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Non-Review Review: Without Name

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017.

Without Name is a stunningly confident theatrical debut from director Lorcan Finnegan.

In theory, Without Name belongs that long-standing environmental horror genre, the fear that nature exists in opposition to mankind and that human beings are ultimately a hostile species not welcome in their surroundings. There are all manner of variations in that classic horror set-up, but it bubbles through any number of classic horror films, from The Shining to Jaws to The Birds. There is a recurring fear that the world is not a welcoming place for mankind, and that the wilderness might one day rebel against mankind’s desire to tame it.

If you go down to the woods today...

If you go down to the woods today…

Without Name takes that familiar premise and puts a uniquely Irish spin on it, distinguishing its own set of anxieties from those felt by the European Settlers in the United States or even those disconnected from their pagan roots in the United Kingdom. Without Name draws heavily upon the Western European pagan spirituality that informs films like The Wicker Man or A Field in England, but weds it to unique Irish anxieties about property and ownership that reflect both long-standing uncertainties and modern fears.

The result is a delightfully weird little environmental horror that feels very much of its time and place, a credit to its first-time director.

Sleep well...

Sleep well…

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Non-Review Review: All About Eva

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

All About Eva has ambition to burn.

It is a modern film noir set against the backdrop of the Irish racing scene, filmed mostly on a single stately country home and with a functional budget that seems minuscule even by the standards of independent Irish film. The fact that it exists is a testament to everybody involved. The fact that it comes very close to working is icing on the cake. All About Eva is a very stylish piece of work that very clearly has a lot of ambition behind it. It is a trashy revenge saga that is produced with a very high level of competence. In particular, director Ferdia MacAnna does great work.

However, ambition is only so much. As good as the film looks relative to its budget, there are a number of key structural flaws that cannot support the weight heaped upon them. Most obviously, All About Eva is an attempt to hark back to the classic femme fatale movies, with a seductive and manipulative young woman infiltrating a racing dynasty so as to dismantle it from the inside. All About Eva lives or dies based on that central performance. Newcomer Susan Walsh simply does not have the ability to carry the movie around her.

To be fair, Walsh is let down by an uneven and scattered script, which revels in cliché. All About Eva is a film that seems wryly aware of its own trite plot beats and dialogue, but that self-awareness can only carry a film so far. There is a point where homage is not enough to sustain a genre pastiche. All About Eva comes surprising close to working, and has an energy that is almost infectious. Unfortunately, it cannot make it over the line.

allabouteva

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My 12 for ’14: ’71 and Claustrophobic Thrills…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

A large part of what makes ’71 so effective is the fact that is as interested in constructing a claustrophobic thriller as it is in making a clear political statement. Although it is set in Belfast in 1971, the movie has more in common with The Raid or Dredd than it does to Shadow Dancer. The movie is essentially a survival horror about a British soldier separated from his regiment, struggling to survive in hostile territory. There is a universality to the story, creating a sense that it could just as easily have been set in Basra a couple of years ago as Belfast several decades back.

’71 moves with an incredible and visceral energy, building up momentum across its relatively lean hundred-minute runtime as it presents a fugitive being chased through hostile territory by both sides locked in a bloody and bitter generational feud. Of course, ’71 is inherently political – as any movie set in any equivalent environment must be. ’71 eschews divisions between Republicans and Loyalists – between members of the Irish Republican Army and the various arms of British authority operating in the city.

71b Continue reading

Star Trek – Spock’s World by Diane Duane (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more interesting aspect of Star Trek tie-in media during the eighties was the sense of freedom enjoyed by those working on the line.

One of the more infamous examples concerned DC’s attempts to publish a monthly comic during the release cycle of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The three films tended to build off one another, forming a tight continuity, but that did not stop the comic book company from trying to build off the ending of each of the films, leading to a variety of weird continuity hijinks. Spock left to work on a Vulcan ship; Kirk took command of the Excelsior; a Klingon joined the crew.

Writers working on the tie-in novels enjoyed a similar amount of freedom. By the time that Spock’s World was published in 1989, Diane Duane had been able to firmly establish her own supporting cast of characters in her various tie-in novels. Spock’s World includes appearances from Duane regulars like K’s’t’lk and Harb Tanzer, introduced in The Wounded Sky; even Lia Burke from My Enemy, My Ally puts in an appearance. It really feels like Duane has carved out her own space within the larger Star Trek universe.

However, perhaps that freedom finds its strongest expression in the fact that Duane was able to map an entire cultural and social history unto the planet Vulcan. Spock’s World reads almost like a biography of a fictional planet – charting the history of Vulcan from the planet’s earliest days through to the twenty-third century. It is a delightfully bold and intriguing Star Trek book, one utterly unlike any other tie-in ever published.

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The Guarantee to hit Irish cinemas 30th October with a Special Live Event Screening hosted by Matt Cooper!

We’re big fans of Irish cinema here at the m0vie blog, so we are quite excited about The Guarantee, the new film written by Colin Murphy and directed by Ian Power, covering a crucial moment in modern Irish history. With the talent involved, it could easily develop into something like Peter Morgan’s “Blair trilogy”, a fascinating look at contemporary politics through the lens of key and defining events.

There is a special screening taking place at the end of October. I’ve included the press release below.

guarantee_quad-poster-625x466 Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Spider’s Trap

Spider’s Trap is a rather heavy-handed film. There are points where this works to the movie’s advantage – the stark black-and-white cinematography lends itself to exaggeration and effect. There are also points where the movie feels a little overly-earnest and awkward as it fashions its own noir tale about second chances and long-planned revenge. Beautifully shot by director Alan Walsh, Spider’s Trap is often endearing and charming, if not quite consistently brilliant. There are a few notable missteps, but there is also a lot to like.

Things aren't so black-and-white...

Things aren’t so black-and-white…

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Hill Street at Irish Cinemas on 23rd May!

The Irish skateboarding documentary Hill Street is opening next week in Irish cinemas. The documentary has had a long road to distribution, premiering at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2012 to great word of mouth. Looking at the history skating scene, focusing on the eponymous street, it promises a fascinating glimpse at a piece of Irish pop culture that is often overlooked or forgotten.

Check some footage from the documentary below, and catch it in cinemas from next week.