior upper facade, the building is made entirely of concrete, mixed on site and poured into moulds of Douglas Fir wooden planks. ADVERTISEMENT TCD Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton with Berkeley Library staff colleague Greg Sheaf. “This large and complex building,” he enthused, “has the quality that one associates with all great architecture, as distinct from mere good buildings – a sense of mystery, a sculptural sense of having a far side, out of sight, which will be worth walking around to see.” Digitalisation has made redundant the large ledger-style catalogues, card indexes and microfilms This was, he wrote, despite the “screaming protests of functionalists”. It was built by G+T Crampton, opening its doors to students in 1967. Today, the figure is 70,000 copyright books, with another 70,000 being bought every year. Further information on Berkeley50 from tcd.ie/library/berkeley/ and also Twitter #berkeley50 “It will be filmed here and then you can watch it sitting here,” says Helen Shenton. “In some sense, they are designed around the books rather than the user,” says Ms Shenton. The Berkeley Library in Trinity College, Dublin, is one of those rarities of modern architecture – a brutalist, concrete mass with an above ground bunker feel to it, but one that was hailed from the outset and which now, 50 years after it was built, is loved by many of those who work in it every day. The performance will be watchable on smartphones. Deeper inside the building, which is full of concrete nooks, crannies and alcoves – including some solid desks and book encasements – there are large open space reading areas, atriums lit by skylights and glass-topped concrete light silos. It was designed by the Austrian-born British architect Paul Koralek, who won an international competition for the building, his first major commission, at the extraordinarily young age of 28. “It’s been described as ‘hand-crafted’” – which is partly true. It cost IR£800,000 to build – “probably about €25 million now,” says Berkeley staff member Greg Sheaf. This week saw the launch of Berkeley50, a year-long calendar of events celebrating the building and much else that is connected with it – from philosophy, law and science, to literature and innovation. In 1967, the college was taking in 35,000 such books annually. This means, in turn, that the open plan ground floor Iveagh Hall that used to …

Going on ‘Newstalk Drive’? Don’t make Sarah McInerney angry

But on other topics she really hits her stride. And her symbiotic on-air relationship with Donoghue ensures she never gets too carried away; she in turn curbs his moments of geeky idealism. “Feminism isn’t scary any more, but perhaps it should be,” he says. This cannot be said for most of her colleagues: after the departure of Colette Fitzpatrick, McInerney is the only woman on Newstalk’s roster of weekday hosts. Moncrieff proves a fine foil for Crispin’s ideas, appearing sympathetic yet remaining spritely. his mother, Nancy. She’s a spirited presence, but the affable Ashmawy seems less inspired. But the sound of two men talking with such authority about women’s bodies is uncomfortable. When Kenny asks, “Do we know anything about the attitude of women to C-sections?” he seems oblivious to the most obvious way to find out. But Kenny the authoritative interviewer is still apt to be elbowed aside by Pat the cackhanded comedian. On Tuesday she discusses the coverage of a conference on Caesarean sections. “Every time I turned on the radio I heard men discussing why women have Caesarean sections,” she says. “How amazing a situation it must be for a man to talk about these things in all his glory and his supreme confidence.” She goes on to suggest that childbirth is a “taboo subject” thanks to “the cattle-mart approach to women having babies” in Ireland. It’s understandable for someone to get worked up about politics, even if McInerney’s ire seems particularly well-honed. She complains that recycling companies are “too lazy” to separate or rinse material, and fulminates when a texter queries if she knows what waste goes in the recycling bin: “I’ve other things to be doing.” If the intensity of her irritation is surprising, it’s also entertaining – a fact not lost on Donoghue. His recent encounter with transgender opera singer Lucia Lucas was handled with sensitivity, neatly balancing the personal with the artistic. ADVERTISEMENT Nonetheless, the item draws attention to the wider issue of the scarcity of female voices on the radio. McInerney realises how comically misdirected her annoyance sounds, laughing as Donoghue undercuts her midstream with some calming music.  Such displays of self-awareness help distinguish McInerney from the rent-a-rant tendencies of colleagues such as George Hook. It’s a shame, as Kenny has been in good form recently, largely eschewing opinionated asides for informative and intriguing interviews. Tuesday also offers the spectacle of a …

Oscars 2017: Who will be the winners and the losers?

MOONLIGHT (Barry Jenkins) Since the awards jamboree began five months ago, Jenkins’s film has been the picture the critics most want to see triumph. Box office: $166 million (third) 6. But Moonlight probably has that in the bag. This is most unfair. The film bravely refuses to accommodate traditional arcs. A “crowd pleaser” that has not been seen by sufficiently large crowds. You Can Count on Me was a critical sensation in 2000. ADVERTISEMENT Can it win anything? The authorities are intolerant. I think I’d stick with hypothermia, buddy. Suggestions that it is cynical “Oscar bait” are absurd. Denzel is slight favourite for best actor. Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck in the compelling story of a man failing to process his own guilt and grief. Jenkins is an equally strong favourite for best adapted screenplay. Box office: $341 million (first) 4. HIDDEN FIGURES (Theodore Melfi) Yes, the study of three African-American women’s travails as mathematicians at NASA never engages much with the science. Can it win anything? A proud assertion of the medium’s health and variety. Lonergan a slight favourite for best original screenplay. Second favourite for best picture, but way behind La La Land in that race. Can it win anything? Has a wild, outside chance of taking best original screenplay. A remarkable clash of genres in one film: part historical drama, part buddy flick, part inspirational fable. Dev Patel is great as the adult Saroo Brierley, but the show is defiantly stolen by young Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo lost in an unforgiving city. Could win one of the sound awards. Can it win anything? Can it win anything? Box office: $25 million (ninth) The new economic uncertainties rattle through every windy frame. This very particular take on masculinity carves out ground that has not previously been exposed at the Oscars. As in 2001 and The Day the Earth Stood Still, the visitors have something to teach us. Can it win anything? Ghost? His comeback is now complete. This year, nine pictures are nominated and every one of them is worth crossing the street to see. After last year’s #oscarssowhite controversy, the Academy is delighted it exists. It even has something like an interval. ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve) Villeneuve’s alien visitation drama is at home to one or two clichés of the genre. But such stories are worth telling and the flawless actors kick the film …

Rebel Protestants: unearthing the story of radical nationalists

I have finally started into the work. I stand in her office, overwhelmed. ADVERTISEMENT We had long had a plan that if she was unable to continue, we, her children, both academic historians, would step in and make sure her research was not wasted. My beautiful, elegant mother has become a wraith, confused and disorientated by the cancer that has silently threaded itself through her mind and body. Our father wilts visibly from age and loss. She has a hunch that there were more of them than anyone has realised. Each time, I agonise; I fear reducing her. Each time, I agonise; I fear reducing her I don’t dare ask her to what extent it is a search for self. Indeed many, particularly the women, were steadfastly conformist in their religious practice, almost as a way of balancing their radical politics; in contrast, in the north they were ostracised. It was after the Rising that this history was forgotten, with only those famous Protestants who converted to Catholicism, such as Casement and Markievicz, being remembered in popular culture, skewing the focus towards aristocrats, when, in fact, most radical “rebel Prods” were middle- or working-class. The famous Protestants who took part, such as Casement or Markievicz, were far from unusual: the book explores 45 individuals in detail. Apart from my incredibly supportive husband, there are no friends or family near in London who remember my parents; everyone is in Ireland. I still have not read the full manuscript. I leave the book aside until the baby is safely here. It reassures. “I’ll publish your book Mammy,” I promise her. From a practising Church of Ireland family, of very humble Dublin and Wicklow origins, my mother was a scholarship girl, educated through Irish in Coláiste Moibhí, the training college established by the State to produce Gaelic-speaking, nationalist teachers for Protestant primary schools. I save the manuscript files from her computer onto my memory stick and close the door. My newborn breastfeeds for hours, snuggled into me, warm and blissful, while I read and type. Within six months, he is hospitalised and dies after 10 days. It cannot remain a sacred text. It is fluently argued; it is a fresh perspective, suggesting that support for the Easter Rising at the time spanned the religious divisions in Ireland to a greater extent than previously realised: while the majority of Protestants were unionist, a significant …