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Non-Review Review: Struck by Lightning

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

The best thing that Struck by Lightning has going for it is Chris Colfer. As a young writer, Colfer’s script is bristling with all manner of acerbic remarks, bitter humour and overdrawn melodrama. The basic ingredients for any half-decent teenage film, to be frank. However, the worst thing that Struck by Lightning has going for it is also Chris Colfer. A better writer than an actor, Colfer finds himself struggling to convince us that his protagonist is worth our time, and finds himself unable to soften the rough edges of his leading character. The result is a film that is quite sharp and well-observed, but which never quite tempers itself properly.

Get the lead out...

Get the lead out…

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Non-Review: Reported Missing (Die Vermissten)

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Die Vermissten feels almost like a Clint Eastwood film by the way of David Lynch. If that sounds like a pretty strange combination, it really is. When his 16-year-old daughter disappears, divorcee Lothar is initially reluctant to investigate. He tries to convince his ex-wife that she’ll turn up, while trying to explain to his new girlfriend that he has a daughter. Eventually determining to conduct his own inquiries into the disappearance of his child, Lothar discovers that the incident isn’t quite isolated, and that there’s something much larger going on here.

Missing vital evidence...

Missing vital evidence…

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Non-Review Review: White Elephant (Elefante Blanco)

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Elefante Blanco is visually stunning. Director Pablo Trapero makes excellent use of the film’s setting to construct compelling and powerful images, as characters get lost amid the slums or wander through the ruins of the long-abandoned shell of what might have been the largest hospital in South America. Unfortunately, for all the visceral and visual energy that Elefante Blanco packs, it feels remarkably shallow and trite in its portrayal of life inside those slums, and the challenges facing two priests trying to help the community get back on their feet.

Don't worry, we can build on this...

Don’t worry, we can build on this…

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Non-Review Review: Robot & Frank

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Robot & Frank is perhaps best described as a live-action Pixar film, a lost script or concept from that period only a few years ago when it seemed like the studio could do no wrong. The beauty of films like The Incredibles or Toy Story 3 was the way that these fantasies allowed us to engage with incredibly adult issues in a disarmingly wondrous way. Up could deal with the pain of loss in great detail, because it was really the story of a man flying his house to South America, right? Finding Nemo could play out the darkest fears lurking in a parent’s subconscious, because it was really about cute fish, correct?

And so Robot & Frank provides a wonderful vehicle for the exploration of what growing old really means, and how we cope with the challenges that it presents. Because, after all, it’s just a film with a cute-looking robot butler, right?

Frank'll test his metal...

Frank’ll test his metal…

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Non-Review Review: The Summit

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

The Summit is a powerful exploration of the infamous loss of eleven lives within 24 hours on K2. This is the largest disaster in the history of K2 mountaineering, and – as The Summit concedes – that we won’t necessarily ever know the full details behind this tragic loss of life. However, while the incident serves as a bit of a flashpoint, one big event that it is impossible to overlook, The Summit drops an absolutely fascinating piece of information early one, and one which contextualises that horrible accident.

Apparently one in every four people to make it to the summit of K2 doesn’t make it back down.

thesummit4

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Joss Whedon at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013

This event was part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013. It was hosted after a screening of Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.

It has been a pretty great year for great guests at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Robert Towne gave an interview and a workshop of screenwriting. Danny DeVito popped along to the Jameson Cult Film Club screening of L.A. Confidential. And Joss Whedon came to Dublin, with tickets to Much Ado About Nothing selling out so fast that they almost crashed the JDIFF servers. Whedon hung around afterwards for a rapid-fire questions-and-answers session, talking a bit about the film and his future plans, as well as his frequent artistic collaborators.

Image from JDIFF twitter feed.

Image from JDIFF twitter feed.

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Non-Review Review: Blancanieves

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Blancanieves feels like either a film that has its finger firmly on the pop culture zeitgeist, or the victim of the worst timing. It appears less than a year after The Artist won the Best Picture Oscar, becoming a massive critical and popular success. Given the relative dearth of high-profile silent black-and-white films, Blancanieves is somewhat trapped within that shadow. More than that, though, it emerges following a year that demonstrated popular culture’s fixation on the Snow White story. 2012 saw the release of both Mirror Mirror and Snow White & The Huntsman, both reimaginings of the classic tale. Blancanieves is, for its own part, an adaptation of the fairy tale, and it seems like the story was weighing on the popular imagination.

In any other context, Blancanieves would seem like a breath of fresh air. An affectionate homage to the classic era silent cinema, retelling the Snow White story in an unfamiliar setting, there’s a lot to recommend it. Indeed, Blancanieves is easily the best Snow White adaptation of the past year. Unfortunately, it suffers because it’s not quite as charming, witty and well-constructed as The Artist.

Dark materials...

Dark materials…

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