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Non-Review Review: A Late Quartet

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

Watching A Late Quartet, you can almost read the text the text of the “for your consideration” letters, advertisements and press releases. This is, after all, the story of a classical music quartet dealing with the fallout when their cellist discovers that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The cellist’s announcement that he will be departing the group causes each of the other three members to question their role in the ensemble, and even where their lives have brought them. It is, very much, an invitation for melodrama, and the script takes up that invitation with considerable enthusiasm. However, despite (or perhaps because of) the script’s decision to embrace that melodrama, A Late Quartet serves as a fascinating showcase for a rather wonderful ensemble.

Music, sweet music...

Music, sweet music…

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Non-Review Review: Seven Psychopaths

“Meta” is a concept that can be very rewarding, but it’s very difficult to do right. Often, it seems a little heavy-handed, a little self-indulgent. The art of writing fiction about fiction can easily descend into a writer documenting his own process, or become clever for the sake of being clever – offering an easy way out of virtually any dramatic situation, and allowing the script to answer pretty much any question with “because the writer says so.” Nevermind that movies about movie are prone to become a little self-congratulatory, or a little too self-focused. Seven Psychopaths never completely falls apart, but it occasionally struggles with these sorts of problems a little bit in the middle. Martin McDonagh has produced a very thoughtful and clever exploration of the traditional revenge film, but the execution feels a little bit too clunky at times.

I understand that this might be the point, but there are times when Seven Psychopaths feels like more of a narrative experiment than a compelling story in its own right. Still, it’s witty and funny and bold and smart and charming. Those attributes aren’t the easiest to come by, and certainly not in this combination. Seven Psychopaths might not be the incredible success that In Bruges was, but it’s a film that takes chances, and which tries to push both the genre and its audience a little out of their comfort zone. It is very hard not to respect that, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was fairly consistent charmed throughout its runtime.

The write stuff…

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Francisco Scaramanga

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

You see, Mr Bond, like every great artist, I want to create an indisputable masterpiece once in my lifetime. The death of 007 mano a mano, face to face, will be mine.

You mean stuffed and displayed  over your rocky mantelpiece?

That’s an amusing idea,  but I was thinking in terms of history.  A duel between titans. My golden gun against your Walther PPK. Each of us with a 50-50 chance.

Six bullets to your one?

I only need one.

Scaramanga and Bond

Was there ever a better Bond villain wasted in a more terrible film? Okay, maybe Christopher Walken as Max Zorin comes close, but Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga feels like the only potentially redemptive aspect of the tonally mismatched The Man With The Golden Gun, a movie about a duel to a death that involves a karate school, secret lairs, giant frickin’ lasers and a slide whistle. Scaramanga is easily the most compelling thing about the whole film, and that might explain the contempt that many people hold for it. After all, the eponymous assassin is missing for most of the middle section of the film.

The eyes of a killer…

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Non-Review Review: Nick of Time

Nick of Time is an underrated nineties high-concept thriller that really runs on the charm of its cast and the skill of director John Badham.In a way, Badham seems stuck in a race against time that is just as tense as anything facing his protagonist. Badham has to make it from the start of the film to the final fadeout before the audience stops to think too much about the somewhat convoluted plot taking place. Nick of Time features perhaps the most ridiculously convoluted assassination attempt ever, but it’s generally so much fun that it’s easy not to get tangled in some of the logic problems.

They weren’t trained for this…

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Max Zorin

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

An interesting thing about Roger Moore’s Bond films is the fact that the best baddies tended to pop up in the worst films. Okay, I have a soft spot for Julian Glover in For Your Eyes Only, arguably the best of Moore’s outings as James Bond, but I’m thinking of Christopher Lee in The Man With the Golden Gun and Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill. In particular, Walken’s Max Zorin stands out – in my opinion – as one of the best villains of the entire franchise. He’s a character who really stands at the half-way point between the classical Bond villains and the characters we’ve seen since, positioned half-way between Auric Goldfinger and Franz Sanchez. It also helps that Walken is having a whale of a time, and that fun is contagious.

Hang on in there…

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Tiny Plays for Ireland at the Projects Art Centre (Review)

There’s something very charming about the rat-tat-tat nature of Tiny Plays for Ireland. A collection of short pieces by a variety of new and established talent, not every chapter in Fishamble’s latest production is perfect. Some are even quite weak. However, the quick turnover means that there’s a new and better drama unfolding on stage in the time it takes to toast a slice of bread. While there are some weaker segments, some of these short plays are charming, some are endearing, some are genuinely moving. Some leave you longing for just a little bit more, and some feeljust right.

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Non-Review Review: Wayne’s World 2

I have to admit I have a soft spot for Wayne’s World 2. It’s not a patch on the original film, but there’s something so charming about Mike Myers’ creations that it’s hard not to enjoy the film, even if the number of misfiring jokes is compounded by a sense of “been there and done that.” More than that, though, the sequel features any number of original and hilarious moments that have managed to bleed out into wider popular culture. While it’s nowhere near as brilliant as the first film, it’s a still a fairly entertaining watch.

There's no need to feel down...

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