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Non-Review Review: Trainwreck

Trainwreck is a refreshing romantic comedy, a collaboration that plays to the strengths of both lead and writer Amy Schumer and director Judd Apatow. The comedy follows a young woman who learnt from an early age (through inappropriate doll metaphors) that “monogamy doesn’t work.” Amy is very much a female version of the arrested adolescent character that Apatow helped to popularise in mainstream American comedy, the immature adult who has yet to face any real personal or professional responsibility.

In some respects, Trainwreck is a continuation of a comedy trend that began with Bridesmaids, realising that male characters did not hold a monopoly on emotional disaster zones. Female characters are just as likely to exercise poor judgment and make questionable personal decisions. If Apatow figured out how to keep the romantic comedy fresh by tweaking the mental age and emotional stability of the male lead, then his collaboration with Schumer does something similar by swapping the gender dynamics.

Hold me.

Hold me.

The basic character and emotional arcs have not changed. After all, the romantic comedy can really only have one of two outcomes; they live happily ever after, or they don’t. Trainwreck charts the same course as The 40-Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up, which basically followed the same arcs as When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle. For all the novelty of swapping the gender roles in the Apatowian comedy, Trainwreck is not particularly subversive or deconstructive.

Rather, Trainwreck is a stellar execution of a very traditional form. It is not a comedy that defies conventions or upsets expectations; it hits virtually every major beat that story like this can be expected to hit. It benefits from a rather wonderful collaboration of a writer (and actress) with a sharp eye for millennial humour working alongside a director who understands the mechanics of the genre intuitively. Trainwreck is perhaps the best mainstream romantic comedy that Hollywood has produced in quite some time.

Everything is on track...

Everything is on track…

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Non-Review Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

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

The vampire genre has been around for a reasonably long time. The literary genre that was formalised by Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the dawn of the twentieth century, even if it drew on a rich selection of local beliefs and superstition. And yet, despite that, there really hasn’t been too much radical done with vampires in recent times. The last attempt to do something a bit provocative and game-changing with vampires occurred with Anne Rice’s discovery that you could easily shape vampire narratives into creepy romances – a technique refined by Stephanie Meyer to considerable commercial and popular success.

As such, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is fascinating because it manages to push the archetype a little further. It builds off those sorts of vampire romances and vampire fantasy epics in order to tell a more novel sort of story. Only Lovers Left Alive is a wonderful piece of mood based around two powerful central performances, taking one of cinema’s oldest monsters and finding a way to make them interesting again.

Only Lovers Left Alive is the most original vampire movie in what feels like an eternity.

onlyloversleftalive5

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Non-Review Review: Coriolanus

I’m a big fan of Shakespeare adaptations, if done right. The proper cast and crew can serve to make the Bard easily accessible to modern audiences, allowing people unfamiliar with the tragedy in question to follow along with the work remarkably easily. Ralph Fiennes has assembled such a cast and crew for his directorial debut, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Although not universally regarded as one of the truly great Shakespearean tragedies, it does have the epic scale and grand drama of some of the writer’s best work. T.S. Elliot would consider it to be, along with Anthony and Cleopatra, to be Shakespeare’s finest tragic play. I think that Fiennes adaptation makes a plausible argument for a long overdue reappraisal of the work. At the very least, it does an excellent job bringing it to a modern audience.

Roman around…

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Win! Moonrise Kingdom T-Shirts!

The lovely folks over at Universal Pictures Ireland have give us ten T-shirts to give away from the latest Wes Anderson release, Moonrise Kingdom. It premiered at Cannes last week, and it opens here on Friday. To be in with a chance to win, answer the question below.

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Non-Review Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin is powerful, visceral cinema. It’s the kind of movie that makes you want to take a nice long, hot shower after coming home. It’s unsettling in a way that doesn’t rely on cheap shocks or gratuitous violence – it just makes you feel unclean. Truth be told, I think that any film taking this sort of subject should feel this uncomfortable – I’m not sure I could stomach a film about this sort of thing that wasn’t uncomfortable. However, while the disjointed structure of the film adds a wonderful complexity and sense of uncertainty, I can’t help but feel that certain aspects were a little tooambiguous – falling into the familiar trap that one must have read the book in order to fully grasp everything that’s going on. Still, it makes for a very unsettling viewing experience.

Baby trouble...

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