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My 12 for ’14: ’71 and Claustrophobic Thrills…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

A large part of what makes ’71 so effective is the fact that is as interested in constructing a claustrophobic thriller as it is in making a clear political statement. Although it is set in Belfast in 1971, the movie has more in common with The Raid or Dredd than it does to Shadow Dancer. The movie is essentially a survival horror about a British soldier separated from his regiment, struggling to survive in hostile territory. There is a universality to the story, creating a sense that it could just as easily have been set in Basra a couple of years ago as Belfast several decades back.

’71 moves with an incredible and visceral energy, building up momentum across its relatively lean hundred-minute runtime as it presents a fugitive being chased through hostile territory by both sides locked in a bloody and bitter generational feud. Of course, ’71 is inherently political – as any movie set in any equivalent environment must be. ’71 eschews divisions between Republicans and Loyalists – between members of the Irish Republican Army and the various arms of British authority operating in the city.

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Non-Review Review: ’71

Harrowing. Claustrophobic. Intense.

’71 is a powerhouse experience. Charting one night in Belfast for a young soldier separated from his regiment, there is a constant sense of dread pushing in from the edge of the frame. As one might expect for a movie set off the Falls Road in seventies Belfast, ’71 is paranoid and unsettled. It is a movie that constantly pushes the viewer to the very edge of their seat, offering an uncomfortable glimpse into something that would seem excessively brutal were it not anchored in historical fact.


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Watch! A Belfast Story Trailer!

We have a trailer for the new Irish film A Belfast Story, releasing in Irish cinemas on September 20th. Starring Colm Meaney, it’s an exploration of the Troubles which plagued Northern Ireland, and one man dealing with the consequences of that horrific violence. I’m always glad to support Irish film, so check out the trailer below and let me know what you make of it. I’m a big Colm Meaney fan, so I am very much looking forward to it.

I also got some interesting viral stuff in the mail, which I’ll try to share early next week. I think it’s great to see an Irish movie being so aggressive in terms of marketing, and so forthright and assertive.

Non-Review Review: The Good Man

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Films about social justice can occasionally seem a bit clunky. Part of this is down to the way that most seem to have been conceived as simplistic morals rather than engaging stories, but there’s also a tendency to earnestly moralise in a manner that condescends to the audience. The Good Man manages to avoid the worst of these problems with a smartly-constructed third act that dovetails its two central narratives into one another, and because it accepts that the problem with our attitudes towards disadvantage and poverty in the rest of the world isn’t down to a simply lack of awareness. It is, the film suggests, easy to know about a problem, and easy to try to help. Understanding, on the other hand, is a far more challenging proposition.

We're all connected...

We’re all connected…

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Non-Review Review: Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer is a taut, intelligent, sophisticated thriller. In a way, James Marsh’s film is more notable for what it doesn’t say, than what it does. Long passages of the film go by in relative silent, with the an economy of language to communicate information to the audience. It’s quite heartening how much faith Marsh seems to have in his viewers, that the film never feels the need to burden itself with awkward exposition, instead trusting the actors and the surroundings to tell the story. You won’t find a thriller this year that thinks more highly of its audience.

“Have you seen ‘The Informant!’…? Good, because this is going to be a lot less light-hearted.”

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See The Dictator First – The London Premiere Streaming Live to Selected Irish Cinemas

Read our review of The Dictator.

The lovely folks at Paramount sent around a release about the upcoming Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, which is being released on May 16th. They are streaming the London premiere live to selected Irish cinemas, so if you are in Dublin, Galway, Cork or Belfast and want to get a sneak peak, the details (and links) are below:

For one night only, before the release of The Dictator hits cinemas ( May 16)  4 cinemas in Ireland will host special screenings with a live link  in to  the World Premiere screening in London at the Royal Festival,  The Eye Cinema in Galway, The Odyssey Cinema in Belfast, The Omniplex in Cork –  and limited number of tickets to  the Irish Premiere Screening at the Savoy. Doors open at 6pm and  there will be a live link in till 7.15pm where you can experience the red carpet and presenter Alex Zane will host  and then see the film first at this special event. For more details and to book tickets please check out their respective  websites  and box office

I’ve already nipped down to the Savoy and picked up a ticket. At the very least, it looks to be one of the more interesting blockbuster releases this summer.

Please note that the trailer below is kinda spoiler-y.

March (2011) In Review

That was a fun month.

I’m still, to be honest, entirely speechless. I picked up the Best Pop Culture Award at the Irish Blog Awards earlier this month, and I’m still delighted and humbled and honoured and all those things. I know I don’t blog to win awards, but I really feel motivated to try even harder to justify the huge vote of confidence that it represents.

Other than that, there was tonnes of stuff. I’m currently blogging along with Things That Don’t Suck‘s  “Raimi-fest”, which is a blast. Always a joy to be asked to take part. March also had some fairly decent films – with two brilliant films in Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau, along with a slew of quite good films to go along with it. So that was pretty fantastic. Although maybe I’m just a big softie.

I got to ramble (at length) about the upcoming Superman film, and revisit Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (and just why he was so damn suited to it). I had my first honest-to-goodness interview, with the wonderful Grace Dyas.

I defended big budget blockbusters, wondered who killed The Mountains of Madness and got to discuss why this year’s Academy Awards felt like a great big group hug.

It was a fun month. Hopefully the trend will continue!

We Won the Pop Culture Award at the Irish Blog Awards!

We won the Best Pop Culture Blog prize at the Irish Blog Awards! I had a “Melissa Leo” moment at the podium (it was the first award of the night and I was really not expecting it), so I thought I might clarify some of my thanks and articulate them in a more sophisticated fashion.

That is, one which isn’t a deep piercing sound growing from my lower gut which sounds a little like the opening notes of the CSI: Miami theme song.

I’d like to thank Damien and the team for organising the awards. It’s deadly. Recognition is great when it comes from anyone – be it your boss telling you “you really synergised that paradigm!” or a conversational drunk at your bus stop telling you that you smell like the first roses of spring – but it means a lot to come from the people who do what you do. People who know what it’s like to stare at an empty page and wonder “what the hell am I going to write now?” or “there’s no chance anybody will ready this!” Recognition from people who do what you do, and are the best at what you do, means a lot. This was the last awards that they will organise – so it means a lot to have won.

I’d also like to thank my fellow nominees. They really are a stunning bunch, and it was an honour to be nominated alongside them. If you haven’t checked them out, you should:

Also the sponsors, movies.ie, who make this possible. Thanks for sponsoring the category.

And, of course, to the person known anonymously on this blog as “better half.” Thanks for your continuing support, honest opinions and well-practiced typo-spotting (not that it’s too difficult).

And, to you guys, for reading and commenting. I honestly appreciate every opinion I read here, and you guys make the blog what it is. Thanks guys.