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Non-Review Review: Citizen Lane

Citizen Lane is the latest documentary from director Thaddeus O’Sullivan, following the life and times of Hugh Lane.

Essentially combining documentary discussion of the central character with dramatic reconstructions of moments both key and incidental, Citizen Lane sketches an intriguing portrait of a fascinating figure. Lane is perhaps best known as an art collector and dealer, whose name adorns one of the more prestigious art galleries in the city centre. However, Lane is something of a mysterious figure to all but the most devoted of Irish cultural historians, lurking at the edge of the frame in stories about artists like Yeats or Synge.

Turn of the Century City.

Citizen Lane pulls back the curtain a little bit, illuminating both its subject and the world around him. Citizen Lane closes on an imagined image of Lane wandering through the gallery named in his honour, unassumingly travelling through a series of interlocked rooms, largely unnoticed by those in attendance. This image captures what Citizen Lane suggests is the most compelling facet of its central figure, the manner in which he seems to move through early twentieth-century Dublin intersecting with the grand sweep of Irish (and eventually global) history.

Citizen Lane is an enlightening and entertaining piece of work, and a compelling argument for how works of art (and even those who engage with art) seem to turn a mirror back on the culture around them.

Painting a picture of life in twentieth century Dublin.

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Non-Review Review: Stella Days

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

Stella Days is held together by a sterling performance from Martin Sheen and a boldly challenging look at the Irish cultural mentality. Indeed, it’s easy to read this tale of a small-town parish priest trying to build a cinema as a metaphor for Irish cultural philosophy. In particular, with its distinctly American star, Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s movie seems like a bold challenge to what might be deemed Irish cultural xenophobia, the notion that our culture must be distinctly and completely independent of the world around us. Instead, Stella Days rather boldly and romantically suggests that Irish culture is not defined by independence or autonomy, but by its willingness to engage and accept the world around us. While the movie might occasionally indulge in a bit too much sentiment, it’s hard not to like that sort of uplifting and engaging idea.

I must confess, this was quite good...

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