MARY LOU McDONALD, SINN FÉIN, DUBLIN CENTRAL
Favourite film? Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. I adore the classics, from a time when when dialogue, authenticity and solid acting were essential to sell a film. Favourite album? At the moment I am listening to Damien Dempsey's Seize the Day. Damien has a truly original voice, is a masterful lyricist, is powerful live and has an ear for an anthemic killer chorus. A true tub-thumper with tunes. Last film you saw? Last week all the McDonald family watched Shrek 1 and 2 on DVD, in one four-hour sitting. Brilliant. It takes a great talent to be able to make a movie that entertains people from age four to 104. Last piece of music you bought? The Beatles – Love. A remastered and remixed 26-song compilation. Loved it. Donald Clarke writes: Ah, Casablanca. After years of mutual mistrust, two old adversaries eventually face up to the inevitable and, upon agreeing an uneasy compromise, stroll off together into the mist. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” one says. But who – Ian or Mary Lou’s boss – gets to be Humphrey Bogart. Brian Boyd writes: Cynics might argue that the only reason you picked the undeniably talented Damien Dempsey was because the singer has spoken in interviews about doing fundraisers for his local Sinn Féin councillor. Then again, maybe not. The Beatles Love album was undoubtedly one of the best releases of last year.
MICHAEL McCARTHY, LABOUR, CORK SOUTHWEST
Favourite film? Hotel Rwanda. It highlighted the terrible atrocities that took place in that part of the world, and it showed that one man can make a difference. Favourite album? The Greatest Hits of Cat Stevens. He wrote his own music and that type of music hits a chord with me (pardon the pun). Last film you saw? Borat. I thought it would be funnier. Last piece of music you bought? The Best of Dance 1997 - it was a second-hand CD, bought in a second-hand store. I didn’t really enjoy it. Thought it would be better. Donald Clarke writes: Senator McCarthy shows his acute political instincts by selecting a film directed by an Irishman – Terry George – which, nonetheless, deals with an international issue of some import. Several bases covered there. Failing to find Borat funny, however, makes him sound more than a little eccentric. Brian Boyd writes: Your choice of Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) is commendable, though Tea For The Tillerman is a more cohesive album than his greatest hits. Two things about the last album you bought. Never buy an album with the words “best of” in the title. Never buy a dance album.
FINIAN McGRATH, INDEPENDENT, DUBLIN NORTH CENTRAL
Favourite film? The Wind that Shakes the Barley. It’s relevant to Ireland and shows what the war of independence was really like. It’s a reminder for us all to ensure that politics works. Favourite album? Albert Hammond’s It Never Rains in Southern California. Rory Gallagher’s Live in Europe. Al Hamm is someone I grew up with and he's a great writer and he was ahead of his time in relation to issues like the environment. Rory Gallagher was the best guitar player in the world as far as I was concerned. Last film you saw? I can't remember, too busy. If I have time I go to a gig rather than a film. The last one I was at was Dylan in the Point. Last piece of music you bought? The Book of Lightning by Mike Scott and The Waterboys. To me it’s top-class. I love the Waterboys and Mike Scott has a very distinctive voice. I like the mix of rock and trad. Donald Clarke writes: Oh Lord, it's bloody Barley again. When Ken Loach set out to make his film concerning the War of Independence he cannot have imagined that its release, by dragging every TD into the cinema, would briefly paralyse the administration of the nation forged by that conflict. Brian Boyd writes: “Al Hamm”, as you call him, is an inspired choice. Naming the guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher dates you, but you redeem yourself by being one of the few people to have bought a 2007 album. Commiserations for not buying a better Waterboys record, though.
JOHN O’DONOGHUE, FIANNA FÁIL, KERRY SOUTH
Favourite film? Papillon. Although the central story in this film is about a man who is wrongly imprisoned for 20 years, the real story is one of hope, perseverance, friendship and most of all the triumph of spirit in extreme circumstances. Favourite album? Tim Dennehy – Between the Mountains and the Sea. He has put the enthralling words of one of Ireland’s most talented writers (Sigerson Clifford) to his own unique brand of traditional Irish music. What was the last film you saw either on DVD or in the cinema? I was lucky enough to be in Cannes when The Wind that Shakes the Barley won the Palm D’Or – recently I looked at it again on DVD. I liked the way Ken Loach approached the film. He worked with local people and actors and this kept a tremendous authenticity about it as many of the incidents in the film are based on truth. Last piece of music you bought? Tim Dennehy – Between the Mountains and the Sea. It takes me home – so I enjoy it immensely. Donald Clarke writes: The minister responsible for the film industry reveals some serious cojones – and risks being punched in the face the next time he walks through Temple Bar – by selecting as his favourite film a project with no Irish connections to speak of. But wait. Dextrous as ever, he covers his posterior by mentioning a recent viewing of that film. Brian Boyd writes: John, as Minister for Arts your decision to double up on your favourite album and the last piece of music you bought is a tad unimaginative, and given that both Tim Dennehy and Sigerson Clifford are both from Kerry, your choice is bordering on the parochial.
PAT RABBITTE, LABOUR, MAYO
Favourite film? Casablanca. A romantic thriller with enduring lines and Ingrid Bergman. Favourite album? Astral Weeks. Raw energy, Van at his best. Last film you saw? An Inconvenient Truth, in the cinema. Thought-provoking, if lacking in specifics. Last piece of music you bought? U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I didn’t even get to hear it yet. Donald Clarke writes: Oh Lord, it’s bloody Casablanca again. But Pat’s lukewarm feelings towards An Inconvenient Truth are more interesting. Is he attempting to put distance between himself and the tree huggers? Brian Boyd writes: You can never go wrong with the Van’s masterpiece recorded in just two days, Astral Weeks. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was released in 2004. That you haven’t listened to it yet suggests music is not a priority for you. Pity, you could sing track three on the album (Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own) to Enda Kenny.
MICHAEL McDOWELL, PD, DUBLIN SOUTHEAST
Favourite film? Casablanca. It’s got everything. Adventure, romance and there are great characterisations in the film. Favourite album? Help by the Beatles. I must say I love the music of the 1960s, and it’s hard to get a better collection of great songs from the ’60s than on that album. Last film you saw? 300. Good but not great. Last piece of music you bought? The Pasadena Roof Orchestra Collection, which I thoroughly enjoy listening to. Donald Clarke writes: Once again, forget Casablanca. The real news here is that the Hammer of Ranelagh saw fit to take himself to 300. Zack Snyder’s ferociously violent epic has been accused of being indecently homoerotic, loose with the facts and right-wing to the point of neo-fascism. This does not sound like our Michael. Brian Boyd writes: The only other person I know of who admits to liking The Pasadena Roof Orchestra is the Queen of England. What this says, I wouldn’t like to speculate. Favourite film? Cal. For the fabulous soundtrack of Mark Knopfler and evocative roles played by Helen Mirren and John Lynch. Favourite album? Till the Day Fades by Liz Seaver. It’s an impressive display of talent by a young Skerries singer/ songwriter, recorded at Troy Horse Studios in Balbriggan. Last film you saw? Amazing Grace, about the campaign to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. It was good, as biopics go, and more faithful to history than, say the Michael Collins biopic. Last piece of music you bought? Can You Feel the Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens, following a recommendation from Ireland's coolest publican and Green Party candidate for Louth, Mark Dearey. It’s very enjoyable – washes over me like a musical Radox bath after a day (and night) of canvassing. Donald Clarke writes: Pat O’Connor’s Cal, a moving tale of the troubles, will do nicely. But what’s this with Amazing Grace? William Wilberforce, the abolitionist hero of the picture, comes across as one of the few voices of integrity in a House of Commons stuffed with time-servers and idlers. Is Trevor trying to tell us something? Brian Boyd writes: I find it difficult to believe that Till The Day Fades In is really your favourite album. Seaver is a young Dublin singer-songwriter who specialises in acoustic folk-pop and is a talent to watch, but selecting this over Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper’s or any other choice from the established musical canon, strikes me as a rash and impetuous choice. You seem to have gone for Sufjan Stevens on the recommendation of a “cool” politician. That wasn’t a good idea because Stevens’s album is the second in a series which will see him travel to all 50 United State to record themed albums. That’s a lot of carbon emissions.
TREVOR SARGENT, GREEN, DUBLIN NORTH