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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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Ah Sure, It’s Grand: Random Thoughts on Critical Reception to Irish Films…

It’s always a bit interesting when a major and well-received Irish film is released, if only because it typically involves a fairly large divorce between the critical and audience reception to these films. It has been suggested that film critics are too quick to shower Irish films with praise they don’t deserve, out of some misplaced sense of patriotism. As the Trinity Film Review succinctly sums up:

An overrated Irish film is not hard to find. Our tendency towards the inflated evaluation of domestic filmmaking is a self-perpetuating one, leaving audiences indifferent towards the hyperbole-gavaged, entry-level film geese trotted out by our native industry, and filmmakers and critics alike complacent in the immutable, self-congratulatory expository routine the utter nakedness of which nobody seems inclined to comment on.

I have to admit, I’ve seen this in effect quite a few times, and it really bugs me – if only because it makes it harder to spot when a realgem of a film comes along. I honestly don’t think that this sort of attitude helps anyone.

I'm not down with that...

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My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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Non-Review Review: In Bruges

Possibly one of the best depictions of Irish humour that I’ve seen captured in celluloid, In Bruges is a fascinating little story of honour, loyalty, stupidity and a small little town in Belgium. The movie was a highlight in the very solid pantheon of 2008. Featuring a sharp script, a fantastic cast and some really lovely scenery, the movie stabnds as one of the best comedies I’ve seen in yonks. And a yonk is a long time.

bruges

Irish charm...

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