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Tiny Plays for Ireland at the Projects Art Centre (Review)

There’s something very charming about the rat-tat-tat nature of Tiny Plays for Ireland. A collection of short pieces by a variety of new and established talent, not every chapter in Fishamble’s latest production is perfect. Some are even quite weak. However, the quick turnover means that there’s a new and better drama unfolding on stage in the time it takes to toast a slice of bread. While there are some weaker segments, some of these short plays are charming, some are endearing, some are genuinely moving. Some leave you longing for just a little bit more, and some feeljust right.

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The Government Inspector at the Abbey Theatre (Review)

Jimmy Fay’s version of The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui was one of the highlights of the past few years at the Abbey, so seeing the director handle Nokolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector is an interesting premise. While Fay handles the play wonderfully well, with a (mostly) solid cast and superb staging choices, I can’t help but feel that Roddy Doyle’s translation of the play is just a bit “on the nose”, striving for a bit of forced relevance with countless references to “brown paper envelopes.” Perhaps the best indication of the show comes from the wonderful inset in the programme, illustrated in a pleasant enough style by Irish Times cartoonist M. Turner – a mock-up cut-out selection that includes mock-up heads of Bertie Ahern and Charlie Haughey. One senses that the production might have had a bit more bite a few years back.

Family values...

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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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Happy St. Paddy’s Day: Are We Too Harsh on Irish Films?

I read an article a little while ago (which is now locked to registered users of the Irish Times) in which director Neil Jordan suggested that, as a nation, we are too kind to our own films. Not that he was complaining, as he felt that he was doing quite nicely from the somewhat softer criticism.

However, always ready to cause a minor kerfuffle (that’s not an insult – it’s one of the reasons why I like him), Irish Times film critic Donald Clarke took time out to post this observation, provoking a raft of uncomplimentary responses from his readers. Commenting on his own article, Clarke admitted that it had all been a fiendishly clever gambit on his part:

This is all very interesting stuff. I must now confess something of an ulterior motive in posting this. You would not believe — and looking at responses above you really wouldn’t — the number of Irish film-makers who believe that domestic critics are unfairly negative towards their work. I’m glad to see I was not hallucinating.

We’re all “begrudgers” you see. (Incidentally that is my least favourite word in Irish-English.)

So,  do these critics have a point? Are we all just incredibly bitter about our own national film culture? In honour of Paddy’s Day, I thought I’d share my own opinions on the matter.

Note to international readers: most Irish films do not look like this...

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Top of the Pops: The IMDb Top 250 Movies All Time and Movie Lists in General…

Sometimes talking about talking about movies can be as fascinating as actually discussing movies. That’s why I’ve followed with interest the crisis of identity that has gripped film criticism of late. What’s interesting, however is to hear Donald Clarke of The Irish Times complaining about the Internet Movie Database Top 250 Films of All Time:

The performance of Inception highlights the most serious problem with this list. Like most such sites, IMDb receives contributions from a disproportionately high number of teenage boys. If you doubt this, look at the ratings for the Twilight films. I know that most critics are less keen on the teen vampire pictures than I am, but the appalling ratings  for the pictures on IMDb speak of a spotty allergy to “gurl’s fillums”. Such boys idolise Nolan and — crucially — know how to put together internet campaigns.

I’m kinda wondering though, what exactly is Mister Clarke arguing against? When did any film ranking become an objective exercise that needs to be treated like “serious business”?

Looks like Inception made quite the splash... (Inception, #3)

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Claws Out for Sex and the City? The Irish Times Has Just the Ticket…

Sex and the City 2 came out last week. Not that it really affects or bothers me one way or the other. I just find it fascinating that The Ticket, the normally rather wonderful entertainment supplement which comes with The Irish Times, chose to offer its front page to the girls, while containing nothing but vitriol within. It seems a little contrary to have your reviewer and your features writer going at the film with the critical equivalent of baseball bats and then give them prime of place in your lineup and publicity, no? Especially given that the front page didn’t read “Sex and the City 2: It’s Quite Crap, Actually”.

Just the ticket?

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The Irish Times Top Twenty Films of the Decade

Stumbled across this the other day and thought it was worth a post. Basically it’s Irish Times film critic Donald Clarke’s top twenty films of the last ten years. I have to say – as someone who rarely agrees with him at all – his list is populated with good choices. Still, I’m not sure that the majority of those would make it into my top fifty, let alone my top twenty. Which reminds me, I probably should put some sort of list together to commemorate the end of the decade – but it’s not over yet. I’m not even sure I could put together a list for this year, seen as I haven’t seen nearly anything, let alone nearly everything. Anyway, Donald Clarke’s list (and some comments) are below.

There Will Be Blood! Let The Arguing Commence!

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