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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #12!

The eleventh edition of the new and revived Scannain podcast discusses the week that has been in Irish and international film.

This week, I’m joining Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle and Emma Fagan to discuss everything from zero-budget Irish indie The New Music to the internal logic of It Follows. As usual, we discuss what we’ve watched over the past week or so, jump into the top ten, and talk about the new releases landing in Irish cinemas.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below. You can access the New Music GoFundMe here.

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Non-Review Review: Michael Inside

From writer and director Frank Berry, Michael Inside is harrowing, emotional and earnest look at cycles of incarceration affecting young Irish men from marginalised communities.

The plot of Michael Inside is fairly straightforward. As the title implies, the movie centres upon a young man named Michael who finds himself arrested in possession of drugs with a street value of two thousand euro. Receiving a custodial sentence, Michael finds himself incarcerated for three months. Michael must learn to navigate prison life, while his grandfather struggles to keep himself above ground on the outside. However, prison exerts a gravity, and escape is not as simple as release.

Inside, he’s dancing.

Michael Inside is an intense and claustrophobic experience. Asked early in the film if he suffers from any preexisting conditions, Michael responds, “Anxiety.” Shooting primarily in close-up with a hand-held camera, Michael Inside skillfully replicates that sensation. The characters constantly seem trapped and boxed in. Even before Michael is taken into custody, scenes are framed and blocked so as to suggest that he is trapped; the wire frame on crosswalks, the windows of the house, the bars of a fence. Michael Inside suggests that prison is more than just a physical construct.

Michael Inside is occasionally a little too earnest in its exploration of these vital and important themes, sometimes feeling more like an abstract civics lesson than an organic story. Still, there is no denying the raw emotional power of Michael Inside, particularly when director Frank Berry brings all the threads together at the climax of the story.

Everything, gone in a flash.

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Non-Review Review: The Meeting

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

The Meeting is a fascinating story, told terrible.

The real-life events that inspired The Meeting are genuinely moving. Nine years after she was sexually assaulted walking home from the bus, Ailbhe Griffith convenes a meeting with the man who raped her. In a small room, Ailbhe Griffith and Martin Swan engage in a dialogue about those events, about how that evening shaped both of their lives, and about the scars that linger. It took remarkable courage for Griffith to put herself in that room, and she is clearly a thoughtful and fascinating subject. There is a great movie to be made of this story.

Unfortunately, The Meeting is not that great movie. There are various reasons why The Meeting doesn’t work. Some of those reasons are justifiable and understandable, defensible creative choices that simply don’t pay off in a satisfying manner and serve to undercut the narrative being constructed. However, some of those reasons are unjustifiable decisions that could never have worked even in abstract theory and which serve to turn The Meeting into a spectacularly ill-judged piece of cinema.

The eponymous meeting might have been a genuinely moving and affecting experience, but The Meeting is nothing short of a disaster.

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Non-Review Review: Black ’47

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Black ’47 is a powerful piece of pulp storytelling, a bold and daring window into an under-served chapter of Irish history.

Directed by Lance Daly, working from a story derived by a variety of writers, Black ’47 is essentially a western set against the background of the Irish Famine. Of course, the reality is much more nuanced than that simple description would suggest, but it provides a suitable starting point for discussion. Indeed, all the genre elements are in place; a soldier returns home from war to discover the horrors that have befallen his family, and decides that there shall be no justice on earth save for that which he might exact by his own hand.

Black ’47 is a very sparse and rugged film. It would be a surprise if the nominal lead character, Feeney, speaks more than one hundred words. Indeed, at one point he explicitly rejects the English language as a tool of communication. The landscape of the film is rough and cold, the audience feeling the chill that runs through the film and almost smelling the decay in the air. Black ’47 reflects its rough and wild settings, and the characters who have been shaped and moulded by those surroundings.

Black ’47 is an effective piece of storytelling.

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23. Song of the Sea – St. Patrick’s Day 2017 (#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.

aonru1

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