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Tag Archive: Gabriel Byrne


Every single episode of season five left us breathless and anxious for the next.  History’s Vikings is returning in early December to begin its sixth and final season, and the network just released the first trailer and poster for the show, based on the sagas of the Vikings in medieval Scandinavia, England, and France.  For followers of the series it’s goosebump-inducing stuff.  Action-filled, bloody, and dramatic, the series has seen brilliant characters in Ragnar Lothbrok, his sons Bjorn and Ivar, Lagertha, and Floki.  It’s also seen some powerful guest stars with roles taken on by the likes of Donal Logue, Linus Roache,  Adam Copeland, Kris Holden-Ried, and Gabriel Byrne.

Series star Katheryn Winnick has lead the way with her powerful, historical character Lagertha.  Credit goes to creator and showrunner Michael Hirst for his vision and smart writing, getting viewers to this season, and as the trailer reveals, some kind of a resolution between Bjorn and Ivar, for better or worse.  It’s great television, and if you haven’t been watching, you have two months left to catch up.

Alexander Ludwig is back as Bjorn, with Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki and Alex Høgh as Ivar.  Here is the new trailer for the sixth and final season of Vikings:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The three 90-minute episode television series is one of those staples of the BBC that is both refreshing and infuriating.  It’s refreshing because it avoids all the padding that is so commonplace among those direct-to-binge, 10-episode shows premiering regularly now on Netflix and other streaming providers.  But it’s infuriating to find a series that is so well written and produced, you love the characters and wish there was more.  Much like another great 4.5 hour series we loved, BBC’s 2011 series Zen starring Rufus Sewell (reviewed here at borg), in BBC’s Quirke, Gabriel Byrne inhabits his lead character in one of his best performances, leaving viewers wishing the series would have continued for a few more seasons.  First airing in the UK in 2014, Quirke is now available on the BritBox streaming service, along with Zen.

Byrne (Vikings, Assault on Precinct 13, The Usual Suspects) plays Dr. Quirke, the chief pathologist of the Dublin city morgue in the 1950s.  He has an affinity for alcohol, his brother’s wife, and solving murders, partnering on- and off-the-books with the local police inspector played by Stanley Townsend (Ashes to Ashes, Sherlock, Zen, Galavant).  In what feels like three gritty Irish noir movies, we learn about the doctor’s family struggles as his past and future collide, as he investigates an orphanage siphoning babies from Ireland to Boston, as he connects the deaths of two women found dead from suicides, and as he tracks down the whereabouts of a missing friend of his daughter.

The focus of Dr. Quirke’s life is the well-being of his niece, played by Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones, Vera), who is really his biological daughter, raised by his step-brother and his wife when the girl’s birth resulted in the death of Quirke’s wife 20 years ago.  Quirke was adopted into his family, and years later his father (played by Michael Gambon (Harry Potter series, Doctor Who, Cranford)) continues to treat him with disdain, but he hides his own secrets.  Along with the Professor Dumbledore actor, look for the actress behind Harry Potter’s mother (Geraldine Somerville) as Quirke’s sister-in-law, and the actress behind Batman’s mother in Batman Begins (Sara Stewart).  Other genre actors include Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story’s General Dodonna (Ian McElhinney) as an influential politico, Ella Enchanted and Mr. Selfridge’s Aidan McArdle as the politico’s nephew, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Life on Mars, and Master and Commander’s Lee Ingleby as one of the men attracted to Quirke’s daughter, and Merlin, Doctor Who, and Humans’ Colin Morgan as a journalist.

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Today marks the first day of a new streaming service, Ovid.tv, a film access platform combining the efforts of eight U.S. independent film distributors.  The new service is one effort to fill the gap left behind by the demise of FilmStruck, a favorite of cinephiles that was closed down by AT&T after acquiring Time Warner.  Initial film distributors providing content to Ovid.tv include First Run Features, Women Make Movies, Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, and KimStim, with more companies expected to add content to the service.  The goal of the platform is to provide North American viewers access to thousands of titles not yet available on other streaming platforms.  Initial content includes several of filmdom’s best documentaries, and on Day One more than 350 films are available for immediate streaming.

In a trial run of the platform, we immediately took in a screening of the award-winning film 56 Up, which has been called the greatest use ever for the film medium.  It’s simply one of the best dramas ever captured on-screen.  We reviewed it seven years ago here at borg, and now is a perfect time to screen the film for the first time, or to watch it again, as director/producer Michael Apted has recently wrapped the next segment in the film series, 63 Up, expected to be released later this year.  We also found The Penguin Counters streaming on Ovid.tv, a great film previously reviewed here at borg.  Social issues, auteur filmmakers, and foreign and domestic art house features fill out the initial round of content, including the works of filmmakers like Chantal Akerman, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Patricio Guzman, Heddy Honigmann, Chris Marker, Ross McElwee, Bill Morrison, Raoul Peck, Jean Rouch, Wang Bing, and Travis Wilkerson.  Works of others are expected to be added in the coming months, from the likes of Bi Gan, Pedro Costa, Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Cheryl Dunye, Philippe Garrel, Nikita Mikhalkov, Eric Rohmer, Raul Ruiz, Dominga Sotomayor, and Jean-Marie Straub.

Notable fiction features available today include the independent production mystery I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne, the Japanese horror film Creepy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the award-winning The Widowed Witch by Cai Chengjie, and Shoehei Imamura’s 1967 film, A Man Vanishes.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After the first few episodes of Vikings you will find yourself asking why this is only a nine-episode mini-series.  The History Channel’s first historical fiction mini-series since the acclaimed Hatfields & McCoys, the new series Vikings takes stunning locations, a powerful score, and a good story steeped in Nordic mythology and creates an epic production on par with Braveheart, Rob Roy, 300, and Attila.  And it’s even better than Game of Thrones.

Everyone has their own view of what Vikings should look like.  We know from documentaries and books that these warriors in the late eighth century were plunderers and pillagers.  They lived in a style as you’d find people roaming your local Renaissance Faire, clothing of wools and furs and hide.  Weapons of steel, shields of oak and longboats whose appearance would strike fear in hearts of the enemy.  Whether the History Channel has every historical detail down is beside the point.  Vikings is completely believable and true enough to the ancient sagas of fierce warriors, gods of every stature, and clan intrigue.

Life on a Viking longboat in Vikings series

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Several great pieces of episodic historical fiction have made it to the small screen, including Band of Brothers, Winds of War, Hatfields & McCoys, Roots, From the Earth to the Moon, and Horatio Hornblower.  But we haven’t seen much by way of Vikings in TV or movies other than the BBC’s Ivanhoe, various Beowulf adaptations, the 1958 movie The Vikings with Tony Curtis or Brian’s Song (OK, the last one doesn’t count).  Now the History Channel has produced a new TV series called simply Vikings.

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Vikings follows Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) in a story pulled from the characters and events in the Nordic epic Ragnar’s Saga.  On his path to ruler, Ragnar and his Viking band of brothers face battles with opposing tribes as well as his own lord Jarl Haraldson, played by Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Assault on Precinct 13, Excaliber, Christopher Columbus, Lionheart, Shipwrecked, A Simple Twist of Fate). 

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This series pretty much sneaked up on us–we haven’t seen much by way of promotion but once we did the production values appear to be right up there with similar epic historical works like Braveheart, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Rob Roy, Last of the Mohicans, Beowulf, 300, Dances with Wolves or even Henry V.  And the History Channel is the same creative team that put out all the great A&E mini-series like Pride and Prejudice so it brings with it high expectations.

Vikings on History Channel warship

And what great ships and costumes!  Check out these previews for the new series, Vikings:

Episode 1 of Vikings airs March 3, 2013 on the History Channel.  More information on the series can be found at the History Channel website.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com