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Non-Review Review: The Zero Theorem

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

The Zero Theorem is a mess. Of course, this isn’t a surprise. Part of the charm of Terry Gilliam is the way that the director seems to wallow in chaos and disorder – dysfunction and mess are two of his calling cards as a director. However, The Zero Theorem often feels more like a scrapbook of half-composed ideas than a finished film, packed with some interesting ideas and wonderful visuals, blended to a story and script that lack any real subtlety or nuance or insight.

thezerotheorem

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Top Picks from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, 2014

All right, it’s that time of the year again, when your humble host looks at the tea leaves and points to some of the highlights of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, when the movies take over Dublin city for ten days between the 13th and 23rd of February. The schedule was unveiled today, and although I’ve yet to actually see any of these, I have picked out some of the more interesting and intriguing selections for the festival.

Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning, so consider this an attempt to point those Irish cinephiles in the right direction.

Calvary

calvary

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Non-Review Review: Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)

Surviving Life, from director Jan Svankmajer, is a strange beast. It opens with an introduction from the director, in which – using an animation style that looks like a bizarre and strangely compelling blend of Terry Gilliam’s work on Monty Python and South Park – he apologises to the audience for the presentation. I can’t tell if he’s being serious or not, and if his somewhat bitter complaints about his inability to find proper financing are a post-modern twist on the cliché of the misunderstood arthouse director, or a straight example of it. “Sadly, our civilisation has no time for dreams,” he claims with dour seriousness, and an uncomfortable confidence. “There’s no money in them.” Stating that he intended to produce the film as a live-action piece of cinema, he repeatedly states that this is not how he imagined the film. “So this is not a formal experiment,” he tells us, “just a poor imperfect substitute for a live action film.”It’s a shame, because the animation is the best thing about the film.

The direct approach...

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The Criterion Criteria: Why Are Criterion Blu Rays Region Coded?

The Criterion Collection is incredible – it really is the ideal back-catalogue for anybody who considers themselves a fan of good cinema well-presented. The company basically releases top-of-the-line DVD and blu ray collections of old and new films, each presented with the greatest of care, and with a wealth of special features, often including director’s cuts, in-depth documentaries, essays and other treasures. Hell, the company’s laser-disc division invented the notion of a “commentary”, producing one over their release of the classic King Kong. I am a fan, as I think that any cinephile is a fan. That said, I was shocked to read of a rather disturbing development: Criterionhave region-coded their blu ray releases. I understand the idea of region-coding, but this really seems like a strange case.

It's a monstrous injustice... (Godzilla, #594)

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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban represents probably the best transition from printed page to big screen in the franchise, boasting the most confident and comfortable direction of the big screen series. Director Alfonso Coarón, perhaps best known for his work on Children of Men crafts perhaps the most magical of the Harry Potter adventures, effortlessly crafting a world that seems strangely familiar and yet curiously foreign, simultaneously bright and coloured, but populated with dark brooding shadows. Even after the series has ended, the third instalment remains perhaps the most stylish.

Enchanting...

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Non-Review Review: 1984

1984 is a solid adaptation of a classic novel, featuring a fantastic leading performance from John Hurt as Winston Smith. The movie (released to coincide with the year) suffered a bit at the time (and in retrospect) from not being the best adaptation of Orwell’s ground-breaking novel to make it the big screen in 1984-5 – being somewhat upstaged by Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece Brazil. While obviously not a direct adaptation of the novel (in fact, Gilliam has admitted he hadn’t even read the book at the time of release), the latter film explores the same core themes and ideas. However, virtually any film would pale in comparison when measured against a movie like Brazil (which ranks in my top ten films ever), and 1984 really deserves to be seen on its own merits.

Welcome to an edition of Big Brother where every room is a "Diary Room"...

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Too Much of a Good Thing: Why Inception Might Be Best Left as One of a Kind…

Apparently Warner Brothers want a sequel to Inception. That’s a long way from the earlier rumour that Inception was a “gift” to Nolan, almost a sort of bribe in order to keep him on board for Batman 3 (or, as it shall henceforth be known, The Dark Knight Rises), and one that the studio was never really 100% certain about. While I’m delighted the movie turned out to be successful enough to warrant a sequel, I can’t help but hope that it is never produced or released.

This announcement knocked me for a loop...

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