A round up of what to watch, record and stream in the next week.
No Limbs, No Limits
Tonight, 10.15pm, RTE One
The name Joanne O’Riordan might ring a bell to some readers. She is the young woman from Cork who has received attention during her life due to her incredibly rare condition known as Tetra-amelia syndrome.
Joanne was born in 1996 with no arms or legs, and despite this acute disability she has strived to live a normal, full life. And if you’ve ever seen or heard Joanne in her various appearances, you’ll know she’s been doing just that. Never mind her numerous radio and TV appearances, including a memorable one on the Late Late Show, Joanne has addressed the United Nations and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and been involved with a rather public spat over disability funding with Enda Kenny. She’s a truly inspirational figure who, it appears, we’ll be hearing a lot from over the coming years.
In the meantime, you can hear the extraordinary story of Joanne’s life in the documentary No Limbs No Limits tonight. Directed by her brother Stephen O’Riordan, No Limbs No Limits learns about the limitations Joanne has faced from birth, and features extraordinary footage that shows that right from when she was a baby, she never considered herself different from anyone else. She, along with her parents, family and friends talk openly about the difficulties she has overcome, and how the things that may have held her back have given her the urge to fight harder and reach further than anyone thought she could or would.
That all sounds very faux-inspirational, but once you see Joanne O’Riordan in action, you’ll see exactly where it’s all coming from. It’ll make most of the problems we face on a daily basis pale in comparison, and by the end you’ll be furiously listing the things you’ve always wanted to do yourself but didn’t because they seemed too difficult. This girl has no arms or legs, for crying out loud. And if you saw her appearance on the Late Late, you’ll recall she’s a fun, wise-cracking type too. So Joanne deserves all the applause and attention she gets, and if this documentary – which premiered at last year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival – gets her name out there to even a handful of new people, it will be worth it. Go Joanne Go!
Monday (and daily) from 11.30am, BBC Two
Everyone is losing their minds over the World Cup at the moment but that’s not the only major tournament going on right now. It’s a double whammy of world sport this week as everyone who didn’t get to go to Brazil descends on the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London for the Wimbledon Championships.
The world’s top players will be present and don’t you just know the Beeb will be more smug than ever given Andy Murray’s win last year – the first British player to do so since Fred Perry in the 1930s. Ah, let them have their moment in the sun.
Anyway, while you’re waiting for the early game to start in the World Cup, Wimbledon should provide plenty of grass-based thrills of a different sort. There’s bound to be some upset in the early rounds too, so get involved from the beginning.
Sunday, 6.30pm, RTE One
Living on a rock in the north Atlantic may not be the most glamorous form of island life, so it’s easy to forget that the seas around Ireland are home to an exciting and diverse ecosystem.
This four-part documentary series goes exploring in the seas around Ireland and you will be surprised at just what’s going on. For example, did you know there are up to 27,000 common dolphins living in Irish waters? That’s around half the European population. All those dolphins, yet very little is known about their diets or their breeding and socialising habits.
Ireland’s Oceans examines the world of these highly intelligent and social creatures and, as the series goes on, all the other elements of the undersea world that’s right under our noses but we rarely get a proper closer look at. Now, where’s my scuba tank?
Friday Night Lights
Seasons 3 – 5 available on Sky On Demand
With the explosion in popularity of TV drama over the past decade, some series that should have had far bigger audiences sadly fell by the wayside. Friday Night Lights is a prime example of such a series, in a pure case of books being judged by their cover.
Inspired by the non-fiction book by H.G. Bissinger and its subsequent film adaptation, Friday Night Lights is the story of a high school football team in Dillon, Texas; a town where football makes the world go round. It was perhaps overlooked because at first glance it’s just another teen drama, but Friday Night Lights is much more than that, growing into a broad and brave examination of contemporary American life.
It avoids cliché at every turn by employing a visceral, semi-improvised shooting style and addressing tough subjects in a unique way. Sky are currently streaming season 3 onward but don’t let that put you off – dive straight in at the middle and if you like it (you will), you can go back and catch up from the start.
Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Mike Doyle (15A)
Jukebox musicals, as they’re known, have exploded in popularity in the past number of years. Acting as a dramatised greatest hits concert, everyone from Abba to Queen have had the Broadway/West End treatment, and while the risible We Will Rock You is yet to make it to the big screen, 2008’s star-studded Mamma Mia has an enormous fan base and resides firmly in the ‘so bad it’s good’ file.
Jersey Boys, the multiple Tony-winning story of the early days, success and eventual break-up of rock’n’roll legends Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has two things going for it that no other musical has had before: the words Clint and Eastwood.
The legendary director may not be the first name that springs to mind when you think of musicals, but Jersey Boys is no Mamma Mia or Rock of Ages. It tries to be a lot of things all at once. Too many things at some points maybe, but it’s an entertaining tale that when you strip away the costumes, the setting and the songs, is an old story about friendship.
First off, it’s not strictly a musical. Only at one point do the characters break in to song apropos of nothing; the rest of the songs appear as the group perform on stage, led by arrogant wise guy guitarist Tommy DeVito (Boardwalk Empire’s Vincent Piazza) and working their way up from singing in local clubs to touring the nation as the Four Seasons.
The opening act feels more like a gangster movie as DeVito and Frank Castellucio (John Lloyd Young), later to be known as Frankie Valli, rip-off safes. Only when they meet songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) with the help of a young Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) do they find the sound they’re looking for and the success they strive for.
But it’s not long before DeVito becomes a thorn in the side of the band he helped create and the more famous the band gets, the deeper the divide between him and the group becomes.
Jersey Boys is at its best during the lengthy and numerous musical sequences. When Clint takes the time to focus on back stories about Valli’s troubled marriage and the band’s money problems, the film can get a bit lost sometimes, struggling under the weight of its own intentions.
Each of the characters breaks the fourth wall at different times to offer the audience their own take on the band’s history, but it adds little to the story.
That said, the entire cast is uniformly excellent (especially a show-stealing performance from Mike Doyle as flamboyant producer Bob Crewe) and when we return to the stage you find yourself excited about what’s about to come. Jukebox musicals aren’t for everyone but Jersey Boys is definitely one everyone can enjoy.
The Fault in Our Stars
This feature film adaptation of John Green’s novel about teen cancer patients could easily have strayed in to TV movie territory but rather than shamelessly pulling at the audience’s heartstrings, it declines to make victims of its central characters. Instead, we’re treated to a quite charming romance that can only have one possible conclusion, but is still engaging and believable, mainly due to its two young leads.
Shailene Woodley, in particular, proves herself to be one of the most confident and capable young actresses out there. She plays long-term cancer patient Hazel Grace whose life is changed by impossibly handsome and charming Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). Woodley and Elgort have chemistry and first time director Josh Boone doesn’t patronise his audience by over-sentimentalising their relationship.
Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe provide capable support as Hazel’s mother and a panto-villain retired author.
The Art of the Steal
Everyone likes heist movies, everyone likes Kurt Russell, so you’d think that a globe-trotting caper starring the man himself would be right in the back of the net. But it’s really not. Russell plays Crunch Calhoun, a retired art thief who’s coaxed back in to the business after five years in prison by his former partner (Matt Dillon) who tempts him with the holy grail of heists.
At least we’re told it’s the holy grail. It turns out neither Crunch or his frenemy partner are being totally up front with each other, yet by the time the third act twist comes we’re so totally out of the loop ourselves that we really don’t care who’s double crossed who, or why.
Add to that a member of their crew known as Uncle Paddy (Kenneth Welsh) busts out the worst Irish accent we’ve heard on film in a long time, and you’re left not wondering how it’s going to end, but when.
3 days to kill
Producer Luc Besson tries to repeat the success of Taken with this action-drama following a similar template of a bad-ass father whose dangerous work and past interferes with his family life in the worst way possible.
However, Kevin Costner, as admirable and legendary as he is, makes the mistake of taking it all a bit too seriously, unlike Liam Neeson, and while the action is just as impressive as what we’ve come to expect from Besson and director McG, the dramatic side of things never feels convincing. It’s great to see Costner back on the big screen these days but he’s capable of far more than this. We’ll hold out for Taken 3, thanks very much.
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday’s Irish Independent
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