Talking Movies

July 13, 2018

Les Femmes d’Inception

The box-office failure of Ocean’s 8 made me think of a conceit from the summer of 2014 when in an argument I recast Inception with all the male roles played by women and vice versa.

It wasn’t always possible to cast the same nationality or exact age but I quite liked my recasting then, and think it still stands up now. Try in particular to think about the scene in limbo near the very end where Cobb, Mal and Ariadne are at the table chez Cobb arguing over whether Cobb should stay with Mal in limbo forever.

Replacing Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb – Cate Blanchett

Replacing Joseph Gordon-Levit as Arthur – Lizzy Caplan

Replacing Tom Hardy as Eames – Emily Blunt

Replacing Ellen Page as Ariadne – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Replacing Ken Watanabe as Saito – Li Gong

Replacing Dileep Rao as the Chemist – Archie Panjabi

Replacing Marion Cotillard as Mal – Mads Mikkelsen

Replacing Cillian Murphy as Fisher – Jodie Whitaker

Replacing Tom Berenger as Uncle Peter – Margo Martindale

Replacing Pete Postlethwaite as Fisher Sr – Eva-Marie Saint

Replacing Lukas Haas as the 1st Architect – Tina Majorino

and

Replacing Michael Caine as Miles – Vanessa Redgrave

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May 31, 2018

From the Archives: The Edge of Love

Another deep dive into the pre-Talking Movies archives reveals an inert biopic of Dylan Thomas that presumably sent Matthew Rhys scurrying back into the comforting arms of well-written television roles.

Keira Knightley stars in a film written by her mother Sharman Macdonald. One hates to toss around words like nepotism but I would be very surprised if another actress would have been so eager to get this project green-lit. Macdonald is an established playwright, The Winter Guest being her most famous work, and director John Maybury previously directed Love is the Devil, another art-house biopic about a self-destructive artist. Sadly this film about poet Dylan Thomas falls far short of his take on painter Francis Bacon. Brothers & Sisters star Matthew Rhys is magnificent casting as the saturnine poet but the film seems to shy away from Thomas’ mile-wide self-destructive streak until near the end when it belatedly remembers that the man could be a total bastard and that he dedicatedly drank himself to death before he turned 40.

The Edge of Love begins promisingly with a vividly impressionistic take on the horrors of the Blitz, all soft-focus reds and blacks. There are some visual echoes of Atonement though which really hurt this film which lacks the emotional power and crisp scripting of that masterpiece. Keira Knightley (with a passable Welsh accent) is Vera Phillips, an ex-girlfriend of Dylan from Wales, who randomly meets him in war-torn London. A messy love quadrangle quickly forms with Dylan, his wife Caitlin, (Sienna Miller acquitting herself well once she dispenses with a half-attempted Irish accent) and Matthew Killick, a standout performance by Cillian Murphy as a stolid English soldier who is the voice of reason amidst all these selfish Celtic lunatics.

Sadly once Killick leaves to serve in Greece the film’s momentum goes with him. The script becomes so dramatically inert that you recoil in horror on hitting the hour mark as you realise there’s still another 50 minutes to go, which alternate between the incredibly boring and the absolutely infuriating. How you can possibly take the life of Dylan Thomas, add abortion, attempted murder and infidelity and induce yawns is beyond me. The best you can say about The Edge of Love is that it is ‘interesting’, by which of course one means that it assembles a number of good ideas and then leaves them lying around waiting for a coherent script. Killick’s shell-shock for instance is ‘explored’ through ridiculous scenes like him slapping a preposterously irritating woman from the BBC who sneers at his war service.

This film fails miserably at getting inside Dylan Thomas’ head no matter how many lines of poetry it has Rhys sonorously mumble in voiceover. It never really gets to grips with the tormented marriage of Dylan and Caitlin and in fact it really only succeeds, intermittently, in portraying female friendship forged by a connection to a charismatic but repellent man. And that really isn’t enough to sustain nearly 2 hours of cinema.

2/5

January 24, 2018

ADIFF 2018

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 7:41 pm
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The full ADIFF 2018 programme has finally been revealed and Bill Pullman, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Schrader, Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, Lance Daly, Nora Twomey, Paddy Considine, Sandy Powell, and Lynne Ramsay will all be coming to Dublin.  There will be seven World Premieres and a total of over 100 features screened, nearly all receiving their Irish Premiere. Tickets are released for sale at www.diff.ie from 7 pm today and the Box Office is open at 12 East Essex Street (+353 (0) 1 6877974) from 10 am 25thJan.


Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director, says “This year’s ADIFF programme is a line-up of films that are rich, exciting and wonderful. They reflect the truly global culture of film-making as well as celebrating the strength and depth of Irish film talent. It’s a selection that aims to inspire and entertain film lovers of every age and taste, including the youngest at Fantastic Flix. Our special guests include some of the finest performers and film-makers in the world and I’m particularly delighted to be welcoming our Volta Award recipients, Paul Schrader and Vanessa Redgrave to Dublin. Alongside the very best of new Irish and international cinema, there are echoes of film history in our silent film presentations and Cedric Gibbons Season, and an amazing glimpse of the future at the Immersive Stories: Conference and Exhibition, which brings the pioneers of virtual and augmented reality creation to Dublin.”

Some strands of the programme have already been covered in previous posts so let’s concentrate on what’s new.

Galas and Special Presentations
The Opening Gala will be the Irish Premiere of Black 47, the most hotly-anticipated Irish film of the year. Lance Daly directs this gripping thriller set during the Famine. Lance Daly and a selection of the cast including James Frecheville, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, and Stephen Rea will attend. One of Hollywood’s finest, Bill Pullman, attends the festival for the Irish Premiere of his new Western The Ballad of Lefty Brown, a superb addition to his distinguished body of cinematic work stretching back three decades. Amongst cinema’s most distinctive filmmakers, Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar) visits for the Special Presentation of her Cannes prize-winning thriller You Were Never Really Here. Irish-Spanish co-production, Muse, is a seductive supernatural thriller that was both set and shot in Dublin and will screen as a Special Presentation. Irish director Nora Twomey will attend the long-awaited Irish Premiere Special Presentation of her animated drama The Breadwinner, which has been Oscar-nominated in the Best Animated Feature category for 2018. From Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon, this is a powerful story of an Afghan girl passing as a boy to work to help her family survive. Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave will receive one of the two 2018 ADIFF Volta Awards, the festival’s most prestigious award, for her lifetime of achievement in cinema at the Irish Premiere of her passionate new documentary on the refugee crisis, Sea Sorrow. Her co-director and son Carlo Nero will also attend. Paul Schrader will also receive a Volta Award and is honoured for his extensive work as a director and screenwriter. Schrader’s acclaimed new film First Reformed starring Ethan Hawke will receive its Gala Irish Premiere at the festival. Schrader will also give an in-depth Public Talk and, as this year’s Guest Curator, will introduce three classic films that have inspired his work. Rounding off the festival with the ultimate in escapist cinema, ADIFF 2018’s Closing Gala is C’est La Vie. This funny, irreverent and charming French film is Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s follow-up to their box-office sensation The Intouchables and will leave festival audiences smiling until 2019.

Guest Highlights
The World Premiere of The Delinquent Season sees one of Ireland’s finest playwrights, Mark O’Rowe, make his debut as film director with a tale of two seemingly successful Dublin couples facing unexpected challenges. The stellar Irish cast includes Cillian Murphy and Eva Birthistle, both of whom will attend the premiere. Stacy Cochran will attend the World Premiere of her new film Write When You Get Work, a witty, knowing tale of success and excess on the Upper East Side, shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood). Three-time Oscar-winning Costume Designer Sandy Powell will visit for two new films that showcase her talents. She will take part in a Q&A after Todd Hayne’s Wonderstruck and introduce John Cameron Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties. One of Ireland’s most provocative and challenging film artists, director Alan Gilsenan attends the World Premiere of his visceral and highly-charged new film, The Meeting. Actor/Director Paddy Considine visits the festival for the screening of his second feature as director Journeyman, a raw, powerful boxing drama in which Considine delivers an unforgettable performance. Canadian director Kathleen Hepburn attends the festival for her intimate portrait of grief and independence Never Steady, Never Still. Director Marc Meyers will attend the screening of My Friend Dahmer, a chilling look at the youth of real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Irish Film and Talent
ADIFF 2018 is packed with Irish talent, with more homegrown highlights with directors in attendance including Irish Premieres of Aoife McArdle’s incendiary debut, Kissing Candice, and Good Favour, the third feature from Rebecca Daly which sees a religious community give shelter to an enigmatic outsider. Director David Freyne will attend the Irish Premiere of his fiendishly clever take on the zombie film, The Cured. Andrew Quirke’s hilarious Dublin double-act hits the big screen with the World Premiere of Damo & Ivor: The Movie.

Crime and Law
French actor-turned-director Xavier Legrand will attend his dazzling debut, Custody, about a court decision that tears a family apart.  Director/co-writer Yves Hinant and his co-writer Jean Libon will attend the screening of So Help Me God, a documentary following the unconventional and sometimes outrageous Belgian judge Anne Gruwez. Warwick Thornton follows his critically-acclaimed Samson & Delilah with an outback Western, Sweet Country. Director Jean-François Hensgens and armed robber-turned-filmmaker François Troukens attend the festival with their slick heist thriller Tueurs/Above the Law. Matthias Heeder attends the screening of Pre-Crime, a documentary exploring ‘protective policing’, a sci-fi staple that is becoming all too real. John McBratney, retired Senior Counsel will chair a special panel discussion on the Crime and Law strand, which also includes The Ciambra, Racer and the Jailbird, The Line, The Meeting and Have a Nice Day.

International Programme
French-language films include Xavier Beauvois’ The Guardians, Laurent Cantet’s The Workshop, Xavier Giannoli’s Apparition and Coralie Fargaet’s Revenge. The wider international selection includes representation from Japan (The Third Murder), Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts), Israel (Foxtrot), Ecuador (Yasuni Man), Germany (Casting, In the Fade),Romania (Ana, Mon Amour), Norway (What Will People Say), Argentina (Zama), and Iran (Israfil). The contemporary cinema of Hong Kong is explored in a five-film season, with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Belgium, that includes a visit from Angie Chen, director of I’ve Got the Blues. The season will also feature intimate war drama Our Time Will Come, the mysterious crime drama Somewhere Beyond the Mist, the offbeat and tranquil coming-of-age drama The White Girl, and dynamic action thriller Paradox. Actress Anna Krotoska will attend the screening of Polish character-driven psychological thriller Tower: A Bright Day. Selected to celebrate the centenary of Polish Independence, there is a rare chance to see Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s 1977 award-winning Death of the President. Highlights from across the Atlantic include sneak previews of Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow, Wes Anderson’s new animation Isle of Dogs, and Liam Neeson in Watergate drama Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. British selections include Sebastían Lelio’s Disobedience with Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz; Sheila Hancock in Simon Hunter’s Edie; and Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy in Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop. Irish rising star Jessie Buckley gives a breakthrough film performance in writer/director Michael Pearce’s dark and delicious new British film Beast. English-language international documentaries include an intimate look at Leon Vitali’s life as Stanley Kubrick’s right hand man in Film-worker, the unexpected treat of a second visit to the Beales of Grey Gardens in That Summer, the swinging sixties narrated by Michael Caine in That Generation, and a magical time capsule of found footage in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time.

Cedric Gibbons
Dublin-born Cedric Gibbons was the most successful art director in the history of cinema, responsible for MGM’s reputation as Hollywood’s number one ‘dream factory’. ADIFF 2018 celebrates his work with the Cedric Gibbons Retrospective featuring The Big Parade, Dinner at Eight, Grand Hotel, and An American in Paris, as well as a one-day conference at NCAD Gallery from 2nd March. An exhibition will run at the NCAD Gallery 2nd-31st March.

Awards
Film-goers themselves will select their favourite film of the Festival with the AUDI-ence award. The winning film-makers will be flown to the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 where they will enjoy a true VIP Audi experience. This year’s ADIFF Discovery Award nominees are a testament to the strength of and depth of the new generation of film talent making their mark in a competitive but thriving industry. The nominees are actors Ryan Lincoln (Kissing Candice), Jessie Buckley (Beast), Rory Fleck Byrne (Inbox), Actors/Directors/Writers TJ O’Grady Peyton (Wave) and Liz Quinn (The Date), Director/Cinematographers Rua Meegan & Trevor Whelan (both Bardalo II: A Life of Waste); directors Mia Mullarkey (Mother & Baby), Louise Bagnall (Late Afternoon); and producer Sharon Cronin (Acorn).

Special Events, Shorts and the Surprise Film
One of the most popular and revered slots in the programme, the identity of the Just Eat Surprise Film is a tightly-guarded secret known only to the Festival Director but it always rewards the bold and the brave. The festival has expanded its ADIFF Shorts selections to four programmes of the best short films from Ireland and around the world, featuring both established talent and the next generation of film-makers cutting their teeth. The meeting point between audiences, critics, talent and industry that the festival provides extends far beyond the cinema screen in the ADIFF Special Events. This year’s events will include a Writers’ Masterclass with Laurence Coriat and an Audiences Panel with Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the British Film Institute. After the success of last year’s exhibition capturing Irish talent, ADIFF will present the second exhibition by Hugh O’Conor featuring intimate portraits of his colleagues in the Irish film industry.

Check out the new ADIFF Podcast at http://bit.ly/2DzwFt3

So, here’s the full ADIFF 2018 schedule, notably lacking any shows in the Savoy; with the Odeon Point and Cineworld 17 stepping into the vacuum left by Savoy 1’s dismemberment – of which more soon.

Wednesday 21st February
21.00 Black 47   Cineworld 17
Opening Gala

Thursday 22nd February
Fantastic Flix -11.00 My Neighbour Totoro   Lighthouse 1
14.00 Yasuni Man   Lighthouse 3
18.00 First Reformed  Cineworld 9 
Paul Schrader in attendance
18.00 Our Time Will Come   Lighthouse 3
18.30 Death of the President   Lighthouse 1
20.00 The Breadwinner   Cineworld 17
Featuring Q&A with Nora Twomey
20.30 Somewhere Beyond The Mist   Lighthouse 3
20.45 Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House   Cineworld 9

Friday 23rd February
14.00 Pickpocket   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.00 Performance   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.00 The White Girl   Lighthouse 3
18.15 Beast   Cineworld 9
18.15 Never Steady, Never Still   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Kathleen Hepburn
18.30 I’ve Got the Blues   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Angie Chen
20.45 In the Fade   Lighthouse 1
21.00 Paradox   Lighthouse 3
22.45 Revenge   Lighthouse 1

Saturday 24th February
09.00 Immersive Stories Conference   Round Room, Mansion House
11.00 Dawson City: Frozen Time   Lighthouse 1
12.00 Film Festivals Programmers Speed Dating & Networking Session   Lighthouse Bar
14.00 ADIFF Shorts 1   Lighthouse 3
14.00 An Autumn Afternoon   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.15 Sweet Country   Lighthouse 1
16.30 That Summer   Lighthouse 3
16.30 The Divine Order   Cineworld 9
18.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
18.15 The Line   Lighthouse 3
18.30 The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid   Lighthouse 1
Film-maker in attendance
18.45 The Guardians   Cineworld 9
20.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
20.00 The Ballad of Lefty Brown Cineworld 17
In attendance: Bill Pullman
20.30 The Ciambra   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Tueurs / Above the Law   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: François Troukens, Jean-François Hensgens
20.50 Write When You Get Work   Cineworld 9
Stacy Cochran in attendance

Sunday 25th February
09.00 Immersive Stories Conference   Round Room, Mansion House
11.00 Filmworker   Lighthouse 1
13.00 ADIFF Shorts 2   Lighthouse 1
14.00 Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle   Lighthouse 3
14.00 The Bookshop   Cineworld 9
15.30 What Will People Say   Lighthouse 1
16.15 Wonderful Losers: A Different World   Lighthouse 3
Film-maker in attendance
18.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
18.00 Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts   Cineworld 9
18.00 Thirst Street   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Nathan Silver
18.30 Behind the Door   Lighthouse 1
Musical accompaniment: Stephen Horne
20.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
20.10 The Workshop   Lighthouse 2
20.15 The Cured   Lighthouse 1
David Freyne in attendance

Monday 26th February
13.30 The Big Parade   IFI
17.00 Casting   Pavilion Theatre
18.10 Madame   Cineworld 9
18.15 Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts   Lighthouse 3
18.15 The Rider   Lighthouse 1
18.30 The Science of Ghosts   IFI
Film-maker in attendance
20.00 The Divine Order   Pavilion Theatre
20.30 ADIFF Shorts 3   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Tower: A Bright Day   Cineworld 9
20.30 You Were Never Really Here   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Lynne Ramsay

Tuesday 27th February
13.30 Dinner At Eight   IFI
18.10 The Summit   Lighthouse 1
18.15 My Generation   Cineworld 9
18.30 Pre-Crime   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Matthias Heeder
18.30 Phantom Islands   IFI
Film-maker in attendance
20.30 Good Favour   Lighthouse 1
Filmmaker in attendance
20.45 Israfil   Lighthouse 3

Wednesday 28th February
13.30 Grand Hotel   IFI
16.00 ADIFF Shorts 4   Lighthouse 2
Featuring ADIFF Awards presentation
17.50 Twilight   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Pat Collins
Fantastic Flix – 18.15 Lean On Pete   Cineworld 9
18.30 Custody   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Xavier Legrand
18.30 Isle of Dogs   Cineworld 17
18.45 While You Live, Shine   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Paul Duane
20.30 Red Sparrow   Cineworld 17
20.45 Muse   Lighthouse 1
20.45 Zama   Lighthouse 3
20.45 Thoroughbreds   Cineworld 9

Thursday 1st March
French Producer’s Summit   The Digital Hub
10.00 Careers Day   IFI
Fantastic Flix – 10.00 Cloudboy   Omniplex Rathmines
Fantastic Flix – 13.00 At Eye Level   Movies@Dundrum
16.00 Catch the Wind   Lighthouse 1
18.10 Wonderstruck   Cineworld 9
Film-maker in attendance
18.15 Disobedience   Lighthouse 1
18.15 The Image You Missed   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Donal Foreman
20.30 Ana, Mon Amour   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Foxtrot   Lighthouse 1
20.45 Apparition / L’Apparition   Cineworld 9

Friday 2nd March
Fantastic Flix – 10.00 Vampirina   Lighthouse 3
Film-maker in attendance
Fantastic Flix – 11.00 Rum 213    Omniplex Rathmines
In attendance: Wilma Lundgren
Fantastic Flix – 11.30 Cloudboy   Lighthouse 3
Fantastic Flix – 12.30 Liyana   Movies@Dundrum
13.30 An American in Paris   IFI
14.00 Writers’ Workshop Laurence Coriat   Brooks Hotel Cinema
18.10 Damo & Ivor: The Movie   Cineworld 17
Film-maker in attendance
In attendance: Rob Burke, Ronan Burke & Cast
18.10 The Other Side of Everything   Lighthouse 3
18.15 The Camino Voyage   IFI
In attendance: Dónal Ó Céilleachair
18.15 Hannah   Light House 1
20.30 Have a Nice Day   Lighthouse 3
20.30 The Third Murder   Cineworld 9
20.45 Kissing Candice   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Aoife McArdle

Saturday 3rd March
Fantastic Flix -11.00 Fantastic Flix Shorts Omniplex   Rathmines / Lighthouse 3
Fantastic Flix -11.00 Mary and the Witch’s Flower   Lighthouse 1
12.00 Judicial Review: Law on Film
13.15 So Help Me God   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Yves Hinant, Jean Libon
13.50 Casting   Lighthouse 3
14.00 Catalyst Case Study – Kissing Candice   Bow St Academy
15.45 The Meeting   Lighthouse 1
16.00 Sea Sorrow   Cineworld 17
In attendance: Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero

16.00 How to Talk to Girls At Parties   Lighthouse 3
Sandy Powell in attendance
18.10 Sicilian Ghost Story   Cineworld 9
18.15 A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Sinéad O’Shea
18.30 Journeyman   Lighthouse 2
Film-maker in attendance
20.30 The Delinquent Season   Lighthouse 1
Mark O’Rowe, Cillian Murphy, and Eva Birthistle in attendance
20.45 A Prayer Before Dawn   Cineworld 9

Sunday 4th March
Fantastic Flix -11.00 The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales   Light House 1
In attendance: Patrick Imbert
12.00 Edie   Light House 3
12.00 Vanessa Redgrave Volta Presentation   The Gate
13.30 Racer and the Jailbird   Cineworld 9
14.00 The Italian Straw Hat (The Horse Ate the Hat)   Light House 1
Musical accompaniment: Günter A. Buchwald, Matthew Jacobson, Nick Roth, Derek Whyte
16.10 My Friend Dahmer   Cineworld 9
16.15 A Gentle Creature   Light House 1
17.00 Just Eat Surprise Film   Odeon Point
Featuring special presentation
19.00 Under the Tree   Light House 1
20.00 C’est La Vie   Cineworld 17
Closing Gala

Exhibitions:
Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
Celebrating Irish Talent Exhibition   Powerscourt Town Centre

Friday 2nd March – Saturday 31st March
Cedric Gibbons Exhibition   NCAD Galway

Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
Exhibition: Brown Bag Films Behind the Scenes   Lighthouse

Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
NCAD Exhibition   Lighthouse

September 13, 2017

IFI Open Day 2017

The IFI is holding its annual Open Day on Saturday September 16th with a line-up of free movies running from 1pm to 11pm. As well as free movies, the customary barbecue in the courtyard and special discount on annual IFI membership, there are a number of tours and a jazz brunch in the cafe bar.

 

In addition to the one preview, handful of old favourites, and several sheer oddities, there are chances to lift the curtain and see the wizard; with talks from the IFI Archive staff and tours of the Projection Booth. The ‘Ask an Archivist’ desk in the foyer will give visitors the opportunity to learn about different film stocks, preservation, restoration, digitisation, and even view and handle film. But projection tours to go behind the little window of flickering light, and check out the busy working of the specialised department; handling anything from digital, to 16mm and 35mm, up to 70mm – the IFI being the only cinema in the country that can run 70mm reels; are sadly sold out. As always IFI Membership will be available at a discounted rate for the Open Day and there’s a BBQ on the terrace from 16.00 onwards. And this year Air France are running a competition for a pair of return flights to Paris so that one might finally fulfil that nagging desire to run thru the Louvre as if in a nouvelle vague picture.

But what are the free movies? Well, here is a guide to the 12 films being shown in Temple Bar.

Film 1

The Mighty Ducks (13.00)
It’s 25 years since the IFI opened its door in Temple Bar, and there is one notable film also turning 25 this year that has been much discussed this summer. But enough about Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me… Emilio Estevez is Gordon Bombay, a cut-throat lawyer sentenced to community service after a DUI, who coaches an unruly youth ice-hockey team with ruthlessness to earn redemption.

The Big Sleep (13.15)
A high water-mark of film noir, The Big Sleep was adapted by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett from the first of Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled novels about PI, and all-round shop-soiled Galahad, Philip Marlowe. The great Howard Hawks directs Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a murky tangle of shady LA characters, innuendo laden dialogue, literate zingers, and baffling plotting. Just don’t ask who killed the chauffeur.

Speedy (13.30)
Harold Lloyd’s final silent film from 1928 sees his customary ‘glasses’ character this time appearing as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, just as another expression of a fine, noble, and disinterested nature, and also to impress the girl whose grandfather owns it. 86 minutes of rapid-fire sight gags and elaborate comedy set-ups ensue, and a cameo from Babe Ruth to boot.

Film 2

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (15.10)

Robert Wise, director of The Sound of Music, was the unlikely figure picked to lead the crew of the starship Enterprise into the new frontier of cinema. 132 minutes, a regrettable portion of which is lovingly sustained shots of the post-Star Wars VFX accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith’s new Trek theme, sees Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al investigate a mysterious alien entity posing a threat.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (15.30)
Steve Martin continued his fruitful collaboration with director Carl Reiner after The Jerk with this homage to 1940s film noir. While Woody Allen was busy inserting Len Zelig into world events, Reiner and Martin wrote a zany plot and built a farcical amount of sets in order to have Martin interact with old footage of Humphrey Bogart, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, and many more.

Intermission (15.40)
Cillian Murphy woos Kelly MacDonald, Colin Farrell is obsessed with woks, bus-driver Brían F. O’Byrne is aggrieved at a kid, David Wilmot is being unnerved by Deirdre O’Kane’s lust, and vainglorious Garda Colm Meaney is being filmed by documentarians. The blackly comic intersections of Mark O’Rowe’s screenplay no longer seem as impressive as they initially did back in 2003 when everyone was talking about brown sauce in tea.

MILLER’S CROSSING, Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne, 1990. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Film 3

Sorcerer (17.30)
William Friedkin decided, for reasons passing understanding, to use his post-French Connection and Exorcist clout to remake Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 suspense classic The Wages of Fear. Roy Scheider stars in a tale of men driving trucks with highly unstable nitroglycerine over rickety bridges on a mission to extinguish an oil well blaze. This is remembered now for Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’ account of its disastrous production and reception.

Miller’s Crossing (18.00)
The Coen Brothers stepped up their ambitions from indie noir and screwball comedy with this expansive Prohibition-era gangster film. Gabriel Byrne is right-hand man to Albert Finney’s mob boss. When Byrne is banished, over John Turturro’s bookie and Marcia Gay Harden’s moll, it begins a deadly game of cat and mouse between rival gangs; featuring much double-crossing, hard-boiled badinage, and a spectacularly OTT use of ‘Danny Boy’.

Delicatessen (18.10)
Amelie creator Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his one-time directing partner Marc Caro’s 1991 debut is a queasily slapstick spin on Sweeney Todd. Clapet is a landlord in an apartment building in post-apocalyptic France, who controls his tenants’ food supply via his butcher’s shop; prime cuts from the men he hires. Louison (Dominique Pinon) fills the regular vacancy, but his love for Clapet’s daughter complicates matters in this queasy comedy.

Film 4

Weirdos (20.00)

In 1976 Nova Scotia fifteen-year-old Kit and his girlfriend Alice run away from home in order to reunite with his estranged mother (Molly Parker), while the USA bombastically celebrates its bicentennial. Accompanied by Kit’s imaginary version of Andy Warhol, the two undertake a road trip during which they confront the difficulties they face in their teenage romance. Quirky and comedic, Bruce McDonald’s film features beautifully photographed Canadian landscapes.

??? (20.20)

The audience choice is yet to be announced but voting for the shortlist of 10 drawn up by IFI staff has closed. Here’s hoping for Hunt for the Wilderpeople! Although as that screened in preview at last year’s Open Day having it again as a returning favourite might be pushing it. Past winners include SubmarineGood Vibrations, Short Term 12, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

The Cohens and Kellys (20.30)

A genuine oddity is a silent movie in prime time on Open Day… Accordionist Dermot Dunne and saxophonist Nick Roth, Artistic Director of the Yurodny Ensemble, will provide a live musical accompaniment, drawing heavily on Irish and Jewish folk music. The 1926 film is an ethnic comedy of the broadest of stock characters in 1920s NYC: Irish cop, Jewish storekeeper, cheerful Irish wife, Jewish mother.

 

So, those are the films, but that’s only planning’s first step… Sadly after two years of running five sets of films; which saw movies begin near 11pm and end near 1am; things are back to the traditional four in this 25th anniversary year. Trying to do four films was always an endurance marathon, but to get into five films was surely beyond mere mortals, and yet undoubtedly somebody did try in those two years… But even to do four movies one must sort out strategy, for two sets of reasons.

One can, obviously, only watch one of the three films running, but the film chosen from each set determines what films are available in subsequent sets. Choose The Big Sleep from the first set of films, and it becomes damn near impossible to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture from the second set of films. To make a quick-change from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Sorcerer involves having to leave one screen and join a queue for another screen, with neither film starting on time, especially as some introductory speaker always overdoes curating their favourite film. The unexpected can derail well-laid plans as some films will be unexpectedly in demand whilst others unexpectedly languish, and it is impossible to predict which. Might one casually pick up a ticket for Miller’s Crossing a minute before it starts as Talking Movies’ occasional guest writer Elliot Harris once memorably did for The Purple Rose of Cairo? And how can popularity be predicted in the absence of announced screens? After all amongst past audience choice winners Good Vibrations and Short Term 12 did not make Screen 1, yet Submarine did. One needs a good mental map of run-times and queue-times for improvised plans.

And then there’s the second, newer reason to sort strategy if attempting multiple films. Tickets were allocated, 4 per person, first come first served, at 11am; which saw a queue forming from 9.30am, snaking to Dame Street. The days of that Open Day morning buzz are gone. For the second year in a row queues will form inside the IFI, a desk for each movie, an hour before screenings –2 tickets per person. Multiple movie devotees must work together, because they’d have to not be watching a movie in order to queue for tickets for the next movie; reducing them to a mere 2 movies! Expect the queue to form 30 minutes before tickets will be disbursed. Don’t expect pseudo-economists trading off queuing during films they don’t mind missing in order to get extra tickets for a film they do want to see, in order to get someone to queue for them for a later film they want to see.

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

February 16, 2017

Here Comes ADIFF

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017 (16th-26th Feb) opens tonight with the Gala Irish Premiere of hotly-anticipated Irish-Canadian co-production Maudie, featuring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins, finally making its Irish homecoming after international critical acclaim. Director Aisling Walsh will attend the screening for a Q&A in front of an audience that includes festival-goers, film-makers, and industry professionals.

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Film fans have 11 days of cinema ahead with an array of top talent coming to Dublin to present  films from around the world and some key Irish films from the year ahead.

Highlights of the first weekend include the Gala Screening of Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture with a host of special guests, the World Premiere of Jamie Thraves’ Pickups with actor Aidan Gillen in attendance, Tindersticks front-man Stuart Staples will present his brilliant new project Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F, Percy Smith, and New Zealand actress Kerry Fox will appear at the Irish premiere of The Rehearsal and join us for a look back at her breakthrough role in Jane Campion’s An Angel At My Table. On Monday 20th Feb the festival hosts the Centrepiece Gala screening of new Irish documentary In Loco Parentis, and the Cineworld Gala World Premiere of new Irish horror Nails with Ross Noble, Shauna MacDonald, and Leah McNamara in attendance. On Wednesday 22nd Feb, the festival hosts the Irish premiere of Unless, a new Irish-Canadian film starring Catherine Keener, with director Alan Gilsenan in attendance.

The Audi Gala of Free Fire on Thurs 23rd Feb sees Kill List and High-Rise maestro Ben Wheatley return to the festival, joined by Irish cast members Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy. Friday 24th Feb sees a special tribute to John Hurt with the first Irish screening of his performance in 2014’s Snowpiercer, which wasn’t released here after much controversy over its re-cutting for American audiences, while Anna Friel appears with director Juanita Wilson at a Special Presentation screening of Tomato Red.

The Festival’s final day sees no let up in activity with a Special Presentation of Indonesian martial arts star Iko Uwais’s new film Headshot, the Special Presentation World Premiere of Emer Reynolds The Farthest with an appearance from Voyager Program project manager John Casani, the much-speculated-about Surprise Film, and the Closing Gala Irish Premiere of John Butler’s Handsome Devil.

January 18, 2017

ADIFF 2017

The programme for ADIFF’s 15th celebration of cinema is now available to browse and download at www.diff.ie and tickets go on sale tomorrow Thursday January 19th at 10:00am; available by phone on +353 1 687 7974 or in person at DIFF, 13 Ormond Quay.

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World cinema is coming to the Audi Dublin International Film Festival from 16th-26th February 2017 with Vanessa Redgrave, Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox, Ross Noble, Ben Wheatley, and Anna Friel joining Irish stars Jack Reynor, Moe Dunford, Cillian Murphy, John Butler, and Aiden Gillen on the red carpet.

Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director, said ‘I’m thrilled with the selection of films that not only showcases some of the biggest names in world cinema but features a selection of first time directors from across the globe who will make a serious impression with our audience in this and in coming years. To be able to include new Irish films from Aisling Walsh, Jim Sheridan, Emer Reynolds, Aiden Gillen, John Butler, Neasa Ní Chianán, Juanita Wilson, and Ken Wardrop is an extraordinary testament to the current strength and depth of the Irish film industry. I hope that as many Dubliners as possible take this chance to explore and celebrate the art of film.’

Richard Molloy, Head of Marketing and Product at Audi Ireland, said, “Following a hugely successful partnership between Audi and the Dublin International Film Festival in 2016 we are proud to continue this into 2017.  Audi’s brand philosophy, ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, really connects with the festival’s ethos of inspiring progressiveness and creativity. Furthermore, our partnership with the festival allows us to celebrate the art of film-making while recognising new and emerging film talent. This year we are delighted to introduce an Audi Gala screening to the festival programme providing festival fans with the ultimate red carpet film experience.”

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Galas and World Premieres

The Gala Opening Night of ADIFF 2017 will be the Irish Premiere of Maudie, the internationally acclaimed biopic of folk artist Maud Lewis by award-winning Irish director Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy) which stars Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, adapted from the award-winning novel by Sebastian Barry, will receive a Gala Irish Premiere and see ADIFF present a Volta Award to British theatrical royalty Vanessa Redgrave. The Volta Award is the Festival’s most prestigious honour, reserved for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of film. Jack Reynor, Cillian Murphy, and Ben Wheatley will attend the Audi Gala screening of Wheatley’s new film Free Fire. ADIFF’s new Centrepiece Gala will be Neasa Ní Chianán and David Rane’s In Loco Parentis documentary study of the Headfort School. World Premieres at ADIFF 17 include Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red with star Anna Friel in attendance, Dennis Bartok’s terrifying hospital horror Nails, and Aiden Gillen and Jamie Thraves’ Pickups (features Gillen playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself). Ken Wardrop (His & Hers) brings his characteristic warmth and humanity to piano grade exams in The Piano Lesson, while John Murray and Traolach Ó Murchú’s Photo City delves into the celluloid history of Rochester, NY. ADIFF’s prestigious Closing Night Gala is the Irish premiere of Handsome Devil, the new comedy-drama set in an Irish boarding school from John Butler, who directed The Stag.

International Programme

Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox, and François Cluzet will attend the festival. Baye becomes the target of a dangerous obsession in Moka, Fox is the uncompromising acting teacher in The Rehearsal, and Cluzet stars in stylish paranoia thriller Scribe. ADIFF’s world cinema programme feature films from over 35 countries, from Bhutan to New Zealand, Seoul to Senegal, and Nova Scotia to Manila. There are new films from Festival favourites including Olivier Assayas, Pablo Larraín, Michael Winterbottom, Aki Kaurismäki, Ben Wheatley, Asghar Farhadi, Cristian Mungiu, Lone Scherfig, and Terence Davies. In 2011, Iko Uwais’ flying fists and lightning-fast feet in The Raid brought the house down in the Savoy. Now Uwais returns as the hero of IFI Horrorthon sell-out Headshot, bringing his astounding fighting skills to this tale of amnesia and revenge.

First-time Directors

This year’s programme features a number of new international voices making feature debuts: Juho Kuosmanen’s uplifting Oscar-tipped boxing biopic The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Ben Young’s Australian kidnap nightmare Hounds of Love, British director William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth, and Daouda Coulibaly’s thrilling West African crime thriller Wùlu. Irish director Lorcan Finnegan’s deeply creepy walk in the woods eco-horror Without Name marks him out as a talent to watch closely in years to comeThe frustration and unease those in the arts have felt at people uninterested in the arts voting for Brexit and Trump is expressed through acerbic and bitter humour – Dash Shaw’s My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea!, Sean Foley’s Mindhorn (with Ross Noble in attendance), Anna Biller’s Love Witch, and Kris Avedisian’s comedy of discomfort Donald Cried.

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Special Events and the Surprise Film

Masterclasses include leading British director Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Free Fire, A Field in England, Kill List), and Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Doctor Strange). Terence Davies, a singular master of film adaptations, will take part in a public interview with Roddy Doyle. Celebrating the current high point in Irish film, an exhibition by Hugh O’Conor features intimate portraits of his colleagues. An annual treat for the brave, the Surprise Film is a tightly guarded secret known only to the Festival Director, and this year the screening is supported by Just Eat, the official food ordering app, who will be offering special discounts and vouchers to the audience.

Fantastic Flix

The Festival’s expanding Fantastic Flix programme brings the world of cinema to the next generation in its packed festival of children’s films from around the globe, workshops, short film selections, the Fantastic Flix Children’s Jury and special events. Highlights include a special selection of films from visiting children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, along with the Golden Globe-nominated animated film My Life as a Courgette, and Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle.

Awards
Alongside the Volta Awards that recognise outstanding achievement, the ADIFF Discovery Award sees the festival reward emerging Irish talent; the Dublin Film Critics Circle Jury selects the best of the festival for their awards ceremony; and film-goers themselves select their favourite with the AUDI-ence award. The AUDI-ence award-winning film-makers
 will be flown to the Berlin International Film Festival in 2018, where they will enjoy a true VIP Audi experience.

September 8, 2016

Anthropoid

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan star in a brutally compelling take on the cost of assassinating the Butcher of Prague at the height of WWII.

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Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) parachute into Czechoslovakia after years in exile. They quickly discover how deep the occupying Nazis’ regime of fear and infiltration has gone in their attempts to make contact with the Resistance. But with the help of Uncle Hajsky (Toby Jones) and Marie Moravec (Alena Mihulova) they begin a life of deep cover in Prague. Fake girlfriends Marie Kovarnikova (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka Fafkova (Anna Geislerova) help to deflect suspicion at these two loitering unemployed men, but it also raises the question of the nature of their mission. Josef is at peace that he has signed up for suicide, but Jan is eager for an escape plan after the assassination. And the assassination attempt itself raises moral questions; articulated by Resistance chief and Doubting Thomas Ladislav Vanek (Marcin Dorocinski).

If killing Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s third-in-command after Himmler and a chief architect of the Final Solution, would lead to the reprisal execution of 30,000 Czechs, is it morally justifiable to do so? At what point does informing on a handful of men to save thousands of men become morally defensible, or is it ever so when faced against an evil like the Nazis? Sean Ellis and co-writer Anthony Frewin don’t have any answers to these knotty questions, but allowing the characters to raise them elevate this film from gung-ho heroics. The deepening attachments between Josef and Lenka and Jan and Marie could become stock, but that the philosophical divide between the two men is amplified by the women; Lenka in particular is a breakout performance by Anna Geislerova as a soldier in the shadows of formidable steeliness who, like Josef, regards their death warrants as signed.

Ellis acts as his own cinematographer with a noticeably grainy aesthetic, almost a homage to Zapruder’s JFK footage. This is not a sumptuous recreation of occupied Prague, it is focused on the details of espionage, weapons manufacture, and assassination, and invites comparison with Jason Bourne for extended wordless sequences of practical spy-craft. Oddly enough the timing of the assassination places this structurally beside The Dark Knight, but building towards a climax of historically accurate honourable heroism that is as alien to Hollywood storytelling tropes as (the previously fantastical) 47 Ronin‘s finale. If there is one quibble it is that Bill Milner’s At’a Moravec is so ostentatiously introduced as a violinist, at which point your stomach knots that the ability to play will be taken from him; because sadistic cruelty is the modus vivendi of the Gestapo.

Anthropoid is not a tale of derring-do, but a muted study in suicidal bravery, which will leave an audience saddened beyond measure but glad to have seen such heroism.

3.5/5

February 3, 2015

2015: Fears

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 11:20 pm
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Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowskis return, oh joy, in 3-D, more joy, with a tale of a young woman (Mila Kunis) who discovers that she shares the same DNA as the Queen of the Universe, and goes on the run with a genetically engineered former soldier (Channing Tatum), oh, and he’s part wolf… The unloveable Eddie Redmayne is the villain, but the extremely loveable Tuppence Middleton is also in the cast, and, oddly, there’s a cameo from Terry Gilliam, whose work is said to be an influence on the movie. Alongside Star Wars, Greek mythology, and the comic-book Saga it seems…

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

Jamie Dornan is Christian Grey, Dakota Johnson is Bella Swan Anastasia Steele, Universal are terrible gamblers. Take one novel: which is 100pp of hilariously obvious Twilight homage leading to pornography for hundreds more and an unsatisfactory ending; a sensation because of the ability to secretly read it. Now hire art-house director Sam Taylor-Johnson to make an R-rated film focused on the romance, after 5 Twilight movies of said romance shtick; and force people to say out loud what film they’re seeing, or at least be seen going to it. Sit back, and watch this gamble fail.

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Blackhat

Michael Mann returns with his first film since 2009’s uninspired Public Enemies. Chris Hemsworth, now officially a god in Iceland again, plays a hacker who gets a free pass from jail to help Viola Davis’ FBI agent liaise with her Chinese counterpart (pop star Wang Leehom) following a devastating cyber-attack in China which led to a nuclear incident. Hemsworth is distracted in his mission by Lust, Caution’s Chen Lien, and, if you’ve read the vituperative reviews, an appalling script. Mann’s been on a losing streak for a while, and his hi-def video camera infatuation only doubles down on that.

 

In the Heart of the Sea

March sees director Ron Howard take on Moby Dick. Or rather, tell the true story that inspired Moby Dick, rather than try and out-do John Huston. Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson are among the hapless crew of the whaling ship Essex out of New England that runs afoul of a curiously vindictive sperm whale in 1820. Martin Sheen starred in a rather good BBC version of this disaster its grisly aftermath at Christmas 2013. Who knows if Howard will match that, but he’ll definitely throw more CGI at the screen.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Joss Whedon takes off the Zak Penn training wheels and scripts this sequel to 2012’s hit solo. James Spader voices the titular evil AI, unleashed by Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man when fiddling about in Samuel L Jackson’s Pandora’s Box of Shield secrets. The great Elizabeth Olsen is Scarlet Witch, and Aaron Johnson is Quicksilver, but I find it hard to work up any enthusiasm for another ticked box on the Marvel business plan. Why? CGI and Marvel empire-building fatigue, a lack of interest in most of the characters, and great weariness with Whedon’s predictable subversion.

 

Lost River

What is the difference between a homage and le rip-off? The French should know and they loudly booed Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut as little more than Nicolas Winding Refn and David Lynch meeting up for a whimsical night out. Gosling also wrote this tale of a boy who finds a town under the sea down a river, and has to be rescued by his mother. Matt Smith, Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, and Ben Mendelsohn are the actors roped in by Gosling to flesh out his magical realist vision of a hidden beauty lurking underneath decrepit Detroit.

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Far From the Madding Crowd
Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan), a wilful, flirtatious young woman unexpectedly inherits a large farm and becomes romantically involved with three widely divergent men: rich landowner William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), dashing Sgt. Troy (Tom Sturridge), and poor farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). John Schlesinger’s 1967 film of Hardy’s classic novel is a formidable predecessor for this May release. This version from director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt), was co-scripted with David Nicholls of One Day fame; another man whose tendencies are not exactly of a sunny disposition. Can the promising young cast overcome Vinterberg’s most miserabilist tendencies?

 

Tomorrowland

Well this is a curio… Brad Bird directs George Clooney and Secret Circle star Britt Robertson in a script he co-wrote with Damon LOST Lindelof about a genius inventor and a parallel universe, or something. Nobody really seems to know what it’s about. But then given Lindelof’s resume even after we’ve watched it we probably won’t know what it’s about. Bird proved extremely capable with live-action in Mission: Impossible 4, but explicitly viewed the talky scenes as mere connective tissue between well-executed set-pieces; pairing him with ‘all questions, no answers’ man seems like a recipe for more puzzled head-scratching.

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Ant-Man

Ant-Man was in 2015: Hopes until director and co-writer Edgar Wright walked because Marvel shafted him after years of development. I was highly interested in seeing Paul Rudd’s burglar become a miniature super-hero who’s simpatico with ants after encountering mad scientist Michael Douglas and his hot daughter Evangeline Lilly; when it was from the madman who made Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. When this deservedly nonsensical take on a preposterous property is being helmed by Peyton Reed; whose only four features are Bring It On, Down With Love, The Break-Up, and Yes Man; my interest levels drop to zero.

 

Terminator: Genisys

Quietly brushing 2009’s Terminator: Salvation into the dustbin of history in July is this script by Laeta Kalogridis (Pathfinder, Night Watch) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry). Game of Thrones’ Alan Taylor directs, which presumably explains Emilia Clarke’s baffling casting as Jason Clarke’s mother. That’s going to take some quality Sarah Connor/John Connor timeline shuffling. And this is all about timelines. Arnie returns! Byung-Hun Lee is a T-1000! Courtney B Vance is Miles Dyson! YAY!!!!! Jai Courtney is Kyle Reese … BOOOOOO!!!!!!! Did we learn nothing from McG’s fiasco? We do not need another muscle-bound actor with zip charisma.

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Fantastic Four

August sees Josh Trank shoulder the unenviable task of rebooting the Fantastic Four after two amiable but forgettable movies. Trank impressed mightily with the disturbing found-footage super-yarn Chronicle, and scripted this effort with X-scribe Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater (The Lazarus Effect). The cast is interesting; Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm, Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm, and Toby Kebbel as Dr Doom; but this has had a troubled production, and carries an albatross around its neck as it must bore us senseless with another bloody origin story.

 

The Man from UNCLE

August sees CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB man Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) on a mission to infiltrate a mysterious criminal organization during the height of the cold war. Steven Soderbergh nearly made this with George Clooney from a Scott Z Burns script. Instead we get Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes scribe Lionel Wigram. Sigh. Hugh Grant plays Waverley, while the very talented female leads Alicia (Omnipresent) Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki will highlight the lack of suavity and comic timing of the male leads; particularly troublesome given the show was dry tongue-in-cheek super-spy nonsense.

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Black Mass

Poor old Johnny Depp is having something of an existential crisis at the moment. People moan and complain when he does his quirky thing (Mortdecai). But when he doesn’t do his quirky thing people moan and complain that he’s dull (Transcendence). September sees him team up with Benedict Cumberbatch and Joel Edgerton for Scott Cooper’s 1980s period thriller about the FBI’s real-life alliance with Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger, exploring how  the bureau’s original good intention of running an informant was derailed by Bulger’s clever connivance, ending up as a sort of state-sanctioned take-over of the criminal underworld.

 

The Martian

Ridley Scott just can’t stop making movies lately, but he’s having a considerably harder time making good movies. November sees the release of The Martian starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars after being presumed dead in a ferocious storm. The supporting cast includes Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Sebastian Shaw, Kate Mara, and the regrettably inevitable Jessica Chastain. Damon must try to send an SOS forcing NASA to figure out how on earth to go back and rescue him. Drew Goddard wrote the script. There’s the reason this might work.

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The Hateful Eight

November sees the return of Quentin Tarantino. The writer/director who never grew up follows his rambling gore-fest Django Unchained with another Western. But this one is shot in Ultra Panavision 70, despite being set indoors, and has more existential aspirations. Yeah… Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, and Zoe Bell return to the fold for this tale of bounty hunters holed up during a blizzard, while newcomers to Quentinland include Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Nobody’s told Tarantino to stop indulging himself in years so expect endless speechifying and outrageous violence.

August 14, 2014

Ballyturk

Cillian Murphy and playwright Enda Walsh reunite for their second collaboration in two years, following Misterman’s success, and Ballyturk is another extravaganza of physical theatre.

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Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi are trapped in a massive room, which, courtesy of designer Jamie Vartan, fills every inch of the stage, with a fold-down bed, a shower, a kitchen-space, and endless closets. The play begins with Murphy in a hurling helmet screaming his head off about the inhabitants of Ballyturk. Murfi, however, is not dressed yet – and so ABC’s ‘The Look of Love’ soundtracks their ritualised manic getting-dressed routine. It will be the first of many 1980s pop songs that they dance to amongst other performances. They listen to mysterious voices from next door, are terrified of a cuckoo clock, and, when their alarm clock rings, throw darts at a wall of sketches and then enact the interactions of the pinpointed inhabitants of Ballyturk. And writer/director Enda Walsh relishes the physical theatre of their recreations of Ballyturk’s denizens.

Murphy leaps around the stage, even nearing its roof as he perches on a ledge to portray the town’s waspish storekeeper, embittered by her loss at bingo to her hated rival Mrs Reynolds. He has frequent fits, which Murfi holds him during, and becomes despairing at the presence of a fly which makes their routines less satisfactory so that he bangs his head against a wall till he bleeds. Murfi joins Murphy in destroying their LP collection, and cycles manically through Ballyturk’s rogue’s gallery, but his calmer character is defined by his elaborate stacking of biscuits. Stephen Rea’s startling arrival into this closed space is an equally startling change of pace, as he engages in a lengthy monologue about ageing, parenthood, and both the necessity and purpose of death in creating meaning by bringing lives, and stories, to an end.

But what’s it all about? Are they brothers? Is Rea their father? Perhaps. Murfi protects Murphy, and says he as the eldest should be first to go when Rea threatens one must die. But Teho Teardo’s foreboding music, and a chilling final minute, suggest a different interpretation – perhaps this is a more manic and surreal Room-like depiction of abduction? Rea’s musical number, in which a mic is lowered down from above certainly suggests effortless control. Or maybe it’s Plato’s allegory of the cave? Rea offers a glimpse of the world outside, but are its flowers that bloom from nothing in minutes more real than the rich Ballyturk created by the neon sign over the gallery of sketches, and could Murphy and Murfi ever accept a world outside their own mental projections as being as satisfyingly real as their imaginative creations?

It could be a poetic vision of mental illness. Ultimately I have no idea what this play is about and I rather like that. It’s simply barmy and brilliant.

4/5

Ballyturk continues its run at the Olympia Theatre until the 23rd of August.

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