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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: The Cured

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

The biggest problem with The Cured might be that the film bites off more than it can chew.

At least in their modern post-Romero phase, zombies have often been a tool of social allegory. They are a potent metaphor for any number of familiar anxieties; unchecked consumerism in Dawn of the Dead, the working class in The Land of the Dead, an insurgent enemy population in 28 Weeks Later. In many ways, The Cured feels like a logical extension for this. The story about society trying to claw its way back from the horrors of zombie apocalypse, The Cured is a bold and ambitious piece of horror movie social commentary.

A population of rehabilitated zombies raises any number of obvious parallels in the modern world. The Cured plays with a number of these ideas, using zombies as a metaphor for class anxieties and for a politically subjugated (and literally dehumanised) political population. However, the most potent metaphor at the heart of the story is to do with criminal rehabilitation and social reintegration, the challenge of how society embraces or shuns those who have committed horrible acts but are also deemed to have served their time.

Writer and director David Freyne explores these ideas in a charged and playful manner, balancing the expectations of zombie storytelling against the backdrop of a broader political allegory. Indeed, The Cured arguably suffers from a surplus of good ideas, with enough material to sustain a television miniseries crammed into a lean ninety-five minute runtime.

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