The Canal – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Ruairí Moore stretches his legs along The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh’s latest nightmare, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

So much of what constitutes classic horror is bound up in style and aesthetic – with each successive slasher flick where the order and extent of grotesquery is generally ranked by ethnicity or attractiveness, the gateway to the true shock and awe that horror is capable of providing creaks a little further shut. With The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh plants a foot in the jamb and barrels the door wide open.

A loving father and husband, David (Rupert Evans) is surprised to learn that his new family home was once the scene of a series of horrific murders. Initially dismissive, the mild-mannered film archivist soon begins to question his sanity when the brutal images begin to insinuate themselves among the various aspects of his personal life.

Nothing ground-breaking, but then it is not the plot that will see audiences stuck to their seats. Kavanagh’s love of cinema is immediately evident; the hum of film-reel and the snap-hiss of the projection light are the first images to startle, and it’s a device the director returns to time and time again.

Where much modern horror subsists on jump-scares, The Canal opts for a much more humdrum brand of dread, where the everyday is an invasive force. Sound design is key here, the growl of coat-zippers and the sudden slamming of doors adding a more ominous dimension the haunted-house scenario.

Neither is Kavanagh afraid to let silence and space stretch, favouring largely static cinematography but for the odd tight zoom – the end result is a gathering sense of genuine dread that is a welcome tonic to the flimsy and fleeting hysteria that is the foundation of so much of the genre.

There is much and more that could be said of the cast, but suffice to say that newcomers Kelly Byrne and Calum Heath can’t help but steal the show, particularly in the funny and all-too-brief respites from the unrelenting force that is the rest of the film.

Raw, visceral and atmospheric, The Canal is one of the best horror films to grace Irish screens in far too long a time, and possibly the best these shores have ever produced. For those unmoved by patriotic sycophancies, a decent core workout is promised at the very least.

 

The Canal screened on Saturday, 28th March 2015 at The Light House Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Check out our reviews of the Irish films that screened at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

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InConversation with Grainne Humphries

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This episode of InConversation features Grainne Humphries, Festival Director of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival since 2007.

 

The 2015 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival takes place 19 – 29 March.

 

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You can check out our preview of the Irish films screening at this year’s festival here

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Jameson Dublin International Film Festival Mash-up Trailer

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The programme for the 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival was officially launched this week with Jack Reynor and Gerard Barrett in attendance.

 

Take a look at the exclusive mash-up trailer that highlights the films that are showing as part of the festival.

 

 

The 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will take place from the 19th – 29th March 2015. The full programme is now available to view from the festival website jdiff.com

 

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Russell Crowe to Attend Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival have announced that Russell Crowe’s directorial debut The Water Diviner will screen on Friday, 20th March

 

Academy award winning actor Russell Crowe will attend the festival next month to introduce his new film The Water Diviner and participate in a post-screening Q&A at the Savoy Cinema.

 

Entertainment One’s forthcoming release, The Water Diviner, is a tale of love, faith and heroism. Four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I, Australian farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his three sons who enlisted to fight amongst their allies but have been reported as missing in action.

 

When his questions are blocked by military bureaucracy, he’s aided by a beautiful hotel owner (Olga Kurylenko) and then by Major Hassan, a Turkish war hero (Yilmaz Erdogan) who becomes an unlikely ally. As Joshua heads across the tragic, war-torn landscape searching for answers, he struggles to find his own peace but desperately holds onto hope.

 

The 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival takes place from 19th – 29th March 2015. The full lineup for the Festival programme will be announced on Wednesday February 25th www.jdiff.com. The Water Diviner will be released in cinemas by Entertainment One on 3rd April 2015.

 

The Water Diviner: The Savoy Cinema | Friday 20 March. Tickets will be officially on sale for this event as of today and can be purchased online http://bit.ly/1McTsGv or www.jdiff.com or at their Box Office which is now open Monday to Friday 11am – 5pm on 13 Lower Ormond Quay. The JDIFF 2015 Season Ticket is currently available to purchase at €245 along limited edition merchandise. Also new this year is the Bring A Friend Season Pass, two season tickets for €425.

 

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JDIFF Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Stacey Grouden checks in to Wes Anderson’s The Budapest Hotel, which had its Irish premiere at the weekend as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

In an early scene in Wes Anderson’s latest film, a girl admires the stone bust of an author, famous for his book, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Through a series of flashbacks to 1985, 1968 and the 1930s, broken into chapters, we uncover the colourful story of its past, as told by its eccentric owner and former employee, Zero Moustafa (Abraham) to the author of the novel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, a lush Alpine resort in the fictional European nation of Zubrowka in an alternate 1930s, is run by the gently flamboyant concierge M. Gustave (Fiennes). A hit with the establishment’s more mature female guests, Gustave’s relationship with one particular lady, Madame Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Swinton), comes under close scrutiny when she is murdered and her will bequeaths to him a priceless painting, ‘Boy with Apple.’ Together with his loyal lobby boy, Zero (played as a young man by Tony Revolori), Gustave takes the painting and flees, desperate to clear his name and avoid the same fate as his late former lover.

Fans of Wes Anderson’s characteristic style won’t be disappointed as it retains the same storybook aesthetic for which he has been variously praised and criticised. The characters are lavishly costumed and the world beautifully realised in a series of decadent sets. Similarly, the film is divided into chapters, not only recalling his use of the same technique in The Royal Tenenbaums, but reminding the audience that we are hearing this story from the author, as told by Zero, to the author’s younger self. This structure – a frame within a frame within a frame – is often echoed in the composition, with deep halls, twisting staircases and rows of balconies outlining the characters in action.

But while a common argument about his films is that this quirky, distinctive style comes at the expense of substance, the narrative and thematic content here is deceptively rich. Ostensibly, The Grand Budapest Hotel sees Anderson presenting a postmodern and very entertaining twist on the 1930s-style detective story. But this structure, along with quietly elegant performances by Abraham and Revolori as Zero, see it elevated to a poignant memoir, an ode to times past, and to dearly-departed mentors. This can be seen not only in how the film presents M. Gustave as a long-passed, old-world gentleman, but is also perhaps a nod to old Hollywood, to Hitchcockian escapades on trains, Great Escape-style prison breaks, and the artisanal glamour of a well-designed, densely-detailed set-piece.

But the introspection offered by this many-layered approach would fall flat without the strength of its central performances, and while a number of Anderson’s staple actors make appearances – Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, among others – Ralph Fiennes steals the film as M. Gustave H. Achieving the subtle distinction between delivering a huge performance without being over-the-top, Fiennes balances his theatrical gravitas with his rarely-executed gift for comedy, making it impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Just like a concierge, his performance adapts to every new situation with aplomb and never misses a beat.

Lively, but with moments of unexpected darkness, tension, and poignancy, The Grand Budapest Hotel is well worth a visit.

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

 

 

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Interview: Dawid Ogrodnik

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Anna Pospieszynska met with Polish actor Dawid Ogrodnik, who stars in Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida and the inspiring Life Feels Good by Maciej Pieprzyca, both of which are screening as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Irish audiences will have a chance to dive into two beautifully crafted stories, which are great examples of the “journey” cinema, so intensely focused on self-discovery and pursuit of a character’s own identity. So lets start from the beginning and your journey into acting.

My road has led me to confrontation with myself and defining what I want and how I can get there. I realised I had to stake everything on one card to reach my goals. Undoubtedly, it was a very difficult decision to make, particularly if you are 12 years old. Nevertheless, there was that nagging feeling of something awaiting me and I did need to see it. So I sold everything I owned and left thome to realize my dreams. There was definitely a lot of luck involved as I met many really good people on my journey, first in music and then at acting school. As a result of my decisions, I am here. The funny thing is that even now my intuition tells me there is more for me to discover so I needed to keep moving ahead.

Every journey might make you weary. Could you count on an emotional boost to push you forward?

I think each project I got involved in drove me significantly forward. Definitely one of the first key people I met was the director Leszek Dawid with whom I worked  on I am the God (Jestem Bogiem). Thanks to him I learned to be honest with the camera and that to pretend emotions is your worst enemy.  You have to really feel it regardless of how many times you have played it. Never try to ‘rewind’ feelings, as you would lose your realness.  Life Feels Good, with Maciej Pieprzyca, was the biggest challenge of my life and taught me a lot about humility and helped me see an actor’s work from a different perspective. Suddenly you dedicate your whole life to one project and it becomes your objective.

You have been presented as an actor who fishes for roles of the outsider, which places you in the great company of Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp or Christian Bale. At the same time it requires a lot of effort, time and energy. What makes them so appealing?

It is both challenging and inspirational. After some point you realize that the brain acts as an extremely absorbent sponge. It enables you to readjust and engage with a huge variety of elements and particulars, which brings you eventually to the stage of metamorphosing into a character you are to play. And this is what fascinates me in this job. On the one hand it creates a comfort zone as you are creating a persona you have nothing in common with in real life. On the other, there is a danger of the pastiche and grotesque sneaking into your work if you do not do it right. It is a risk you need to take but you need to get ready and be responsible for all pros and cons that go with it.

Looking at your character in Ida, I see his symbolic weight that enriches the life of Anna, the female protagonist. Like metaphysical doors, she has to enter through them to continue her path to self-discovery and change. How did getting involved in this movie transform your life?

The script was one of the reasons why I decided to take part in it.  Then there was my love of the saxophone and music. As the movie takes place in the ’60s, it was a very special time for Jazz, especially on the Polish scene. The director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wanted the soundtrack to reflect the movie’s ambience, which just added extra value to the project. In regards to my character, there was nothing extreme about him. However, what mesmerized me was the inner world he shared with the Anna, expressed by gestures, tunes and a desire to find an understanding, kindred spirit.

Polish Cinema is showing a new face, highlighting its more universal line of storytelling. We can see it in freshly produced pictures, such as Life Feels Good, Imagine and Lasting’ As a young actor attending international film festivals, how would you describe the audience’s reactions to this change? And what else would you like to see?

It is a very interesting direction. You can see how well received our movies were in 2013 and how many festivals have already included them, e.g. Montreal, Berlin, or even now in Dublin. I believe it is just the beginning. We might lack a directing personality that is not afraid of pushing it forward and embracing all new elements and themes that this trend can offer but we are definitely getting there. Also in terms of acting, Polish Cinema is very much rooted in a script which can focus on following a word-by-word structure, which definitely keeps us different, and it is great. However, maybe there should be just a bit more space for improvisation. You can see in American films that many directors give actors more freedom. Of course you don’t want to have it overdone across many scenes as often happens in such movies, but it might give us an opportunity to react to some situations more organically. Plus, we shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting as well as introducing new topics. Film is a limitless form of art and shouldn’t be confined or restricted by social taboos or difficult subjects such as homosexuality or transsexuality. I hope one day our cinema will be full of amazing scripts that give us a breath of fresh air, directed by young minds behind the camera, ready to steer us to new cinematic waters.

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

The 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs 13 – 23 February 2014,


 

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JDIFF 2014: Irish Film Preview – Irish Short Film

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Friday, 14th Feb 2014

Light House Cinema @ 6:30PM

JDIFF presents another hand-picked selection of the best Irish shorts.

Breakfast Wine
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Writer: Kevin Barry
Running Time: 11 minutes
They say it takes just three alcoholics to keep a small bar running in a country town, but what if you’ve only got two?

Atrophy
Director: Mairtín de Barra
Writer: Matthew Roche
Running Time: 13 minutes
Atrophy examines the sacrifices made in the name of development, and the effect they have upon people. A tale of old versus new, loss, friendship and an old farmer and his dog…

Rúbaí
Director: Louise Ni Fhiannachta
Writer: Anton Beag Ó Colla
Running Time: 11 minutes
The First Holy Communion is fast approaching but as an atheist, eight-year-old Rúbaí refuses to be a part of it. Rúbaí faces emotional blackmail, religious and philosophical debate and out and out intolerance in today’s supposedly diverse and modern Ireland.

Morning
Director: Cathy Brady
Writer: Cathy Brady, Sarah Woolner
Running Time: 20 minutes
Mary wakes up on the sofa with a banging headache. Her morning routine is broken by a persistent reporter.

Uisce Beatha
Director: Shaun O’Connor
Writer: Tadhg Hickey
Running Time: 8 minutes
Set in 1912, Uisce Beatha is the true story of Tom, a young man who leaves his home in rural Ireland to cross the ocean on the ill-fated Titanic. But a night of celebration beforehand results in a twist that will affect Tom’s fate drastically…

The Ledge End of Phil (From Accounting)
Writer-director: Paul Ó Muiris
Running Time: 6 minutes
Stuck outside looking in, Phil is forced to face the world he’s been ignoring. Now he must take a leap of faith or be trapped forever.

Mechanic
Writer-directors: Tom Sullivan, Feidlim Cannon
Running Time: 15 minutes
A mechanic at the end of his tether finds solace in old age…

4 Bhanríon
Director: Vittoria Colonna
Writers: Vittoria Colonna, Eoin Rogers
Running Time: 15 minutes
4 Bhanríon (4 Queens) is a black comedy about four elderly sisters who play a game of poker to decide who will take care of their elderly mother.

 

Director: Various

Duration: 99 minutes

Tickets are available to book from Filmbase or online here

Check out the rest of our previews of Irish films screening at this year’s festival.

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JDIFF 2013: West of Memphis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gordon Gaffney

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JDIFF 2013: The Look of Love

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

The Look of Love

Thursday, 21st  February
Cineworld
18.15
101mins

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Gordon Gaffney
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JDIFF 2013: Jump

 

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

Jump

Tue, 19th February
Light House 1
21.00
82 mins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynn Larkin

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JDIFF 2013: Preview – The Frames: In the Deep Shade

The 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

The Frames: In the Deep Shade

Sun, 17th February
Cineworld 9
19.35
87 mins

Director Conor Masterson will attend the screening.

Filmmaker Conor Masterson worked closely with the band over 18 months, beginning on their 20th anniversary tour in 2010.

‘The Frames have always been very positive collaborators. I felt this was an opportunity to make a film that could explore their creativity as people and musicians as well as capturing some of their very dynamic and exciting live performances in close up.’

Book tickets here or drop into Filmbase

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JDIFF 2013: Preview – The Good Man

The 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

The Good Man

Sat, 16th February
Cineworld 11
16.00
74mins

 

Phil Harrison’s film tells the stories of two seemingly unrelated lives. Michael is a young Irish banker, whose life begins to unravel after causing a stranger’s death in an accident. Sifiso is a teenager living in a shack in a Cape Town township, dreaming of escape. When their stories unexpectedly collide, their impact on one another’s lives is far greater, and more surprising, than either could have imagined.

Starring Aidan Gillen The Good Man is a powerful investigation of the nature of goodness.

Phil Harrison will attend the screening.

Book tickets here or drop into the Festival Hub in Filmbase in Temple Bar.

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JDIFF 2013: Story Campus DAY TWO Sunday, Feb 17th

If you have a feature film project:

Apply now for DAY TWO of Story Campus to be one of twenty filmmakers (writers/directors/producers) selected to advance your feature film project by participating in a day of round table meetings with experienced industry guests as part of Story Campus development activities.

DAY TWO of Story Campus will provide training, help clarify your challenges and strategies, and put you in front of the kind of industry professionals who can help.  To apply for a place please go to www.storycampus.com or email the following documents to contact@storycampus.com by 10.00 GMT February 4th  with STORY CAMPUS JDIFF in the subject line.

 

  •  A synopsis — up to one page — of feature film (fiction) project to be presented.
  • CV
  • Letter of application including status of project, any team members attached and full contact details.

 

While narrative feature film projects of all budgets are welcome we encourage low / micro budget projects to apply.

 

For for more information go to:

and

 

 

“Story Campus is a travelling conversation on the nature and future of storytelling for the screen. After a sold-out first year, Story Campus returns to Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013 with a two day programme of activities on 16th and 17th February, in association with Screen Training Ireland, The National Film School IADT, and MEDIA Desk.”

 

 

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Please note: DAY ONE of Story Campus on Sat Feb 16th (separate event):

This year’s event will include a keynote conversation with Oscar-wining screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, The Last Detail, Mission Impossible), and online discussions with David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) and writer/director Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness, Europa Europa, The Wire) – in addition to panel discussions, etc.

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Shortlist Announced For IFB / JDIFF ‘Untitled’ Screenwriting Award Competition

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Shortlist Announced For IFB / JDIFF ‘Untitled’ Screenwriting Award Competition

Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board (IFB) and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) are delighted to announce the shortlist for the third UNTITLED public screenwriting competition. The competition invited writers to submit an idea for a live action or animated feature film within the genre of Family Films, for the chance to win an IFB Screenplay Development Loan of up to €16,000.

The shortlisted entrants are:

George Kane – A Sleigh In A Manger
Nick Wilkinson – Icarus O’Neil’s Rising Dilemma
Emma Hogan – Snöt and Gröt (animation)
Eoin Rogers – The Cloud Giant (animation)
Lee Cronin – Arthouse

The five shortlisted writers will present the first few scenes of their script to an independent panel of industry professionals, in a unique public event during the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. The winner will be announced at the Festival Closing Night.

Now in its third year, the UNTITLED Competition has had an overwhelming response to date with previous themes of comedy in 2011 and last year’s 1916. The inaugural year of the event saw the writing duo of Enda Loughman and Mike Ahern take home the prize of a €16,000 loan towards the development of their comedy screenplay The Bogman King. Michael Kinirons and Jamie Hannigan scooped an award of €16,000 last year with their 1916 noir thriller Come Monday, We Kill Them All.

Further details on the public pitching event and industry panel members will be announced shortly.

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Call For: JDIFF seeks Interim General Manager

 

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The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival seeks to appoint an Interim General Manager on a 9-month contract to work with the existing artistic and executive team to effectively deliver the 11th Festival in February 2013.

Expressions of interest to be submitted to The Chairman of the board to arrive by close of business on Friday, 10th August 2012, by post to:

The Chairman
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
22/23 Dawson Street
Dublin 2

Further details on the position are available on application to The Chairman, by email to:

chairman@jdiff.com

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JDIFF: Terence McDonald

Terence McDonald

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Irish: Terence McDonald

Wednesday, 21st February, 6:30pm, IFI

A teacher by trade, prolific Derry amateur filmmaker Terence McDonald (1926-2001) shot over 35 films in his lifetime. For this low-key JDIFF screening, Terence’s son, Peter, shared with us, not only about his father’s varied and skillful shorts but also about what a passionate, talented cinefile he was and pillar in the local community.

It was a privilege to experience this intimate screening as I was only one of a handful at the IFI’s tiny screen. Introduced by IFI curator, Sunniva O’Flynn, Peter spoke about the first three films and what they meant to him and his family.

First of the bunch was A City Solitary (30 minutes, 1963). Produced by Terence McDonald, this reflection onDerry’s history and problems was written by a 26-year-old John Hume. Sympathetic – yet ultimately hopeful ­- this masterfully crafted documentary features contributions from both sides of the sectarian divide. Peter informed us how when people had asked him for the cut footage, they were left disappointed as Terence had edited shots in his head to save on the cost of film.

The Man From Aunt (5 minutes, 1965) is a hilarious and homely slapstick, where Terence featured actors from the local Derry community. This was an homage to early comedy, specifically the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Nebelung (11 minutes, 1978), an internationally successful, mutli-award-winning ‘experimental’ film, was considerably darker. Peter shared his suspicions that this may not have been the arthouse parody that his father claimed it to have been. This was shot on two Sunday afternoons, with one of the teachers from his school and a lot of the young students.

The next of the three was The Fugitive (5 minutes, 1966), a short funny piece. Much like The Man From Aunt, this showed the local community in pursuit of a runaway pram as it rolls down the hills of Derry.

The evening concluded with The Portable Theatre (25 minutes, 1968), before which Peter spoke about how this was commissioned by the McCormick Family, the last ‘fit-up’ travelling show in Ulster. Documenting a tradition that was obliterated by TV and Film, this was previously scheduled to screen on RTÉ. Unfortunately it was pulled after an Apollo crashed, as it featured a lighthearted song with the lyrics ‘you’ll never put a man on the moon.’

Truly a great experience, this surprise gem of a screening turned out to be my favourite of the festival!

Gemma Creagh

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012 First Look Cinema Review: Michael, a chilling child-kidnapping tale from Austria

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

First Look: Michael

Tuesday, 21st February, 6:15pm, Light House 

I was apprehensive going to see this feature from Austrian filmmaker Markus Schleinzer, its plot echoing the case of kidnapped Austrian girl Natascha Kampusch.  Michael (Michael Fuith) is holding a young boy Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) captive in his basement and both go about their day-to-day lives.

This film is not out to shock the viewer with graphic scenes instead it is the  filmmaker’s skill and the viewer’s imagination that conjures up the sometimes chilling horror.  Schleinzer sticks to the everyday logisitics of a pedophile keeping a captive child, for instance showing him wandering around a supermarket with a large load of groceries in preparation for when he leaves the house for a prolonged period.

It contains another great performance from a younger actor in this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in David Rauchenbuger.  One can’t help wondering how Schleinzer went about directing him without leaving a seriously scarred and traumatised child actor behind, or at least one not more scarred and traumatised than regular child actors.

Michael Fuith, perhaps unfortunately for him, looks like he was born to play a child predator.  When these horrific cases come to light, you often hear neighbours and work colleagues say how shocked they were, that the perpetrator was always so quiet and polite and it was the last thing they would have expected.  Fuith’s Michael is exactly that. Frequently silent, expressionless, emotionless, socially awkward, going about his otherwise mundane daily life.

Its subject matter makes it tough to recommend as a ‘go-see’ piece of entertainment, but the techniques employed by Schleinzer to conjure up tension and dread in an audience ought to be admired and experienced.

Gordon Gaffney

 

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUg0Mok8TTQ

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JDIFF 2012: Nightdancers

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Irish:

Nightdancers

Friday, 24th February, 6.10pm, Cineworld

Cannibals, breakdance and Uganda – not your typical Irish documentary, Emile Dinneen’s Nightdancers provided a fascinating insight into a generation’s struggle with their own cultural and spiritual beliefs. The film charts the journey of Tabu Flo, a group of Ugandan dancers, who are given the opportunity to realize their dreams of fame by bringing their art to the big stage in London after festival organizer Jonzi D invites them to perform as part of Breakin Convention, an international hip-hop theatre festival based in London.

In order to communicate something of their own culture in their performance, the group incorporated the narrative of the nightdancers into their routine. Nightdancers are semi-mythological fire-breathing human-flesh eaters.  As the documentary progresses we see how the group struggle with their decision to base their show on the nightdancers as their research into the phenomenon uncover its complexities and has a profound effect on them.

The film that was shown as part of the 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival was not a final cut so we’ll have to wait for the finished product of a journey that the film’s been on for a number of years.

Director Emile Dinneen and the film’s producer Nicky Gogan were present for a lively Q&A session after the screening. Emile told the audience how the project began when he was living out in Kampala in 2006 where he helped to start a community centre teaching kids how to breakdance. He had been filming the development of the centre and the dancers there and once he met with Jonzi D it was a great opportunity to take what they’d been doing in Kampala onto the next level, onto a bigger stage.

The film combines sharp storytelling, striking imagery and hypnotic editing to maintain a delicate balance between its darker journey into the soul with the ambitious journey of the dancers and the spectacle of performance.  Still a work in progress, nevertheless Nightdancers showed enough promise to take shape as an enthralling documentary providing an intimate portrayal of its charismatic characters and intriguing subject matter.

Steven Galvin

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JDIFF 2012 First Look Cinema Review: Margaret, directed by Kenneth Lonergan

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

First Look: Margaret

Tuesday, 21st February, 8:00pm, Cineworld

In Kenneth Lonergan’s long-awaited return to filmmaking since his breakout success, You Can Count On Me (2000), he delivers an emotionally intense and engaging drama set in New York City post 9/11. The film relates the story of teenager Lisa (Anna Paquin) whose path crosses with a bus driver, played by Mark Ruffalo. Their chance encounter results in a gruesome bus crash, claiming the life of a woman. And what ensues is a relentless pursuit for justice and atonement.

Oscar®-winner Anna Paquin delivers an impeccable and powerful performance playing Lisa, the somewhat spoilt, awkward and self-absorbed teenage daughter of separated parents, off-Broadway actress Joan (J Smith-Cameron) and Karl (played by the director, Kenneth Lonergan) who lives on the West Coast. As well as going through the horrific ordeal of the bus crash, Lisa is dealing with all the other issues that any typical teenager has to face. As a result her teenage angst seems to be amplified, to the point she often becomes a very annoying character, but this essentially works really well.

Margaret boasts a very talented and well-known cast. Even with their comparatively small roles Matthew Broderick, Matt Damon, Allison Janney, Jean Reno and Mark Ruffalo give great performances and their characters all have a vital role to play in the life of Paquin’s character.  Jeannie Berlin also gives a stunning performance as Emily, the dead woman’s best friend with whom Lisa teams up with in her quest for justice.

Lonergan’s portrayal of a young woman’s struggle with her conscience is superb. He captures the highs and lows that Lisa’s situation generates, from the beautifully calm slow motion sequences of Lisa walking through the city, to the powerful scene with Emily in the lawyer’s office for the last time where she has a complete breakdown. Another interesting aspect to this film is the complete role reversal of the characters. The usual student/teacher and child/parent roles seem to be reversed. The adults in this film are quite selfish, irresponsible and too caught up in their own lives to be able to give Lisa the moral guidance she so desperately wants and needs.

Her mother is completely preoccupied with her new play and new romance with Ramon (played by Jean Reno). Her father, who lives on the West (opposite) coast has a new family and is trying to kick start his career. He and Lisa have awkward conversations that show she is desperate for a parent – but he never delivers. Emily seems to be her only source of comfort and counsel but does at times question Lisa’s intentions.

Kenneth Lonergan participated in a Q&A after the film. The audience had nothing but praise for Lonergan and this, his second film. His tremendous love and respect for his cast and crew really came across as he talked about making this film. Apart from the fact that his wife plays Lisa’s mother Joan (J. Smith-Cameron) and he went to high school with Matthew Broderick, he really defends the merit in working with people he knew. He wanted to work with talented people, and the people whose talents he knows, are people he knows. Simple. He spoke of Anna Paquins performance as ‘always at full pitch’. He also spoke about the above-mentioned scene where Lisa and Emily are in the lawyer’s office for the last time and describes how she achieved her amazing performance after only three takes. Lonergan described how with the crew he watched that scene from another room on a monitor. When Paquin finished the scene and came into the room where they all were and he described how  ‘the emotion ebbed out of her’.

I found this film completely compelling and complex. The only criticism I would have is that there seems to be too much going on towards the end of the film, so much so, that some of the sub storylines don’t seem very plausible. But this doesn’t take away from the overall brilliance of the long overdue return to the director’s chair of Kenneth Lonergan.

Michelle Cunningham

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012 Irish Cinema Review: Silence, Pat Collins and Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Irish: Silence

Thursday, 23rd February, 8:45pm, Light House

 

Pitched somewhere between documentary and fictional film Silence gently eases us through a defiantly abstract story. It stars Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde as a man who is striving to capture silence on audio, or the closest approximation to it. Wandering across the Irish landscape he attempts to locate a place untouched by man-made noise to fuel this private obsession and the film employs a great deal of natural longueurs to illustrate the natural splendour of the countryside.

 

Eoghan’s crusade brings him into contact with a few different characters who like himself appear to live on the fringe of a world slightly more exaggerated than real life and it’s in this mingling of the real and fantasy that the film retains its mystery.

I notice that the character’s name which is shared by the actor is only uttered once in the film casually by an old man he converses with near the end, the line between improvising and script becoming blurred. The mix of professional actors and real people lends an unsteady air to the whole proceeding. With the lead also being an audio engineer outside his acting work this lends an authenticity to his role.

 

In conversation with filmmaker Ken Wardrop following the screening the director Pat Collins told us that the treatment was at one both specific of back stories but loose regarding the framing of scenes. While certain beats and story moments had to be hit the tone of the piece feels elusive and stark.  Collins explains, ‘It began as an idea of the old time folk collector, the man who records stories for future generations.’ Utilizing some archive material which is interspersed throughout conveys that message of lineage economically and to great effect.

 

When divorced from the overriding idea of silence as an artistic or personal force the film is essentially a prodigal son story, the man afraid to return to the island of his youth, to the weighty silence of home. The character is very remote, letting very little personal information trickle out in his various conversations, his discussion with a writer erring on the side of abstract analysis, his conversation with another man being far more generalised.

 

It is interesting to note that it is when faced with a younger generation and through the Irish language (obviously a skill he does not employ inBerlinwhere he currently lives, one of the few concrete facts we are told about him) that he seems to open up the most when faced with the naivety of youth. The boy he discusses his life with seems to ask far more probing questions unknowingly than other adults featured. Perhaps the boy lacks a filter or finesse the other characters would have used when discussing such matters.

 

Visually stunning, the array of locations from Berlin via Cork, Mayo and Belfast amongst others is caught with a loving eye and an artist’s appreciation of scope. However I can’t deny that the film left me somewhat cold as the quest is somewhat academic and sterile and the character too vague. I understand this was a choice on its creators part and having a more conventional structure and protagonist would have run the risk of sentimentality I do wish there was more of a hook here. While trying to avoid maudlin clichés they fell afoul of the other extreme and have crafted a cold arty piece that while masterfully shot its fidelity to silence leaves all other senses out of the loop.

 

Emmet O’Brien
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Winner Of Untitled Screenwriting Competition 2012 Announced

The winner of the UNTITLED Screenwriting competition, run in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board (IFB) and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) was announced this weekend.

COME MONDAY, WE KILL THEM ALL written by Jamie Hannigan and Michael Kinirons, beat the other four finalists to take home the prize of a first draft development loan of €16,000.

Commenting on their win, Michael and Jamie said:  “”The Untitled competition is a great way to introduce a film like ours into 
the world, so we’re absolutely thrilled to have won, especially after seeing
how strong the other pitches were. It was incredibly encouraging to get such a strong response from an audience at this early stage.”

Michael Kinirons taught the Autumn 2011 Directing for Screen 8 week course and the 1-day ‘Getting the most from your outlines and treatments’ course  in Filmbase. Jamie Hannigan is a frequent contributor to Film Ireland magazine.

Whittled down from nearly 200 entries, the winning team was announced following a public pitching session chaired by Andrew Meehan (Development Executive, IFB) where the five finalists had to pitch their feature film idea on the theme of ‘1916’ to an industry panel consisting of leading Irish producer James Flynn, actor and writer Mark O’Halloran, talent agent Charlotte Kelly and JDIFF Festival Director Grainne Humphreys in front of a public audience.

COME MONDAY, WE KILL THEM ALL is a ‘Chinatown’/’Third Man’-inspired film 
noir, set in the murky wartime world of 1916 Dublin.

The four runners up were Jasmina Kallay with her drama Das Irland, Anne Marie Casey and Joseph O’Connor with their biopic Grace 1916, Hugh Travers with his black comedy The Players and Virginia Gilbert with her drama The Boys who will all receive season passes to next year’s film festival.

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JDIFF 2012 Out of the Past: Baraka,1992

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Out of the Past: Baraka

Saturday, 25th February, 1:00pm, Cineworld

Although not blatant and certainly not hamstrung by an imposed agenda beyond that of the viewer’s own reactions, Ron Fricke’s enduring documentary still tells a story of sorts. Its narrative arc lies in the development of our planet and it charts a world which in the early stages is untouched by man before then detailing a wide array of different cultures and their impact before finally turning skyward to loftier, less earthbound concerns.

While abstract and obtuse in its execution the film is quite approachable as the images offered are often beautiful tableaux. It is crisply shot with a vibrancy that benefits the diverse tones and textures of the journey. A lack of framing device or voiceover lets us bring our own sensibilities to the piece and I do believe it’s this lack of structure that accounts for Baraka’s legacy. A voiceover or a framing device would have hemmed in the film and forced the hand of its filmmakers to arrive at some trite point, the whole planet and civilisation boiled down into some weary soundbite. One can comment on and condemn human atrocities such as concentration camps without lecturing, and in a world where talking head documentaries manipulate an audience so condescendingly it is refreshing to see such broad strokes used to subtle effect.

It is obvious that Fricke honed his skills as a cinematographer on a similar style of films the Qatsi trilogy, directed by Godfrey Reggio, and this is his chance to personally tackle large issues in a way only cinema can. The term visual poetry has become overused but some of the beats here definitely flow with a rhythm one scene involving a colossal bell is a compelling moment. Photography comes close to this pursuit of capturing the world. However a picture is only the tease of an event but seeing a communal tribal chant for example in its full glory needs motion. It needs sound.

When focused on people and their rituals the film casts its spell admirably but as breathtaking as landscapes can be the novelty of seeing a volcano can wear off surprisingly quickly and long shots of that nature when overdone has always rankled me as something almost predictably art house. Baraka does fall into that trap but rarely as the cumulative effect of the visuals does satisfy on both an emotional and aesthetic level. With its sequel having just been released in Samsara it is time to revisit this and while it can only hint at this planet’s infancy and the future it would be interesting to see how far the filmmaker Ron Fricke has himself matured in the interim and to contrast his views on nature and technology in a time when the latter is more prevalent than ever.

Emmet O’Brien
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JDIFF 2012 Real to Reel Cinema Review: This Is Not A Film [In Film Nist]

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Real To Reel: This Is Not A Film [In Film Nist]

Sunday, 19th February, 6:00pm, Light House

 

This is Not a Film documents Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s house arrest leading up to a 6 year jail sentence for making films against the ‘Islamic regime’. Directorial credits are shared between Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (one of six Iranian filmmakers arrested in September 2011), who shows up early in the film in order to document Panahi in his apartment. Early scenes involve Panahi simply setting up a camera, recording his phone conversations with his apologetic attorney, and the more mundane aspects of his life, such as brewing tea and doing the dishes. Once Mirtahmasb arrives, Panahi begins to read, and even perform what would have been his next film.

The film would have received attention and possibly even acclaim if it were purely a document of Panahi’s arrest, yet there are many other fascinating aspects to this film. We get great insight into Panahi’s filmmaking style and values, through his discussions and performances of his unproduced script, and even the commentaries that he provides while he watches scenes from his own films.

Panahi has consistently shown an almost unparalled ability to extract very charming and engaging performances from his mostly non-professional actors.. He even  comments on the process of direcing non-actors while watching a clip of Crimson Gold and The Mirror. Towards the end of the film, after saying goodbye to his co-director Mirtahmasb, he meets a young student who is collecting garbage on each floor of the apartment complex. Panahi follows him and interviews him for over fifteen minutes, in a revealing and hilarious sequence. Panahi seems to recognise instantly that there is something interesting about this young man and his instinct is rewarded with an accidentally beautiful climax which visually mirrors  the closing of his 2006 film Offside.

Panahi comes across as effortlessly charming, a very gentle but passionate figure. There are several moments in the film where he addresses the issue of being a subject within his own film, of whether he is in fact performing and not being himself. It provides an interesting insight into Panahi’s values as a filmmaker. In spite of his rather dire situation, he appears to be composed and calm throughout the film. There is a beautiful moment of personal resistance against his arrest, where he declares that while banned for twenty years from writing, directing, and interviews, he is not banned from acting. This calm resistance is temporarily shattered during his script reading of his unmade film, where he dejectedly asks: ‘If we could tell a film, then why make a film?’ It is unclear whether he is questioning the value of his enactment of his script, or the filmmaking process itself. One wonders if this tension led to the film being titled This Is Not a Film. The moment interestingly mirrors the famous closing scene of Pasolini’s The Decameron, where Pasolini, himself a persecuted artist,utters a very similar line.

Panahi’s films have always expressed a love of life and people against a backdrop of political repression. Panahi and Mirtahmasb have continued this concern, as they refuse to sacrifice humour and charm for a larger political theme. The film will arrive in Dublin cinemas towards the end of March, and if one is not inclined towards political films, then lovers of cinema in general will find enough thought provoking material in a work which declares itself to not be a film at all.

 

Kieran O’Leary

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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Film Ireland at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival JDIFF 2012

 

The 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival brought the best of world and Irish cinema to Dublin and www.filmireland.net had the most extensive coverage in the country.

Thursday, 16th February

Cloudburst

Friday, 17th February

IFB Shorts

Saturday, 18th February

Crulic – The Path to Beyond

Apples of the Golan

The Enigma of Frank Ryan

The City Below [Unter Dir Die Stadt]

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages

Sunday, 19th February

Turn Me On, Goddammit [Få Meg På, For Faen]

This Is Not A Film [In Film Nist]

Le Havre

Hill Street

Tin Can Man

Monday, 20th February

 

Tuesday, 21st February

Silver Tongues

Michael

The Far Side of Revenge

Margaret

 

Wednesday, 22nd February

The Panic in Needle Park

A Quiet Life [Una Vita Tranquilla]

Dreamtime, Revisited

In Darkness

 

Thursday, 23rd February

Calvet

Batman

Silence

The Day I Was Not Born [Das Lied In Mir]

 

Friday, 24th February

JDIFF: Shorts

Nightdancers

 

Saturday, 25th February

Baraka

Sunday, 26th February

 

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JDIFF 2012 German Cinema Review: The Day I Was Not Born [Das Lied In Mir], in co-operation with Goethe-Institut Irland

 

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

German: The Day I Was Not Born [Das Lied In Mir]

Thursday, 23rd February, 8:45pm, Light House

 

Jessica Schwarz plays Maria a German girl on her way to Santiago, Chile who gets stuck in Buenos Aries, Argentina.  While there she discovers that she is not who she thinks she is and that she was adopted, or was she ‘stolen’?, out of the country as a child by her German ‘parents’.

This is a slow quiet well crafted movie, there are some tenderly awkward scenes when she meets her blood relations from Buenos Aires and the movie touches on the still raw subject of the Argentinian military dictatorship.

It’s the type of film Michael Bay doesn’t make, which could be recommendation enough to seek it out.

Presented in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut Irland.

Gordon Gaffney

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012: Out of the Past Cinema Review: Tim Burton’s Batman

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Out of the Past: Batman

Thursday, 23rd February, 6:00pm, Light House

Few icons are as known world wide as Batman, the bat signal itself being a logo that can be found in the most unlikely of corners and a huge part of the ubiquity is down to how the character has been portrayed in various media since his inception.

However the character was nearly overwhelmed by tonal shifts throughout his tenure. Firstly in the 1950s where the grim and Gothic crusader was replaced by a frothy boyscout all silly adventures which took him out of his usual milieu and dumped him into adventures encompassing time travel and cosmic concerns.

The ’60s then brought the smash hit TV show which built on the revised ideal and repositioned the character as a camp ringleader of a truly absurd and lighthearted world. With the humour ramped up the essence of this dark character was being lost. This had to be rectified. While it’s true, the essential elements of Batman lends itself to an endless array of interpretations, it was still decided that as a property it needed to return to its roots. Under the stewardship of writers such as Denny Adams and Frank Miller not to mention the moody art of Neal Adams, the comics began to claw back the angst and twisted sensibilities that first defined the book and it’s this version of the character that Tim Burton, long time fan of dark fairytales would fashion the tone to take Batman onto a wider stage.

With its film noir trappings and exaggerated and askew internal logic the film works in killing off the earlier camp but fails to hang together as a coherent film. A famously chaotic production (the final Batman/Joker confrontation, being written on set, which explains its poor resolution) one gets the feeling that the film had too many cooks. Having to accommodate Jack Nicholson who puts in a towerhouse performance as himself in clown make up, Prince on the soundtrack whose funk stylings clash with everything around it, introducing a hero, his entire raison d’etre and a love interest proves too much for a director who admits narrative is not his strong point. The love story is ridiculous even as these things go, rushed and unconvincing a potentially vital character reduced to a mere damsel in distress.

There’s no throughline to the film to anchor it as its constantly mutating script introduces elements only to discard them like some ‘wonderful toys’ as Joker himself might say. It’s a collection of ideas and tics rather than a proper story. Being too dark for children, whose desire for escapism would not be sated with this dismal and undesirable world and too simplistic for adults, its garish roster of gangsters and shallow characters find no nuance and settles instead for being patronisingly cartoony. Burton should have taken after Richard Donner’s philosophy when making Superman the movie, his notion of verisimilitude, that subject matter like this must be played straight to actually work.

Despite being dissatisfying as a whole there is one thing it gets right. Controversial when announced, the casting of Michael Keaton proved a masterstroke, his Bruce Wayne a nervy counterpoint to the more square jawed archetype of the comics and all the more interesting for that. Bob Kane who lobbied against the decision was forced to concede his mistake when Keaton impressed. The other feature of the film which is perfect is the score provided by Danny Elfmann a stirring piece which became iconic in its own right and endured past the films as the theme of the definitive Batman Animated series of the ’90s.

Simon Terzise gave a talk before the film extoling the virtures of the score remarking on its power and iconic stature. Burton himself did not relish the experience of making the film and his return to the series in ’92 for the very flawed but superior Batman Returns was a way for him to absolve the mistakes of this. It’s easy to see on screen why he felt uneasy about it all but the character has suffered far worse that this over his lengthy career. The movies most famous question, posed nonchalantly by Nicholson was ‘Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?’ Yes we can answer and a most mediocre experience it was as it turns out.

Emmet O’Brien

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlsM2_8u_mk

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JDIFF 2012 Real To Reel Cinema Review: Calvet

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Real to Reel: Calvet

Thursday, 23rd February, 4:00pm, Cineworld

It’s Scarface meets doodling. When you get a fascinating subject for a documentary you must be half way there. Like the jaw-dropping life story of John Healy documented in Paul Duane’s John Healy: Barbaric Genius which was screened at last year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, the subject of this documentary, Jean Marc Calvet, has battled his way through addiction and self destruction, homelessness, run-ins with the law and unsavoury types along with bodyguarding and scamming for good measure, before dramatically finding redemption through painting.

The first 30 minutes contains a heart stopping recollection of a scam carried out by Calvet in Tony Montana’s old stomping ground of Miami and in another nod to the Cuban, the titles are in blood red accompanied with thumping sound track.  This is no ordinary documentary.

Calvet is an intriguing subject; flawed, selfish and egocentric but also searingly honest and talented, indeed a price of $100,000 is placed on a painting of his by a gallery owner in New York. One gets the sense that the documentary is helping him exorcise some of his demons, just some as he looks like he holds plenty in reserve, and spurs him on to try and make good on mistakes he made in the past, in particular trying to contact his son that he abandoned many years ago as he is about to turn 18.

In the Q&A chaired by Dr. Harvey O’Brien, co-producer Brendan Byrne and Editor  Paul Carlin met in person for the first time.  Byrne said he is drawn to stories of redemption and justice but that in this case when he heard the story he thought it was too good to be true.  He also felt that it should have at least reached the Oscar® longlist for Best Documentary but the fact that it is predominantly in French held it back. Carlin said the main difficulty was the pacing and that he didn’t want to treat it as an art documentary.

But is it a true story?  Byrne believes it is 100% true and the thought that it wasn’t didn’t cross his mind until after the movie was screened and someone else brought it up.  My own thoughts are, as often happens, this story is too unbelievable and outlandish to have been made up.

*****SPOILER ALERT – QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN THE Q&A******

The documentary does raise some unanswered questions that were answered at the Q&A.

Byrne, who seems well used to the festival Q&A circuit, revealed that Calvet is indeed taking a risk going public, and the possibility of him being found and killed by his former employer is a plausible but to his mind unlikey threat.

Regarding the crew filming Calvet at intensely private family meetings Byrne believed that the camera spurred him and pushed him into doing things that otherwise he might have backed out on.  After discussions with family members that he had a crew there they consented to being filmed.

Gordon Gaffney

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012 Discovery Cinema Review: A Quiet Life [Una Vita Tranquilla]

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Discovery: A Quiet Life [Una Vita Tranquilla]

Wednesday, 22nd February, 8:10pm, Light House

Claudio Cupellini’s beautifully paced thriller A Quiet Life (2010) is not a mob movie.

Yes, the film glimpses at the shady reality of the Italian mafia but above that it looks intensely at a man’s fight for survival and his complex relationships with those closest to him.

Two decades after faking his own death to escape life with the Neapolitan mafia, Rosario (Toni Servillo), has set up a picture perfect life for himself in Frankfurt, Germany. He has a beautiful wife, a loving son and a successful hotel to run. However, when the young Italian Diego (Marco D’Amore) arrives on his doorstep with his boorish companion Edoardo (Francesco Di Leva) in tow, it isn’t long before the secrets of Rosario’s past start to unfold.

By shunning over-the-top mob movie clichés, the suspense in this tense thriller comes not from car chases and shoot-outs but from the sheer anguish of a man hiding a dark secret.

The critically acclaimed Servillo (Il Divo, Gomorrah) portrays this anguish with remarkable intensity, layer upon layer of emotion playing out on his face in almost every scene.

Sevillo moves with such fluidity from personas (jovial boss, loving family man, cold-blooded killer) that we are left wondering if we, like his own family, know him at all.

At times, close-ups of Rosario’s grimacing and weathered face enhanced by an expertly executed soundtrack and sharp editing leave you breathless.

The way in which the threat of violence simmers behind Rosario’s mild-mannered facade is enough to set the viewer on the edge. Mirroring this, the director only resorts to violence when vital to the plot but it is unnervingly ever present and poised to erupt – from the erratic behaviour of the coke-snorting Edoardo to the arty close-up of a brewing coffee pot on the point of boiling over.

Rosario’s frantic bid to kill off his violent past and preserve his future is shrewdly symbolised throughout – he hunts wild boar and puts mercury-studded nails into trees in his hotel’s backyard so that they will die and he can put up a biergarten where they’re still standing

Sadly, the director was unavailable for the Q&A due to take place after the screening. Perhaps Cupellini’s absence was itself a manufactured metaphor for his protagonist’s own disappearance.  Overreaching? Probably, however it was a shame none-the-less to miss spending a while in the company of the creator of such a gripping gaze at love, death and identity.

Carmen Bryce

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYeppf0lytc

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JDIFF 2012 Out of the Past Cinema Review: The Panic in Needle Park, starring Al Pacino

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Out of the Past: The Panic in Needle Park

Wednesday, 22nd February, 5:30pm, Cineworld 

Cautionary tales are a tricky thing to get right, especially when the subject matter is drug use, the temptation for the material to get heavy handed is always there and skill must be taken to ensure that while not condoning the lifestyle, the film doesn’t just become a sermon.

For the majority of its running time The Panic in Needle Park views its characters in a detached manner. Glimpses of intimacy between its central pair, the streetwise but permanently small fry Bobby and naive and sympathetic Helen are there, but the film covers a lot of ground in their relationship so the courtship is sketched rather than painstakingly pored over. This suits the subject of the film, the relationship begins like the giddy rush of drug use when parties stretch on for days and in that heady context the wastrels and prostitutes which surround the couple are given a worldly bohemian glow. While not glamorised in any real way the initial stages of the film do have a charming air. Pacino is at his best in these scenes, conveying Bobby’s roguishness that when divorced from the practicalities of what he actually does would make him quite seductive to the sheltered and introverted Helen. It’s not long before the inevitable comedown as we see Helen descend into a seedy lifestyle of her own, turning tricks to score drugs and become the main breadwinner .

In a post-Trainspotting world this arc is quite standard and as an audience we can see the beats as they come, anticipating the debasement we get on the screen. For its time I have no doubt it was shocking and a milestone regarding its themes and was greatly influential but it is more interesting for the impact it made rather than for its actual content. Some lovely moments are undercut by a narrative that stretches on for too long, the ups and downs of Helen and Bobby soon become quite wearying and it definitely overstays its welcome as in its latter moments the whole thing loses narrative focus and indulges some cliches and overly moralistic asides.

As Pacino’s second ever acting role The Panic in Needle Park is an interesting curio for fans of his, however it is surprising that as the film becomes more dramatic and pointed his performance falters a bit.

Kitty Winn on the other hand is a revelation throughout and the finest performance on screen, her gradual fall from innocence is full of nuance and it makes her the most tragic figure of all. She very much deserved her Best Actress win at Cannes that year for her work here. As an artifact of the 70s the film is very much of its time, and shows us the curdling of the ’60s hippie ideal of recreational drug use into a more desperate arena of shooting up and getting strung out. The dream was over well before the panic started.

 Emmet O’Brien

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012 Discovery Cinema Review: Silver Tongues

Silver Tongues

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Discovery: Silver Tongues

Tuesday, 21st February, 8:20pm, Cineworld 

There’s no wonder Simon Arthur’s odd, episodic wonder Silver Tongues has been picking up awards at festivals around the globe. As one of the most tangible and original indie pictures I’ve had the pleasure – and the intense unease – of viewing for a long time, I would desperately love to go into the fabulously dark depths of the plot. Unfortunately I can’t, as to do so would give away too many spoilers, so just give the trailer a watch below and take from it what you can.

Films that makes you giggle and disturb you to the very core of your being are a rare thing, yet Silver Tongues somehow manages to get away with doing both because of its untraditional, wry nature as a character study. I suppose it’s this disjointedness that keeps the film far enough away from reality so that the tougher elements are more palatable  – and it also means the plot is completely unpredictable.

The Q&A after with the film’s writer/director and handsome Scotsman, Simon Arthur, proved just as fascinating. Simon had worked as a screenwriter in the UK for quite a while but shared with us how he felt he really didn’t understand people or society. Because of this he ended up working as a prison guard for a number of months and then as security in a brothel. The following year he slept on the streets of London, where he spent time living with the homeless. Simon told us how he had to exaggerate parts of his personality to fit into those worlds, but that everybody else in them was doing the same. That’s where his vision for the Silver Tongues’ main theme, shedding identity, began.

For twenty minutes he regaled us with his experiences; moving to the US, working with the actors, making his first film, his plans for the future and even how he wouldn’t be very good at shooting Transformers. And then we were all left to wander back into the rain, still shell shocked and remembering bits of subtle plot nuances as we went for last buses.

Gemma Creagh

– On second thoughts… much like the film overall, this trailer is pretty deceptive. So if you have an elderly nan who loves psychological thrillers and plan on catching it when it’s released on Netflix…? Don’t. There are some very nasty violent and rapey bits throughout.

 

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

 

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