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Non-Review Review: Turbo

Turbo is the best animated movie of 2013, well worth coming out of your shell to see. It’s probably the best Dreamworks film since Kung-Fu Panda and the best CGI animated feature since Toy Story 3. Indeed, Turbo manages to evoke a lot of the charming early Pixar films, in particular channelling Ratatouille, as we follow the adventures of one common unloved animal who decides that “good enough” is not quite good enough.

Stop the clock...

Stop the clock…

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Non-Review Review: Robot & Frank

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Robot & Frank is perhaps best described as a live-action Pixar film, a lost script or concept from that period only a few years ago when it seemed like the studio could do no wrong. The beauty of films like The Incredibles or Toy Story 3 was the way that these fantasies allowed us to engage with incredibly adult issues in a disarmingly wondrous way. Up could deal with the pain of loss in great detail, because it was really the story of a man flying his house to South America, right? Finding Nemo could play out the darkest fears lurking in a parent’s subconscious, because it was really about cute fish, correct?

And so Robot & Frank provides a wonderful vehicle for the exploration of what growing old really means, and how we cope with the challenges that it presents. Because, after all, it’s just a film with a cute-looking robot butler, right?

Frank'll test his metal...

Frank’ll test his metal…

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That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man: Movie Criticism and Subjectivity…

What do you use movie critics for? What’s their function or role? Is there a distinction between a film reviewer and a film critic? What do their opinions or verdicts mean? It’s getting to the point where the last thing the internet needs is another pretentious self-indulgent meditation on the nature of writing about film, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot of late. The blockbuster season seems to bring with it the classic “audience against critic” debate, not that it’s ever truly gone. Even at the heights of Oscar season, the argument is bristling away in the background, as people lament the relatively low box office if critic-pleasing films like The Artist.

"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man..."

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Going Against the Grain: Unpopular Movie Opinions…

I quite liked J. Edgar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was perfect or anything like that, but I thought it was an interesting piece of cinema that clearly articulated Eastwood’s views on twentieth century America, fitting as part of a tapestry the director had crafted exploring the country’s history. However, I still feel a little uncertain about my opinion. After all, it seems that most critics quite disliked it. I know that anybody writing or discussing film is required to formulate their own opinion, but there is a strange feeling that comes with disagreeing with the majority opinion. While the world wouldn’t be an interesting place if we all agreed, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the individual’s opinion against that of the critical majority.

Suits you, sir...

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5% Solution: Why the Oscars’ New First-Preference Rule is a Step in the Wrong Direction…

We’re officially out of the summer blockbuster season, which might lead you to believe that it was time for us film folk to have a bit of a rest. After all, we’ve been yammering on about “box office this” and “3D that” for quite some time now, and it makes sense we’d use the lull to compose ourselves. Of course, we can’t – it’s time to start Oscar-speculating. Because I’m situated in Ireland, there’s no point in me putting together a list of potential nominees, as it would just involve plagiarising countless individuals far more informed than myself. However, I have been thinking quite a bit about the latest amendment to the Academy’s infamous “ten nominees” amendment to their Best Picture nomination process: whereby every nominee will now be required to have at least 5% of the first preference votes. The more I think about it, the more I don’t like it.

Not quite the gold standard anymore?

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10 out of 10: The Ten Best Movies of the Year

Contrary to popular opinion, I was actually relatively impressed with 2010 as a year in cinema. It was no 2008, with a consistent string of impressive hits (both big and small). However, it wasn’t as bitterly disappointing as 2009 was, with letdown after letdown. Sure, there weren’t that many hugely successful sequels or reboots, but the vast majority of them weren’t soul-destroying wastes of film. So I’m quite happy. This year I actually had to cut several items from the list to get it down to a perfect ten.

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10 for 10: Top Ten Movie Moments of the Year

Tomorrow, I’ll be revealing my top ten movies of the past year. It should be a fairly straightforward list, and – to be honest – there won’t be too many surprises on it. Anyway, I thought I’d put together my list of the top ten “moments” from the past year. As ever, I’m Irish – so I’ve yet to see the major crop of Oscar nominees – but it’s worth keeping in mind that there isn’t really a major overlap between this and the list of the best pictures. Some of the best movies didn’t have iconic moments, while some of the best moments were in otherwise lackluster films. Some good movies had great moments, and some great movies had simply okay moments. So, with the rules out of the way, let’s get this countdown under way!

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