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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #31!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast.

This week, I join Graham Day from Speakin’ Geek, Alex Towers from When Irish Eyes Are Watching and Grace Duffy to discuss the week in film. Topics for discussion include the subtle brilliance of Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack to Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the rebranding of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, the “ageing out” of kid actors in long-running franchises, the drama around Danny Boyle’s departure from the latest Bond movie and the possible casting of Idris Elba as James Bond.

New releases include Alpha, Slender Man and The Children Act; the tail end of the podcast includes an extended discussion of Spike Lee’s latest film, BlacKkKlansman, which all four panelists have seen.

Give it a listen at the link, or check it out below.

Non-Review Review: Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is very clearly a sentimental life-affirming true story, very clearly pitching itself as an upbeat and hopeful account of one of the most iconic statesmen of our time. A collection of all the “greatest hits” of Mandela’s struggle against oppression and hatred, Mandela is an efficiently calculated piece of cinema. It’s a grand sweeping historical epic that never really pulls back the layers of the character it examines, instead opting (mostly) to film the legend.

And it works. After all, what other world leader in the past half-century can lay claim to such an inspirational narrative? Nelson Mandela’s journey lends itself to this sort of optimistic and inspirational adaptation, and the subject is a comfortable fit for this sort of sweeping life-affirming whirl-wind exploration of Mandela’s personal history.

Courting public opinion...

Courting public opinion…

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Non-Review Review: Pacific Rim

The generic way of describing Pacific Rim seems to be Transformers vs. Godzilla, which really says more about how hard it is to sell an original blockbuster these days than it does about the quality of the film itself. There are obvious and superficial similarities between Pacific Rim and the two film series cited – giant robots and monsters from the ocean – but that cynical synopsis doesn’t do justice to director Guillermo Del Toro’s bold vision.

Pacific Rim is a punchy old-school summer blockbuster, one which remembers that characters are the foundation of drama, and which imbues its flesh-and-blood cast with as much personality as the flesh-and-blood spectacle unfolding overhead.

Here there be monsters...

Here there be monsters…

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Non-Review Review: Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance

I’m convinced that there must be a half-decent Ghost Rider movie to be made. In fact, I’m sure that Nicolas Cage already made it, in the form of the deliciously pulpy Drive Angry, which touched on a lot of the grindhouse and B-movie qualities one expects from a movie featuring a stunt driver with a flaming skull who sucks souls from criminals. In contrast, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance feels like it’s trying a little too hard. The script feels just a little bit too stilted and conventional, while the direction seems to overcompensate, feeling gimmicky to the point of being distracting and almost disorientating.

Hell’s Angel…

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Non-Review Review: Prometheus

Prometheus is an impressive science fiction thriller. Indeed, its weakest link is its attempt to “line-up” with Scott’s original Alien, as its own interesting ideas end up caught up in an attempt to throw knowing winks and nods towards an overly eager audience. “look! green gooey possibly acidic blood!” the movie seems to cry or “gee! that illustration looks familiar!” The problem is that these feel like distractions from a plot that is compelling and fascinating when explored on its own merits. Still, it feels like a worthy science fiction film in its own right, a fitting hybrid of Scott’s Alien with his Blade Runner, daring to pose interesting existential and philosophical questions about humanity’s place in the universe.

David is a piece of work…

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Going Straight: Comedic Actors in Dramatic Roles…

New pictures from I, Alex Cross were introduced over the weekend. If you aren’t familiar with it, don’t worry – it’s an upcoming adaptation of an Alex Cross novel, the same series that gave us Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. While Along Came Spider wasn’t anything special, Kiss the Girls was a fairly decent nineties serial killer film, if not quite on the level of it obvious influences in The Silence of the Lambs and se7en. There were two surprises in these shots. The first was how incredibly freaky Matthew Fox looked – he looks pretty damn scary, so respect to Fox for pulling off that transformation. The second surprise was just how convincing Tyler Perry looked in the lead role. Perry is the latest in a long line of comedic actors looking to expand their range, and I can’t help but wonder why so many comedic performers tend to branch out so far.

Not a man you want to Cross…

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Wallander: Sidetracked (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

In hindsight, it’s very hard to divorce Wallander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Both are Swedish murder mysteries exploring the darker side of what one character here terms “the great social experiment”, both involve uncovering old secrets buried in the past, and both are adapted by the production company Yellow Bird. In fact, the BBC adaptation of Henning Mankell’s novels actually debuted a year before the theatrical release of that other hugely influential Scandinavian thriller. Featuring a blistering centre performance from Kenneth Branagh and absolutely superb production, I think that the BBC’s production of Wallander actually stands in fairly good company.

Out in the field...

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