Our Arts Editor selects his highlights of the year...
Live music highlight
I was blown away by the Tord Gustavsen Trio,at Triskel during the Guinness Cork Jazz Weekend. Gorgeous music that bordered on spiritual experience.
Two new Munster festivals also impressed: It Takes A Village in Trabolgan, and All Together Now in Co Waterford.
Technically, it was a 2017 album, but Moses Sumney’s Aromanticism only hit my ears this year. Has to be listened to on headphones.
The newish translation of Tomás Ó Criomhthain’s The Islander. Its account of Blasket life helped exorcise the Leaving Cert ghosts of Peig Sayers.
A late one, but a good one — Roma, on Netflix. The nice surprise was a short film in Cork Film Festival — the visual and aural feast El Hor, by Northern Irish film-maker Dianne Lucille Campbell. Definitely a name to watch out for.
The big disappointment was BlacKkKlansman — so many people raved about it, but it just didn’t work for me.
The first episode of Patrick Melrose, and the painted wolves episode from Dynasties are two that stand out. A Very English Scandal finally gave me something that I liked Hugh Grant in.
Also, many of us in Cork feel a sense of ownership towards The Young Offenders, so it was great to see their show take off in the UK, and the related double-whammy of the Frank and Walters’ ‘After All’ undergoing a revival.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America was patchy and hit too many soft targets, but it was worth it for the encounter with Dick Cheney, both hilarious and chilling as he lapped up such ‘compliments’ re Iraq as: “You killed 100,000 terrorists, and another 700,000 potential terrorists.”
Peter Jackson’s enormous project in colourising and putting sound on old footage from the First World War, They Shall Not Grow Old, paid off with a documentary that will be watched for the next 100 years.
Gare St Lazare’s adaptation of How It Is at the Everyman. Beckett probably has an unfair rep as being heavy and inaccessible, but there are good reasons why his 1961 novel had never been adapted before this. A rom-com it ain’t.
The Corkonian company managed to create a world-class piece of theatre that was strange and surreal, while still engaging. You could imagine the man himself giving a nod of approval to it. Even the presence of Game of Thrones star Stephen Dillane, alongside Conor Lovett on the stage, didn’t overshadow the overall brilliance of the piece.
When he’s on form, Blindboy has produced some great music histories and interviews.
Second Captains are always decent, but they had two standouts: A discussion with Richie Sadlier and Sinead O’Carroll in the wake of the Belfast rape trial that offered real insight into locker-room culture and some of the issues with young males; and the moving chat with soccer player Brian Lenihan on his mental health issues.
Just because we’re gone all sophisticated, it doesn’t mean nudity can’t still pique our interest. The ‘Naked Truth’ exhibition at Crawford in Cork drew huge crowds for its combination of great art and bare arses. Stop giggling at the back!
Philip King is so articulate when talking about music, so it was pure pleasure to hear his tales of encounters with Tom Waits.
The Arts Council does great work dividing up the funding pie between so many outstretched hands. But it was a shame to hear of the branding exercise that brought an insistence that those who do get funding should say thanks in a most public way, via social media and other outlets. I cringed every time I saw an organisation fulfilling this obligation. Basically, forcing us to say thanks for ‘our’ money.
Looking forward to...
Live music with Anderson.Paak in Dublin, and the Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival in Cork.
In TV, Line of Duty and, like everybody else, the final series of Game of Thrones — Khaleesi to set her dragons on Jon Snow.