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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #23!

We’re now completely caught up on the Scannain podcast. And with new and improved sound design, thanks to the wonderful Donnacha Coffey.

This week, I join a fantastic panel including Grace Duffy, Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle, and Donnacha Coffey from Filmgrabber. As ever a wide-ranging discussion took place, including talk about Set It Up and Netflix’s niche, the incredibly vibrant world of Streets of Fire, the continuing disaster that is Star Wars fandom after the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story and whether Lady Bird is the best film of the year so far. New releases include The Happy Prince, Kissing Candice and Ocean’s 8.

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

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #19!

We’re continuing to work through a bit of a backlog on the Scannain podcast, this time jumping back in to cover the last week in May.

This week, I’m joining Luke Dunne from Film in Dublin, Ronan Doyle, Jay Coyle and Grace Duffy. It’s a free-form and rambling conversation, with topics including the secret screening of Citizen Jane at the IFI to mark the upcoming Irish abortion referendum, the receipt of career Oscars in competitive categories, the Netflix release of Cargo, the absurdity of building horror shared universes, and the act of fridging in Deadpool 2.

The podcast also contains what might be the best segue in the history of podcasting, and new releases include The Breadwinner, Solo: A Star Wars Story and the surprisingly controversial Show Dogs.

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

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.

Non-Review Review: Solo – A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is perhaps remarkable in how it is unremarkable.

That is not exactly fair. Most obviously, despite being the tenth theatrical release with a Star Wars brand, Solo: A Star Wars Story is still something relatively novel for a franchise; it is a big-screen outing that consciously and overtly marginalises a lot of what audiences have come to expect from the franchise. There are a host of familiar elements here, but often in minuscule amounts; either token gestures or sly continuity nods. Without confirming any of these elements are present, Solo certainly has fewer Jedi, Death Stars, representatives of the Empire, officially designated rebels, or lightsabers than most Star Wars films.

The Wookie and the Rookie.

More than that, the film’s production was notably troubled, which is striking for a production company as efficient as Disney and Lucasfilm. Original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller finished shooting their version of the film, and were fired during the editing process. Reportedly, seventy percent of Solowas reshot by Ron Howard. Given the schedule demands of the actors involved, the complicated mechanics of the set pieces, and the budget of the film, this was no small undertaking. On paper, Solo would appear to have more in common with a film like Justice League or Suicide Squad than even the troubled Rogue One.

With all of that in mind, it is a credit to Howard that Solo turns out as well as it did. Howard is an efficient and often underrated director, one with a clean eye and with a clear storytelling style. Howard’s films tend to be unfussy and uncomplicated, a director who never gets in the way of the story being told. This is something of an underappreciated virtue, with Howard’s films often maintaining a firm grasp on the fundamentals of storytelling. Howard’s characters tend to have clear arcs and tangible motivations, with very little getting lost in the shuffle. Howard’s direction is unobtrusive, which likely made him such a good fit for this particular film in these particular circumstances.

On the cards…

Watching the film, there is little sense of competing tones or contrasting visions. There are moments over the course of the film when the cast are noticeably more playful, their banter a little more conversational and the comic rhythms a little more pronounced. However, Solo never misses a beat, never turns to sharply, never transitions too jarringly. There is a strange sense, watching Solo, that absolutely everything has ended up right where it was supposed to be with a minimum amount of fuss. There is absolutely nothing about the finished product screams “troubled production.”

At the same time, nothing about Solo screams anything at all.

Going Solo.

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