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Non-Review Review: Pan

There is something delightfully off-kilter about Pan, to the point that it seems almost surprising that it got made.

After all, Peter Pan doesn’t seem to need an origin story. All the core ingredients are included in the original stories that J.M. Barrie wrote at the start of the twentieth century, allowing generations of other writers to improvise and elaborate around a rather robust blueprint. Steven Spielberg hit on an interesting idea in theory (if not necessarily execution) in Hook, producing a sequel imagining what might happen if the boy who never grew up… actually grew up. However, there does not seem to be an equivalently interesting hook into a prequel story.

Don't be so harsh, Blackbeard...

Don’t be so harsh, Blackbeard…

Indeed, there is very little in Pan that connects it to its source material, beyond a few overlapping names and sly in-jokes. Captain Blackbeard meditates on Neverland as the realm of death, alluding to the historical context of the stories, but the film is absolutely fascinated by the concept of death in Neverland. James Hook might be taunted with a “tick tock” and dangle his hand in crocodile-infested waters, but the film has very little interesting to say about his relationship with Peter Pan beyond falling back on the trope of suggesting that they were once friends.

However, there is something fascinating about the execution of Pan. Even if the script doesn’t hold together, and the film often seems like two-hours of punk pop candy floss, there is an endearingly gonzo quality to the film that makes its complete refusal to work all the more interesting.

Sheets to the wind...

Sheets to the wind…

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Dario Marianelli at the National Concert Hall (Jameson Dublin International Film Festival)

This event was part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

I’ve argued it before, but one of the best parts of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is the way that it isn’t just confined to the cinemas. The feast of fine Irish and international cinema is something that any film fan can celebrate, but the capital city itself becomes a hotbed for the celebration of film as an artform. So there’s all manner of wonderful extras going on – from classes in film criticism to workshops with Robert Towne, to the Jameson Cult Film Club screening of L.A. Confidential. The National Concert Hall typical does a nice job of getting into the mood, hosting celebrations of the sound of cinema. In the past, for example, they hosted the newly-written live musical accompanyment to The Four Horseman and a tribute to Danny Elfman.

This year, they invited composer Dario Marianelli over to showcase and introduce several selections of music from his distinguished career. It’s always a fantastic time to recognise and to celebrate Marianelli’s work, but to host the composer in Dublin less than a week before the Oscars is a very rare pleasure indeed.

dariomarianelli

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Non-Review Review: Anna Karenina (2012)

All the world is a stage, literally for Joe Wright’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel. Anna Karenina is visually stunning, and perfectly put together, doing a workman-like job of condensing Tolstoy’s 800-page doorstopper into a film running justover two hours. The wonderfully inventive idea of staging the film entirely in a theatre – from the foyer to the rafters to the stage itself – gives Wright the opportunity to showcase his talent as one of the finest working directors today. Tom Stoppard’s scripts is dripping with wit and does an excellent job providing digestible chunks of Tolstoy’s epic and a fair few pithy one-liners. Unfortunately, this is countered by the fact that the film never feels like it’s quite enough, and in particular the fact that its central figure feels like a shadow cast against a back wall rather than a three-dimensional character.

Save the last dance…

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Non-Review Review: Hanna

A special thanks to the guys over at movies.ie for sneaking us into an advanced preview screening.

If ever there was an odd choice for an early summer release, I think Hanna is it. Directed by Joe Wright (the guy who brought you Atonement) and starring an Oscar bait cast including Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett (with solid support from Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams), Hanna is the story of a teenage assassin set loose upon the world after a life spent in the wilderness. If that cocktail doesn’t sound crazy enough, Wright sets the movie as a fairy tale.

What’s genuinely astounding is how frequently these elements compliment each other, even if there are a few moments where they seem at odds.

Joe Wright takes a shot at directing an action film...

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Non-Review Review: The Mummy Returns

I will confess that I enjoyed The Mummy for what it was. It wasn’t ground-breaking or revolutionary, but it was a nice attempt to resurrect the old Universal Monster Movie for modern audiences, with Raiders of the Lost Ark providing a rather clear inspiration. Perhaps part of the appeal was novelty, as we hadn’t seen an old-style monster movie like that in quite some time. I remember being somewhat disappointed on seeing the second film in cinemas, feeling like it just didn’t measure up to the solidly entertaining original. Having caught it again this weekend, I find I’m in firm agreement with my younger self.

I'll stick my neck out and admit I enjoyed the first film...

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