Universal appeal

I wish I could have the experience of watching The Farthest for the first time once again. I can’t recall exactly but I think it was about two-thirds of the way in, as the lush, jazzy shuffle of Pink Floyd’s Us and Them was soundtracking a segment of the probe’s flight, that I really began to get that tingle in the spine that this was something very special indeed. America is about to have the pleasure of its company from August 11th (which should be some recompense for the impending threat of nuclear war). They are in for a major treat, as this 5-star Sindo review hints. 


Title: The Farthest
Cert: PG

IT WAS in 2013, just as director Emer Reynolds and producer John Murray realised a shared obsession with the Voyager space-probe mission, that NASA announced that Voyager 1 had left our solar system, making it the first man-made object to enter interstellar space.

Reynolds, Murray and co-producer Clare Stronge rounded up cinematographer Kate McCullough, film-score maestro Ray Harman and a host of other leading home-grown talent and got to work on a feature documentary to chart the inception and journey of this extraordinary scientific venture.

Four years after that moment (and 40 in total since Voyager 1 was launched), The Farthest arrives as not only one of the finest film projects ever completed with Irish Film Board funding but one of the big-screen events of the year.

There is too much of sheer fascination to map-out here but some strands are particularly astonishing. One is the primitive nature of the probe’s computer system – equivalent to that inside a hearing aid – that powers it to this day and for years sent back jaw-dropping images that have rewritten our knowledge of space. Another is the “Golden Record” created by celeb boffin Carl Sagan to travel aboard the craft as a musical and visual primer should alien intelligence ever intercept it.

A film that will make you marvel anew at both the stars above as well as the beauty and ambition of science. Book your tickets this instant.


First published in the Sunday Independent



Great work done here by debutante Mark Gill in this Moz biopic. Here’s the recent Sindo review (complete with less-than-subtle Smiths lyrical pun). 


England is Mine
Cert: 15A

STOP me if you think you’ve heard this one before: Sensitive, misunderstood literary type in grimy England defies calls that he’s a no-hoper and rises to rock stardom. England Is Mine, a biopic of The Smiths’ mouth-in-chief Morrissey should be an exercise in by-numbers rock hagiography for the big screen. What makes writer-director Mark Gill’s debut interesting is that it is not.

Jack Lowden (who can also be seen in Dunkirk) is committed as the young Steven Patrick Morrissey, awkward in his shoes, fed-up with Manchester (and everything else besides), and every bit as much of an intellectual snob as he is today.

Wry, tasteful, unforced and with a tangible sense of the era, this is a portrait of a mercurial rock icon’s formative years that, fittingly, ploughs its own furrow.


First published in the Sunday Independent

Shit sandwich

Just… no. 


The Emoji Movie
Cert: G

WHEN future cultural historians look back at the annals of early 21st-century cinema history, there will be much cause for reverence. Equally, however, there will be time devoted to a handful of incidents where Hollywood types decided that digital or gaming interfaces would surely have no trouble crossing over into cinemas.

For anyone over the age of 70, emojis are the small smiley faces and characters used in phone text messaging to do the job language once did. They have been deemed so “now” as to justify throwing millions of dollars and a bevy of talent at a film adaptation because that’s what the world needs right now. Behind this thinking is the very same lack of regard for consequence and taste that elects reality TV stars to government or ejects nations from financial markets. It’s been signed-off on – what now?

Here’s what: A cinema release perhaps without equal this year in terms of how shockingly dreadful it is.

A series of crimes are committed, from the conceptual (the drearily dull premise of a “magical” world of product-placed apps within your smartphone) to the executional (a dispiriting lack of effort in the comedy writing, cringefully obvious characterisations).

Then there’s the bleating, babbling inanity of the dialogue and core voicing cast that features TJ Miller, James Corden and Patrick Stewart as, in what you can only hope is an example of wry synecdoche, a talking turd.


First published in the Sunday Independent