Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by late producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory with whom my partners ( Thomas Scott Kaplan who was a kid out of Oxford now a billionaire natural resources investor, philanthropist and art collector; Daniel Sarnoff whose family founded NBC, and RCA, and the late Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza for whom King Jaun Carlos of Spain built an art gallery to house his art the largest private art collection in the world) entered into a five film financing agreement. Ismail Merchant was hot off his Oscar win for the film “Room With A View” had won three Oscars, Best Art Direction; Gianni Quaranta, Brian Ackland-Snow, Brian Savegar, Elio Altamura, Best Costume Design; Jenny Beavan, John Bright and Best Adapted Screenplay; Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Before the ink had dried on our contracts, Ismail had this brilliant idea that my partners and my fledgling entertainment company partially finance a film “The Deceivers”. No one really wanted to do, but then there was Pierce Brosnan the film would be made in India and how could you not make a film with the man who made ‘Star Trek Wrath Of Khan’ and said;
I was always a filmmaker before I was anything else. If I was always anything, I was a storyteller, and it never really made much of a difference to me what medium I worked in. – Nicholas Meyer
Life comes full circle at times and when it does it’s always a good thing and in this case it’s Sean Brosnan and his first directorial debut ‘The Kid’.
Sean Brosnan is not stranger to Hollywood, or talent. The film ‘The Kid’is mostly about Sean, and the (picture above) Sean films a scene right outside the building in which I once lived in Venice (in the apartment that was set for Sly Stallone film ‘Cobra’).
THE KID is a story of a young aspiring poet at the age of twelve, who because of harsh circumstances in his life; a mother who passed away and his father, a mechanic, still struggling to come to terms with it, is forced to grow up too fast. He finds his family in a group of kids older than he is and is thrown into a world of alcohol, drugs, parties and girls.
Much wiser than his years and almost everyone around him, Frankie literally sees himself as a man when he’s alone, while the rest of the world simply sees him as just a kid, except for one nineteen year old girl named Charlie.
Actor/Writer/Director, Sean Brosnan, assembled a multi award-winning cast and crew for this project. The film was produced by Sanja Banic and Sean who also wrote it. Sean’s talent shines in the film he knows that the camera lens if allowed to roam free can capture the soul and he lets it do just that, not to mention that the script is real and Sean keep’s it all real in the film ‘The Kid’
Sean has seen his share of Oscar hoopla, last year he was at the Vanity Fair party having a blast and I am sure this year Sean and Sanja will be doing the same. It would be great to have him over in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival one day he is a rare talent whose time has arrived. As the hours tick-away to showtime for the Oscars, this is a kid to keep an eye on, Sean Brosnan.
Show time to Oscars is hours away. Soon stars will walk down the Red Carpet and some will get the nod for The Academy Award. Each person you see all started at point “A” it’s where everyone starts and then one day that dream you have comes true. When I first saw the photo-shoot by Catherine MacKenzie in Belfast and Caroline Mc Menamin I instantly thought of Michelle Pfeiffer. It will be obvious to you that the camera loves Caroline. She wants to hold Beyoncé’s hand when she visits Belfast and walk her around showing her the history of her city. Caroline loves to hit the day charging and as in this world dreams can come true, and one day she could be walking down that Red Carpet. The Oscar goes to the lady with the blazing red hair. Caroline, likes David Bowie’s song “China Girl” and as I am sitting once again under a cherry blossom tree in Japan posting this in the background is China Girl outtakes from David Bowie Is Around The World film.
“I have listened to David Bowie since I can remember. I have always been intrigued by him. I always found myself reading up on him, finding out what inspired him, why he had a pupil more dilated than the other. I love ‘China girl’ and ‘Starman’. He has even inspired my style. I find that David Bowie defines the word ‘icon’, it’s like he is not a man, but a metaphysical force. – Caroline Mc Menamin”
1. Cognitive behavior therapy – what made you pursue studies in this area?
My first degree is in Drama, and I found whilst i was doing practical workshops working on specific characters that there was a lot of mental preparation and exploration about how your own personality fits a character. I found this had therapeutic elements. I found that it allowed for inward evaluation of the ‘self’. This eventually led me to focus my thesis on ‘Drama as Therapy’. I discovered a sea of therapeutic interventions with creative foundations, and so from that I wanted to broaden my repertoire of therapies as I wanted to contribute to helping people with mental health difficulties.
2.On your FB you like Tony Hawk, any reason for that?
As a teenager I was a rocker/skate boarder. Whilst I wasn’t so good on the skate board, I still enjoyed it, I loved watching my friends doing their tricks and I loved to watch the Extreme sport channel. I also loved playing the Tony Hawk underground game on the play-station. I was quite the tomboy, and I still have that element within me, it can be seen in my choice of clothing and the fact that I’d prefer to wear my leather jacket instead of a girly dress.
3. How did you start in modeling ?
You don’t do that full time? and what are your other interests. I started modelling when I was 15/16. I started off doing bridal fayres and then eventually I was working for a lot of hair salons and local boutiques. Eventually I signed with a modelling agency in Dublin and have had editorials from that. I work within the North of Ireland a lot and it has opened a portal through which I met and made friends with some amazingly creative people. I love modelling as it’s a lovely recreational outlet for me as working in the mental health field can be arduous. Along with modelling I work on my blog ‘The Red Dutchess’ which is a lifestyle blog, and whilst I’ve a million thoughts and theories in my mind the content of my blog and be quite unpredictable. I also write for a mental health magazine and write for other people’s needs. I love to write.
4. You like Beyoncé I can understand that in your words tell us why?
I was barely a teenager when my sister showed me a new album called ‘Writings on the Wall’ by a group that I haven’t heard of until then. They were called Destiny’s Child. From that very day and hour I’ve loved Beyoncé. Not only do I think she has an unprecedented beauty, I have found that she has had a MAJOR influence on how I perceive myself as a female in a male dominated world. Through her songs and lifestyle she has subliminally given me a me, and the rest of the world, a message that says ‘I’m a woman, look at what I’ve achieve, don’t hold back, depend on yourself, work hard and never be complacent’. There’s a great quote that says ‘You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce’, that in itself tells me to waste no time and charge towards the day.
5. Beyoncé is coming to Belfast, if you were her tour guide what would you show her about your city? cafe, bar, restaurant etc.
I would take Beyoncé by her beautifully manicured hand and walk past the commercialism of the shops and show her the seeds from which Belfast and the North has grown. I would show her the history that is embroidered on the diversely coloured fabric that wraps around Belfast. Whilst there may be dark elements of the history, it is still a history that is rich and indelible and a namesake of Northern Ireland.
6. Who would you say are some of the people who inspired you?
Anybody that has a strong work ethic and assertiveness have a tremendous impact on me. Different people have different inspirational qualities that I aspire to have. My parents have inspired me to be honest, and sincere. Their modesty and support have always made me feel a great sense of pride that they’re my parents. My godmother and I are close, she is the epitome of a strong independent woman. She is unbelievably intelligent but has a jovial and loving personality. She has taken me travelling since I was 14. I’ve been to many places and gained knowledge that only travelling can give. She has been a medium through which I can experience the world. My little nephew and niece have inspired me to ‘just be’. To enjoy the moment, to become mindful of everything around me, to not think of the next hour, but to just enjoy the ‘now’, and that might be just playing with cars with my nephew and cuddling my beautiful niece, who also has red hair. I’m so proud to be their aunt.
7. If you could do anything in the world what would that be?
The first thing that comes to mind when I read this question is Albert Einstein’s quote ‘ I have no special talent, I’m just passionately curious’. This is just me. I want to experience and do everything. I may wake up and decide ‘i want to design a dress that I would wear to a party hosted by ‘Jay Gatsby’, or I might decide I want to know about ‘the French Renaissance’ or read the theories of philosophers. Or I might decide I want to be an actress, or a Mother or designer. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas, but I’m only one person, I don’t have enough years to do everything I want to do.
8. You did a photo shoot recently wore a wig, and had a cover of David Bowie LP in the picture, any thought on David Bowie?
I have listened to David Bowie since I can remember. I have always been intrigued by him. I always found myself reading up on him, finding out what inspired him, why he had a pupil more dilated than the other. I love ‘China girl’ and ‘Starman’. He has even inspired my style. I find that David Bowie defines the word ‘icon’, it’s like he is not a man, but a metaphysical force.
9.Lets talk food, what are some of your favorite foods you like to eat or cook?
Oh lets talk food indeed. My God I love my food, but to look at me you wouldn’t think I ate much. I love to cook but I especially love going out and travelling to different countries to experience their native foods and dishes. I love Italian and Indian. I find Italian food extremely satisfying, I just to come home from school and sit down to have bread and olives with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive oil, and my Mother would be standing making Irish Stew and I’d be sitting in an Italian reverie.
10. The Red Dutchess is your blog- how did that come about and how did you come up with the name?
I wanted a name that held power and strength, a name that denoted ‘i’m a strong woman’. I have red hair, so there was the word ‘red’, and one of my favorite films is ‘the dutchess’ that stars Keira Knightly who was the Dutchess of Devonshire who was a woman before her time. She was adored for her complex character She was also an active political campaigner in an age when women’s suffrage was still over a century away. She’s a woman who was empowered and ambitious with no inhibitions. She has inspired me to build my blog on the foundation of her qualities that she was so well-known for. Her trousseau, her interest in social issues and her need to speak her mind. She has been the source which has inspired the content of my blog.
Food is everything on a film set. On the set of Matrix a great chef from Louisiana kept the kitchen buzzing, and had fresh made crab cakes flown in every Monday from a lady who did them at home.
Not that there will be ever a Oscar given for best use of food in a film. This year however food play’s a role in all the films.
Silver Linings Playbook: All-American Food
The food in this film firmly grounds it in an American landscape in general and a Philadelphia one in particular. Protagonist Pat is played by Serious Role Bradley Cooper, who is very slightly less good-looking than Normal Role Bradley Cooper, thanks to some unflattering sweats and a kind of weird haircut. And Pat’s drink is Budweiser. It’s what’s always on tap at the Philadelphia Eagles games watched each week in Pat’s home, where Pat’s mom makes “crabby cakes” (ingredients: softened butter, mayonnaise, canned crabmeat, and Kraft Old English cheese spread). Plus, Pat’s dad wants to open a cheesesteak business. What could be more Philly than that?
Zero Dark Thirty: Food Is Dangerous
Maya, played by fiery Jessica Chastain, is also a Bud drinker, though she drinks it alone, in a bar, fretting over finding Osama Bin Laden. Food? Maya’s barely got time for it. When she does eat, it’s an uninspiring piece of toast slathered with peanut butter, burger and fries, or packaged candy in front of the TV. Maya gets no pleasure from food. In fact, it’s a source of anxiety. The Marriott Hotel where she meets a friend for dinner is bombed before the first course is even served. Eating out, she warns a younger co-worker, “is too dangerous.” Food is dangerous in an entirely different way for the men tortured for information by the CIA, who are starved one week and bribed with local delicacies the next.
Argo: No Time for Food
Like Maya, Ben Affleck’s robustly bearded Tony Mendez is so consumed by his mission that he eats only fast food. When we first encounter him, he’s lying on a hotel bed, the floor littered with Chinese food containers. The only other “meal” he swallows is food-truck tacos. Though his nutritional needs are woefully neglected, Tony is perpetually attached to a bottle of whiskey. He even slyly snatches a bottle from the Canadian ambassador’s house after being told not to help the six Americans he’s been sent to rescue. That night he hunkers down in his room, bottle in hand, whiskey his steadfast companion as he considers his options.
Life of Pi: Food as Survival
Pi, played by Suraj Sharma, has plenty of time for food, but he doesn’t have enough of it. When he joyfully discovers crackers and water in his lifeboat while stranded at sea, he strategizes how to make his precious stores last. All planning is for naught, however, when the food ends up in the ocean a few scenes later… I won’t tell you how. After that Pi must invoke his inner carnivore to survive. Raised a vegetarian, with food signifying his cultural and familial background, he now must eat whatever he can in order to survive, including lots of fish. As Pi acknowledges, “Hunger can change everything you think you know about yourself.”
Les Miserables: The Economics of Food
Hunger changes Jean Valjean’s life, too. At the start of the film, he’s imprisoned for stealing bread during an economic depression. Once released, starvation again looms large. Eventually, he’s fed by a kindly Bishop. Hollow-cheeked Hugh Jackman, who plays Valjean, attacks the feast with primal urgency, barely breathing between bites. While Valjean eventually becomes wealthy and well fed, not so lucky is poor Fontine, played by Anne Hathaway, whose legendarily large teeth sadly have nothing to chomp in this meaty role. She ultimately resorts to selling her hair and body in order to survive.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: We Are All Food
The bayou residents are also fighting for survival–and their way of life, which is intimately connected with food. Early on, 6-year-old Hushpuppy’s dad throws a chicken on the grill and shouts, “Feed up time!” Out come the hogs and chickens and Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhané Wallis), told to share her food “with the dog.” We are reminded by Hushpuppy’s teacher that we are all part of the “buffet of the universe” and are reminded again when her explosive father explains to her how to eat crab. Discouraged from delicately extracting the meat with cutlery, Hushpuppy’s dad yells at her to rip into it. The entire gathering shouts, “Feast it! Feast it!” Hushpuppy obliges. Afterwards, she climbs up on the table and screams with animalistic abandon.
Django Unchained: Food as Performance
An altogether different set of table manners is on display at the sprawling Mississippi plantation where Django, a freed slave played by Jamie Foxx, and his companion, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Walz) arrive to purchase Django’s wife’s freedom. The opulent table settings are precisely laid by a group of slaves who then serve up meat, gravy, beans, and wine. The overt politeness is strained by the undercurrent of violence emanating from Leonardo Dicaprio’s villainous Calvin Candie. This undercurrent becomes a tidal wave when Candie discovers Django’s plans. At the dinner table Candie nearly kills Django’s wife and terrifies Shultz and Django. Candie then forces the group to finish their meals. Dessert? White cake, of course.
Lincoln: A Film Without Food
Okay, there is some food in Lincoln. But only one character eats it. The bloated Mr. Bilbo, played by James Spader, is one of three sly figures helping Lincoln secure votes for his 13th Amendment. Bilbo eats and drinks with abandon, daring to enjoy a snack even during the House proceedings. Despite the lack of food, Lincoln (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) does seem to be a coffee addict. Mrs. Lincoln lovingly complains to her son about their shared skinniness when she tells Robert: “You forget to eat. You’re just like him.” And no wonder. The man is so busy trying to save the Union he barely has time to sleep. The fact that he never ingests solid substances only adds to the perception that he is more powerful and purposeful than the average person.
Amour: Forget the Food
Anna, the octogenarian played by Emmanuelle Riva, doesn’t forget to eat. She simply refuses. Paralyzed after a stroke, she longs for death, and starvation seems her only option. Early on, Anna and her husband, Georges, sit together at the breakfast table. Anna has just presented Georges with a hard-boiled egg. There is toast and jam and coffee. And then… Anna’s face goes blank. Although she recovers from the initial episode, her condition continues to deteriorate, worsened by an unsuccessful surgery. Soon enough she stops finishing her meals, uninterested in sustaining herself, instead compelled only by music and her memories.
So which of these films would get the fictional Oscar for Best Use of Food? Hands down, Life of Pi. Not only does director Ang Lee brilliantly utilize food to establish the cultural and familial life of Pi, but there’s even a villainous cook, played by the well-fed, cantankerous Gerard Depardieu and, best of all, there’s a carnivorous algae island. Can’t say that about Lincoln!