Monthly Archives: December 2010

Let’s get it Tron: Interview with director Joseph Kosinski and producer Sean Bailey

INTERVIEW WITH TRON:LEGACY’S DIRECTOR JOSEPH KOSINSKI AND PRODUCER SEAN BAILEY

I admit it: sometimes my job is really cushy. And I was never more aware of this fact than when I was invited to Paris to interview the director and stars of the biggest film of the year, Disney’s highly anticipated Tron:Legacy. I’ll also admit that I shamelessly bragged about this invitation to everyone around me. But it seems karma is a weather-affecting demon, and boasting about the perks of your job in an era of a 13.5% unemployment rate results in one thing: snow. Lots and lots of snow. Snow that numbs your toes, and blankets mountains and causes airports to close down for days. From now on I swear to Jeff Bridges that I will remain humbly silent on the topic of any job perks that come my way. Now that that’s settled, karma, can you please make my car start again?


Or you could just gimme one of those…

Luckily Tron:Legacy’s director Joseph Kosinski and producer Sean Bailey took some time out from their croissant-eating and beret-shopping to phone me from Paris and chat to me about working on the sequel to Steven Lisberger’s 1982 cult classic Tron. Yes, you read that right, 1982. In a world where Harry Potter, Saw and Twilight sequels inflict themselves upon our cinema screens every year, waiting nearly three decades to release a follow-up film is unheard of. But if anyone was to revisit a childhood classic, it would of course be the President of Production for Disney. Sean Bailey, who has previously produced films such as Gone Baby Gone and Matchsick Men, had the idea of reviving Tron, having been a huge fan of the groundbreaking film as a child.

“What I loved about the original was its ambition, both in terms of both its concept, with its idea of human beings travelling into a digital universe and also in terms of what it was after in its technical execution, I’d never seen a movie screen that looked like the one I saw as a twelve year old boy in 1982. And so to go try to deal with that and to revisit that question of the human and digital world and also having that ambition, seeing if we could try and create a movie screen that would be as unprecedented as the one I had experienced as the one in 1982, they were all thrilling challenges.” Continue reading

2010: The Chinese Year of Wasting Our Lives on Youtube…

In honour of the countless hours we all spend watching crap on the internet, the wonderful Gordon Hayden & I rounded up some of this 2010’s most popular internet virals for an epsidoe of Ireland AM. Our original selections did have alot more X-Rated ones, but we saved them for Gordon’s Uploaded Christmas Special on 3e. And should Gordon & my patented waffling style appeal to you, I can often be found giving reviews on his show on Spin 103.8, We Love Movies – whether I’m invited to or not… 🙂

See the episode here.

Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet??

REVIEW: THE WAY BACK
DIRECTED BY PETER WEIR. STARRING JIM STURGESS, ED HARRIS, COLING FARRELL, SAOIRSE RONAN.
[133 MINS]
Opens December 26
RATING: TWO/FIVE

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It’s hard to fault Peter Weir. Having provided cinema with some of its most interesting explorations of ordinary characters facing testing circumstances, whether it’s dangerous situations like in The Cars That Ate Paris or Master and Commander or confronting oppressive, stunting authorities like in Dead Poets Society or The Truman Show, this director sure knows how to work a nice “the human spirit can overcome all” theme.

But The Way Back marks a decidedly odd choice for a project. Based on Slawomir Rawicz’s “memoir” The Long Walk, The Way Back details Rawicz’s escape from a Siberian gulag during World War II and his 4,000 mile trek to India. In this movie version, Jim Sturgess plays Janusz, a young Polish man sentenced to years in the gulag when his wife crumbles under vicious interrogation and informs Soviet officers that he is guilty of espionage. Upon his arrival, it is revealed that the camp itself is lacking in basic security systems for, as the commandment states, the natural landscape is really what holds the men captive. Continue reading

MONSTERS: What’s that coming over the hill, is it a…

REVIEW: MONSTERS
DIRECTED BY GARETH EDWARDS. STARRING WHITNEY ABLE, SCOOT MCNAIRY.
[94 MINS]
Opens December 3
RATING: THREE/FIVE

Refreshingly for a sci-fi movie, Gareth Edwards’ low-budget feature debut Monsters isn’t all panic and mayhem. Set six years after NASA discovered extra terrestrials, life has resumed as normal, with the creatures now quarantined in South America. As always, taxi drivers provide much-needed perspective on the aliens’ occasional rampages, stating calmly “Yeah, it happens every year. We take our chances.” Given our recent political and financial meltdown, Monsters could be viewed as a hopeful message about Ireland’s ability to survive anything, but Edwards clearly has a more clichéd political metaphor in mind.

* Not Banksy.

Scoot McNairy (Scoot? Really?) plays Andrew Kaulder, a cynical photographer sent to bring his boss’ daughter Sam (Whitney Able), an unhappily engaged ingénue, home to the United States. But when their passports are stolen, they’re left without options and are forced to travel through the ‘Infected Zone’ to the huge border wall designed to keep the aliens from moving from Mexico into the U.S. Along the way the couple stop to gaze pensively at the enforced divide and muse that “it’s different looking at America from the outside in” and “it’s like we’re imprisoning ourselves.” I would explain the allegory, but I’m dizzy from being hit with that sledgehammer. Continue reading

MEGAMIND: I like big brains & I cannot lie

REVIEW: MEGAMIND 3D
DIRECTED BY TOM MCGRATH. STARRING WILL FERRELL, TINA FEY, JONAH HILL, BRAD PITT.
[96 MINS]
Opens December 3
RATING: THREE/FIVE

You have to love Megamind’s casting. Will Ferrell plays Megamind, an odd-looking, amusing gentleman who engages in villainous attention-seeking acts, while Brad Pitt gives voice to his arch-nemesis Metro Man, the (literally) child-juggling hero who just wants a break from being perfect. Caught between them is Tina Fey’s Roxanne, a sassy reporter tired of being surrounded by useless men like Jonah Hill’s Hal, an over-eager slob who initially seems harmless but is in fact creepy, unfunny and just keeps popping up everywhere. It must be nice getting paid to be yourself. (Wrote the vaguely embittered, sardonic critic who feels entitled to judge other people’s accomplishments, possibly due to being a Celtic Tiger cub with indulgent parents.)

The casting is merely one example of the pop-culture laden meta-jokes in Megamind, which though consistently funny and inoffensive, could never claim to be original. Blatantly playing on the Superman/Lex Luther rivalry, Megamind also steals from the Green Lantern, X-Men, Robot Monster and countless other comics and films. Continue reading

EXTRA, EXTRA: December 2

* Apollo 18 sure has a nice marketing strategy. With a cool poster of an alien footprint beside Neil Armstrong’s dents and a tagline of “There’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the moon”, I’m already excited. Except…the movie doesn’t exist. Hoping to build up enough press to merit spending money, the creators have a planned release of March 4, 2011, giving them just four months to make, you know, the actual film. It’s like the Hollywood version of saying “I’m nearly there!” when you haven’t left the house yet.

* Jeremey Groomer, star of The Hurt Locker, has confirmed that he’s essentially being groomed to star in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, taking over the franchise form Tom Cruise. Cruise, who’s becoming a less bankable star by the second, is apparently teaching Groomer about training for stunts and fight-scenes, which is nice of him. I wonder if he’ll teach him how to do that cool “jump on a couch once and destroy a career (even if it’s yours)” trick?

* My beloved Marky Mark has finally been confirmed to star as trigger-happy Nathan Drake in Unchartered, the movie version of the PS3 game. Pitched as a mix of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and, em National Treasure (let’s ignore that bit) and will be directed by David O’Russell. Let’s just hope that Unchartered does better than Marky’s last adaptation, Max Payne, because a surname was never so accurate…

A Gas Film That’s No Laughing Matter: Interview with director of The Pipe, Risteard O’Domhnaill

INTERVIEW WITH RISTEARD O’DOMHNAILL

“I fell into TV by accident, I did theoretical physics in college, so it was a bit of a jump!” laughs Tipperary born director Risteard O’Domhnaill. “But I moved to Mayo in 2005, just working freelance really, and the Rossport protests were right down the road. I used to go down every morning, filming a bit and as I spent more time there, I just felt that there was just this sense of real injustice, as these locals had been abandoned by everyone and were being lambasted by the media, so I kept coming back. It was just curiosity really.”

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in this case it gave birth to The Pipe, O’Domnhaill’s compelling film about the Mayo community at the centre of the Rossport Shell to Sea controversy, when Shell Oil ignored not only local protesters but E.U regulations and legal injunctions, constructing a natural gas refinery and pipeline through this small rural community. Five local men were famously imprisoned in 2005 for their involvement in the protests, but this was merely the beginning of this David vs. Goliath battle, and it wasn’t until a year later that O’Domhnaill became involved. Continue reading

THE PIPE: David, Goliath & The Pipe.

REVIEW: THE PIPE
DIRECTED BY RISTEARD O’DOMHNAILL.
[83 MINS]
Opens December 3, IFI and The Lighthouse Cinema
RATING: FOUR/FIVE

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“An oil company vs. ordinary people.” This tagline invokes images of pretty actresses slumming it in denim and taking down large corporations with nothing but pure moxy as the Academy of Motion Pictures has a mass orgasm. But thankfully this is the only cliché present in Risteard O’Domhnaill’s thoroughly compelling film about Rossport’s Shell to Sea campaign.

Spanning over a decade, The Pipe begins with Winning Steak-standard graphics illustrating the layout of the Mayo village and the proposed pipeline. This animation suggests an amateurish technique, but as these disappear in favour of stunning views and aerial shots of this coast-side community, O’Domhnaill’s talent is clear. And as it’s revealed that Shell Oil are continuing with the construction, not only ignoring the community’s safety concerns about the pipeline but E.U regulations, a compelling David vs. Goliath battle ensues. Continue reading

SECRETARIAT: F*ck your political correctness, I’ve a horse outside…

REVIEW: SECRETARIAT
DIRECTED BY RANDALL WALLACE. STARRING DIANE LANE, JOHN MALKOVICH, AMANDA MICHALKA.
[116 MINS]
Opens December 3
RATING: TWO/FIVE

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There are many things wrong with Randall Wallace’s Secretariat. It’s overlong, schmaltzy, predictable (even for a true story), the dialogue is script-by-numbers, the score is ridiculous and features the usual caricatured and vaguely racist Disney stereotypes. Given that I originally thought Secretariat was a sexy, edgy S&M movie about James Spader and his pet mare, you can only imagine my disappointment.

It’s 1969 and Penny Chenery (Diane Lane, hidden under a bad wig and bizarrely distracting blue contacts) is a bland housewife who agrees to take over her ailing father’s stables despite her husband’s misgivings and a distinct lack of knowledge about horses. But that matters little, because she loses a coin toss and gets a horse no-one else wants, who just happens to turn out to be the best racehorse that ever lived. And that’s the theme of the film – goddamn luck. Penny doesn’t do anything apart from standing around in white kid-gloves spouting clichés like “You never know how far you can go unless you run”, while the horse’s eccentric trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich, aiming for comic relief by wearing silly hats) demonstrates his expertise by essentially saying “Dude, just let him be a horse. The horse knows, man. For serious.” To emphasize this point, there are several meaningful close-ups of the horse’s eyes which would have been incredibly moving had the horse been played by Michelle Williams and not a confused quadruped with no formal actor’s training. Continue reading

OF GODS AND MEN: Good God, Man…

REVIEW: OF GODS AND MEN
DIRECTED BY XAVIER BEAUVOIS. STARRING LAMBERT WILSON, MICHEL LONSDALE, OLIVIER RABOURDIN, PHILLIPPE LAUDENBACH, JACQUES HERLIN.
[122 MINS]
Opens December 3, IFI and The Lighthouse Cinema
RATING: TWO AND A HALF/FIVE

At one point during Xavier Beauvois’ philosophical drama Of Gods and Men, a Cistercian monk asserts that “We’re not martyrs,” but at times watching the film, I sure felt like one.

Based on true events, the film focuses on eight French monks living in a monastery in Algeria in the weeks before their kidnap and murder in March 1996. Tragic stuff indeed, but the religion-heavy, sombre tone of the film is so laboured that Of Gods and Men buckles under its own weight.


Looks like a party…

Co-existing harmoniously with the Islamic community, the monks live contentedly simple lives, and he ensemble cast are wonderful, imbuing the monks’ daily routines with a palpable serenity and subtle grace that’s lacking from Beauvois’ directing. Continue reading