Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

My 12 for ’18: “I, Tonya” and the Post-Truth Biopic

It’s that time of year. I’ll counting down my top twelve films of the year daily on the blog between now and New Year. I’ll also be discussing my top ten on the Scannain podcast. This is number two.

One of the interesting things about being an Irish film critic, as opposed to an American film critic, is that it does make the end-of-year top tens rather… jumbled.

Piracy and social media have done a lot to close the gap between cinematic releases in peak blockbuster season. Movies like Mission: Impossible – Fallout and Avengers: Infinity War tend to be released day-and-date around the world in an effort to prevent bootleg copies and spoilers cutting into those profit margins. The conversation about such films tends to be instantaneous or nigh-instantaneous, as it is with even off-season blockbusters like Mary Poppins Returns or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

In contrast, awards fare is still staggered. The “big” and “populist” awards fare films tend to synchronise releases across the globe; A Star is Born, First Man, Bohemian Rhapsody, Widows. However, the smaller and more eccentric films end up staggered across the New Year. So although I have seen If Beale Street Could Talk, ViceStan and Ollie and The Favourite, they are not eligible for this end of year countdown.

In contrast, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and I, Tonya both make the countdown of my favourite releases of 2018, despite the fact that the bulk of the conversation around them (and the bulk of their cultural context) was anchored in 2017. It is something that seems strange, even as I go through my end of year list, feeling like I’ve arrived late enough to the party that I might as well just order breakfast.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Vice

Vice feels at once like an extension of both Adam McKay’s work on The Big Short and recent innovations on the biographic picture format codified by I, Tonya.

At its core, Vice is the biography of a man whose defining attribute is how unassuming he appears. The opening text lays out the challenges facing the production team in trying to structure a biographical film around a man who has spent his life lurking at the edge of the frame, how hard it can be to extrapolate his inner workings from the outline of his journey through the world. Dick Cheney worked very hard to erase his own footprint; it is with no small irony that the film notes how thoroughly Cheney cleared his own email servers.

No need to be a Dick about it.

The film’s anonymous narrator, himself framed as perfectly average individual, repeatedly stresses how “ordinary” the central character presents himself. At one point, he advises a former colleague that the new standard operating procedure is “softly, softly.” Similarly, the documentary acknowledges the lacunas in the narrative that is constructing, how difficult it is – to evoke a different Shakespearean play than he chooses to quote – “to see the mind’s construction in the face.”

The result is fascinating, a character study that becomes an exploration of systemic flaws and inequities. Vice is a story about a man who appears to have no fixed political beliefs, no strong political identity, no clear political voice. Instead, Vice is a study of the politics of power as politics of itself, a tale about a man whose central political motivation is not ideological or existential, but purely practical. Vice is the tale of the will to power of a perfectly mundane and average individual, and the carnage wrought on his journey towards that power.

Vice City.

Continue reading

75. Amadeus (#82)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT, with the occasional weekend off.

This time, Miloš Forman’s Amadeus.

Following a failed suicide attempt, ageing composer Antonio Salieri is consigned to psychiatric institution while babbling incoherently. When a young priest comes to visit, Salieri offers an account of his life. In particular, he elaborates upon a confession that he made on the night that he tried to take his life, that he murdered an illustrious young rival by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 82nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Price of Desire

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

I have been informed that reviews for The Price of Desire are embargoed, despite the fact it was screened as the gala opening of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015, a high-profile event with tickets available to the public that afforded the film a significant public platform. (In the interest of disclosure, I purchased my ticket with my season pass – purchased for €245. Individual tickets for this screening were €20.)  As a courtesy to any fellow reviewers affected by the embargo, I have taken down the review.

However, as the film is eligible for the festival’s “audience award”, I am leaving my rating in place.

All audience members are asked to rank films in the festival from 1 (worst) to 4 (best). In the interest of full and frank disclosure, here is my score: 1 thepriceofdesire1

Non-Review Review: Yves Saint Laurent

Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent feels more like a mood piece than a biography. Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and sensuously performed, there’s no real sense of structure to Lespert’s account of one of the most influential fashion designers of the past half-century. While the movie trods familiar bio-pic ground, with betrayals and addictions and scandal and love, it works best as a snapshot of its subject in motion. It doesn’t offer any particular insight into the life and times of Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, instead trying to capture some of the mood of the designer’s life.

Drawing back the curtain...

Drawing back the curtain…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Julie & Julia

I am quite surprised to admit that I greatly enjoyed Julie & Julia. Probably more than I should have, on careful analysis. The film’s main gimick – juxtaposing Julia Child’s time in France with Julie Powell’s attempt to cook through the gigantic tome which resulted from Child’s time in France – never really comes together, but it manages to work on pure whimsy despite highly predictable subject matter (indeed, the thread running through Julie’s storyline kinda presupposes the end of Julia’s arc – Julie wouldn’t be cooking from her book if she didn’t succeed). It isn’t a masterpiece or a classic, but it’s a very watchable piece of moviemaking.

Can you smell what the blogger's cooking?

Continue reading

What’s so special about The Special Relationship?

I got to see the Irish premiere of Alice in Wonderland at the weekend, thanks to boards.ie and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and afterwards there was a Q & A session with Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. Michael Sheen casually remarked that we’d be seeing the last of Peter Morgan’s “Blair trilogy”, The Special Relationship, hitting screens in about mid-July-ish. It’s been on my must-see list for a while – and the Internet Movie Database had a release date in 2011 last time I checked – but I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised at this particular companion in the tradition “Tony Blair and x” double act format. The Deal gave us Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Queen gave us Tony Blair and… well, take a guess. The Special Relationship gives us Tony Blair and a US President. Which one? Dennis Quaid (yes, Dennis Quaid) as Bill Clinton. Yep, that’s not the US President I was thinking of either.

The "Special" Relationship... It even sounds like a bro-mance...

Continue reading