Movie Review: Why “My Little Pony: The Movie” is Good For Cinema

My Little Pony: The Movie  is unashamedly made for the fans. It sticks to its formula of the ponies are about to have a big event but some “baddie” wants to ruin it (in this case it’s Tempest Shadow who wants to take over Canterlot), so it is up to Twilight Sparkle and her gang of ponies to use the magic of friendship to save the day.

These days you can’t go to an animated film without there being jokes written especially for the adults accompanying the little ones to that film. My Little Pony:The Movie doesn’t go there. It stays loyal to it’s fan base and has made a film with only them in mind.

Based on that, this review isn’t going to be written from my perspective. Instead, it’s going to be written from the perspective of my six year old (or as she likes to remind everyone, six and a half year old).

She had been looking forward to this film since she saw the trailer, over the summer, on one of the kids’ stations she was watching. The countdown to October 20 has truly been on since then.

For me, it was thrilling to see her get so excited about going to the cinema. To see that going to the cinema is still consider a major event.

On the day of the screening, she picked out her outfit, packed her bag and talked about the film all the way to the cinema.

The minute the lights went down in the cinema, I could see her jump in her seat, gasp with the excitement of what was about to happen, and she may have also let out a tiny squeal.

A short was screened before the feature. She loved the colour, brightness and fun of the short but was also happy when it was over because it meant that it was time for the big event.

The big event didn’t disappoint. It gave her (and all fans) everything she wanted. The most popular ponies were in it, there were new ponies and even brand new creatures. There was colour bursting from the screen, adventure and lots of songs.

I spent most of the film watching the smile on my six (and a half) year old’s face.

I loved the way she excitedly grabbed my hand so we could “chair dance” to the musical scenes. I also loved the way she grabbed my hand when she wanted some reassurance during the, in her words, not so nice scenes (not that there are many of these – but you need a couple of mean pony moments so the “good ponies” can save the day).

When I wasn’t watching my six (and a half) year old, I was trying to guess the slew of famous voices coming off the screen. Sia’s was the most obvious – not necessarily because of her voice, but because her pony, Songbird Serenade, has the same hairstyle as her! Joining Sia are Emily Blunt, Uzo Aduba, Zoe Saldana and Kristin Chenoweth.

When the movie was over, I asked my six (and a half) year old, what she thought. The conversation went like this

“What did you think of the movie?”
“It was great”
“Why?”
“There’s friendship. The ponies help each other. Twilight Sparkle has magic and saves the ponies from the evil girl. There’s funny parts. Oh and there’s singing and dancing and there are mermaids (seaponies)!”
“Would you watch a film about the seaponies?”
“Yes” (there’s another franchise that could rake in money)
“Would you watch this film again.”
“Yes.”

That “Yes” right there overrides what any movie critic writes about this film. That “Yes” is what’s most important because it’s the little ones like my six (and a half) year old that this film was made for.

What we older ones can be happy about, is the fact that movies like this will hopefully start a life long love affair with movies and going to watch them in a cinema.

My Little Pony: The Movie is in cinemas now (and all of the merchandise is in toy stores now)

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INTERVIEW: Jane Goldman on “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and the “Games of Thrones” Spin Off

Jane Goldman’s films are like no others. She has written films such as “Star Dust”, “Kick Ass” and the original “Kingsman”, to name but a few. She is back with her latest offering, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”.

I was thrilled to be able to sit down with Jane to find out where the mad ideas for “Kingsman” come from, how she convinced Elton John to say yes and has the latest on the “Game of Thrones” spin off.

 

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Interview: Colin Firth has the latest on “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!” and “Mary Poppins Returns”

Colin Firth is back as Harry in the Kingsman sequel, “The Golden Circle”.

Given what had happened to his character in the original film, fans may be surprised to see “Harry” back but Colin wasn’t surprised to get the call back as had been in constant contact with Matthew Vaughn. “There was definitely talk about how well the team and the dynamic was working.”

The Kingsman are like superheroes. Most superheroes get to wear cool, comfy suits which are conducive to fight scenes. The Kingsman, while they look cool in their suits and dress shoes, their outfits can’t be that comfy to fight in.

Colin agrees,  “It’s uncomfortable. Actually we cheated a little bit. For action scenes I asked for a bigger suit. The suit wouldn’t have survived.”

Ecclectic Career
Colin’s career to date has been very successful and quite eclectic. From “Kingsman”, to “The King’s Speech” to “A Single Man” to “Mamma Mia” and “Mary Poppins Returns” so how does he decide whether he is going to say yes to a role or not?

“There’s no set of rules or boxes to tick. Recently I seem to have gone into the sequel phase of my life which I guess is maybe a sign of age. Your life coming back as acid reflux.”

“In the case of a sequel, it is often just to be back with the people. With “Mamma Mia”, it’s just irresistible to be with that team. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. Those people really are  my best friends and nothing would stop me. And also, I have never really seen or been in a movie that has had the affect on an audience.”

“I mean, it may not be for everybody, but, following its screenings around the world, looking at people sitting there rather stiffly, waiting to resist this thing, then the shoulder start to go, 20 minutes in, and then everyone on their feet in the end. That experience was bliss.”

Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!
How is Colin feeling about having to sing again?

He quickly retorts, “How are you feeling about me having to sing again?”

My response? “I quite enjoyed it. I don’t mind as long as it’s me not having to do the singing.”

“I think I am quite the opposite”, Colin says. “ I do love to do the singing. I think I have learned that it’s the fewer listeners the better. Normally I’d have compassion and confine myself to the shower but I love it. If I have to apologise afterwards, so be it.”

Entertaining the masses
Audiences get to enjoy Colin’s  films. Is he able to enjoy them like we do, or does he make them, see them at the premiere, then put them away and move onto the next one?

“The latter. I think I can enjoy the memory better. I don’t think it’s hugely unusual. I think most people wince when they see a picture of themselves, most people wince when they hear their voice recorded.”

“You know if you do theatre, you never have to have it fed back to you. You can remember it the way you want to remember it and I think it would be nice to have that with film.”

“You know, you see the screening and you have to see if people like it. Just enjoy the fact. I think if you watch it, all the judgements you make on yourself are going to spoil that. Or if you like it and no-one else does, it’s painful. So I think it’s the memory of doing it, it’s the one to keep.”

“I’m an actor!”
On imdb.com, Colin’s first acting credit is listed as 1984 – “Crown Court” playing  PC Franklin. However, Colin says that it was in fact “Another Country” that should be listed as his first on screen credit.

However, his first acting role came thanks to the theatre. He featured in the stage version of “Another Country”.

Does he remember how he felt when he could first call himself an actor?

“My first day as a professional actor was in the theatre – the play of Another Country and yes, the first time I got that brown envelope (there was that incredible feeling of) I am being paid to do this, when I had been paying to do this, up until that point – quite happily too.

“It always feels like a bit of a miracle that you’re still working.”
So how does it feel to no longer be chasing his tail and be able to call acting his profession?

“I’m still pinching myself I think. I don’t think that ever goes away.”

“You shouldn’t get work, that’s what was promised to me. My parents, didn’t disapprove of it, they just were worried. They said, there’s just no job security. You know, as time has gone on, you realise that there is probably no job security in any profession but you know, growing up in the 70s, the idea was that there was job security. And if you got the right education, or the right training, the right degree, it would lead to this, and then there would be a retirement age and there would be a pension, and that would be the path that felt secure. And I have always been mindful of the fact that this is not secure.”

“I listened to an interview with Dustin Hoffman, saying that he still feels like, when he is finished on a movie, that’s the last one. That the phone isn’t going to ring. And he had talked to Gene Hackman who had said the same thing. I think actors always feel that a little bit. It always feels like a bit of a miracle that you’re still working.”

Mary Poppins Returns
One of Colin’s upcoming roles is the much anticipated “Mary Poppins Returns”. What can he tell us about the film?

“I can tell you that it’s going to be great. It’s on a quite an extraordinary scale. You know most of the films I have done have been on quite a small scale. You feel like we are flying by the seat of our pants, the crew’s quite small, the production values. “Kingsman” was on a whole different scale but I would say that “Mary Poppins” is on an even bigger one.”

“Rob Marshall is a director that everyone adores. The atmosphere on the set was incredibly happy. I could’ve spent a lot more time than I did. My role in it is not enormous and it’s one of those times where I just wished I had been there all of the time. You know, just had a bigger role to play. Everyone seemed very happy and from what I saw I think it’s going to be really fabulous.”

We’ll have to wait until late 2018 to see Colin in “Mary Poppins Returns”.

However, you can catch Colin Firth in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”, in Irish cinemas, from September 20.

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Interview: Eddie Izzard (“Victoria & Abdul”)

Eddie Izzard is currently starring alongside Judi Dench and Ali Fazal in “Victoria and Abdul”.

Eddie is one of the most interesting/intriguing people I have ever met. There were so many questions I wanted to ask but I was on limited time.

We covered as much as you could in 5 short minutes. I loved what he had to say about the power of love, politics, inspiring others and facing challenges.

You can watch the full interview above.

“Victoria and Abdul” is in cinemas now.

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Crazy for Caroline Flack

Caroline

Catching up with Caroline Flack and “Crazy For You” co-star Tom Chambers

Caroline Flack fronted the most popular TV show of the summer, “Love Island”. You’d think after working through the summer, she would be taking a break, but no, she has jumped straight back into work.

From 19-23 September, Caroline will be featuring in the stage show,“Crazy For You”, at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

There’s lots of dancing in this show. Did her time on “Strictly Come Dancing” help with this role?

“Absolutely”, says Caroline. “I trained in musical theatre when I was 16 – 19 years old, in college, and then never danced again until “Strictly”. My partner at the time said ‘why are you not doing this as a job?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know’. I kind of forgot that I did it and lost my confidence, I suppose. I thought it wasn’t there anymore. But then I realised it kind of was. And that after that I was like maybe this could open up a whole new path of things I can do as well as telly, so yeah, it definitely helped.”

Off stage habits
Tom Chambers, also a former “Strictly” winner, co stars alongside Caroline. The two have the most peculiar off stage habits.

Caroline shares, “There’s one scene where Tom comes off and I am on the stairs, waiting to go on and we always look at each other. He comes right up to my face, really close and snorts like a pig. It’s kind of half sexy, half not! And then I go on.”

“This is my first role, I am thinking, do people always do this? Is this what people always do in theatre? So I will be doing it to everyone else, and they’ll be like, OK.”

“You brought that up – it’s meant to be a backstage secret!” Tom mockingly chastises Caroline.

On stage mishaps
Thanks to her time on “Love Island”, “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Now”, “XFactor” and Xtra Factor”, Caroline is well used to working in front of live audiences. Like live TV, there can often be moments that happen on stage that aren’t part of the script. For Caroline this was a microphone incident.

“My microphone, is in the back of my pants, and it fell out, nearly onto the floor. It was hanging like string from my pants, just at the bottom of my dress. I could feel it swinging and I was like ‘Oh no, this is the first time …’  This is all going through my head, as well as doing my lines at the same time. I was thinking, ‘What do I do, what do I do? Do I pick it up? Do I leave it? No-one’s told me what to do if this happens. I’m not prepared’. So, I just slowly bent down and lifted up my skirt, at the same time I was lifting up the mic and just held my skirt like that the whole time – with my leg out.”

Nerves
Mishaps like this is where her live TV experience comes in handy.

“Live TV, as much as it can be the scariest thing in the world, it’s like that good scary, and it releases the same chemical whether you’re nervous or excited. You just have to tell yourself, I’m excited. So as long as you tell your brain, this is excitement, not nerves then that’s how you get through it.”

“You know, the “Love Island” final this year? I was petrified, and I was like, ‘You’re never this scared usually, what is going on?’ There was something about this final. The show had done so brilliantly, I was like, I don’t want this to be the downfall of a brilliant series.”

“But you embrace those nerves. It’s the same as going on stage with a live audience. And because it’s a different audience every night, it never gets any easier. If you’re doing the same audience, it would be fine. When it’s a different audience, you’ve got to make it exactly the same as the night before, so those nerves never go away, ever.”

“Strictly Come Dancing”
Is it more nerve wracking doing a stage show or “Strictly”?

Both Caroline and Tom scream out in unison, “Arrrghghhhh Stricly! 100%”.

Caroline goes on to say, “And it never changes. Like when you get to the final you’re as nervous as that first night, when you first started.”

“Why? Because it’s a different routine and the pressure goes up and up and up. It’s terrifying. And again, it’s like the most sick you’ll ever feel, but with joy – sick with joy.”

Strictly Fan
Even though she is no longer a “Strictly” contestant, Caroline is still a big fan and doesn’t miss a show.

“I watched the launch show as soon as I got home. In fact I was watching it on twitter during “Crazy for You”. I kept going to twitter to see who was being partnered with who and stuff like that.”

“I’m obsessed with it. Some people don’t watch it after they’ve finished with it. They say, ‘I can’t watch it anymore, it brings back too many memories’. But not me – I love it. I would do it again if they asked me. I’d love it!”

Love Island
Love Island gripped the nation over the summer. Given the success of the show, casting is already underway for the next series. What advice does Caroline have for anyone thinking of applying to be on the show?

“I suggest they do it quite quickly because we have already had over 100,000 applicants. They’re saying that statistically it is harder to get onto “Love Island” than it is into Cambridge University now. I mean I am not saying ‘Kids, you shouldn’t go to Uni, you should apply to “Love Island”’ but do you know what? Get your character in there. I think you have to apply with these little videos, or go along to the open days.”

What other tips does Caroline have for applicants?

“I don’t do the casting but I’d suggest, be funny and don’t try to be like a previous contestant. We would never do it like, ‘Oh they’re the new Olivia, they’re that …’ That is absolutely not what we do. They try and get someone that’s completely different to before.”

“Also, be prepared that this is going to change your life. The first year, we didn’t really know what to expect. Now, it’s quite life changing when you go on “Love Island” because everyone’s going to know who you are. Make sure you’re prepared for that, because everyone’s going to see it. So, be prepared for what happens afterwards.”

Crazy For You
But before “Love Island” comes back to our screens, Caroline has the “Crazy For You” tour to focus on. Why should people go and see it?

“Because it’s very cool! When I first watched it, I walked into rehearsals a week late because I had to do “Love Island”, so I had to watch the musical numbers first, I was blown away with first of all how talented everyone was. I mean ridiculously talented. But I just thought, this is one of the coolest shows I have ever seen. You know, you’ve got a guy playing the sax dancing, turning around, then going into character for his part, then going back playing the sax, playing the drums, playing the banjo. It’s brilliant!

You can see Caroline in “Crazy For You”, at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre from 19 – 23 September.

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Interview: Sarah Breen & Emer McLysaght (“Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling”)

WACA pic

Who says hangovers are always a bad thing? If it wasn’t for hung over Sunday afternoons we may never have met Aisling!

Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght met while studying media at Ballyfermot College and went on to become flat mates who spent many a hungover Sunday, “under blankets, eating beige foods, watching reality TV and talking complete nonsense!”

Some of the ‘nonsense’ included very detailed talk about this stereotypical Irish girl they had been noticing around town, a girl they decided to name Aisling.

They called her Aisling “because it’s a very common Irish name” Emer says. “It could have been Emer, Deirdre, Ciara, Madhbh. It was just one of the first ones that came to mind. It wasn’t a particular reason.”

Sarah adds, “What we did like about Aisling is that it’s the kind of name that is spelled wrong a lot, and Aisling loves the fact that it is very Irish. It’s Irish for dream. So when people Anglicise it, and spell it Ashling, she is not very happy.”

So what is an ‘Aisling’? In the girls’ words, Aisling is “the kind of girl who maybe comes from down the country, but she can be from Dublin as well. She never gets into any trouble; she always has trolley tokens and bags for life; any match she could get to in Croke Park, she would get to that and she always brings a change of shoes to work. So she always wears her runners to work, walks really fast, and brings her court shoes/mini high heels in a bag to work with her – always a battered Brown Thomas bag that she bought something in a few months ago”

Emer and Sarah have gone from hangover talk about Aisling to over 40,000 Facebook followers on the fan page,  to now having a successful novel, which has already gone into a second print run, before it has even been officially launched!

“We started the Facebook page just to share little “Aislingisms” with our friends. They would think ones up or they would say “Oh I did something so Aisling today”. Because it was about 10 years ago, there were no whats app group, there wasn’t facebook personal messages. So, it was just with a few friend – 15/20 friends. They then invited a few friends, then they told more friends and everyone got it. So as they got it it grew. But it took 10 years to go from me and Sarah, to 40,000. And then sometimes someone well known, or someone on the radio would mention it and we would see an influx, and it just sort of grew legs.” Emer says

Sarah adds, “The publisher came to us last summer. They had been observing the page and they knew the character of Aisling had such potential. We did as well. We had a TV show in development a few years ago. Nothing happened but we knew we could do something with her.”

“So they approached us and said, ‘would you like to put something down on paper’. We jumped at the chance. They gave us free reign to do what we wanted.”

“The easiest thing to do would have been to do a kind if compendium of “Aislingisms” – the kind of thing you panic buy on Christmas Eve and end up in charity shops in January. That would have been the easiest thing to do, but we’re so fond of Aisling and we relate to her so closely that we didn’t want to cheapen it. We wanted to do a full novel that we knew the people in the Facebook group would love, but also would be accessible to everyone outside of the Facebook. We think even people who have never heard of Aisling could still pick it up and enjoy it. And they do, they’ve all gotten it.”

It’s hard enough to write a novel when you’re on your own, but how do two people successfully write a novel? Did they have to sit down and write it together?

“No, that would have taken a hundred years! We tried that a few times and it just didn’t work. It took too long and it was to frustrating” laughs Sarah.

Emer says, “We never really butted heads. What we would do was meet once to twice a week and we would discuss what was going to happen in the next couple of chapters and then we would go away and say you write that chapter and I’ll write that one and we would come back together next week and see what we would have. So we would know the basics of what was going to happen. But then Sarah would give me her chapter and I would go – I like what you did there, or I like this character and then we would run with it, and that’s how we did it.”

Sarah admits, “There were also problems with that method because there were continuity issues. If Asiling was going on holidays, I would write a whole chapter about the hotel and then Emer would have her in an apartment building, because that would be just one detail that we hadn’t ironed out.”

“Oh My God What A Complete Aisling – The Novel” has been getting rave reviews from all who have read it, including some very popular, chart topping, authors. Which reaction has had the girls pinching themselves?

Both Sarah and Emer screech in unison. “It has to be Marian Keyes. She is one of our heroes. When we were students we would have read all of her books. We would have lent them to each other. She has tweeted and done a little vlog about the book and how much she loves it and how it’s made her cry. She has also been in touch with us privately. She’s so supportive.”

But it hasn’t only been Marian Keyes who has been raving about the book, Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s Paul Howard, and Louise O’Neil have also been telling everyone how much they love the book.

Louise tweeted, “that her father kept sending her out of the room (when she was reading the book) because she kept snorting with laughter. But then she also said she cried”

Sarah says, “We’ve had a lot of criers. I think that’s a sign of a good book. I know I enjoy a book that makes me laugh and cry.”

What would Aisling make of all of this success?

The girls both agree that “She would be delighted! The thing about Aisling is that she is that friend who’s always just so happy for everyone. We see more of that in the book as well. I think people feel that we are just slagging off Aisling but that is really not the case. In the book we really get to know her and her motivations. She’s that friend on a night out who is minding the handbags, who gives you your glass of water the next morning, so she’d be delighted.”

What’s next for Aisling?

Sarah admits that they’re not quite sure yet. “ The fact that it is a book has blown our minds. We’ve had interest from a TV production company. It’s actually one in the UK. But we are very protective of it.”

“We’ve had a chance to do things in the past which we’ve declined, and if we’re going to do something on the screen, small or big, because we have a meeting with a film production company as well, we would want it to be the best that it could be. We wouldn’t just sign up to do something just for the sake of it. We want this to be good!”

No doubt, whatever comes next  is going to be better than good.

While we wait for Aisling’s next incarnation, you can read all about her adventures as, “Oh My God What A Complete Aisling – the novel”, is in book stores now!

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Ireland’s Got Talent – Audition Advice

The “Got Talent” franchise is finally coming to Ireland.

TV3 are bringing Ireland’s Got Talent to our screens in January 2018.

It will be hosted by the fabulous Lucy Kennedy. She will be supported be a fantastic judging panel – Michelle Visage (yes, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Michelle Visage!), Denise Van Outen, Jason Byrne and Louis Walsh.

The winner of the show will receive a cash price of €50,000 and their own primetime Christmas special.

The show is already looking for applications. If you want to be considered, you can log on here www.tv3.ie/gottalent for more information. Or you can send a DVD or showreel of your act to:

KITE ENTERTAINMENT
5-7 WESTLAND SQUARE
PEARSE ST
DUBLIN 2

YOU MUST include your full name, DOB, Email address, contact telephone number and a description of your act.

If you make it to audition stage, below are some tips to help you out.

1. Be Confident (But Make Sure You Can Back Up Your Confidence)
It’s important to be confident. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? However, if you say you are the best act out there, make sure you have the talent to back this up. Don’t say you’re better than The Spice Girls and then not be able to deliver (as was the case with the Singing Souls).

2. Be Original. Do You
Grace VanderWaal
Stand out from the crowd by being original. Just do you and let your talent shine through. That’s what 12 year old ukulele playing, singer, Grace VanderWall did on America’s Got Talent and she stole the audience’s and judges’ hearts.

3. Be Different
Different is good. Don’t be afraid to do something that no-one else is doing. Usually taking the risk pays off.

Stavros Flatley
Who would have thought if you mix a bit of Irish in with some Greek, you’d get one of the most feel good, hilarious acts that has ever come out of Britain’s Got Talent?! At the time, Simon Cowell commented, “Can I just say, this is one of my favourite dance acts ever!”

Light Balance
Ever since Diversity won season 2 of Britain’s Got Talent, many dance troupes have entered in the hope of emulating their success. The secret to their success is their diversity – they did something we hadn’t seen before. Another group that stand out because of their brilliance and difference was Light Balance.

 

4.Shock Them
Nothing leaves more of an impression on the judges than a sense of shock.

Susan Boyle
The judges had written Susan off as soon as she walked on the stage. When she opened her mouth, she blew everyone away and it could be said, that she is the most successful/memorable contestant to ever take part in this talent competition

Paddy & Nico
People scoffed and mocked when 80 year old Paddy walked onto stage with partner, Nico, who was almost half her age. No-one expected the duo, the mostly unlikely of dance partners, to be able to bust the moves they did.

 

5. Don’t Give the Judges Attitude
Even if your act isn’t great, sometimes the judges might take a shine to you and put you through anyway. However, talking back or giving them attitude is not going to help your case! As was the case with the Singing Souls (yes this post started and ended with them so maybe they were onto something? While they didn’t win, they received lots of attention. However is this the attention you want?) Where are they now? I’m not sure, hopefully being happy doing something else they love but not singing together anymore.

 

 

 

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