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Non-Review Review: Kissing Candice

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Kissing Candice is a vivid and confident theatrical debut. If only that confidence were in any way earned.

Kissing Candice is clumsy, indulgent, over-signified and convinced of its own profundity.

Talk about your red lights.

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #8!

A packed week at the Scannain podcast, looking at the week in Irish cinema.

Still recovering from the Audi Dublin International Film Festival and the Oscars, I was delighted to join Niall Murphy and Grace Duffy on the podcast. We discussed all the usual topics: the mountains of films that we had watched during the festival, and while snowed in; the weekly top ten including Game Night, Lady Bird and Black Panther; and the slew of high-quality new releases including The Lodgers and You Were Never Really Here.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below.

New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #7!

Before the storm…

The arrival of “Storm Emma” and the “Beast from the East” ensured one of the most memorable Audi Dublin International Film Festivals in recent memory. Myself, Jason Coyle and Ronan Doyle took a bit of a breather in the middle of it all to talk about the best of what we’d already seen, what we thought would win at the Oscars, as well as the usual trip through the weekly top ten and the new releases.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below.

Non-Review Review: Hannah

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Hannah is a quiet, meandering movie elevated by a powerhouse central performance from Charlotte Rampling.

The second feature film by Andrea Pallaoro, Hannah unfolds primarily in silence – or in the absence of talking. There is dialogue, but it often seems incidental to the story being told. Much of the film consists of extended wordless passages, focusing on the eponymous character as she moves through the world. Dialogue is often perfunctory and functional, seldom exposition driving a scene. A lot of the sound in the film is ambient; a train approaching and then pulling into a platform, a cloth cleaning a gigantic glass door, water trickling from taps and faucets.

As the title implies, Hannah is essentially a character study. Charlotte Rampling plays the eponymous character, the film following her through her routine. Gradually, the film sketches out her world, first in broad pencil strokes and then in fine detail. Rampling anchors the film, conveying so much through her eyes and her expression, providing a strong emotional core to the film buried beneath an emotionally reserved exterior. Rampling’s performance is crushing and heartbreaking, and all the more powerful for its low-key nature.

However, Hannah is perhaps too low-key. Barring a bunch of clumsy symbolism, there are points at which the film feels like it might easily lapse into a coma without anybody noticing.

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Non-Review Review: Le Fidèle (The Racer and the Jailbird)

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

The Racer and the Jailbird is certainly a very strange film, and not in a particularly interesting way.

Running two hours and ten minutes, The Racer and the Jailbird is essentially two very different films stitched together. Michaël R. Roskam‘s third feature-length film is a curious hybrid, a passable eighty-minute Heat knock-off followed by an interminable European Lifetime Movie-of-the-Week. How stereotypical European, you ask? So European that it features a completely earnest reading of the line, “I am not pregnant with new life, but with death.” it is kind of brilliant, in its own ways. Many writers spend their lives in search of prose that purple.

To be fair, there is something interesting in the premise of The Racer and the Jailbird, and in its eventual narrative substitution. There is something be said for setting up a premise and then swerving dramatically to upset an audience’s expectations, to catch them off-guard by establishing a familiar set of genre elements and then twisting sharply in an unexpected direction. However, these sharp turns demand a very precise set of skills, including complete mastery of tone and narrative.

The Racer and the Jailbird lacks that control, and so misses the turn, spinning out of control and flipping dramatically before ending up as a mangled heap by the side of the road.

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Non-Review Review: The Meeting

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

The Meeting is a fascinating story, told terrible.

The real-life events that inspired The Meeting are genuinely moving. Nine years after she was sexually assaulted walking home from the bus, Ailbhe Griffith convenes a meeting with the man who raped her. In a small room, Ailbhe Griffith and Martin Swan engage in a dialogue about those events, about how that evening shaped both of their lives, and about the scars that linger. It took remarkable courage for Griffith to put herself in that room, and she is clearly a thoughtful and fascinating subject. There is a great movie to be made of this story.

Unfortunately, The Meeting is not that great movie. There are various reasons why The Meeting doesn’t work. Some of those reasons are justifiable and understandable, defensible creative choices that simply don’t pay off in a satisfying manner and serve to undercut the narrative being constructed. However, some of those reasons are unjustifiable decisions that could never have worked even in abstract theory and which serve to turn The Meeting into a spectacularly ill-judged piece of cinema.

The eponymous meeting might have been a genuinely moving and affecting experience, but The Meeting is nothing short of a disaster.

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Non-Review Review: Isle of Dogs

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Isle of Dogs is a beautiful piece of work, in every sense of the word.

The obvious point of comparison is The Fantastic Mister Fox, Wes Anderson’s previous stop-motion adventure. Isle of Dogs and The Fantastic Mister Fox are certainly of a piece with one another even beyond the wonderful production design, featuring meditative canines engaged in existential struggles. However, Isle of Dogs represents an extension and deepening of the work that Anderson did with The Fantastic Mister Fox.

Isle of Dogs reflects the more daring formal experimentation that made Grand Budapest Hotel such a treat, trusting the audience to accept and even embrace Anderson’s consciously hyperstylised approach to storytelling. In a strictly logical or rational manner, almost every major creative decision in Isle of Dogs seems to have been made to remind the audience that they are watching something constructed and crafted, the film consciously and artfully heightened so as to remind the audience of the remove that exists between them and the film they are watching.

Although Anderson has come to be known for this conscious and playful aesthetic, it is not his greatest accomplishment as a director. The most wonderful and beautiful thing about Isle of Dogs is that the film is so lovingly and carefully crafted that repeatedly drawing the audience’s attention to the artifice of it renders it no less real and no less moving.

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