NEVER mind the ‘golden age of Hollywood’ - this is a golden age for Irish film.
We have been nominated for a record 14 Oscars in the annual ceremony next month, spearheaded by the acclaimed successes of The Banshees Of Inisherin and Irish language hit An Cailín Ciúin.
As well as international recognition for the likes of Colin Farrell and Paul Mescal, the homegrown movie industry is booming too, along with an array of behind-the-scenes workers, directors, costume-makers, and make-up artists.
So well are Irish talents doing, that the UK media are struggling to keep up to speed with their ignoble tradition of claiming our stars as Brits!
But, for all the success, I have a confession to make - I haven’t seen any of the Irish films among the nominations.
It isn’t as though the themes or the plots put me off - I honestly kept telling myself I must go and watch Banshees and The Quiet Girl at the cinema... but then, I dunno, life gets in the way.
Next thing I know, the films have ended their cinema run, and are then available to view on a bewildering array of streaming platforms and other online media, most of which I do not subscribe to.
I do have Netflix, and perhaps it is that platform’s dodgy record on movies that has put me off them. I recall at Christmas, after sitting through that Knives Out sequel for half an hour before switching off bored, vowing that I would stick to TV drama from now on.
And that film was mainly praised by the critics! Hence me wondering if my film-watching inertia is my fault, rather than the industry’s.
My aversion to film explains why, of the ten nominated for Best Film at the Oscars, I have only seen one - the sole Netflix production on the list.
Happily, I not only enjoyed it, but I would recommend it to all. Don’t be put off either by the fact All Quiet On The Western Front is a war film - it’s superb in every way.
This is not to denigrate our own Banshees, another Best Film nominee. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed another nominee, Top Gun: Maverick too, my kids saw that last summer and loved it - a tough crowd, teenage boys, although Tom Cruise in shades is clearly still an appealing male role model at 60.
I can’t recall why I didn’t see Top Gun with them - work, probably - but I do know I made a conscious decision not to see another recent Oscar Best Film nominee, Avatar: The Way Of Water, simply because its running time of three hours, 12 minutes scared me off.
Perhaps sheer movie length is one of the reasons I rarely go to the cinema these days?
I made a mental note to watch the Avatar sequel from the comfort of my armchair at a later date, so I could pause the film to stretch my legs or answer the call of a declining prostate... but this week I discovered it is due to ‘drop’ (as they say) on Disney+ in July. I don’t have that... or Amazon Prime for that matter, or Apple TV+, or Paramount+ or anything else with a +.
Perhaps the reason I don’t watch movies any more is partly down to my laziness, then, and partly the fact at-home options are so fragmented.
Compare film to music. When it comes to the latter, I have all I need on Spotify for free (or for a small monthly fee, if I ever decide to erase the ads), but the amount of film streaming platforms is increasing at a bewildering rate.
There aren’t even enough hours in a day to watch TV and the odd Netflix series, never mind purchase yet another TV package.
Maybe, eventually, all these TV giants will coalesce in a Spotify-type environment to allow us discerning armchair viewers to watch the pick of the latest and finest movies.
Ah, but - to return to my original theme - would that make any difference to me? After all, I have had four free cinema tickets in my drawer since last summer and not used them yet! I’m either too lazy or too busy!
I used to love a good cinema flick, which leads me to ponder the type of question beloved of old farts like me: Are films today as good as they used to be?
There is certainly a case to be made for accusing Hollywood of surrendering its soul to liberal themes in recent years, at the expense of a good old blockbuster, or even just a bawdy comedy .... does Hollywood even make them any more, or is that too much of an offending minefield?
Certainly, the thought of sitting through the Best Film nominee Women Talking - based on a novel about a group of women who are raped and drugged in a society where men make all the rules - leaves me stone cold.
Ask me my favourite film and I will point you to ones made when I wore a younger man’s clothes - between, say, 1986 (Top Gun), and 2000 (Gladiator), an era that saw classics like Mississippi Burning, Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Dead Poets Society.
I do have a fondness for action, it’s true...
The only good films I have seen in recent years were also action flicks - the aforementioned All Quiet On The Western Front and another World War I film, 1917.
Last summer, I spent a very pleasant afternoon on holiday with the kids watching Jurassic Park: Dominion - I thoroughly enjoyed that too, despite it being universally panned by the critics and mocked for its many alleged errors.
Maybe I am the opposite of a movie snob - a movie slob?
Or maybe I am just not the target audience for films any more (and, please, let’s not even mention the super-hero genre, I am NOT a kidult.)
You see, I don’t go to the cinema or watch a film on Netflix to be ‘educated’, informed or lectured, in the hope I will become a better, more enlightened person. I go for the escapism, pure and simple.
I see enough of man’s inhumanity to woman, or the horrors of racism and fascism, on the news. When I get the popcorn out, I want to be entertained. Even then, it takes something extra special to lure me in.
Ah, hang on, I see Indiana Jones is back in the cinema this summer. Now that I must see...