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My 12 for ’12: The Muppets & Everything You Need, Right In Front Of You

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #3

I can’t help but feel that The Muppets probably aren’t quite as popular over here as they really should be. After all, we had to wait about three months for the eventual release of the film in Irish cinemas. Even later this year, following all the publicity around the recent revival, I was only able to find one cinema in Dublin doing three screening of The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, despite the highly-publicised re-release. However, perhaps I shouldn’t take their international publicity for granted either. After all, Jason Segal spent six or seven years trying to guide everybody’s favourite felt performers to the big screen again.

Still, The Muppets demonstrated that the gang had lost absolutely nothing in transitioning out of retirement and back to the screen, demonstrating that all these sorts of characters need is a bit of sincere love and affection.

muppets6

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Watch! Hardy Bucks Trailer!

It’s always nice to see an Irish success story. I can be quite tough on Irish television when the occasion calls for it. Any system that makes it easier to pitch a show like Father Ted or Moone Boy to a British broadcaster must be flawed in a significant way. Despite that, I’ll readily concede we do a lot of things quite well. Apparently Love/Hate is doing quite well abroad, and I’ve always been proud of our current affairs coverage. It’s also nice to see one of our shows making the leap to the big screen. Hardy Bucks has been one of the great success stories of Irish television. It was found during the 2009 Storyland competition and ended up going from strength-to-strength on Irish television. While it’s not quite my own cup of tea, it’s hard not to admire the charm and energy put into it – as well as the fact that it has managed to make quite an impact on Irish pop culture.

So the move to the big screen is certainly an interesting development, and I hope the show’s success continues. More popular comedy and diversity in Irish television is inherently a good thing. The trailer is a little bit too much at points – seeing a cheesily earnest American voice-over applied to an “Irish men behaving badly in Europe” comedy feels a little… dissonant – but the trick isn’t so much in the concept as the execution. I’m curious to see how it pays off. It’ll be opening here in February next year.

Non-Review Review: Stitches

Stitches is an interesting little Irish film. Featuring an interesting set up to parody the conventions of the supernatural slasher film, the movie finds itself falling prey to them just a little bit too often. Irish writer and director Conor McMahon creates a credible gory teenage bloodbath, but doesn’t really find a narrative hook to engage the audience. Never entirely sure how ironic it is trying to be, Stitches is a solid effort, albeit one far from greatness.

Not clowning around…

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Non-Review Review: Stitches

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

Stitches is an interesting little Irish film. Featuring an interesting set up to parody the conventions of the supernatural slasher film, the movie finds itself falling prey to them just a little bit too often. Irish writer and director Conor McMahon creates a credible gory teenage bloodbath, but doesn’t really find a narrative hook to engage the audience. Never entirely sure how ironic it is trying to be, Stitches is a solid effort, albeit one far from greatness.

Not clowning around…

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Done in 60 Seconds: An Interview with Andrew Norton

We might not be the best team in the world at soccer, we might not be the favourites to take home a record-shattering amount of gold medals in London, but the Irish have always had a bit of a cultural charm. This year, we were lucky enough to be represented at the final of the Jameson Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition, with Andrew Norton’s condensed spoof of the iconic District 9 landing a place among 29 international contenders on a shortlist including entries from Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Israel, Sweden and the Ukraine, among others. I had the pleasure of chatting very briefly about putting the sixty-second clip together, breaking into short-film making and the perils of looking like a security guard on the red carpet.

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Improbable Frequency at the Gaiety Theatre

Produced by Rough Magic, Arthur Riordan returns his celebrated musical to the Irish stage. An artistic collaboration between the writer and musicians Bell Helicopter, Improbable Frequency is a delightful little farce set during “the Emergency.” The wonderfully madcap little espionage music metaphysical meditation premiered over half-a-decade ago, and has toured the world. I think it certainly deserves to be measured as one of our most distinctly and cleverly Irish of theatrical exports. It’s insane, it’s over-the-top, it’s hard-to-pin-down and it’s also more than a little bit brilliant.

Schrodinger's a cool cat...

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Non-Review Review: Stella Days

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

Stella Days is held together by a sterling performance from Martin Sheen and a boldly challenging look at the Irish cultural mentality. Indeed, it’s easy to read this tale of a small-town parish priest trying to build a cinema as a metaphor for Irish cultural philosophy. In particular, with its distinctly American star, Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s movie seems like a bold challenge to what might be deemed Irish cultural xenophobia, the notion that our culture must be distinctly and completely independent of the world around us. Instead, Stella Days rather boldly and romantically suggests that Irish culture is not defined by independence or autonomy, but by its willingness to engage and accept the world around us. While the movie might occasionally indulge in a bit too much sentiment, it’s hard not to like that sort of uplifting and engaging idea.

I must confess, this was quite good...

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