Tag Archives: Ireland

Moone Boy, series 2

After what seems like ages, the second season (series) of Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy finally aired in Feb/March.

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I was so excited for this premiere, because I think Moone Boy might be one of the most brilliantly funny shows in years. And the subject matter–an 11-year-old boy growing up in the North of Ireland–is not something we get a lot of on this side of the pond, so it’s all new and exciting to us.  Well, Boyle isn’t an exciting town, but the accents are lovely…

Technically, this isn’t available yet in the US. But it’s coming back to Hulu on April 24th. If you haven’t seen the 1st season yet, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s only ~6 episodes, so you have plenty of time to catch up before series 2! My bf and I watched the entire 1st season in one day, while we were at home with our sick dog.  And then we watched the entire season again, about 3 days later.  It’s that good.

The show, as I discussed in my series 1 review, is about the Moone family. In particular, it follows young Martin Moone, and his imaginary friend, Sean Caution Murphy (O’Dowd).

Moone-Boy-2But it also spends time on the rest of the Moone clan. Martin’s parents, Liam and Debra are sarcastic and adorable. Martin’s 3 sisters, Trish, Fidelma, and Sinead, each have their own strong characters, even though they aren’t given as much screen time. Trish is a Cure-obsessed misanthrope. Sinead is a tomboy and enjoys putting makeup on Martin while he’s asleep, in the hopes that he will wear it to school the next day accidentally (it works at least once). Fidelma, or Delma, is newly-pregnant with the child of an idiotic young choir-leader at their Catholic church. So that’s fun.

The real stars of the show, though, are Martin, Sean, Martin’s best friend Padraic (pronounced Poor-rick), and Padraic’s imaginary friend, Crunchie Danger Haystacks. A particular highlight for me in series 2 was Padraic and Crunchie dressed up as Marty & Doc Brown from Back to the Future:

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I love Back to the Future. Fun moments like that make me wish I’d had an imaginary friend as a child. I feel like I may have missed out on something.  Series 2 brought the show into the ’90s, with a slightly taller Martin who attends a new school.  With the ’90s come some major cultural events in Irish popular history. The first episode of the series covers the (ultimately unsuccessful) Irish football team at the World Cup. One episode has Martin and Padraic build a raft to float into town.  Instead, it floats the other direction and they stumble upon an abandoned island, with just ‘Island Joe’, possible apparition, as its sole inhabitant. Travelers invade a field near the Moone house, and Martin gets his first girlfriend as a result. Liam re-ignites a rivalry with his old handball opponent, this time on the golf course:

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Ostensibly, they’re both playing for pride and maybe for Debra’s heart, but come on. Of course Liam wins her heart, because he is really wonderful and adorable and the bank manager is just kind of icky.

While I won’t say series 2 is as brilliant as series 1, it’s still funny, clever, and has the rare quality of making you feel a true affection for almost all the characters.  I mean, Desi is not a person I would enjoy being with in real life, but I warmed to him a bit. My crush on Liam continues to grow, and I just want to snuggle Martin and Padraic because they are adorable.  I am not a snuggler by nature, so that should say something. Again, I cannot recommend this show enough; if you haven’t seen it, see it! It’s a wonderful combination of different themes and tones, and has a rare quality of realistic nostalgia–capturing the boredom or idiocy of a family vacation or a flawed scheme among friends.

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Philomena

philomena filmWalking into this movie, I knew nothing about it. I knew it starred Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, and that Judi Dench was nominated for her 7th Oscar for this role. Not much else you need to know, really.

I’m glad I didn’t know the plot of the movie beforehand (it’s based on a true story, but not one I was familiar with).  It had some unexpected twists, even though it’s not the type of movie that relies upon plot twists to keep you entertained and interested.

Steve Coogan plays Martin Sixsmith, an ex-journalist who recently lost his job in the Blair administration–the movie takes place in the early 2000s. He’s a smart, cynical, atheist…a bit of a misanthrope.  Steve Coogan co-wrote the movie.  It seems he really enjoys playing these disaffected, cynical intellectuals who quote Coleridge or T.S. Eliot, and are always accompanied by a cheerier, more functional person.  I found a lot of similarities between this movie and The Trip, partially because of that odd couple camaraderie.  Instead of Rob Brydon, Coogan’s co-star is Judi Dench, playing the real life Philomena Lee.

Philomena, an Irish girl, fell pregnant when she was still a teenager. Relegated to a nearby abbey, she was at the mercy of the nuns there.  They helped her survive childbirth, they took care of the child, and they took care of her.  But she had to work 4 years at the abbey without pay, in exchange for that. There were many young girls there, unmarried ‘sinners’, and their children.  The children were put up for adoption.  Much to Philomena’s horror, they take away her son Anthony without giving her any chance to say goodbye, without even telling her he is leaving.

She keeps her secret for nearly her entire life, only revealing it to her daughter 50 years later.  Her daughter happens upon Martin Sixsmith, who thinks he might use the story to get back into journalism. The unlikely duo begin an investigation to find Anthony, to meet him if possible.

I won’t give anything else away. Here’s the trailer:

Steve Coogan does a great job being simultaneously an understandable, if grumpy figure, and also being somewhat rude, selfish, and lacking in compassion.  As a bit of a misanthrope atheist myself, I can be pretty empathetic about that.

Judi Dench, though!  Amazing.  Look, Judi Dench is a dame, an incredibly accomplished actress, and a very imposing figure. I saw video of her as Lady Macbeth (Ian McKellen was Macbeth), and she was terrifying. Daunting, physically.  And we’ve seen her play Queen Elizabeth I, and be just as empowered, just as daunting.  And M in the Bond movies is not exactly Blanche Dubois.  They’re all very powerful, independent, strong women.

Philomena Lee is a very strong woman, a very brave woman.  But she’s not intimidating.  Not the way Judi Dench plays her.  She’s strong, but she’s soft and simple.  Not simple meaning stupid, simple meaning…uncomplicated by all the bullshit most of us spend our time on.  Able to enjoy simple pleasures, able to be pleasantly surprised by the endings of thoroughly repetitive romance novels. Someone who takes pleasure in conversation, in new experiences.  She’s compassionate, open-minded, and has a lot more wisdom than Steve Coogan’s character. And Judi Dench plays on that perfectly.  When Philomena Lee works up her strength to make something happen, she does it.  You can see frailty and age in her movements and her face, but you also see a complete resolution and an obstinate nature.  She, an elderly Irish woman, holds her own against Sixsmith, a published journalist, ex-civil servant, a loud, opinionated man.  She is, actually, a really great character.  Perfectly played by Judi Dench.

I said I wouldn’t give any more away, but I will just say this.  I always knew there was a reason I didn’t trust nuns. They’re terrifying.

And since I’ve mentioned The Trip, I’ll also mention that they’re making a sequel. It’s called The Trip to Italy, features more Michael Caine impressions, and comes out in May.

Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy

tumblr_mpqc98RAda1r9a32bo1_500This show premiered last September in the UK, and I never heard of it until last week. It’s not airing on US TV, but is on Hulu. But I watched the entire first season in one day, and I feel robbed for not having known about it earlier! It’s the best thing I’ve watched in months. Good news: the second season/series starts in the UK next month, and a third series/season has already been ordered. More Martin Moone, yay!

The story revolves around young Martin Moone as he grows up in late ’80s Ireland. Chris O’Dowd plays Martin’s imaginary friend.

SNF21TV2D-620_1587704a If you’re wondering why I’m talking about this Irish show with an Irish cast on my British blog, it’s complicated. He’s Irish, but he and the shows co-creator have lived in London for a long time. He’s an actor I’ve written about before, and I think it’s okay to talk about what he’s doing that’s not set in the UK. Plus, I love this show, and really want to talk about it.

If you’re not wondering why I’m talking about an Irish show on my British blog, let me remind you that they are separate countries. Yes, really separate. You need your passport, and different money, and everything.

Anyway, back to the show. In addition to Martin and his imaginary friend Sean Murphy, there is the rest of his truly awesome family:

The Moone familyLiam is a clueless, exhausted Dad who I now have a secret crush on. Mom Debra is a smartass. Daughters Fidelma, Sinead, and Trisha are the good one, the tomboy, and my newest hero. My hero is the one in The Cure t-shirt, if you couldn’t guess. She’s like a really snarky, Irish Gabby Hoffman.

Poor Liam. One of the daughters asks him if ‘Mam has any cotton pads’ and he awkwardly asks if she means feminine sanitary pads, and said daughter responds ‘Yes, Dad, I want to wash my face with a tampon.’ Eye roll and doorslam. Ah, teenage girls. I remember being one, and am so glad I didn’t have two others in the house with me.

Other gems include Sinead finding out about menstruation. “What do you mean the moon is going to make me bleed? I’ll make the moon bleed!”

What I found so interesting about this show is the idea of a totally sweet, innocent 12-year-old boy with a cynical world-weary imaginary best friend. on his birthday, Martin watches his dad roll out his (wrapped) present, which looks a lot like a bike. Sean Murphy’s response is to say: “No! Surely they haven’t gotten you something decent. It must be a bicycle-shaped sock”.

Later, in church, Sean Murphy says “Church is no place for imaginary friends.” It took me a few seconds to get the second meaning there. It’s a lot of snarky little lines like that, they all made me chuckle.

I was about two episodes into this show when I decided that I loved it. Also, when Martin Moone grows up, I want to marry him. Adorable.

Other great characters include Martin’s best friend Padraic (also adorable!) and his imaginary friend, Crunchie Danger Haystacks, played by Johnny Vegas.

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Also, Steve Coogan makes an appearance as the single most disgusting human being that’s ever lived (outside of a Darren Aronofsky film)

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In addition to hilariousness, the show is actually really poignant. It reminded me a bit of Freaks and Geeks meets Roseanne, but Irish. Lots of coming-of-age themes, humiliating for nearly everyone, but still with a hint of respect that comes from looking back on such a terrible time in everyone’s life. Also, the music is great. The theme song is called ‘Where’s Me Jumper’ and I need to have it on my iphone ASAP.

I have no idea how I’m going to get a hold of the second season, but I will. I need more of this show in my life.