Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman, Co-Directors/Co-Writers of ‘Extra Ordinary’

In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman, Co-Directors/Co-Writers of Extra Ordinary, a supernatural comedy which tells the story of Rose, a sweet and lonely small town driving instructor who must use her supernatural ‘talent’ to save the daughter of a local man from a washed up rock-star looking to use her in a satanic pact that will reignite his fame.

Mike & Enda discuss things that go bump in the night, getting the project from script to screen, and working with Maeve Higgins, Will Forte, Barry Ward and Terri Chandler. They also talk about their early days in IADT and experimenting on mini-VHS tape, making music videos, ads, the influences behind their work and being practical with visual effects .

Extra Ordinary is released in Irish cinemas 13th September

 

 

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Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

DIR: Jon Watts • WRI: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers • DOP: Matthew J. Lloyd • ED: Leigh Folsom Boyd, Dan Lebental • PRO: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal • DES: Claude Paré • MUS: Michael Giacchino • CAST: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jon Favreau 

Sony’s well advised alliance with the Disney, Marvel people continues to pay off with this entertaining sequel to Spiderman: Homecoming, entitled Spider-Man: Far From Home in continuance with its home-themed titles. I’m guessing the next one is going to be called, Spiderman: No Place Like Home.

Far from Home follows on from the events of Avengers: Endgame, which resulted in the successful destruction of Thanos and the return of those who were turned to ashes five years prior (if you don’t know this already shame on you).  

Peter Parker and his friends, Ned and MJ, are adjusting to life, five years after the ‘blip’, as it is now known… at least to teenagers. Not having aged, they are finding some of their friends have grown in their absence. Most notable of these, for Peter, is Brad, once a scrawny ten-year-old, now a buffed up teenager who is making the moves on MJ.  The gang’s school trip to Europe is interrupted by Nick Fury, who needs an unwilling Spider-Man to help a new hero in town, Mysterio, Quentin to his friends, (a better than expected Jake Gyllenhaal). Quentin is chasing down elemental creatures that have destroyed the earth of his dimension and now threaten to destroy ours. Peter Parker unwillingly aids the agents of SHIELD and Mysterio, who becomes a sort of replacement mentor for the much missed Tony Stark.

Moving alongside the expected superhero shenanigans is the joyful, humorous teenage road trip. Peter is head over heels in love with MJ now and this possible romance is the where the story’s heart is. The last near girlfriend of his, moved a distance after her dad, The Vulture, was incarcerated, you might remember.  I’d say teenagers move on quick but there was a five-year gap if you count the ‘blip’. 

I wont tell you anymore, suffice to say Spidey has all sorts of ups and downs, personal challenges and life-threatening moments that he manages to overcome and save the day. Director Jon Watts does a great job of balancing the drama and the comedy. Watts understands that the whole thing is absurd already but that doesn’t mean it has to be treated with mockery and, god forbid, that camp might rear its head. For the most part, he balances out the humour and jeopardy beautifully. There are some clunky moments in there and some of the humour doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it’s easy to forgive, when the heart of the piece is so adeptly handled by the actors. 

The nerd part of me would love to say more about the plot but to say more would spoil the hell out of the wonderful revelations. I should point out that the film only plays to full satisfaction if you stay to the very last scene; yes, that means the final post-credit scene, not the middle post-credit scene. Anybody who leaves the cinema before seeing that final scene has in affect watched a different movie than us stalwarts.  I was never so amused and satisfied with a post-credit scene as I was with this one. If you stay for it you’ll thank me. 

Paul Farren

129′ 15″
12A (see IFCO for details)

Spider-Man: Far From Home is released 5th July 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home– Official Website

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Review: Toy Story 4

DIR: Josh Cooley • WRI: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom • ED: Axel Geddes • PRO: Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera • DES: Bob Pauley • MUS: Randy Newman • CAST: Tom Hanks, Patricia Arquette, Tim Allen, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, 

It’s hard to review Toy Story 4 without taking the entire franchise into consideration.  The original was a true phenomenon, the first feature-length computer animation, it ranks up there with Snow White as a groundbreaking moment in film history; yeah I know Snow White wasn’t the first animated feature, that’s not the point. Both films knocked the naysayers for six and helped form an inspiring legacy within the film industry.  Its sequels, 2 and 3, managed to keep up the quality in story telling and cinematic thrills, some would argue, even surpassing the one that started it all. Not to be a purist but I think the one that started it will always be the true gem of the franchise, it’s stating the obvious but without it the others would have nothing to build from. Of course they were quite brilliant and Toy Story 3 seemed to be the perfect ending to the trilogy.

Now some 24 years on and nine years after Toy Story 3 a fourth, some might say unnecessary, sequel has arrived. The original film, as most of you know, was about jealousy and fear of obsolescence in the form of Woody’s old-school cowboy being rankled by the new toy in town the deluded astronaut Buzz Lightyear, the toy who didn’t know he was a toy. This has been a constant thematic source throughout the franchise albeit in different forms and has evolved as the films have unveiled more and more aspects of the magical world of talking toys.  Now Woody faces the possibility in a whole new way, as his fate in his duty conflicts with his fear of not being needed anymore.

Toy Story 4 opens with a prologue explaining how Bo Peep was moved on from the lives of the other toys. A poignant sequence that reaffirms Woody’s feelings for Bo Peep and his loyalty to Andy.  Skip forward nine years to life with new owner Bonnie and the gang are in the familiar mode of waiting for that moment that makes a toys life worthwhile, being played with. Woody, as ever the organiser and consoler of worried toys, is not doing so well in these stakes but hey, his is not to reason why, he’s a toy and his job is to make sure Bonnie gets through childhood as best as a toy can do that kind of job. 

In a delusional moment of overzealous worry for Bonnie he sneaks into her bag and goes with her to her first day at school; in his own mind he think’s he might be useful. It’s not said explicitly but our Woody seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The pressures of doing the best for Bonnie and the fear of being left in the cupboard are getting to him. Despite his odd choice, Woody returns home successfully and introduces the gang to Bonnie’s new toy, one she has made at school. Part plastic fork, glued eyes, blu tack, lollipop sticks for feet and baring the name Forky, as one does when named by a five-year old. Unfortunately Forky, played by Tony Hale with the same quirky quality he brought to Buster in Arrested Development, is having a full-on existential crisis and would rather be in the in the trash basket than be Bonnie’s toy. 

Woody now has a new mission and reason to be; he is determined to get Forky to take on this new responsibility no matter what it takes. The job mostly involves keeping Forky out of the trash. Finally, Forky jumps from the family RV during a road trip in what can only be seen as a toy/trash suicide attempt. After a contrived bit of banter about how he can meet the gang at an RV rest stop further down the road and Woody goes off on the requisite rescue mission. 

That’s only the beginning; coincidences and contrivances come at an alarming rate even for an animated film as Bo Peep is met and further rescues and high suspense follow as well as the meeting of a whole slew of new toys that, for the most part, are as entertaining and endearing as expected from this franchise.

This round is a Woody-heavy affair, relegating most of the other old co-stars to the background in favour of the sheriff and some new characters; only Buzz really figures strongly in the tale and even he feels like just a supporting character with a pointless subplot involving his ‘inner voice’, which attempts to play off the deluded Buzz persona of the past.  

Some fun new characters are on board though; Polly Pocket and, the stunt bike toy inspired by Evel Knievel are given homage and a boost in toy sales, in the form of Officer Giggle McDimples, Bo Peep’s sidekick and Duke Caboom, a Canadian motorbike stunt toy who couldn’t live up to the television advertising, losing his disappointed kid after only one Christmas day.  Also on hand are two cheap Funfair prizes, Bunny and Ducky who have a run-in with Buzz and provide creepy advice at the worst moments.

The tragic villain of the piece is Gabby Gabby, a doll from Woody’s era who has never known the love of a child, who adds some interesting dimensions to the proceedings; her minions, a trio of ventriloquist dummies, bring an extra element of horror to the mix which might have the smaller audience members dragging their parents to the cinema exits.  Ventriloquist dummies are up there with clowns on a lot of people’s heebie jeebie lists.

Though the film seems like an unnecessary addition to the franchise (Toy Story 3 was also a hard act to follow) there is no doubting its ability to entertain. The franchise is starting to creak under the logic of its own world building but at least this one has a worthwhile ending or at least an end to this particular era at the very least, that just manages to survive the shenanigans. It is certainly the oddest of the bunch and has a few more than usual philosophical questions amidst the mayhem and ends on a final musing from Forky that will certainly keep some of the brighter children awake at night.

Paul Farren

@PaulFarrenA 

99′ 58″
G (see IFCO for details)
Toy Story 4 is released 21st June 2019

Toy Story 4  – Official Website

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John Butler, Writer/Director Papi Chulo

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, Papi Chulo tells of a down-on-his-luck weatherman (Matt Bomer) who is shaken by the end of a relationship. He has an on-air meltdown, prompting concerned bosses to persuade him to take some time out. To fill his days, he employs a Latino migrant worker (Alejandro Patiño) to paint his home but also to keep him company. Despite their cultural, age and language differences, they connect.

Paul Farren sat down with writer/director John Butler to talk about creating his comedy/drama,  the themes of empathy and unlikely friendship, the talents of Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patiño and working with DOP Cathal Watters and composer John McPhillips.


Papi Chulo is in cinemas from 7th June 2019

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Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix

DIR: Simon Kinberg • WRI:John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Simon Kinberg DOP: Mauro Fiore • ED: Lee Smith • PRO: Todd Hallowell, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner • DES: Claude Paré • MUS: Hans Zimmer • CAST: Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patiño, Elena Campbell-Martinez

It never bodes well when a film gets a press screening the day before it is to be unleashed on the public, being optimistic I thought maybe it’s some kind of bluff. Then I saw the rest of my press-screening invite telling me that all comments and reviews were embargoed until 7am on the day of the film’s unleashing. A double bluff, I optimistically thought.  No such luck I’m afraid.

Dark Phoenix arrives with less than a whimper; the much delayed and rumoured-to-be-a troubled production, fails on nearly all fronts as a piece of glossy summer entertainment. With the best of goodwill from the most ardent fan it might work but for everyone else it is going to be a proverbial damp squib.

The plot concerns itself with the justly famous Dark Phoenix saga presented in the pages of X-Men back in the seventies, courtesy of comic legends Chris Claremont and John Byrne in the days before Watchmen came along and inadvertently turned things upside down. The only similarity between this film and its source material is Jean Gray’s struggle with a newfound omnipotent power and rival aliens fighting for said power.  All the original space-opera glory of the comic book only gets a brief nod when the X-Men go into space (not outer jut the bit outside the ozone layer), to save some astronauts from the space anomaly that is going to be the source of Jean’s and everyone else’s woes.

Set in 1992 to no good effect whatsoever, Charles Xavier’s X-people are media darlings and on the presidential hotline and yes, it does involve a bat phone type scenario, albeit without the humour; humour is very thin on the ground and when attempted falls squarely on its arse. Charles Xavier is seen to be losing the run of himself, a man verging on the pompous and thinking he knows better than everyone else using his protégés as his propaganda machine to maintain the love for mutant kind. The emotional heart of the story concerns Xavier doing what he thinks is best for Jean without concern for his right to do so when he suppresses a bad memory or two.  One anomaly later and Jean is all powerful and losing the run of herself, meanwhile aliens have come to earth to gain the said power – you get the picture.

The bulk of the story sits on Jean’s shoulders relegating everyone else to perfunctory supporting roles and character development that would be shameful in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The whole thing is remnant of a seventies television show that knows it has a good formula that doesn’t need changing; that is until it does. The set pieces offer very little excitement or originality, except for the first scene in space, elsewhere it is a strong feeling of déjà vu featuring telepathic battles, upturned cars, an attack on a train and my favourite, trying to cross the road… not a word of a lie.

So many lost opportunities are apparent watching the hamster-wheel mentality unfold. The cinema sins on show are so obvious it seems surprising that no one saw any of the issues with the story at a much earlier stage. At the helm of this trainwreck – that also features a trainwreck – is writer, director Simon Kinberg,  a man who has been part of the franchises lesser works including co-writer on X-Men: Last Stand, the original attempt at adapting the Dark Phoenix storyline, the mind boggles.

Paul Farren

113 minutes
12A (see IFCO for details)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is released 5th June 2019

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Official Website

 

 

 

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Carmel Winters, Writer/Director of ‘Float Like A Butterfly’

Float Like a Butterfly is a powerful and timely story of a girl’s fight for freedom and belonging.  Some people say it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.  But for Frances losing is not an option – at stake is her own freedom, her mother’s honour and her father’s faith.  

In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to Carmel Winters about her film and the art and craft of filmmaking. 

Float Like A Butterfly is opening in the following sites from today:

  • Cinemax Bantry
  • Eye Galway
  • Gate Cork
  • IFI
  • IMC Dun Laoghaire
  • IMC Galway
  • IMC Savoy
  • Light House
  • Movies @ Dundrum
  • Odeon Coolock
  • Odeon Stillorgan
  • Stella Devlin
  • The Park Clonakilty
  • W Cinema Westport
  • And QFT confirmed for 17 May – the film will be touring the country afterwards

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Review: Avengers: Endgame

DIR: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo • WRI: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely • DOP: Trent Opaloch • ED: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt • PRO: Kevin Feige • DES: John Plas, Charles Wood • MUS: Alan Silvestri • CAST: Brie Larson, Robert Downey Jr., Karen Gillan

Hard to believe that in eleven years Marvel have produced twenty two films all set in the one shared world whilst hovering around in the background has been an eleven-year threat of a menacing villain called Thanos, who has taken longer to arrive on the scene than the dragons in Game of Thrones.  My but aren’t superhero movies fans a patient lot.

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of all that waiting and world building and Infinity stone learning (if you were actually paying attention what started with Iron Man and has built steadily ever since to create the phenomenon we know today). Taking its cue from the Marvel comics shared universe Marvel studios has built a similar world, where every film counts for its connection to the others in its shared universe.

Avengers: Endgame is a film so critic-proof that if every one of them gave this film a bad review it will still be the phenomenal success it is surely going to be. A milestone was already created with Infinity Wars record box office, the first half of this Avengers tale; and with a bummer of an ending too. Half of the universe wiped out with the click of Thanos’ fingers and his Infinity stone laden gauntlet, more importantly half the heroes in the Marvel universe, they killed Spider-man for Christ’ sakes.

That film, a tragic space opera if you will, was always going to be a hard act to follow. Of course no one will be walking into this film thinking they are all dead forever. The question is how would they save everyone? And there lies the rub for some, (critics mostly).

The main plot thrust offered is a good old fashioned time-travel yarn complete with references to every other time-travel film they could think of just to point out how ridiculous time travel is and set up their own rules. Trust me, when you see it you will be amused. What makes all of this work are the emotional stakes of the story and the rumour mill letting us know enough to suspect the loss of some heroes along the way; as Marvel movies go this is at least ten hankies worth of tears for the average fan.

Endgame is an unadulterated crowd pleaser, not so much a film as an event. The Russo brothers now on their fourth Marvel movie handle everything with storytelling skill of their comic book forebears as opposed to the likes of Chekov and understand quite well the old axiom of giving the public what the public want. All the necessary heroes get the right amount of screen time and for every laugh there are other things happening to balance it all out.

This one is critic-proof, it was made with love for the fans, the true believers and no amount of critical thinking can really understand what it all means to the ones that really care; no matter how they might deconstruct or criticize the proceedings, that have brought eleven years of storytelling to some shocking conclusions and created new horizons for the fans to continue their worship of all things Marvel.

Paul Farren

180 minutes
12A (see IFCO for details)
Avengers: Endgame is released 26th April 2019

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Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

DIR: Robert Rodriguez • PRO: Jinko Gotoh, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller • WRI: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller • ED: Clare Knight • DES: Patrick Marc Hanenberger • MUS: Mark Mothersbaugh • CAST: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett

Wow, has it been really been five years since Everything Was Awesome? Some of the kids that saw the first the first Lego Movie are twice as old as they were back then? Will the new film still have meaning for their grown up selves? Of course it will because it was never for kids in the first place, not in the physical sense anyway. These films are filling that inner child void no one likes to admit having, that realm of the imagination and heart, that only the likes of Bill Maher does not have!

The first Lego Movie ended on a cliffhanger. What was going to happen next? Finally we get to find out. Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made a sequel that is equal to its predecessor, an equal sequel if you will.

If you remember Dad realised his rigid Lego attitude and constructions were selfish and not useful to the growing imagination and versatility of his son who wanted to play with Dad’s Lego too. He allowed him to play with the Lego. This was fine but came with a sub-clause in the form of little sister being allowed to play in the bountiful basement of Lego. This resulted in an alien invasion of sorts.

The new film picks up from there, the citizens of Bricksburgs, led by Emmett, attempt to make friends with the new arrivals. It does not have the required effect, a title-card emblazoned with “Five Years Later” and we are now in the rechristened Apocalypseburg, a Mad Max-esque world of dour citizens waiting for the next attack/display from sister Lego abominations. Sure enough, a new game plan from the Lego people of the Sistar System results in the seeming kidnapping of Emmett’s friends and Emmett must rescue them. Along the way he meets Rex, a chiselled hero and friend to raptors, who is willing to help him in his plan. To say more would be to give too much away.

A host of great new characters join the cast, Princess Watevera-Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) being the most wonderful and tuneful of them all. Mighty Boosh Fans will enjoy the addition of Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding to the proceedings, in small but scene-stealing roles. Will Ferrell also provides a fun cameo returning as President business and Dad. The song ante is raised to great affect, including a new song ‘Everything Isn’t Awesome’, which puts an amusing perspective on things.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, to use its purposefully convoluted title is pretty much a joy from start to finish. So smart and clever, part of you wants to hate it. It has that rare quality for a film of this kind; it has its Lego cake and eats it. Essentially it’s the story of two children’s conflict played out in their imaginations with also the added weirdness of the scenes that happen outside of their imaginings. That’s all the explaining you’ll get from me.

If Lord and Miller had made Inception it might have been a decent film. Despite its film referencing and pop culture mining, the story never loses sight of the characters and story, even the life lessons and moralising that are par for the course these days, are handled with great delicacy, i.e. it doesn’t bore, patronise nor lecture.

 

Paul Farren

106 minutes
G (see IFCO for details)
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is released 8th February 2019

 

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Review: Alita, Battle Angel

DIR: Mike Mitchell • WRI: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, Robert Rodriguez • PRO: James Cameron, Jon Landau • DOP: Bill Pope • ED: Stephen E. Rivkin, Ian Silverstein • DES: Caylah Eddleblute, Steve Joyner • MUS: Junkie XL • CAST: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali

The latest in a long line of attempts to turn Manga into gold arrives in the form of Alita, Battle Angel, courtesy of Robert Rodriguez directing and James Cameron serving as producer and co-writer. This has been a pet project of Cameron’s for a long time, at one stage he was going to direct it himself. As a Rodriguez project, it has little or nothing that would make one think of his body of work. Except for maybe having one of the characters wear a bandana.

Alita’s long gestation period has been explained as a mix of other commitments and waiting for technology to be advanced enough to do justice to the visuals of the story. For the most part this has been achieved. There are some good action scenes and beautiful visuals in place. Our motion-capture hero Alita, with her exceedingly large eyes, (looking like one of the children in those paintings our grandmothers owned) becomes easy on the sensibilities quickly enough. A sincere heartfelt performance from Rosa Salazar keeps her interesting and likeable throughout. She is probably the most successful character. Although that’s hardly surprising as the rest of the cast are given little character time and simply serve as foil to the main protagonist.

But what’s it about? Iron City, looking like a picturesque South American ghetto designed for a Coca Cola advertisement, is where the action takes place. Ido Dyson (no relation to the vacuum cleaner people), the local doctor of robotics (cyborg repairman to you and me), rummages through the scrapyard at the centre of Iron City. The scrap is provided by the sky city floating above, the last of its kind, a home to the elite, we are told, and the destination many people would like to get to. The only way to get there is with the right amount of dosh or if you become the champion of the local game Motorball. It involves roller skates and a ball and a violent temperament – and the locals love it. But back to the scrapyard; Ido finds a head amongst the scrap, brings it home and provides it with a body. Did I mention he just happens to fix cyborgs? Soon his new “daughter” has a name, Alita, and gets on with her new life as any enthusiastic young person might. She quickly falls in love with Hugo, a nice chap who happens to hijack cyborgs and steal parts from them. Ido has his own secret, which I will let you find out for yourself. As the story progresses, the life-embracing Alita continues to learn about herself and quickly becomes a young woman filled with a deeper understanding of her destiny. Meanwhile, others have become aware of her existence and aim to possess her.

This being a hoped-for franchise, Alita has the qualities of the first season of a television or web series. A more honest title for this would have been ‘Alita Battle Angel, Chapter 1, We Hope’. Despite being overwrought with plot and events, it leaves us with as many questions as it answers. The muddled, episodic structure and speechmaking dialogue does not help. It’s a shame that they spent so long waiting on the technology that they didn’t take time to work more on the script.

Paul Farren

115 minutes
15A (see IFCO for details)
Alita, Battle Angel is released 15th February 2019

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Review: Stan & Ollie

DIR: Jon S. Baird • WRI: Jeff Pope • PRO: Faye Ward • DOP: Laurie Rose • ED: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, Billy Sneddon • DES: Fiona Crombie •  MUSIC: Rolfe Kent • CAST: John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Steve Coogan, Nina Arianda

When I was a young pup we had the good fortune to have television programming that provided us with film content all the way back to the Hollywood golden age. Weekends did not pass without a classic comedy in some form or other; the best form was Laurel and Hardy (Yeah, I know, there’s this thing called the internet). Their antics were never passed over in our house thanks to my father’s good taste.  Even when my younger self did not get the full impact of their comedy, his laughter told me there was something I was missing. I got with the programme and, as my funny bone developed, Laurel & Hardy were there to help it along. Suffice to say, I am an avid fan of the greatest comedy team to ever grace this planet. Armed with that bias, I was very mixed on how I would take to Stan & Ollie, a film focussing on their later music hall years.

Opening with the boys at the height of their fame, the most cinematic shot of the film takes us from their dressing room through the back lots of the Hal Roach studios to the set of Way Out West as they prepare to shoot their famous rendition of ‘The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia‘. We learn of their humour, their frivolity, their ongoing contractual battle with Hal Roach and their haplessness as businessmen, all in this consummate tracking shot. A jump cut worthy of ‘Pardon Us takes us to Lancashire years later, where we meet the boys on the first leg of a music hall tour.

The heart of the story concerns itself with Stan and Ollie’s relationship with each other; the overworked comic, writer, genius director Stanley and the jobber, genius performer Ollie. Very different men, who have a genuine regard for each other, despite those differences. To quote Oliver, who quotes himself (from Sons in the Desert), they are like two peas in a pod. What drama that follows concerns itself with Laurel’s hopes of revitalising their film career, the pressures of a feckless English producer, Oliver’s ailing health and the emergence of Stanley’s old grudges.

As with many biographical films this is a highly fictionalized account. Compressing several tours into one and presenting it as a starting-over struggle that does not genuinely reflect the reality of their time touring this side of the pond. Despite such dramatic license, it is hard to fault such a sincere love letter to the two great comedians. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly wear their roles like gloves. Reilly in particular gives a tour de force performance as Hardy; the potential distraction of the amazing prosthetic work is never an issue for the actor, performing the role as if the ghost of Hardy himself possessed him. They are more than ably supported by Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as Mrs Hardy and Mrs Laurel, who provide their own scene-stealing double act.

There is much to enjoy here for anyone with a love for Laurel and Hardy. Those in the know will spot many little moments throughout that philistines will be hard put to truly understand. But I do wonder what those who have less of an idea of those great men might make of the whole thing. Despite the great performances, Coogan and Reilly can only allude to the lightning in the bottle that was Laurel and Hardy.  If you don’t know it going in, you ain’t going to get it. For that, the philistines will have to go back and watch the originals. My advice for those true believers is to use this sweet little film as an excuse to educate a philistine or two. Which obviously will require a healthy dose of Laurel and Hardy movies as well as a visit to Stan & Ollie. As Stanley himself would say, “You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led”.

 

Paul Farren

119 minutes
15A (see IFCO for details)
Stan & Ollie is released 11th January 2019

 

 

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Review: Mortal Engines

DIR: Christian Rivers • WRI: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson • PRO: Deborah Forte, Peter Jackson, Amanda Walker, Fran Walsh, Zane Weiner • DOP: Simon Raby • ED: Jonathan Woodford-Robinson • DES: Dan Hennah • MUS: Junkie XL • CAST: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving

 

The biggest worry for me going into this film was would my suspension of disbelief hold out? Fantasy it may be and that should be all it requires to buy into its rules for the duration, but would I be able to watch a city trundling around a dystopian landscape on gargantuan caterpillar tracks cannibalising other smaller cities and not keep thinking of Monty Pythons, Crimson Permanent Assurance?

I needn’t have worried; the high-octane opening showing a giant London on caterpillar tracks chasing a small Bavarian mining Village was presented with such straightforward sense of adventure and desperation that the snickers soon left, though now and again I did find myself thinking of what Mad Max might be like if it had been directed by Terry Gilliam..

Mortal Engines, based on the first of a series of books by Phillip French belongs firmly to the steam punk genre, where old-school Victorian values blend with sci-fi subject matter, normally set in alternative worlds. Mortal Engines is set in a far future after the Sixty Minute war laid waste to the world and a new order of scavenging evolved where travelling cities known as traction cities traverse the landscape living out of what they find left over from the past.  We enter this world as it is on the verge of collapse, conflict has risen between the traction cities, notably London and those that have begun to resettle properly on the land in a place not unlike the mythological Shangri-La. Following a path of revenge against this backdrop is Hester (Hera Hilmar), who aims to kill Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), an ambitious leader of the traction City of London. An unsuccessful attempt brings her to the attention of Tom Natsworty (Robert Sheehan), a young assistant in the city museum, who in turn realises that Valentine is not the great man he thought he was when he ejects him from the city because he knows the truth of Hester’s mission. Soon the two are in the wasteland making their way to god knows where while Hugo is reaching the completion of his master plan.

As would be expected of any film that has Peter Jackson’s (writer, producer) moniker attached to it, this is a sumptuous affair, beautifully realised in design and costume and featuring some dazzling effects.  He may not have his name attached as director but it is obvious that his influence on the director, Christian Rivers, is significant. A lot of Jackson’s hallmark shots are up on the screen in this production.

It is unfortunate that the frenetic style that opens the film is maintained for the entire narrative. Characters are introduced at high speed and given no proper emotional weight, barring one or two of them. No one seems to really stop to take a breath, though some sleep is had along the way. Most surprising is that the writing from Peter Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, seems so formulaic and predictable. This may be because of the source material, I couldn’t truly say but even so, from what I have learned of the books the wealth of background detail that went into realising the world of the story in the novels is certainly not given enough credence here. The overarching plot stifles any characterisation from properly emerging. The characters for the most part serve their functions rather than have any real sense of an inner life. As the narrative and action escalates it finally descends into a sort of steampunk version of Star Wars.

Despite those negatives there is a lot of joy to be had from this epic adventure. If spectacle is what you are after, you will find plenty, even if it does go on a tad too long. At a time when most blockbusters are so busy setting up their sequels, it is refreshing that this film, though possibly hoping to be the first of a series, stands on its own as a narrative.

 

Paul Farren

128 minutes
12A (see IFCO for details)
Mortal Engines is released 14th December 2018

 

 

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Charles Barr on Vertigo: The Greatest Film Ever Made?

 

This week, an array of scholars on Alfred Hitchcock descend on Dublin for a one-day conference to celebrate the director’s masterpiece at Vertigo: The Greatest Film Ever Made? 

Paul Farren talked to one of the speakers, Professor Charles Barr, ahead of the event about what makes Vertigo such a unique film in the history of Hollywood.

 

You’ve written a book on Vertigo yourself for the BFI – so you’re coming at the film from a particular angle.

Yes – I have my own particular angle on Vertigo and on Hitchcock. I think one of the key things about Hitchcock is that he spans film history in a particular way – firstly, he was a key figure at the two turning points in film history: one of them is the conversion to synchronised sound when he made Blackmail; he was there pioneering the aesthetic  commercial possibilities of sound cinema. And then you jump 30 years and he is the key figure really in the transition from classical cinema to post-classical cinema with that extraordinary trio of films: North by Northwest, that archetypal, glamourous celebration of the pleasures of classical cinema; then Psycho, moving into a completely new kind of era, new subject matter, new aesthetics; and then Vertigo, spanning the two, being so beautiful and romantic and glamourous and at the same time undercutting the pleasures of classical cinema.

 

On the day, you are the first speaker with your paper “Why Vertigo?” – can you give us a little preview?

Basically, I’ll set the scene for the day and remind people of the way in which the critical status of Vertigo has changed over the years. It wasn’t received with enormous enthusiasm at the time and now, suddenly along with Citizen Kane, it’s almost the flagship film for the whole of commercial cinema.

 

Indeed, it recently replaced Citizen Kane at the top of the Sight & Sound poll of the 50 Greatest Films of All Time.

Yes it did, if you believe in these things. Dee Martin [Festival Director] has provocatively called the event ‘Vertigo: The Greatest Film Ever Made?’. That may be a cause for debate but it certainly has that status in a sense of the most celebrated in film history.

 

It was a long time coming. It was the French who tended to reassess American cinema and were the first to appraise it from an artistic point of view rather than an entertainment point of view. But that’s as late as 1968 – 10 years after the film was made.

The French did actually welcome Vertigo when it first came out. They certainly responded more positively than the Americans did.

I can remember that for quite a long time you couldn’t see Vertigo because, for contractual reasons, it was not available. For a long time, you could only see it in a 16mm black-and-white print – imagine seeing it for the first time in black and white . It wouldn’t make as much impact. Plus it’s 16mm, which is quite a ropy, domestic projection. And then, for contractual reasons , his estate held back a number of his films for 8 or 10 years I think it was. That helped to create a mystique around two of them especially, Vertigo and Rear Window. Then they were re-released, they lived up to the expectations – obviously, because they were such incredibly crafted films.

 

Why, in your opinion, is Vertigo seen as the greatest film?

On the one hand, it is a supremely romantic and beautiful film. Beautiful colours, a beautiful woman at its centre, wonderful locations. It’s a seductive and beautiful film, which gives you visual pleasure and at the same time it undermines all that. It brings you face to face with the romantic self-deception of the man – the every-man figure – so it gives you the pleasure of classical romantic narrative while it also absolutely pulls the rug out from all that pleasure by disillusioning the main character and disillusioning the spectator. And it leaves you at the end with this completely empty figure – so you have it both ways… Hitchcock has it both ways. He gives you the pleasure and he shows you the mechanics behind it and the  hollowness of it and the romantic self-deception. It’s that balance, that fluctuation, between the two. As opposed to something like North by Northwest, which is an absolutely wonderful film but is much more simple – you have the romantic ending and everybody goes away happily rather than torn it two. Vertigo tears you in two.

 

People say it’s about obsession – but it’s as much about illusion, and I think Hitchcock is happy to punish us for having illusions…

In my little booklet on Vertigo, I have 4 chapters: the first is obsession, the second is construction, then illusion and then revelation – so we are definitely singing from the same song sheet.

________________________

Event Details:

Date: Thursday 14 September 2017

Time: 9am-4pm

Conference Venue: Central Hotel Dublin, Exchequer Street.

Film Screening Venue: Lighthouse Cinema Dublin @ 5.30pm

Conference Tickets: €30 / Concession Rate €25 (Price includes film screening at Lighthouse Cinema)

Tickets on sale at the Conference reception area in the Central Hotel from 8.45am on Thursday 14 September.

For more details visit: www.vertigogreatestfilm.com/

 

 

 

 

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Mark Sheridan, Writer/Director ‘Crone Wood’

A young couple enter the woods of Ireland only to discover that not all of the country has left its Pagan roots behind. 

Paul Farren sat down with the sun gods and writer/director Mark Sheridan to find out what really went on in Crone Wood, which screens at the Underground Cinema Film Festival.

 

 

Can we start off by talking about how you made this film?

Crone Wood is my debut feature film – it became a reality in that I felt that if I didn’t go out and make my first film, it may never actually happen. It was a matter of a looking at what kind of resources I felt I could be able to get access to; who I knew I could work with; and who could actually deliver something under limited conditions. We realised we could achieve a certain amount of money, which is probably counted below no-budget, but I knew from working on a lot of films before what we could get away with… and found footage was an aesthetic that obviously you could do cheaply but also it was something I was very interested in looking at. I grew up in the world where Blair Witch came out and it scared the hell out of everyone at the time and I enjoy a lot of the movies like Paranormal Activity and Rec since then. So I wanted to see if you could still do it right and not in some of the cheaper ways it has been exploited in more recent years.

That led me to picking my 2 main actors, they came on board first. I got Elva Trill and Ed Murphy. I had worked with them in the past filming stuff for Final Year students in DIT and the Lir. Elva actually put me on to Therese Aziz who became my co-producer. Because we were working under such tight resources, having them on board and their support is really what made it possible to deliver this kind of film. No matter how talented or experienced you are, if you don’t have a team working with you, I just don’t think you’re going to pull it together with little to no money.

What money did you have?

What money we had basically came from friends and family and then we crowdfunded a couple of thousand at the end for post-production.

 

Since you made it you’ve got a sales agent on board, which is great. That’s one of the hardest things to do. How has that worked out and tell me something about the film’s festival life.

It’s been amazing. Jinga Films have come on board as sales agents.  After the cast and crew screenings, I invited Fantastic Films along to come and see the film and John McDonnell came along and said to me afterwards, ‘I think we can do something with this’. I’m not sure that without his help we would have got Jinga, but they came on board as executive producers and, yeh, it’s been incredible. It’s gotten to a number of festivals – we premiered at the Horrorthon at the IFI  in Screen 1 last October. It was in Slovenia a couple of weeks ago and now looking forward to the Underground Festival.

 

You’re not the only horror screening – you’re in good company…

Yeh, horror is alive and well in Ireland!

 

What is it about horror that keeps us going to the cinema?

It’s an addiction, isn’t it? Jason Blum who runs Blumhouse Productions pointed out that horror is one of the only genres that still makes more money in the cinemas than it does on video on demand. For me, people who love horror will always love horror. It’s like a roller-coaster – yes it scares you but once you get hit by that thrill you’ll always be chasing that next one.

What was the most challenging aspect, apart from funds for this film?

Well we shot the film in 5 days – which is inhuman! But to be honest with you, it’s having the endurance. Even if you have the film shot and in the can, there’s just so much more between post-production, trying to raise a bit more money, getting the film out there, getting people to see it – it’s a couple of years of your life. And when you do something this small with such a small crew, a lot of that is going to rest on your head because no-one is going to care about the product as much as you. Nothing can prepare you for how exhausting that is. And yet you know that if you take your foot off the pedal for one moment it could just disappear…. but it’s so worth it in the end and I’m particularly looking forward to screening at the Underground Cinema Film Festival.

 

And next up for you?

My next film is going to be called 18 and it’s going to be bring a whole new level of horror to Ireland. I can’t wait.

 

 

Crone Wood screens on Sunday, 3rd September as part of the Underground Cinema Film Festival 

 

Buy tickets here 

 

The 8th Underground Cinema Film Festival takes place in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire from August 31st to September 3rd.

 

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SuperPod: Wonder Woman & Spider-Man

 

Our latex-wearing superpodders, Richard Drumm and Paul Farren, return to their headquarters to plot the rescue of their missing partner Scott Adair. Whilst plotting, our crime-fighting duo discuss the two latest DC and Marvel films to hit the big screens, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

 

 

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‘Pilgrimage’ Writer Jamie Hannigan & Director Brendan Muldowney

 

In Brendan Muldowney’s latest film, Pilgrimage, a group of monks in 13th century Ireland must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril.

Paul Farren met up with Brendan and writer Jamie Hannigan in search of moral and spiritual significance.

Please note this interview contains spoilers

 

Paul Farren: Jamie, if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote up this idea for the old Filmbase/RTÉ short film scheme Lasair. I got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was chatting to Conor Barry [producer] about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock. He got interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan. He gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger. Then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board, who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that early stage, it was too big a job for me to come on.  But I know I wanted to be a part.

Jamie: Unofficially, you were in the wings.

Paul: So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing? I presume you were hooked from that first draft.

Brendan: I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and, at that stage, it was a very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country… and I think you mentioned an ambush. It was quite vague – well you probably had more than you were telling me.

Jamie Hannigan: No. It was quite vague!

Brendan: So it’s strange Paul, imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and there’s action. Obviously, it could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right, making sure that was working.  My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and I really thought it was brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage, we’d just made Savage. I knew it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But, you know, films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

Tom Holland

Paul: Let’s talk about the film and its themes and ideas. To me, there’s definitely very overt political ideas running through it – it’s not just religiously themed. I wouldn’t say it’s anti-religious but it has an opinion. It doesn’t try and push an agenda, it just presents something. And, of course, we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks, who were suddenly being pulled into a political situation, where there’re lives being lost left, right and centre, because of other people’s agendas. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

Brendan: It’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film; that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock. These are major spoilers now but what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

Paul: And the script Jamie…

Jamie: In general, with me anyway, it tends to be that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting. It could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together.

Paul: You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

Brendan: It worked out well. You know there’s a rule that wherever your unit base is, there’s a radius then that you can’t shoot outside of.

Paul: Principle – that rule… you don’t have enough money!

Brendan: Yeh! – not even that though, it’s an agreement with the union so that people don’t have to travel too far.

Jamie: A 50 km radius.

Brendan: Exactly. So, when we found somewhere on the coast where we would shoot – in Leenane on the Mayo-Galway border – you take a radius out of there and our problem was that we only had mountains and coast. We were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is, Boycott’s Estate, so we were able to get just enough greenery. But there was no real forest that would suit. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgium, which is really well known for its forests.

Jamie: In my head writing it, I was thinking of all these locations all around Ireland. That bit would be Killarney. That bit would be West Cork. That would be the Midlands, etc. But getting into the location scout plus this rule meant that Belgium worked out well for us.

Jon Bernthal

Paul: The performances all round were brilliant.You have Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the linchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

Jamie: He’s a blank slate.

Paul: And you’ve got Jon Bernthal, playing The Mute. He’s a really strong presence, an interesting actor. He’s kind of bubbling under the surface for the entire film. We never really get to know his full agenda. But he can look after himself… You had varying types of actors in there. Little bit of method and some not so. Tom wouldn’t be as much a method actor as Jon.

Brendan: Jon may have started off in a somewhat method manner by going silent for a week or so but then he came out of that.

Paul: You couldn’t shut him up!

Brendan: Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s interesting because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence on everyone. And you say Holland is not coming from a method background but he took it very seriously and they all would get into the scenes and were willing to go to places that me and the AD would think was too dangerous. We were constantly pulling them back from things.

Paul: Which is important, coz you need them for the whole shoot! And Tom did a great stab at the old Irish.

Jamie: He was coming from a shoot from somewhere in Northern Canada. He came 2 weeks in advance, to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his Irish dialogue out phonetically and he had a great dialogue coach working with him in Paedair Cox and later Diarmuid de Faoite, who also plays The Captain.

Richard Armitage

Paul: Was it a tough sell working in 3 languages?

Brendan: 4 if you take Latin in there as well, alongside French, Irish and English.

Paul: Was there a pressure ever put on to have it in English?

Brendan: Well, some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of English – 70 per cent. I don’t think it ended up as that… but that’s what was asked for. And that was in the script. But with scenes being cut in the edit, I’m not sure of the final percentage.

Paul: And what were the biggest challenges on set.

Brendan: I’ll tell you that horses are really difficult to deal with.

Paul: They’re such premaddonas…

Brendan: Yeh. They don’t do what they are supposed to do. What else… working in the water – very slow. Working with mist.

Paul: I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

Brendan: You see, when it’s written as “the fog is so thick that you cannot see”, you need a lot of mist and it’s quite hard, even with big machines.

Paul: Was there any post work done on that?

Brendan: No, we couldn’t afford it. I would have liked it a little thicker.

Paul: What’s it like for you Jamie? You’re the one writing all these things and causing Brendan all these headaches. What’s it like to see it all made into a film.

Jamie: Interesting… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as and imagined as and then how the crashing realities of production kick in.

Brendan: A lot of small details get lost.

Jamie: Like the lightening-strike scene – originally, that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountains paths, horses and mud… things getting stuck, guys wading through mud. It was very messy.

Brendan: And we were told it can’t be done – no mud! We couldn’t even get the tankers to do rain up the path or, if we could, getting them refilled was just impossible. There’s many examples of things of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day as well. Anything we did there was grading – all the clouds in the sky, etc., so now we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm.

We would have needed a huge budget to execute some of the things that were in the script. Like the bridge breaking and the wheel coming down, or the scene with the archer following them- that was written with quicksand.

Jamie: That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outside that 50 km radius. It was done with lake-land in the end.

Paul: Well, it looks great. Which brings us to the cinematography – Tom Comerford. You were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

Brendan: Tom is great. We had 2 cameras for all the action – at the end on the beach and the ambush. It’s obviously better to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage. I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage than having it perfect. I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days for the ambush  – that we would have had enough coverage, without the second piece of footage. There was no other way.

Paul: How much prep goes into those scenes – so that no-one gets killed!

Brendan: A lot. I started months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken Jamie’s script and broken it into lines first; so at least I know beats. Then I would have isolated anything that I thought needed special attention, whether it was special effects, visual effects, stunt work, prosthetics, make up and other stuff. It’s a long process. You have to have big round-table meetings with the departments all at the table.

Even beforehand, the preparation and the planning of all this is intense. Also it’s in 2 different countries and the same things happen. Everyone sits round and I’d have broken down any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. It was complicated. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of action.

Jamie: That ambush scene was much bigger in the early stages. That sort of style you want to keep a rhythm going that you’re implying action, you want to tell a story through it. But it was a lot more vague – like ‘the men attack’ ‘blood in the air’. Then that got a little smaller and you were saying we don’t have enough of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing where all the guys clash into each other, so lets focus on the small, nasty little details of a guy getting strangled or a guy getting his arm chopped off. There’s something very visceral about that – and with sound effects over that you can feel the story by seeing these smaller gruesome, intimate details.

Paul: And it’s probably closer to the reality. I don’t think they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking each others’ arses back then anyway.

Brendan: And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take a while rather than it coming clean off.

Paul: And on that image we’ll leave it. Thanks for coming in to talk to us.

 

Pilgrimage is currently in cinemas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoilers

 

Paul farren: Jamie if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

 

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote this idea up for the old RTE short film scheme Lasair – got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was charring to Conor Barry about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock – I’m chatting to Conor and making stuff up as I go along hoping to interest him. And he did get interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan he gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger and then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

 

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that stage, for me it was too big a job for me to come on.  I wanted to be a part.

 

 

So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing?

 

I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and at that stage it was  a  very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country and I think you mentioned an ambush… it was quite vague – well you probably had more than you ere telling me.

 

No. It was quite vague!

 

So it’s strange Paul. Imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and action. Obviously It could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right. My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and thinking this is brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage we’d just made Savage. I knew at that stage it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But you know films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

 

I wouldn’t say anti-religious but it has an opinion, but it doesn’t push an agenda, it just presents something. And of course we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks  – some fairly decent Monk types in Sligo! – and suddenly being pulled into a political situation. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

 

It tends to be – with me anyway – with scripts that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting – it could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together. I remember being on an airplane sitting with my notebook and the political end of how  when the Normans had invaded Ireland they did so by getting this permission from the Pope. Ireland was a Christian nation but for the Pope they were not the right kind of Christians so the Normans needed to get in there and reestablish

 

The Cistercian has his wonderful way of evolving the way  he philosophies depending what he needs all the way through the story.

Let’s talk about Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the lynchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

 

He’s a blank slate…

 

He believes… and he’s a little bit soiled as the story goes along. Would you agree Brendan?

 

I would yes. Going back to what you said about the themes of  religion and that it’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film – that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock – these are major spoilers now but… what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

 

17 back story

 

You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

 

It was all interior woodland.

 

Even more than that – you know that there’s this rule that wherever your unit base is there’s a radius then outside that that you can’t shoot out of.

 

Principle – that rule… or you don’t have enough money!

 

Yeh – but its an agreement with the union so that [eopel don’t have to travel too far.

 

A 50 km radius.

 

Exactky – so when we find somewhere on the coast where we shot near Loius burgh and our problem was you take a radius out of there and we only had mountains and coast… to get forest and greenery it’s not really there. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgioum which is really well known for its forests.

 

In my head writing it I was thinking of all thetse locations all around Ireland – but getting into the location scout and this rule I was right we do it all on this beautiful but sparse  landscape.

 

You know we were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is – Boycott Estate where so we were able to get just enough greenery.

 

  • Days in Belgium. 7 6 weeks…4 weeeks on Ireland – less 2 4-day weeks in Belgium

Actors dynamic – they all bonded.

 

Did you actively aid that? No what aided it was putting them on a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

  • Performances all round were brilliant. You had veryng types of actors in there – bit of method in there…

John may have started off in asomewhat method manner by going silent for a week os so and then after that came out of that.

 

You couldn’t shut him up!

 

Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s intetetsring because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence and yu say Holland is not coming from methody but he took it seriously and they all would get into the scenes and they were willing to go tp llaces that maybe me and the AD would think may be dangerous.

 

Sand did a great stab at the old Irish.

 

He was coming from a dhoot from somewhere in Norgthern Canada. Hecame 2 week sin advance – to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his dialogue out phonetically and he had a dialogue coach working with him. Paedair Cox and Diarmuid.

 

The chemistry was there on the screen, And you were well served by your Irish actors a as well, Hugh Ruiari John Locjhlainn Diarmuid

 

A tough sell – three languages…

 

Final Draft is crashing..

 

$ languages – Latin French, Irish & English – was there a pressure ever put on to  jave it in English.

 

Well some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of E English – 70per cent – I don’t think it eneded up as that – but that is what was asked for. And that was in the script – but with scenes being cut in the edit I’m not sure of the final percentage.

 

and

 

So

 

Horses are really difficult to deal with

 

  • They’re such premaddonas…

Yeh – they don’t do what they are supposed to do. YThere was athe grey horse who I kep t hearing had tooth ache and that he was a biy young.

 

What eles  working in bthe water – very slow. Working with mist.

 

I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

 

You see – when it’s written as the fgog is so thick that you cannot see “ , you need a lot of mist amdnd it’s hard e bven with big machines.

 

Was there any post work done on that.

 

No we couldn’t afford it. I wasa told we could fill in gaps but bythe time . I would have liked it a little thicker.

 

What’s it like for you Jamie – you’re the one writing all these things and causing headaches – what’ sit like to see Brendan’s headache in film.

 

Interetsing… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as an imaging as and then how the crashing realities of production

 

  • A lot of small details get lost

Like the second lightening scene – originally that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountaims paths and horse – things getting stuck in guys are wading through mud

And we were told it can’t be done – no mud!

 

We couldn’t eve get tankards to do te rain up the path or if eq could yto getthen refilled was just impoosiible .- and there’s many examples of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day – everything we did there was grading all the clouds in the sky, etc so noe we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm . I even the archer following that was written as quicksand – we would have needed a huge budget to execute some of te h things  that were in the script. Breaking bridges quicksand and the like…

 

That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outsidethat 50 kn radius. – so you compromise y’know.

 

It looks great – which brings us to cinematography – Joe Comerford – I presume your difficulties are his – you were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

 

Yes we had 2 camera fo ral the action – the end on the beach and the ambush. I asked for 2 fo rthe Norman camp but unknownst to me I arrived on the second camera was off in a green screen – and it wasn’t even we were shooting on RED and it was a small Canon  that was shooting extras for duplication I the background. But we could have doen with a second canera on the Norman camp – we were running out time and there’a scene I had storyboarded 8 different ways but I only got the one shot at it…

 

But the multiple camera worked fgo ryou on the action scenes.

 

Oh yeh obviously it’s better  to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage and I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage tahan having it perfect coz there’s been times where I’ve nbeen wishing evevn the camera had of been running longer after – so to have the second piece of footage – I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days f rthe ambush …w ewouldn;t have had enough coverage so yeh therwas no other way.

 

How much prep goes into those scenes – so tah tno-one gets killed!!

 

A lot. I starte months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken jamie’s script and broken it into lines first – so at least I know beats.. then I would have isolated anything that I think needed special attentaioon – whether it was special effect visual effects or stunt work or prosthietic make up and other stiff – yknow it’s a long process…you have to have big round table meetings with the departments all at the table.

 

Even beforehand the prep and te panning of all this is intense becaiuse also it’s in 2 different countries – the csame tings happen everyone sits round and  I’d have brokendown any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of avtion.

 

In preproduction. That scene was much bigger in the early stage vague the men attack blood in the air – then that got more smaller and you were saying we don’t have that much of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing whwr all the guys clash into each other so lets focus on the small nasty little details of a guy getting starangled or a guy getting hos arm hacked off… there’s something very viscreral about that – and with sound effects iover that you can feel the story by seeing these small gruesome intimate details.

 

And it’s probably c;ose  to the realirty – I don’;t thonk they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking w=eachioters arses back then.

 

And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take longer than it coming clean off – I was just going to give you an example there – at the start of the ambush there’s a slingshot.. so you would have the first scout who gets hit on the neck – so youu’d have to communicate this with all the departmnets costume would ne dot know that this character who’s going to get shot from wayback before from  Ireland can’t have chainmail on the neck .. there’s a lot of detail… and we had to think it through properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoilers

 

Paul farren: Jamie if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

 

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote this idea up for the old RTE short film scheme Lasair – got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was charring to Conor Barry about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock – I’m chatting to Conor and making stuff up as I go along hoping to interest him. And he did get interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan he gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger and then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

 

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that stage, for me it was too big a job for me to come on.  I wanted to be a part.

 

 

So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing?

 

I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and at that stage it was  a  very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country and I think you mentioned an ambush… it was quite vague – well you probably had more than you ere telling me.

 

No. It was quite vague!

 

So it’s strange Paul. Imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and action. Obviously It could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right. My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and thinking this is brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage we’d just made Savage. I knew at that stage it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But you know films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

 

I wouldn’t say anti-religious but it has an opinion, but it doesn’t push an agenda, it just presents something. And of course we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks  – some fairly decent Monk types in Sligo! – and suddenly being pulled into a political situation. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

 

It tends to be – with me anyway – with scripts that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting – it could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together. I remember being on an airplane sitting with my notebook and the political end of how  when the Normans had invaded Ireland they did so by getting this permission from the Pope. Ireland was a Christian nation but for the Pope they were not the right kind of Christians so the Normans needed to get in there and reestablish

 

The Cistercian has his wonderful way of evolving the way  he philosophies depending what he needs all the way through the story.

Let’s talk about Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the lynchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

 

He’s a blank slate…

 

He believes… and he’s a little bit soiled as the story goes along. Would you agree Brendan?

 

I would yes. Going back to what you said about the themes of  religion and that it’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film – that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock – these are major spoilers now but… what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

 

17 back story

 

You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

 

It was all interior woodland.

 

Even more than that – you know that there’s this rule that wherever your unit base is there’s a radius then outside that that you can’t shoot out of.

 

Principle – that rule… or you don’t have enough money!

 

Yeh – but its an agreement with the union so that [eopel don’t have to travel too far.

 

A 50 km radius.

 

Exactky – so when we find somewhere on the coast where we shot near Loius burgh and our problem was you take a radius out of there and we only had mountains and coast… to get forest and greenery it’s not really there. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgioum which is really well known for its forests.

 

In my head writing it I was thinking of all thetse locations all around Ireland – but getting into the location scout and this rule I was right we do it all on this beautiful but sparse  landscape.

 

You know we were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is – Boycott Estate where so we were able to get just enough greenery.

 

  • Days in Belgium. 7 6 weeks…4 weeeks on Ireland – less 2 4-day weeks in Belgium

Actors dynamic – they all bonded.

 

Did you actively aid that? No what aided it was putting them on a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

  • Performances all round were brilliant. You had veryng types of actors in there – bit of method in there…

John may have started off in asomewhat method manner by going silent for a week os so and then after that came out of that.

 

You couldn’t shut him up!

 

Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s intetetsring because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence and yu say Holland is not coming from methody but he took it seriously and they all would get into the scenes and they were willing to go tp llaces that maybe me and the AD would think may be dangerous.

 

Sand did a great stab at the old Irish.

 

He was coming from a dhoot from somewhere in Norgthern Canada. Hecame 2 week sin advance – to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his dialogue out phonetically and he had a dialogue coach working with him. Paedair Cox and Diarmuid.

 

The chemistry was there on the screen, And you were well served by your Irish actors a as well, Hugh Ruiari John Locjhlainn Diarmuid

 

A tough sell – three languages…

 

Final Draft is crashing..

 

$ languages – Latin French, Irish & English – was there a pressure ever put on to  jave it in English.

 

Well some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of E English – 70per cent – I don’t think it eneded up as that – but that is what was asked for. And that was in the script – but with scenes being cut in the edit I’m not sure of the final percentage.

 

and

 

So

 

Horses are really difficult to deal with

 

  • They’re such premaddonas…

Yeh – they don’t do what they are supposed to do. YThere was athe grey horse who I kep t hearing had tooth ache and that he was a biy young.

 

What eles  working in bthe water – very slow. Working with mist.

 

I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

 

You see – when it’s written as the fgog is so thick that you cannot see “ , you need a lot of mist amdnd it’s hard e bven with big machines.

 

Was there any post work done on that.

 

No we couldn’t afford it. I wasa told we could fill in gaps but bythe time . I would have liked it a little thicker.

 

What’s it like for you Jamie – you’re the one writing all these things and causing headaches – what’ sit like to see Brendan’s headache in film.

 

Interetsing… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as an imaging as and then how the crashing realities of production

 

  • A lot of small details get lost

Like the second lightening scene – originally that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountaims paths and horse – things getting stuck in guys are wading through mud

And we were told it can’t be done – no mud!

 

We couldn’t eve get tankards to do te rain up the path or if eq could yto getthen refilled was just impoosiible .- and there’s many examples of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day – everything we did there was grading all the clouds in the sky, etc so noe we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm . I even the archer following that was written as quicksand – we would have needed a huge budget to execute some of te h things  that were in the script. Breaking bridges quicksand and the like…

 

That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outsidethat 50 kn radius. – so you compromise y’know.

 

It looks great – which brings us to cinematography – Joe Comerford – I presume your difficulties are his – you were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

 

Yes we had 2 camera fo ral the action – the end on the beach and the ambush. I asked for 2 fo rthe Norman camp but unknownst to me I arrived on the second camera was off in a green screen – and it wasn’t even we were shooting on RED and it was a small Canon  that was shooting extras for duplication I the background. But we could have doen with a second canera on the Norman camp – we were running out time and there’a scene I had storyboarded 8 different ways but I only got the one shot at it…

 

But the multiple camera worked fgo ryou on the action scenes.

 

Oh yeh obviously it’s better  to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage and I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage tahan having it perfect coz there’s been times where I’ve nbeen wishing evevn the camera had of been running longer after – so to have the second piece of footage – I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days f rthe ambush …w ewouldn;t have had enough coverage so yeh therwas no other way.

 

How much prep goes into those scenes – so tah tno-one gets killed!!

 

A lot. I starte months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken jamie’s script and broken it into lines first – so at least I know beats.. then I would have isolated anything that I think needed special attentaioon – whether it was special effect visual effects or stunt work or prosthietic make up and other stiff – yknow it’s a long process…you have to have big round table meetings with the departments all at the table.

 

Even beforehand the prep and te panning of all this is intense becaiuse also it’s in 2 different countries – the csame tings happen everyone sits round and  I’d have brokendown any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of avtion.

 

In preproduction. That scene was much bigger in the early stage vague the men attack blood in the air – then that got more smaller and you were saying we don’t have that much of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing whwr all the guys clash into each other so lets focus on the small nasty little details of a guy getting starangled or a guy getting hos arm hacked off… there’s something very viscreral about that – and with sound effects iover that you can feel the story by seeing these small gruesome intimate details.

 

And it’s probably c;ose  to the realirty – I don’;t thonk they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking w=eachioters arses back then.

 

And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take longer than it coming clean off – I was just going to give you an example there – at the start of the ambush there’s a slingshot.. so you would have the first scout who gets hit on the neck – so youu’d have to communicate this with all the departmnets costume would ne dot know that this character who’s going to get shot from wayback before from  Ireland can’t have chainmail on the neck .. there’s a lot of detail… and we had to think it through properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

DIR: Matt Reeves • WRI: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves • PRO: Amanda Silver • DOP: Michael Seresin • ED: William Hoy, Stan Salfas • DES: James Chinlund • MUS: Michael Giacchino • CAST: Toby Kebbell, Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson

 

The Planet of the Apes trilogy comes to a conclusion with Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes. When I say end, I really mean the end of the Apes films with Caesar (Andy Serkis) as the main protagonist. I am sure we will be seeing an all new trilogy in the coming years that will bring us back to the world of apes closer to that one depicted in the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. I’ll even bet that is what they will call the first film.

Set two years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the now legendary Caesar and company are breeding like rabbits and being hunted down by soldiers intent on their extinction. Their exodus to a safer haven is interrupted when tragedy strikes – a traitor (a gorilla, of course) in the ranks aids soldiers in finding their camp. This leads to the death of Caesar’s wife and eldest son, who is mistaken for Caesar. Now bereft of his family, barring his youngest, one Cornelius (whom I’m sure we will meet again in further sequels), Caesar reneges on his leadership. He sends his fellow apes in the direction of the promised land while he sets off in search of revenge against The Colonel, directly responsible for his loss. The Colonel is played with Colonel Kurtz-like enthusiasm by Woody Harrelson. A few fellow apes choose to aid him in his journey and new discoveries are made along the way that will serve the next trilogy.

Though there is no real war at the heart of this film, more like slaughter and skirmish (though it might be argued that is what war is in the first place), there is plenty of spectacle. The effects are outstanding and the rendition of the ape heroes is still a joy to watch.

Dramatically, the film serves up a smorgasbord of dramatic tropes, genres and film types. The main one, as the film’s title suggests, is a war movie. Keeping this company are nods to the Western, POW movies and, finally, a biblical epic moment that is so on the nose it steals away any pathos intended. I don’t have any issue with film referencing per say, in fact it can be quite amusing. But when the pastiche at the heart of the drama outweighs its dramatic ideas, I tend to tune out. That said, most audience members won’t have the same misgivings I did, certainly not the younger ones, who probably have no idea what a Western is anyway.

Reeves is good on action and not so hot on the more intense dramatic scenes. The film is overwrought with sentimental moments that have the feel of a Spielbergian hangover, characters staring at each other intently for what seems like forever. Elsewhere, exposition spills from characters’ mouths with a shocking lack of irony; even Harrelson spends an entire scene supplying information just so dramatic developments before and after will make perfect sense. Maybe a mistrust in the audience’s intelligence… or just lazy writing?

For all my grouching, this is an entertaining film and, though caught up somewhere between taking itself too seriously and not seriously enough, it is worth giving your time to. I, for one, look forward to seeing what they do with Planet of the Apes.

 

Paul Farren

139 minutes
12A (See IFCO for details)

War for the Planet of the Apes is released 13th July 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes  – Official Website

 

 

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Review: Spiderman: Homecoming

 

DIR: Jon Watts • WRI: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers • PRO: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal • DOP: Salvatore Totino • ED: Debbie Berman, Dan Lebental • DES: Oliver Scholl • MUS: Michael Giacchino • CAST: Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.

 

Spiderman: Homecoming wastes no time in letting the fans know that this Spiderman is now under the wing of Marvel. A prologue set in the aftermath of the Avengers encounter with the Chitauri sets this film firmly in the Marvel universe. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew are cleaning up the debris left behind from the invasion of New York only to lose their contract jobs when the government agency Control tell them they are fired. It was about this time I was wondering why he and his crew were doing a clean-up of lethal alien technology in the first place. Homecoming is proliferated with insane plot points like this and somehow gets away with it on charm.

Anyway, a very annoyed Toomes is soon speechifying to his crew about the poor blue-collar guy suffering at the hands of the rich, Stark in particular. Thus legitimising in one fell swoop why they should all commit to a life of crime. Several years later and the gang are doing the old, selling weapons-based-on-alien-technology routine. Making Toomes possibly the first bigwig blue-collar criminal to hit the Marvel universe in the movies. And so, the meeting between Birdman, sorry, The Vulture and Spiderman is set in motion – and Spiderman is not even Spiderman yet.

Zoom up the timeline to the present and Peter Parker freshly returned from his Tony Stark ‘internship’, i.e. fighting against Captain America and company in Berlin (see Captain America: Civil War). This return to normality is hard on the young man and he is aching to continue his involvement with Stark and the Avengers. Stark is dismissive of such ideas and tells him to just be a ‘friendly neighbourhood Spiderman’ (drum roll). Meanwhile, Peter has to contest with school, being infatuated with fellow pupil Liz and starting his first big mission in the neighbourhood. That’s all the plot you need.

Key to the enjoyment here is Spiderman’s naivety and simple good guy/bad guy understanding of the world. Gone is the guilt-ridden Parker trying to make amends for his uncle’s death and in its place a well-meaning, exuberant fifteen year old who wants to do the right thing because that’s what you do – a Hardy boy in leotards, for those who know who the Hardy Boys are. Tom Holland wears the suit just fine. In fact, he is probably the best version of Spiderman so far, certainly the first one who actually seems like a teenager.

For all the joy of the set pieces, the heart of the film is Peter’s home and school life, surrounded by a group of likeable supporting characters, most noticeably his friend and not very good sharer of Peter’s secret, the even more excitable Ned (Jacob Batalon).

The ghost of John Hughes is certainly lingering around the fringes of the high-school scenes; there is even a physical nod when Spiderman races through back gardens à la Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off only to run past a television playing the very same clip. Elsewhere, Spiderman’s foil Birdman, sorry, The Vulture, sees Michael Keaton on constant growl, which works fine but is not given much depth… just enough for it to be confused with ambiguity. Also on show is an amusing cameo from Captain America that will certainly get plenty of laughs.

For all of the seemingly major changes in characters and situation this still remains close to the original, as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko envisioned it. A sitcom-cum-soap opera with super-villain action interrupting the course of Peter’s daily life. Director Jon Watts strikes a fine balance between camp and serious, never straying into either camp (ba dum tss) for too long. Well-conceived characters and great heart keep things afloat when even the most ridiculous plotting seems in danger of sinking things and Holland’s wonderful performance keeps everything grounded.

One final thing, stay for the post-credits scene, it is one of the funniest yet and another nod to John Hughes. In fact, you might remember, he created one of the great post-credits scene scenes. Intrigued, huh?

 

Paul Farren

133 minutes
12A (See IFCO for details)

Spiderman: Homecoming  is released 7th July 2017

Spiderman: Homecoming  – Official Website

 

 

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Podcast: Liam Gavin, ‘A Dark Song’

liam-gavin_image

 

Paul Farren caught up with director Liam Gavin to chat about his character-driven horror A Dark Song, which follows Sophia, a young woman who insists on renting an old house in the remote countryside so that she can hire an occultist named Solomon. She needs him to perform an ancient invocation ritual, the Abramelin, to summon up Sophia’s Guardian Angel so her wish can be granted. She wishes to talk to her murdered child, a desire that consumes her.

The ritual is an extremely arduous one. They are to seal themselves in the house for months as it plays out. As they get deeper into the rite they run the risk of turning on each other, of going mad. But when Solomon finds out that Sophia has not been truthful about her wish, a greater danger threatens them. In the dark, they find that they are no longer alone in the house. They are now in the world of real angels, and real demons. The house is surrounded with a line of salt, it is the only protection they have. They must not cross it, no matter how bad it gets.

 

A Dark Song is released in cinemas 7th April 2017

 

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Review: Ghost in the Shell

ghost-in-the-shell-trailer-comparison

 

DIR: Rupert Sanders • WRI: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger • PRO: Ari Arad, Michael Costigan, Steven Paul • DOP: Jess Hall •  ED: Billy Rich, Neil Smith • DES: Jan Roelfs  • MUS: Lorne Balfe, Clint Mansell • CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Rila Fukushima

Seems these days that the bigger the fanfare the more likely the film is going to bomb, creatively that is, not financially. Our good friends at DC have proven a few times now, that marketing can and does sell duds. I have a feeling Dreamwork’s adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s cyberpunk manga and anime classic will fare similarly.

After suffering terrible injuries, apparently at the hands of terrorists, Major’s (Scarlett Johansson) brain is successfully encased in a cyborg body. All thanks to the Hanka corporation (read evil in there). One year later and she walks the beat with fellow officers of Section 9 as they police the futuristic city of Neo-Tokyo; a place where cyborg enhancements are all the rage. And why not?

Quickly into the mix enters a mysterious terrorist, Hideo Kuze (Michael Pitt), who may have answers that will lead Major to learning the truth about who she really is. Some vague cat-and-mouse detective work follows and we get to learn who her confederates are and who her enemies are and some other stuff, like Yakuza gangsters’ love of body enhancement.

Despite its sci-fi elements and cyber nods this is a cop movie and it certainly owes a debt to Blade Runner, as did its source material. Though attractively realised, the story feels perfunctory, superficial and lacking any depth or complexity in its plot or characters. Nothing seems to be at stake, it all feels as artificial as Major’s cyborg casing and more than a little familiar with its old-school evil corporation abusing its power scenario. Amidst the set pieces, it raises questions of soul and identity but fails to develop them to any satisfactory level.

The cast do their best with the material; it is hard to know how to rate Scarlett Johansson’s low-key performance, she looks fine in the part but really does not have much to do other than be dour, throw out the odd insult and beat people up in that sexy way we expect of cyborg heroines. On hand to lend a bit of authenticity and make some small recompense for casting a Westerner in the lead role, is Takeshi Kitano as her boss Aramaki; the only major Japanese character in the film. Kitano spends most of his time sitting down, speaking Japanese. Whilst doing very little, he manages to steal every scene he is in.

Ghost in the Shell moves along smoothly and hits the required moments of action along the way. It serves as a passable bit of movie fare, that feels like it time travelled from the ’90s and picked up some lavish special effects on the way, but never seems comfortable in its own shell.

Paul Farren

106 minutes

15A See IFCO for details

Ghost in the Shell is released 31st March 2017

Ghost in the Shell – Official Website

 

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Podcast: Ben Wheatley,’Free Fire’

ben_wheatley_1458155229_crop_550x310

 

Paul Farren talks to Ben Wheatley about taking a procedural look at action with Free Fire, breaking it down to an atomic level, planning the shoot, the production design, the ’70s setting, scriptwriting and the inspirations behind Armie Hammer’s suave look.

 

 

Armnie Hammer
Armie Hammer, left, whose look was inspired by:

 

DanOBannon
Dan O’Bannon

 

22annie_hall22_0
and Tony Roberts

 

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Review: Kong: Skull Island

 

breaking-first-official-look-at-kong-skull-islands-king-kong-teased-with-new-poster-10-640x350

DIR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts • WRI: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly • PRO: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent • DOP: Larry Fong • ED: Richard Pearson • DES: Stefan Dechant • MUS:Henry Jackman • CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Corey Hawkins, Brie Larson 

The latest reinvention of King Kong arrives thanks to the success of Godzilla (2014), which makes this film a side prequel (that is a legitimate term now isn’t it?).

Though partly inspired by the original Kong, in that it features a giant ape who inhabits an island named Skull, this film has its feet set more firmly in the world of Japanese Kaiju movies, established thanks to Godzilla in 1959, which was itself inspired by Ray Harryhausen’s Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

The first official Kong-escapade. following his untimely death in 1933, came along thanks to the Toho studios, who decided it was time he and Godzilla had a mash-up in King Kong vs Godzilla (1965). Stay with me, this is all relevant. Of course, Kong won that battle and went on to star in one more Kaiju film, King Kong Escapes, where he took on his robot alter ego. A dismal but successful version turned up in the ’70s, thanks to Dino de Laurentis, followed by one of earliest straight-to video-tragedies, King Kong Lives. 2005 saw Peter Jackson’s remake, a film made with such love of the original, thinking about it makes me want to cry. Also, along the way, were many rip-offs… but enough; Kong is back, younger and taller, and being groomed for another bout with the King of Monsters (as Godzilla is called in Japan) in 2020, depending on how this franchise-offering fares.

Opening at the end of the sequel to the World War, a Japanese and an American pilot shoot each other out of the sky. They continue their fight on landing, only to be interrupted by a very large ape. A title sequence using real news footage gives us a quick world history focusing on war, nuclear weapons and cold-war politics bringing us to 1973, the end of the Vietnam war and the beginnings of the end for Nixon. John Goodman, head of a half-forgotten organisation called Monarch, manages to piggyback a mission to a mysterious island. Along the way he picks up British adventurer James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and peace activist, photographer, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Also, along for one last mission, is the war-loving Preston Packard (Samuel Jackson) and his band of helicopter warriors. Packard is none to happy at having to leave the war in ‘Nam and is quite happy of the opportunity of one last mission.

After some extensive bombing in the name of science, accompanied by a soundtrack that would not be out of place in Apocalypse Now, the group run into an irate Kong, who, in one of the best set pieces, trashes their helicopters, kills a few of the surprised adventurers and scatters the rest of them around the island. Escape is on the minds of most but revenge is on the mind of Packard, a man who does not like to be made a monkey of (could not resist that one).

Kong: Skull Island is an odd hybrid, Vietnam war movie meets monster movie. Though I love a good genre mash-up as much as the next person, this one does not quite come off. The two never gel. When it is playing at the ‘Nam thing, it embraces all the surface stereotypes we know so well, most of them stolen or inspired by Apocalyspe Now. Kong standing against the blazing red sunset confronting helicopters being the most obvious visual reference. You might have to think of a giant, bald Marlon Brando against a red sunset to get that one. There are some references to the war in Vietnam and how it was unjustified. Kong would even seem to be a big clunky metaphor for the conflict and its uselessness, in fact metaphors don’t come much bigger than Kong. But these discussions of that terrible war feel very out of place in what is, essentially, supposed to be a a movie about very large creatures kicking the tar out of each other and any humans that get in the way.

The monsters are definitely the stars. It is the human characters that come off the weakest. They do little more than function as ciphers for most of the film. Packard’s loyal command of soldiers have the most going on character-wise but for the best part they end up as monster fodder. You know? Monsters are hell! They got out of ‘Nam for this?!

Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston are perfunctory in their roles; as are a truly wasted John Goodman and an uninspired Captain Ahab-turn from Samuel Jackson. John C Reilly enters at the  halfway mark to liven things up. He easily provides the best performance and most rounded character, despite the fact he is also there to explain the workings and manner of Kong.

Despite a slim story and flat characters, the effects are enough to carry this yarn. When the monsters are in the ring, it is great fun to watch and there are plenty of WWF monster bouts to keep a smile on the faces of those that care.

Paul Farren

118 minutes

12A See IFCO for details

Kong: Skull Island is released 10th March 2017
Kong: Skull Island – Official Website

 

 

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SuperPod: Doctor Strange

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Stan Lee fulfils a life-long dream of meeting Scott Adair

Former neurosurgeon, Richard Drumm joins forces with Sorcerer Supreme, Scott Adair and the Ancient One, Paul Farren to protect Earth against magical and mystical threats. Their superchat goes off on all sorts of tangents, including Scott meeting Stan Lee.

 

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Review: Black Mirror: Season 3

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Paul Farren looks into Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has left the good ship Channel 4 and is now sailing the digital sea aboard the more lucrative ship Netflix, thanks to a bidding war that resulted in a 40 million deal for Brooker’s company. Some might say it is a fitting move for a series that uses these fearsome days of internet and new technology as its dramatic source. I can safely say there is nothing to be seen in this season that is as horrifying as a prime minister raping a pig on national television as seen in the very first episode of season one (shudder). In fact, by that standard this season is quite tame.

Season Three provides a very mixed bag of tales that will delight people who don’t read sci-fi or watch any of Brooker’s inspirations, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Don’t get me wrong, there are things to enjoy here, I’m just saying that when the techno fear and internet paranoia are taken away they have the same substance as those wonderful anthology series.

The one shining gem amongst the six is San Junipero, a tale of two women meeting and falling in love in nineteen-eighties San Junipero; but, of course, there is more to this than meets the eye and not much else I can say without spoiling it. It is one of the few that escapes the constraints of trying to work out what the twist is going to be aspect that unfortunately haunts the entire series. Mostly because it has the most heart (in a creepy kind of way) and two endearing central performances,

Playtest follows a young American tourist testing a new game prototype to secure money for a flight home for an emotional reunion he is avoiding. Soon, he is playing the ultimate virtual reality haunted house game. What might happen next? And why does it remind me of a Twilight Zone episode and Tales from the Unexpected?

Hated of the Nation has an interesting premise – death caused by social media hatred. Then it turns left and starts to feel like a binned Torchwood episode with an ending that makes you wonder if it might be a half-hearted attempt to launch a back-series for its lead, Kelly McDonald.

The other episodes are the creepy, Shut Up and The Dance, and the irritating Nosedive, which feels like a distant cousin of Spike Jonze’s, Her.

With the freedom to make episodes the length it takes to tell the story, not constrained by having to fit them into television schedules; it is a shame that the episodes go on way too long after the conceit has been delivered. Even San Junipero stays around too long after the point has been made. I don’t mean to be too harsh. Do I? As I said plenty to enjoy if you haven’t experienced all the things that inspired these episodes. Did I mention that San Junipero is good?

The interesting thing to note about the new season, is, now that it is freed from the constraints of television, it is available on the web that Charlie loves to scare us with. Audiences can now devour them all at once and in whatever order you want. I suppose you could even watch them the Godardian way if that’s your fancy. You know? Beginning, middle and end but not exactly in that order. Maybe there is a future Black Mirror episode to be had based on the evils of series bingeing. A viewer binge watches the entire three seasons, looking for a subliminal episode hidden amongst all the episodes ©. Until finally… But I digress. Anyway I’ve finished reviewing Charlie’s show, now go away.

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Review: Lights Out

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DIR: David F. Sandberg • WRI: Eric Heisserer, David F. Sandberg • PRO: Lawrence Grey, Eric Heisserer, James Wan • DOP: Marc Spicer • ED: Michel Aller, Kirk M. Morri • DES: Jennifer Spence • MUS: Benjamin Wallfisch • CAST: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia

 

Keep the lights on and the monster won’t get you. A nice simple rule to get any horror story started, as Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) finds out in this lean debut from Dave F. Sandberg.

Estranged from her mother and not too good with emotional attachments (she wont even let her boyfriend have a post-coital sleepover) Rebecca is pulled back into the family circle. Her little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman) comes under the eye of the school social worker and Rebecca is called upon. His trauma stems from witnessing his mentally disturbed mother seemingly chatting with something, hovering around the family home, called Diana. A good night’s sleep there, does not feel like a healthy option. Rebecca’s reunion with her estranged mother and subsequent investigations soon rekindle her own memories of the entity. Something the unearthly Diana is not to happy about.

This feature version of a three-minute exercise in horror scares suffers from its need to over-explain things in a heavy-handed fashion, providing a derivative backstory and some clunky plot exposition. Despite these flaws, likeable performances, good pacing and a requisite amount of scares help it along. Enough happens to amuse the undiscerning horror viewer as has been proved by its box-office earnings. It has made over 90 million at the American box office alone. Expect more lights out sometime soon.

 

Paul Farren

92 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Lights Out is released 19th August 2016

Lights Out – Official Website 

 

 

 

 

 

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Podcast Interview: Kim Newman

 

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The IFI present Haunted Landscapes – A Season of Folk Horror from 16 – 30 July. According to David O’Mahony, Head of Programming at the IFI, “the term folk horror has been used to yoke together disparate cultural artefacts that exhibit common traits: an interest in paganism; traditional, rural communities with a connection to the land and its regenerative cycles; the importance of ritual and superstition over scientific rigour.”

The season welcomes renowned horror fiction novelist and critic Kim Newman to Dublin, who is attending the opening weekend to introduce Witchfinder General,  The Wicker Man and Quartermass and the Pit.

Paul Farren got on the Film Ireland phone to talk to Kim about the films on offer, and the dangers of playing with farm implements and falling into threshing machines…

 

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Tickets for the season are available now at www.ifi.ie or at the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477.

FULL SCHEDULE

WITCHFINDER GENERAL July 16th (18.30)

THE WICKER MAN July  16th (20.45)

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT July  17th (14.00)

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS July  20th (18.30)

BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW July  23rd (20.30)

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT July  24th (14.00)

NIGHT OF THE DEMON July  27th (18.30)

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT July  30th (20.30)

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Another Look at ‘Legend of Tarzan’

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Paul Farren takes another swing at Tarzan.

The naysayers have been out in force with their reviews of the latest attempt to get a Tarzan franchise off the ground. Amongst the negative remarks have been the lack of logic, something Mr. Batman did not get accused of too much to my memory. There’s the use of the tragedy of Belgium’s colonisation of the Congo as a historic backdrop. The tragedy of global terrorism is Captain America’s contemporary backdrop but that’s okay because those bad guys are all wearing colourful costumes and none of the villains have names like Isis Man.

I agree that Tarzan should not really get mixed up in politics (mind you he did go on a Nazi-killing spree in Tarzan Triumphs, which was guilty fun for wartime America I’ll bet), but then he doesn’t really get involved in politics in this film. That’s the job of other characters. All he wants to do is rescue Jane, the woman he loves. Along the way, he inadvertently saves the Congo from a mercenary army. Just like it didn’t happen in real life. Big deal, something similar happened when Tarantino killed Hitler and his upper-echelon Nazis in, Inglorious Basterds, just like it didn’t happen in real life. No one was complaining about that. If anything, this film might provide a little history lesson for those people who only get educated by watching blockbuster movies.

I have been a fan of Tarzan since I could wave a toy knife and jump from sofa to chair, avoiding crocodiles. I could also do a fairly decent Tarzan yodel, might I add. My first Tarzan was Johnny Weissmuller, Mister Weissmuller to you. The stories were pretty straight forward and went like this; all is peaceful in Tarzan’s domain, white hunters come along and stir things up, they are usually after ivory or diamonds. Sometimes these white-people types will be aided by a naive Jane, sometimes their adopted son, Boy. Apparently, the Hays Code-era Tarzan was infertile or was it that he and Jane weren’t married?

Anyway, as I was saying, the hunters come along, upset the status quo, Tarzan nearly gets killed, makes a resounding recovery, saves nearly everyone and restores the status quo. Legend of Tarzan is no different despite some post-modern winks, and nods to the historical tragedy of Belgium’s colonisation of of the Congo. Tarzan swings through trees, check. Fights gorillas, check. Saves the woman he loves from villains, check. Crocodiles have a good meal consisting of villain, check. Tarzan gives villains a good hiding, check.

I went into the cinema with low expectations, I was not sold on the trailers. The CGI animals looked bad, the sombre mood, the Christoph Waltz villain of the week performance, Samuel Jackson looking like he was in ‘show me the money’ mode. I was wrong.

It does have the mark of a film that had a post-production panic, the curse of the flashback, a sense of story elements ending on the cutting-room floor and a rushed, fractured final act. But alongside these flaws are good performances, a solid functioning story that fights the curse of being an origin film better than most and it contains all the elements from the Tarzan checklist above. This is good pulpy fun and not to be confused with reality.

Tarzan is a fantasy figure, a piece of escapism created for us denizens of the concrete jungle. Go and see it. I need another Tarzan movie in the next few years, preferably with dinosaurs and talking apes.

Legend of Tarzan is in cinemas now.

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Review: The Angry Birds

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DIR: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly • WRI: Jon Vitti • PRO: John Cohen, Catherine Winder • ED: Kent Beyda, Ally Garrett • MUS: Heitor Pereira • CAST: Peter Dinklage, Tituss Burgess, Jason Sudeikis

The Finnish games company Rovio’s Angry Birds app gets the feature treatment in this familiar but amusing offering. The threadbare plot features Red, an outsider with anger-management issues. As punishment for his most recent incident, he is sent for some new-age rehabilitation to Bird Paradise, where he meets, Bomb, Chuck and Terrance. With his new friends in tow he tries to get to the bottom of a visit from some green pigs he alone is highly suspicious of.

Most definitely the little ones will be amused by the vibrant colours and the cute creatures. For the adults ,as is the mainstay these days, is the usual cheeky nods of innuendo and adult humour with a mix of sauciness and toilet humor.

The plot is rudimentary but the visuals are pleasing enough to get through some of the quieter patches. Amongst the voice talent on display is Jason Sudeikis as Red, Danny McBride, wasted as Bomb, and Josh Gad as the hyperactive Chuck. In support is Peter Dinklage in one of the more amusing turns as the Great Eagle and Sean Penn is also hiding amongst the voice cast in a role you’ll have to check out the credits to realise and possibly get the joke if you know the man’s reputation as a Mr Angry-type. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used his name and got someone else to provide the on-screen vocal stylings.

If you are in an undemanding mood and the children aren’t taking no for an answer The Angry Birds is a funny enough spectacle for the kids, with just enough jokes to get to the finish line. Not so bad that it should ruffle your feathers too much.

 

Paul Farren

97 minutes
G (See IFCO for details)

The Angry Birds is released 13th May 2016

The Angry Birds – Official Website

 

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Review: Captain America: Civil War

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DIR: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo • WRI: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely • PRO: Kevin Feige • DOP: Trent Opaloch • ED: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt • DES: Owen Paterson • MUS: Henry Jackman • CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans

Finally the beginning of Marvel’s Phase Three is upon us in the shape of Captain America: Civil War. The plot begins with a mysterious prologue of The Winter Soldier on a ‘routine’ mission’. Jump forward to now and we meet the Avengers, minus some members, on a mission to prevent terrorists from stealing germ-warfare nasties from a lab in Africa. Though they save the day, collateral damage causes the death of innocents, thanks to Scarlet Witch shifting an explosion that might have killed Cap.

All this results in a call for more government control on the Avengers thus starting a rift amongst the group regarding what their role is as a ‘super-fight-the-bad-guys’ group – Cap, wary of being told what to do by government higher-ups and Iron Man all for the initiative due to his own trauma at being responsible for the inadvertent death of a little boy. In the mix of this and the true catalyst for the later conflict is Bucky aka The Winter Soldier, whom Cap believes innocent but most everyone else deems a terrorist nasty. Skulking around in the background is a Machiavellian mystery man helping things along.

Enough plot details. The latest and already the greatest in the fan’s eyes, CA:CV moves along at a brisk pace, the effects are fantastic and the superhero line-up is the best we have seen since Avengers Assemble. Bottom line, CA:CV is an entertaining film with some great action sequences. The obvious stand-out being the super hero mash-up that already has people citing the old ‘ticket-price-alone’ cliche. The introduction of Spider-Man and Ant-Man so that they can take part in this melee is a mix of forced and lazy plot contrivances  but who cares it’s Spider-Man and Ant-Man. For all its ‘serious’ world political nods, this is about super good guys beating each other up. If that’s your bag, this is indeed the greatest film ever made.

One interesting thing about this movie to my mind is that it redefines the term sequel. On the surface, it’s a sequel to Captain America: The Winter Soldier but it’s also a sort of sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron, at least from the perspective of Vision and Scarlet Witch. A side movie for Ant-Man, an intro movie for the Black Panther, not to mention a reboot nod for Spider-Man. You could even say it’s a sequel to Iron Man 3 given that it has strong continuity references to that film. My head hurts.

So is it the Marvel masterpiece as we have been hearing? Should the word “masterpiece” even be used when describing a film where super-powered individuals, some in disguises, knock two tons of tar out of each other as they learn to re-evaluate their values over the course of a two-hour plus movie? I think I’ll leave that one to the academics.

Paul Farren

147 minutes
12A (See IFCO for details)

Captain America: Civil War is released 29th April 2016

Captain America: Civil War – Official Website

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Interview: Director Rebecca Daly & Actor Barry Keoghan of ‘Mammal’

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Mammal is the story of a woman (Rachel Griffiths) who has lost her son and develops an unorthodox relationship with Joe,  a homeless youth (Barry Keoghan). Their tentative trust is threatened by his involvement with a violent gang and the escalation of her ex-husband’s grieving rage.

Paul Farren talks to the film’s director Rebecca Daly and actor Barry Keoghan.

 

Great performance Barry – really intense. It must have been a big challenge for you.

BarryIt was a great script – not a lot got said and I had to internalise everything. I love doing those roles where you let your actions speak, where one look can mean a thousand words.

 

Which leads me to the script, how do you write that Rebecca? I mean, you know that old principle ‘if it’s not on the stage it’s not on the page’ –  this kind of drama doesn’t come off the page easily.

Rebecca: Actually, our script is quite rich; it is itself a piece of writing. What we are describing a lot is atmosphere, tone and the feel of the thing. I think you get that from the script. It’s true that there’s not a lot of dialogue but film is a visual medium. If you can’t show the thing with the action of the actor then you go to dialogue. To me, I would rather show it first. My characters usually express their emotions through their actions rather than through telling you how they are feeling or having big outbursts.

 

From an acting perspective what was the approach to the subject matter and getting into that level of intimacy that the role required?

Barry: Rebecca kept it fresh. We didn’t really do rehearsals – we just talked about scenes. We joked on set a lot which made it comfortable.

 

Where did the kernel of the film come from?

Rebecca: It was actually Glenn Montgomery, the co-writer of the film. It was his idea to make this film about a woman who doesn’t know how to mother – and it came out of that. He started asking me questions in terms of her character, in terms of her circumstances that led her to making that decision… and then how it impacts afterwards on how she lives her life, how she interacts with people, especially, obviously Joe. It was a succession of steps really.

 

The character Margaret is trying to deal with her tragedy but stay away from it at the same time. Like her function in the charity shop, seems like a subliminal approach to dealing with that.

Rebecca: And she takes in lodgers. She cares for people without having the risk of emotional attachment. She lives in that sort of liminal space. Joe changes that!

 

How did Barry come to play the role of Joe?

Rebecca: Barry was the first person we saw for the part. We did see a lot of people afterwards because I’m painfully diligent! But really no-one came close to Barry – he just kind of was Joe.

Barry: Joe is from my area. He’s one of the lads. I know him.  And there’s bits of him in me. More personality-wise than experience as such. He reminds me of lads I know standing on the canal having a few drinks.

 

He’s a real city lad.

Barry: Yeh he is, but he’s just a mammy’s boy really!

 

There is the sense that when he is on his night time attacks with the gang he’s the runt of the litter. He’s probably cleverer than the other guys – not as tough, I suppose he hasn’t been there that long. He’s the bait.

Rebecca: Yeh, he’s the bait. We can empathise with him. He’s involved in some pretty rough things and cruel things as well. But I think, for Joe, it’s all about survival. He’s doing everything to survive; whatever it takes.

 

I suppose one of the challenges of this piece is its avoidance of types, it’s not simply about good guys and bad guys.

Rebecca: These are the interesting characters. I’m not interested in someone being all good or all bad. Flawed, contradictory, complicated – likeable, unloveable, unlikeable and loveable – that all mixes in people. That’s what people are like.

 

In that way, you are challenging audience’s opinions of these characters. It seems that is what your work does. And that means asking the audience to go the extra mile and in participating with the film.

Rebecca: If I’m in a room with 5 people I’m interested in the quiet one. I want to find out more about them.  I’m drawn to people who have mystery about them – and I think characters in film and films themselves can function like that. And if a film asks you to lean in a bit you can get something very rewarding out of that experience. That’s the cinema I’m interested I’m making as opposed to the type of cinema that jumps out at you. I think if you participate in something more you’ll have a deeper experience.

 

Mammal is in cinemas from 1st April

 

 

 

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