The Ticket asked election candidates to name their favourite movies and albums, then asked two of our film and music critics to comment on their choices. Read it before you vote
BERTIE AHERN, FIANNA FÁIL, DUBLIN CENTRAL
Film: One of the most fascinating and interesting films I saw in the last year was March of the Penguins. Watching nature films is relaxing, and this was an epic tale that was superbly photographed.
Antarctica is inhospitable at any time of the year and in winter is one of the most difficult environments on earth. Every autumn the adults leave their feeding grounds in the ocean and march inland to mate and hatch a single egg. As the winter goes on, the waters freeze and each parent must take turns to make ever longer treks back to the feeding grounds in the ocean to ensure the survival of the other and the young chick. That journey can be over 100 kilometres.
Most human beings think penguins are very attractive and often comical characters; in reality their lives are harsh and their struggle for survival is epic. By comparison to what Emperor Penguins go through every year, an election every five years is an easier option when it comes to survival of the species. Album: My favourite LP has to be Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits. Songs like Forever in Blue Jeans, I Am. . . I Said and Beautiful Noise bring me back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was in my early 20s and like most people, I enjoyed those years. I went to see Neil Diamond when he was last in Dublin and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He is very good in concert. Donald Clarke writes: Stop the presses! An Taoiseach picks slab of neo-con propaganda as his favourite film. Not really. Though nuttier America conservatives claimed that Luc Jacquet’s amiable documentary, March of the Penguins, supported their worldview, the film is guaranteed to offend absolutely nobody. Brian Boyd writes: Without being flippant, most people of your age who look back on the music they were listening to in their carefree early 20s tend to get all misty-eyed about the likes of Dylan, The Stones or, at a push, Pink Floyd. The fact that you were getting on down to Neil Diamond while all around you were turning on, tuning on and dropping out suggests, dare I say it, a bit of a wasted youth.
The other point here is that you should never select a Greatest Hits album as a favourite album – it’s not very discerning. Diamond is an undoubtedly great songwriter and a consummate showman – even if his gigs can sometime feel like glorified karaoke sessions.
BARRY ANDREWS, FIANNA FÁIL, DUN LAOGHAIRE
Favourite film? Life is Beautiful. There is a scene where the guy is a prisoner in the concentration camp and gets a job waiting tables. He gets a chance to change records on the gramophone. He chooses Barcarolle by Offenbach and turns the speaker to an open window in the direction of the women’s camp where his wife is – she hears the music and knows he is still alive. That scene sticks out in my mind. I still like watching Withnail and I, which is hilarious and about nothing in particular - lots of great quotes and characters. Favourite album? Blue Valentine by Tom Waits. I first heard it on a cassette and liked all the songs on side one particularly Romeo is Bleeding and Christmas Card from a Hooker. The lyrics are great and the sound is very jazzy which I like. I like all of Tom Waits’s stuff. Last film you saw ? The last DVD was Manhattan with Woody Allen - I subscribe to Moviestar.ie and this was on the list, so it just arrived one day. I saw it first after doing a J1 in New York - it is still cool and very funny. The last cinema film was Last King of Scotland - amazing performance from Forrest Whitaker. I have been to Uganda and the place has come a long way without being perfect. What was the last piece of music you bought? I haven’t bought any music for a while – I think the last one was Franz Ferdinand’s second album – not as good as the first one. Donald Clarke writes: Barry, scion of a great political dynasty, refuses to bow to electoral orthodoxy by making a statement to which no voter could object. Life is Beautiful, the Marmite of motion pictures, is, according to your taste, either deeply moving or a reprehensible, disgustingly manipulative perversion of the Holocaust. Clearly a brave politician. Brian Boyd writes: Barry, you’re spot on about Offenbach’s beautiful Barcarolle and Offenbach would have made for a more engaging choice than Tom Waits’s Blue Valentine, which isn’t even his best work (Small Change from 1976 is better). Franz Ferdinand is a dreadfully predictable choice for your last album purchased. Do you honestly like their po-faced derivative art-rock? Or do you just like their initials?
NIALL BLANEY, FIANNA FÁIL, DONEGAL NORTHEAST
Favourite film? The Lion King. It appeals to the imagination. Favourite album? No favourite. Last film you saw? The Wind that Shakes the Barley. I thought it showed a more real representation of Irish history. Last piece of music you bought? Can’t remember it’s been so long. Donald Clarke writes: Niall, one of those Blaneys, would, presumably, have been expelled from his clan if he had failed to mention The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The Lion King is a more surprising inclusion. Mind you, the circle of life is illustrated quite powerfully by the perennial appearance of different generations of Blaney in Dáil Éireann. Brian Boyd writes: I don't think you’ll be in the running for Minister for Arts if Fianna Fáil are re-elected. This limp response reeks of indifference. While there is no imperative to make an effort on the musical front, you could try to engage more with your cultural surrounds – particularly as you’re from such a musically rich county. If you like The Lion King, you’ll probably like the person who wrote the music for it – Elton John. And you're welcome to him.
LUCINDA CREIGHTON, FINE GAEL, DUBLIN SOUTHEAST
Favourite film? The Godfather. I am a big fan of mafia/gangster movies and The Godfather is a true classic. I think the cast with Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton and Al Pacino is one of the best ever. My favourite scene is the one with the dead horse’s head in Don Corleone’s bed – gruesome but great. Favourite album? Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate. It’s difficult to pick one album by Leonard Cohen because all of his work is amazing. I love this one because is has a good mix of typical Cohen ballads and it includes my favourite song, Famous Blue Raincoat. Some people regard his music as depressing, but I find it uplifting. I listen to him all the time. Last film you saw? The last movie I saw on DVD was The History Boys. It was terrible. It
was supposed to be a clever British comedy with a Dead Poets Society feel to it. I watched it with friends and we moaned and groaned the whole way through it. Last piece of music you bought? We Thrive on Big Cities by Director. They are a really good new Dublin band. There are lots coming up at the moment which is fantastic. I like to buy Irish! Donald Clarke writes: Lucinda’s contribution suggests that she can be trusted on the broad issues, but perhaps needs to pay greater attention to the more intricate details of policy. The Godfather is certainly a classic, but the horse’s head ends up in Jack Woltz’s bed, not Don Corleone’s. Brian Boyd writes: Few view Cohen in the correct light: as an arch humorist frequently misinterpreted as a bedsit miserablist. I’m concerned that you failed to appreciate Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. This cancels the bonus points you got for Leonard. “I like to buy Irish” is a daft remark, but at least Director (one of the best new Irish bands around) are not constituents of yours.
OLWYN ENRIGHT, FINE GAEL, LAOIS-OFFALY ENDA KENNY, FINE GAEL, MAYO
Favourite film? A Man for All Seasons. It epitomises courage and loyalty. Favourite album? The Rising by Bruce Springsteen. The social comment is hugely powerful and really speaks to me. Last film you saw? The Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. A brilliant portrayal of an extraordinary time in American musical development. The two main performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were surprisingly powerful. Last piece of music you bought? The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen. Donald Clarke writes: Enda, who, despite his apparent taste for Johnny Cash, would never shoot a man just to see him die, might be accused of playing to negative aspects of his perceived image by selecting a plodding, slightly dull picture such as A Man for All Seasons. But, in his defence, he is one of only two politicians on the list to select a film made before 1970 that is not Casablanca. Radical. Brian Boyd writes: Just a quick correction and clarification here: Favourite film? I like old classics such as Casablanca and I also enjoy films such as the Godfather series. My tastes change all the time depending on what film I go to see. Favourite album? Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams album. I like his style of music. It is upbeat and mellow at the same time. Last film you saw? Once, starring Glen Hansard. The music was lovely and it was very interesting because it depicted the changing nature of Irish society in a humorous and touching way. Last piece of music you bought? 18, the U2 compilation album. I am big U2 fan, but prefer their earlier stuff. Donald Clarke writes: Did Tom Enright, Olwyn’s dad and her predecessor as TD for Laois Offaly, have as much trouble persuading his offspring to take over the business as Don Corleone did in The Godfather? Whatever. Fine Gael politicians, as prone to forming dynasties as their opponents, do seem disturbingly keen on Coppola’s gangster classic. Oh, and Casablanca again. Brian Boyd writes: The only semi-interesting thing about the surfer turned anodyne musician Jack Johnson is that he has a fan base far out of proportion to his musical ability. Apparently this is because of (as a colleague informs me) his “ridability” factor. Not that this would influence a Fine Gael frontbench spokesperson in any way or form. Springsteen’s The Rising is not a social comment album, it is a ruminative reflection on the events and aftermath of 9/11 – not quite the same thing. While Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions is an enthralling work, I do wonder what you would make of the fact that Pete Seeger was involved with the American Communist Party in the 1950s and was known, even to some members of the Democratic Party, as “Stalin's Songbird”. If you want to know more about Pete Seeger, I’m sure Pat Rabbite has a few of his old albums.
TOM KITT, FIANNA FÁIL, DUBLIN SOUTH
Favourite film? LA Confidential. Classic Storyline, strong characters, brilliant setting, atmosphere, gripping stuff. All round great movie. Favourite album? Guy Clarke – The Dark. He is one of my all-time favourite singers. My son gave me a present of this particular album last year. He is still producing great material. His voice is really special, as is his guitar-playing and his story-telling. Last film you saw? On DVD, Little Miss Sunshine. Heart-warming story with some amazing characters. It’s a feel-good, intelligent comedy. Last piece of music you bought? OCMS – The Old Crow Medicine Show - Impressive young bluegrass, country band. Great sounding guitars, banjos and harmonies. Donald Clarke writes: When, in LA Confidential, Russell Crowe wants to impress his will upon a suspect, he kicks nine colours of ordure out of him and dangles him from a 10th-floor window. Tom, as outgoing Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, has been carrying out the duties of Chief Whip. I’d vote the way he says, if I were you. Brian Boyd writes: Quite récherché choices, even if the Guy Clark album was given to you by your son – the singer-songwriter David, perhaps? Clark is a consistently underrated talent. The only thing I know about OCMS is that I don’t like them or their twee Americana. Nevertheless, there’s obviously musical knowledge going on here. Maybe Bertie should appoint you musical supervisor of the Ard-fheisanna. Continued overleaf
March of the Penguins appeals to the leader of the soldiers of destiny