Thursday 17 January 2019

Scotland says no, and we should do the same next time McDonagh shows

John Michael McDonagh
John Michael McDonagh

In a week when the folk over in Scotland voted on their country's future - and played it safe on economic grounds - there were one or two things in our wee country to exercise the imagination.

Last Wednesday's Liveline witnessed an interesting discussion in which Dublin councillor Mannix Flynn appeared to be giving out about there being too many tourists in town.

Huh? Well, no actually. As I'd only come in part way through the discussion what Mannix was saying was that large groups on walking tours were blocking footpaths, meaning that blind and wheelchair-bound people were finding it difficult to negotiate the city's streets.

The debate then spread wider, with the chap who's run a 1916 Walking Tour from the International Bar for the past 18 years joining in and mentioning the free tours which now proliferate.

Apparently, these are being run by a German company who charge the guides for the privilege, with the hosts then effectively hoping for tips from the tourists.


Naturally, this can lead to certain, shall we say, factual inaccuracies along the way with the 1916 chap telling how he overheard one guide explaining that Trinity College had been founded in 1759.

I recently overheard one Dubliner on the LUAS griping that one tour he'd been on saw the chap heading the walk conflating myths and legends and presenting them as history.

Hmmh, I must go on one of these for the laugh.

However, the highlight of the week has to be the quotes from Calvary director John Michael McDonagh about how he didn't want it to be regarded as "an Irish film".

"I'm not a big fan of Irish movies. I don't find them to be technically that accomplished and I don't find them that intelligent," he said.

Game on!

Now, in my capacity as the Herald's film critic I've seen my fair share of terrible Irish movies - back-to-back screenings of 8.5 Hours, Alarm, Charlie Casanova, Speed Dating, W.C. and King of the Travellers would break even the most hardened al-Qaida suspect - but McDonagh was way out of order here.

The fact that Calvary received a lukewarm reception, at best, from Irish critics may have had something to do with this but to say that it's not an 'Irish film' is plainly nonsense.

The fact that it has Irish actors and an Irish setting is neither here nor there.

Surely the fact that it's about Ireland and, significantly, McDonagh received almost €1m from the Irish Film Board to develop it skews his theory.

Apart from an outstanding Brendan Gleeson performance Calvary is a wretchedly-written piece of tripe, with grotesques and ciphers in the place of actual characters.


McDonagh also proved himself to be an ill-mannered boor at this year's IFTA Awards when he picked up his gong for (oh, hang on) Best Irish Film, refusing to acknowledge any of his collaborators and only thanking himself. What a splendid chap.

One thing about his recent tirade which intrigued me though was the line about how Irish movies aren't 'technically that accomplished'.

Now, given that many of the technical people employed in the industry are highly regarded abroad I can only imagine how this was received among that community.

One thing John Michael McDonagh should know at his age is that you never, ever piss off the crew. I'd like to wish him the best of luck should he ever make a film here again.

Well, not really, and I hope the IFB tell him to bugger off back to London should he come asking for any more Irish cash.

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