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The 250, St. Patrick’s Day Special #1 – Song of the Sea (#248)

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.

This time, a St. Patrick’s Day treat. Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea.

An adventure home through Ireland’s mythical dreamscape, Song of the Sea follows siblings Ben and Saoirse as they journey back home to the family lighthouse off the coast of Donegal. Along the way, they encounter mythic tricksters and sinister forces, while also uncovering long-buried family secrets that chip away at everything Ben thought that he knew.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 248th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Sing Street

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Sing Street is a joyous musical coming of age story.

As with Once and Begin Again, director John Carney demonstrates an innate (and romantic) appreciation for the role of music in interpersonal interactions. As in both Once and Begin Again, Carney employs music as an emotional shorthand; both in how the characters relate to one another and how the audience relates to the film. As with his two prior films, Carney treats music as a language of love and attraction, offering his characters the chance to communicate ideas or feeling that can only be hinted at through conversation, no matter how intimate.

However, Sing Street more firmly ties its musical elements to a sense of memory or nostalgia, with a soundtrack that evokes the film’s secondary school setting as effectively as costumes or set dressings. Sing Street is an ode to the joys and adventures of youth, set to a catchy synthesiser beat.

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Non-Review Review: Aonrú

Aonrú offers a fascinating insight into life on Cape Clear Island off the west coast of Cork. The small community had subsisted for years on farming and fishing – as the documentary notes, “the farmers were fishermen and the fishermen were farmers.” Now, due to a number of intersecting and overlapping hurdles – both natural and man-made – the community finds itself struggling to provide a future for itself. The thirty minute documentary examines what it must be like to live on Cape Clear.

Skilfully constructed from a myriad of first-person accounts, archive footage and beautiful images of the region, Aonrú explores the pace of life in one of the most remote parts of the country.

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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.

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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.

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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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My Best of 2011: The Guard & Loving Irish Film…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

The Guard is number eleven. Check out my original review here.

I imagine anybody who lives a country about the same size of Ireland has that same essential insecurity about their national cinema. Unless you live in a major market, it seems that home-produced films are generally relegated to the less mainstream cinemas and subject to less promotion or publicity, unless they happen to star one (or more) of your home-grown talents who happens to have been successful overseas. And, as you discuss or review your own cinema, you start to question yourself: are you harder or softer on a particular film because it came from your country? or should you be harder or softer on those films? Do you hold the films produced by your own country to a higher or a lower standard than those produced in major markets? When I recommend a film produced in Ireland, I catch myself, asking “if this weren’t produced here, would it be notable?”

I think there are far more films that are notable than most might imagine, and I also think The Guard is almost definitely one of them. It’s a distinctly Irish film, but one that doesn’t exclude the outsiders looking in.

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