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Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Snow! Christmas! Terrible but enjoyable (and apparently, this year, controversial!) music! End of year “best of” lists!

I’m a member of a couple of critics’ organisations, so we’ll be releasing a couple of these lists upon which I voted. I’ll also hopefully be releasing my own top ten as part of a Scannain end-of-year podcast some time this week.

In the meantime, the Dublin Film Critics Circle have released their end of year awards. Thrilled to be a part of the group, who are voting on films released in Ireland during the calendar year of 2018. As such, it will be a different pool of films than the Online Film Critics Society awards.

A massive thanks to the wonderful Tara Brady for organising the awards this year, balloting members and collating results.

Anyway, without further ado…

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #44!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast! Almost live from the Dublin Feminist Film Festival this week.

Recorded late on Wednesday evening, following the screening of the festival shorts and Parklands. Directed by Kathryn Millard, with cinematography by Mandy Walker, Parklands is notable as Cate Blanchett’s first starring role. So Jay Coyle, Ronan Doyle and I talk a little bit about our reactions to both the shorts and the film itself.

As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week outside of the festival. In this episode, Jay discusses both the massive list of great films he has to watch before the end of the year, and his decision to watch both The Meg and Skyscraper instead. Ronan has seen two of the films in the top ten, having very strong opinions about both A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody.

There is a lot to cover in news, including the announcement of a new Criterion streaming service risen from the ashes of Filmstruck, the awards at the Cork Film Festival, the Irish Film Festival London, the Polish Film Festival at the Irish Film Institute and the launch of Screen Skills Ireland. So a busy week.

The top ten:

  1. Overlord
  2. Johnny English Strikes Again
  3. Burn The Stage: The Movie
  4. Smallfoot
  5. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  6. Widows
  7. A Star is Born
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. The Grinch
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #39!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast! A somewhat bumper edition this time.

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Grace Duffy and Ronan Doyle to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, Jay talks about “instant classics”, Ronan discusses the heartbreak of Rosie, and Grace inadvertently watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings again.

In film news, we discuss the upcoming Cork Film Festival, Katie winning Screen Directors Guild Finders Series Award, and Netflix’s successful “Summer of Love.” There’s also an extended season about awards season social media fatigue.

The top ten:

  1. Night School
  2. Cliff Richard Live: 60th Anniversary Tour (Concert)
  3. Bad Times At The El Royale
  4. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  5. Kler (Clergy)
  6. First Man
  7. Johnny English Strikes Again
  8. Venom
  9. Smallfoot
  10. A Star is Born

New releases:

  • The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid
  • Dogman
  • Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • Halloween

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #38!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast! A somewhat bumper edition this time.

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Grace Duffy and Luke Dunne from Film in Dublin to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, Grace discusses her love of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and encourages a Bruce Springsteen singalong, Jason blazes through a twelve-film week and contemplates the seventies fetishism of A Star is Born, and Luke discusses Maniac and the strange intoxicating allure of Venom. Complete with mumbly Tom Hardy impressions.

The top ten:

  1. Crazy Rich Asians
  2. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  3. A Simple Favour
  4. Aida at Met Opera 2018
  5. Black ’47
  6. The House With A Clock In Its Walls
  7. Night School
  8. Johnny English Strikes Again
  9. A Star is Born
  10. Venom

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

101. A Star is Born (#182) – This Just In

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and with special guest Stacy Grouden, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 182nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #37!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle and Graham Day to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, Graham gives us a peak at upcoming cinematic delights including First Man and Mandy, Ronan discusses the underrated emotional appeal of Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again, and Jay expounds upon his controversial “automatic four star film theory” as it relates to directors like Jeremy Saulnier and S. Craig Zahler.

We also talk about the best ways to celebrate a cinematic Halloween in Dublin, looking at both the Season of the Witch at the Lighthouse and the Horrorthon at the IFI, discuss the recently scheduled release date of The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, and the revelation that Russian bots have been stirring dissent around Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The top ten:

  1. The Little Stranger
  2. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  3. Mile 22
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. The Nun
  6. Crazy Rich Asians
  7. A Simple Favour
  8. Black ’47
  9. The House With A Clock In Its Walls
  10. Night School

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

“Maybe It’s Time To Let the Old Ways Die…”: “A Star Is Born” and Baby Boomer Rock Nostalgia…

It takes a lot to change, it takes a lot to try,

Baby, it’s time to let the old ways die.

A Star is Born would seem to be a massive success, before it has even been released.

The film has an impressive score on both Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic. The film has also been named as the presumptive Best Picture frontrunner by publications as diverse as Forbes, Playlist, Vulture and Vanity Fair. Of course, that may not actually mean much; presumptive Best Picture frontrunner status doesn’t always translate into ownership of that little gold statue. Just ask La La Land, the presumptive Best Picture frontrunner from two awards seasons back, a film that literally had the award snatched out of its hand by the underdog that could, Moonlight.

The comparison to La La Land is interesting. In many ways, A Star is Born is effectively the movie that many critics claimed to see in La La Land. By its nature, La La Land evoked nostalgia for a long-lost version of Hollywood, blending a story of an ascendant star with a cynical hipster, filtered through the lens of old-school musicals. Many read the film as the ill-judged story of a white guy saving jazz, glossing over the fact that it was instead a tragic story about a guy who kept an outdated notion of jazz alive in a basement club while shunning the opportunity to work with an African American artist to bring it to the masses.

What is striking about A Star is Born is how it embraces many of the controversial aspects of La La Land and pursues them with uncritical earnestness. A Star is Born is a film steeped in seventies notions of authenticity, reflected not only in the past-his-glory stylings of rock daddy Jackson Maine, but also in the stylistic influences of Bradley Cooper who aspires towards the glory days of the New Hollywood movement. At the core of A Star is Born is a suggestion that popular culture was never more “real” than it was during the seventies, and that modern artists should look back to that authenticity, not craft their own identities.

A Star is Born is inevitably going to be nostalgic. It is the forth iteration of this particular fairytale to use the title, although the story itself has been reworked and reimagined in countless iterations over the past century. Fans were already identifying callbacks and homages to early versions of the story from the trailer. Much was made of the the passing of the torch, whether it was Kris Kristofferson allowing Bradley Cooper to use his set at Glastonbury to film a key sequence from the movie, or his and Barbra Streisand’s visit to the set. Nostalgia was woven into the fabric of A Star is Born.

However, A Star is Born is in theory about more than nostalgia. It is about evolution. It is about a dying star elevating a new voice from obscurity, providing a young artist with a platform from which they might launch themselves. A Star is Born is a tale of succession, of perpetual reinvention, of the passing of the torch from one generation of celebrity to another. This is why the story inevitably focuses on an over-the-hill rocker who discovers a startling young talent. It is a story about how celebrity changes and evolves. It is about acknowledging the future, and allowing the past to legitimise that future.

There are certainly shades of that in A Star is Born. There are certain songs that recur throughout the film, suggesting both potential hit singles from the soundtrack and important thematic markers. Shallow is one hell of a pop-rock love ballad, full of power and emotion. However, Jackson Maine keeps coming back to his own folksy country ballad Maybe It’s Time to Let the Old Ways Die. It seems like an important statement of purpose for the film, an exploration of what is actually happening when this aging crooner plucks young Ally out of obscurity and pushes her towards celebrity.

Unfortunately, the movie itself seems less concerned about letting the old ways die, and instead is much more anxious about what it sees as the lack of authenticity within popular culture. When A Star is Born positions Jackson Maine as an aging rock god, it is entirely sincere. It might accept the man’s flaws, but it heralds his message. A Star is Born is a story about how “real” celebrity looks like a bearded rocker with a guitar thrown over his shoulder singing about lost love, while more stylised modern pop culture is just vacuous nonsense. A Star is Born is a prestige picture celebration of baby boomer rock nostalgia.

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