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Non-Review Review: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain”)

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

The Man Who Feels No Pain is the best film at this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.

Written and directed by Vasan Bala, The Man Who Feels No Pain is a delightfully self-aware Hindu action comedy which focuses on a young man who – as the title suggests – was born without any capacity to feel pain. Surya has lived a sheltered life, raised by an over-protective father and an over-eager grandfather. Surya’s life has been shaped and defined by the steady stream of popular culture that his grandfather has fed him, in lieu of access to the outside world. Surya’s moral compass is shaped and defined by comic books and eighties action movies, instilling in the boy a very firm sense of right and wrong and giving him a moral certainty about how best to respond to injustice.

When Surya is thrown out into the world as a twenty-year-old adult, there is a serious question as to whether Surya or the world is ready for the experience. The Man Who Feels No Pain is many, many things. Most immediately and superficially, from its opening scenes, it is a loving and knowing parody of eighties action movies and the superhero cinema that they spawned. It works incredibly well on these terms, managing to expertly balance the demands of both the action sequences and the comedic beats. However, the most endearing and engaging aspect of The Man Who Feels No Pain is the way in which it blends this celebration of contemporary pop culture into a broader exploration of growing up.

At its core, The Man Who Feels No Pain is an exploration of that old C.S. Lewis adage that growing up means putting away childish things; including the fear of being seen as childish.

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43. Dangal – The Indian Film Festival of Ireland 2017 (#72)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them. This week, the pair are joined by Babu Patel and Giovanna Rampazzo, with thanks to Siraj Zaidi and The Indian Film Festival of Ireland.

This time, Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal.

When professional wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat fails to fulfill his dream of winning a gold medal by wrestling for India, he vows that his sons will take home that prize in his stead. However, Phogat never fathers any sons; instead, he becomes parent to four girls. Undeterred, Mahavir commits himself to the idea that his daughters Geeta and Babita will realise that dream, regardless of any social pressures that might stand in their way.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 72nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Dangal is being shown as part of the Indian Film Festival of Ireland. It will be shown in Rathmines Public Library at 12pm, next Saturday 16th September 2017. Admission is free. Any Irish listeners of the podcast interested in watching the film are more than welcome; the film is introduced in broad terms at the start of the podcast.

Giovanna Rampazzo is also introducing a screening of two short films and the movie Waiting at 1pm, next Saturday 16th September 2017 at DIT Aunger Street.

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The X-Files – Badlaa (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

Badlaa is a disturbing and unsettling piece of television.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about it might be the fact that this is the last truly memorable monster of the week.

"Well, this sure beats the way I got in."

“Well, this sure beats the way I got in.”

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My 12 for ’13: Stoker & A Vampire Story Without Vampire

This is my annual countdown of the 12 movies that really stuck with me this year. It only counts the movies released in Ireland in 2013, so quite a few of this year’s Oscar contenders aren’t eligible, though some of last year’s are.

This is number 5…

Stoker is one of the most underrated gems of the year. Released early on, Chan-wook Park’s psychological horror easily gets lost in the shuffle. Which is a shame, because it’s a wonderfully disturbing little thriller, one crafted with an incredible eye for beauty. Even the name is somewhat appropriate, evoking the creator of the modern vampire story. Stoker is in essence a vampire movie made without a vampire, although Matthew Goode’s Uncle Charlie is a convenient stand-in.

stoker4

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Non-Review Review: Stoker

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

Stoker is, without spoiling anything, essentially a vampire movie without a vampire. It’s a psychological thriller with a decidedly charged sexual undercurrent. It’s also a story of the things we keep secret, the dangers of blood and unwholesome desires. Park Chan-wook does an excellent job adapting Wentworth Miller’s screenplay for film, and the result is a strange and macabre beauty, a film that is occasionally a little too ethereal for its own good, but remains compelling and uncomfortable viewing.

Shear terror...

Shear terror…

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Non-Review Review: The Invisible Man (1933)

We’ll begin with a reign of terror. A few murders here and there. Murders of great men, murders of little men, just to show we make no distinction. We might even wreck a train or two. Just these fingers around a signalman’s throat, that’s all.

The Invisible Man is a classic, sandwiched between James Whale’s celebrated monster movies – Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. The movie was renowned at the time for its special effects, which still hold up remarkably well on the snazzy new blu ray issued by Universal Pictures. However, the film itself is still fantastic on its own terms, featuring a great leading performance from Claude Rains, a witty script and some fantastic direction from Whale. I think it’s also quite wonderfully telling that The Invisible Man manages to feature the story of simultaneously the most human and the most inhuman of these Universal Monster Movies.

The freak who came in from the cold…

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Non-Review Review: Baraka

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012. It will be getting a 20th anniversary re-release this year.

Released in 1992, it’s easy to consider Baraka as something of a spiritual successor to Koyaanisqatsi, a film which gave birth to an entire subgenre of non-narrative feature films designed to offer us insight into the working of our planet. It’s a natural comparison, as director Ron Ficke served as director of photography on that monumental film, and he clearly owes a debt to Godfrey Reggio’s masterpiece. However, I think there’s a substantive difference between how the two directors approach their subject matter, and the end result. While Reggio offers a more fascinating study of large-scale systems, Fricke manages a strange intimacy amidst his vast scale – there’s something considerably more human to Baraka, and I think that comfortably sets the movie apart. It looks as good as it did on initial release twenty years ago, and it still packs as much punch – even if it never looks quite as sharp as its sequel, Samsara.

Crazy world...

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