Monthly Archives: November 2011

TAKE SHELTER: A dreadful experience. In a good way.

TAKE SHELTER
Directed by Jeff Nichols. Starring Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Kathy Baker. 120 mins.
Rating: Four/Five
In cinemas now
MICHAEL SHANNON CAPTIVATES IN A TENSE, ATMOSPHERIC EXPLORATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS

“Dreadful.” It’s one of those words that has been simplified over time from an evocative expression into a slight, overused adjective. And yet “dreadful”, in its original form is the most accurate description of Jeff Nicols’ tense, beautifully constructed and deeply unsettling examination of family, mental illness and yes, the devastating, unshakeable effects of dread.

Leading man Michael Shannon proved a disconcerting but spellbinding presence in Revolutionary Road, and yet again he plays a disturbed man who’s still brave enough to say what no-one wants to hear. Curtis LaForche (Shannon) is a quiet, unassuming blue-collar worker living a simple but idyllic life with his beautiful wife (Jessica Chastain) and adoring daughter. But when Curtis begins having disturbing dreams about an impending storm, it’s unclear whether his visions are religious prophecies, manifestations of general anxiety or the first symptoms of the paranoid schizophrenia that plagued his mother.

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50/50: Half comedy, half drama, completely wonderful

50/50
Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogan, Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard.100 mins.
Rating: Five/Five
In cinemas now
HILARIOUS AND HEARTBREAKING CANCER TALE IS THE MOST LIFE-AFFIRMING FILM OF THE YEAR

As a general rule, I’m not a crier. A mix of press screening professionalism, general cynicism and a black, black stone where my heart should be means that I scoffed through The Notebook and responded to the new John Lewis advert with the Ultimate Ebenezer Scrooge observation of “Yeah, but the kid’s like four, the present’s probably crap.”

During 50/50, I sobbed. Openly. Loudly. Repeatedly. Not because there are dramatic speeches, or rain-soaked love declarations, or the emotional dam-opening death of a beloved pet. But because, well, it’s goddamn cancer. What else can you do?

It’s a question asked by all of 50/50’s characters. Loosely based on the experience of writer Will Reiser and friend Seth Rogan, Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Adam, a meek 27 year old so safety conscious that he refuses to drive. So when he’s diagnosed with a vicious form of cancer, he numbly attempts to survive, while everyone around him quietly falls apart. His best friend, beautifully, gorgeously played by Rogan, goes into autopilot clown mode, constantly trying to get Adam laid. His obsessive mother (a terrific Anjelicia Huston) smothers Adam, while his 24 year old trainee therapist (Anna Kendrick) finds herself at a loss to deal with this beautiful boy who’s walked into her office asking for help. There’s a devastating honesty to each performance as everyone scrambles to figure out what to do in a situation where nothing can be done.

Together with The Wackness director Jonathan Levine, Reiser has created a disarmingly honest and personal film that’s simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, Oozing the kind of chest-tightening resonance that can only come from real experience, 50/50 is never overwrought, maudlin or melodramatic, merely a gorgeously crafted story of flawed, quirk-filled and funny individuals who may not all have cancer, but are still its victims.

Screw cynicism and screw cancer. Watch this, cry and love life.

See the trailer here.

TWILIGHT:BREAKING DAWN. I give up.

Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner. 117 mins.
In cinemas now.
Rating: One/Five

The most telling sequence of this Twilight:Breaking Dawn is when Bella (Kristen Stewart, in case you’ve been living in a cave) and Edward (Robert “OMG Bite Me Edward, Bite Me!” Pattinson) go on their honeymoon. For once in the series, they’re together and blissfully happy, as there are no werewolves, Muggles, Deatheaters, Orcs or Mormons – oh, sorry Meyer, forgot about you – threatening to whip their shirts off and challenge them to a stare-off. And it’s the most boring goddamn sequence in the entire trilogy. Because these two individuals don’t have personalities, interests, desires or ambitions that stretch beyond each other and have a relationship entirely based on traumatic circumstances – didn’t they listen to Sandra Bullock’s unquestionable wisdom in Speed?? And so they have a silent montage where they play chess and sit around until the sheer tedium forces Bella to literally beg Emo Boy to have sex with her, because even though it’d hurt (because apparently when it comes to their favourite past-times – baseball & doin’ the nasty – vampires like it in the rough), it’d mean that something was actually happening.

Trust me Bella, we all felt your pain.

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IFI French Film Festival kicks off tonight!


The 2011 IFI French Film Festival Gala Opening screening of The Bird with special guest Yves Caumon kicks off 12 days of the highlights from Cannes and Venice, French classics, a special French menu and a host of industry VIPs.

16th-27th November 2011

The IFI French Film Festival gets off to a glamorous start tonight with the Gala Opening screening of The Bird, a tender drama of a woman coming to terms with grief featuring a stunning performance from Sandrine Kiberlain. The film’s director Yves Caumon will attend and will be taking part in a Q+A before the reception starts.

For 12 days the IFI will be once more transforming itself into Dublin’s Gallic hub with a wide range of special guests coming to present their work and discuss French cinema. Special Guest highlights will include veteran character actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin presenting Early One Morning, major critic Michel Ciment interviewing leading French filmmaker Claude Miller during a focus on his recent work, Philippe Ramos presenting his new take on an iconic subject of French history The Silence of Joan, and Luce Vigo presenting a selection of winners of the innovative Prix Jean Vigo – the prize named after her legendary filmmaker father.

Other familiar faces to French film fans to watch out for in the Festival include Catherine Deneuve acting in His Mother’s Eyes and Beloved, Sandrine Kiberlain in The Bird and Service Entrance and Chiara Mastroianni in Beloved.

Alongside these veterans there are two particularly astonishing newcomers; the heart-wrenching turn from 11-year old Thomas Doret in the Dardenne brothers’ Cannes hit The Kid with the Bike and Yahima Torres’ riveting debut in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Black Venus as Sarah Baartman, an enslaved African who was exhibited around 19th century Europe.

Alongside new acting talent, the three films in the First-Time Directors strand present a vibrant picture of the up and coming generation of French filmmakers: Simon Werner’s Lights Out follows the aftermath of a high school abduction, Roland Edzard’s The End of Silence follows a hunting trip tinged with vengeance, and Cyril Mennegun’s debut drama Louise Wimmer is a bleak but dignified look at a struggling divorcee.

Another excellent IFI French Film Festival programme should provide plenty for fans of French cinema, culture, style and sophistication to enjoy so don’t miss out! Check out the full programme on www.ifi.ie/french2011 or pick up a brochure at the IFI. Continue reading

IN TIME: Where ageing stops at 25, & a minute lasts a lifetime

IN TIME
Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde. 109 mins.
Rating: Two/Five
In cinemas November 11
DULL AND PREDICTABLE SCI-FI THRILLER WILL KEEP YOU LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH

A dystopian thriller that attempts to be timely examination of greed, socialism and the ever-lasting appeal of youthful-looking skin, In Time had the makings of a brilliant and timely sci-fi thriller But unlike Andrew Niccol’s previous efforts (the sublime The Truman Show and Gattaca), his brilliant core concept rapidly disintegrates into a mess of dull cliché.

In a retro-future world where time is literally money, aging stops at 25. From then on time must be earned, and added to your life span. The poor will die within a year, unless they can earn, beg or steal the time. The rich can live indefinitely.

It’s a simple concept, brilliantly realized – for the first forty minutes anyway. The harsh lifestyle is presented starkly, as portions of people’s lifespans are exchanged for food, transport, time with prostitutes, with the bleak, survivalist tones creating a chilling atmosphere similar to Alfonzo Cuaron’s Children of Men. The huge divide between the time-laden bourgeoisie and the constantly fearful ghettos not only offers plenty of sci-fi allegories to please the Occupy Wall Street, but interesting insights into the effect of wealth upon behaviour. When poorboy Will (Justin Timberlake) is suddenly bestowed with huge amounts of time, allowing him to move up in society, his constantly rushed behaviours becomes a tell-tale sign of his background – an interesting take on nouveau riche mannerisms.

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ROBERT PATTINSON TALKS TWILIGHT:BREAKING DAWN

ROBERT PATTINSON
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1

With the first part of the final Twilight instalment hitting our cinemas this month, we caught up with Robert Pattinson to see how he was feeling now that Edward Cullen will no longer be a part of his life….

Are you sad that it’s all over now?
I don’t know yet. I feel like I have been in a whirlwind for so long that I don’t really know. I feel like I have been doing it for years constantly, even though I have done other movies in between, because whenever you do and promote or talk about another movie, you’re always talking about Twilight, so it is kind of constant. But I don’t know. Maybe in a year or so. I know when the last one has come out, it will be, but I know right now I have another year of basically doing Twilight stuff.

Do you look forward to the hype all being over and you can get back to doing other things?
Yeah, but it’s always a good thing to have a bit of hype, especially nowadays. But I don’t know. I will be interested to see how people perceive me in a couple of years, because it seems as though people have been talking about the same stuff about me for about three years now, so I am wondering how long that will go on for. But I don’t really know how to predict anything.

How did you prepare for Edward and Bella becoming parents in this film? Did you draw on anything from your own childhood?
Not really. No-one really knows how to be a father when you first begin – there’s no way to prepare for it. And it’s very easy to react to holding a baby, especially when the baby is looking like a newborn and you have just delivered it – it’s very simple, as it’s just crying in your hands, so you end up being very careful with it and stuff. But it is strange when Mackenzie (Foy) starts playing Renesmee, as you suddenly have to think, “My daughter is now 11. It’s two months after she is born and she can speak.” So that was a complicated thing to play. But it’s a fantasy movie, so I guess you just go along with it. It is the ultimate fantasty, I guess, to some people, that you can avoid all the annoying parts of having a kid, if they’re already fending for themselves. It’s like having a puppy. Just leave it alone and thank you very much.

Trust me, it’s nothing like having a puppy.
That’s what I keep saying in other interviews that, “It’s just like raising a dog, it’s the same thing, you’ve just got to leave it alone and tell it to go to the toilet outside.”

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SENSATION: How we feel about sex and love

SENSATION
Directed by Tom Hall. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Luanne Gordon, Patrick Ryan, Kelly Campbell, Owen Roe. 107 mins.
Rating: Four/Five
In cinemas November 4
DOMHANLL GLEESON SHINES IN SMART, DARKLY FUNNY EXAMINATION OF SEX AND LONELINESS

From the opening scene of Sensation, in which Donal (Domhnall Gleeson) sneaks off to masturbate in a field, Tom Hall’s quirky, darkly funny film appears to be a definitive tale of sexual awakening. But when Donal forges a connection with jaded prostitute Kim (Luanne Gordon), it becomes clear that while this awkward farmboy may have little experience of sex, it’s intimacy that will become the transformative power in his life.

Nicely straddling a realistic middle ground between Julia Roberts’ rainbows and unicorns, happy-ever-after prostitution parable and the current trend for harrowing torture-porn portrayals, Tom Hall wisely avoids simplifying the complex politics of prostitution. Though Donal and Kim’s interactions demonstrate a genuine affection, they never escape the origins of their relationship as they continue to exploit each other for sex, money and escape from their shared loneliness.

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