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Non-Review Review: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is an intriguing and compelling mess of a film. It is shrewd and clever, if never entirely human.

Director J.A. Bayona might be the first director since Spielberg to put his own unique slant on the Jurassic Park franchise, to move with just enough confidence and faith in his own stylistic sensibilities to escape the shadow of the legendary director who turned a pulpy novel into a beloved family classic. Bayona does that by allowing his own stylistic sensibilities to shine through, to embrace his own interest and to engage with the material on his own terms.

Dino escape.

Fallen Kindom walks a fine line. It is very much a creature grown in a laboratory to satisfy the demands of the larger franchise. There are elements here that exist purely because they are expected, because they are signifiers of what a “Jurassic Park movie” should look like, including both returning characters and new characters fashioned after familiar archetypes. At the same time, there is a coy and wry self-awareness to Fallen Kingdom that was sorely lacking from Jurassic World, a cynicism about its own nature that integrates rather neatly into its larger worldview.

Although it may be damning with faint praise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is easily the best Jurassic Park movie since Jurassic Park: The Lost World, the film in the franchise with which it shares most of its DNA.

Things are heating up.

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Jameson Cult Film Club Screening of Jaws! With Richard Dreyfuss in Attendance! Tuesday 18th February!

The James Cult Film Club have sent on the following press release about the upcoming screening of Jaws as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival that is kicking off next Thursday, the 13th February. The screening will take place on Tuesday the 18th, and will feature a question-and-answers session with actor Richard Dreyfuss, who collaborated with Spielberg on Jaws, but also on Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The Jameson Cult Film Club has a special historical attachment to the festival. The first Irish screening was The Usual Suspects with Kevin Spacey in attendance four years ago. The Cult Film Club do screenings all through the year, bringing classic movies to live in a whole new way for audiences. They really are a highlight of the schedule, and tickets are always given away free via their website. You can sign up now, although I’m not sure if the ticket application is open yet.

It’s an experience that I wholeheartedly recommend, as they are always well put together evenings celebrating classic cinema. If you are looking for recommendations for the film festival, check out our own picks of the festival here. Otherwise, I’ve included the press release below.

jawsjdiff

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Non-Review Review: Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln might just be the most fascinating exploration of the overlap between legal, moral and democratic power ever produced. Abraham Lincoln’s name might brand the film, and Daniel Day-Lewis’ sensational performance might hold it together, but there’s a very clear sense in watching Lincoln that the film is more preoccupied with lofty philosophical questions about the role of a ruler in a democracy. The Civil War and the 13th Amendment provide a backdrop, but Lincoln seems more concerned with how those elected must wield the mandate given from the people. Must they always represent the views of the people who elected them, or is their job to lead?

Note: Not a Vampire Hunter...

Note: Not a Vampire Hunter…

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Non-Review Review: Jaws

Jaws is a pretty impressive film. Not only did the film serve to launch Steven Spielberg’s career and subgenre of monster creature features, it also effectively kick-started the summer blockbuster. However, watching it again all these years later, it’s amazing how well Jaws holds up – far better than the vast majority of films that it ultimately inspired. There’s a lot of reasons that Jaws works, and a lot of them come down to Spielberg working as director, but also in the scripting and the acting. It’s rare for a movie to produce one character that we truly care about. Jaws manages to produce four compelling leading characters – the three men who ultimately end up on the boat, and the shark itself.

Finally copping on…

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Watch! Spielberg’s Lincoln Trailer…

The first full trailer for Spielberg’s Lincoln has appeared on line. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to this one. I actually liked his two films from last year much mroe than most – while neither came that close to making the end-of-year best-of list, I thought they were solid pieces of film-making for what they were. I’m hoping for a bit more from Lincoln, and I guess time will tell, but Daniel Day Lewis looks an inspired choice.

Let me know what you think.

Non-Review Review: War Horse

War Horse is a fairly solid prestige picture. Spielberg is on fine form, reminding viewers of just how he became an audience favourite. He displays a warm confidence with the material, as if getting comfortable once again with this sort of crowd-pleasing fare. The film has some fairly significant flaws, stemming mostly from a disjointed and disorganised screenplay, but it’s the director’s charm that manages to carry the film through. Ironically, for a film focusing on an equine, it feels like one of the most warmly human films that Spielberg has produced in quite a while.

No horse play!

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My Best of 2011: Super 8 & Understanding as a Child…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Super 8 is number ten. Check out my original review here.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

– Corinthians 13:11

It seems easy to lambast modern mainstream cinema as devoid of originality or of new ideas. It seems that every other film is a sequel or a prequel or a remake of another film, with Hollywood seemingly eager to cannibalise itself. I’ll concede that there are more franchises than before, but I also think that indie and original cinema is thriving in its own environment. I’d make the case that there’s room for all sorts of film, and that originality and quality don’t necessarily equate. Still, I doubt that will appease too many of the people who are sick of “the same old nonsense”, and I imagine that those people will cynically pick apart Super 8 as exactly the sort of copycat movie that demonstrates everything that’s wrong with modern cinema.

Naturally, I take a different approach, even if I can concede it’s hardly the most original of films. Then again, I’d make the case that this is precisely the appeal.

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