Review: In the Heart of the Sea

 

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DIR: Ron Howard • WRI: Charles Leavitt • PRO: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Joe Roth, Will Ward, Paula Weinstein • DOP: Anthony Dod Mantle • ED: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill • MUS: Roque Baños • CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Benjamin Walker, Ben Whishaw

 

In the Heart of the Sea is a film that longs to be a sweeping epic. Unfortunately, it rarely struggles above ‘meh’ on the emotional reaction scale. Flitting from one narrative arc to another without ever divulging anything important or meaningful to the audience, the film flounders under the weight of its own scale. Even Ron Howard’s skill as a director fails to lend any depth to this shallow puddle of a film.

That said, it’s easy to see why Howard wanted to make this film. Maritime films are a rarity in Hollywood namely due to their enormous production costs (indeed, this film had a budget of 100 million dollars and it looks unlikely that it will be recuperated in the box office). Being in an aquatic environment, however, really allows for a directors creativity to shine through. There are some genuinely fantastic shots throughout the film, particularly the ones that take place underwater. The films biggest drawback by far is its script. The plot follows a frame narrative, wherein author Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw), anxious to start the novel that would become the classic Moby Dick, interviews the only surviving member of an infamous whale-hunting expedition, Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson).

Now an aging drunk, Nickerson is at first reluctant to recall the horrors that occurred during the voyage.  Urged on by Melville’s deep (or, at least, slightly deeper) pockets, our story begins to unfold. Having risen from a lowly orphan to a respected seaman, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself as First Mate on the Essex, a whaling ship captained by the rather pompous George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). Under pressure from their sponsoring merchant company to bring home as many barrels of whale oil as possible, the crew sets sail with then 14-year-old Nickerson (Tom Holland) aboard. Things go from bad to worse when, spurred on by over-fishing, the Essex travels into dangerous uncharted waters with the hope of snaring more whales. Once there, however, the ship is capsized by a gigantic white whale and our heroes find themselves adrift in an unforgiving wasteland of salt water.

There are so many elements to the plot- man v nature, fear of the unknown, exploitation of natural resources for profit, facing one’s past, etc.- that no single aspect is ever satisfactorily explored. The audience is never given enough to fully care and, as a result, characters are reduced down to ‘tick-the-box’ personalities.

The gruff-but-good-natured-leader-who-just-wants-to-do-right? Check!

The inexperienced-but-willing-to-learn-youngster-who-looks-upon-said-leader-as-a-mentor? Check!

The snooty-rich-guy-who-used-his-family-name-to-gain-his-position-for-which-he-is-completely-unqualified? Check!

The most interesting character by far is the white whale, who is apparently omniscient, and he doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. Also, while the film overall boasts bold visuals, certain wide shots of the ship at sea look hopelessly CGI’d and I’m certain that at one point the tip of a boom mike was visible in frame. With so many balls up in the air it’s unsurprising that the film ultimately falls rather flat. At the very least one can appreciate that a lot of effort went into the making of In the Heart of the Sea, but that alone cannot save it from being a mere drop in the ocean instead of an epic tidal wave.

 

Ellen Murray

12A
121 minutes (See IFCO for details)

In the Heart of the Sea is released 26th December 2015

In the Heart of the Sea – Official Website

 

 

 

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Review: Suffragette

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DIR: Sarah Gavron • WRI: Abi Morgan • PRO: Alison Owen, Faye Ward • DOP: Eduard Grau • ED: Barney Pilling • MUS: Alexandre Desplat • DES: Alice Normington • CAST: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson

 

The distinct lack of films depicting the Suffragette movement in cinema since the silent era is unsurprising. Despite a host of documentaries and television movies exploring one of the most pivotal events in women’s history, cinema has predominantly shied away from the subject, possibly under the (mis) conception that suffrage is now irrelevant and contemporary audiences are better placed aligning their sympathies with more pertinent, identifiable social struggles. While most of the silent era films have been lost, those that survive delineate a collective portrait of aggressive, defeminized termagants, whose abandonment of traditional gender roles created havoc within existing social structures, allowing cinema to engage in negative propaganda and persistent stereotypes.

Sarah Gavron’s ambitious interpretation on British women’s suffrage follows its foot soldiers highly-charged campaign for social change in London, circa 2012. Penned by The Iron Lady writer, Abi Morgan, Suffragette, originally entitled The Fury, makes no apologies for its categorical feminist perspective, honouring the forgotten working-class women who fought to secure the right to vote and stand in political elections. Carey Mulligan stars as working-class washerwoman, Maud Watts, who is persuaded to join the movement, despite disapproval from her loving husband and lascivious boss. Under the encouragement of local pharmacist and seasoned activist, Edith (Helena Bonham Carter), downtrodden cockney, Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) and the watchful leadership of Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) Maud finds herself engaged in a flurry of violent, illegal activity to increase media publicity for the cause. Soon her defiant activism compromises her family and job and with the guileful police inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson) determined to derail her efforts, Maud is forced to choose between her old, subordinated life or continue the bloody fight for emancipation.

A compelling and propulsive no-holds-barred interpretation, Suffragette does not shy away from accentuating the extreme subversive tactics employed by the bastions of the women’s movement in the face of frenzied, brutal opposition. Delving into the psyche and spirit of the era through a bold cinematic vision, Gavron pumps a thumping rush of furious energy into the inflammable, character-driven narrative, which steamrolls along at a ferocious pace, creating a palpable, nervous edginess, which perfectly executes the pervading social unrest of the era. Captured through a highly subjective, restless feminist lens, with many of the action sequences shot in media res, the camera belligerently probes and taunts to heighten the claustrophobic milieu of a disordered society on the brink of immense social change.

Determined to redress the balance of stereotype and negative connotations aligned with suffragette identity, Gavron welcomes a heady mix of heterogeneous characters that broadly traverse the social spectrum, ranging from impoverished skivvies to grand privileged dames, with specific emphasis on working-class women. Granting her leading ladies their own weighty biography, which stands in opposition to the commonly assumed portrait of masculine, subversive harridans or well-to-do socialites, Gavron succeeds in making visible and humanizing the unknown combatants who have been long forgotten or erased by history. Carey Mullingan, at the helm of the action, plays the reluctant activist with an understated but deeply intense emotional power, her face, persistently framed in confined close-ups, etched with invisible scars from years of oppression, abuse and interminable struggle.

Although Maud’s dissatisfaction with her lot propels her to action rather than any informed political leanings, aligning her more with the affluent socialites of the time who turned to the cause to out of boredom rather than socio-political motivation, it is her transformation, from a politically ignorant subordinate to an enlightened, mettlesome mutineer that reinforces the film’s core message. Maud’s political education and her awareness to the failings of the law, align the movement’s insurgent tactics to its political ambitions, rooting a more tangible comprehension of its history for contemporary audiences. By merging the political with the personal through an accessible narrative, Gavron reaches the nucleus of its ideology, redressing the manipulation of suffrage identity and situating Maud and her cohorts as more representative of the collective rather than the unfeminine disputants in over-sized hats, so often assumed.

While Maud’s characterisation succeeds in making visible diverse identities across the class divide, Gavron fails to delineate a balanced perspective on the movement in its entirety. Ethnic minorities, such as Indian women were particularly active in British suffrage and in light of the film’s overly feminist perspective, it loses some narrative weight by advocating an exclusively white agenda, which somewhat reinforces the stereotype she is fervently trying to avoid. Also noteworthy is the lack of attention to women that subscribed to an anti-suffrage ideology, largely on the basis of sexual difference but it is the director’s incendiary polemic on her male characters that is most questionable, which she appears to view with feminist revisionism rather than suffragist revisionism, two distinctly disparate political ideologies. The women in the film may be angry but Gavron is furious. While the inhumane treatment and sexual humiliation experienced by the suffragettes is represented with immense emotional power, Gavron explicitly indulges in masculine stereotypes, pejoratively promoting an anti-male perspective, her all too few sympathetic male characters withdrawing support once it impinges on domestic life. Male supporters who championed the movement are also disregarded, particularly those equally subjected to discriminatory laws by failing to meet specific property requirements. To Gavron, suffrage in Britain was an elite white, female club only.

The strength of Suffragette lies in its compelling portrait of British working-class women, which roots the political to the personal through an engaging narrative, impressive production values and superb performances, allowing contemporary audiences to easily identify with a more coherent suffragette ideology, not previously seen in cinema. The promotion of an overly subjective, feminist narrative detracts, at times, from the perspicuous portrait of working-class women and it is a shame that Gavron’s over-magnification of Maud’s narrative does not locate it within a wider social context nor take into account the active participation of other social groups and political supporters.

Despite such narrative oversights, Suffragette’s supreme message is unequivocal, quashing the notion that suffrage is irrelevant (a detailed list of the countries who have attained and still seeking suffrage accompanies the closing titles) and the fight for emancipation is far from over.

   Dee O’Donoghue

12A (see IFCO for details)

106 minutes

Suffragette is released 16th October 2015

Suffragette –  Official Website

 

 

 

 


 

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Irish Film Review: Song of the Sea

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DIR: Tomm Moore • WRI: Will Collins, Tomm Moore • PRO: Claus Toksvig Kjaer, Tomm Moore, Paul Young • ED: Darragh Byrne • MUS: Bruno Coulais • CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lucy O’Connell

 

Acclaimed Irish filmmaker and illustrator Tomm Moore follows up his first Oscar-nominated feature, medieval fantasy quest The Secret of Kells (2009) with another mythological and magical tale of venture steeped in legend and lore in his second consecutive nominated film, Song of the Sea. Inspired by the mysterious, fabled selkie creatures, who inhabit the land as humans but transform into seals at sea, Moore’s timeless tale, nostalgically delineated in hand-drawn, 2D animation, melds the mystical of yesteryear with a specific time in contemporary Irish culture to create a heartfelt story of origins, home and identity that will resonate with audiences of all ages.

 

Ben lives with his little sister Saoirse and father Conor in a lighthouse off the Irish coast. Their selkie mother returned to the sea six years previously, leaving Ben devastated and his father unable to cope. Troubled Ben grows increasingly resentful of mute Saoirse, who appears to embody the selkie tales told to him by his mother and whom he blames for her abrupt departure. When Saoirse discovers a white sealskin coat she is called to the sea and it is revealed that, she too, is a selkie and swims with the seals until she is washed up ashore, prompting Granny to take the children to the city for their own safety. Yearning to return home, they run away and in their adventurous quest, they encounter a host of mythical characters inhabiting a lost and forgotten world, who either help or hinder their challenging venture to see them safely back to the island.

 

Set in the 1980s and voiced by an all-star Irish cast, including Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Lisa Hannigan and Pat Shortt, Song of the Sea is a retrospective celebration of an Irish culture and identity that no longer appears visible in the nation’s ever-changing cultural landscape. Rooted in a particular space and time, depicted through its recognisable pre-Celtic Tiger iconography, unobtrusive Irish symbolism and colloquial expression, the film is a romantic and wistful portrait of a defunct past that evokes a particular cultural mood and serves as a welcoming breath of fresh air in a genre that is wholly engaged with a hyper-sophisticated, CGI platform. The film’s revisionist perspective elicits a deep emotional resonance to a specific cultural identity while also challenging the art of contemporary animation through its bewitching use of a traditional and predominantly redundant means of animation filmmaking. Moore’s hand-drawn, water-coloured aesthetic executes a craftsmanship that stimulates an intimacy, charm and melancholic beauty and which sits in complete opposition to its successor’s craft, so that each frame stands alone as a conventional laboured work of artistry and finesse.

 

A masterful storyteller, Moore’s dreamscape retrospectively entwines a bewitching fantasy of ancient folklore with a heart-warming contemporary narrative to marry the traditional with the new, the fantastic with the real, the joyous with the sinister and the mystical with the cynical. Narratively more accessible and visually more arresting than The Secret of Kells, the classic narrative of attempts to reach home in the face of adversity, driven by a host of recognizable archetypes in possession of traditional Irish values, engenders a nostalgically recognizable milieu that summons a language and behaviour of a bygone era, bringing a sense of wondrous familiarity to the film’s narrative and overall comforting aesthetic. Song of the Sea explicitly embraces its revisionism through its highly conventional narrative, stereotypes and style to commemorate a time when a sense of collective national and cultural identity appeared more clearly defined and resolute. Moore, however, does not glorify an idealised past in blissful amnesia. Shards in the narrative detail dark subtexts infusing a socio-cultural commentary that is fully aware of the past’s own failings. Themes of abandonment, alcoholism, depression, grief and isolation recall metaphorical legends of an ancient past realised through a more conflicted contemporary narrative, creating a vision that is both romantic and discordant but underpinning a sentimentality that is firmly embedded in its Irish identity.

 

Song of the Sea is a magical feast of visual delights, narrative intrigue and nostalgic revisionism that will appeal to the inner child of all ages. It can be viewed as a yearning to return to a familiar past and reclaim a forgotten identity, lost in an ever-increasing chaotic culture, both narratively and within the context of the animation genre. It serves to reinforce a more coherent vision of the past through its use of over-familiar and universal narrative devices, which will effectively resonate with knowing audiences, particularly those familiar with the pre-Celtic Tiger era in Irish culture. Song of the Sea does not seek to dethrone the existing digital prowess dominating the animation genre but rather through revisiting conventional mores within the genre itself it, celebrates a simplistic but highly emotive method of animation filmmaking and a distinctly traditional way of authentic Irish life.

Dee O’Donoghue

PG (See IFCO for details)
93 minutes

Song of the Sea is released 10th July 2015

Song of the Sea – Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Grand Seduction

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DIR: Don McKellar • WRI: Ken Scott, Michael Dowse • PRO: Barbara Doran, Roger Frappier • DOP: Douglas Koch • ED: Dominique Fortin • CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch, Liane Balaban, Gordon Pinsent

Based on Seducing Doctor Lewis, a French-Canadian film from 2003, The Grand Seduction’s title change suggests perhaps a more genteel sensibility in its marketing, a romantic appeal to bygone values, which curiously extends throughout the film’s attitudes to the politics of gender, work, and blue-collar living, to mixed results.

Opening with a chorus of orgasms reminiscent of Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie, protagonist Murray (Gleeson) recalls how his hometown of Tickle Head, Newfoundland was once a tight-knit, hard-working community of fishermen, directly linking the difficult physical labour undertaken by the townsmen to their virility and domestic satisfaction. Times have changed, however, as the only person who appears to have a comfortable job there anymore is the postmistress Kathleen, doling out welfare cheques to any and every man in town. Things are so dire in the harbour town that Murray’s wife relocates to the city to take a job to support the couple, if you can imagine something so shocking. Amidst this economic strife, a multinational oil company is scouting locations for its new petro-chemical plant, but Tickle Head’s chances of winning the plant are slim to none without a doctor residing there. Enter Dr. Lewis (Kitsch). Caught with cocaine at a nearby airport by the town’s former mayor, he is offered a highly unusual way out of a drug charge – to move to Tickle Head for a month, while the plant is being negotiated.

Once word of Dr. Lewis’ impending arrival reaches the town, Murray leads the residents in conspiratorial hoodwinks to ‘seduce’ the doctor into staying put for good which, Murray lies, will guarantee them the plant. From here on in, the name of the game is farce, with the hockey-loving Newfies attempting to learn the rules of Lewis’ favourite sport, cricket, encouraging a flirtation with what appears to be the town’s only single young woman (Kathleen the postmistress again), tapping his phone to gauge how to improve his experience of the town, and in one of the funnier running jokes, leaving random banknotes for him to find on the pier, because people love finding money unexpectedly.

The ‘small-town conspiracy to fool Big Business’ plot recalls Waking Ned, and the humour is similarly gentle and formulaic, but effective, due to the strength of the performers involved. A number of set-pieces, such as an impromptu census by the oil company and an attempted cricket match, will raise a chuckle, but it is the cast that elevate the material. It’s a nice change to see Kitsch play in front of the naturally beautiful landscape of Newfoundland rather than the green screens of Mars, and with talented, lively actors rather than world-crushing aliens, and he makes for a convincing straight man equally amused and bemused by the Tickle Head locals. As in almost everything he does, Gleeson imbues his stuffy character with enough heart and good intention that it’s easier to overlook his questionable actions and attitudes.
Yet it is the latter point that gives me pause. While ‘old-fashioned’ as an adjective is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to comedy, the film’s most effective beats evoking classic sitcoms and ’30s screwball flicks, the politics of masculinity, multinationals, and economic survival at play in The Grand Seduction seem anachronistic in a way that goes unchallenged. That the best a former fishing village can hope for is the arrival of a huge corporation to engage the local economy in more unskilled, finite work – and that this itself is dependent on an American investment, so to speak, in the form of Dr. Lewis’ residency – is a bleaker message than the general tone of the film’s ending seems to suggest. Not to mention that most of the film’s action is driven over anxiety over female control: the only reason Murray ends up at the fateful town meeting in which he decides to bid for the plant is to avoid a fight over his wife’s decision to get a job, which naturally gives rise to jokes about how she will soon dominate him sexually as well. It’s as if the feminist movement never happened.

Nevertheless The Grand Seduction is an old-fashioned farce elevated by triumphant, charismatic performers. As with many a grand seduction, the best part is not the destination, but the journey, the enticement, the lead-in, and the film offers plenty of easy laughs and delightful moments along the way to its big finish.

Stacy Grouden

12A (See IFCO for details)

113 minutes

The Grand Seduction is released 29th August

Obvious Child –  Official Website

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Q&A with John Michael McDonagh, director of ‘Calvary’

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Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson, is released on DVD and Blu Ray from today. John Michael McDonagh’s film opened in American cinemas last week and Film Ireland threw a few questions across the Atlantic to the director in the hope he’d give us some tasty feedback – he certainly did.

 

With the release of Calvary in the US how’s the whole experience treating you?

The critical response has been fantastic, but my liver is suffering at this point.

Despite the “big issue” of the film, for me it’s quite a personal film about what it is to be good – and the scenes between Father James and Fiona are telling… can you tell us about this aspect of the film?

Those scenes were expanded upon after Brendan received the first draft. They made the film more emotional, less nihilistic and detached. They are now some of my favourite scenes in the film.

We recently spoke to composer Patrick Cassidy who said the film was “a great canvas for an underscore” – could you talk a little about the music from your perspective?

I’m somebody who can happily watch films that have absolutely no music at all (a Michael Haneke film, let’s say), but I know that for most audiences music helps them connect emotionally with a film. Patrick was the perfect composer to work with because he provided a very emotional and moving score but allowed me to use that score quite sparingly and at very specific moments.

Brendan Gleeson has spoken to us about how Sligo had “a real bearing on how everybody interacts” in Calvary, how did you approach the use of that particular location and what was your visual ambition for this film?

I didn’t want to make a small, parochial, “Irish” film. I wanted it to be expansive and cinematic. The landscape of Sligo gave me that widescreen grandeur. Producers in Ireland need to look to themselves, they need to go on location, they need to stop shooting everything in fucking Dublin and Wicklow.

It’s turning out to be a good year for Irish film and we still have the likes of Glassland and Patrick’s Day to come – how important is it for you to be a part of this?

It’s not important for me at all, but I wish both those films well. I know the filmmakers are committed. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Thanks for your time – appreciate it…

No worries

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Cinema Review: Calvary

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DIR/WRI: John Michael McDonagh  • PRO: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, James Flynn • DOP: Larry Smith • ED: Chris Gill • MUS: Patrick Cassidy • DES: Mark Geraghty • CAST: Aidan Gillen, Brendan Gleeson, Kelly O’ Reilly, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Dylan Moran, Killian Scott

 

Village priest Father James Lavelle finds himself offered up as a sacrificial lamb when a victim of sexual abuse, now grown, decides that killing an innocent priest will send a better message than disposing of a guilty one. Granted seven days to “put his house in order”, Lavelle embarks on a stumbling Stations of the Cross through an unrepentant parish only too happy to parade their sins before him, and trade every attempted benediction for yet another barb.

John Michael McDonagh’s much-anticipated follow-up to first feature The Guard, Calvary certainly aims to shake audience expectations, evidenced scarcely five seconds into the opening scene when our faceless parishioner delivers his ultimatum.  However, while certainly sharing the biting humour and self-awareness of its predecessor, the irreverence here is aimed not so much towards tweaking the nose, as it is towards a close and often uncomfortable scrutiny of spirituality in the modern day.

What follows is a search for meaning that meanders between comedy and tragedy, anchored by Gleeson’s most compelling performance yet as a shepherd doomed to spend his (potentially) final days tending a flock of black sheep. A widower and former alcoholic, Lavelle was world-weary before he came to the cloth and finds himself growing increasingly frustrated as his attempts to offer comfort and guidance are consistently thrown back in his face by residents of an unnamed Sligo village that often seems McDonagh’s version of a small-town Sodom.

Filling out alongside Gleeson, McDonagh’s cast boasts a rogues’ gallery of Irish talent – Dylan Moran’s embittered banker, Killian Scott’s aspiring sociopath and Kelly O’ Reilly as Lavelle’s grown daughter – all worthy of particular note. Solid performances are tied together by a haunting score and enough gorgeous landscape shots to make any Fáilte Ireland employee weep shamrocks.

While the meandering script and a slightly cluttered cast contribute to a third act that begins to lose momentum, any doubts are quickly dismissed by a confident and compelling conclusion. The critic’s knee-jerk reaction to pan McDonagh’s sophomore effort as self-indulgent is ultimately stifled by the sense that a few bum notes do little to impact the overall piece, and that this notion of throwing the baby out with the bathwater is exactly the type of reductive cynicism that Calvary rails against.

If The Guard is a deconstruction of genre and our notion of “Oirishness”, Calvary is the follow-up that aims to strip away the cynicism that has become so embroiled in Irish spirituality simply to see what is left. Half-critique, half-homage but feeling all-organically Irish, Calvary will likely secure a place amongst one of Ireland’s most talked-about films  and, if nothing else, affords us yet another opportunity  to bow down in worship of the craggy island that is Mr. Gleeson’s well-worn visage. Hallelujah.

 

Ruairí Moore

15A (See IFCO for details)
100 mins

Calvary is released on 11th April 2014

Calvary– Official Website

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Interview: Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh, ‘Calvary’

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Lorna Buttimer chats to John Michael McDonagh, writer/director of Calvary and its star Brendan Gleeson ahead of the film’s release in Irish cinemas.

John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson clearly get on well. Calvary is their second feature together, and it sees the two tackle the Sligo landscape to portray the life of Father James, the kindly priest who learns by confession that a parishioner plans to murder him in retribution for the crimes of the Catholic Church in seven days’ time. Not knowing if the threat is real, the priest tries to put right the many problems in his small rural community, and reconnect with his estranged daughter (Kelly Reilly) before his possible murder.

Gleeson, of course, plays Father James, the player upon the Sligo stage. ‘Father Jamo’, in Gleeson’s words, is someone aware of his particular uniform. But what separates him from his peers is the fact that he is a ‘modern creature’. ‘Like when Jesus knocks the hell out of the money guys in the temple and kicks them out, it seems to me that Father James comes from that line. There is a rage in him about the self-serving, petty mindlessness of it all,’ claims Gleeson.

Father James comes to the Catholic Church after a marriage, a child and a troubled life with alcohol. In Gleeson’s view, these experiences make his character stand apart. ‘It gives him a personal life, a personal history. Father James has been in the world; he has had contact with stuff maybe other priests don’t have.”.

As a result of such experience, Father James is able to reach out to his parishioners and through that, maybe discover who wants him dead. ‘John said I was more or less a Samurai in a way. And the funny thing was when I went to get fitted for the vestments I got a real weird goose-bumpy, tingly kind of a thing, where it was like a suit of armour, and you’re the protectorate of all things good. I wasn’t prepared for it or didn’t expect it.

‘And that’s what he does – he goes and he takes on the forces of despair and he’s fighting his own temptation of despair quite a lot too. Rather than someone who went into the church naively, he understands how dark it can be and the temptation to go into despair. He becomes a lightning rod for everyone else’s disillusionment and they try their hardest to break him. But in the end they don’t really want to break him at all; they want their own cynicism to be overturned by his belief.’

The film is marked by its use of location. Shot in Sligo, both are keen to emphasise how the film flourished under Ben Bulben’s deep shadow. ‘The locations are very important, you know, Galway was very important on The Guard and Sligo was very important on this one,’ says McDonagh.

‘It has a real bearing on how everybody interacts,’ elaborates Gleeson, ‘and just the way people carry themselves. It’s only working when you feel part of the place. And you can see that in the film – you really can.’

With smaller budgets, crews and time, sometimes Irish films don’t make it to the actual location. For Gleeson, this is a huge mistake. ‘You’re going to get the counter argument that if you go to a location it’s a day to travel and a day to travel back and if you’re trying to keep to budgets that you’re pushing to the limit. There is always the temptation for people to say “sure Wicklow’s just down the corner”. But it has a huge impact on the film – the whole Ben Bulben thing in this, it’s so iconic.’

Speaking about Ireland’s landscape, McDonagh tells how Ryan’s Daughter ‘was a big influence on this and The Guard – the way it’s shot; just beautiful scenes all the way through, scenes that showed how you could shoot Ireland’. He further muses, ‘With Calvary, if you look at all the scenery, you wonder why hasn’t an Irish film been shot there before?’

To answer this, McDonagh recognises that the Irish film industry is perhaps too centralised in Dublin. When budgets and schedules are tight, Wicklow, ‘down around the corner’, is cheap and easy for outdoor locations. For the director this isn’t palatable any longer. ‘That seems to be the default position but it just leads to this kind of visually claustrophobic set of films that are all or mostly set in the Dublin environment,’ and for McDonagh, that doesn’t cut it. Here is a filmmaker that wants to explore, portray and discover what that the Irish landscape has to offer.

Calvary premiered at Sundance. McDonagh says he was delighted with the reaction. ‘There’s the strain of black humour that lasts throughout the movie. I thought about half way through that the audience were going to go ‘Awh this is gonna’ go really dark’ but what happened was, even in the last third of the film, we were still getting laughs and I think it was because certain scenes were just so dark that people just wanted some kind of relief. I was pleased they got the reactions, the rhythms and everything, and I think they grasped quite quickly that the film wasn’t The Guard Take Two’.

And the question on everyone’s lips – will the two work together again? The answer is yes –  it’s already in development. ‘Yeah, we’ve got one more’, reveals McDonagh, ‘I haven’t written it but it’s gonna be about an abusive paraplegic, so Brendan will be in a wheelchair scuttling around South London!’

Calvary is released in cinemas 11th April 2014

 

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On The Reel on the Red Carpet at JDIFF Irish premiere of ‘Calvary’

Check out the video report from the Red Carpet at JDIFF’s Irish premiere of Calvary from our bestest buddies On The Reel in association with Film Ireland.

Lynn Larkin glammed up to meet the stars as they rocked into Dublin’s Savoy cinema for the Irish premiere of John Michael McDonagh’s new film, Calvary, which opened this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Lynn chats to the film’s star, Brendan Gleeson, about being a total legend, and director John Michael McDonagh about assembling such a great cast.

Lynn also gets the low-down on Gleeson from co-star Marie-Josée Croze, asks Dylan Moran about boozing and riding, and chats to Killian Scott and Aidan Gillen about their bromance.

And be sure to catch special guest John Hurt bust a move on the red carpet…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHM-0rTzs9E

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JDIFF: Irish Film Review – Calvary

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Donnchadh Tiernan checks out John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary, which opened the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

The opening line of John Michael McDonagh’s sophomore effort packs such an almighty punch it would be a shame to divulge it here. As a quote from Saint Augustine on the poetic implications of the titular hill fades to the candlelit visage of Brendan Gleeson’s central priest a line of dialogue is delivered with enough weight to shake any audience of expectations for a would-be sequel to 2011’s The Guard. The dialogue of the anonymous confessor continues to outline what will be the framework within which the film will play out; in seven days, having spent their childhood being raped daily by a priest, the faceless victim will shoot Gleeson’s priest, plainly because he, a good priest, being murdered will send a greater message. When Gleeson leaves the booth he seems to know who has threatened him. We, however, do not, and the film commences.

The prime action of the piece is made up of Gleeson’s interactions with locals; characters played by the greatest assembly of Irish and British acting talent since Intermission: Pat Shortt as a Buddhist publican; Dylan Moran as a socially estranged property developer; Chris O’Dowd as the butcher; Kelly Reilly as Gleeson’s suicidal daughter from a pre-orders marriage; Aidan Gillen as an atheistic, nihilistic doctor. The list actually does go on but to give everyone worthy of shout-out here their just deserts would evolve this review to a novella. Everyone available seemingly wanted to appear in this film and once one sniffs out the marrow of the meandering plot it is easy to see why.

The first act of Calvary is the segment that requires the most salt in viewing. What might be biting satire or critique is diluted with Fr. Ted jokes as they might have been written for HBO. McDonagh being cut from the cloth he is the dialogue and structure is ever a comment on the medium and genre itself, in this case such thematic stuff as Song for a Raggy Boy or Sleepers, but considering both the setting and the opening this does not seem enough. As a matter of fact, until Gleeson’s church is burnt to the ground midway through (as seen in the trailer and on the poster), it seems as though the writer-director is shying from the route he initially gestured towards. Then, as flames flicker against the night, the second act reveals a darker side of The Guard’s wry wit and the film dives headlong into murk the previous film only hinted at.

What transpires in the film’s remainder is often heavy drama and is a credit to its cast, particular credit due to Domhnall Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd, the former stepping out of his father’s shadow while sitting across from him, the latter whom will surely be hearing meatier dramatic scripts whacking his hallway floor more regularly in the coming months. This film’s heart, soul and muse, as with The Guard, is undoubtedly the masterful Brendan Gleeson, who communicates the bitterness and flickering hopes of a dying faith with dark weary eyes and reserved gestures.

Any flaws here are minor and aesthetic. The rent-boy Lucky Leo is one caricature too far and Dave McSavage playing a bishop carries too much weight as a cultural reference to work alongside the more serious tones surrounding the role. The cast of characters is, overall, too large to justify and trying to keep up with them at times muddles the plot. Thankfully, McDonagh’s agenda is so potent and engaging that its confidence propels viewer attention along with it at far too ardent a pace to linger on such minor foibles.

With Calvary, McDonagh has completed the sentence he began to utter with The Guard. As an already evident auteur, he loves Ireland (as clearly evidenced by the glorious landscape shots throughout) and despises such Irish institutions as middle-management, bitterness and mob-rule. Were he a pamphleteer, which on a certain level he undoubtedly is, his prime target would be Joe Duffy’s listenership and high-ranking church officials in equal measure. In fact, there is such ample critique of Irish society in the third act it feels as though two films in he may have made his magnum opus. On immediate reflection, not only do I wish to re-watch Calvary soon but I believe it will prove as much of a necessary watch for at least one generation to come as it will be a gripping, funny and moving one for audiences this year. Once again, McDonagh has produced a work impossible to pigeon-hole into any genre, except perhaps “Essential Viewing”.

 

 

Click here for further coverage from the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Calvary screened on Thursday, 13th February 2014 as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (13 – 23 February 2014).

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Opening Gala for 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival Announced

Priest (Brendan Gleeson) in Calvary

Calvary – a darkly comic thriller that reunites writer-director John Michael McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson has been unveiled as the opening gala for the 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.  The gala will take place at Dublin’s Savoy Cinema on Thursday, 13th February 2014.

 

Announcing details of the event today, Festival Director Gráinne Humphreys said the opening gala will be a celebration of “the best Irish cinema”.  It will be the Irish premiere of Calvary, and John Michael McDonagh, Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly and other members of the star-studded cast (including some of Ireland’s best-known actors) will be in attendance.  A limited number of tickets will go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, 18th December, at 10.00am.

 

In Calvary, Brendan Gleeson stars as Father James, a priest who has a week to put his affairs in order after being told he is marked for murder during a confession.  Set against the stunning beauty of Ireland’s West Coast, the film also stars Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Dylan Moran (Black Books) and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones).

 

Commenting further on the 2014 opening gala announcement, Gráinne Humphreys said:

 

“2014 is going to be a vintage year for Irish cinema with an incredible line-up of new features and documentaries from emerging and established names.  As the 2014 opening night presentation, John Michael McDonagh’s spectacular Calvary will act as both a clarion call for the festival and for Irish cinema.”

 

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will take place from 13th to 23rd February 2014, marking the twelfth year of the festival.  It has become a key annual event in Dublin’s cultural life, growing a strong international reputation and attracting a range of film heavyweights to Ireland over the years.  Over 130 films are screened each year, attracting an audience of 41,000.

 

Additional Programme Announcements

In addition to unveiling the opening film today, Gráinne Humphreys announced details of the four films that will screen in the hugely popular weekend morning slots at the Savoy Cinema during the festival.  These are:

 

·         No Limbs, No Limits – An intimate family portrait of young Corkwoman Joanne O’Riordan, who was born with no arms and legs as a result of the extremely rare ‘Total Amelia’ syndrome.  The film – which was directed by O’Riordan’s brother, Steven – will screen at 11am on Saturday, 15th February.

·         Tracks – A beautifully composed and magnificently performed story about a young woman’s nine-month trek across the Australian desert.  It will screen at 11am on Sunday, 16th February.

·         Borgman – An unsettling, blackly comic fable from veteran Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam, which will screen at 11am on Saturday, 22nd February.

·         Twenty Feet from Stardom – A moving and joyous behind-the-scenes documentary about the singers who provide backing vocals to the stars.  It will screen at 11am on Sunday, 23rd February.

 

“The five films we have announced so far for the 2014 programme give a flavour of the quality and diversity you can expect from this year’s festival,” said Gráinne Humphreys.  “As usual, we’ll be welcoming some of the best-known names in the industry to Dublin during festival season and we’ll be running a range of ancillary events to complement the programme of film screenings.  Further details of our programme will be announced early in the new year.”

 

Season tickets, gift vouchers and tickets for the weekend morning slots at the Savoy Cinema are on sale now from www.jdiff.com.  A limited number of tickets for the opening gala screening of ‘Calvary’ will go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, 18th December, at 10.00am. 

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From the Archive: Interview with Brendan Gleeson and writer/director director John Michael McDonagh on ‘The Guard’.

the-guard-movie-photo-01

 

In 2011, John Michael McDonagh’s debut feature The Guard was awarded Best Irish Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh. To coincide with our coverage of this year’s Fleadh, here’s a chance to check out Emmet O’Brien‘s interview with Brendan Gleeson and writer/director director John Michael McDonagh, which featured in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 138, 2011.

An unusual mix of old-fashioned values with some decidedly un-PC humour, The Guard is one of the year’s most surprising films. Sharp tongued and engaging, the story of a clever if uncouth Garda, Gerry Boyle, and his battle against drug dealers and corruption, is a great example of contemporary Irish cinema. With a satirical sweep, it enjoys poking fun at the concept of an American cop film but is observed through an undeniably Irish filter. Not as jarring as it could be, the film is a consistently engaging and well-balanced piece which has gone down well in Cannes and at Sundance. It shares the anarchic spirit of the finest of Irish Crime Cinema, like older films such as I Went Down (another Gleeson project) to the more recent triumphs of In Bruges (a movie made by John Michael McDonagh’s brother). I caught up with the director and his leading man to discuss black comedy and how even a simple story of cops and robbers can shed light on much deeper themes, all the while keeping it fresh and darkly comic.

The Western as a genre looms over the piece, its tropes fairly evident. People are always aware of that iconography even at a subconscious level – did that inform the writing?

John Michael McDonagh: That’s one of the key themes of the film, that Boyle is the small-town sheriff and the bad guys have ridden into town. That’s why I wanted to capture that landscape and the music, and use Calexico’s score to bring a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone tone to the whole thing. Audiences know the rhythms of the Western, that this plot is going to build to the shoot-out, the climatic gunfight. They know the undercurrents and the subtext so you have that framework. It’s up to you to then surprise them with dialogue or character.

Brendan Gleeson: Western imagery permeates everyone’s sense of the world – of a certain generation anyway, once you have that culturally placed and anchored properly. Boyle joined the Guards thinking he’d be Gary Cooper. He maintains a notion of the challenges he wants to face, which is a very Western concept. The final shoot-out, continues that idea of the cowboy who isn’t afraid to go out in the fight.

Boyle is quite a complex character. A simple surface reading would be that he is a bigot but there’s much more going on there. Has audience reaction to him surprised you?

John Michael: I’ve been hugely surprised that some people have come away from the film labelling him as just a racist, ignoring key scenes elsewhere in the story. They’ve completely missed the point. He’s an equal opportunity misanthrope. He has a W.C. Fields type of outlook. If you have scenes that set up a character one way and then undercut it with a scene of him discussing Russian literature with his mother, then that’s a clue that there’s more going on with this character than you may initially think.

Brendan: For me this film is primarily a character study. It’s all left a little cryptic. You do get to know him but I don’t think you’d be able to predict him anymore than you could at the start of the film, which is pretty cool. There’s a feeling of limbo to him but he still has great integrity and he prods others to see if they have that same integrity. He’ll come at you in a way you’d never expect. There’s a certain amount of Columbo-style investigating with him and he looks to the backward traditions. Maybe that makes him a lonely character, holding onto old ideals of nobility. The depth of his stoicism is astonishing and people needlessly focus on the politically incorrect side of him at the cost of the whole character.

There’s a great economy to the script. In one short scene you set out the three very distinctive villains of the piece with a conversation about their favourite philosophers. Not something you usually see in an Irish crime thriller.

John Michael: My intention was to think, what do you normally see and then to write the opposite, to subvert wherever and whatever you can. Villains are always shouting and swearing at each other in this type of film so I thought let them have a measured conversation about philosophy and the main villain of the piece was trying to bring that idea a step forward. Liam Cunningham’s character doesn’t really want anything, like bad guys normally do. He’s just kind of bored. I knew I’d need more than one villain so I hit upon having three and you had to decide how to make each one unique. When you’re dealing with just one guy then you always have non-descript henchmen. We didn’t want that. Each of these guys could be the main villain in their own movie and it made it much more interesting to write.

Brendan: It’s not often you get three villains discussing Nietzsche (laughs). It’s hilarious but in a way they’re not the real nemesis. Gerry doesn’t feel threatened by them because they can’t really get him. As villains he’s way beyond them and his enemy is more an ennui and a fear of disengaging, of pulling away from this world.

In some ways they’re a MacGuffin [plot device] to get his arc going.

Brendan:He’s grateful to them for arriving, because he finally has a challenge he can rise to.

Whereas the FBI agent is more of a counterpart – ideologically if not personally.

John Michael: With Don Cheadle’s character, Everett, he’s sort of an archetype for Boyle to bang his head against but even there we tried to invest his character with some quirks – the sugar cubes he has, and the fact that his kids are named after members of the Black Panthers. Little moments like that because there was only so much you could do with a character like that to give him a separate identity.

The way the relationship builds between Everett and Boyle is quite organic.

Brendan: In America they really followed Don’s character. He was their way into the humour of the piece. His reactions against Boyle confirmed what they were hearing from some of the riskier dialogue. Americans are more conservative than us so a lot of Boyle’s jokes were met with disbelief or a ‘Did he just say what I thought he did?’ type of reaction. They access Gerry through Everett.

What I like is how there’s not really a resolution between them. It reminds of a scene in Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986) where the characters go to shake hands and Tom Waits pulls it away and it’s a real moment between them. They have closeness due to the journey they’ve been on. Don even asked me at one point ‘do these people even like each other?’ (laughs).
So you can share an intense experience but that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly best friends.

Let’s discuss the cross pollination of taking an American procedural character and placing him in a quirky Irish town. Was that the initial drive for doing the film?

John Michael: Well the concept was let’s take a CSI and totally fuck with it. I hate those shows, and it perpetuates the myth that with all this technology and equipment you can solve crimes. It’s all a lie. Boyle hates any modern technology like that, mobile phones or computers. A lot of that comes out of my own hatred for movies that lean too heavily on technology. I hate it when there’s a cut to people on a laptop or fingers tapping away. It’s lazy; you should find a different way to communicate that sort of information. It should be more cinematic.

Brendan: Speaking of cinematic, there is such a fusion of genres in this. I think the sense of place is vital to maintaining that. Seeing the little touches of Connemara tells you where the picture lies. The genres become mixed because the viewpoint is mixed. The perspective of that place encompasses the different styles, the crime film, the Western, the black comedy and that’s what makes it possible for all these things to work together. That sense of community. It’s important that when we make films here we’re not afraid to take things actually from here to add to the film, the things that aren’t put up as touristy or sold as commodities but just the more genuine touches. It should reflect a way we look at the world even if it’s good, bad or indifferent.

John Michael: You’re getting people into the cinemas with what they think will be a ‘buddy cop’ formula and hopefully the finished product will surprise them with all these different aspects and that sense of surprise gives a bigger reaction.

There is a stylized quality to it that to me brings to mind Twin Peaks, or Fargo – small-town idiosyncrasies.

John Michael: I don’t mind hearing that at all. I love David Lynch. There’s a constant undercurrent of menace to his work that I enjoy a great deal. And in ’70s movies, the investment in character would give this great sense of melancholy and the whole film would have more resonance.

Brendan: It may be up beyond what is strictly true but you know the qualities here are based on truth. It’s very real, the hilarity of normal people. Fargo did a great job of getting inside a cultural identity. I know it’s exaggerated but you could only write it if you know it, if you lived it.

The timelessness of The Guard is a strong asset to the film.

Brendan: John is very clever in retaining that timelessness. The way the set is dressed, the old telephones and, in the film’s most iconic moment, Boyle has an old Garda dress uniform. It keeps the setting vague, the way it should be.

John Michael: Those old phones are making a comeback. Like vinyl, he puts on an old Chet Baker record in one of the scenes, and these old things always come back and I didn’t want the film to be dated in any way. When you see that in a film, it takes you out of it. You can become too distracted by that stuff and the story suffers.

Speaking of distractions, the Daniel O’Donnell poster in the background in Gerry’s house was a nice touch.

Brendan: Yeah I wasn’t so sure about that!

John Michael: (laughs) Well we decided since that was a heavy and violent scene that Boyle looking at the poster is like addressing his own conscience. Strange to say it but Daniel O’Donnell’s the conscience of our film!

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We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – The General

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of


We Love…

25 Years of Irish Film

 

The General

(John Boorman, 1998)

‘…  the quiet, restrained cinematography and direction on-screen makes for something that is truly a work of art …’

Brain Lloyd

The biography of Martin Cahill, one of Ireland’s most notorious criminals, was an instant bestseller. Naturally, a film adaptation beckoned. The story follows, for the most part, a dramatisation of Cahill’s exploits with fascinating detail. From his fiendishly clever robbery of Arthur Beit’s paintings to outfoxing the police with vandalism and humour, John Boorman’s black-and-white camera captured it all. However, the film wasn’t all hijinks and one-liners. The film’s tone felt like it could turn dark and violent at any point – as it was, undoubtedly, in reality.

 

The film’s quality was anchored by Brendan Gleeson’s power-house performance. Brilliantly mimicking Cahill’s wit and cunning, as well as his Dublin drawl, he carries the film and makes us root for him – even when we know how ruthless he truly was. However, his adversary throughout – Jon Voight – brings the film down in his unconvincing role as Ned Kenny. However, the film isn’t about Cahill versus the police, or even Cahill versus the system – as he often believed himself to be. The General tells the story of a criminal and his eventual downfall, the hubris that overtakes him and in the end, his acceptance of his fate.

 

‘You never own things. The things own you.’

 

Boorman’s direction is calm, collected and calculated – much like Cahill himself. His choice of using black-and-white footage, as well as the jazz score by Richie Buckley, gives the film a noirish quality that one would never think could work. And yet, it strangely does. The saxophone riffs that play gently over Gleeson’s nuanced portrayal works incredibly well and is in marked contrast to other crime dramas of the time. When compared to the likes of Scorsese or even Mann, the quiet, restrained cinematography and direction on-screen makes for something that is truly a work of art. As Cahill says himself in the film, ‘I know nothin’ about art. But I know what I like.’

 

Brian Lloyd

 

 

Click here for more We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film

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Brendan Gleeson stars in dark comedy-drama ‘Cavalry’

Priest (Brendan Gleeson) in Calvary

Principal photography has begun in Co. Sligo, Ireland, on John Michael McDonagh’s CALVARY, his follow-up to the critical and commercial hit, The Guard.

 

Starring Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, In Bruges), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes, Eden Lake), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, Shadow Dancer), Dylan Moran (Run Fat Boy Run, Shaun of the Dead), Marie Josée Crozé (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, Tell No One) and Isaach De Bankolé (The Limits of Control, Casino Royale), the blackly comic drama also features a host of other well know Irish actors including Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina, True Grit), Pat Shortt and David Wilmot.

 

Calvary’s Priest is the flipside to The Guard’s Sergeant Gerry Boyle. A good man intent on making the world a better place, he is continually shocked and saddened by the spiteful and confrontational inhabitants of his small country town. After being threatened during confession, he must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

 

Director and writer John Michael McDonagh commented, It is with great excitement, bordering on tumescence, that I am looking forward to collaborating once more with Ireland’s greatest actor, Brendan Gleeson, and working with the finest ensemble cast ever assembled in the history of Irish cinema.

 

‘I would like to thank the Irish Film Board, and the BFI, for their continuing support for filmmaking that seeks to escape from the tiresome, rarefied confines of Dublin 4. Up the West!’

 

Calvary is produced by Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo of Reprisal Films and James Flynn of Octagon Films.

 

Heads of Department on the production include Mark Geraghty (Ripper Street, In America) as Production Designer, and Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh (The Guard, Becoming Jane) as Costume Designer. The Director of Photography is Larry Smith (The Guard, Eyes Wide Shut).

 

Calvary will be filmed on location in Co. Sligo and Co. Dublin.

 

It is being co-financed by The Irish Film Board and the BFI Film Fund.
Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales for the film. Deals are already concluded for Canada (Alliance Momentum), Australia/ New Zealand (Transmission), Middle East (Front Row) and CIS (CP Digital).

 

Calvary is due for theatrical release in 2013 and will be distributed by Momentum Pictures in the UK and Ireland.
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We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – The Guard

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of…


We Love…

25 Years of Irish Film

 

The Guard

(John Michael McDonagh, 2011)

‘… the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along…’

Rory Cashin

It is just me, or were most Irish movies completely devoid of fun? That’s not to say they were bad, but they weren’t exactly a joy to watch, since they were usually awash with the Troubles or dealing with some kind of abuse. We were the frontrunners when it came to making depression porn. But then the McDonagh brothers came along with their one-two punch of In Bruges (which, despite all the Irish-ness involved, can’t really be labelled an Irish film) and The Guard (which, thankfully, can).

Also delivering a killer one-two was Brendan Gleeson, who helped ground In Bruges, but is primarily the main reason The Guard soars so highly, with ‘high’ being the operative word, as we’re first introduced to his Sergeant Gerry Boyle taking acid which he has taken from the pocket of a very recently deceased car-crash victim. His racist, alcoholic, drug-taking, prostitute-loving, IRA-dealing character is so all consuming that it takes a repeat viewing to be reminded that the movie also features such usual heavyweights such as Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong.

Now then, what have we here…

While the international cocaine smuggling ring plot seems like a take-it-or-leave-it afterthought, the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along, as his unwanted FBI partner Cheadle interrogates the locals, who respond with an Irish interpretation of what we think America thinks of Ireland, all impenetrable accents, unending rainfall and unquenchable thirsts for alcohol.

While it’s not all played for laughs (Boyle’s interactions with his dying mother are quietly heart-breaking), the film knows not to stay too serious for too long, and at 96 minutes, it’s not around long enough to outstay its welcome. Which is another nice change of pace for Irish film, or as the Sergeant would put it, ‘They take too long getting to the fecking point.’

Rory Cashin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRsMLuCP8a0

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Cinema Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists – Film of the Week

shiver me timbers, etc

DIR: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt • WRI: Gideon Defoe • PRO: Julie Lockhart, Peter Lord, David Sproxton • DOP: Frank Passingham • DES: Norman Garwood • Cast: Hugh Grant, Brian Blessed, Jeremy Piven

Pirates – seriously, who knew? Scuttled in early Hollywood by the far more popular western, the pirate movie was left adrift for decades, coming into port every now and again only to find nary a piece of eight at the box office (cf. Polanski’s The Pirates (1986), Cutthroat Island (1995)). Then those Disney ride Johnny Depp vehicle movies came along and suddenly, after some 80 years, everyone was hungry for pirate movies. But while the box office exploded, there was little denying the quality of those films diminished rapidly, as they began to take themselves seriously.

Thankfully, here’s a pirate movie that doesn’t take anything seriously, especially not pirates!

Aardman Animations have proven themselves to be the world’s greatest producers of (mainstream) stop-motion animation through their Wallace & Gromit movies, Chicken Run and TV series such as Morph, Creature Comforts and Shaun the Sheep. Now teamed with distributors Sony (their relationship with DreamWorks ended after the disastrous digital animation Flushed Away), the Bristol-based masters have produced what is probably their greatest work yet, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.

The family adventure is based on a series of comedy novels by Gideon Defoe, which are not exactly aimed at children, but have been translated here to appeal to pretty much anyone with eyes, ears and a sense of humour.

Set in the early 1800s, the story follows a pirate captain called The Pirate Captain, and his crew of similarly descriptively named misfits. What The Pirate Captain lacks in plundering success he makes up for in boundless enthusiasm and self-delusional egomania. Up against far superior competition for the “Pirate of the Year Award”, he is desperate for a get-rich-quick scheme when he boards the bootyless HMS Beagle and takes young scientist Charles Darwin captive.

Before he is fed to the sharks, Darwin informs The Pirate Captain that his precious parrot Polly, who is very clearly not a parrot, is in fact a dodo, and thus worth a fortune. And so the crew set sail for London, where the dread Queen Victoria keeps a careful lookout for pirates, whom she detests above all things.

The adventure that ensues is delightful; simple enough for kids to follow but with enough minor twists to keep adults from feeling like they’ve sailed these seas before. Thankfully, unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, The Pirates! sticks to general pirate adventuring and doesn’t descend into supernatural nonsense.

The stop-motion is as wonderful as we have come to expect from Aardman; and then some. Eschewing traditional plasticine in favour of a more durable, and realistic-looking plastic, The Pirates! has texture and gloss that most live-action features fail to achieve nowadays. In the incredible digital worlds of Pixar and DreamWorks films, where everything has shape and gloss, nothing looks like you could really touch it if you could somehow get inside the movie. But here, with actual objects that actual artists have actually sculpted, the world looks as physically accessible as it does inviting. The divinity is in the detail however. Every scene is riddled with more visual gags than there is time to ingest – one character sports a Blue Peter badge in his hat; posters in London advertise ‘street urchin throwing contests’; the Swiss coat of arms has a giant corkscrew sticking out of it.

The voice talent on display is top notch. Hugh Grant returns to the grandeur of the mid-‘90s as The Pirate Captain, leaving you wondering why he hasn’t been in the recording studio since About a Boy. Sounding like only Hugh Grant can, his voice, like his best characters, sails through a vast array of emotions and delivers both quips and verbal faux pas with unexpected aplomb. David Tennant voices Darwin as a timid, socially awkward but also quite conniving little wretch, while Martin Freeman gets across the movie’s heart as the ship’s number two, Pirate With a Scarf. And as the villain, Imelda Staunton ups her game from Professor Umbridge to play the perfect queen bitch. Support comes from all sides with Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed chewing the microphone up and spitting out the chunks.

It’s impossible to get across just how funny this film is. Its visual gags conjure the heyday of The Simpsons. Musical queues range from The Clash to Flight of the Conchords. The dialogue borders on Pythonesque. When The Pirate Captain sees Darwin and his chimpanzee perform identical actions, he asks ‘Are you related?’ – a specious origin for The Origin of Species. The blatant yet unnoticed transvestite pirate, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (sporting a large ginger beard that clashes with her blonde hair), is ripped from the best classical farce.

The Pirates! is action-packed, unpredictable and agreeably sweet, and two-and-a-half years in the making it looks simply fantastic. But it’s greatest success is in how gut-achingly funny it is. There are truly enough gags here to keep every person of every age laughing from start to finish – joke by joke per minute this could be the funniest film since Airplane!

And if that doesn’t sell you on seeing this over The Hunger Games, well you were lost to begin with.

David Neary

Rated G (see IFCO website for details)
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is released on 23rd March 2012

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists – Official Website

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Aertv adds extra screen presence to the 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival


From tomorrow Ireland’s only free online TV service, Aertv.ie, will roll out the red carpet for a new channel – Aertv Movies – to coincide with the launch of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF).

Jameson will initially sponsor the new channel, which will show ten Irish shorts over ten days. These short films have all been screened at past Dublin International Film Festivals.

Aertv Movies will also be showing cast interviews from films that are both being shown at this year’s festival and that are soon to be released. These include interviews with the cast of Cloudburst, the Opening Gala film of JDIFF, starring Dublin born actress Brenda Fricker.

The first short film to be aired is Noreen, which will be shown on Aertv Movies @ 9pm on 16th Thursday. Noreen is directed by Domhnall Gleeson and stars his father, Brendan Gleeson and brother Brian. It tells the story of two Gardaí who solve their own problems through the process of attempting to explain a mysterious death.

Lights, camera, action…

Over the course of the festival, Aertv will show interviews from the Red Carpet with all JDIFF’s high profile guests, including film genius Al Pacino. The Aertv channel will very much focus on the Irish elements, and the behind the scenes work of the festival organisers– highlighting why the celebration of film is such a success and so well respected.

Philippe Brodeur, Aertv Director, is keen for the new channel to foster homegrown talent: “Having the launch of Aertv Movies coincide with the world famous Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and having Jameson sponsor the channel is a real coup for us. To be able to show such a prestigious Irish event as our launch feature is a really strong foundation for the beginnings of the channel and demonstrates our intent to make the channel an integral part of bringing independent Irish films to the movie loving Irish public.”

Following the festival Aertv Movies will continue to provide a platform for independent Irish film. “In today’s money focused movie industry it is difficult for smaller low-budget art-house movies to reach the screen. We want to help change that and provide opportunities for the vast array of Irish movie talent out there,” adds Brodeur.

Viewers of the channel will be able to catch up with the streaming of the festival at any time as Aertv will loop the footage – adding additional content throughout the ten days.

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Irish among Golden Globe Nominations

Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Irish feature Albert Nobbs and Irish filmed drama Game of Thrones are among the nominees for the 69th Annual Golden Globes. The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday, 15th January 2012.

Fassbender was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Shame, while Gleeson was nominated for the third time in his career for a Golden Globe for his role in John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard in the Actor in a Comedy or Musical category.

Irish composer Brian Byrne was nominated in the Best Original Song – Motion Picture category for ‘Lay Your Head Down’ featured in the Irish film Albert Nobbs and  sung by Sinead O’Connor, while Game of Thrones, shot in Northern Ireland, was nominated for Best TV series Drama Globe.

James Hickey, Chief Executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann /Irish Film Board (IFB) commented on the news: ‘We are delighted to see the wide range of nominations which showcase Ireland on the international stage, underlining Ireland’s reputation as a cultural hub. Funding from Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board is key for projects such as The Guard and Albert Nobbs to be produced in Ireland, creating opportunities for Irish talent to work on these projects.’

The full list of nominations is here

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'The Guard' at the centre of Sarajevo Storm

the_guard

John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard is at the centre of a storm that erupted at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Its international programmer Howard Feinstein has resigned over what he saw as a shift of its director Miro Purivatra and its creative director, his wife, Izeta Gradevic towards celebrating celebrity culture over filmmakers and cinema.

The evidence cited by Feinstein included his Q&A with Oscar winning director Susanne Bier taking place without a single photographer present as Angelina Jolie was receiving a ‘Heart of Sarajevo’ award at the same time, and also his fight to include The Guard in the festival’s Panorama section.

In an open letter written by Feinstein and published by indiewire.com he explains more about The Guard’s role in his creative differences with his employers.  Purivatra and Gradevic wanted both Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle to attend the festival but when only director John Michael McDonagh could make it Feinstein states that ‘unbelievably, management wanted to keep him only for the Open Air screening, so he could blow kisses. I had to fight to have him do a Q & A with the Panorama audience. This is that murky area in which cult of (perceived) celebrity and the qualitative characteristics of selections overlapped in a negative way.’

In the days that followed Izeta Gradevic released a statement on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival also published in full on indiewire.com  which did not refer to Feinstein’s open letter, but amazingly Feinstein’s airing of dirty linen didn’t stop there as he gets involved in a lengthy mud slinging match with a former employee of the festival in the comments section of the Gradevic statement.

To read Howard Feinstein’s open letter click here

To read Izeta Gradevic’s response click here

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Healthy Second Week US Box Office figures for 'The Guard'

Element Pictures’ The Guard took in $194,000 this past weekend August 5-7th in the US bringing its total to $309,000.  But once again it is its average revenue per screen that is worth shouting about. 

According to www.boxofficemojo.com, The Guard’s $10,211 average on 19 screens made it one of the most successful films last weekend.  New blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes topped the both total gross with $54 million and average revenue per screen with $14,803.

The only other films to beat The Guard’s average in the top 48 were thriller Gun Hill Road on 3 screens with $12,600 per screen, and Bellflower, a film written, directed, produced, edited by and starring Evan Glodell, on 2 screens with $12,000 per screen.

More evidence for The Guard that ‘if you screen it, they will come’.  We are looking forward to next Monday’s totals as it is released on more screens.

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'The Guard' to expand to 100 screens in the US in August

On the back of its incredible average revenue per screen figures last week at the US Box Office, see story here, independent Irish feature The Guard will open across 100 screens in 50 cities in the US in August.

 

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, producer Ed Guiney revealed that Sony gave it a ‘platform release’ in L.A. and New York and last weekend’s numbers ‘gave them the confidence to think it could break out’.  Sony will then assess its success at the end of August which could lead to an even wider release.

 

Described by the LA Times as ‘not just a breath but a very funny gust of fresh air’ The Guard is still showing in Irish cinemas, for more details of where you can catch it click here.

 

To listen to Ed Guiney on Morning Ireland click here.

 

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'The Guard' is second at the US Box Office!!!….sort of

The Guard's Milkshake

Element Pictures The Guard phenomenal success continues as it comes second at the US Box Office in average revenue per screen in its opening weekend, trouncing blockbuster new releases such as Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs.

The Guard took in $80,400 across 4 screens according to www.boxofficemojo.com for an average of $20,100 per screen,  Joe Cornish’s (Joe from comedy duo Adam and Joe) sci-fi comedy Attack the Block also out on limited release in the US this week achieved $130,000 across 8 screen for $16,250 per screen. Topping the average revenue per screen chart this past weekend is The Future directed by Miranda July taking in an impressive $28,200 on its single screen.

All three films put Cowboys & Aliens to shame as it took in a measly $9,653 per screen but a respectable $36,200,000 in total.

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Brendan Gleeson wins New York Comedy Award

 

Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle have been given a lifetime membership to the legendary New York comedy club, the Friars Club, which boasts Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg in its ranks.

The odd couple has been awarded the Best New Buddy Comedy Duo Award for their performances in The Guard, which has grossed over €2 million.

Jerry Lewis, abbot of the Friars Club, congratulated the pair, and referring to his own partnership with Dean Martin, joked, ‘I know a thing or two about buddy movies… Only one can be the pretty one, only one can be the smart one, and only one can get the girl. But when it’s done right, both get to be the funny one, which is why Don and Brendan have emerged as the Best New Comedy Duo… and well-deserved. Congratulations from one half of a great buddy team to the new buddy team!’

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‘The Guard’ K.O.s Transformers, Kung Fu Panda and the X-Men


The Guard's Milkshake

The Guard has drunk the milkshake of the Transformers, the Pirates Of The Caribbean, X-Men babies, and that Kung Fu fighting Panda. The Irish film’s gross box-office to date now reaches over 2 Million Euro, making it the biggest Irish release here since The Wind that Shakes the Barley and The Guard is now on its way to becoming one of the biggest film hits of the summer, all the while working a pair of purple y-fronts.

 

Directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

 

For full list of cinemas showing The Guard log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th.

 

 

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'The Guard' is in hot pursuit of €1.5mill at the Irish Box Office

Darkly comic Irish thriller The Guard continues to storm the Irish box office with takings of €397,000 this past weekend taking its total past €1.42 million.

In a weekend that saw the final installment of  the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, break all time weekend records in North America this represents an extremely strong showing for an independent Irish feature.

The €410,000 showing earned it second place in Ireland behind the bespectacled wizard and it took in €94,000 yesterday Monday July 18th alone suggesting strong word of mouth.  It also came in at number 5 in the combined UK and Ireland box office totals.

Click here for full list of cinemas showing The Guard.

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

Read our review of The Guard here

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'The Guard' is number 1 at Irish box office

the_guard

John Michael McDonagh’s comedy-thriller THE GUARD is a box-office smash with a weekend gross of over half a million euro, knocking BRIDESMAIDS from the coveted No 1 position. This is a fantastic result for an Irish film and its opening weekend results are comparable to other hugely successful Irish films such as MICHAEL COLLINS and IN BRUGES. THE GUARD also picked up Best Irish Feature award at the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend.

Speaking on the success of the film, Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures says that “We are thrilled that Irish people have flocked to see the Guard in such strong numbers. The international success of the Guard has been exciting but success at home is still the most gratifying. The film clearly has caught a zeitgeist and provides audiences with a welcome distraction and relief thanks to the genius of John Michael McDonagh and the brilliance of Brendan Gleeson”

THE GUARD is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

For full list of cinemas showing THE GUARD log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

THE GUARD is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

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The Guard

the_guard

 

DIR/WRI: John Michael McDonagh • PRO: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe • DOP: Larry Smith • ED: Chris Gill • DES: John Paul Kelly • CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham

A potent mix of Western tropes, slick black comedy and American cop procedurals, The Guard may sound cluttered but is actually a fairly smooth concoction. It tells the story of a Garda dealing with drug runners and corruption in a modern, if still oddly timeless, Ireland. Brendan Gleeson excels as the main focus; his character-actor sensibilities complementing a leading-man flair, which has been too long dormant. Playing The General, or say Michael Collins, threatened to make him iconic, but the essaying of historical characters always dominates a role. With The Guard he is allowed to create a character from scratch and the nuances he brings to the role of Sgt. Gerry Boyle are a masterclass in how to combine pathos with biting humour. Don Cheadle’s straight-laced FBI agent is left to navigate the eccentricities of this man and provides the film with a charming fish-out-of-water dimension.

Occasionally ever so slightly self-satisfied, the film works due to its balance. Despite some heavy themes, it is never too bleak nor does its emotional core ever become too sentimental or cloying. A modern gem but not for the politically-correct crowd, that’s for sure.

Emmet O’Brien

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Guard is released on 8th July 2011

The Guard is in hot pursuit of €1.5million at the Irish Box Office click here to find out more.

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'The Guard’ Sundance World Premiere

The Guard, received much acclaim at its world premiere in Park City, Utah as part of the prestigious Sundance film festival.  The Guard was selected as the opening film of the World Dramatic Competition at the 2011 festival.

The Los Angeles Times reported that film buyers flocked to the sold out screening ‘..like moths to a flame, making it a fitting festival launch’. According to Variety ‘… it’s Gleeson who rightly owns the screen as a beer-swilling, crotch-grabbing, Derringer-firing crusader with one hell of a filthy mouth to go along with his heart of gold.’ and the director John Michael McDonagh’s ‘filmmaking crackles with energy’.

Directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard’s cast, includes Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges, Harry Potter, The General) Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2, Crash, Hotel Rwanda) Fionnuala Flanagan (Lost, Transamerica) Liam Cunningham (Hunger, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) and Mark Strong (KickAss, Sherlock Holmes).

The Guard is a thriller-comedy set on the west coast of Ireland where Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson)  is a small-town cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humour, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle)to his door.

The Guard is an Irish/UK co-production, backed by the Irish Film Board and Section 481 as well as International Financiers. It’s produced by Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo for Reprisal Films and Ed Guiney (Garage) and Andrew Lowe (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) for Element Pictures.

Irish audiences will get an opportunity to see The Guard in cinemas when it goes on theatrical release this summer through Element Pictures Distribution.

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DVD: Perrier’s Bounty

Perrier’s Bounty

DIR: Ian Fitzgibbon • WRI: Mark O’Rowe • PRO: Elizabeth Karlsen, Alan Moloney, Stephen Woolley • DOP: Seamus Deasy • ED: Tony Cranstoun • DES: Amanda McArthur • CAST: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Jodie Whittaker

Perrier’s Bounty premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival last September. It was written by Mark O’Rowe of Intermission fame and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon who co-wrote and directed a film called Spin The Bottle (2003) Michael (Cillian Murphy) owes mob boss Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) €1,000.

Various complications en-sue when Perrier’s henchmen try to hunt down Michael, his neighbour and friend Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) and Michael’s father Jim (Jim Broadbent).

Cillian Murphy’s performance is fine, nothing to write home about (like the film itself) Jodie Whittaker does okay, but she seems it a bit miscast. Jim Broadbent’s Irish accent keeps slipping; he should have kept his own Lincolnshire accent. Gabriel Byrne narrates as the Grim Reaper. In the middle of the film tells the audience what is ahead of the characters. One of the subjects of the film is foretelling. Which will make sense after you see it. Brendan Gleeson’s characterisation of Perrier is a bit too caricatured to be believable. There are some gags about Dublin clampers, which are amusing. There are some violent scenes through the 84-minute running time, which neatly shows the film’s elements of bland dark humour and supposedly serious moments.

After you watch this DVD, just ask yourself will I remember this in a week? Probably not, Perrier’s Bounty is forgettable, but not instantly, it’s worth one viewing, before it fizzles through your head like paper.

There are no problems with the sound and picture quality.

Extra Features:

There two six-minute interviews first with Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson and second with Jim Broadbent and Jodie Whittaker. The interviews don’t have to be any longer, because you’ll only watch them once. The usual questions are asked how did you get involved in the project? Why did you choose the project? It would have been interesting to see some on the set footage.

Peter Larkin

Perrier’s Bounty is available on DVD from 16th August

Extra DVD Features include: Trailer; Interview with Cillian Murphy & Brendan Gleeson; Interview with Jim Broadbent & Jodie Whittaker

Optimium Releasing

  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language English
  • Region: Region 2
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Elevation Sales
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug 2010
  • Run Time: 84 minutes

Click here for Film Ireland’s interview with Perrier’s Bounty writer Mark O’Rowe

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Green Zone

Green Zone

DIR: Paul Greengrass • WRI: Brian Helgeland • PRO: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin • DOP: Barry Ackroyd • ED: Christopher Rouse • DES: Dominic Watkins • CAST: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson

You’ve seen the Green Zone trailer? Sadly, then, you have seen Green Zone. God knows what possessed the marketing campaign to congregate the major revelations of Paul Greengrass’ new project into the two-minute trailer. However, there you have it – expect no big surprises when watching the finished product.

Unless of course you were expected it to be pants. Green Zone is not pants. It’s mature, intelligent, relevant, well researched and well executed. But you probably already knew that from the trailer too. Regardless, you’re in for a treat when you sidle into your seat for a suspense filled 115 minutes.

Green Zone is riddled with more plot-points than bullets. Despite its premise as a war-film, it’s in its element when fairly depicting the intricacies of a crumbling nation and its bumbling liberator. Matt Damon depicts the frustrated Chief Roy Miller, who investigates the seedy underbelly of political motivations surrounding the Iraq War. Greengrass makes a supreme effort, depicting parties openly, allowing, nay, challenging the viewers to make up their own minds about who fits the archetypal ‘Good Guy/Bad Guy’ roles.

The threat of a gung-ho, pro-American, anti-Iraq feature disperses as readily as the presence of WMDs. Despite the Damon/Greengrass lineage with the latter Bourne movies, the action takes a back seat here, making way for a taught, gripping narrative. That’s comparatively speaking – there are still healthy doses of gunfire and violence. The warfare is tight, efficient, realistic and adds to the immersive atmosphere.

But, alas, it wouldn’t be a Greengrass production without the notorious ‘shaky-cam’ covering the action unintelligibly at preposterous angles. Preferred by filmmakers, yet detested by fans, Greengrass makes no attempt to undo the damage his signature technique has caused action scenes, since 2004’s Bourne Supremacy. Thankfully, considering Green Zone is story-driven, not action orientated, this is easily forgiven.

Green Zone labours one point particularly – honesty. Honesty between soldiers, citizens and administrations. Deception prompts the bulk of the story’s strife. Refreshingly, despite its base in convoluted politics, the message prevails that honesty is the best policy; foreign or otherwise.

Green Zone attacks the audience’s recent memory, their biases regarding the Middle East, their apathy for war-torn nations and forces them to consider other viewpoints. It does so without pretension, and offers almost two hours of fine visuals and solid storytelling as reward.

Jack McGlynn
(See biog here)


Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Green Zone is released12 March 2010
Green Zone – Official Website

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