From Pinky Promises to the Oscars – Steve Rogers and Craig Gillespie talk “I, Tonya”

When writer, Steve Rogers, sealed the deal to turn Tonya Harding’s life story into a film, with a pinky promise, the last place he thought he would be going to was the Oscars!

But, the film that tells the story behind the Nancy Kerrigan attacks, and shines a light on what Tonya Harding’s life was really like, has taken the world by storm, delighting both audiences and critics alike.

I recently caught up with Steve and the film’s director, Craig Gillespie, to find out why they thought Tonya Harding’s story would make a compelling film, what Tonya thought of the film, and how they’re celebrating the film’s success.

“I, Tonya” is in Irish cinemas on Friday 24th February

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Repeal The Eighth

Only a few months ago I walked past some pregnancy test shelves and thought to myself, wow that’s a period of my life that is now over. It was hard to comprehend that as pregnancy tests have been a very big part of my adult life.

I have had a tempestuous relationship with pregnancy tests. At the very beginning I was panic stricken, hoping they would come up negative as I wasn’t ready to have a child. After many years, it shifted to joy when tests came up positive, and then for a couple of years it was disappointment every time I saw the negative symbol.

I recognise that I was very fortunate that each time the tests came up positive I was happy with the result and ended up with two wonderful children.

I was very fortunate to have had two very straight forward, unproblematic pregnancies.

I was very fortunate to be able to make the decision about what I wanted to happen to/in my body.

I was very fortunate to be able to make the decision to go ahead with the pregnancies when the test came up positive.

When a pregnancy test comes up as positive, it is not always a joyous occasion. In some circumstances, that result brings pain to women. To further compound that pain, here in Ireland, women can not decide what happens to their body. They are forced to go through with a pregnancy regardless of whether or not they want to; and/or whether or not it is in their best interests.

It’s great that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has finally committed to having a referendum over whether or not to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, this summer.

But it makes me mad that this has to go ahead at all.

I am mad that we as women do not have a say over what happens to our bodies.

I am mad that the women of Ireland are not trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.

I am mad, that people who should have no say in what a woman does to her own body will be deciding whether or not a woman can be the boss of her own body.

I am mad that this campaign will become ugly.

I am mad at the many lies will be put out there.

I am mad that people are saying women will use abortion as a form of contraception. Abortion isn’t a pleasant experience and women do not go into this decision lightly. They will not be using abortion as a form of contraception! If a woman decides that this pregnancy is not right for her, she should have every right to decide to end it.

I am mad that this is going to cause more duress for many women but I am also thankful.

I am thankful to those amazing women who have been fighting/campaigning to have the Eighth repealed.

I am thankful to those amazing and courageous women who have shared their painful stories in the hope that future generations of Irish women will have autonomy over their own bodies and not have to endure what they have had to.

I am also hopeful.

I am hopeful that the Irish people will get out and vote to repeal the eighth.

I am hopeful that my daughter will grow up in an Ireland that trusts its women and gives them back sole autonomy over their bodies.

So when it is time to vote, please make sure you are on the register and then go out there and vote for a woman’s right to choose. Vote to Repeal the Eighth.

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Review: “The Post”

For the first time ever, Hollywood heavy weights, Meryl Streep, Tim Hanks and Stephen Spielberg come together on the big screen to tell the story that shook America to its core – the discovery of the Pentagon papers. The Papers that exposed a massive cover up by four US Presidents over three decades.

Streep, Hanks, Spielberg – when those names come together there is no doubt that a great cinematic experience awaits you. They could be reading articles from the newspaper and you would watch in awe. That said, they don’t rest on the laurels in this film. They deliver.

In true Spielberg style, it is the small things, and attention to detail, that build the drama and sense of urgency.

An angry Nixon appears in the film via the use of actual telephone recordings; Daniel Ellsberg’s original documents, that blew open the scandal, were used as props.

Spielberg has us on the edge of our seats as we are watching phone calls being made, with coins, on old style phone boxes; he manages to make the printing of a newspaper the most beautiful and exciting thing you will watch in a long time.

Add to that great dialogue and of course, the brilliant performances that Spielberg elicits from all of his actors and, even though it will be no big surprise how this film ends, Spielberg still manages to keep up the suspense and intrigue throughout the whole film.

It goes without saying that Streep and Hanks give remarkable performances. They embody the characters they play. Streep and Hanks are Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. They are wonderful to watch independently of each other but when they appear on screen together, they light it up (you can check out my interview with these Hollywood legends here).

It is not just the lead cast that are outstanding though. Under Spielberg’s direction, every single person who appears on screen brings their A game. Magnificent performances are delivered by the likes of the always amazing Sarah Paulson, “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk, “The American’s” Matthew Rhys and “Glow’s” Alison Brie, to name but a few.

“The Post” could not be more relevant to today if it tried. It highlights, and continues, the conversations we’re having at the moment about the power of the press, presidential abuse and a woman’s fight to use her voice and to be heard.

The film also reminds you that you don’t need visual effects and high action for an entertaining film. At the heart of it all, cinema is about having a great story, telling it in an exceptional way and having the film stay with the audience long after they have left the cinema. “The Post” delivers all of that and more.

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Review: “The Commuter”

The Commuter

Stop the train – I want to get off. Not because something sinister is happening on the train but because I can’t believe what I am watching!

We all loved the fact that in his mid 50s, Liam Neeson reinvented himself as an action hero, thanks to his role in “Taken”. Thanks to that film, if you are ever in danger, Liam Neeson is the one you want to come and rescue you.

It looks like Liam has a ball playing these roles – he has said that he loves being the action hero because he feels like a “kid in a toy shop” (you can watch my interview with Neeson here). The problem is, just because he is having fun, it doesn’t mean the audience is.

Of late his choices of action films have been bad – “Taken 2”, “Taken 3” and now we can add “The Commuter” to the list.

It is the most ridiculous concept. Michael (Neeson), just having been fired from his job, takes his usual train home to break the news to his family. On his way home, he is confronted by a mystery woman (Vera Farmiga). She poses the question “If you could do something, not know about the consequences and get $100,000 would you do it?”

The answer to this question has a domino effect. In trying to find the person, there are many casualties along the way – including the audience.

The story line is ridiculous. Not even the action will keep the action fans entertained.

It is sad that this is the case because there is a great cast supporting Neeson – Jonathan Banks (Mike from “Breaking Bad”), Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Vera Farmiga and our very own Killian Scott makes an appearance. Seeing Killian on the screen was the only highlight for me. Sorry I lie, that and seeing the credits roll – signifying that I no longer had to endure this film.

“The Commuter” is like the worst commute you have had to endure. Stay away from this and choose another (cinema) line instead.

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Interview: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks (The Post)

Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg team up, on the big screen, for the very first time in “The Post”.

As to be expected, when there is talent of this calibre, they deliver a fantastic film. One that is inspiring, thrilling and entertaining.

Getting the opportunity to actually sit down with these Hollywood legends to talk about their film and career to date was definitely a career highlight!

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks talked about why this was the story that brought them together, the power of ‘No’, being record breakers and how they feel when they sign up for a film.

(*note at the start of our chat, we had no idea the cameras were rolling -we were talking about how reading a newspaper is very different to reading something online)

“The Post” is in Irish cinemas on January 19.

 

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Interview: Liam Neeson “The Commuter”

Liam Neeson is back to save the day in his latest action film, “The Commuter”.

Thanks to “Taken”, if I ever needed rescuing, it would be Liam Neeson that I would want to save me.

To paraphase his famous “Taken” line, I looked for him, found him and it turns out he is a sweetheart!

In our chat, he shared why he loves being the hero/action man, the need to do more to combat ageism in society (at both sides of the age spectrum), why teachers are superheroes and why he still gets a kick out of acting.

“The Commuter” is out in Irish Cinemas on 19 January.

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Interview: Kristin Scott-Thomas (“Darkest Hour”)

Kristin Scott Thomas stars as Clementine, Winston Churchill’s wife, in “Darkest Hour”.

I got the chance to have a quick chat with Kristin about why after declining the role so many times, this was the film she wanted to portray Clementine in; why she felt the need to press pause on her film career and recharge her batteries in 2014; the difficulties of getting a film off the ground, and whether or not she is back for good.

“Darkest Hour” is in Irish cinemas now.

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