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Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards, 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Snow! Christmas! Terrible but enjoyable music! End of year “best of” lists!

I’m a member of a couple of critics’ organisations, so we’ll be releasing a couple of these lists upon which I voted. I’ll also hopefully be releasing my own top ten as part of a Scannain end-of-year podcast some time next week.

In the meantime, the Dublin Film Critics Circle have released their end of year awards. Thrilled to be a part of the group, who are voting on films released in Ireland during the calendar year of 2017. As such, it will be a different pool of films than the Online Film Critics Society awards.

A massive thanks to the wonderful Tara Brady for organising the awards this year, balloting members and collating results.

Anyway, without further ado…

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Non-Review Review: Jackie

…  there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment, that was known as Camelot.

Towards the end of Jackie, the title character ruminates on her deceased husband. As a boy, he loved history. He especially loved the tales of Camelot. It does not matter that Camelot never existed, a figment of the collective imagination conjured into being through generations of myth and legend. People wanted to believe in Camelot, and so they invested it with a texture that seemed to manifest itself. Camelot was a story, but it was a story that was in many ways more appealing than the truth.

More like the Pastel House.

More like the Pastel House.

Jackie is a story about mythmaking. Arch and playful, self-aware and self-critical, Jackie tightens its focus on Jackie Onassis Kennedy to the days immediately following the death of her beloved husband. Using the iconic Time magazine interview as a framing device, Jackie follows its protagonist as she sets about building a legacy and a legend around John F. Kennedy. The lines between history and mythology blur, Jackie cleverly contrasting the title character’s restoration of the White House with her construction of her husband’s legend.

There are points at which Jackie seems a little too manner and a little too stage-managed, a little too perfect and a little too rehearsed. There are points at which Natalie Portman slips from being Jackie Onassis Kennedy playing the widow to a beloved legend to being Natalie Portman playing Jackie Onassis Kennedy playing the widow to a beloved legend. This sort of sly recursion is very much in fitting with the tone of the film, but it does occasionally feel a little too cold and a little too distant.

Mirrored in controversy.

Mirrored in controversy.

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Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Christmas Invasion originally aired in 2005.

Oh, that’s rude. That’s the sort of man I am now, am I? Rude. Rude and not ginger.

– the Doctor

Part of what’s remarkable about The Christmas Invasion is that it’s a great big important episode. Not only is it the first Doctor Who Christmas Special, the beginning of a BBC institution, it’s also the first full-length adventure to feature David Tennant in the title role, and so it comes with a lot of expectations. Whereas most of Davies’ Christmas Specials tended to be relatively light fare – enjoyable run-arounds aimed rather squarely at the kind of people who didn’t tune into the show week-in and week-out – The Christmas Invasion is a pretty big deal.

It’s a vitally important part of Davies’ Doctor Who, and one that really lays out a general blue print for where he wants to take the series over the next few years. The fact that so much of this winds up tying back into the final story of the Davies era – The End of Time – is quite striking on re-watch.

Song for Ten(nant)...

Song for Ten(nant)…

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Non-Review Review: Jackie Brown

I think Jackie Brown suffers in comparison to the rest of Quentin Tarantino’s distinguished filmography. While Grindhouse: Deathproof divides film fanatics along “love it” or “hate it” lines, it seems the general critical consensus on Jackie Brown is that it’s simply “quite good.” I like the film, even if I don’t rank it as highly as most of his other work, and I wonder if the movie feels so strange because it’s probably the most “conventional”film that Tarantino has directed. While the dialogue and the character interactions help immediately identify the film as the product of Tarantino, it’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, and it feels like a reasonably conventional little crime thriller.

That's her name...

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