Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wandering around Wexford at Festival time.

The best of what Wexford has to offer (part 1)


 (Photo source Pat Sheridan)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what Wexford has to offer, I hope you can indulge me for a minute. I and so many Wexfordians are so lucky to have a plethora of art and craft right on our doorstep, not just at festival time, but all year round. Outside of Dublin and Galway, Wexford has one of the best art scenes in the country and every Wexfordian has become an expert and critic. Are we educated and knowledgeable - sometimes we are, sometimes not. But, we know what we like. To paraphrase - I can't define it but I know when I see it. 

Since the age of about 11, I have always wandered around checking out all the exhibitions, I make it a point to speak to as many artists that I can, offer encouragement and congratulate them on their creations, not all beautiful (in my eyes) but most with a little bit of the persons soul or being. One thing you can certainly see is that sometimes it's not the destination but the journey and over the years I've loved speaking to the same people and checking out their journey, anyway, enough of the soppy stuff. Let's see what I found.

(Walkabout Map 1)

I started at the Creative Hub (green circle) in the old Bullring Mall.

This exciting new space for artists and creatives located in the heart of Wexford town, in the old Cornmarket Shopping Mall, is now the new home to over 25 artists and craft makers as well as young musicians from the local FDYS youth music programme.

Spearheaded by Wexford County Council and supported by Wexford Art Centre, this new hub comprises approx 8,000 sq ft and provides much needed space at a subsidised cost for artists from the county’s thriving creative sector.  The initiative is a direct response by the Council to artists’ needs as identified in the county’s recent arts plan ‘Advancing the Arts‘ launched earlier this year.

I love the idea of a local arts collective, showcasing some amazing work. The Makers House is the place to be for craft work, my faves being Annette Whelan's glass sculptures.

I've seen Annette's work for over 10 years and am constantly amazed with what she creates, a true artist and Wexford local (her studio is down in Kilmore). Check out her facebook. I also liked Bianca Divito's work (she is also in Whites Hotel).

But there's loads to check out there ...

Moving on to work on canvas, my fave was the open studio of Declan Cody and Olivia Dwyer

And there was some beautiful work in the hallways also ...  

The next venue I loved was the Light and Shadow gallery (red circle - opposite the Bike Shop - 24 Selskar Street).

Jonathan Murphy's work is meticulously hand cut paper sculptures, depicting surreal and atmospheric storybook imagery. He has been awarded both National and International residencies. They have put together a great group exhibition so there is something for everyone's tastes ...

Check out the website HERE and Facebook

The surprise of the weekend was a small exhibition on the top floor by Dara Finneran; his work has a combination of digital, machine and hand-drawn elements. I loved his work. 


If I wasn't broke I'd be buying something from Mr. Finneran!  I love the balance and fusion of the different mediums, the choice of colours and patterns are interesting, the overall affect is great and you keep looking trying to figure out how each element has been done. Well worth the climb up the wobbly stairs.

And in the room next door, there was some really good photography by Aled Owen Thomas (web & facebook)

I popped into Pig Yard Gallery (blue circle) and had a quick look at the exhibition there and really enjoyed the realistic painting style of Jackie Edwards. No picture - go check it out yourself.

And then the final destination was the massive collection of art and craft in Whites Hotel (yellow circle). It's hard to pull out a favourite but the work by Martin Mc Cormack - Irish Peat Art - was stunning and very creative, something I've never scene but unique. Speaking to Martin, he is a lovely person and I could have talked to him for ages. AND his work, well it's amazing. When you talk about something being Irish and of Ireland, it doesn't get any better than this. Martin starts with painting his colours on his medium of choice, then adds a layer of peat (mixed with secret stuff). He then uses tools to scrape away the patterns and create an impasto with the colour showing underneath. He even encourages people to feel the surface of the painting which is great. One of my fave pieces was resurrection...

Well thats me done for now, I'll cover from the Denis Collins Gallery to the Talbot Hotel in the next couple of days. I hope you've enjoyed my wanderings (both by foot and by blog) and please comment which exhibitions you liked. Please share my blog to help promote these brilliant artists.

John The Captain Ryan



Friday, 19 October 2018

Terrifier & The Babadook. (movie reviews)

As Halloween is almost upon us, here's two spine-chilling reviews of recently watched movies ...

So … I’m going to start with Terrifier. If you’re a fan of terror caused by silent clowns you will enjoy this. Check out my review of the remake of IT here. The plot – well it’s not rocket science.

A television journalist named Monica interviews a severely disfigured woman, the lone survivor of a massacre. Monica mentions the assailant, known only as “Art the Clown,” disappeared from the morgue but the woman emphatically asserts that she saw him die. Later, Monica mocks the woman’s appearance while talking on the phone in her dressing room. The disfigured woman attacks her and gouges out her eyes, laughing maniacally.

Time jump backwards. It’s Halloween night, loads of people are drunk and dressed up; Art the Clown starts his rampage of horror and chopping; concentrating on two annoying girls but diverting his silent attention towards anyone he gets in his way. And that’s as far as the plot really goes. But that doesn’t matter. You don’t watch horror movies for amazing and creative plots, you watch them to have the pants scared off you and what ensues will do that. Art, the silent mime-clown is played brilliantly by David Howard Thornton, the violence is realistic and creative and most certainly not for the fainthearted; there is one scene where a character is chopped up and it is visceral, unique and a hand-in-front-of-your-eyes for a lot of viewers. Me, look, No Hands!.

Check out this fantastic interview from David here, you can tell he really loved playing the role, of course not being afraid of clowns helps. 

The movie has a 71% rating from Rotten Tomatoes so for a horror movie that’s ranking really well. For me it’s definitely one of the scariest movies that is clown based anyway and certainly surpasses both versions of IT (movies not book obviously).    

I’m going to slash and chop an 8 out of 10 planets for Terrifier. One of the scariest movies I’ve seen in ages.

Next ...

The Babadook is a 2014 Australian supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut. And what a debut. Just wow. I loved the premise of this story.

Amelia Vanek is a troubled and exhausted widow who has brought up her six-year-old son Samuel alone. Sam begins displaying erratic behaviour: he becomes an insomniac and is preoccupied with an imaginary monster, against which he has built weapons to fight. One night, Sam asks his mother to read a pop-up storybook called Mister Babadook. It describes the titular monster, the Babadook, a tall pale-faced humanoid in a top hat with taloned fingers who torments its victims after they become aware of its existence. Amelia is disturbed by the book and its mysterious appearance, while Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is real. Sam's persistence about the Babadook leads Amelia to often have sleepless nights as she tries to comfort him. She destroys the book but it reappears the following day and new, more disturbing words have also appeared.

What follows is the normal, strange goings-on you’d expect from a movie like this, doors opening, shadows causing you to jump but the more interesting part is how Amelia starts to lose her mind and she eventually starts seeing her dead husband who wants to take their son, implying he is a conjuration of the Babadook. The rest is a tornado of possession, attacks and eventually Amelia standing up to the Babadook. The ending is fantastic (but you have to watch it, no spoilers here).

I have the bluray and the extras are brilliant, the interviews and art work are fascinating, well worth a watch. Most of the time I pay little attention to the extras but in this case they are a must. I loved the soundtrack and the childlike story was haunting. The scratchy voice that Sam uses when he reads the lines of the book are chilling, you will remember them for ages.


When the movie was released in 2014 it didn’t get much traction but following the limelight the Sun Dance Festival shone upon it, it’s now soaring in popularity and, strangely enough, is now seen as a gay icon - after Netflix apparently grouped it with LGBT titles - or so the urban legend says! (The verdict is still out for me on this claim).

Either way, it’s an amazing debut from Jennifer Kent  and I’ll be looking at what else she has done. I’m giving The Babadook a 9 out of 10 planets (the extras garnered and extra planet). Original story, great directing and acting with a brilliant soundtrack and great ending. Nuf’ said.

John the Captain Ryan.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Tickets for Fireworks in Wexford

Firstly, a huge shout-out to a very talented photographer - Mr. Pat Sheridan. He takes amazing photos and you can find his website here 

(photo - Pat Sheridan)

I absolutely love the fireworks and everything else happening during the Wexford Festival Opera.  It's a great time to be a Wexfordian.

Even if you don't attend the opera there is a huge number of things to do. Check out the Wexford Fringe Festival HERE for some stuff going on. Most events are free to attend and the exhibitions are the highlight for me.

I always love the well gathered, curated and displayed exhibition that Denis Collins puts together and sure, you go into the gallery for 5 minutes and come out two hours later (2 Lower Rowe Street). 

Anyway, down to the nitty-gritty. The amazing firework display will be starting around 7.40pm tomorrow evening, 19th October 2018. 

The quay and bridge will be closed to traffic from 17:00-20:30, diversions will be in place and there will be heavy disruption to traffic during these times.

Oh ya, there are NO TICKETS.

See you all there

John The Captain Ryan

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green (Book Review)

Skittles and Haribo will solve all problems.

This is a hilarious book, following the exploits of Noah Grimes (absolutely no resemblance to Rick & Carl Grimes), his father abandoned him and his mother, his mother embarrasses him at every opportunity, especially with her Beyonce tribute act, school is horrible, his best friend Harry just kissed him and his shoulder to cry on – his Nan – is losing her mind.

He actually reminds me of myself because he worries about everything, is always trying to figure out how to be just a little less unpopular, and he hated PE, just like me.

This book is witty, fun, fast paced with enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages. Really, that’s not a cliché; I read the book in about 36 hours. (I’m reading When everything feels like the movies by Raziel Reid at the moment and it’s not nearly as compelling). The author Simon James Green is a very talented person, he has written for TV, worked back stage on the Westend and you can just imagine Noah trouping out on stage in an Agatha Christie production. Green claims the book is somewhat biographical and his writing style of short sharp sentences, manic train of thought and a book that just flows so quickly is a joy to read.

With great news last summer (2017) that Noah Can’t Even might be bound for the big screen, hopefully following in the footsteps of Love Simon which is being released in March 2018, I hope this book stays on recommended LGBT reading lists for many years to come.

There is a sequel due this summer – Noah Could Never – and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I definitely have no hesitation in recommending this young adult book, to both young adults and old adults, it’s a gem, easy and fun to read. (There are a few suggestions to s-e-x but as Noah is even afraid to say the word, there's nothing it it that teens shouldn't read). I give Noah Can’t Even a 10 out of 10 planets. 

Other LGBT books I have reviewed are

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan HERE

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde HERE

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid HERE

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli HERE

John The Captain Ryan

Friday, 5 October 2018

Venom (Movie Review)

Venom is a great re-imagining of another Marvel classic. 

Another trip to the Arc Cinema in Wexford, where the staff are lovely and the premises are spotless and comfortable (and wheelchair friendly to boot).

This has been a much awaited movie and whilst getting mixed reviews I really liked it. The criticism, some of it warranted (unoriginal storyline, Disnefied down to a 15 cert & Venom character not being bad enough) still doesn't detract from the main positives of the movie for me.
But to start with ... the plot:

Journalist Eddie Brock begins looking into a shady businessman, whose experiments into alien symbiotes (i.e. creatures that have to bond with another being to survive) are putting innocent people in danger. However, in the course of his investigations Brock becomes infected with one of the symbiotes, quickly realising it possesses sentience and striking a deal with the creature now sharing his body – well kind of. They become VENOM. But you have to say that in a husky voice in your head.

In a formulaic manner, they attempt to quash the evil and win the day. This is where the movie lets us down. The original character of Venom wasn’t such a good guy so Marvel fans are annoyed and rightly so, I think the creators, so used to bringing us stories of good vanquishing evil, didn’t know what to do with the Venom character so fell back on the usual movie trope. However, the sci-fi and fantasy nerd is a much more discerning movie goer, we’ve shown how we don’t necessarily want the usual movie trope, Sin City and Deadpool come to mind so the creators dropped the ball here.


HOWEVER ... DUM DUM DUM ... If you are not an aficionado of the Venom comics or Marvel universe this will not matter to you. Without this prior lore knowledge the story line is fine and as Venom is a stand-alone movie, you need not have seen the other 100 movies based in the Marvel Universe to enjoy it which is another plus.

The comedy is very good and lightens the movie somewhat. The scene when Venom says hello to Brock when he is brushing his teeth is laugh out loud stuff and the timing is also brilliant. Before Brock figures out what is happening the conversations in his head are hilarious.

The Cast.

Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, and he also voices the symbiote, effectively playing two different interlinked roles in the same movie. He does a brilliant job and the start of the story where he is coming to terms with his new parasite is very funny, although it does take too long getting anywhere.

Michelle Williams also stars as lawyer Anne Weying, Eddie’s girlfriend, who becomes a different version of Venom herself in the source comics. There will be a sequel, although it will be the story of Carnage rather than a Venom 2 (I think) but I’m looking forward to more of Anne’s story.

Rounding off the main cast Riz Ahmed plays villain Carlton Drake, the real baddie who wants to destroy the earth. Another plus to note, Marvel/Sony has  again considered representation and not whitewashing the whole cast. 

The Nitty-Gritty

The music is amazing with Eminem dropping the soundtrack. Even the end sequence (you will watch because you need to see the final scene) marries the soundtrack with some fab artwork – kind of like a symbiosis of Venom tentacles and Rorschach drawings. Cool stuff.

The special effects are stunning and the fight sequences are brilliant – exactly what we have come to expect from Marvel, still outshining DC by a mile. There is a chase sequence which is great, Venom on a motorbike and the baddies all driving massive black suburbans. 

Whilst the chase scene is a really entertaining and fast paced addition, it’s a little bit unbelievable that a motor bike couldn’t get away from a few 4 wheel drives. In reality of course in a city full of traffic the motorbike is king. But it is a cool bike so what the hell – it’s a Ducati Scrambler, here are its stats. I WANT ONE!

Chase scenes are much more realistic when proper bikes are used and if you’re a bit of a motorbike fan like me you appreciate when directors use real, honest, proper fast bikes in their creations. One of the most exciting chase scenes to ever grace our screens, IMHO are in The Matrix Reloaded – Trinity on the Ducati 996 – at its time and still the 996 is one of the fastest most viciously accelerating bikes to every be built. The 996 has propelled numerous riders to victory of the years. (read more here)

Tying it all together in a nice little bow

I’m going to tentacle hurl an 8 out of 10 planets at Venom. Even though the movie has problems with the storyline, you’ll still come out of the cinema with a smile on your face that will overshadow the bad bits and you’ll remember the funny bits especially. It was too slow getting into the meat of the story, but, in its defence, it’s hard to tell the origin story in a shorter time. With nearly 40 minutes left on the cutting floor which would have made the movie an 18 cert, I hope we get some of them back in an Directors Cut on the bluray release. This could probably propel the movie to a 9 or even 10 out of 10.

John The Captain Ryan

Wandering around Wexford at Festival time.

The best of what Wexford has to offer (part 1)    (Photo source Pat Sheridan ) Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what Wexford...