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Internet potpourri with Peter Allen

A bowl of fragrant internet opinions

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Is this classic chick flick any good?

The modern Romance-Comedy genre is not in a great place these days. It has joined horror as a genre where young teens will go see a film as long as it fulfills the most standard genre conventions, which means filmmakers can get away with making uninspired garbage.

So I was recommended this film by a guy I know who once spoke to a real life girl, who recommended it to him. I think everyone has seen that poster of Audrey Hepburn with the giant cigarette thing, that is all I knew about it it. So lets take a look!

So I watched it all, and I liked it, however this film is very strange. The main character Holly Golightly, is a sort of feckless glamour girl who as far as I can tell is borderline unemployed. She is a bit mad, in a sometimes creepy way. She is irresponsible to an extreme, entering into marriage engagements like you or me would take a late breakfast. So I was wondering why I kind of liked her, it could be the fact Audrey Hepburn is charisma incarnate. However, it is not hard to like free spirited characters like this. I would love to disregard responsibility without a second thought, and I can see why this character is an escapist fantasy for some. Its easy to say that she is an attractive character.

George Peppard plays the yang to her ying. He is a reserved and gentlemanly fellow who works as a writer, he uses his typewriter once and they visit a library so you know he does something, he’s even shown to have money. His chivalric values leads him to act as a a bit of a white knight, but he means well. He is also often the one doing something silly, as he is a bit of a fish out of water at social functions, which leads to some light laughs. So he was a likeable enough guy and George Peppard does a good job at being charming and handsome as would be expected of him.

So you have these two attractive characters who lead fairly interesting lifestyles. This is good, romance is a glorified fantasy sub-genre, you need these sexy characters for the audience to get into the film. What felt very alien to me was Mickey Rooney starring as a plot device, who also happens to be an Asian charicature. I don’t care about whitewashing really in the context of a very old film like this, but I had to wonder if the film wanted me to laugh at him or not. There was also a cat, I like cats. I thought the animal actor was excellent, he mirrored Holly’s free spirit, I hope he gets a posthumous Oscar.

Look at him, that face has seen some bad shit.
Look at him, that face has seen some bad shit.

So the film has the characters to be great romance story, and it is quite decent in that regard. It is also a fantastically rich looking film, the sets and locations have that wholesome classic Hollywood look to them. I see all the archaic visual tricks like the stationary car with pictures of a back round out side, and I get feel all warm and fuzzy. It just looks so great, in a classy way.

So yeah, if you enjoy classic cinema or enjoy rom-coms,you will enjoy #BreakfastatTiffanys. Thank you for reading.

T2: Trainspotting. 90’s angst reborn.

There are a number of films that emerged throughout the nineties that reflected the cultural zeitgeist of the west at that time, at least amongst generation X. One of those films was Trainspotting, unlike the equivalent American films of that time like Richard Linklater’s Slacker or Kevin Smith’s Clerks, which depicted American teens and their pop culture addled lives, Trainspotting did the same for those twenty somethings on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

Trainspotting was made of different stuff though, harder stuff, harder drugs. The cult following the film undoubtedly has, was very confident that Danny Boyle could produce a worthwhile sequel, and that he has done. T2: Trainspotting is a triumph in recapturing the bleak 90’s slacker film.

However, it is not the nineties any more. And T2 takes the unique angle of seeing how these characters have coped with life since. The only other film like this is Clerks 2, which does something similar. Still, the Scotland of today is different from what went before, strange people from foreign lands abound, an isolated ageing populace, a less conversational youth and ardent nationalism are depicted and often the target of wonderful black humour. We even get another choose life speech, where the falseness and silliness of things like social media and economic optimism are chastised in front of a member of a generation that thinks these things are right and sacred, and in turn to the audience.

This film finds strives to find common ground with most of its audience, but none more so than those who are now 40 and up who saw Trainspotting 20 years ago. The films characters reflect a sense of failed dreams, lost glory and frustration. Memories from their youths lighten up their dour reality of a failing body and less than ideal financial and familial situations. The sense of being left behind in this new, strange world. The viewer may feel that this film wallows in nostalgia too much, and it does. But only because people do have nostalgia for the past so why shouldn’t the characters, the film is self aware of its own dreamy reverence for a past that was far from perfect.

The large toolbox of tricks that is in Danny Boyle and companies disposal is emptied on this film. The cinematography is top notch as one would expect from such experienced minds and hands, the settings richly depicting colliding versions of Scottish cities. All the original cast from the original return, and proceed to slip back into their old characters with ease. Ewan mc Gregor has had a pretty busy career since the nineties, and he brings a lot of world weariness to the character of Renton, an aspect I enjoyed. Danny Boyle had a reputation of making films with true shock value, and all of the shock here is played into achieving laughs from an attentive audience. Which somehow makes all this glorious bad taste respectful and endearing, which is surprising.

So what we have here is a very well put together film that I believe achieves creative parity with the original. If I took anything away from this experience it is that I hope this film inspires filmmakers and writers and everyone else to start utilising black comedy more to criticise the world around them, not everything has to be presented in such a serious light. I also took away the same message I got from Clerks 2, being that sometimes to move forward with life you must go back.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, please go see this film. Thanks for reading.

A tale of two Afflecks.

Ah, it was the worst of times and it was the best of times. The January Oscar season, where Hollywood drops its finest films and and its most decrepit garbage in to foreign cinemas, cinemas such as those in my locality. Among the american films I have seen lately, the most interesting ones in a way were Manchester by the sea starring Casey Affleck and live by night starring Ben Affleck.

These two brothers are unquestionably both brilliant actors, however Ben has always been more prominent than his sibling, I know people who did not know Casey existed. However they have begun to drift apart when it comes to the type of work they are doing and the manner in how they do it. In Live by night Ben looks tired portraying his role, said role being reminiscent of a better movie he directed and starred in, that movie being The town. The difference being the character in live by night is much tamer and boring.

This tiredness probably stems from the fact Ben has a lot on his plate these days. Involvement with the shit show that is Warner brother’s superhero cinematic universe, Directing and starring in his own film projects in addition to having to promote all these films by attending days worth of media interviews. And all that without mentioning his strained personal life with Jennifer Garner.

Because of all this live by night is a muddled mess. The script seems to have been written by someone with either not enough time or with an attention deficit disorder. I thought the movie was about a gang war with the Klu Klux Klan, but it is not. The movie has no idea what its about. In fact I have a sneaking suspicion that the KKK were shoved in there as Ben’s ‘response’ to ‘racist Trump voters’. Ben has a become a bit of a fool when it comes to his public appearances, coming across just as closed minded as the ‘racists’ he looks down on.

There was a time before and after his Jennifer Lopez phase, that Ben starred as an ordinary guy. His characters in The company man, Good will hunting and his appearances in the films of Kevin Smith, were all very human. He seemed like one of us mortals. Now he has joined the ranks of Merlyl Streep and Leo Di Caprio, making us swallow their political views. Funny that he now plays Batman, a guy who is an ordinary fellow who’s only real power is inexhaustible wealth. A peasant in kings clothing, if you will.

And then there is Casey in Manchester by the sea. Where he stars as an ordinary guy who has a traumatic past, for which he atones for in the most stereotypical catholic way of being miserable, drinking and starting fights with strangers. Casey is very much one of those blue collar working actors, he’s in movies! Look there he is! Kind of like what Ben used to be. Casey’s performance in Manchester by the sea is a masterclass in what Chris Stuckmann called “Subdued acting”. No showing and no telling, the audience must read between the lines. The quality of this performance puts his brothers recent work to shame.

So what now? Will Casey Affleck supersede Ben? The answer is “maybe”. Certainly not in the financial category, or most likely the directorial category. But I feel the next decade will be career defining for him as a performer. Whilst Ben may suffer another Gigli episode should he continue down his path of ever bigger roles and more in your face public appearances.

Thank you for reading.

La La Land, the vanguard of a musical renaissance?

The Hollywood musical is an often valued cornerstone of western culture, the likes of Singing in the rain, The sound of music and so on, are undisputed classics. However those aren’t the only ones that were around, hundreds were made in the thirties when the addition of sound to movies made such a thing possible. The tapering drop off since then has been drastic with a few sporadic films being turned out over the rest of the twentieth century. In basic terms, the market was over saturated and lost interest.

Since 2000 we have seen a few film adaptions of popular stage musicals like Mamma Mia and Les Miserables. These films were only adaptions of something already established, and their true nature arguably shone through. They, like some of their predecessors, had musical performances that a film narrative was then Created around. This led to perhaps great singing and dancing performances but very little depth to the other elements in the film, such as character development. Some musical films post millennium like Once were films about music and performance, and not classic style musicals. So Musicals like westerns, became a zombie film genre. However hope has arrived, and that hope is La La Land.

I was worried going in, that La La Land would be hipster bullshit, and there is a tinge of it in the writing, the stuck up ‘normie’ business guy character shows up for thirty seconds, and the film literally dumps him. However the film succeeds in coming across more as a nostalgia piece, presenting it’s characters in an endearing fashion. The main characters learn to compromise on their hardline devotion to things not in the mainstream, at least for a while. That is essentially Ryan Gosling’s main character arc.

Yes that’s right! Characters are memorable in this film, you know their hopes, their dreams, their faults and attributes. They are written well, and have plenty to say with wide dramatic range well portrayed by the lead cast. They don’t exist to facilitate a hollow narrative around a string of performances, the performance comes from rich character moments. Said narrative also has a lot to say about the pursuit of art, compromise both in relationships and in wider life, and perhaps most importantly to the young people of today, not giving in to despair.

The visual filmic elements are refined and elegant. Wonderful set design, camerawork and lighting compliment the performances both vocal and choreographic. I especially enjoyed the use of going in and out of focus, at times that was very cool. Speaking of cool things, Matte paintings! Remember those? They’re used in this film, and they look twenty times better than generic CGI backround number 5012.

Best self aware quote from the film goes to:

Mia: Is it too nostalgic? Will people like it?

Seb: Fuck them.

So yeah, La La Land is a quality film. Will we get more like it though? Damien Chazelle and his team may continue making films centered around music (Go see Whiplash if you have not already). But not necessarily classic style movie musicals. However, this film is a hit, and when something makes big money, all sorts of wheels in Hollywood start to turn. Trends emerge two years later, mothballed musical scripts are probably being dug up as we speak. As long as the excellent format of La La Land is followed and the films have character and something to say, then I would be delighted to go see them too.

After all I saw La La Land with my mother in a cinema full of old people. Types I don’t see at movies like Avengers: call of ultron 2. This is a large niche audience that are being mostly ignored by Hollywood in favour of chasing young adults. La La Land is the type of film the studios could be, maybe should be making. People love music, they love romance and they love fun. Come on, lets hope for an ever more genre diverse timetable at our cinemas!

P.S. That ending is brilliant, Y’all are crazy.

La La Land is in cinemas now.
La La Land is in cinemas now.

Bloodborne, and methods of teaching.

Bloodborne was an interesting experience. Games made by From Software have a formidable reputation as being crushingly difficult titles only played by masochists. This reputation isn’t helped by said masochists as they maintain a sort of superiority over those who haven’t mastered the series. In this short blog post I will be ignoring the wonderful H.P Lovecraft inspired visuals, storytelling and tone of Bloodborne in favour of a short analysis of how From software teach the player how to play their games. Believe me entire essays have been written on different aspects of Bloodborne, go seek them out.

Playing Bloodborne for the first time was not forgiving, I had no idea where to go and was getting mauled by the simplest of enemies. I gave up for a period of time, feeling dejected and beaten. However a week later I picked it up again, figured out how to level up my character, cleared the level, beat the boss and I had the main game finished in a week and a half, playing in the evenings mostly. Playing and learning from my mistakes promoted a new way of thinking and a new way of approaching a game. Patience is the real currency of Bloodborne, groups of enemies need careful crowd control, bosses allow you to make mistakes but never allow you to make too many too quickly. Around three mistimed dodges in a row will get you killed over the course of a couple seconds. You learn early on that some enemies can be ignored entirely and that you should be picking your fights. You would think absolute caution at all times would be the solution to a problem where patience is required, however that will only get you so far.

Caution can leave you open to the worst of attacks, select regular enemies and bosses are designed to punish such behaviour with absolute sustained aggression, to which you must counter with aggression of your own. Interestingly you arguably level up alongside your character, you learn to leave your past experiences of playing fast action games in favour of this new way of thinking. By the end you begin to love the game, even though it’s a hateful, horrible experience that’s likely to kick the unprepared in their sex organs without warning or mercy. It is not for the faint hearted, if you only enjoy relatively safe pick up and play type games like I generally do, then you will struggle like me to buy a copy in the first place and find the will to keep going through the first few trepidatious hours . At least I had a basis from which to work from, here is a controller with buttons on it and this is what they do, now go and figure out the advanced stuff. You are expected to fail often but because the rules are consistent enough with what you will be doing when fighting the bosses, any progress made, however small, never feels like wasted effort. Repetition is a valid method because your time seemed worthwhile in attaining the final goal.

It is at this point I want to Segway off the focus topic, stay with me.  I would like to propose an analogy to a form of school learning. However in hindsight it is not really applicable. Math is taught in a way in which the text books often are disconnected from the exam itself, thus those with enough disposable income get grinds so they can do old exam papers and be more capable of second guessing the examiner. Suppose Bloodborne had the regular control scheme throughout the game only in the final level and subsequent boss, scramble your buttons after every death. However for a fee you could you could unscramble the buttons to a control scheme you still don’t understand but can live with. People would be pissed if the maths syllabus was a game that’s for sure. It feels like an arbitrary waste of time, whilst Bloodborne avoids this problem of lacking player motivation.

Okay, so maths sucks, Bloodborne also sucks at first, both have masochistic elements to them, both have prodigies incidentally. Gamification of real life activities is nothing new, educators tend to focus on games as learning tools rather than games design as a basis philosophy for teaching wider concepts, however. The system is ran and facilitated by especially flawed people motivated by cynical factors as I mostly saw it, types who feel entitled but live in a make believe world of minimal productivity and no responsibility. I believe any change in doctrine away from what is there currently would be as Christopher Hitchens would’ve said “An improvement of a kind”. Not solving the problem, but trying at least to be seen doing something to mask the effects.

So there it is, some muddled babble about how a game taught me concepts and the the broken way in which the school system does things in comparison, keep in mind this was not comprehensive on my thoughts on the education system and neither do I wish you to confirm my bias on such matters. Complaining about how education is broken nowadays is one of my main past times, and I hope to come back to the topic a couple of times throughout my time on the blogosphere. Keep in mind I am not particularly intelligent, but I will strive to complain about these things anyway. Sometime I may talk about the artistic elements Bloodborne, especially the influences of Howard Philips Lovecraft, even though it is a well covered subject.

 

Thoughts on “Silence” and criticising films about topics you don’t agree with, correctly.

 Most people agree there are categories into which the films of Martin Scorsese can be placed, everyone knowns his films centered around crime and Italian- Americans. However Scorsese is a fairly devout catholic and has made films about faith such as The last temptation of christ, Silence is the latest film he has made that fits in this category.

Silence is a flex of cinemas muscles as an art form, wonderful to look at with fantastic locations in Taiwan dressed up to look like feudal Japan. Everything is era authentic and the cinematography is top notch maximising the potential of the location and the detailed sets. I appreciated the films own alcknowledgement of the fact that the Padres speak Portuguese in the film because they are Portuguese but what the actors are speaking for the benefit of a western audience is English. This strange way of presentation extends to the casting, Spiderman ( Andrew Garfield) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are cast as Portuguese missionaries and both employ a questionable Iberian lilt in their accent. Both these actors are excellent and have some star power to pull audiences, however both are typecast actors now and its hard for me to disassociate them from their previous roles. Despite the accent both did a great job in displaying the range of emotions that their characters experience.

Here is a disclaimer: I am biased towards Asia and especially Japan as a setting, I think the place is interesting to look at and its actors seem to have a lot of class and  relish in their make believe performance. The Japanese actors in silence were exceptional, the man playing the inquisitor is a stand out actor. Of course Liam Neeson is also in this and you know what his particular set of skills are.

So in conclusion fantastic film from a passionate team and director with great actors, the whole deal. So why is this film getting unfavourable reviews from more reputable people than me? People who have a large audience and get paid money and stuff seem to have a suspicious habit of putting an underlying tone into their written piece. That tone is : I don’t like religion because reasons and because I am apposed to it I am going to give this film about catholic missionaries a mediocre score.

This is baby behavior, there is no reason for professionals not to make sure their own bias does not cloud their judgement. If a clearly excellent piece of cinema or whatever else comes out but happens to have subject matter  you do not agree with, the viewer should attempt to engage more with the film to try and find something to enjoy. I’m not religious at all and I enjoyed this film, for me it was almost psychological horror from scenarios that would be easy to resolve for me but not for the character who I am trying to understand and identify with.

If a film is worthy of the effort of trying to understand it, and you meet it halfway, then that can make for a very enjoyable viewing experience. I say try it.

What is next for the Star Wars films? + The loss of Carrie Fisher.

   In our current time of existence there has been nothing more culturally ubiquitous as Star Wars in the west and the wider world. The modern myth has  inspired and delighted millions, everything about the original trilogy is iconic from the characters to the run down, grimy aesthetic. However the fandom is at this time experiencing schisms not felt since Martin Luther.

The luminaries over at Red Letter Media slammed Rogue one as star wars porn for 35 year old fat guys with beards, in said review the ever affable Rich Evans said, quote “What are next?”. But what is next? Disney will milk this thing until the teats have fallen off the cow, are we going to get films that treat the original trilogy with near masterbatory reverence forever? Although I enjoyed Rogue One for what it was I know full well that without the rest of the films it does not stand alone and it probably wont show children the magic of film either, because Disney is only interested in pleasing me and the rest of the asshole fans who absolutely do have an intense love for the original films.

Remember that the Folks at RLM made the Plinkett reviews which articulated so well why so many disliked the prequels. Yes the prequels are just bad films, victims of an overzealous George Lucas who had left behind George the filmaker in favour of George the lazy businessman, choosing to sit in an armchair watching TV screens showing his poor actors mime on a giant green screen set. Anyways the point is they’ll be around, they can never be undone. But at least they are different, not in a good way really, but at least George did attempt to expand Star Wars the fantasy universe rather than iterating entirely on what had gone before, although the prequels are very much linked to the original films.

And so this how the battles will be fought, not over black storm troopers, not over Mary Sues and not over who shot first. Those who are quite happy with more of the same thanks very much, squaring off against those who want the fantastic character writing and feel of star wars instead of the over reliance on the aesthetic and action tropes of star wars. An argument could be made that Star wars is actually a very limited franchise you cant do much with, the lightsabers, the AT-AT’s and so on are the licence. Those are the aesthetic images of star wars that are the most general in nature, the things you can throw in your film that are not character or tone based. The fans want to see these things and risking going without these things invites a bit less fanfare than might otherwise be expected. However personally I find both of the soft reboot films highly enjoyable and look forward to any Star Wars stuff coming over the next decade or so, as it makes me happy. However chances are these upcoming films wont ever equal the originals.

I was not prepared to live in a post Carrie Fisher world this soon, she was younger than both Ford and Hamill for gods sake. Alas she suffered from crippling depression during and after her star role as Leia, falling into a pit of self destruction fueled by drugs and alcohol. But she survived becoming a hilariously self aware woman. Watching her live comedy show Wishful Drinking or reading her book of the same name, is like watching Fisher come to terms with her past and herself. She pokes fun at her sex symbol status, her public perception as Leia Organa,, her own troubled past and the struggles of being different. I liked Carrie Fisher because she was strange and she knew it, her twitter account is glorious, her interviews hilarious, her comedy insightful. Funny thing is in 2015 she took up the role of Leia once more, seeming so completely normal, that for her was true acting. I will always remember Carrie Fisher, who died too young. 

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die – Carrie Fisher 1956-2016 Rest in peace and may the force be with her always.

 

Rogue one: A star wars review.

https-%2f%2fblueprint-api-production-s3-amazonaws-com%2fuploads%2fcard%2fimage%2f317018%2fc3ee8452d00c48858bffd6d997058237I saw Rogue one yesterday on Saturday evening, I enjoyed it. If you need justification to see this film let my endorsement light your path to the cinema, and to the pseudo hipsters who loudly claim at every opportunity that they’ve never seen a star wars film, get off your lazy caffeinated fat ass and get up to speed or better yet, shut your mouth.

Its impossible to do a short review of Rogue one without acknowledging the troubled production this film had. The extensive reshoots result in a film which has lot of awkward scenes that don’t really flow together in a way one might want, a lot of the footage from the trailers either is not in the final cut or is heavily altered. The composer was fired and replaced with only 3 months to go until the films release, resulting in a rather bland musical score. The question is were the changes made because Garreth Edwards was not happy with what he had or did the studio meddle with it? Did the studio want a ‘darker’ film to try and chase after fan boy nostalgia for empire strikes back?  Hopefully the deleted scenes and commentary on the Blu Ray tell and show us more about what this film was like before the reshoots.

In any case the film that we do have is very competent as a crowd pleaser, despite a lot of the characters having very little to them, they all came across as like able and many jokes are cracked to the amusement of the audience. The third act further degrades my appreciation for return of the jedi, with depictions of jungle combat that makes the ground battle on Endor look like a joke. It is very much a war film of sorts which is something the previous films were not, Rebel soldiers get wasted, ships get scrapped and no character is safe, the stakes are high with the future of the rebellion on the line. The alliances first major victory is chronicled. Garreth Edwards showed that he can depict scale very well with Godzilla and that talent comes in to play in this film with plenty of wide views of the action  and the massive objects on display which contrast a bit with J.J. Abram’s effort in episode 7 last year.

However Rogue one  will be a confusing watch for the masses, there’s enough comedy and what my dad would call ‘simple stuff’, for the average viewer. But this film is deeply entrenched in star wars lore, a lot of the upcoming spin off films aim to fill in some of the gaps between the main episodes. There are a lot of subtle references for the enjoyment of low life nerds like me, some are obvious like Yavin, others less so like cameos from era appropriate characters and call outs to the ongoing Star wars Rebels show and even the prequels. However the fan service in this film just kind of felt like elements of world building, remember I felt the the fan service in Fantastic beasts was dumb, if you must do fan service don’t bring attention to it in a blunt, obvious way. Just keep it natural and in keeping with whats going on in the film at large.

To bring this review to an end of sorts, this is a competent film which I must be thankful was not a total disaster like the recent Batman vs Superman et al. As a side note I enjoyed the performances from the actors, Felicity Jones was really quite good, I had only seen her in Chalet Girls previously. Also Donnie Yen is a bad ass incarnate. The CGI was also mostly admirable, apparently a lot of Practical stuff, including some re-edited footage from A new hope were used in space scenes. Do go see the film, its worth the price of admission.

I’m going to put off the Firefly thing again, instead I want to do a piece about the force and where Star wars might be going with it. Ta ta.

Obligatory blog post about the toy show.

image   Its that time of year again where I say “its that time of year again”, its time for the late late toy show. For all the uninitiated Carls out there, the toy show is a TV special aired in late November or early December of a popular chat show that has been around since 1962, the second longest running talk show ever. In the special a bunch of children and the presenter run around talking about and playing with some toys, also celebrities may show up to the set with high blood alcohol levels.

So its a toy commercial, however its also the nearest thing to the super bowl in terms of a television event in Ireland with ratings reaching as high as 1.5 million, out of a population of 4.5 million. Its like Ireland’s black Pete in terms of weird isolated Christmas traditions.So now I have explained the concept, I will now talk as if you know what I am on about, google exists.

The picture above is the time some woman won money and toy show tickets in a competition the show ran the week before that years toy show, but she said she did not want the tickets, so Pat Kenny ripped them up to the horror of everyone watching. Its for me the greatest TV moment ever. The concept of not worshiping the toy show was an alien concept to me at the time, however time moved on. Pat Kenny, who was a wonderful host, was replaced by Dublin 4’s very own human embodiment of the aids virus, I also grew older and more cynical. I have now become that woman on the phone accepting her prize, I don’t care about the toy show and I will probably never care again, here comes a stupid list of reasons why.

1. Ryan Tubridy.

This man is a mystery to me, was there really no one else they could get to present the show?. He tries so hard to be charismatic and nice when you know he is a total prick when your not looking. I could at least imagine myself being friends with Pat Kenny and Gay Byrne. One was hilariously easy going but confident, when he was playing with those toys he was having fun and most importantly he did not linger too long or shun anything or anyone, making the show feel easygoing thanks to his presenting style. Gaybo was the pioneer who was always good tempered and gentlemanly making the toy show what I would call a wholesome affair.

However the walking AIDs virus tends to linger on children it seems he wants us to pity or maybe admire, cant tell, like the fellow in the wheelchair who wanted to be a clock maker a few years back. He seems to spend half the show talking about crap Children’s books whilst rushing past the video games at the end and treating them like the work of the devil with his stupid smug face. On the topic of contempt for the audience, his time presenting brought in sections of the show where toys under 10 euro or some such were shown just to make sure those struggling parents really felt like shit. He also ushered in the second problem.

2. The hills are alive with the sound of lame.

The over reliance on dance numbers and musical acts is questionable. No one cares about the acts on the show, its just a parental dick/ovary waving contest for parents to see their sprogs on TV. There is a reason no one wants to go to school plays, children suck at performance arts. One can just tell that that girl singing on stage will be a cocaine addict in 15 years time and the parents will be culpable. Besides, half the show could be freed up if if they trimmed out the musical performances, leaving more time for the fun stuff they usually have to rush. Seeing the toys being played with and fun being had is the real reason why the toy show is loved, not for soulless and lame performances.

3. RTE shenanigans.

Everyone takes the piss out of Newstalk for being owned by Denis O’Brien, however it would make more sense to take the piss out of RTE being owned by the state. Government controlled broadcasters can afford to be complacent when they can rely on the state and not entirely on fickle audiences. Viewership is dropping in the new age of streaming services and internet video platforms, RTE have ceased making any Children’s programming relying instead on cheap imported fare. RTE is the sort of broadcaster who airs its best imported shows at 11 pm on  a Tuesday, if anyone has any other options at all, they will not watch RTE if they have any sense. So now we have a weeks worth of preview ‘behind the scenes of the toy show’, programmes before the main event itself, advertisements for garbage are crammed on to the show and the tackiest celebrities of the week are brought in, such as One Direction and other corporate hacks that children look up to. Gone are the days when an appearance from Dustin the turkey was more than enough.

In general terms I feel the Toy show became very cynical in presentation over the past 10 years losing the warmth I once felt from it because of all the baggage tacked on to it. The show has lost its way and its hard to care about a second of it. However it is for better or worse now part of Irish culture, and deserves respect for what it used to be if not for what it is becoming.

Next time: The Firefly blog was not cancelled in some ironic twist, it was just delayed. Tzai Jien.

 

 

 

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