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Non-Review Review: The Double

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

The Double calls to mind a very old school of BBC television production. In fact, it’s not too difficult to imagine The Double as an artefact from the BBC archives, a piece of eighties low-key dystopian science-fiction existential horror, like a slightly more polished (and colourised) companion piece to their 1954 production of 1984. By translating Dostoyevsky’s story from late nineteenth century Russia to a vision of the future from eighties Britain, writer and director Richard Ayoade has crafted a wonderfully unnerving psychological black comedy.


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Non-Review Review: A Long Way From Home

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

A Long Way From Home is a fairly simple story about a mid-life crisis by a British and Irish couple who have retired to France. Elevated by a bunch of wonderful central performances from Brenda Fricker, James Fox and Natalie Dormer, along with director and writer Virginia Gilbert’s willingness to embrace the story’s simplicity, A Long Way From Home is a slow-moving character study and mood piece. Containing little in the way of surprises or twists, it’s an endearingly sweet glimpse at a marriage threatened by the fifty-year itch.


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Jameson Cult Film Club: Jaws & A Talk With Richard Dreyfuss (JDIFF 2013)

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

To be fair, this isn’t the first time that the Jameson Cult Film Club have staged a screening of Jaws. The club did a screening of it last year as well, to considerable (and deserved) acclaim. So the visit of star Richard Dreyfuss to Dublin was the perfect excuse to break out the tried-and-tested showing, watch a classic piece of Americana and enjoy a nice conversation between Dreyfuss and presenter Rick O’Shea.


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Non-Review Review: The Last Days on Mars

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

There’s very little original to be found in The Last Days on Mars. Ruarí Robinson has constructed a gigantic homage to science-fiction horror, taking great pride in setting up the familiar clichés and working through the obligatory tropes. There are any number of shout-outs and references built into The Last Days on Mars, so much so that the film seems to struggle to stand on its own two feet.

At the same time, there’s an undeniably trashy charm to The Last Days on Mars. There’s a sense of Robinson’s abiding affection and enthusiasm for the conventions he evokes, the movies he homages. Nobody watching the film will confuse it for a trailblazing or original piece of work; however, it works surprisingly well as a gigantic tribute to pulpy science-fiction B-movies.


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Non-Review Review: A Long Way Down

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

A Long Way Down is never anywhere near as irreverent as it thinks it is. The story of four people who attempted suicide on “the most popular suicide spot on the most popular night for suicides” has a pretty effective basic premise. There’s a lot of material for a pitch black comedy here, particularly with Pierce Brosnan playing a former television presenter who has been convicted of having sex with a minor. (The BBC co-production credit makes this plot point feel particularly awkward.)

Instead, A Long Way Down pitches itself as a generic feel-good yearn about how people are nowhere near as cynical as they might initially claim to be. Ironically, this ends up making A Long Way Down feel particularly cynical.


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Non-Review Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

“His world departed long before he entered it,” one of the narrators from The Grand Budapest Hotel notes of the film’s lead character. “But he maintained an elaborate illusion.” This description is applied to the suave sophisticated concierge Gustav H, played wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes, but it could also apply to director Wes Anderson – a director whose cinematic style is built upon nostalgic nods to a past that may never have actually existed.

Framed as a story within a story within a story, jumping back from the eighties to the sixties to the late thirties, Anderson draws even more attention to his artifice than usual. Wrapping a framing story around a framing story seems almost cheeky, as Anderson brings the audience incrementally into the past – suggesting that one needs to wade in rather than diving. The story of a romantic living in a cynical era, The Grand Budapest Hotel seems – despite its scale and scope – one of Anderson’s more intimate efforts.

It is also among his very best.

Vault out to see it...

Vault out to see it…

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Non-Review Review: The Book Thief

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

Any film set in Germany between 1938 and 1945 narrated by death itself is going to feel a little… surreal. As wonderful as Roger Allam’s tones might be, there’s something decidedly unwholesome about the narration of the story told from the perspective of the Grim Reaper, particularly as he recounts a story from his “best of” collection.

The implication is that the life of the eponymous booklifter has touched the Death itself, which feels rather uncomfortable in the context of Nazi Germany. One would imagine that there would be quite a lot of moving and affecting stories to hold our narrator’s attention, without a need to single out one particular story as especially moving.

This is, in essence, the heart of the problem with The Book Thief, an efficient and well-produced – if condescending and tone-deaf – family film exploring the story of one family living in the shadow of Hitler’s Germany. It spends far too long telling us why these protagonists are unique, when the crux of the story seems to be that they are not.

Book her, boys!

She has no shelf-control…

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Top Picks from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, 2014

All right, it’s that time of the year again, when your humble host looks at the tea leaves and points to some of the highlights of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, when the movies take over Dublin city for ten days between the 13th and 23rd of February. The schedule was unveiled today, and although I’ve yet to actually see any of these, I have picked out some of the more interesting and intriguing selections for the festival.

Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning, so consider this an attempt to point those Irish cinephiles in the right direction.



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Watch! New Fast & Furious 6 Trailer!

The folks from Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over these two clips from The Fast & the Furious 6. I actually quite liked Fast Five, so I’m a little curious if the franchise can maintain the relatively light touch and no-nonsense action movie vibe for another instalment. I remember watching one of the trailers at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival before the surprise film. The audience reacted much more strongly to two minutes of the tank and highway mayhem of The Fast & the Furious 6 than to a full two hours of the somewhat sterile Hollywood-violence-in-London of Welcome to the Punch.

Anyway, check them out below and let me know what you think.


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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