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Non-Review Review: The Breadwinner

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

Stories enrich us, stories empower us, stories sustain us.

The Breadwinner is many things. It is a beautifully animated film from Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, a worthy successor to The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, and also the first time that the company have looked beyond Irish shores for one of their feature-length releases. It is a stunning adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ novel, offering a compelling glimpse into Afghanistan as controlled by the Taliban at the turn of the millennium. It is a genuinely affecting tale of a young girl surviving in a climate that seems actively hostile to her very existence.

However, The Breadwinner is also a meditation upon the power of stories. This is not a surprise, it is very much in keeping with the aesthetics and interests of Cartoon Saloon. It is a recurring theme in their work. (As a point of comparison, Pixar Studios are invested in parental anxieties, down to the inclusion of the “Pixar Babies” in the credits of every major release.) Indeed, The Breadwinner might be seen as a spiritual successor to (or the third part of a thematic trilogy with) The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, stories about children reconnecting with the mythic history of their countries.

Indeed, this is one of the most striking and appealing aspects of The Breadwinner is the way in which it finds something universal in its very specific setting. The Breadwinner is a story very firmly anchored in one time and place, but one that should resonate with everyone.

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Desert Crossing (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Desert Crossing is an intriguing episode.

It’s a very thoughtful and insightful teleplay from André Bormanis, brought to life by director David Straiton. This is Straiton’s first credit on Star Trek: Enterprise, and he does a good job bringing the script to screen. Although the second half of the episode struggles to engage with any of the intriguing issues broached in the first half, and while nobody seems able to keep the scenery out of guest star Clancy Brown’s mouth, Desert Crossing is a very ambitious late-season episode.

Oh, Archer. What have you Dune now?

Oh, Archer. What have you Dune now?

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Non-Review Review: Predator

Predator is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. It’s elegantly constructed, beautifully directed and cleverly written. Perhaps the smartest thing about Predator is the way that it so fantastically plays on audience expectations, offering the perfect bait-and-switch, teasing a jungle adventure in the style of Schwarzenegger’s Commando before morphing into something else entirely. It’s so well handled that the film’s reputation and prestige has done little to dampen its thrills.

A predator stalks...

A predator stalks…

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Non-Review Review: The Living Daylights

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

The Living Daylights is a forgotten Bond film, sitting as it does between the twin “duds” of A View to a Kill and Licence to Kill (although I am not quite as critical of those films as most). It’s the first of the Bond films to feature Timothy Dalton, taking over from Roger Moore – who by this stage seemed as likely to be getting a free bus pass as he was to foil enemy spies. Although the word didn’t quite exist in media circles when the movie originally came out, there’s a strong smell of “reboot” about the film, as if the powers behind the scenes are attempting to consciously remodel the franchise in the wake of a disappointing previous film. Though not quite as obvious (or as far-reaching) as subsequent reboots in GoldenEye and Casino Royale, The Living Daylights isn’t a bad Bond film – it’s just a really poorly dated one.

Tim, you scared the Living Daylights out of me…

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