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Non-Review Review: The Truth Commissioner

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

The Truth Commissioner began life as a pitch for a BBC television show.

This is quite clear from the way that film is put together, both in terms of plotting and in terms of visual composition. It is not too difficult to imagine The Truth Commissioner stretched out to a prestigious six-week television drama event series, playing as a sibling series to other politically-charged thrillers like The Honourable Woman or The Night Manager; albeit with a more modest cast and location than those two recent high-profile examples of the BBC’s dramatic programming.

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As written by Eoin O’Callaghan, The Truth Commissioner feels rather condensed; populated by a cast of characters who seem compressed to fit the movie’s relatively modest runtime. Character relationships and dynamics are rendered in extremes; they are either left inferred or bluntly stated. There is a sense that The Truth Commissioner has been stripped down to fit this particular format, playing as a rough outline of a strong central idea rather than a fully realised political thriller.

Director Declan Recks does a great job realising this contemporary Belfast drama, layering on the paranoia as the eponymous character finds himself navigating dangerous waters. The Truth Commissioner is a stylish piece of work, albeit one that seems more like a condensed BBC drama than an exciting feature film in its own right.

thetruthcommissioner

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My 12 for ’14: ’71 and Claustrophobic Thrills…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

A large part of what makes ’71 so effective is the fact that is as interested in constructing a claustrophobic thriller as it is in making a clear political statement. Although it is set in Belfast in 1971, the movie has more in common with The Raid or Dredd than it does to Shadow Dancer. The movie is essentially a survival horror about a British soldier separated from his regiment, struggling to survive in hostile territory. There is a universality to the story, creating a sense that it could just as easily have been set in Basra a couple of years ago as Belfast several decades back.

’71 moves with an incredible and visceral energy, building up momentum across its relatively lean hundred-minute runtime as it presents a fugitive being chased through hostile territory by both sides locked in a bloody and bitter generational feud. Of course, ’71 is inherently political – as any movie set in any equivalent environment must be. ’71 eschews divisions between Republicans and Loyalists – between members of the Irish Republican Army and the various arms of British authority operating in the city.

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Non-Review Review: ’71

Harrowing. Claustrophobic. Intense.

’71 is a powerhouse experience. Charting one night in Belfast for a young soldier separated from his regiment, there is a constant sense of dread pushing in from the edge of the frame. As one might expect for a movie set off the Falls Road in seventies Belfast, ’71 is paranoid and unsettled. It is a movie that constantly pushes the viewer to the very edge of their seat, offering an uncomfortable glimpse into something that would seem excessively brutal were it not anchored in historical fact.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The High Ground (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

The High Ground is a rather earnest issue-driven episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, dealing with one of the big issues of the day: international terrorism. However, the moral ambiguity of terrorism was a decidedly more contentious and controversial issue in early 1990 than the plight of Vietnam veterans explored in The Hunted or the Cold War politics of The Defector.

The High Ground is an allegory for the Troubles in Northern Ireland at a point in time where the Troubles were on-going. 1990 saw a number of high-profile terrorist actions conducted by the IRA. They bombed the London Stock Exchange in July. Using an explosive device, they murdered Sergeant Charles Chapman in May. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for his death. In February 1991, the IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. So this was the context in which The High Ground aired.

And, to be fair, there’s something admirable about the show’s willingness to engage with a controversial issue, even if the end result leaves a lot to be desired.

Holding hands around the universe...

Holding hands around the universe…

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Watch! A Belfast Story Trailer!

We have a trailer for the new Irish film A Belfast Story, releasing in Irish cinemas on September 20th. Starring Colm Meaney, it’s an exploration of the Troubles which plagued Northern Ireland, and one man dealing with the consequences of that horrific violence. I’m always glad to support Irish film, so check out the trailer below and let me know what you make of it. I’m a big Colm Meaney fan, so I am very much looking forward to it.

I also got some interesting viral stuff in the mail, which I’ll try to share early next week. I think it’s great to see an Irish movie being so aggressive in terms of marketing, and so forthright and assertive.

Win! Kick-Ass 2 Goodies!

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Universal Pictures Ireland and Kick-Ass 2 we have two (2!) Kick-Ass 2 goodie packs to give away.

Kick-Ass 2 is the sequel to Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Mark Millar’s 2010 hit Kick-Ass, one of our favourite superhero films of the past few years. Most of the cast is returning, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass, Chloé Grace Moretz as Hit Girl and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the Mother-f&%!#?. There are also several new additions, including Jim Carrey as “Colonel Stars ‘n’ Stripes”, but also Donald Faison and John Leguizamo.

It’s released here in Ireland next Wednesday, 14th August. You can check out the trailer below and get a glimpse of what’s in the packs below.

Simply fill out the form below to enter.

Each pack includes:

  • 7″ Action Figure
  • Character Pin Set
  • Kick-Ass Keyring
  • Hit Girl Keyring and Heroclix Mini Figure

It’s quite an impressive haul, as you can see below.

Kick-Ass-2---Packshot---High-res

To be in with a chance to win, fill out the form below:

The competition is now closed. Winners will be notified shortly.

Your contact details will only be used to inform the winners. You must be a resident of Ireland or Northern Ireland to enter. Good luck!

Check out more details on the Kick-Ass 2 facebook page.

Non-Review Review: The Good Man

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

Films about social justice can occasionally seem a bit clunky. Part of this is down to the way that most seem to have been conceived as simplistic morals rather than engaging stories, but there’s also a tendency to earnestly moralise in a manner that condescends to the audience. The Good Man manages to avoid the worst of these problems with a smartly-constructed third act that dovetails its two central narratives into one another, and because it accepts that the problem with our attitudes towards disadvantage and poverty in the rest of the world isn’t down to a simply lack of awareness. It is, the film suggests, easy to know about a problem, and easy to try to help. Understanding, on the other hand, is a far more challenging proposition.

We're all connected...

We’re all connected…

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