Talking Movies

July 28, 2017

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan follows his longest film with his shortest since his 1998 debut Following, with which it shares a tricky approach to time and story.

France is sucker-punched and on its way to falling. The British Expeditionary Force is leaving it to its fate and retreating through the only open port, Dunkirk, that England might still have an army with which to fight on. On the Mole Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) and Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy) spend a week organising the evacuation of soldiers, with the difficulty of a shallow beach and one quay making a perfect target for Stuka dive-bombers. On a Little Ship Dawson (Mark Rylance) pilots his way across the Channel over a long day, with son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and stowaway George (Barry Keoghan). On a ticking clock of one hour’s fuel RAF aces Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) attempt to fend off some of the Lutwaffe’s endless attacks on the beach and convoys. Their stories intersect tensely, complexly.

Nolan hasn’t made as abstract a film as this since Following. To a large degree the presence of some Nolan repertory and a host of familiar faces lends a degree of depth to the characterisation not perhaps there simply in the spare scripting. And it is spare. The majority of screen time belongs to Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Gibson (Aneurin Barnard), who meet on the desolate beach, and try to stay alive thru repeated attacks, and the dubious comradeship of Alex (Harry Styles). And for the majority of their screen time, they are silent. But the film is not. Viewed in IMAX this is absolutely deafening, with Hans Zimmer’s score interrogating the line with sound design as it throws anachronistic synth blasts amidst the ticking pocket-watch effect, and, startlingly, quotes Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ Variation at high points of tension and release.

On his second collaboration with Hoyte Van Hoytema it’s still unclear whether he and Nolan are less interested in the shadows and earth tones of Wally Pfister’s palate or simply have lucked into two stories that required large swathes of white and blue. One thing that looks unique is the aerial dogfights, IMAX cameras attached to Spitfires these have a dizzying sense of reality: this is a pilot’s eye-view of combat and it’s madly disorienting. And, as the inevitability of Hardy’s choice to not return from France approaches, symptomatic of this film’s remarkable sense of dread. You can no more criticise Nolan for not following the Blake Snyder beats than you could attack Jackson Pollock for failing at figurative art. He can do that supremely well, he’s choosing not to. And making you look, follow, and feel without using words.

And, without using any words, Nolan plays a game with time that makes Dunkirk a film that will amply repay repeat viewings. As the timelines intersect you realise that events that looked simple are a lot more complicated, sometimes even the reverse of what you thought you’d understood. And the same is true for characterisation. At times it feels like Nolan is answering the tiresome critics who attacked Inception and Interstellar for having too much exposition, even as they complained they couldn’t understand them – for all the explanations. And, if those critics insist on taking the ridiculous Billington on Stoppard line of Nolan being all head and no heart, he has the ultimate conjuring trick; Nolan makes us care, with our guts in knots, for people whose names we’re not even sure about, let alone their back-story and motivations.

Nolan has taken a touchstone of British culture and produced a film with a lean running time but a Lean epic quality by viewing the world-changing through the personal.

5/5

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February 9, 2016

ADIFF: Irish Focus

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival is showcasing an array of home-grown talent, presenting the next wave of highly anticipated Irish films following recent awards.

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Throughout the Festival a selection of features, documentaries and shorts will showcase the breadth of talent in Irish cinema, including Simon Fitzmaurice’s debut feature My Name Is Emily, Rebecca Daly’s Mammal (which premiered at Sundance), the gritty Killian Scott thriller Traders, Northern Irish political drama The Truth Commissioner, and Staid, the feature debut of best-selling author and playwright Paul O’Brien.

Irish documentaries are a vital part of the Festival with this year’s selection covering a wide range of topics. Johnny Gogan’s Hubert Butler: Witness to the Future delves into the career of writer and Kilkenny-native Hubert Butler, who smuggled Jewish people into Ireland from pre-World War II Austria. Atlantic focuses on three small fishing communities who face the devastating prospect of having their livelihoods taken from them due to major challenges within their industry. Fís na Fuiseoige is an exploration into Irish poetry, while The Judas Iscariot Lunch presents thirteen Irish ex-priests who speak candidly about their time in the Catholic Church. There are two Reel Art documentaries, an initiative by the Arts Council. Further Beyond deals with 18th Century figure, Ambrose O’Higgins, with filmmakers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor attempting to retrace his remarkable journey from Ireland to Chile. We Are Moving – Memories of Miss Moriarty is an intimate portrait of Joan Denise Moriarty who dreamt of bringing ballet to every corner of Ireland.

To coincide with 1916 centenary celebrations, there will be a special screening of Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins. A reunion for the extras who took part in its production will also take place, Seen But Unnoticed, which will allow them to share their stories and memories from the shoot. A short film initiative, After ’16 Shorts, funded by the Irish Film Board, will also be screened to commemorate 1916. Several more Irish short films will be screened as part of ADIFF Shorts 1 and ADIFF Shorts 2, including Mike Hayes’ Leave, starring Moe Dunford, and Vincent Gallagher’s Love is a Sting.

The Festival celebrates emerging Irish film talent with the ADIFF Discovery Award. This year’s nominees are Barry Keoghan (Actor, MammalTraders and The Break), Barry Ward (Actor, The Truth CommissionerJimmy’s HallL’Accabadora), Claire Dix (Director We are Moving – Memories of Miss MoriartyBroken Song, Downpour), Dave Tynan (Writer/Director, The Cherishing, Rockmount, Just Saying), Emmet Kirwan (Actor, The Break, ‘71, Just Saying), Ian Lloyd Anderson (Actor, Leave, Game of Thrones, Love/Hate), Jack O’Shea (Director/Animator, A Coat Made Dark, Eat The Danger), JJ Rolfe (Cinematographer, The Cherishing, Rockmount, Just Saying), Kathryn Kennedy (Producer, My Name is Emily, It’s Not Yet Dark, After), Kieran O’Reilly (Actor, Little Bear, Love/ Hate, Rebellion), Laura McNicholas (Producer/Director, Mr Yeats & the Beastly Coins, Leave, Cutting Grass), Martin McCann (Actor, My Name is Emily, ’71, Boogaloo and Graham), Niamh Heery (Producer/Editor, A Father’s Letter, Our Unfenced Country, Displaced), Nika McGuigan (Actress, Mammal, Traders, Philomena) and Rachel Lysaght (Producer, Traders, Patrick’s Day, Tana Bana).

The Festival’s opening and closing films are both Irish productions – John Carney’s Sing Street, which received rave reviews at Sundance, and Paddy Breathnach’s Viva, which is shortlisted for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Highlights:

Sing Street (The filmmakers and cast will attend the screening)

Thursday 18th February at 19:00

106 minutes Savoy 1

Sing Street sees an economic recession in 1980s Dublin force Conor out of private school and into survival mode at an inner-city public school where kids are rough and teachers rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the über-cool Raphina, and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver. Calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the music of the ’80s, he forms a band, who pour their hearts into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Combining John Carney’s trademark warmth with a punk rock edge, and featuring a memorable soundtrack with hits from The Cure, Duran Duran and The Police, Sing Street is an electrifying coming-of-age film that will resonate with music fans.

Further Beyond (Followed by a Q+A with the Filmmakers)

Friday 19th February at 18:00

89 minutes IFI 1

In their debut documentary Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor take as their point of departure the compelling 18th Century figure, Ambrose O’Higgins, and attempt to retrace his remarkable journey from Ireland to Chile. Key locations in O’Higgins’ life – a lake in Sligo, a field in Meath, the port of Cadiz, the sea, and the edge of a snow-covered mountain in the Andes – are visited and reflected upon in the hope that something might be revealed. Having long dreamt of making a biopic of O’Higgins, this wayward and wry documentary is a personal voyage into the idea of the cinematic location. However, as they speculate on the idea of place and what O’Higgins embodies, the filmmakers get sidetracked by a competing story of immigration and displacement. Gradually, and not without humour, these two intertwining narratives uncover ideas about the transformative powers of travelling, as looked at through a peculiarly Irish prism.

Traders (Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy, Killian Scott and John Bradley will attend)

Saturday 20th February at 18:30

90 minutes Light House 1

Harry Fox (Killian Scott) has it all; the luxury apartment, the fancy car; but when the company he works for goes bust it looks like he will lose everything. A solution is offered by Vernon Stynes (John Bradley) who has masterminded a diabolical, all-or-nothing scheme based in the Deep Web, called Trading. Two strangers empty their banks accounts, sell their assets, put their entire worth in cash into a green sports bag. They travel to a remote location and fight to the death. Winner buries the loser and walks away twice as rich. Vernon believes Trading is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get rich quick. Can Harry resist the lure of this high risk gamble? It’s dangerous and illegal, but it could solve all his problems.

The Truth Commissioner (followed by a Q+A with the filmmakers)

Sunday 21st February at 18:15

99 minutes Light House 1

The Truth Commissioner follows the fictional story of Henry Stanfield (Roger Allam), a career diplomat appointed as Truth Commissioner to Northern Ireland. Co-starring Barry Ward, Sean McGinley, Conleth Hill, Ian McElhinney and Tom Goodman Hill, the story revolves around the lives of three men who are directly or indirectly involved in the disappearance, 20 years earlier, of the 15-year-old Conor Roche. Though Stanfield starts bravely, he quickly uncovers some bloody and inconvenient truths about those now running the country; truths which none of those in power are prepared to have revealed. Everyone claims to want ‘The Truth’, but what is it going to cost, and who will pay for it?

Mammal (Followed by a Q+A with the Filmmakers)

Wednesday 24th February at 20:30

96 minutes

Lighthouse 1

After Margaret (Rachel Griffiths) learns that her 18-year-old son, who she abandoned as a baby, has been found dead, her simple, solitary routine is tragically disrupted. But when Joe (Barry Keoghan), a homeless teenager from her neighborhood, enters her life, Margaret offers him a room, and she soon becomes the mother she never was. As Margaret copes with the volatile grief of her ex-husband, her own lonely trauma seeps into her relationship with Joe and begins to blur the line between motherly affection and a more carnal intimacy. Director Rebecca Daly’s Mammal expertly guides us through layers of isolating grief that pulsate with the animalistic nature of trauma.

Atlantic (Followed by a Q+A with the Filmmakers)

Thursday 25th February at 20:30

80 minutes Cineworld 9

Atlantic is the latest film from the makers of The Pipe. This film follows three small fishing communities – in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland –at turns united and divided by the Atlantic Ocean. In recent times, mounting challenges within their own industries, the fragile environment, and the lure of high wages on oil rigs have seen these fishing communities struggle to maintain their way of life. As the oil majors push into deeper water and further into the Arctic, and the world’s largest fishing companies chase the last great Atlantic shoals, the impact on coastal communities and the ecosystems they rely on is reaching a tipping point. Atlantic tells three very personal stories of those who face the devastating prospect of having livelihoods taken from them, and communities destroyed both environmentally and economically.

Audi Dublin International Film Festival Box Office

DIFF House

13 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 10am–6pm, Sun (from 18th Feb) 12pm–6pm

There will be pop-up box offices in place at each venue from 30 minutes prior to each screening

Phone: 01 687 7974

Email: info@diff.ie

Website: www.diff.ie

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