Talking Movies

November 15, 2018

Notes on Widows

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 3:31 pm

An overseas appearance on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle saw Widows the focus of attention.

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Steve McQueen directing a trashy crime movie makes about as much sense as David Fincher directing a Jennifer Anston rom-com. As when Christopher Nolan stepped up to big budgets the question was whether McQueen could retain his sensibility. The answer is intermittently and not to particularly good effect; indeed in one instance to particularly counterproductive effect.

This is a curious heist movie that forgoes the pleasures of heist movies. Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal et al took 2 million from scary people led by Daniel Kaluuya before they exploded. Neeson’s widow needs to use his notebook to pull a job to pay this debt. But we are watching a heist movie where the thieves don’t know how to pull a heist nor even what their score might be. We are also deprived of the joy of assembling a team based on their skills. We get Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez because they were also widowed.

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November 5, 2018

From the Archives: Quantum of Solace

Another dive into the pre-Talking Movies archives pulls up from the depths Daniel Craig’s pointlessly reviled outing; whose problems derive from the strike everybody knew about but affected not to.

Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in Quantum of Solace, which features a lot more action than Casino Royale. It doesn’t quite measure up to its mighty predecessor, but it does offer an intriguing re-invention of Bond’s 1960s foes.

The opening establishes that this is less the talk-talk-bang-bang formula of Casino Royale and more bang-bang-bang-BANG! The opening sequence is an incredibly frantic car-chase, after which we have to put up with the godawful Jack White song and sleazy silhouettes of naked ladies, but then it’s straight into the interrogation of Mr White, the villain Bond caught in the final scene of the last film. This scene features a shock so good it took me 20 minutes to get over it. 20 minutes of action as Bond travels to the Caribbean for a vicious Bourne style fist fight in a bathroom and a boat-chase. It really is surprising just how much action Marc Forster, the director best known for Stranger than Fiction and Finding Neverland, has crammed in here. He only comes unstuck with an aerial dogfight which comes perilously close to returning the franchise to Roger Moore style campiness but just avoids doing so, and only displays art-house leanings with a silent shootout in Vienna wonderfully sound-tracked only by the opera the characters have been attending.

The sheer preponderance of action over meaty drama though makes this film feel like a victim of the writers’ strike. Paul Haggis’ rewrite of the script was infamously delivered mere minutes before the strike began last year and it could have used more character beats, even though there are great unexpected moments throughout. There is an absolutely priceless gag involving Bond’s distaste for cheap accommodation amid many other quotable lines. The CIA is depicted as morally bankrupt, willing to turn a blind eye to any right-wing dictatorship’s human rights abuses if there’s a plentiful supply of cheap oil to be had, while a high-ranking member of the British Government is revealed as a member of Quantum, Haggis’ reinvention of super-villain organisation Spectre. The rights to Spectre are owned by Irish writer/producer Kevin McClory so Haggis has re-imagined Bond’s 1960s foe as a network of ex-spooks and shady businessmen and politicians. This film pays further homage to the 1960s with the death of a major character, a score which evokes the softer, and more sinister, moments of John Barry’s scores, and a desert lair in Bolivia which is pure Ken Adam in its set design.

Mathieu Amalric, a god of French cinema, is slightly underwritten as Quantum villain Dominic Greene but makes his ‘environmental philanthropist’, who’s secretly plotting to seize control of the natural resources of Bolivia, a worthy foe for Bond. Olga Kurylenko, who graduated from taking her top off in French films (Le Serpent) to taking her top off in Hollywood films (Hitman), miserably fails to escape the shadow of Eva Green’s Vesper. Her character has an intriguing back-story but the parallels between her search for vengeance and Bond’s search for closure evaporate due to her inert screen presence.  The best relationship is between M and Bond who develop almost a fraught mother/son bond by the end. Craig is once again magnificent as Bond; physical, but also offering glimpses of the inconsolable grief behind his driven pursuit of Mr Greene. This is a good film and well worth seeing, and the consistently brutal action combined with some clever conceits left unresolved suggest that Craig’s next Bond film may surpass Casino Royale.

3/5

November 4, 2018

Notes on Juliet, Naked

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 9:25 pm

Juliet, Naked was the topic of tired discussion on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle early this morning.

Juliet, Naked is based on a 2009 Nick Hornby novel, and wastes the considerable talents of Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke in a rehash of 84 Charing Cross Road for the internet age that again demonstrates Hornby’s penchant for psychological improbability. High Fidelity. Brooklyn. Hornby can’t seem to be near a screenplay in any capacity without implausibilities multiplying and odd life choices being endorsed if not pushed at the audience.

October 28, 2018

Notes on Halloween

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 9:41 pm

Spooky special of Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle today.

David Gordon Green takes a Gordian approach to the tortured continuity of the Halloween series, affecting that this is the first entry since the original, and therefore logically has a 61 year old man running amok with the superstrength and healing superpowers of a much younger supervillain. Green brings the gore, and some style, but this feels a world away from the patient chills of John Carpenter’s 1978 original.

October 21, 2018

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid: Discussion Groups

Award-winning new Irish film The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, on release now, will be accompanied by a series of panel discussions after selected screenings to reflect on the issues raised in the film. Panels will take place at the Omniplex, Rathmines and the Eye Cinema, Galway.


Ward’s film investigates Kildare farmer Thomas Reid’s long struggle to resist a Compulsory Purchase Order from IDA Ireland who had identified his farm as having prime industrial development potential. Reid vowed to resist the sale under any circumstances and at any price. His story and the Irish Government’s subsequent response asks searching questions of how much one individual can be asked to sacrifice for the ‘national interest’.

Panel Details
Omniplex Rathmines  – Sunday 21st Oct 6.30pm
Lenny Abrahamson, Oscar-nominated director; Feargal Ward, director & Tara Brady, journalist Irish Times (moderating). Book here

Thursday, 25th Oct Eye Cinema Galway 6.50pm Lelia Doolan, filmmaker and activist; Luke McManus, producer & Dr. Tony Tracy, (Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUIG) (moderating) Book here

Filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson said “What is so excellent about The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, is that, despite Reid’s deep peculiarity and quiet dysfunction, it is not the world of his crumbling Leixlip farm but the Ireland which surrounds it which comes to seem most in need of explanation and redemption. It’s our world, not his, which is the more troubling. I would urge anyone who values creative documentary film making to seek out this excellent, haunting and original film.”

Clare Daly TD spoke forcefully in Dáil Éireann during the debate on the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill on 28th March 2018 saying ‘I compliment Thomas Reid. In many ways he has been inspirational, a lone wolf taking on a giant single-handedly and winning, with five Supreme Court judges agreeing with him. However, that was not good enough. A multinational had to be given the land from under him and the law had to be changed to facilitate it. One can talk about selling and prostituting ourselves and giving it away, but today is a new low in that regard.’

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid is in selected cinemas including IFI; Rathmines Omniplex; Mahon Point Omniplex, Cork; IMC Dún Laoghaire and Eye Cinema, Galway.

www.lonelybattle.com

October 20, 2018

Greg Sestero hits the Lighthouse

Oh, hi Mark. Greg Sestero is in town next weekend, to attend the Irish premiere of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 on October 26th at the Lighthouse.                                                                                                              

Sestero is of course one of the unfortunate stars of success de scandale The Room, who managed to spin a best-selling memoir, The Disaster Artist, out of the experience, and was portrayed by Dave Franco in James Franco’s hilarious film adaptation. Sestero will attend the screening of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 and do a Q & A hosted by Derek O’Connor.

Billed as the thrilling conclusion of the Sestero-Wiseau Saga, and picking up where the first volume left off, Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 is heralded as bringing the saga to a satisfying close. Jon (Sestero) is on the run across the American Southwest, where he meets an array of wild and amazing characters and finds himself in ever-stranger situations…which go a long way in giving a better handle on the reality he’s fleeing. Of course there’s still one more encounter and one last reckoning to bring this strange journey full circle. The saga is the best (sic) of Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau distilled into pure ecstasy: charming, unexpected, dramatic, dark, and above all, endlessly entertaining (addictive). Wiseau wisely is not involved in writing or directing, just acting. Sestero is the writer this time, and Justin MacGregor has the unenviable task of taming the craziness.

Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 will screen at 18.15 in advance of Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 at 20.30.

Tickets for both films as a double bill can be bought at the reduced rate of €25 by calling the box office on (01) 872 8006.

Screening times and tickets can be found here:

Best F(r)iends: Volume 1: https://lighthousecinema.ie//showing/showing-39243

Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 + Q&A with Greg Sestero: https://lighthousecinema.ie//showing/showing-43261

October 14, 2018

Notes on Venom

This week’s edition of Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle saw us belatedly get round to Tom Hardy’s Venom.

There are a number of ways to approach this movie. The 5 word summary -Tom Hardy Eats Bad People. Or the title from the point of view of his character, Eddie Brock -How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Love Venom. Or the pithy one word summary -Shambolic.
My fevered suspicion is that Kelly Marcel, who punched up Bronson and Mad Max: Fury Road for her old friend, saw the Bat-signal being flashed, yet again, and decamped to Hollywood to find Tom weeping in his trailer.
TH: It’s a mess.
KM: Page One rewite?
TH: No time. Just take my pages, give me good repartee with myself as Venom.
KM: What about Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate and Michelle Williams?
TH: I don’t give a hoot about them! Are they friends with you? No! I am! Please! For the love of God fix it…
KM: Okay, calm down. I’ll give it a polish. Just your pages.

September 30, 2018

Notes on Cold War

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 5:40 pm
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This week saw a catch-up film of the week, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War.

Shot in 1:1 ratio, like Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, and featuring luminous monochrome cinematography this was an unusually sombre film to be discussing on Sunday breakfast radio. Zula and Wiktor play out a tortured romance across 15 years from Poland to France via East Germany and Yugoslavia.

There are a lot of other films in Cold War‘s DNA, from Dr Zhivago to Betty Blue, Jules et Jim to A Star is Born, and while it manages to assert its own independence from them it never truly feels as original as its opening sequences suggest it could have been.

September 23, 2018

Notes on Mile 22

Mile 22 was the topic of discussion early this morning on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle.

Mark Wahlberg shoots and swears. The 5 word summary. But Mile 22 is not as fun as that might suggest, let down by its script and edited to shreds. Iko Uwais, star of The Raid and Man of Tai Chi, is one of the fight choreographers but director Peter Berg and his five (!) editors don’t seem unduly concerned about getting his silat showdowns on screens. And that’s to say nothing of the jarring editing of simple dialogue scenes where every few words uttered by a character precipitates a needless cut; as if Berg’s team had seen the finale of the ‘Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ Gilmore Girls episode and decided to imitate that.

Mark Wahlberg meanwhile plays an unlikeable jerk, alongside Laura Cohan’s unlikeable jerk, and Ronda Rousey’s unlikeable jerk. This wouldn’t be a problem, after all Wahlberg was fantastic in an incredibly abrasive part in The Departed, but that this script does not have the richness of The Departed. The constant cursing here seems an admittance of defeat; with nothing creative to say the characters simply hurl perfunctory abuse at each other.

September 16, 2018

Notes on The Predator

The Predator was the topic of discussion early this morning on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle.

Shane Black continues his writer/director sequence of one for me, one for them, but nobody’s likely to be happy with this one. The Predator is a bit of mess, but has a number of very good jokes before the vague CGI mayhem and tremendously over-egged pudding of plot take over. Indeed one surprised line on the subject of aardvarks delivered by Thomas Jane has already become part of my mental architecture in the way Ralph Fiennes did with his abandonment of a thought in The Grand Budapest Hotel. But the comedy noticeably oozes away as the film progresses, and boy does Black get sidetracked by a lot in his 100 minute running time. Holbrook, who for some reason made me continually think of the young Mel Gibson, is the gung-ho military man who is this film’s version of Arnie’s Dutch from the classic original. Except that this film suffers from the current Hollywood obsession with saving the world as the third act stakes. Sigh. So instead of suspenseful cat and mouse, the 7 foot man in a suit is dispensed with for a CGI Predator, an alien spaceship flies about the place, and hands, arms, legs, and heads are lopped off with the abandon of Starship Troopers.

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