Howling for the ‘Banshees’

Two men in a black-and-white portrait with their hands on their faces.
Colin Farrell, left, and Brendan Gleeson, stars of “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
(Justin Jun Lee / For The Times)
Share via

Midnight has come and gone. Did you make a note in your bullet journal earlier this week to stay awake so you could bathe in the 13 songs on the new Taylor Swift album and then just start freewriting your thoughts like I did?

I thought so. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling both exhausted and exhilarated and anxious to do it all over again when midnight rolls around tonight. Because I have vowed to listen to Taylor Swfit’s “Midnights” only as the clock strikes 12. The world is quiet, the scented candles just smell better, and I can feel my feelings vibrating with an extra intensity. Or maybe I’ve been inhaling too much smoke from the candles. I’m not sure.

I’m Glenn Whipp, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of the Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy who will spend the rest of his life waiting for it to snow on the beach. Let’s get to it.

‘Banshees of Inisherin’ one of the year’s best films

Martin McDonagh’s beautifully bleak story of a broken bond, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” opens in one measly theater today in Los Angeles. And while I’d normally recommend you stay far, far away from the Westfield Century City mall on a weekend — yes, it’s been a decade and I’m still bitter that they took away the free parking — I would say that it’s worth venturing into that bustling hellscape to see Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson negotiate one of the most tortured breakups in movie history.

Set on a small, fictional Irish island in 1923, “Banshees” looks at the fallout from a friendship broken when Gleeson’s contemplative musician decides he has had enough of the dull yammering of Farrell’s dairy farmer and tells him, in so many words, to shove off.


Times film critic Justin Chang calls the movie “as close to greatness as [McDonagh has] ever gotten,” noting, “One measure of the movie’s skill, and its generosity, is that it embraces the wisdom of both its protagonists.” I think the film lands squarely in the realm of greatness, immersing you so deeply into its world and its inhabitants that I was genuinely disoriented when I emerged from the theater after seeing it a month ago.

Check it out. Then grab a pint afterward, hopefully with someone who’ll still talk to you. There’s much to discuss.

Brendan Gleeson sits in a simple room as Colin Farrell peeks in through a window in "The Banshees of Inisherin."
Colin Farrell just wants to be friends with Brendan Gleeson in “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
(Searchlight Pictures)

Farrell and Gleeson on their films and friendship

On the eve of “The Banshees of Inisherin” opening, Times film writer Josh Rottenberg sat down with its stars, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, to talk about the movie and their professional reunion, 14 years after working together on Martin McDonagh’s 2008 black comedy, “In Bruges.”

“I was waiting for it to happen, frankly,” Gleeson says of the reteaming. “There’s just something really special about myself and Colin. It doesn’t matter if it’s years between the times we see each other; we just pick up where we left off.”

Added Farrell: “From the first day of rehearsal on ‘In Bruges,’ there was a shorthand that was deeply organic and familiar. There was just an ease and a little bit of giddiness as well. There’s an excitement that arises when you’re both open to exploration, to not being quite certain what it is you’re searching for. That kind of certainty mixed with uncertainty is a lovely sandbox to be in, and we had that from the start.”

Two men sit at a wooden table having a pint against an ocean backdrop in "The Banshees of Inisherin."
Colin Farrell, left, and Brendan Gleeson in “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
(Searchlight Pictures)

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

How Taylor Swift’s prolific run ranks against other icons

There aren’t many interesting movies opening this week, apart from “Banshees” and “Ticket to Paradise,” a pleasant enough romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, which I reviewed. So I’ll circle back to Swift and leave you my pal Mikael Wood’s musings on Tay’s prolific professional tear and where it ranks with the icons of the past. Mikael looked at solo artists who released at least four classic or near-classic albums in at most five years, ranking them near-genius to godhead.

It’s a near-perfect list, though I wondered how he could possibly leave off “Zuma” from Neil Young’s ’70s run and include the ordinary “Wild Life” in Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles hot streak. (“Probably my biggest cheat in there,” he told me over Slack.) So, yes, there’s much to debate — and listen to. Which I’m going to do as soon as I put out those scented candles. I’m getting dizzy.

Until midnight ...

A collage illustration of musicians David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, Aretha Franklin and Elton John.
How does Taylor Swift’s recent run rank against other music icons from the past?
(illustration by Ross May / Los Angeles Times; photos by Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times; John Glanvill; Mark Avery / Associated Press; Anthony Barboza / Getty Images; Manchester Daily Express / SSPL via Getty Images)


I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

Can’t get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.