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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #20!

We’re continuing to work through a bit of a backlog on the Scannain podcast.

This episode from early June finds myself, Grace Duffy and Jason Coyle discussing the week in film news, Irish and international. Along the way, there’s time to discuss the joys of Mamma Mia, the complicated relationship that we have with Ridley Scott and which Ridley Scott appears to have with Alien: Covenant, along with the massive controversy over Roseanne. Oh, and the box office returns on Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s a relatively quiet week for new releases including Book Club, Lamont Double and My Friend Dahmer.

Give it a listen at the link, or check it out below.

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Non-Review Review: The Heart of the Sea

The Heart of the Sea is well-made, and full of all manner of interesting dynamics and clever set-ups. Pitting man against nature is always a sure recipe for drama, and stranding a bunch of people in the middle of the ocean adds all sorts of unique tensions. Survival drama is powerful, resonating with key themes about man’s endurance and limitations. Putting a bunch of talented actors in boat together under the eye of a talented director will get you half-way to a good film.

The problem with The Heart of the Sea is that it lacks focus. It is a film that is never entire sure what it is about, or how it wants to be about it. Is it an environmentalist fable about mankind’s hubris and arrogance? Is it the tale of the lengths to which a man will do to survive? Is it a tale of two competing egos and the live entrusted to their care? Is it a secret history of Moby Dick, the great American novel? The answer is that The Heart of the Sea tries to be all of these things, but never quite consistently and never entirely thoroughly.

Good Whale Hunting. (Courtesy of Niall Murphy.)

Good Whale Hunting.
(Courtesy of Niall Murphy.)

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My 12 for ’13: Rush & Picking Sides

This is my annual countdown of the 12 movies that really stuck with me this year. It only counts the movies released in Ireland in 2013, so quite a few of this year’s Oscar contenders aren’t eligible, though some of last year’s are.

This is number 3…

Rush is something of a companion piece to Frost/Nixon. Writer Peter Morgan re-teamed with director Ron Howard to offer a definitive take on another contest of wills, documenting the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda across the 1976 Formula One season. An account of a rather famous piece of sporting history, you could accuse Rush of being a bit formulaic, but the key is the skill with which Morgan and Lauda manage to execute that formula.

rush2

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Non-Review Review: Rush

In many ways, Rush quite resembles the last collaboration between director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan. Both are built around contests between two larger-than-life personalities. One is old-fashioned and conservative, averse to risk and obsessed with victory; the other is young and impetuous, arrogant and self-assured without the experience to back that up. However, while Rush lacks the screen presence of performers Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, it benefits greatly from the fact that it refuses to choose a side.

As much as Frost/Nixon might have offered a slightly more sympathetic-than-usual Nixon, it was clear that the audience was intended to root against the corrupt former president, and champion the ascension of young up-and-comer David Frost. Rush manages a more delicate balance, firmly refusing to favour one protagonist over the other. Both the reckless young go-getter and the safety-conscious number-cruncher are portrayed as sympathetic and well-developed characters.

This makes Rush that rarest of sports movies: the one where the audience is rooting for both contenders.

Not quite to Formula...

Not quite to Formula…

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Done in 60 Seconds: An Interview with Andrew Norton

We might not be the best team in the world at soccer, we might not be the favourites to take home a record-shattering amount of gold medals in London, but the Irish have always had a bit of a cultural charm. This year, we were lucky enough to be represented at the final of the Jameson Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition, with Andrew Norton’s condensed spoof of the iconic District 9 landing a place among 29 international contenders on a shortlist including entries from Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Israel, Sweden and the Ukraine, among others. I had the pleasure of chatting very briefly about putting the sixty-second clip together, breaking into short-film making and the perils of looking like a security guard on the red carpet.

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Blueprint for Success: Is The Dark Tower The Future of Multi-Media Experience?

Perhaps it’s down to the fact that movies have always been inherently distrustful of other forms of media (particularly newer modes like television or the internet), as reflected in the constant battle with them (with movies seeking an edge – like 3D – that other media can’t quickly ape) – but I’m surprised that an idea like this hasn’t been tried before. After quite a long period of speculation, it has been confirmed that Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is coming to the big screen. But it’s also coming to the little screen, at the same time. In fact, the not-at-all unambitious plan for the franchise can be laid out as follows:  

Step 1: They’ll kick it off with a movie, presumably the movie will tell the story of the first book, The Gunslinger which is a shorter book and extremely cinematic. They could also maybe fit in The Drawing of the Three in which the Gunslinger Roland meets his companions.  

Step 2: That movie will be immediately followed by a TV series which will pick up where the movie leaves off. A TV series is the ideal format to tackle some of the longer, more episodic stories.  

Step 3: The TV series will then lead into a second feature film.  

Step 4: After that second feature film, a TV series will then cover the events of the book Wizard and Glass in which the story of Roland’s youth is retold.  

Step 5: That will then launch into a third feature film… perhaps to wrap the story up or maybe simply to take the next step. Whether they end it there or plan more movies and more television presumably depends on audience response.  

That’s certainly one heck of a roadmap for a franchise, right there.  

Towering ambition...

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Non-Review Review: Angels & Demons

Well, the only way to go from The DaVince Code was up, right? Good, because this doesn’t go too far up, lest you get all excited. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill chase movie without any charm or wit or intelligence (and severely lacking in logic, one might add). It commits the cardinal sin (he he, cardinal… geddit?) of thinking that it is far smarter than it actually is, and it never manages to be particularly exciting or engaging. Still, Ron Howard can’t completely hide his talent amid a jumble of half-baked action sequences and illogical clues.

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

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