Monthly Archives: December 2016

Review – ROGUE ONE (spoiler free)

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Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Cert: 12A Running Time: 133 min
Release Date: 15th December 2016

The opening crawl of A New Hope will never be the same again. What was once a story catch up device for the events of Episode IV has been given a heady dose of CPR as director Gareth Edwards brings to life the faceless rebels who stole the plans to the Death Star all those years ago. Right from the start, it positions itself as a stand-alone film, grittier, more realistic – a rogue addition if you will. At its core is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) a fearless young woman who knows first-hand the sword the Empire can wield against its subjects. An outsider herself, we find her after a brief childhood prologue, detained by stormtroopers and on her way to imperial prison. Without giving anything away she is soon thrown in the path of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a member of the rebellion, kick starting an introduction to the men who will join them on their mission.

They are a rag tag bunch – all perfectly cast. Donnie Yen as blind warrior Chirrut steals every second he’s on screen,  ably supported by Wen Jiang as Baze. Riz Ahmed plays Bodhi, an imperial pilot whose secret mission fires up the action and an android called K-2SO charms with the funniest lines and biggest laughs. Voiced by the brilliant Alan Tudyk, his relationship with Cassian is like a parent and truant teenager (the android being the kid) with the script peppered with great quips to ease the dark battle at hand.

In the team’s path is the Imperial Military Director Krennic (played icy cold by Ben Mendelsohn), power-hungry and keen to impress the Emperor. He’s wonderful and his introduction to Lord Vader Will give you chills, shot as it is in shadow and light. Vader, doesn’t disappoint and its his appearance along with other nods to the Star Wars story that Edwards melds together so beautifully. The old and the new blend so seamlessly, a Jedi master could do it no better.

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Like Rey in The Force Awakens, Jyn’s another strong galactic heroine, standing up for what she believes in and Felicity Jones does a brilliant job anchoring what is a massive war movie. As you might expect the film is a jaw dropping spectacle (the 3D is well worth the money) and while the final act is battle driven, Edwards thrills bringing the fight to blue skies and palm trees, an approach that works beautifully. CGI is used sparingly and concentrated on certain key scenes and the film-making team are to be commended for aiming so high and pulling it off – confirming the level of dedication, love and ambition that went into making it.

To Star Wars, Rogue One is like a cool older cousin, visiting from another star system. It’s fresh and exciting but also vaguely familiar sharing as it does the same DNA.

Go see…immediately.

5/5

Can a writer’s anxiety suffocate their chance of success? How learning to back yourself is crucial…

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So you’ve written a book. When do you decide to tell not just agents and publishers but stand up and shout proudly from the nearest mountain top that you have written a book in all its glory for anyone and everyone to hear?

Whether we recognise it or not, the moment we decide to send it out on submission, its begun a journey, albeit a very long, lonely one but one filled with surprises along the way and soon that book begins to eclipse your worries of failure and your need for re-assurance and become something separate to you, away from the anxiety – for you and your book are not one and the same. The book is fine, its the unpublished writer that’s the mess.

We talk to people in quiet voices, half in embarrassment as they ask how the book’s going and I answer truthfully that I’m still knocking on doors but perhaps its not until you can get over yourself that your book can set sail under its own steam.

‘What’s it about?’ they ask politely and you die inside, judging them judging you before you’ve even finished. You stumble out the word fantasy, then say horror too, then regret that cause it’s not really and then you say, “Well it would be similar to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.” While this has lots of meaning to me, I imagine them stumped – not fans, not interested. Isn’t the whole vampire thing done already? Always knew she was odd, I can almost hear them say.

And so, you keep your book to yourself, tell people on a need-to-know basis to save yourself those conversations. And then something happens. Perhaps tired of feeling this way, tired of waiting for answers that could quite frankly change your life, you decide that you will put your head above the parapet, take a little peak around. You breathe the air in at an agent workshop and think, hey, there’s enough oxygen up here for all of us . You take the feedback. You realise that maybe you’ve learnt a few things from the rejections in the rear view mirror and that what you have might just be okay.

I sit in the front row at a ‘how to get published’ panel during the Dublin Book Festival and take notes – brazen as you like! I even wave hello to the agent I met the day before. Jeez, hold yourself back there girl – you’re in danger of behaving like any other normal person in the room. And though I skulk off afterwards instead of chatting to the publishing folk hanging around (my gumption only lasts so long), I can feel something different in myself. Gone is that helpless feeling of sitting around, being shy both for myself and most dangerously for my book.

I even attend a seminar the following weekend on self-publishing. Something which at the beginning of my journey seemed like a last resort, an oh-well-if-all-else-fails-I-can-shove-it-out-there, ashamed that I couldn’t get any real publishers to take it. I’m not proud of my small town view of e-publishing but the dream was a traditional one. And then in the course of one day, my perception changed totally. A complete 180. Control. Self-publishing means you have control and that notion swims even now in my mind a few weeks later. I now know that this journey is actually a hell of a lot more exciting than I’d anticipated and while I continue to chase traditional submissions, I know that there is no way that my book will ever be a throw-it-out-there thing. The skies of the year ahead suddenly went from grey to blue, even just at the thought of taking its fate into my own hands.

And so I stand proudly over my book. I’m not the sort to rant about its merits, quite the opposite but I know that the feedback I’ve had from my chosen readers has been abundantly positive and so I’m ready now to stand up and own it. So here’s what it is and here’s to not choking on my words when someone is kind enough to ask, ‘What’s it about?’

OUR DESTINY IS BLOOD

New York. 1847.

An Irish girl with a murderous secret. A vampire out for revenge.

Brought together by a powerful force…their destiny is blood.

Seventeen-year-old EVEYLN MOONEY has just burned a man to death with her bare hands. Now she has to run, keeping it a secret from her protective brother MICHAEL, until she can figure it out. Together they flee their famine stricken homeland, crossing the Atlantic to New York and into the household of Russian aristocrat VLADIMIR DERMATOV. But their new master has a secret of his own and when his dead brother makes a miraculous return, the stage is set for a reunion unlike any other. For SASHA is now a vampire, seeking retribution on the brother that left him in the hands of a monster. Their fates will be decided in the mansions of Fifth Avenue and far below them, for a dark force lurks beneath the city who would bring them all together.

©Clare B. Daly 2016