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203. Kundun – Summer of Scorsese (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn, Jay Coyle and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, continuing our Summer of Scorsese season, Martin Scorsese’s Kundun.

Martin Scorsese is one of the defining directors in American cinema, with a host of massively successful (and cult) hits that have shaped and defined cinema across generations: New York, New York, Raging Bull, The Colour of Money, Goodfellas, Casino, Shutter Island, The Irishman. The Summer of Scorsese season offers a trip through his filmography via the IMDb‘s 250.

The fourteenth Dalai Lama navigates the complicated web of faith and politics at a highly volatile time in the history of Tibet, meditating on both his divine responsibilities and the looming threat of Chinese intervention as the world changes around him.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the best movies of all-time.

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Non-Review Review: Baraka

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012. It will be getting a 20th anniversary re-release this year.

Released in 1992, it’s easy to consider Baraka as something of a spiritual successor to Koyaanisqatsi, a film which gave birth to an entire subgenre of non-narrative feature films designed to offer us insight into the working of our planet. It’s a natural comparison, as director Ron Ficke served as director of photography on that monumental film, and he clearly owes a debt to Godfrey Reggio’s masterpiece. However, I think there’s a substantive difference between how the two directors approach their subject matter, and the end result. While Reggio offers a more fascinating study of large-scale systems, Fricke manages a strange intimacy amidst his vast scale – there’s something considerably more human to Baraka, and I think that comfortably sets the movie apart. It looks as good as it did on initial release twenty years ago, and it still packs as much punch – even if it never looks quite as sharp as its sequel, Samsara.

Crazy world...

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Batman: Danny Elfman Film Music at the National Concert Hall (Review)

This event was held as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

One of the best aspects of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is the way that it extends beyond the cinema, into a wider appreciation of film and cinema all around Dublin. From the Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Reservoir Dogs through to the Dublin Film Critics’ Circle awards and even the Untitled screenwriting competition, the eleven-day celebration of cinema seems to encompass all the city and all walks of life. The wonderful folks at the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the National Concert Hall have a long history of getting into the spirit of the festival, offering high-profile tributes to cinema. Last year, for example, they held a screening of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with a live orchestral accompaniment. This year, they took the penultimate evening of the festival to host a tribute to Danny Elfman, undoubtedly one of the most iconic and influential composers working today. And it was an absolutely brilliant evening.

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Non-Review Review: Koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi is a word that comes from the language of the Hopi. It’s handily translated at the end of the film, with one of the meanings lending the film its unofficial subtitle: “life out of balance”. Brought to the screen by director Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass (not that you’d know it from the film’s sparse opening credits which simply identify the film as “a Francis Ford Coppola production”), it’s safe to say that Koyaanisqatsi is one of a kind. Or, given the two sequels, one of three of a kind, but that’s still quite impressive.

Let there be light...

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Glass Houses: The Music of Philip Glass

I have the pleasure of checking out Philip Glass at the National Concert Hall tonight. Despite the fact that I know next-to-nothing about music, I’m quite fond of Glass’ rather wonderful compositions – mostly through pop culture osmosis. It seems that Glass is the go-to guy if you need something wonderfully emotional and catchy, yet grandiose and sweeping to accompany a given film. He’s done countless soundtracks, but these are the big “on-screen” moments which I think of when I think of Glass.

First up, Watchmen. There’s a wonderful sequence on Mars scored to Glass’ Prophecies and Pruitt Igoe, which is perhaps the best scene in the entire jumbled up and deeply flawed film, as the past and present collide to the ominous soundtrack and narration. However, I can’t find that, so watch the trailer instead.

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