• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives

  • Awards & Nominations

Non-Review Review: Lost River

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

There is a good film buried somewhere in Lost River.

Unfortunately, it is probably buried as deep as the community that give the movie its name.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Canal

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

Ghosts are all around us.

As the opening scene of The Canal quite clearly states, the deceased endure long after their passing. Whether as images captured on camera or stories repeated in hushed tones, the dead haunt us. What are ghosts but the voices of history reaching out to the individual like some nightmare lodged deep in the collective unconscious? The “stone tape” theory of paranormal activity suggests that horrific events leave their mark, a blood stain that won’t wash out. What if that stain is psychological? What if ghosts are nothing but tales that echo in the darkness?


It is not an entirely original concept, to be fair. The idea of ghosts that exist as stories (or as media) is quite an old idea. In fact, one particular jump scare in The Canal owes quite a specific debt to Ringu, the iconic Japanese horror story about a ghost trapped inside a haunted video cassette. That scene is not the only parallel; The Canal centres itself upon a man working at the National Archives who finds himself processing old footage. No sooner has he discovered the gory details of a brutal murder in his home than it seems that those same ghosts come to life.

The Canal hits a few speed bumps in its final act, but – for most of its runtime – the film is a thoroughly compelling modern day ghost story. Writer and director Ivan Kavanagh wears his cinematic homages on his sleeve, drawing quite openly from directors like Roeg or Kubrick. The Canal is an unsettling and fascinating Irish horror film.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Shoulder the Lion

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

Shoulder the Lion is a visual sumptuous documentary from the creative team of Erinnisse and Patryk Rebisz.

The duo have a long history behind the scenes. Patryk is an accomplished cinematographer and Erinnisse is a veteran editor. However, barring a short film written and produced by Patryk a decade ago, Shoulder the Lion is the first time that the duo have taken complete charge of a film. The result is visually stunning. Shoulder the Lion is a documentary that divides its focus among three subjects – each dealing with a debilitating condition. However, the key is in how Shoulder the Lion attempts to relate to its subjects.


Shoulder the Lion attempts to convey to the audience – visually and aurally – what it must be like to see the world through the perspective of its three subjects. There are any number of striking compositions and sequences in the film, as the Rebiszes invite the audience to experience even some small segment of what day-to-day life must be like for its three central individuals. As Alice Wingwall describes her deteriorating vision, the camera filters out the colours. As Fergal Sharpe describes the agony of tinnitus, a painful electronic buzz builds.

There are structural problems with Shoulder the Lion. Most obviously, the fact that it divides its attention between three subjects while devoting so much energy towards its visuals means that not all of the three central figures emerge fully-formed. Indeed, it could be argued that the film expends more time trying to replicate their disabilities than exploring their experiences beyond that. However, the result is a thought-provoking and well-constructed piece of film. It is a beautiful piece of work, if not quite as deep as it might have been.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Force Majeure

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

A blackly comic interrogation of modern masculinity, written and directed by Ruben Östlund, Force Majeure documents a family holiday that goes horribly and spectacularly wrong.

Following a nuclear family on their five-day ski holiday, Force Majeure examines the consequences of a fateful decision by the family patriarch. Dining on a restaurant on the upper levels of the resort, the family witness a controlled avalanche that quickly seems more and more uncontrolled. As a sea of white washes over the restaurant, Ebba tries to shield her children – while Tomas grabs his phone and his gloves and runs for cover, abandoning his wife and children to the elements.


This sounds pretty bleak. However, Östlund shrewdly decides to play it as black comedy. He uses Tomas’ pretty spectacular failing as a jumping-off point into a number of delightfully uncomfortable sequences that manage to be both squirm-inducingly awkward and laugh-out-loud funny. For all the epic scale suggested by the movie’s one-line synopsis, Force Majeure is a rather more intimate piece of work. Two separate meltdowns over dinners with two different couples are arguably more catastrophic than any force of nature unleashed over the course of the narrative.

Force Majeure is a triumph, a stunning examination of a marriage under pressure.


Continue reading

Jameson Cult Film Club: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels & A Talk With Nick Moran (JDIFF 2015)

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

One of the biggest losses of the dissolution of the long-standing relationship between Jameson and the Dublin International Film Festival this year (aside from the fact that “J-diff” is a pretty catchy acronym) is the fact that the Jameson Cult Film Club seems unlikely to be held as part of future festivals. The Jameson Cult Film Club is a wonderfully fun and casual celebration of cult classic cinema in a rich and atmospheric environment, often accompanied with very clever theatrical flourishes.

There are quite a few events hosted each year, but it always felt appropriate that perhaps the highest profile event was staged during the eleven-day film festival, as just one example of how film seemed to take over the capitol for that week-and-a-bit of cinematic fun. Nevertheless, what might just be the final Jameson Cult Film Festival companion piece went down spectacularly well; with a screening of Guy Ritchie’s low-budget debut caper film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Jameson Cult Film Club 1

A delight for the audience – those who had seen it and those who hadn’t – the screening was accompanied by an engaging (and occasionally quite candid) interview between veteran journalist Dave Fanning and star Nick Moran. Moran – a writer and director in his own right – was on fine form, regaling the audience with stories from the production of the film, along with his own anecdotes about fame and fortune. Eager to field questions from the audience, and impressed by the thoroughness of Fanning’s research, Moran proved a natural storyteller.

Witty and self-effacing, Moran was a perfect (and sporting guest) for what turned out to be a fascinating interview.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang tells a story that would seem almost too absurd or too far-fetched if it were a scripted drama. The documentary charts the former NBA star as he attempts to organise a friendly basketball game between North Korea and the United States. The idea came from Kim Jong-Un, who had struck up an unlikely friendship with Rodman during an earlier trip to the isolated dictatorship. Over December 2013 and January 2014, Rodman helped to organise the most unlikely basketball friendly in history.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Price of Desire

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

I have been informed that reviews for The Price of Desire are embargoed, despite the fact it was screened as the gala opening of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015, a high-profile event with tickets available to the public that afforded the film a significant public platform. (In the interest of disclosure, I purchased my ticket with my season pass – purchased for €245. Individual tickets for this screening were €20.)  As a courtesy to any fellow reviewers affected by the embargo, I have taken down the review.

However, as the film is eligible for the festival’s “audience award”, I am leaving my rating in place.

All audience members are asked to rank films in the festival from 1 (worst) to 4 (best). In the interest of full and frank disclosure, here is my score: 1 thepriceofdesire1

Non-Review Review: Borgman

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

Part of what is so fascinating about Borgman is just how little Alex van Warmerdam is willing to tell us about what is going on. There are points when van Warmerdam’s biting black comedy seems to veer from domestic drama into straight-up fantasy, with very little concession made to explaining the events seen on screen to the audience. Who (or what) is the eponymous drifter? What does he want? Why does he do whatever it is that he seems to be doing?

Van Warmerdam doesn’t feel obligated to provide any explicit answers, and Borgman feels much stronger for it.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Afternoon Delight

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

Middle class attitudes towards sex are weird. Middle class attitudes toward middle class attitudes toward sex are particularly weird. Afternoon Delight is a film about the complexities around those attitudes, but it’s written from a point of view very grounded in that middle class perspective. There’s a sense that Afternoon Delight isn’t anywhere near as cutting and subversive as it wants to be, working hard to develop the character of “sex worker” McKenna only to throw it all away for a biting climax. (No pun intended.)

There’s a suffocating heavy-handedness and profundity to Afternoon Delight, a movie that edits a casual afternoon surfing on the beach as if we’ve wandered into a life-and-death scenario. There are wonderful moments of levity and wit in Afternoon Delight, but the film works far too hard to keep them boxed off and contained.


Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Hide Your Smiling Faces

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

Kids these days, am I right? Hide Your Smiling Faces feels like an eighty-eight minute extended catalogue of various fears and insecurities about the children growing up in today’s world. Following the tragic death of a young boy, Hide Your Smiling Faces focuses its attention on the young kid’s closest friend and that friend’s older brother – exploring their different emotional reactions to the loss. Writer and director Daniel Patrick Carbone adopts a naturalistic approach to dialogue, trying to lend Hide Your Smiling Faces an authenticity or realism.

Unfortunately, the film is simply too dull for its own good, mistaking inertia for pensiveness and inactivity for pensiveness. It seems like Hide Your Smiling Faces spends most of its runtime trying to convince the audience – and itself – that less is more. Sadly, sometimes less is less.


Continue reading