Thursday 19 April 2018

Radio: Jim looks back on his life less ordinary...

Film-maker Jim Sheridan.
Film-maker Jim Sheridan.
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I probably wouldn't be the biggest fan of filmmaker Jim Sheridan - and that thing he made with 50 Cent was awful - but there's no denying he's had a great career on the whole.

Arena (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7pm) did a special show on Sheridan, broadcast from the Town Hall Theatre as part of this year's Galway Film Fleadh. I was reminded again of what an influential, even ground-breaking, body of work he has put together.

The Dubliner has been nominated six times, in writing and directing, at the Oscars. He was also responsible for a clutch of actors getting nominated; and, of course, Brenda Fricker and Daniel Day-Lewis won for My Left Foot.

But more than that, I think, Sheridan (along with Neil Jordan) made it possible for Irish people to even dream about success in the movies. Irish cinema is now more mature and confident, and much of that is down to the triumph of Sheridan's powerful and technically excellent films - so big respect.

And this was a lovely interview, steered in his usual, easy-going style by Sean Rocks, which ranged across Sheridan's personal and professional lives. Childhood holidays in Galway, moving to America with a young family, English attitudes to Irish people, the difficulties of writing dialogue for the screen, working with the mercurial Richard Harris: it was all in there, and Sheridan comes across as a charming, smart and funny guy. Maybe I'll give that 50 Cent movie another whirl.

Staying with arts and ents, The Sunday Show (Newstalk, 10am) stand-in host Richard Chambers had a fun chat with journalists Anne Sexton and Laurence Mackin about the recent Stone Roses and Beyoncé gigs, among other things.

Very enjoyable, although I must confess to being bewildered by all the praise Beyoncé gets in the media. She seems to have morphed into some kind of feminist superhero in the last few years. While clarifying that she wouldn't necessarily be his musical cup of tea, Laurence described how "the whole show is about women... there's a very strong message of female empowerment".

Now for me, words like feminist bring to mind women like Gloria Steinem, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ellen Page or (to pick a musician) Kathleen Hanna. But Beyoncé? I don't get it.

The stripper outfits, explicit lyrics, raunchy videos, on-stage bump 'n' grind, relentless selling of sex and sexuality to "move product"… is that what qualifies as feminist nowadays? It all seems a bit through-the-looking-glass to me.

Having said that, what do I know? I'm a fella. I'm not sure I even have the legal right to offer any opinion on feminism anyway. So you may disregard the last two paragraphs.

But while on the subject… isn't it gas how the much-maligned, chauvinistic etc etc Tory Party has just appointed its second female leader (and prime minister) in Theresa May, while the shouty self-styled progressives, both here and in the UK, have had hardly any women at the helm?

I guess they're struggling with the "putting it into practice" part, but when it comes to lecturing everyone on theories of equality, they're your only man. Er, woman.

Pienaar's Politics (BBC Radio 5 Live, Tue 6.30pm) had an hour-long profile of the new Conservative leader and British PM. The host spoke to colleagues, opponents, those in the middle and what he described, with an almost audible mischievous glint-in-the-eye, as "the cream of the commentariat".

The general sense I got was that people aren't particularly fond of Theresa May, as a person, but thought her pretty competent. That's the most important quality in the job, I would assume.

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