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Top Picks from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, 2014

All right, it’s that time of the year again, when your humble host looks at the tea leaves and points to some of the highlights of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, when the movies take over Dublin city for ten days between the 13th and 23rd of February. The schedule was unveiled today, and although I’ve yet to actually see any of these, I have picked out some of the more interesting and intriguing selections for the festival.

Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning, so consider this an attempt to point those Irish cinephiles in the right direction.

Calvary

calvary

By far our most anticipated film of the festival, unveiled to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, Calvary sees actor Brendan Gleeson collaborating with writer and director John McDonagh. The pair previously worked on The Guard, one of the best Irish films of the past decade, which makes sense given the two are among our finest cinematic exports. Calvary sees a rural (Sligonian) priest confronted by an anonymous threat in the confession booth. He will be murdered in seven days. With just seven days to put his affairs in order, and figure out who might want him dead, the local priest embarks on a personal journey.

The cast for the film is absolutely phenomenal, drawing in all manner of Irish talent. Among the all-star cast are Aidan Gillen, Chris O’Dowd, David Wilmot, Pat Shortt and Dylan Moran. The opening gala of the festival, this is one not to miss.

Savoy, Thursday 13th February, 7.30pm

Dawn of the Dead

dawnofthedead

This one is a bit of a cheat, right? We’ve all seen Dawn of the Dead at this point, surely? If you haven’t… well, don’t rush out to see it, come along to this special screening anyway. The Jameson Dublin Film Festival does a wonderful amount to spread the cinematic love during its eleven-day run (more on that below), and there has always been a bit of a music component to celebrations. Normally, these take place in the National Concert Hall, with a musical accompaniment to a live screening or a concert celebrating a composer’s work.

Although the decision not to hold the Dawn of the Dead in the National Concert Hall is a little disappointing, the Sugar Club is a suitable substitute. The band Goblin will be providing a live accompaniment of their alternate score to George Romero’s iconic horror film.

The Sugar Club, Friday 21st February, 10pm

The Zero Theorem

thezerotheorem

A Terry Gilliam film is always worth a look, doubly so with the director himself in attendance. With commitments to the reunion of Monty Python, Gilliam is making a flying visit to the festival. There’s no time for a nostalgic tribute like the screening of Jaws with Richard Dreyfuss or Frost/Nixon featuring Peter Morgan. Instead, the director is accompanying his latest film to Dublin, a dystopian science-fiction fable about an office drone (Christoph Waltz) trying to mathematically derive the meaning of life. It looks like a striking piece of cinema, and Gilliam’s appearance makes the events one of the highlights of the festival.

Cineworld, Friday 21st February, 9pm

Under the Skin

undertheskin

It’s hard to describe a film starring Scarlet Johansson as a particularly “indie” effort. She’s a recognised global super star, and her presence elevates the profile of just about any effort. Still, Jonathan Glazer’s alien science-fiction film is polarising enough to attract audiences looking for something a bit more “weird” and “out there.” The story of an alien landing in Glasgow, the film seems to divide critics and audiences, drawing a “love it” or “hate it” reaction from those who have watched the film. That’s enough to make it worthy of attention for those who like their film festival a bit far out.

Cineworld, Wednesday 19th February, 8.45pm

The Grand Budapest Hotel

thegrandbudapesthotel

Director Wes Anderson has been on a bit of a roll lately. His recent output includes two of his most enjoyable and accessible films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel looks like typical Anderson-ian fare. While Anderson’s style might not be as novel or as striking as it was in the late nineties, the director remains an auteur with a distinctive visual style. The Grand Budapest Hotel promises to be a feast for the eyes, featuring an all-star cast in this story of a murder investigation embroiling the owner of a luxury hotel and his naive young bellhop.

Cineworld, Saturday 15th February, 2pm

A Long Way From Home

alongwayfromhome

Brenda Fricker recently announced her retirement from acting. A Long Way From Home will be her last on-screen role. Airing in the festival’s high-profile Saturday night slot, this international drama follows an ageing couple on a trip abroad. Dealing with mortality and romance, the film explores the relationship between the pair. Edward Fox and Brenda Fricker will be attending the screening.

Savoy, Saturday 15th February, 7.30pm

The Last Days on Mars

lastdaysonmars

An Irish/UK production, The Last Days on Mars is the live action feature film début of Irish director Ruarí Robinson. Starring Liev Schreiber as the head of a Mars mission that encounters some last-minute complications that may or may not involve the discover of extraterrestrial life. It’s a film that has been compared to Moon, one of the science-fiction classics of the last decade. That’s a lot of expectation to create, but we’re hoping it measures up.

Cineworld, Monday 17th February, 9pm

Mystery Road

mysteryroad

By all accounts, the Australian film to watch this festival is Tracks, starring Mia Wasikowska in the true story of one woman’s trek across the Australia desert. However, buried in the programme is Ivan Sen’s throwback to seventies westerns and film noir. Following a murder investigation led by a prodigal detective, it looks like an atmospheric and beautiful piece of Australian cinema, which is one of the recurring elements of this year’s programme.

Cineworld, Friday 14th February, 9pm

Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Jaws

jawsb

You’re going to need a bigger boat.

The Jameson Cult Film Club screenings are always a highlight of the Film Festival. Featuring an immersive presentation of a classic film, the Jameson Cult Film Club is a celebration of classic cinema. Last year, Danny DeVito attended a wonderful screening of L.A. Confidential. This year, Richard Dreyfuss is turning up for the screening of Jaws. The team have already offered a wonderful take on Spielberg’s classic shark film, but it’ll be interesting to see what the evening has in store. (Personally, I missed the previous screening of Jaws, so I am very much looking forward to this one.)

As ever, tickets are available free through their website at the Jameson Cult Film Club.

Unknown, Tuesday 18th February, 8.30pm

“Extras”

frostnixon

Every year, the festival features a variety of exciting and engaging “extras” designed to celebrate cinema in and around Dublin city. This year, the team have put together a pretty spectacular collection of supplemental events. Highlights include a screenwriting master-class from Academy Award winning writer Peter Morgan, who will be training for a day with a bunch of very lucky up-and-coming talents. The Dublin Critics’ Circle will be getting all relevant, discussing “Do Critics Matter?” (Since it’s a discussion hosted by critics, my inner cynic suggests the answer will be “yes, more than people realise.”)

However, most interesting is a practical special effects and stunt demonstration taking place in Smithfield Square. Because everybody likes explosions, right? Let’s put that new official vehicle sponsor to the test, eh?

Safety Last!

safetylast

Film festivals are about more than simply getting a sample of what’s to come or a taste of world cinema. They are also about celebrating cinematic history and heritage. So we are absolutely thrilled at the decision to screen this classic black-and-white silent film in the Savoy with a live musical accompaniment. It’s a wonderful piece of cinema, and it’s a great way to celebrate what promises to be an absolutely wonderful festival. What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Savoy, Sunday 23rd February, 2pm

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