La La Land – Movie Review of La La Land (2017)

La La Land – Movie Review of La La Land (2017)

La La Land is getting a lot of attention and is hotly tipped to win big at this year’s Oscars. It has been nominated in a number of categories at today’s Oscars announcement. I wasn’t sure what to expect from La La Land as I am not a fan of musicals as a Movie Genre. La La Land is not the blockbuster you can compare to last years Revenant but it sure packs a punch on a few different levels.

La La Land starts with a musical number, quite predictably, setting up what will be a romantic relationship. The film seems to have a very familiar feel about it, shot in a style which is quite different to other movies out this year. It is bright and I get the feeling that the saturation and vibrance of colours was increased during filming/post-production. This gives an almost 1950’s or Technicolour feel about the film.

La La Land is set in modern day Los Angeles yet we can see nods to the glory days of Hollywood. The movie opens with an amazing highway scene with thousands of cars and dancers…. Worth a good portion of your admission fee to see that! (If you saw the opening sequence to the Golden Globes you will get an idea). Sebastian played by Ryan Gosling is a budding jazz musician and wants to open his own club o this terms. He meets Mia played by the wonderful Emma Stone which is an actress who just can’t catch a break.  They initially meet on the highway for a brief moment. They also almost meet in a piano bar but Sebastian brushes past her. When Sebastian and Mia meet properly, we see song and dance numbers reflecting on movies such as ‘Singing in the Rain’.

The rest of the story (in order to avoid spoilers) is set with them trying to help each other achieve their dreams. There is much song and dance in between with some great scenes including one in a Planetarium which is impressive visually and also as a musical number. This scene is actually one further nod to the golden days of Hollywood. The scene is set at the Griffith Observatory, and it is visited by Sebastian and Mia after watching the classic movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling really do work well and certainly have an on screen bond which makes their performance so believable and captivating.  Eventually both get a shot at their dreams and with guest performances from John Legend and J.K Simmons the movie really has a good cast. I’m not going to spoil anything, but you should enjoy the movie as it is a treat for the eyes and the ears.

The only negative thing is that the movie takes a bit of time to get going. However, I felt but once it is moving you are pulled along with it … Not screaming, rather singing and dancing with it.

You will like La La Land and it is certainly a ‘feel good’ pick-me-up. If you had a bad day, go see this movie. Enjoy!


Official Trailer of La La Land

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – DVD/Download Review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – DVD/Download Review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople was out in the cinemas earlier in 2016 but I never made it. I was delighted to see that it was on Netflix and recently Watched it. The title of the film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is quite unusual and comes from a section of the film where the boy is reading about Wildebeest.

From the outset it is a very easy to watch film about a boy, played by Julian Dennison, moved from foster-home to foster-home. He has a history of “kicking things, spitting, setting fire to things, loitering….” etc (trust me it’s a good line in the film.) He ends up on a farm and although he rebels once again he quickly feels that this is home.

Due to circumstances he hears that the authorities are coming back to remove him. He knows that he will go to Juvenile prison so he decides to venture into the bush and go on the run. His trek takes a turn after he gets lost and his uncle, played by Sam Neil, finds him. From this point the trek takes a further turn for the worse, and they become outlaws of a kind.

The film is done as chapters, e.g Chapter 9, WAR etc, so you get a feeling of what is to come. The characters are all really good, especially the sassy and sharp (sometimes not as sharp) boy in the movie.

Shot in New Zealand, I had an extra reason to see this movie. The scenery, dialogue and story are all really strong and this would be suitable for all the family (with the exception of a scene with a large wild boar and the 2 dogs). It is a very warm and enjoyable film with lots of great lines and well played roles. This is a real sit back and enjoy the popcorn move – Enjoy!


Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Official Trailer

Passengers – Movie Review / Film Review

Passengers – Movie Review / Film Review

Jim Preston is one of 5,000 passengers on board the spaceship, Starship Avalon. The ship is on a 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet “Homestead 2”. After a malfunction in Jim Preston’s hibernation pod, Jim (played by Chris Pratt) is the only one awake. Now he is stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from his destination.

Passengers – Movie Review

If you watch the trailer of Passengers you may get a sense of what is happening. My initial interpretation of the Passengers trailer was different. I thought both were all awoken by mistake. I also thought perhaps there was a conspiracy to sabotage the starships journey. I even tought that perhaps these were all AI lifeforms which were being banished from earth. All of my personal assumptions about the movie were incorrect.

The movie starts with Jim being prematurely woken from his hypersleep. He doesn’t know what is happening and tries everything to gain control of the situation. Jim tried everything from trying to gain access to the bridge, to trying to get back into the hypersleep chamber. You get to see how one man lives for over a year without anyone else to talk to. He has an android barman, named Arthur, but he longs for human companionship. Jim tries all the amenities on the ship but nothing makes him feel any better about his predicament. You see him disintegrate into a man who feels that all is lost.

It is at this point he meets Aurora (no spoilers here, so apologies for a key section skipped). Although Aurora is alarmed to have been woken but Jim does his best to reassure her. Aurora and himself get on very well and eventually for a romantic relationship. However after Arthur, the barman (played by Michael Sheen), tells Aurora some background information she breaksdown. All seems lost, but a bigger problem is looming. The ship systems are failing and the ship is on the brink of destruction. The ship will have to be repaired, but how can it be done in time? Can they go back to hypersleep? Are they doomed to live out their lives on a sleeping starship? ….


Overall Passengers is a really enjoyable movie and is certainly worth seeing on the big screen. There are points in the movie where I felt a small bit bored, as it was a bit like Groundhog Day. However, it is obvious that these scenes are required to convey the monotony of life on your own in such a confined space. I saw this in 2D but I feel you might get more from this in 3D. There are stunning sweepinh scenes of nebluae, space walks and transit through space. There are a few small-plot twists in this which add to the drama. The conclusion of the film was very well done and I feel the ending was well written. There are often films which have poor endings but this is not one of them.

Passengers – Official Trailer

Passengers – Overall Review Score

  • Overall Score 87%
Flashback – Feile 92 Recovered Photos

Flashback – Feile 92 Recovered Photos

Feile 92 Photos

In 1992 I was at Feile in Thurles after I won a competition on 98 FM. I recently found a collection of old photos which were taken with a Fuji disposable camera which I bought at Feile. The camera was very poor, as you would expect from a disposable camera from 24 years ago.

Below is a select gallery of images from that day. If you spot yourself please leave a comment !

2016 , My Year in Review

2016 , My Year in Review

2016 will probably be remembered as a year full of untimely celebrity deaths, terrorist incidents and countries voting against the establishment. It was the year of Brexit and Trump. 2016 was also the year we said goodbye to Bowie, George Michael, Leonard Cohen and many more.  This is just a look back at my year and a look forward to 2017.

Rock of Ages – April 2016

January to March was fairly uneventful; I finished a Digital Marketing diploma in February which passed the time during the winter months. With a quite winter behind me, in April all that changed. I got a phone call one Thursday morning asking if I would play keyboards for the stage-show of Rock of Ages. Normally I would jump at this, but the only issue was that it started in 3 days. I had to learn 268 pages of the sheet music during this time. Dress rehearsal would be in 3 days and the show started in 5 days.

Shane McDonald in Rock of Ages at Garter Lane Waterford

Cast of Rock of Ages at Garter Lane Waterford, April 2016 – I’m on keyboards in the background!

In the end I did it, learned the music and did 4 days in Garter Lane in Waterford. It was one of the most enjoyable things I had done. The thrill of playing 2 hours of songs like Don’t Stop Believin’, The Final countdown, Sister Christian and Here I Go Again live on stage was a dream come true. (At some point I would love to be asked to play keys for the Queen show We Will Rock You, since I already know the music it would be a great one to do).

After the 4 performances I really missed the thrill of being on stage. Hopefully there might be more opportunities like this in the future.

Glastonbury – June  2016

We booked Glastonbury in October 2015 and was not expecting the weather to be as bad as it was. In the days leading up to it videos of floods on the site showed torrents of water over 2 feet deep in places. I was not looking forward to it. As it turned out it was not as bad as I expected. It was very muddy and very wet  which meant rain gear was required quite a lot. It also meant lying down on the grass to watch bands, as we did in 2013 and 2015 , was not an option.

A very muddy Glastonbury 2016

A very muddy Glastonbury 2016

I was not playing at the 2016 festival, but I did find a few abandoned pianos to enjoy. At one point a large crowd gathered and sung Bohemian Rhapsody which was very enjoyable. The highlight of the festival was Coldplay on the Sunday evening – I have never seen such a crowd at Glastonbury.

Coldplay at Glastonbury 2016 - Michael Eavis joins on stage for this one

Coldplay at Glastonbury 2016 – Michael Eavis joins on stage for this one – Summer 2016

In May 2016 I started work in moving content from to The .org site had not been updated in a while and was for the main part not mobile friendly. With Google penalising non mobile friendly sites SEO efforts, this was one aim. Also I felt the dot i.e. address reflected an Irish site better than the dot org I registered in 2001.

Since the transition in May, the site has had about 120,000 page views, which is not bad. However it is far short of the 12million page views the site got at its peak in 2008. 1.2 million of those age views came in April 2008 when an April Fools Joke went viral, resulting in my hosting company at the time closing down the site. (I’m not going to mention the company but they are US Based and I have been with Blacknight since)

Since then I have also moved My Queen site to the i.e. domain and in 2017 I will just do some final tweaks to the site architecture so that it is future proofed.

Winter 2016

Since the summer the few months have flown, and really I have just been spending a lot of time organising my photos and looking at doing more photography in 2017. I will be posting my shots on my photoblog at and I hope to have the first few blog posts online by early Jan.

Hope you have a very Happy 2017

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