JDIFF 2013: Call Girl

Lynn Larkin makes a call on Call Girl, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

Call Girl

Thurs, 21st February

Light House 1

20.20

 

For most good stories it seems reality wins out over fiction every time. Call Girl tells the story of underage prostitution in the world of high society. Hidden behind a curtain of glitz and glamour a truly painful and disturbing story of child grooming is unveiled.

Set in Stockholm in the late 1970s on the cusp of a Swedish scandal known as Bordellhärvan, the story is based around a shamefully corrupt world of politicians, prostitution, drugs, and stripping discotheques.  Iris Dahl (Sofia Karemyr) is a young adolescent girl who is living in a youth house for troubled teens when she is recruited into a sordid underworld with her friend. Dagmar Glans (Pernilla August) is at the heart of the recruitment, buying the girls clothes, giving them money and fuelling them with alcohol and drugs under the rouse of befriending and mothering the girls. This gives a very tangible and dark look into how grooming takes place with disconcerting ease for the abusers involved. There are scenes that make for somewhat difficult and uneasy viewing at times. It is shot fly-on-the-wall style, albeit one that could be swatted at any moment if discovered.

Casting was fantastic both for the believable performances and the non-conventional Hollywood glamorized body types we are all accustomed to seeing in movies nowadays, which works well with the film’s documentary style, however it could have moved along a lot faster. Understandably the director has shown the amount of time and effort that goes into grooming when money is at stake.

Dagmar Glans is portrayed as a successful and enigmatic woman loved by “her girls” and clients. Nevertheless she herself partakes not only in the “parties” but in prostitution which makes her quite perplexing but also intriguing. Unfortunately due to the underdevelopment of some of the main players and the missed opportunity to delve more into Glans’ world you’re left with lots of unanswered questions. This might have been the idea behind some of the choices in the film but obviously not all of them. I really wanted to know why Glans involved herself as much as she did in the repugnant lifestyle, we might have been able to empathise or understand her a little if this was explained slightly, instead, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to her!

Overall it works as whistle-blower type movie managing to shine a light on certain people in authority, surrounding the alleged illegal underage prostitution and sleazy activities occurring in the Swedish government department and high profile organizations.

Just keep in mind it’s a subtitled dark thriller. So, let’s just say, it’s not the type of film you’d go to see with popcorn and jellies in hand!

 Lynn Larkin

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JDIFF 2013: IFB Shorts Programme

 

Tess Motherway tries on a selection of IFB Shorts, which played at the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

IFB Shorts

Wed, 20th February
Light House 1
18.10
125 mins
The IFB’s shorts programme this year was an interesting mix.  There were the usual themes of family, relationships and death, but many took an almost wicked take on this, some even teetering on the bizarre.  One thing, however, that was certain, was the technical quality – each short excelled in sound and vision, something that, for a variety of reasons, does not always go hand in hand with short films.

 

The animation offerings were particularly impressive like Fear of Flying, a delightful short animation by Conor Finnegan about a bird who decides to avoid winter migration because of his fear of flying and Learning to Fish by Teemu Auersalo, a humorous but poignant take on consumerism portrayed through the plight of the urban seagull.  Perhaps the most noteworthy, however, was the opening short, Irish Folk Furniture by Tony Donoghue, a gorgeously (and painstakingly) made animated documentary about furniture-making and restoration in a small town in Tipperary.  It is just such a beautifully simple subject and masterfully made short, well deserving of its Best Animation in last years Sundance Film Festival.

 

There were a also good handful of short dramas on the programme, most notably Un Peu Plus by Conor Ferguson, a bitter sweet journey of an elderly womans love of confectionary and Homemade by Luke McManus, a darkly comic love story that takes home made baking to new heights.

 

Documentary also made a healthy appearance in the form of Laura McGanns The End of the Counter, a lament about the end of the small Irish corner shop, and with it, the personal shopping experience and Home a lovely and cleverly constructed portrait of six individuals talking about their first homes.

 

The IFB shorts programmes are always well attended, wherever they go, and the line-up in JDIFF was no exception.  People are interested, they respond to them, perhaps because they are a snap shot of what is funded in Ireland today.  Whatever the reason, long may it continue.

Tess Motherway

 

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JDIFF 2013: Milo

 

Matt Micucci runs away with Milo, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

Milo

Sat, 23rd  February
Cineworld 11
15.45
90mins

 

The Irish-Dutch co-production Milo is the tale of a boy with a mysterious skin condition which prevents him from living a normal life. One day, he decides runs away from home to join his class on a camping trip against his oppressive father’s wishes. The film boasts an impressive fragile central performance from 12-year-old debutant Lorcan Bonner as the titular character.

 

‘When we first heard of this story, we were totally drawn to it,’ says Roel Boorsma, the young Dutch filmmaker who directed Milo along with his brother Berend – both participating in the post-screening Q&A at Cineworld. ‘For me, this was a story about a boy who was lied to, and sets off on a journey of self discovery, having an impact on the lives of whoever he meets.’

 

Also in attendance was Martina Niland from Samson Films who still recalls the brothers’ pitch, ‘While they pitched, one was shaving the other. This made me think that working with them would have been a lot of fun.’

 

The story was originally to be set in the Netherlands, but Roel and Berend didn’t seem to mind the shift in location to Ireland. Indeed Berand was delighted admitting that ‘Ireland looks kind of hairy to me.’ He continued on to tell the audience that ‘The story is universal. The script work came close to taking two years. It was the lengthiest part of the project. We needed it to feel Irish.’

Niland recalled  approaching the Irish Film Board with the idea and ‘we became the minor financing partners, but the whole film was shot and cast here in Ireland. There was no big budget but Berend and Roel managed to make it look beautiful.’

 

Considering the small budget, and the fact that this film is the first feature length film by the young Dutch filmmakers, the photography is quite impressive. The theme of photography is also a key element in the story. Little Milo always has a polaroid camera around his neck. ‘Usually, everything is perfect in pictures,’ said Berand. ‘It’s a different and unique look at reality. But taking photographs is also his way to get closer to his peers, as he is always forced to look at them from a distance.’

 

For the brothers “It was a storyline we wanted to convey. It’s just as much a film for young people as it is for adults. We were very open and did not want to be restricted by boundaries. Also, we didn’t want to be judgemental. We like making non-judgemental films.’

 

As supporting characters, the film is enrichened by Jer O’Leary and Charlotte Bradley as an older Irish (what might have happened) version of Bonnie and Clyde, Star and Mickie, who ‘accidentally’ end up being the kid’s kidnappers, but eventually grow fond of him. Charlotte told the audience that ‘Playing Star was very different. She is very down to earth, optimistic and strong. Her acceptance of this kid and his condition is so pure .’

 

Milo, has enjoyed relative success on the festival circuit, picking up a special award at the Giffoni Film Festival, the world’s biggest children’s film festival which takes place every year in Italy. It was well received this Saturday in Dublin too. It’s an intense but imperfect film which manages to mix a certain darkness with moments of pure sweetness. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this film…

 

Matt Micucci

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkiDRYiv3RM

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JDIFF 2013: West of Memphis

Gordon Gaffney on the latest ‘West Memphis 3’ documentary West of Memphis, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

West of Memphis
Friday, 22nd February
Cineworld 11
18.00
147 mins

The documentary trilogy Paradise Lost dealt with the grisly murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, the trial and conviction of three teenagers for the killings, and the subsequent doubts raised of their guilt.

With a combined running time of 5 hours, and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky of Metallica documentary(and inadvertent comedy) Some Kind Of Monster fame, they were screened on HBO in 1996 and 2000. Part 3 was also released in cinemas in 2011 and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 2012.

Now we have what could be considered a fourth part. West of Memphis is directed by Amy Berg, best known for the harrowing sex abuse doc Deliver Us From Evil, but its producers have close ties to the grisly events of 1993.  Berg, and her producers, wisely spend as little time as possible going over the events from 1993 to about 2010, perhaps aware that not many people will wonder into theatres expecting an Elvis Presley biopic. Paradise Lost is acknowledged early on preparing the viewer for never-before-seen material.

Some of this new material is explosive, delving extensively into the background of ‘You-Know-Who’, which, perhaps coincidentally, led to a couple of walk-outs in my row at the screening.  The Paradise Lost series stirred many celebrities into fighting the West Memphis 3’s cause,  in particular Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Peter Jackson who both feature heavily here.

An infuriating jaw-dropping work, one gets the feeling that this is not the end of documentaries on this subject. The four films have a total running time of seven and half hours and as Will Ferrell’s James Lipton would say ‘If you haven’t seen it, rent it, watch it, put it in a locked cabinet for a year, then watch it again, it will change.. your …life.’

Gordon Gaffney

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JDIFF 2013: ‘Broken Song’ review

 

Steven Galvin nods his head to Broken Song, which played at the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

Broken Song

Tue, 19th February
IFI 1
18.10
66 mins

Broken Song is a documentary about hip-hop artists and songwriters from north Dublin. Funded through the Reel Art Scheme, Claire Dix’s documentary shines a light on and into these musicians and how they make sense of the world around them.

The film introduces us to two rappers, GI and Costello, who mentor some of the younger kids of their community, encouraging them to express themselves through rap, achieve a sense of self knowledge  and offer them a positive path in life. The opening scenes around Finglas and Ballymun play like a sort of hedge school for young rappers with young lads approaching Costello and GI, rapping for them and learning from their advice. In particular one teenager whose initial lyrics of hilarious sexual bravado has by the end of the film been superseded by thoughtful social insights.

The documentary focuses on the words behind the beats showcasing the remarkable range of poetic lyricism of hip hop in Dublin. As the documentary progresses, the focus shifts onto singer/songwriter Willa Lee, who brings a soulful voice to proceedings singing with a sweet tenderness and the film follows his journey away from a past of crime and drugs towards a brighter future and possible music career. Dix’s use of shades of black and white play on the film’s running theme of movement from dark to light.

In the post-screening Q&Q Dix told the audience how she met GI and Costello in the Reco, Ballymun’s Central Youth Facility and was “blown away” after hearing them rap acapella. She immediately knew that it was “something I wanted to explore”. And so herself and producer Nodlag Houlihan set about crafting the documentary together. Nodhlag joined Claire for the Q&A, as did Costello and Willa Lee, who naturally treated the assembled to some rhymes.

Broken Song is impressively shot by Richard Hendricks and Dix has to be commended for disappearing behind the camera, which lends the documentary its natural feel, things never come across forced and, more importantly, allows those with the words in the film be the voice of the film. It stands as a beautiful observational documentary that achieves an intimicy that feels genuine, which strengthens all the more the spiritual message that is at the film’s core and is a testament to the creative freedom that the Reel Art Scheme exists to support.

Steven Galvin

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JDIFF 2013: Pablo

 

Michelle Cunningham gets drawn into the world of Pablo, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

Pablo

Tue, 19th February
Light House 2
18.05
93mins

Pablo is a beautifully made film documenting the life and works of Pablo Ferro, a self-taught animator, celebrated film title designer, who comes across as quite an endearing and modest artist. Pablo began his career as a cinema usher after moving to the US from Cuba at the age of 12. He then went on to create commercials, design graphic novels and work with animators such as Stan Lee, the editor of Marvel comics. Pablo was a pioneer of quick-cut editing, “multiple screen” (famously used for the first time in the original Thomas Crown Affair) and counts the phenomenal trailer and opening title for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove among his best known work.

This documentary combines live action, old archive footage, photographs, animation and collage of images to tell the personal and professional story of Ferro. Throughout the film Ferro maintains a background presence; a passive genius interpreting a lifetime of events as history speeds by.

The laid back style of Jeff Bridges narration suits Goldgewicht’s documentary perfectly. Various anecdotes about Ferro from cinematic icons such as Angelica Huston and Jon Voight and artistic icons such as Stan Lee and Steven Heller engage the audience from the outset.

As well as documenting his amazing body of work at a professional level, there are also little pieces of personal history woven into the story, through interviews with his ex-wife, children and friends. There are beautiful animated montages illustrating what life was like in his apartment in New York during the 60s. The apartment appears as a socialites’ hub, and a den of sex, drugs and everything else that was prevalent in the bohemian culture of the 60s as well as the place where he mysteriously gets shot in the neck.

During the Q&A after the screening Richard Goldgewicht described how the structure of the film came about. The film took over 5 years to make, beginning as a series of interviews with Pablo which were originally meant for a tv series. Initially it was just 40 interviews, then came the narrative ‘and who better than the dude to do it’ – (said of Jeff Bridges), followed by the animated pieces and archive footage. Goldgewicht described how fantastic it is in America with regards to copyright of material and how he could use Clockwork Orange footage in his film and as long as he stated ‘copyright by’…he could use any footage he wanted. This, he said is a huge benefit to documentary makers in the states as not many other countries have this luxury.

Regarding this particular style of film Goldgewicht described the blending of media as a contemporary approach to filmmaking and many of the animated scenes were born out of necessity rather than a wholly planned part of the film.

There was also a certain process of Pablos ‘coming around’ to the idea of the movie. He does feature quite regularly throughout the film but wasn’t very forthcoming with all the details of his personal life – Goldgewicht discovered quite a lot from his interviews with Ferros ex-wife, friends and children.

A groundbreaking visionary, the embodiement of the American dream, the classic tale of the rags to riches immigrant, the rise and fall of American cinema, there is much going on in Richard Goldgewicht’s biopic of Pablo Ferro. Yet the way this story is told both visually and through the narrative thoroughly entertains and captivates the audience. This documentary would be of particular interest to those in the film industry, the design industry and the animation industry but primarily it is an interesting story of a man’s life during a revolutionary time in the worlds of art culture and politics.

Michelle Cunningham

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JDIFF 2013: The Look of Love

Gordon Gaffney on The Look of Love, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

The Look of Love

Thursday, 21st  February
Cineworld
18.15
101mins

The Look of Love sees Steve Coogan team up with director Michael Winterbottom for the first time since 24 Hour Party People in 2002.  It tells the story of Paul Raymond “The King of Soho” who opened Britain’s first strip club and went onto become Britain’s richest man in the early 90s.  If This is 40 is the sorta sequel to Knocked Up then The Look of Love is the sorta half-sibling of 24 Hour Party People.

 

Coogan again plays a charismatic impresario, and the film beautifully evokes the swinging 60s, the glamorous 70s and heady 80s much like the Madchester indie/dance music scene of the 80’s and 90s in 24 Hour Party People. The script from Matt Greenhalgh, while sometimes witty, doesn’t explain as much about Raymond’s motivation and background to the events portrayed which makes the narrative less gripping than 24 Hour Party People. The latter also had the benefit of Coogan’s voiceover explaining important characters and events as they appeared on screen.

 

Coogan is excellent as Raymond, a selfish, charismatic, emotionally distant, successful businessman whose cruel treatment of his family seemed eerily similar to Apple’s Steve Jobs. He is helped by a solid supporting cast in particular Imogen Poots as his troubled daughter Debbie and a host of cameos from some of Britain and Ireland’s best known stars.

 

A sometimes inspirational but tragic story which captures the decadence of the man’s life and may well lead to plenty of NSFW Googling to learn more. Ideal family viewing for those as dysfunctionally liberal as the Raymonds.

Gordon Gaffney
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JDIFF 2013: Jump

 

Lynn Larkin takes a look at Jump, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

Jump

Tue, 19th February
Light House 1
21.00
82 mins

Jump opens with some beautiful colourful shots of Derry, which are accompanied by the VO of our main character Greta (Nichola Burley). She is battling deep depression surrounding her life due to the people closest to her. This black comedy tackles the very serious issue of suicide, while maintaining the story’s entertainment factor.

The backdrop for Jump is Derry and it’s New Year’s Eve. Just like the title, the story jumps and intertwines three stories throughout the film.

Standing on top of the stunningly shot Derry Peace Bridge is ‘our’ Greta deciding if she can muster up the courage to bungee off minus the cord but with her makeshift wings in tow. Her concentration is distracted when her knight in torn and blood-stained armour shows up in the form of Pearse Kelly (Martin McCann). However, this damsel is in no mood to be rescued. The two exchange heated words to find they share a common interest. Their hatred for local gangster Frank Feeney (Lalor Roddy), who just happens to be Greta’s father. The two set off into the night with a creative adventure in mind.

The film’s fast-paced tempo keeps you locked in the story from start to finish. Some of the secondary characters could have featured a little more. Good-time players Marie and Dara’s one-liners and unusual scenarios the pair find themselves in throughout the course of the night are hilarious.

The passionate UK-born director Kieron J. Walsh spoke after the screening with a small Q&A. The inspiration for Jump came to him after he heard that someone he admired and looked up to mention that ‘A story always needs a beginning, middle and end. However, not exactly in that order.’

This really sums up what Walsh did with this movie, making it a fresh and pleasant watch. He spoke about why he chose Derry, not only for its beautifully magnetic Derry Peace Bridge; but since everyone in Derry dresses up in costume for all major events, not just at Halloween, it was the obvious choice.

Jump is endearing and enchanting; words I didn’t think I’d use to describe a dark comic crime thriller that tackles the topic of suicide… but there you go; life’s full of surprises, just like the movie.

Take a leap of faith and Jump, it’s a free-fall extravaganza.

Lynn Larkin

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