Monthly Archives: April 2011

PINA: Wim Wenders’ evocative dance documentary is a thing of beauty

PINA
Directed by Wim Wenders. Starring Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo, Ruth Amarante. 106 mins.
In cinemas April 22
Rating: Four/Five

As visionary director Wim Wenders celebrates the work of choreographer Pina Baush, two iconic artists are brought together to create a thing of absolute beauty. This hypnotic documentary displays the incredible skill of both individuals, and ended leaving me so punch-drunk that, far from wanting to dance, I just wanted to stay in my seat. And maybe watch it again.

Centred around four of Bausch’s most celebrated pieces, the dances are given little or no context, and only two are even named. But as sleepwalking couples navigate through a maze of tables and chairs in ‘Café Müller’; as men and women stomp towards each other in the thrilling ‘The Rite of Spring’, and as couples throw and catch each other with breath-taking ease, their meaning is clear, and the tumultuous relationship between men and women is perfectly evoked in all its yearning glory.
Continue reading

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC: Whimsical but even, this French fancy is quite ordinary indeed.


THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC
Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche, Jean-Paul Rouve. 107 mins.
In cinemas April 29
Rating: Three/Five

Once revered as one of the masters of cinema du look, Luc Besson seemed to effortlessly cross over into the slick world of Hollywood in the 1990s with Leon and The Fifth Element. But judging by his very uneven new feature, it seems that all that culture-crossing may have caused a bit of an identity crisis.

An adaption of the famous (well, in France) comic books, Besson’s film is based around Adèle (Louise Bourgoin), a writer and explorer who’s determined to cure her ailing sister by reviving the physician of a Pharaoh. Following a wild tomb raid, she brings the mummified doctor back to Paris, where she’s hoping physicist Professor Espérandieu can harness his newly-discovered powers to bring him back from the dead. Unfortunately the scientist has troubles of his own – he’s unwittingly brought a pterodactyl back to life and has to stop it from terrorizing the entire city.

It’s as outrageous as it sounds, and often wonderfully. Continue reading

ARTHUR: Unoriginal remake is rom-com by numbers, but does have a specific brand of charm

ARTHUR
Directed by Jason Winer. Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner. 110 mins.
Rating: Two/Five
In cinemas April 22
LIKE ITS STAR, THIS UNORIGINAL REMAKE WILL BE HATED BY MANY, BUT DOES HAVE A CERTAIN BRAND OF CHARM

A stubborn refusal to follow the crowd has not always served me well, as numerous photo albums displaying my long-held belief that parachute pants were cool can demonstrate. So I fear that in years (or days) to come, I’ll look back at this review and cringe, wishing I had gone with popular opinion, but so be it. Deep breath: Arthur – though not good – isn’t all bad, either.

Russell Brand stars as Arthur, a playboy billionaire who fills his days with expensive drinks and cheap women. But after disgracing the family one too many times, Arthur is issued with an ultimatum: marry the sociopathic and gold-digging socialite Susan (Jennifer Garner) or be cut off from his inheritance. But Arthur has just fallen for the charming but penniless Naomi (Greta Gerwig.) Will he give up his fortune to follow his heart?

Of course he will, it’s a rom-com. And it’s the most hackneyed rom-com out there, with Garner awkwardly playing the embarrassingly clichéd villain as Helen Mirren takes over Michael Caine’s usual role as Arthur’s brusque but loving nanny. Continue reading

INSIDIOUS: Though short on real scare, this haunted house horror still entertains

INSIDIOUS
Directed by James Wan. Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell. 103 mins.
In cinemas April 29
Rating: Three/Five

Just as it will undoubtedly please many to hear that latest feature from the team behind Saw is not the gore-heavy torture porn of their debut, it will surprise few to hear that it’s not exactly a subtle affair. On the contrary, Insidious provides such an onslaught of possessed children, creaking floorboards, screeching violin music, scary old women and demonic figures that the experience is akin to walking through a funfair’s haunted house.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have just moved into an old Victorian house when their eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls and hits his head. Though initially fine, the next morning he won’t wake up, and after three months of inexplicable unconsciousness, doctors give up, allowing him to be cared for by his parents. But when Dalton comes home, a strange presence seems to accompany him. Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor and catching glimpses of shadowy figures, while at night doors fling open without cause as the grandfather clock ticks on.
Continue reading

HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER: Tense Russian anti-drama highlights the danger of all work and no play

HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER
Directed by Aleksai Popogrebsky. Starring Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis. 124 mins.
Rating: Three/Five
In cinemas April 22

Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin) and Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis) have been stationed at a meteorological station in the polar tundra for far too long. While veteran Sergei has mastered the art of survival in the barren landscape, approaching the monotonous work with diligent, routine care, it’s clear that his airheaded young partner can’t do the same. Easily distracted and quick to sulk when his co-worker scolds him, Pavel’s maturity is put to the test when Sergei leaves on a fishing trip. Receiving a message via a two-way radio, the workers’ only connection to the outside world, Pavel discovers that Sergei’s family have been killed. But Pavel can’t bring himself to break the news, and a nerve-wracking waiting game begins as he fears Sergei’s inevitable discovery and reaction.

In this tense anti-drama, director Aleksai Popogrebsky’s spends a lot of time not only focusing on the landscape itself, but the ironically claustrophobic inertia and tedium that the vast, desolate landscapes create. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and the harsh surroundings become the perfect setting for – and indeed, believable cause of – the characters’ extreme journey.
Continue reading

The Lighthouse Cinema to be wound up.

My favourite cinema, & indeed one of my favourite spots in the city, is set to close following a wind-up order made by The High Court. This announcement comes after weeks of uncertainty after landlord John Flynn had threatened to close to cinema when it couldn’t pay its annualrent, which had doubled in the past year. This article from RTE gives all the details surrounding the case:

The High Court has made an order winding up the Light House Cinema in Smithfield.

The petition to wind up the cinema was issued by its landlord, John Flynn following a dispute over rent. The cinema said Mr Flynn doubled the annual rent from €100,000 to €200,000 in May last year and said it was not in a position to pay the increased rent. Continue reading

A Knight with Danny McBride: Danny Boy comes to Dublin

To celebrate the release of Your Highness, the new comedy from the director of Pineapple Express, star Danny McBride came to Dublin for a special screening & Q&A in Cineworld. And the affable star even joined us for a drink after the screening, proving that his character Thadeous isn’t the only one who likes a laugh & a drink.

The actor, best known for his roles in Pineapple Express, Eastbound & Down and Tropic Thunder, revealed that the idea for Your Highness had come up during a game with friend and director David Gordon Green. “David & I went to film school together & one film nerd game we used to play was that one of us would come up with a title & the other would have to guess what the movie was about. So we were on the set of All the Real Girls and he said, ‘Okay,the film is Your Highness.’ So I was like ‘Okay, Your Highness is about a prince who gets stoned and fucks dragons’… & that was it! I mean, we’ve done that a million times & never once has it actually been made into a film where I get to kiss Natalie Portman!” Continue reading

YOUR HIGHNESS: Bow down to the King of low-brow

YOUR HIGHNESS
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux. 102 mins.
Rating: Three and a half/Five
In cinemas April 13

Watching a film in a cinema full of film critics, most of whom are middle-aged intellectuals (or wannabe-pseudo-intellectuals) can be a somewhat odd experience. As general rule, most normal cinema behaviour like eating popcorn or trying to make out with people in the back row is frowned upon…or met with a restraining order. (Sorry about that, Critic Who Can Not be Named For Legal Reasons, obscure German documentaries just get me in the mood.) It also means that if you forget that you’re in a room full of people who are paid to be judgemental and laugh hysterically at crude, childish jokes that everyone else seems to be far too sophisticated for, you will face their pitying stares after.

Well, after Your Highness, I’m certain that I’m never going to be invited to indulge in some brandy and friendly debating about the merits of exploring sexual deviancy in new French extremity in a private library you can only using the secret password ‘Leni Riefenstahl.’ Because Your Highness is absurdly stupid, crude and vulgar…and made me laugh like a loon.

Continue reading

IFI launches their film club, The Critical Take

The IFI launches its new monthly film club The Critical Take on April 27.

This April the IFI is launching a brand new film discussion club that brings audiences together with critics, filmmakers and programmers to discuss new releases, seasons, and re-releases of classic films from the IFI programme. Each month three films to be discussed at The Critical Take will be selected and listed in the monthly programme. A panel of three (normally an IFI programmer, a filmmaker and a film critic) will kick things off followed by a very informal and open discussion with everyone present who’d like to discuss and compare notes on their recent film experiences.

The films selected for April are a varied selection that takes in The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog’s characteristically eccentric documentary about the Chauvet Cave paintings which was the IFI’s first 3D film; Before the Revolution (1964), Bernardo Bertolucci’s early work that bristles with youth, politics and sensuality; and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing, the second film since his return to filmmaking and notable for its astonishing wordless performance from Vincent Gallo.

This month’s panel features the IFI’s very experienced Cinemas Manager and key programmer Peter Walsh, film critic Paul Lynch, and producer Katie Holly of Bl!nder films whose new film One Hundred Mornings will be released on May 6th.

This event is FREE but ticketed. Please contact Box Office on 01 679 3477 to book your seat. Watch out for details of May’s film selection in next month’s programme.

SNAP: A HARROWING FAMILY PORTRAIT

SNAP
Directed by Carmel Winters. Starring Aisling O Sullivan, Stephen Moran, Eileen Walsh, Mick Lally. 86 mins.
Rating: Four and a half/Five
In cinemas April 8.

From Snap’s opening shots, where sepia-tinted footage of a child’s birthday is accompanied by the eeriest rendition of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ ever heard, the atmosphere is thick with tension. It’s clear that some family secrets should be permanently erased from memory.

Three years after teenager Stephen (Stephen Moran) kidnapped a toddler, a documentary film crew begin to interview his mother Sandra (Aisling O’Sullivan.) A caustic woman with a piercing stare, Sandra relishes her role as the media’s favourite soulless matriarch. “I never wanted to be a mother,” she states. “Nothing personal.” But Sandra’s emotional detachment from Stephen is clearly a coping mechanism. As she despondently asks “Five days he had that kid – and for what?”, it’s clear that she doesn’t really want to know the answer. Being confused about her son’s motivations is less terrifying than knowing exactly what he’s capable of.
Continue reading