16 December 2003
The Film: 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'
The New Zealand director Peter Jackson didn't quite come from nowhere to direct the biggest, most acclaimed series of movie epics ever. Before 'The Lord of the Rings' came along, he had directed several interesting films, among them 1994's 'Heavenly Creatures', 'The Frighteners' in 1996 and an acclaimed television mockumentary, 'Forgotten Silver', the following year. The three 'Lord of the Rings' movies have taken Jackson a total of seven years to make. The first two did huge business, winning a total of six Oscars and joining Tolkien's original as part of the cultural landscape, and while they weren't to everybody's taste, they received remarkably little adverse criticism. Well, the final instalment, 'The Return of the King', opens tomorrow and, frankly, the signs are good for it too.

Mick Lally, Susan McKay and Niall Stokes discuss 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'

The Show: 'The Wolf of Winter'
The poet and playwright Paula Meehan is from Dublin. Her publications include the poetry collections 'The Man Who Was Marked by Winter', 'Pillow Talk', 'Mysteries of the Home' and 'Dharmakaya', and her plays 'Mrs Sweeney' and 'Cell'. But she also writes for children, and a new play of hers has just opened at The Peacock. It's called "The Wolf of Winter" and it's come about as part of the Abbey Theatre's Outreach/Education program. Directed by Andrea Ainsworth, it's about a young girl's adventures after a stranger arrives at her village, and it's set during the hardest winter in living memory.

The Panel discusses 'The Wolf of Winter'

The Film: 'Lost in Translation'
The first time most of us saw Sofia Coppola, she played an important role in 'The Godfather Part Three', the last and by a long way the least admired of her father's trilogy. Her acting was pretty much trashed by all and sundry - not a great way to start a film career. The accusations of nepotism began to die down, however, once her first feature as a director and screenwriter was released. That was 1999's atmospheric 'The Virgin Suicides', and now she has written and directed another, 'Lost in Translation'. She says she wrote the story with its male star, Bill Murray, in mind. He plays Bob Harris, an American movie star in Japan to do one of those weird drinks campaigns that never get seen outside Japan. He bumps into Charlotte, a young American staying in his hotel who is already bored with married life. She is played by an actress we'll be seeing quite often in 2004, Scarlett Johansson.

The Panel discusses 'Lost in Translation'

The Exhibition: The House of Osama bin Laden
The artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell are from London. They studied together and then graduated jointly as 'Langlands and Bell' in 1980, and they have had many solo and group exhibitions in Britain and internationally since then. Their new show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art is the result of a commission by the Imperial War Museum in London, as was Paul Seawright's show at the Museum, which has just ended. This one is called 'The House of Osama bin Laden' and it consists of six works made in response to a one-week visit to Afghanistan in October 2002, one year after the US-led invasion. The show includes an interactive digital model of bin Laden's bunker-like house, footage from the murder trial of a warlord, and film and graphic work inspired by the many non-governmental organisations working in Afghanistan.

The Panel discusses Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell's 'The House Of Osama bin Laden'

Books of the Year
As 2003 draws to a close, we thought we would ask the panel this week what books they've enjoyed the most this year. Here is a list of their books of choice.

The Panel discusses books of the year

The Performance: The Camembert Quartet
The Camembert Quartet has composed a special Christmas song just for 'The View'. It's called 'Everybody Knows It's Christmastime' and they claim it has been influenced by every Christmas song ever written - well, especially those written in the Seventies. The quartet, all five of them, will be performing in The Sugar Club in Dublin's Leeson Street on New Year's Eve and their album, 'Music is War' is now available from Tower Records.

Watch the performance

A-Z since Sept 2005
Archive A-Z