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Non-Review Review: The Grand Seduction

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

The Grand Seduction is nowhere near as cynical as it needs to be, and nowhere near as cynical as it thinks that it is. The story of a small Canadian town harbour in desperate need of a doctor in order to win a lucrative contract from a nebulous oil corporation, The Grand Seduction sets itself up as a vicious satire of these sorts of communities. Trying desperately to convince a visiting doctor to stay in their small community, the locals fashion themselves an endearingly quaint façade, manipulating their guest to get what they want.

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Non-Review Review: The Stag

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

On the surface of it, The Stag feels like an Irish version of The Hangover; a “lads going wild before the wedding” comedy that thrives on men behaving badly and even features the bride’s brother as a reluctant invitee and breakout character. Of course, there are any number of differences – substituting the wilds of rural Ireland for the glitzy glamour of Vegas, the decision to make the groom a main character more than a plot device, the nature of the breakout character’s anti-social personality – but The Stag essentially takes a tried and true comedy template and runs with it.

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Non-Review Review: Locke

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

Lock a character in a tight space for an extended period of time, crank up the pressure, watch the results. It’s a tried and true method of generating compelling drama – albeit one that depends on a wide range of variables. Films like Phone Booth and Buried demonstrate – to varying degrees of success – the appeal of such a format. If you can get a good actor in a tight space for an extended period of time and crush them, the results are inevitably fascinating.

At the same time, it’s a very delicate cocktail. The set-up has to be convincing, the script has to be tight without being contrived, the direction needs to be spot on, the performance needs to be perfectly modulated. Steven Knight’s sophomoric feature-length film manages to maintain this fine balance for Locke‘s eighty-five minute runtime. Essentially an hour-and-a-half locked in a car with Tom Hardy, Locke is a powerhouse of a feature, an utterly compelling and heartrending watch.

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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.

thelastdaysonmars

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