Fall in New York. A busy time for everyone as the holiday season begins. An even busier time for Gabriel Byrne!
While Mr. Byrne was in NYC in November talking about the Irish Hospice Foundation, reading from The Book of Men, and introducing one of several tributes to poet Seamus Heaney, his films and television series were in the news, too.
You will have read some of the news items below, but there is new stuff as well. So read on!
design and dignity: end of life care
On November 12, Gabriel Byrne launched the Irish Hospice Foundation Design & Dignity Fund in New York, where he appealed for support for “the simple and transformational changes” taking place in Irish hospitals aimed at making death more bearable for those at end of life and for family and friends left behind. The work is being spearheaded by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), the national charity which is dedicated to all matters related to dying, death and bereavement in Ireland, an organization which Mr. Byrne has supported for many years.
And you can support this project (while doing your holiday shopping!) by checking out the book The Gathering–Reflections on Ireland at the IHF book shop!
Gabriel Byrne making an impassioned plea on behalf of this important project
Commonweal Magazine has a terrific review of Benjamin Black’s latest Quirke novel: Holy Orders.
The latest novel in the series, Holy Orders, offers us an apparently inexplicable murder, a Gypsy “tinker” encampment, threats to Quirke’s daughter, an avenging sibling, and a pedophile priest. Yet the real heart of the work is Banville’s development of Quirke.
This is book six in the series. You should read it while we continue to wait for Quirke to appear on television!
And according to an article at the Irish Film and Television Network (IFTN), Quirke will be shown on BBC and RTÉ “in the New Year.”
Behind the scenes at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
Just A Sigh (Le temps de l’aventure)
Our favorite film was the opening film at the Irish Film Institute’s (IFI) French Fest on November 20 in Dublin. Director Jérôme Bonnell and Emmanuelle Devos attended the screening and participated in a Q&A with David O. Mahony of Access Cinema. The screening was sold out.
Emmanuelle Devos was interviewed at Movies.ie and she had this to say about Mr. Byrne:
“Gabriel was just as charming as I had imagined,” smiles Devos. “I think he was also very flattered to have this part written for him, although it took him a few days to say yes. Maybe he was in shock? The fact that Gabriel is Irish and I am French adds to the sense of the exotic and the unknown for our characters. It meant this was a very easy part to play.”
Entertainment.ie tweeted: “Sorry Gabriel Byrne, you’re class, but you’re not quite an object of sexual desire” and then proceeded to slam the film in their review:
Basically, Just A Sigh feels like a reconstruction of the meet-cute / love-affair-with-a-time-limit from Before Sunrise, but with much older, more awkward characters. It wants you to fall in love with its uncomfortable realism, but fails due to the couple’s complete lack of chemistry. Byrne is many things, but a viable object of desire he is not, with his supposed lustful looks coming across vaguely homicidal. Devos’ character falls into similar problems, smacking of desperation and borderline stalker-y behaviour instead of adorably persistent.
Response in France and the United States has been much more positive, so keep that in mind and read more about the film here at Byrneholics.
Proof of chemistry
narrative 4: The Book of Men
Colum McCann was joined by Gabriel Byrne and others on November 6 in New York City as they presented stories from the new collection The Book of Men, which includes the work of more than 80 terrific writers from all over the world, curated by McCann, Esquire, and the new literary organization Narrative 4. The event took place at Symphony Space as part of the Selected Shorts program.
Be sure to read the review of the event by Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin published here at Byrneholics and join in the conversation!
The curators taking a very broad interpretation of their theme have come up with an eclectic anthology that looks at both traditional and unconventional ideas about what it means to be a man. In keeping with the Narrative 4 mission statement they “encourage people to walk in one another’s shoes.”
The stories come from all over the world. They are written by men and women, gay and straight, old and young. They run from a short paragraph to perhaps three or even four pages. They are all untitled and arranged alphabetically by author, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche to Mario Alberto Zambrano…
This is not the kind of book you want to read in large chunks. The pieces, though short, reward some thoughtful analysis. Read too much at one time, and the stories get jumbled; they lose their individuality. This is a book best savored a story or two at a time.
Gabriel Byrne reading at the Narrative 4 event
Secret State is now available in Australia on UKTV and it also popped up on DirecTV this month in the United States and Canada. I purchased the DVD last December, so I was able to view the series back then–but only on my computer.
While traveling two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Episode One of Secret State on the big screen in my hotel room. What a difference! I was surprised by the clarity of the image, by the fast-pace of the story-telling, which is more compelling when its actors are life-sized, and of course I was struck by the intensity and commitment of Gabriel Byrne in his role as Tom Dawkins, reluctant leader. But I must say everyone was more intense on the “big” screen: Douglas Hodge was so sympathetic as the brilliant but destroyed Tony Fossett, I could feel Ruth Negga’s increasing paranoia and fear, and the connection between Tom and reporter Ellis Kane (Gina McKee) was more subtle and also more real.
It is always nice to have the critics agree. The Sydney Morning Herald has this to say:
Hostages (Nine, Wednesday, 8.30pm), the mostly regrettable drama starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott, fails where Secret State (UK TV, Saturday, 8.30pm), a comparable conspiracy drama starring Gabriel Byrne, and absolutely everybody else, succeeds. On Hostages, we’ve waited weeks for somebody to kill the apparently unlikeable president of the USA. Hostage doctor, played rather monotonously by our Toni, is supposed to kill him on the operating table. As the plot thickens, more people who are not POTUS die, and nobody notices that the doctor’s family are behaving like desperate paranoid pregnant and/or nearly mortally wounded hostages. Are we supposed to care about everybody, or anybody? It’s not clear.
Secret State begins with a shocking industrial accident, and the British prime minister seeking compensation from the US petrochemical company, weeks before an election. Within 15 minutes the British PM is dead (crashes in petrochemical company’s plane), the deputy PM (Gabriel Byrne) finds himself at the heart of a political and industrial nightmare, and the possible target of further retaliations. Very suddenly we have some genuine drama. The rest of the pollies and lobbyists (Gina McKee, Charles Dance and Rupert Graves) descend at speed and the paranoia rises. Nobody wants to suggest the Americans are just a little too attached to their presidents, but it certainly ups the ante when the writers have the courage of an unpredictable kill in the opening scenes.
Secret State was nominated for an International Emmy this past week but did not win. You can still win, though. Watch the show and prepare yourself for some dramatic fireworks, a twisty plot, and another great performance from Mr. Byrne.
As those in the UK who saw the series last fall when it first aired tweeted: Gabriel Byrne for PM!
requiescat en pace: Seamus Heaney
Favorite Poems: In Tribute to Seamus Heaney, was held on Friday, November 15 at 8:00 pm, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York City. Sponsored by the Irish Arts Center as part of its PoetryFest program, the evening included readings of Mr. Heaney’s poems and an introduction by Gabriel Byrne.
Remembering Seamus Heaney by Kathy A. Callahan at the Irish American Writers and Artists Blog:
Not a dry eye in Seamus Heaney’s ‘House’ last night as we paid tribute to him at St Anne’s Warehouse. From the front row, I turned around and saw 600 mournful faces awash in a sea of gratitude and appreciation…Irish Actor, Irish Arts Center Patron Gabriel Byrne, lead the tribute in a soothing voice from the front of the room. I could see it coming…We would all be IN TREATMENT soon. Not a tissue box in site or a pair of sunglasses to wear…
Thanks to Angelle for the alert on this!
Seamus Heaney: Poet. Translator. Academic. Nobel Prize winner. Irish. 1939-2013.
Ian McPherson is an artist who knows how to capture a film image and make it his own. This image is from the film All Things To All Men, in which Mr. Byrne played Joseph Corso.
We have seen images from this film before, provided by Paul Shipper. It’s interesting that this film has inspired both artists…
And don’t forget: the DVD will become available at Amazon UK on January 6, 2014 (under the title The Deadly Game).
There is a spoiler here, but I think of it more as a hint of things to come. Still, beware!
In an on-the-set interview with Page To Premiere, Lucy Fry, who plays Lissa Dragomir in Vampire Academy, was asked if she had a favorite scene so far. Her response?
I really enjoyed the torture scene with Victor. Somehow that was really fun.
As you know, Gabriel Byrne will be Victor Dashkov, Lissa’s nemesis. Is your interest piqued? Yes? The link takes you to the complete interview, so head over there and give it a read!
Later in November, the new Vampire Academy trailer was released. This trailer actually has a brief scene with Gabriel Byrne as Victor. And Victor speaks! I am trying really hard not to spoil this film for you, but I want you to know that the role of Victor is pivotal to the plot of the movie (and the book, of course). So you should begin anticipating Vampire Academy now because Mr. Byrne is going to rock!
CinemaBlend provided some good background information in their article accompanying the trailer.
premiere of Behind The Sword In The Stone
As most of you know, I will attend the premiere of this documentary film in Dublin on December 20. I am really excited to see the film, of course, but I am even more excited to meet the team responsible for making it: Alec Moore and Mark Wright, of Mossy Hare Productions. After months of emails back and forth, it will be wonderful to meet these committed artists. In addition, I will also have an opportunity to meet others with whom I have been corresponding over these past months on various projects. And there may be a few celebrities on hand for the festivities (and perhaps even a very special person!). Finally, I plan to see many key places and historic sites in Dublin–add all of this together and the trip of the decade is in the making! I can’t believe it will only last 3 1/2 days…
I promise a full report with pictures when I return.
a farewell to autumn
As we say goodbye to this season of golden and russet colors, here is Paul Weston in a reflective mood.
Happy Thanksgiving to those Byrneholics in the US!