Eat Your Children – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Alisande Healy Orme looks at the nature of Irish protest in Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary’s documentary Eat Your Children, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

Taking its name from Jonathan Swift’s 1729 satirical essay A Modest Proposal – in which the author suggested that the impoverished Irish population sell their young as a foodstuff to the wealthy as a way to alleviate the dire economic conditions of the time – ex-patriot Irish women Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary’s documentary Eat Your Children examines whether Ireland today is too inactive when it comes to political protest.

 

The reputation of the Irish abroad is that of the “fighting Irish” – one of a people who have never been afraid of protest and taking up arms when necessary. Here, O’Brien and O’Leary ask why the nation has not done so in the face of austerity measures that will cripple at least the next two generations to come. Unsurprisingly, though interesting, the tightly-budgeted film is not the most cheerful to watch.

 

Taking the form of a road-trip around the country, Eat Your Children has its makers meet with activists, economists, sociologists and members of the public who outline Ireland’s history of protest and how, in spite of it, the country today can appear apathetic or even complacent in the face of constant constraints and demands put upon it by politicians from across Europe.

 

Interviews with members of the public reveal a state of indifference that hinges on a two-pronged, thoroughly depressing consensus: they feel that any protest would make little to no difference anyway, and are planning to take another route that has long-served the impoverished of this country well – emigration in order to seek work.

 

Granted, there’s nothing revelatory in these disclosures (they’re certainly nothing you haven’t heard down the pub) but these sad facts of modern Irish identity are only rendered more strongly when shown alongside historical footage and accounts of how direct action benefitted citizens of this country in the past. It’s to be hoped that when it comes to future protests the filmmakers prediction that “this is not the end” holds true.

 

Eat Your Children screened on Sunday, 22nd March 2015 at the Screen Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dior and I

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DIR/WRI: Frederic Tcheng •  PRO: Guillaume de Roquemaurel • DOP: Gilles Piquard • ED: Julio Perez IV • MUS: Ha-Yang Kim • CAST: Raf Simons, Marion Cotillard, Anna Wintour

Fashion film is by its very nature tricky. Anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada will know from editor Miranda Preistley’s ice-cold dressing down of would-be “serious journalist” Andy Sachs (Meryl Streep and Ann Hathaway in decidedly realistic representations of the magazine industry) that we are all in some ways victims of the fashion industry. From underpaid Asian factory workers to top-end designers, not to mention those of us who languish somewhere between, we all, if only occasionally, need to find something to wear.

The tricky nature of capturing fashion on film comes then not from our reluctance to embrace the industry – the majority of us do need to be clothed and so don’t have that particular luxury – but from the fact that the design, manufacture and modelling of clothes is, in and of itself, really bloody boring. What makes a good fashion film is not the garments we see but the combined force of fabulous money and (sometimes breathtakingly awful) personalities on which the industry appears to turn. Like The Devil Wears Prada, The September Issue was interesting not because working for magazines is fun and fabulous (it’s rarely either) but because the personalities that captain those ships – be they the fictional Priestley or the very real Anna Wintour and her occasionally surreal counterpoint Grace Coddington – appear to be the kind of people one does not encounter every day.

Dior and I should have been a dream addition to this genre. The film concentrates on the arrival of renowned Belgian designer Raf Simons at fashion house Christian Dior. The Dior label, founded in 1946, is considered to be one of the most influential of the twentieth century, home as it was to its eponymous founders “New Look” collection that came to define glamour after the second world war. More recently though, and in a way that has unpleasant echoes of that period, the label was mired in controversy when its Simons’ predecessor John Galliano found himself disgraced for making anti-semitic remarks in a Paris bar.

The dismissal of Galliano, a man considered a genius by those in the industry, was a crucial turning point for Dior and so it is decidedly odd that a film about the fashion house entirely neglects to mention it, preferring to concentrate on modern footage of Simons and archive footage of Christian Dior himself. Granted, both are interesting men with strong visions but in a time where anti-semitism is on the rise again it seems careless of the filmmakers not to mention how Simons came to inherit his current mantle. Perhaps it was a condition placed upon director Frederic Tcheng by the fashion house or perhaps Galliano himself refused to take part or allow his creations to. Either way, his non-presence leaves an all too visible blank space on this film.

Alisande Healy Orme


12A (See IFCO for details)
89 minutes

Dior and I is released 27th March 2015

Dior and I– Official Website

 

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Cinderella

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DIR: Kenneth Branagh • WRI: Chris Weitz • PRO: David Barron, Simon Kinberg, Allison Shearmur • DOP: Haris Zambarloukos • ED: Martin Walsh • MUS: Patrick Doyle • DES: Dante Ferretti • CAST: Lily James, Hayley Atwell, Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett

For viewers who are au fait with recent animation and fairy tale adaptations aimed at young children, Cinderella may come as something of a shock. Here, there are no winking jokes and pop culture references to keep parents entertained while their offspring awe at flashing images and oscillating soundtracks that will improve impossible-to-evade for years to come. No, what writer Chris Weitz and director Kenneth Branagh present us with here is a film that prefers to get by on its charm alone.

Charming it is. From the settings, which owe as much to the Jane Cocteau’s 1946 film La Belle et La Bete, as they do to the legacy of Marie Antoinette and Belle Epoque-era France, to Cinderella and Prince Charming, this is a film that entertains its audience by being as pleasing and inoffensive as possible.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course, but Cinders’ compliancy with the demands of her controlling step-mother – masterfully played here by Cate Blanchett – and idiotic step-sisters does seem questionable to modern audiences raised in the post-feminist, post-Bechdel test era. Why in God’s name does she put up with them without at least resorting to passive aggression? To honour her deceased mother’s advice to always be to kind in this situation is to allow herself to be, at the very, least used.

It is the job of Downton Abbey alumna Lily James, who plays Cinderella, then to convince viewers that her core goodness is such that in spite of such treatment her spirit will never be broken. James is an excellent choice for Cinderella possessed with the kind of pure-skinned beauty and seeming lack of guile that could very much belong to both country girl and princess, and could no doubt charm a Prince into searching a kingdom for her.

Audience members aware of the fairy tale’s original metaphorical use for the glass slipper being the perfect fit for Cinderella’s dainty feet (they have sex) will no doubt be rewarded by the breathy ecstasy exhibited by James when Scots actor Richard Madden as the Prince (or ‘Kit’ as he prefers and if you really must) places the shoe on her foot. Perfectly safe for children to watch, it’s snortingly amusing in context.

Other joys to behold are the costumes worn by Cate Blanchett in a villainous turn as Cinders’ step-mother and the outfits worn by Sophie McShera and Holliday Granger as her step-sisters. Here, Blanchett not so much channels Joan Crawford as Faye Dunaway playing Crawford in Mommy Dearest, while wearing a range of acidically-toned New Look by Dior-style dresses – she really is quite fabulous. Meanwhile, the costumes her daughters wear appear to have been inspired by chi-chi lap dogs and made from discarded Quality Street wrappers. They too are fabulous in wholly horrifying ways.

These outfits though are not the ones audience members will have been waiting for. That privilege, of course, belongs to the sparkling blue ball dress worn by James when her fairy godmother (an oddly toothy Helena Bonham Carter) transforms her for a night at the ball. The blue glittery piece of silk chiffon puff with corset waist is meant to pay beautiful tribute to the gown worn in Walt Disney’s animated version of this story from 1950, and probably does. It also looks like something Sarah Ferguson, the notoriously badly dressed Duchess of York would have worn circa 1987 but, unlike, Cinders and her Prince, we cannot have it all.

 

Alisande Healy Orme

G (See IFCO for details)
105 minutes

Cinderella is released 27th March 2015

Cinderella – Official Website

 

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