Is the Actor Happy?

by Maria on January 5, 2010

Winter has been brutal in more than the obvious ways. I just heard via a friend’s Facebook update that Vic Chestnutt gave up the ghost on Christmas Day. Justin Keating, a lion of the Irish left has also died (Garrett Fitzgerald remembers their work together in cabinet here) Cardinal Cathal Daly has gone to God, just as the Catholic hierarchy finally, mulishly owns up to its failure to protect children from sexual abuse. By Irish standards, his funeral seemed small and subdued, testament to the painful truth that however much we get right in this life, getting one awful thing very, very wrong is hard for others to forgive.

A funeral full of colourful characters, sadness and celebration was that of Michael Dwyer, Ireland’s best film critic. He was described by Daniel Day Lewis as “gentle, modest and kind”, a critic who “was never cruel, ever, nor was he self-serving.” That is high praise from an actor. (More here) Dwyer wasn’t afraid to tell you when a film was rubbish. He just had no need for spite or ego in how he did it.

Hugh Linehan relates many of Michael Dwyer’s achievements, and reminds me of lots I hadn’t known of or had forgotten: Dwyer was a Kerryman, and gave the Tralee Film Society and later the Federation of Irish Film Societies a kick in the arse at a time when there was so little choice in Ireland for films, books and music. He founded and later saved the Dublin Film Festival. Dwyer had friends throughout the world of cinema; the French government recognized him and declared him a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

I grew up in a little town in 1980s Ireland. I wouldn’t wish to have lived anywhere else, but even to a rather prim teenager it felt limited. Most of the notoriously banned books like Ulysses or Lady Chatterley’s Lover were freely available by then, but our cultural window was still narrow. Books were Mills and Boone in the supermarket or something you went to Dublin for. Films were whatever was showing at the local flea-pit, assuming it was open and not, at that moment, turned into a restaurant or just left to rot. Television had two channels and video, when Xtravision came to our town, was mostly Rocky’s and Jean Claude van Damme flicks.
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Swaggering, sneering incivility

by Henry Farrell on January 5, 2010

“Clive Crook”: tells us that Americans are ever so much more polite than Brits, and then goes on to complain about blogs.

Jarringly different standards apply in politics, and especially in the political blogosphere. There, “coarsening” is too mild a word. All that swaggering, sneering incivility: maybe I find it disgusting because it’s so unAmerican.

Fair enough if you don’t like it, but I am still at a loss to understand the difference between all this twuly vewy howwid incivility and “suggestions that civil liberties types would be perfectly fine with the deaths of millions of their fellow citizens if only they could get their way”: Perhaps it isn’t incivil by definition when it’s an FT pundit doing it rather than a nasty little leftist blogger? Or perhaps Crook believes that he’s just telling it like it is? (the rather obvious rejoinder being, however, that the bloggers he detests so much fancy that the same thing is true of them). I’ve previously invited Mr. Crook to explain the difference between the kinds of things that he says about lefty civil liberties types and the forms of debasing discourse that he so deplores; so far, he has unaccountably failed to do so. In the absence of such a clarification, I can only presume that his distinction rests on the Yes Minister theory of irregular verbs – I engage in vigorous yet fair truthtelling, you perhaps say things a little too stridently for your own good, he is a disgusting, swaggering and incivil boor.