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Non-Review Review: Parkland

There are few moments that hold as much sway over American popular consciousness as the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Perhaps only the moon landing or the news footage of the 9/11 attacks could compete from the last half-century of history. The assassination and its aftermath have been discussed and reconsidered countless times in the decades since those shots rang out in Dallas. There are those who continue to believe in some sinister conspiracy, while others seem to accept the probability that the nation was rocked by the actions of a single disturbed individual.

Parkland offers relatively little to the discussion, focusing on the stories unfolding around the assassination and the lives that intersect with the famous historical figures who pass through the narrative. While it’s a nice idea in practice, these sorts of historical ensemble pieces can be tricky, as Bobby demonstrated rather recently. There’s a sense that even some of these characters who find themselves caught up in events larger than themselves have become figures of interest themselves, and a scant 93 minutes isn’t enough to peel back any layers or reveal anything particularly insightful.

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed...

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed…

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Non-Review Review: Turbo

Turbo is the best animated movie of 2013, well worth coming out of your shell to see. It’s probably the best Dreamworks film since Kung-Fu Panda and the best CGI animated feature since Toy Story 3. Indeed, Turbo manages to evoke a lot of the charming early Pixar films, in particular channelling Ratatouille, as we follow the adventures of one common unloved animal who decides that “good enough” is not quite good enough.

Stop the clock...

Stop the clock…

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Watch! First Twelve Years a Slave Trailer!

Shame was one of the best movies of 2012. So it stands to reason that I’m looking forward to the next collaboration between Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender. Twelve Years a Slave looks to be a decidedly larger-scale affair than either of the duo’s past collaborations, based on the epic and heart-wretching true story of Solomon Northup, a man born free and then sold into slavery. The cast is also a lot more impressive, with well-respected character actors (like Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor) standing alongside Brad Pitt. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out, even if it does look a bit more like conventional Oscar-bait than Shame or Hunger.

Of course, that could simply be a stylistic decision made when cutting up the trailer, given the success of other slavery-themed epics (Lincoln and Django Unchained) at this year’s Oscars. Either way, UK and Irish audiences won’t know until 24th January 2013.

Check out the trailer below.

Non-Review Review: John Dies at the End

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

Don Coscarelli is that most frustrating of film-makers. He’s a remarkable talent able to produce a story with the zany off-kilter madness of Bubba Ho-tep, but can also produce something as disappointing and as frustrating as John Dies at the End. It isn’t that John Dies at the End is completely without charm. It can occasionally be a wittily subversive take on the staples of American horror, from the works of H.P. Lovecraft through to the gore of seventies and eighties schlock-fests.

The real problem with John Dies at the End is that, for all its charm and its wit, it feels terribly unoriginal.

Sauced...

Sauced…

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Non-Review Review: Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages actually works quite well as a microcosm of the eighties – in both good and bad ways. It is loud, entertaining, engaging, shallow, beautifully constructed, hypocritical, energetic, charming, tasteless and somehow strangely irresistible in places. While the movie doesn’t necessarily always work, it is a perfect piece of cultural counter-programming to the summer’s sporting events. Light, fun and just a little dazed and confused, Rock of Ages is self-aware enough that it never collapses under its own weight. While it’s unlikely to be remembered as the best of the summer, it is a charmingly cheesy (if occasionally clumsy) power ballad musical that does exactly what it says on the tin.

He’s already made his marker…

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Non-Review Review: Too Big To Fail

I’ll admit to being quite impressed with the work HBO have done of late. I’m not so much talking about their production of some of the finest drama on television, but instead talking about the fantastic job they’ve done in bringing original drama to life inside the format of television movies. There was a time that television movies were mocked and frowned upon, something of a guilty pleasure rather than an artform to take seriously, but HBO has done a rather sterling job of late, producing films like The Special Relationship, which I thought might have supported even a small-scale theatrical run. Too Big To Fail is just as good, if not slightly better – focusing on the United States financial collapse of 2008, it brings together an all-star cast under a fantastic director to offer a movie that is far more interesting and compelling than any drama based on number crunching really ought to be.

Bringing the Hurt...

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Machine Steals Giamatti’s Soul; Simpsons’ Plot…

The first clip from Cold Soul, the upcoming movie starring Paul Giamatti as… Paul Giamatti, were released yesterday. And, hearing the plot summary, I couldn’t help thinking that The Simpsons already did it. Basically, Giamatti has his soul extracted and then discovers he misses it and then embarks on a quest to win it back, discovering that it has been sold on the black market. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s also the plot to the cleverly titled Simpsons-episode Bart Sells His Soul. I’ll wait to see how it turns out, but the movie’d want to be something really special to top that vintage piece of American television.

The similarities are astounding...

The similarities are astounding...