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Non-Review Review: Damo & Ivor – The Movie

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

In the spirit of The Hardy Bucks Movie before it, Damo & Ivor: The Movie takes a popular Irish television series and weds it to the formula of the road movie to provide a theatrical adaptation.

This is not a bad approach in principle. The road movie is a versatile template, and one that provides a solid template for bringing television characters to the big screen; it provides a clear plot, an opportunity for new viewers to get to know the characters, and the chance to show off a greatly expanded budget. It is no coincidence that even larger American television-to-cinema adaptations have followed this approach, most notably The Muppet Movie.

Indeed, The Hardy Bucks Movie took advantage of the opportunities afforded by this template to take its characters beyond Ireland, allowing them to visit the continent. This was something that would have been impossible on the budget of an Irish television show, and demonstrated an ambition in taking a broad and popular television comedy to the multiplex. In contrast, Damo & Ivor is decidedly more tempered in its ambitions. It is a road movie, but one the confines itself to Ireland. There is little here that could not have been accomplished in a television special.

This much sets the tone for Damo & Ivor: The Movie, which very much aspires to a “good enough” aesthetic in its production. Damo & Ivor is not a film that is enticed to take chances on jumping to the multiplex, instead relaxing casually into formula. Damo & Ivor doesn’t exactly fail, but only because it never really tries.

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Memory Lane: The Joys of Channel Surfing…

Hello dear reader. I’m very sorry. It’s going to be a relatively slow week at the blog here, I’m afraid. That blasted real world keeps getting in the way, as it must from time – I’m preoccupied with various boring concerns, and my attention to cinema perhaps isn’t as finely honed as I might have liked. Even over the weekend, although I took the occasion to treat the better half to her first viewing of The Queen (which I suspect I liked far more than she did), I found myself without a clear idea of what I was going to watch. I hadn’t made a note of anything, or decided to revisit a particular classic, or seek out an important film, or even overheard somebody in work talking about a cult or classic film. Indeed, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to watch. So I decided to just turn the television on and see what it was that home entertainment could offer me this time.

My childhood was a bit like this...

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Man Launches Attack on Pat Kenny; English Language

Well, the whole point of Frontline was to offer a more realistic and “grounded” discussion of current affairs, where anything could happen. So – in a way – the three-minute rant that Kenny was subjected to last night seems to be almost a proof of concept: this is no-holds-barred television, not choreographed or airbrushed. The rant seems to have split public opinion (at least from listening to Newstalk this morning), but I think we’ll all avoiding the real elephant in the room: if you’re going to hijack the spotlight on a current affairs show, at least make your point in a way that isn’t simply mashing up a handful of words (“hypocritical”, “600,000”, “eleven hours”, “credibility”, “pontificating”) in a variety of permutations for three minutes.

frontline

Quite literally on the front line...

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Torchwood: Children of BBC Sci-Fi

I have to admit, my family’s hooked to Torchwood: Children of the Earth playing on the BBC at the moment. For those unfamiliar with the concept and execution, it’s a five-part epic that is playing at 9pm every night this week. It’s the type of television event that shows why the BBC might just be the best broadcasters in the world – the show is perfect for the format. The tension is elevated by the fact we know the run will end on Friday, the budget is clearly there for all the spectacle and all the talent involved is top notch. It’s the kind of thing that I wish that RTE might pick up on, even once. The really beautiful thing about this run is that manages to demonstrate that not only are the Beeb doing something very well, but they’ve been doing it well all along. From what we’ve seen so far, Children of the Earth can hold its head high with all the other great science fiction events the channel has pulled off over the years.

Back in black...

Back in black...

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The Late, Late Gets a New Host

Ryan Tubridy will host the Late, Late Show.

Admittedly, having caught him on Newstalk this morning, I’m not as ticked as I was last night. He actually came across as charming, sincere and a genuinely nice guy. On the other hand, he comes across as a bit of a gombeen on his Saturday night show, though something about the faux-Americana vibe just rubs me the wrong way.

Hopefully if someone can talk him out of bringing the house band – I love the Quartet, but they don’t suit a primetime talk show – and convince him that “poor man’s Conan O’Brien” is not a great design style, then he might do well. I attended a filming of the show a few year back and Tuberty worked well off camera. He was witty and charming, but the moment the camera hit somehow that charm became smarm. I hear he’s much better on the radio, but I’m in work, so I can’t listen.

So, maybe if he’s the only member of staff carried over from Saturday night it could work. He rightly points out that Gay Byrne had relatively little current affairs experience before he took the job (he worked behind-the-scenes in Britain), and we all know how that turned out. So maybe this constantly upwardly-mobile favourite son can pull it off. The Late, Late really needs a good, challenging host after a stale few years. Maybe Tubridy’s change we can believe in.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment, but will be watching very closely.

Irish television…

Why can’t RTE produce a standard thirteen-part drama once a year? I am a huge television fan and I can’t wrap my head around it. I know they aren’t the BBC – nor should they or could they – but it’s incredibly hard to justify given that the station has possibly the best current affairs department in the world and an above-average record with comedies (though they never should have passed on Father Ted).

I flick over to the ever-reliable Beeb and I see any number of highly-watchable drama shows that run once-a-year every year – Doctor Who, Torchwood, Spooks, Hustle, Ashes to Ashes, New Tricks to name but a few. Wow. And for my irish television licence, what do I get? Raw. A show about a restaurant that is reviewing terribly. Still, we get a second season, so that’s good, right? Maybe they’ll commission a second season of something good.

(Very) Raw talent

(Very) Raw talent

We have the talent in the country – The Abbey and The Gate see to our acting talent, many of whom emigrate to find work; there’s a rapidly emerging Irish film circuit that provides the directors; we’re a nation highly respected as writers – so why hasn’t it happened yet? I have dozens of TV shows on DVD, but not one of them is Irish, save the crappy Reeling in The Years compilation RTE produced. No Irish drama. (And the show is amazing… due to rights issues, the DVD less so.)

We have room in the schedule – a disturbing proportion of RTE’s broadcasts are imports – and we also have the money, we’re just spending it wrong. Why do I need RTE to show Lost when I can see it in higher quality on Sky? What’s the point of getting Desperate Housewives on RTE when there are 101 other boland import-filled channels on my digibox? Sure, it might garner ratings and advertising revenue by acquiring exclusive rights, but what’s the point of having a state broadcaster to do that for us?

It made sense before the internet allowed us to see anything anywhere almost simultaneously. It made sense before digital made it possible for ordinary households to see anything we wanted. What is the purpose of a public-service broadcaster that doesn’t offer anything we can’t get anywhere else? Even if you could argue that Irish drama isn’t financial lucrative, there’s a reason we fund the public arts. And it’s not to see 30 Rock (awesome as it may be) a few weeks early.

Sure, you counter, RTE does original programming. I’ll give you current affairs. I love Prime Time and I want to run away and marry Brian Dobson. I’ll accept comedy like Bachelors Walk, as it is high quality entertainment. Hell, even the one off drams can be good (Whistleblower), but they can also be so bad it’s horrible (Butter Sweat). I am disgusted with the amount of crass reality television knockoffs we produce as a nation. I makes my physically sick. Sure, every other station in the world does it, but the good ones offset it with something good and smart and brave (or at least better and smarter and braver), instead of patting the audience on the head with some American sitcom.

I want to love RTE, I really do. It’s all there, ready and waiting to be used. They don’t seem to be willing to use it though. And that really ticks me off.

I’m going to go watch the BBC.