In 1923, on a tiny remote island, just off the coast of Ireland. Two friends find themselves at odds. When one of them decides he doesn’t like the other anymore.
It’s as basic a premise as one can think of for contemporary storytelling. And in his wondrous, wonderful, and exquisitely contained mini-opera “The Banshees of Inisherin,” writer-director Martin McDonagh takes this straightforward premise and sets it ablaze, using it as a backdrop to explore the conflict in man, the nature of pride and spite, the significance of companionship, and the curious edges of the male ego.
It’s a darkly comic drama that packs an emotional gut punch, after emotional gut punch and consistently finds new ways to deliver brutal body blows.
After portraying hitmen in McDonagh’s 2008 cult classic “In Bruges,” Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunited for the role of the men who are no longer friends when the film opens.
Like they do every day at 2:00 p.m., the unassuming Pádraic (Farrell) stops by Colm’s (Gleeson’s) beachside cottage to see if he wants to join him for a pint, at the local pub. But this time he’s snubbed by Colm. Later, he arrives, and Colm declines Pádraic’s offer to sit next to him. Pádraic, like the other patrons in the pub, is unable to comprehend just what is happening. The following day, Colm makes it very clear. He tells him, “I just don’t like you no more.” Did they have a drunken fight? Was it something he said? It’s not really that easy. Colm, who enjoys the arts and plays the fiddle. Has come to the realisation that Pádraic is boring. He’s sick of discussing the same issues, over and over. He just wants to be left alone.
Pádraic is gobsmacked to lose his closest friend, whilst Colm desperately seeks to leave some sort of musical legacy behind. Others like Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and Dominic (Barry Keoghan) are left to choose between picking up the pieces or looking out for themselves.
Condon and Keoghan absolutely shine in the film and steal every scene they’re in. Siobhán is easily the smartest person on the Island, confined by the attitudes of the era. Whilst Dominic is a deeply troubled character. Keoghan is a shoo-in for best supporting actor at the BAFTAs.
In lesser hands, Colm may seem unreasonable in his behaviour but Gleeson plays him with such world-weary depth, it’s impossible to dislike him. Farrell is also incredible as the bemused underdog, Pádraic.
It may not be as re-watchable as In Bruges, but The Banshees of Inisherin is a masterful exploration of the complications of male friendship. Undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.
The Banshees of Inisherin is out in the UK on October 21st.
Martyn and Gerrod talk about the recent Batgirl cancellation and pay tributes to David Warner, Bernard Cribbins, Nichelle Nichols and, Pat Caroll. They also review Sony’s new film, Bullet Train.
Bullet Train is a 2022 American action-comedy film starring Brad Pitt, as an assassin who has to deal with enemies while riding a Japanese bullet train. The film is directed by David Leitch and based on a screenplay by Zak Olkewicz that adapts the Japanese novel Maria Beetle (published in English as Bullet Train) by Kōtarō Isaka. In addition to Pitt, the film also stars Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock.
In just a few short years, Lizzie Hopley has cemented herself as one of the most consistent writers on the Big Finish roster. Returning to the Torchwood range for the first time since 2017, she gives us an interesting morality tale about care homes, loneliness, the treatment of elderly people and, the existential crisis of an AI.
Torchwood: Sonny follows fan-favourite Rhys (Kai Owen) as he enlists his mum, Brenda (Nerys Hughes) into helping Torchwood investigate a new fleet of robots, in a care home. At first, Brenda isn’t too pleased about this. But as time goes on, she becomes more and more dependent on her robot, named Sonny.
I had almost expected this to be a tale of robots taking over and attempting to enslave humanity. But Lizzie Hopley is so much smarter than that. She knows we’ve seen that trope a thousand times before. Instead of making us fear what robots could do to us, she makes us fear what robots could reveal about us.
Kai Owen, Nerys Hughes, and Steven Kynman are all terrific, and their relationships are convincing from the start. We all know Hughes is a particularly talented actress, but she absolutely shines in this audio. She portrays Brenda with such a raw vulnerability, that feels like an emotional gut-punch at times. There’s a wonderful complexity to Brenda, that I hope we get more of in the future. The supporting cast is also exceptionally strong, with Amerjit Deu, in particular, doing a fantastic job as Prudeep.
Sonny is not only a brilliantly comedic script, it’s also a deep exploration of what it means to feel isolated. Hopley manages to convey the monotony of being in a care home, without the story being boring. Lisa Bowerman’s direction is flawless and keeps the story going at exactly the right pace, this is all beautifully accompanied by Steve Wright’s soundtrack.
I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its absolute best.
Torchwood: Sonny is available to buy from the Big Finish website.
We all know that billionaire Bruce Wayne is secretly Gotham City’s vigilante detective and protector, The Batman—but what road led him there? Find out in Before The Batman: An Original Movie Novel, which includes an exciting original story of Bruce Wayne’s early adventures on his way to becoming The Batman!
Written by David Lewman, Before The Batman, is a young adult novel, which essentially acts as a prequel to The Batman. It follows a 17-year-old Bruce Wayne, about a decade and a half before he dons the cape and cowl.
Given the target audience, this isn’t a complex read. I blitzed through it in about 90 minutes. However, I had a lot more fun with this than I anticipated. It’s an intriguing look at Batman’s early years, laying the groundwork for the universe of the film, without rehashing what we’ve previously seen. We learn a bit more about Alfred and his military days, as well as The Riddler and the parallels between him and Bruce Wayne.
The book isn’t a required read before seeing the film, but it does a great job of expanding the mythology that’s established in the film.
The book includes a few behind-the-scenes images from the film, as well as a small poster.
The Foo Fighters are having issues writing their 10th studio album, trying to think outside the box and spark their creative juices. Leader singer, Dave Grohl suggests they record in an ominous mansion. Once inside supernatural forces threaten to endanger the album and their lives.
Strange occurrences (and celebrity cameos) arise as the band squabbles over how to best utilise its improvised studio’s “creepy death atmosphere” and eerie acoustics.
Studio 666 is a mixed bag, based on a short story by Grohl. It’s part-comedy, part-horror, part-90s slasher throwback. The plot is very formulaic and the acting isn’t Oscar-worthy, some of the band members are better than others, but that all adds to the charm. This is a proper B-movie, the type we haven’t seen for decades. Watching the tight-knit band play off one other as fictional versions of themselves is a lot of fun.
Starring Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, Leslie Grossman and Jenna Ortega. Story by Dave Grohl, written by Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes. Directed by BJ McDonnell. Is out now, in selected cinemas in the UK and Ireland.
It’s weird being a Spider-Man fan, I’m old enough to remember the original reaction to ‘The clone saga’. People hated it, they hated there was a Spider-Man that wasn’t Peter Parker. Nowdays, the appeal of the character seems to be that there are thousands of variations.
Written by J.M. DeMatteis, Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1, picks up shortly after Ben Reilly took over the mantle of Spider-Man from Peter Parker (before to the Beyond Saga), and he’s having identity issues. The resurrection of Carrion, a living virus, as well as other villains from Peter’s past, doesn’t help matters.
DeMatteis transports the reader to the aftermath of the clone saga and tells a compelling story about a conflicted hero attempting to figure out who and what he truly is.
I adored the story’s complexities and Ben’s internal battle. His personality is intriguing, and the darkness within him makes the reader interested in his decisions. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this tale leads, and the conclusion of this issue has piqued my interest even more.
With its amazing attention to detail and unique, engaging style, David Baldeon’s art continues to excite and impress. His work manages to convey character feelings, as well as fantastic action and catches the 90s vibe.
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 is a solid issue. It’s almost as if Ben Reilly has come full circle, since his first appearance so many decades ago, and this is a great example of how successfully the character can be handled.
There’s a lot to be explored, and this series feels like it might be the ultimate piece of proof that his long-ago creation was, in fact, a great idea.
Listen to our review of Spider-Man: No way home here.
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