Penny Dreadful US premiere confirmed

Showtime have confirmed Penny Dreadful will premiere on US television on 11th May 2014.

The eight-part series wrapped principal photography in Dublin and Wicklow in March. The show stars Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani and Harry Treadaway.



Romantic Road premieres in Germany & Austria

Between Heaven and Here (WT Romantic Road) premiered on Sunday February 9th on ZDF Germany with a viewership of six million in Germany and 750,000 in Austria.

Ahern is a big name in German popular fiction, contributing about half of her 16 million sales, and reaction to the movie was overwhelmingly positive.

In a post-screening online chat with the author, one viewer wrote: “Thank you for this wonderful film. I have all your books, when I start them I cannot stop dreaming my way into your world.”

For all its fist-biting whimsy to Irish eyes, Between Heaven and Here is a clever reworking of a 60-year-old balsam for the troubled German soul.

First formulated by writer Heinrich Böll in his 1957 Irish Journal, the balsam’s active ingredient is the proposition: “We Germans sold our hopelessly romantic souls to the Nazis, so let’s adopt an Irish soul instead.”

Amelia’s journey, from up-tight German bookseller to fun-loving Irish cailín, is completed when she overcomes her Teutonic shyness in a pub to sing a song, sadly not “I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me”.

Ahern’s film, like her books, may not be to everyone’s taste. But, like Mrs Brown’s Boys and Ryanair, her success is an impressive Irish export. The television film, shot last summer in Ireland, was a valuable boost for the Irish film industry.

©The Irish Times



'Love/Hate' Season 4 Finale Achieves Highest Ratings With Over One Million Viewers

The season finale of ‘Love/Hate’ may not have unfolded according to plan for every character, but RTÉ was today celebrating its highest ratings yet for the Dublin gangland drama yet – with over one million viewers tuning in for the climactic episode.

An average of 1,007,500 viewers watched the sixth and final instalment of an all-too brief season, representing an audience share of 54% - which broke the previous record set by the season premiere of 971,000 viewers.

‘Love/Hate’ Producer Suzanne McAuley spoke to IFTN today, to share her thoughts on the finale, plans for season five, and the imminent US remake - which is presently in the closing stages of negotiation.

Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t watched the season four finale yet, as the discussion touches upon its closing scenes.

Ms McAuley, how gratifying is it, after all your hard work, for the season finale to achieve the show’s highest ratings yet? 

It’s incredible! We are absolutely thrilled to have broken the one million on live viewership. Our audience and fans have been incredibly supportive. Looking back on series one, there was no way we could have predicted this. Of course we hoped the show would be a success, but this is phenomenal. It’s greatly encouraging as we are currently developing series five. Ron Burgundy’s viral was an added bonus on Saturday. That was awesome!

What were some of the biggest challenges in producing season four, in terms of splitting the focus between Nidge’s gang and the Gardaí for the first time? 

Series four was a huge challenge for Stuart. He needed to bring the story into a new direction - to let it grow. Introducing the cops and new characters added a whole new dimension to the show , all the time trying to build on the success of series three. It was a lot of pressure for us and we all felt it. But it worked!

Did you think it was risky, from a creative point of view, to have Nidge get away with it at the end of season four? And do you think he will ever get his comeuppance? 

Did Nidge get away with it? In one way he did, but psychologically… Hmmm!

Is it true that Stuart Carolan is currently writing season five and can you tell us a little about his plans at this early stage? Is there anything you would like to see in a fifth season? 

Yes, Stuart is writing series five at present. We are in constant dialogue about where the story is going and what I can say is that we are more confident with the show and we have agreed to push ourselves even more next year, you know, to really ‘go for it’. Other than that, my lips are sealed.

Do you have any update on the US deal for an American network to remake the show? Have you been approached to become involved in the remake? 

I expect there will be an announcement soon. James Flynn (Octagon) and RTÉ are at the final stages of negotiation to close the deal. No, I have not been approached to be involved. For now, I will concentrate on making series five!

‘Love/Hate’ season four is now released on DVD, along with a box set containing all four seasons. 

Source: IFTN


Sundance Film Review: ‘Calvary’

Brendan Gleeson gives a performance of monumental soul in John Michael McDonagh's masterful follow-up to 'The Guard.'

Writer-director John Michael McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson made a big international splash with 2011′s “The Guard,” a terrifically entertaining action-comedy that offered little indication of the depths of humor, compassion, despair and grace they would achieve in their masterful follow-up, “Calvary.” Grounded by a performance of monumental soul from Gleeson as a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners, the film offers a mordantly funny survey of small-town iniquity that morphs, almost imperceptibly, into a deeply felt lament for a fallen world. A completely sincere work about the persistence of faith and the Catholic Church’s soul-shattering legacy of abuse, this literate, beautifully crafted picture should translate near-certain critical plaudits into a distinguished arthouse reception worldwide.

Given the B.O. receipts and Oscar nominations racked up by Stephen Frears’ anti-clerical dramedy “Philomena,” it will be intriguing to see how McDonagh’s less ingratiating but vastly more accomplished picture plays with audiences in Ireland and beyond. The director has described his second feature as “basically Bresson’s ‘Diary of a Country Priest’ with a few gags thrown in,” a description that for all its absurdity nails the essence of this caustic yet contemplative film: Leisurely paced, unapologetically talky and overtly concerned with matters of spiritual import, “Calvary” may not achieve the record-breaking success of “The Guard” (still the most successful Irish indie of all time). But for sustained maturity and tonal mastery, it upstages not only McDonagh’s debut but also his brother Martin’s comic thrillers “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths,” all while retaining the pungent fatalism and bleak humor that run so indelibly through both filmmakers’ work.

“I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old,” an unseen man tells an unnamed priest (Gleeson) in the dark shadows of the confessional. He goes on to explain that he was repeatedly raped by a priest over the course of five years, a crime for which he will exact retribution in the most irrational and unexpected way imaginable. “There’s no point in killing a bad priest,” he says. “I’m going to kill you because you’re innocent.” He sets their fateful next appointment for the next Sunday, exactly one week later, leaving our anxious hero of the cloth to determine which member of his flock is planning to murder him.

What follows is an existential detective story of sorts, or perhaps an Agatha Christie whodunit by way of Hitchcock’s “I Confess,” in which the priest goes about his coastal village, tending to his flock while a seven-day clock ticks quietly away in the background. What he finds is a community steeped in anger, disappointment and, despite their continued presence at mass, a near-total indifference to the notion that faith, repentance and good works have any real meaning.

There’s a butcher (Chris O’Dowd) who is initially suspected of beating his town-slut wife (Orla O’Rourke), until he explains that she probably sustained her injuries at the hands of her Ivorian-immigrant lover (Isaach De Bankole). There’s also a vaguely sinister police inspector (Gary Lydon, reprising his role from “The Guard”) whom the priest interrupts mid-tryst with a saucy male prostitute (Owen Sharpe); a doctor (Aidan Gillen) who makes no secret of his violently atheist views; an extravagantly wealthy man (Dylan Moran) whose riches have failed to bring him any lasting happiness; a sex-starved young man (Killian Scott) considering joining the army in order to vent his violent impulses; and an aging American writer (M. Emmet Walsh) determined to end life on his own terms.

All these villagers are introduced, one after another, in a series of sharply written, compellingly acted and increasingly pointed moral discussions, during which the priest will offer his counsel while scanning for clues as to who the would-be killer might be. But the richest insights here are those we glean into the character of the grizzled clergyman himself, a widower and a father, a dog lover, a recovering alcoholic, and an unusually pragmatic, erudite soul (“You’re too sharp for this parish,” one villager notes) whose every nugget of hard-headed wisdom resonates with bitter life knowledge.

It’s a role that one cannot imagine in the hands of anyone other than Gleeson, who has never seemed less capable of hitting a false or inauthentic note. Despite the actor’s deliberately constricted range of the here, moments of gruffness, exasperation, resignation and quietly choked-back emotion all manage to register, fleetingly yet indelibly, in the those magnificently weathered features. This virtuous protagonist couldn’t be more different on paper from the surly, sozzled cop he played in “The Guard,” yet Gleeson roots both characters in the same bone-deep integrity, and the same fearless determination to follow their sense of duty to the unforeseeable end.

It’s not clear at exactly what point the film has made its shift from foul-mouthed village comedy to quietly devastating passion play; certainly the transition feels complete by the time the priest pays a visit to an imprisoned rapist-murderer-cannibal (played, in a particularly perverse casting choice, by Gleeson’s son Domhnall). Amid all the accumulated waste and despair, two scenes stand out for their extraordinary tenderness: a beachside reckoning between the priest and his troubled daughter (a superb Kelly Reilly), and a thoughtful conversation with a woman (Marie-Josee Croze) who has lost her husband but not her faith. Hope, it seems, has not been completely extinguished. And yet, as it follows the priest on the lonely walk to his own personal Golgotha (the seven days of his journey conjuring any number of biblical allusions), “Calvary” makes clear, with utter conviction, that the Church’s incalculable abuses have exacted and will continue to exact a terrible human price.

Putting aside the stylistic bravura of “The Guard,” McDonagh and his collaborators have delivered a technically immaculate work that feels appropriately austere by comparison. D.p. Larry Smith’s widescreen compositions are framed with unfussy precision; as stunning as the rugged landscapes are to behold, particularly the shots of waves breaking against cliffs (the production shot on the east and west coasts), the lighting and color balancing of the interior shots are no less exquisite. Patrick Cassidy’s melancholy score is summoned at just the right moments.

For the record, the press notes mention that “The Guard” and “Calvary” are the first two installments of a trilogy that will conclude with a film titled “The Lame Shall Enter First.”

Chief Film Critic, Justin Chang

Source: Variety



Sundance: Fox Searchlight Joins McDonagh’s ‘Calvary’

Fox Searchlight has acquired U.S. rights and select international rights to John Michael McDonagh’s dramedy “Calvary,” which premiered Jan. 19 at the Sundance Film Festival. The deal, which was made for a reported $2.5 million, marks the second acquisition for Fox Searchlight in as many days. The distrib also bought worldwide rights to Mike Cahill’s sci-fi mystery “I Origins.” “Calvary” stars Brendan Gleeson as a good-natured priest whose world is put into disarray after being threatened during a confession. Pic co-stars Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”) and Kelly Reilly (“Flight”).

With “I Origins,” which Searchlight announced it also plans to launch this year, the company now has eight potential releases in 2014, including “Calvary,” the second feature for McDonagh, whose debut “The Guard” was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at Sundance in 2011.

“We made a great film. In Fox Searchlight, we now have a great company behind us to send that film out into the world. Thank you, Sundance. Thank you, bourbon! Onward,” said McDonagh. “Calvary” was exceptionally well received by festgoers, though the film’s bleak premise had buyers questioning its commercial potential. Variety’s Justin Chang described “Calvary” as a “masterful follow-up” to McDonagh’s “The Guard,” adding that Gleeson gives “a performance of monumental soul.”

Source Variety


'Calvary' and 'Frank' World Premieres at Sundance

Irish feature films 'Calvary' (John Michael McDonagh) and 'Frank' (Lenny Abrahamson) will have their world premieres at indie film festival Sundance in January 2014.

'Calvary', directed by John Michael McDonagh, is a blackly comic drama about a good priest tormented by his community. It is McDonagh’s follow-up to 2011’s 'The Guard' and again stars Brendan Gleeson ('Albert Nobbs', 'Studs'), Chris O’Dowd ('The Sapphires', 'Bridesmaids'), Aidan Gillen ('Mister John', 'Shadow Dancer'), Dylan Moran ('Good Vibrations', 'A Film with Me In It'), Domhnall Gleeson ('Sensation', 'Shadow Dancer') and Killian Scott ('Good Vibrations', 'Black Ice'). 'Calvary' is produced by Octagon Films and was filmed in Sligo and Dublin.

'Frank', directed by Lenny Abrahamson ('Adam & Paul', 'What Richard Did') is a comedy about a wannabe musician who joins a band of eccentric pop stars led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank and his terrifying sidekick, Clara. It was written by Jon Ronson ('The Men Who Stare at Goats') and Peter Straughan ('Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy') and stars Michael Fassbender ('Haywire', 'Shame'), Maggie Gyllenhaal ('The Dark Knight', 'Secretary') and Domhnall Gleeson ('Sensation', 'Shadow Dancer'). Frank is produced by Element Pictures and was filmed in Wicklow and Dublin.

Speaking on the selection, Director Abrahamson said “It's wonderful news that FRANK has been selected for Sundance. I can't think of a better place for this film to begin its life. “

Producer Ed Guiney said “Sundance is the perfect place to launch the worldwide campaign of this great new film from Lenny Abrahamson. And its great to be there with fellow Irishmen and collaborators, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson."

The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the Sundance Institute, is one of the largest independent film festivals in the United States and takes place annually in Park City, Utah. The 2014 festival will be held from January 16th to 26th. The festival awards jury and audience awards across drama, documentary and short film. One hundred and nineteen feature-length films, representing 32 countries and 51 first-time filmmakers, and 65 shorts were screened at the 2013 festival. For more information, see



Love/Hate review: A taut, emotionally draining hour that lived up to the hype

So it’s business as usual for Nidge (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) in Love/Hate, RTÉ’s gangland drama that returned for a fourth series last night with a tense, emotionally exhausting hour of TV that lived up to the hype - not an easy ask as there’s been a level hype for this series that hasn’t been seen for any other Irish drama.

Vaughan-Lawlor is terrifyingly brilliant as the gangland boss who rose through the ranks but who knows - because he’s seen how Dublin gangland plays out - that it’s all going to end. The cycle of violence and revenge is destined to continue - the opening scene saw a very young teenager outside a block of inner-city flats take a gun out of his holdall and with a chilling bravado tell his friend he’s has to kill some one - and he has to kill Nidge - and then just as calmly he sets off a round of bullets and kills a cat. And no one seems to care, there’s no sirens or shock. That’s the norm. That scene was beautifully filmed with a spare, cinematic feel and directed with a slow stark pace and, for the emotional knockout punch, there was a snatch of Blind Willie Johnson’s plaintive Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground playing underneath – it was typical of the sheer style that marks Love/Hate out as quality TV drama.


'Vikings' Wraps Filming on Season 2 in Ashford Studios

Hundreds of Irish extras garbed as Scandinavian barbarians have laid their battle-axes to rest and wiped the last of the fake blood from their beards as the History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ has completed filming on another season at Ashford Studios, Wicklow.

The series is an Irish Canadian co-production between Octagon Films, Take 5 Productions and World 2000 Entertainment, with season two set to premiere on the History Channel in the US in March 2014.

Although RTÉ had featured ‘Vikings’ season one in publicity material for its Autumn 2013 schedule, it is now likely to air on RTÉ early in the New Year, according to an RTÉ spokesperson.

Principal photography on the second set of ten episodes wrapped on Friday 8th November, according to producer James Flynn of Octagon Films - with series creator Michael Hirst promising fans at Comic Con 2013 that the new episodes would boast ‘more armies; more Viking ships.’

Among the Irish crew members who have worked on 'Vikings' are director Ciarán Donnelly; line producer Séamus McInerney; production designer Tom Conroy; costume designer Joan Bergin; and make-up and hair designers Tom McInerney and Dee Corcoran.

‘Vikings’ was the first production to use the newly-built €22m Ashford Studios, in Ballyhenry, Co Wicklow, when it began production in April of last year.



ITV Drama Series ‘Undeniable’, Co-Produced by Octagon, Now Filming in Dublin & Wicklow

'Undeniable' - a new two part ITV thriller about a woman's search for her mother’s murderer – is currently filming in Dublin and Wicklow, and will wrap principal photography next week.

Produced by TXTV and co-produced by Octagon Films, the mini-series was created by writer Chris Lang (‘A Mother’s Son’, ‘The Reckoning’) and focuses on a woman haunted by the killing of her mother 23 years previously and her pursuit of the man she believes responsible.

Claire Goose (‘Casualty’, ‘Waking the Dead’) takes on the lead role of Jane Fielding who begins to suspect that a respected Consultant Oncologist, played by Peter Firth (‘World Without End’, ‘MI-5’) is the man behind her mother’s death all those years ago.

Mr Gwilt said of the series: ‘We are delighted to be making ‘Undeniable’ for ITV. This affecting story grips from the outset and constantly switches perspective - is Jane actually right or is her obsession driving her to destroy a perfectly innocent man? Has Andrew successfully buried a vicious past beneath a veneer of respectability and how does Jane's accusation test the unconditional love of the families on either side? I'm sure the show will have wide appeal.’

Executive producers on the drama are Matt Arlidge, Jeremy Gwilt (‘Torn’, ‘The Little House’) and Chris Lang, with John Strickland (Mr Selfridge, Whitechapel) directing.

‘Undeniable’ is expected to air on ITV in 2014. 



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