Irish Films in Cinema 2015

 

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11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)

4th December

 

The lives of urbanites intertwine in a world where anything can happen at any time.

Reviewed here

 

The Hallow (Corin Hardy)

13th November

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A family who move into a remote milllhouse in Ireland find themselves in a fight for survival with demonic creatures living in the woods.

Reviewed here

 

Night People (Gerard Lough)

13th November

A pair of professional but badly mismatched criminals break into a vacant house to carry out an insurance scam. Awkwardly thrown together with an hour to kill, they reluctantly start telling each other tall tales.

Reviewed here

 

Brooklyn (John Crowley)

6th November

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Set in the early 1950s, Brooklyn is the story of a young woman, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn, NY where, unlike home, she has the opportunity for work and for a future – and love, in the shape of Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen).  When a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, she finds herself absorbed into her old community, but now with eligible Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) courting her.  As she repeatedly postpones her return to America, Eilis finds herself confronting a terrible dilemma – a heart-breaking choice between two men and two countries.

Brooklyn is adapted from Colm Tóibín’s New York Times Bestseller by Nick Hornby  and directed by John Crowley.

Reviewed here

 

The Legend Of Longwood (Lisa Mulcahy)

23rd October

 

When 12-year-old Mickey Miller moves with her family from New York to Ireland, she soon discovers a mysterious link between herself and the 300-year-old legend of the mysterious Black Knight, who regularly haunts the sleepy Irish village of Longwood. With her new best friend in tow, Mickey sets out to redeem the knight while saving a precious herd of white horses and thwarting the evil plans of a greedy, ambitious woman  – a mighty handful even for the bravest girl.

Reviewed here

 

The Queen Of Ireland (Conor Horgan)

21st October

 

Conor Horgan’s documentary follows Rory O’Neill’s journey from the small Mayo town of Ballinrobe to striding the world stage. The film takes us behind the scenes with his alter ego Panti in the year she became the symbol of Ireland’s march towards marriage equality.

Reviewed here

 

The Hit Producer (Kevin de la Isla)

 

A struggling movie producer in search of an investor reluctantly follows the promise of money into Dublin’s drug underworld where she witnesses a botched murder attempt.

 

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)

16th October

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The Lobster is a love story set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel.  There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days.  If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.  A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules.

Reviewed here

 

Talking to My Father (Sé Merry Doyle)

16th October

 

Talking to my Father features two voices from two eras each concerned with how we as a nation understand the architecture that surrounds our lives. Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early sixties and one of its most celebrated and influential figures was Robin Walker.

Reviewed here

 

Tana Bana (Pat Murphy)

9th October

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In Varanasi, the uneasy peace between Hindu and Moslem hinges on the world renowned silk weaving.  The existence of this ancient Hindu city depends upon Moslem weavers.

Reviewed here

 

Ghosthunters – On Icy Trails (Tobi Baumann)

2nd October

 

Based on the bestselling novel “Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost” by Cornelia Funke, Ghosthunters – On Icy Trails, which features Amy Huberman, follows a young boy Tom who discovers an ASG, an Averagely Spooky Ghost called Hugo in his cellar.  He soon realizes that Hugo is not only completely harmless, but also desperately needs his help. Hugo cannot go back to his haunted house, because a dangerous AIG, an Ancient Ice Ghost, has moved in and is spreading an arctic cold over the entire town in the middle of summer. Tom and Hugo go to professional ghost-hunter Hetty Cuminseed, who doesn’t like children or ghosts very much, and who just lost her job at the CGI, the Central Ghosthunting Institute. Hetty teaches Tom and Hugo the basics of ghost-hunting and the three become an unusual team: only with friendship, courage and self-confidence can they overcome their adversary and save the town from the AIG.

Reviewed here

 

Older Than Ireland (Alex Fegan)

25th September

 

Older Than Ireland features thirty men and women aged 100 years and over. Often funny and at times poignant, the film explores each centenarian’s journey, from their birth at the dawn of Irish independence to their life as a centenarian in modern day Ireland. Older Than Ireland ‘s observational style offers a rare insight into the personal lives of these remarkable individuals.

Reviewed here

 

Pursuit (Paul Mercier)

18th September

A modern take on the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne – a contemporary myth about the pursuit of power, class, love and the chance to start again.

Reviewed here

 

The Callback Queen (Graham Cantwell)

11th September

 

In the cut-throat London film industry a vivacious actress chasing her big break struggles to maintain her integrity in the face of the director’s advances

 

The Great Wall ( Tadhg O’Sullivan)

21st August

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This bold new documentary, an adaptation of a Kafka story, looks at the enclosure of Europe by a complex system of walls and fences. Mysterious and visually dazzling, the film journeys across a range of European landscapes, and encounters those whose lives are defined by these walls – detainees within European migrant camps. [IFI Programme Notes]

Reviewed here

 

A Doctor’s Sword (Gary Lennon)

7th August

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Tells the incredible story of Aidan MacCarthy, a young doctor from West Cork who survived some of the most harrowing episodes of World War II (including the atomic bombing of Nagasaki) and his family’s search to uncover the origin of the Japanese Samurai sword, which now resides in MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere.

 

 

You’re Ugly Too (Mark Noonan)

10th July

 

Will (Aidan Gillen) is released from prison on compassionate leave to care for his niece Stacey after the death of her mother. As they both head into the sleepy Irish midlands and attempt to be a family, they suffer a series of setbacks; Stacey is refused admission to the local school because of her recently developed narcolepsy; Will repeatedly comes close to breaking his prison-ordered curfew; and his attempts at being a father figure to her prove disastrous…As their future hangs in the balance they must search for a new way forward together.

Reviewed here

 

 

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore)

10th July

Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated animated feature tells the story of the last Seal Child’s journey home. After their mother’s disappearance, Ben and Saoirse are sent to live with Granny in the city. When they resolve to return to their home by the sea, their journey becomes a race against time as they are drawn into a world Ben knows only from his mother’s folktales. But this is no bedtime story; these fairy folk have been in our world far too long. It soon becomes clear to Ben that Saoirse is the key to their survival.

Reviewed here

 

Let Us Prey (Brian O’Malley)

12th June

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2fnLntATUo

Rachel, a rookie cop, is about to begin her first nightshift in a neglected police station in a Scottish, backwater town. The kind of place where the tide has gone out and stranded a motley bunch of the aimless, the forgotten, the bitter-and-twisted who all think that, really, they deserve to be somewhere else. They all think they’re there by accident and that, with a little luck, life is going to get better. Wrong, on both counts. Six is about to arrive – and All Hell Will Break Loose!

Reviewed here

 

Queen and Country (John Boorman)

12th June

The sequel to Boorman’s 1987 Academy Award®-nominated picture, Queen and Country takes place in 1952. Bill Rohan is eighteen years old, dreaming his life away at the family’s riverside home, waiting to be called up for two years’ conscription in the British Army. His idyll is shattered by the harsh realities of boot camp. He meets Percy, an amoral prankster; they are rivals and antagonists, but they gradually forge a deep friendship in the claustrophobic environment of a closed, prison-like training camp. The pressure is briefly relieved by excursions into the outside world, where they both fall in love. Finally, Bill is confronted with the shattered lives of wounded boys returning from Korea.

Reviewed here

 

Fortune’s Wheel (Joe Lee)

5th June

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Fortune’s Wheel is a documentary feature film about Bill Stephens, an ordinary young man in 1950s Ireland with an extraordinary ambition: to become an international circus star.  It is also a love story about Bill and his young and beautiful wife May, from East Wall.  Their double act, Jungle Capers, Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner, was a series of death-defying feats with a troupe of lions and dogs designed to thrill audiences in the circus tent and on the stage.  With this act they hoped to break free from the suffocating reality of Irish life, but things went terribly wrong when, in November 1951, one of their animals escaped.
The story gained national and international attention at the time, but it is only now – after 60 years of silence – that two families and a community have come together to tell the story in full.

Reviewed here

 

The Canal (Ivan Kavanagh)

8th May

Set in rural Ireland, The Canal stars Rupert Evans as David, a film archivist with a morbid fascination for old films in which the subjects have since died. Right after learning that his wife may be cheating on him, she mysteriously disappears at the same time that his assistant Claire finds an old reel of film that points to a murder that took place in his house a hundred years ago. David starts to suspect her disappearance may involve some form of the supernatural but he also quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Reviewed here

 

Get Up & Go (Brendan Grant)

1st May

A slacker comedy which chronicles a hectic 24 hours in the life of would-be comedian Coilin (Killian Scott) and frustrated musician Alex (Peter Coonan). When Alex’s girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant, he refuses to allow her to derail his long-held plan to escape to London. Meanwhile the hapless Coilin is striking out on stage and off, as he attempts to get his faltering comedy career off the ground and win the heart of his dream girl. With time ticking down to Alex’s departure, the mismatched pair will be forced to confront the reality of their childhood dreams of artistic greatness while their lifelong friendship is tested to the limit.

Reviewed here

 

Two by Two (Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack)

1st May

It’s the end of the world. A flood is coming. Luckily for Finny and his dad Dave, a couple of clumsy Nestrians, an Ark has been built and all animals are welcome… well almost all. Unfortunately for them, Nestrians are not on the list! But Dave has a plan, and Finny and he manage to sneak onto the Ark disguised as Grymps – much to the horror of real Grymps, Hazel and her daughter Leah.

However their troubles are just beginning as the two curious youngsters end up falling over board. Now Finny and Leah have to brave the elements in their quest to find higher ground while fighting off hungry predators and making unlikely friends. Meanwhile on board the Ark the parents must set aside their differences and hatch a plan to turn the boat around and make it back in time to rescue their kids.

Reviewed here

 

Glassland (Gerard Barrett)

17th April

In in a desperate bid to save his mother from addiction and unite his broken family, a young taxi driver on the fringes of the criminal underworld is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. But will John be prepared to act when the time comes knowing that whatever he decides to do, his and his family’s lives will be changed forever.

Reviewed here

 

 I Used To Live Here (Frank Berry)

3rd April

I Used To Live Here follows Amy Keane, a 13-year-old trying to cope with the death of her mother and the reappearance of her father’s ex-girlfriend, who experiences the temptation of suicide after witnessing the outpouring of love for a local suicide victim. The film takes a fictional look at how the idea of suicide can spread in communities, particularly among young people.

Reviewed here

 

In A House That Ceased To Be (Ciarín Scott)

13th March

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q9aesjHjeU

A documentary that focuses on Irish humanitarian and children’s rights activist Christina Noble, whose unwavering commitment and selfless efforts have seen her change the lives of countless children and families for the better since 1989. Her drive stems from a childhood in Ireland fraught with poverty, loss and institutional abuse. However, despite achieving so much in the face of adversity and the success of her global children’s foundation, Christina remains scarred by the memory of the three children she was unable to save, namely her own brother and two sisters, from whom she was separated at a very young age. Hundreds of thousands have benefitted as a result of her courage, daring and steadfast dedication to protecting the vulnerable from the evils of the world, but is it possible for Christina to put her own family back together after being separated for fifty-three years?

 

Patrick’s Day (Terry McMahon) 

6th February

 

 

A young man with mental health issues becomes intimate with a suicidal air hostess, but his obsessive mother enlists a dysfunctional cop to separate them.

Reviewed here

 

Apples of the Golan (Keith Walsh & Jill Beardsworth)

16th January

The epic story of one village in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Before the Six Day War, Majdal Shams was one of 139 villages in the Golan Heights region. Only five remain. Over 130,000 Syrian Arabs were forced from their homes never to return. Amongst those who remain a stoic pragmatism prevails, Israel their home, Syria their homeland. Neither is paradise. They are too few to fight. The apples are the people’s bombs.

Reviewed here

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Interview: Moe Honan, co-producer of ‘Two by Two’

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The animated feature Two By Two is released in cinemas today. Co-produced by Galway-based Moetion Films, Film Ireland got out of the rain and took shelter with co-producer Moe Honan to discuss the process behind getting from script to screen.

 

The story of the Nestrian species has long been shrouded in mystery. Thanks to the new Irish animated feature Two By Two, out in cinemas today, we finally have an answer. The tale of rejection, survival and victory was a few years in the making. Co-producer Moe Honan tells Film Ireland that the initial idea and story developments came “between a group of us that decided to collaborate with writers and producers at the time. Once we’d worked out the story we were supported in that development by the IFB and we developed various drafts of scripts with our German partner, and that went on for approximately 3 years in total. In that time we were obviously progressing the content and making lots of plans to finance. When we felt we had the script in place in a strong way we went out to attach the additional financing partners with the support of the Film Board. The production continued over the last 18-20 months and we finished in post-production last December.”

Moe knew from the beginning she had a project worthy of the big screen. “In this process we knew quite early on when we were pitching the project among our trusted network for starters but also in the wider market, people responded very quickly and positively to it. The pitch-line that ‘we’re going to make a story about the animals that didn’t get on the Ark’ was such an original concept and we knew it also visually could allow us to create characters in a very free way that we hadn’t seen before – literally. In the imagination of the writers and the visual artists we began to develop that side of it. We felt it gave us freedom to write a very original story and also would allow itself to exploit that visually within the great process that animation brings us and be able to do things you can’t necessarily do in live action without spending so much more money! It allowed us to live in that imagination and bring quite a unique film to the market.”

Once they had completed the content of the story as regards the script, “we then move onto storyboarding,” Moe explains. “We often do what we call a ‘guide track’ [a preliminary soundtrack that gives the animator an idea of what the final track will be like] for starters. Then we cast and record the voice talent – and this is really the key point the animators are relying on – we have to have great performances and the right voice characters for the animators because that’s what they listen to and that’s what inspires them to get the right body acting for their characters. We do go through the process of storyboarding and creating 2-d drawings before we move it onto our computers where we develop and create the 3-d model for our characters and background. And we do what we call ‘blocking’ – this is where we can see the composition of the shots and we can see the perspectives and rough movements, but it’s still not animated. Then we enter the animated phase of the production – this is where the real talent of the animators come to fore. They interpret the scene and the intention and the body language – really selling a character, because if that’s not working right you’re in trouble. You’ve got to feel that the emotional aspect of the character is credible. You may be looking at this strange little Nestrian animal we’ve invented but you have to believe him and you have to empathise with him fully – and that really is where the animator’s talents come in.”

Ultimately, Moe hopes they have created a special film that is fun for all the family and not just the kids.We’ve built layers of humour and story plot to keep the adults entertained as well. From a parent’s point of view, there’s a story there for them as well as the children. They’ve bought the ticket so we have to reward them as well – we don’t want them to fall asleep! It’s what we’re aiming to do – to entertain the whole family.”

 

 Two By Two is released in cinemas 1st May 2014

 

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Review: Two by Two

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DIR: Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack • WRI: Richie Conroy, Toby Genkel, Mark Hodkinson, Marteinn Thorisson • PRO: Emely Christians, Jan Goossen, Moe Honan • ED: Reza Memari DES: Heiko Hentschel • MUS: Stephen McKeon • CAST: Carla Becker, Ava Connolly, Lotta Doll

Two by Two is an Irish animation that recasts the story of Noah’s Ark as an absurdist family comedy told through the eyes of some of the animals caught in the situation. And it’s a fine film, with good writing, funny visual gags, and a surprisingly heart-warming story about trying to find your place in a large scary world. And it’s all complimented by beautiful animation and a unique look, as well as some great voice acting.

So then, the story: Dave and his son Finny are a pair of Nestrians who have spent their whole lives wandering around from place to place, and while Dave has gotten used to his lot in life, Vinny’s lack of friends has left him emotionally stunted and desperately lonely. Meanwhile, our two female leads, (Grimps) mother-daughter duo Hazel and Leah, are also both loners, although while Dave and Vinny are constantly upbeat, happy and friendly, especially Vinny, Hazel and Leah are both aloof and stuck-up, projecting hardened exteriors and acting like a pair of pre-flood Saiyans. The flood from the book of Genesis is about to hit the planet, and some selected animals will be brought onto the ark to survive, while some (including the Nestrians) are to be left on dry land to die. To avoid death, Vinny and Dave sneak onto the ark disguised as Grimps, more specifically the other half of Hazel and Leah’s family, much to Hazel’s dissent and anger.

Due to a few contrived accidents, Leah and Vinny end up having to work together to survive in a harsh wilderness, while Dave and Hazel end up imprisoned together and have to work together in order to find their children. From there, the plot borrows heavily from Rio (2011), i.e. an idiotic, borderline completely ineffectual male lead and a bad-ass female character are forced to work together in order to get through a situation. There’s bickering, threats, and bitching, but eventually the male and female succeed against the odds by using teamwork and their complementary skill-sets, become friends and we get a standard enough Hollywood happy ending. Yes, it’s been done before; yes, you can guess almost exactly how the over-arching plot and character arcs are going to play out, but I’m going to give it the same defence I use for Avengers Assemble (2012) and last year’s smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy – its strength isn’t in a bold, original storyline, but is instead its excellent presentation of a familiar one.

Now, while the formula itself isn’t the most original, the side-characters do manage to be, especially an idiotic, pompous king who acts like a cross between The Lion King’s Mufasa and Prince George as presented in Blackadder the Third.

The film also pushes a theme of rejecting society’s labels and other people’s paths for you for the sake of forging your own. For example, Dave and Vinny are rejected from the ark, and society has decided they should die, so they simply sneak on-board instead, and certain other characters make similar choices. Granted, this is an animation aimed at children, so don’t expect too heavy anti-conformist messages in here, but at the same time it does weave  them in subtly.

The animation is also extremely well done, the film has a unique look to it, and the character designs all look good, as do the various locations.

However, good as this film is, it does have one big, if not fatal, flaw – a compelling villain. It has a few villains, a few carnivorous birds that want to eat Vinny and Leah, the aforementioned king, but there’s no truly great villain, no Scar or Ursula to match the heroes. Granted, good villains need a lot of screen-time in order for fleshing out, for good motivation, to become fearsome, and the writers wanted to give the main characters as much time as possible in order to develop the narrative it is nevertheless a weakness.

Ultimately, Two by Two is not going to be remembered as a classic for the current generation of young children in the same way Frozen, Train your Dragon 2 or The Lego Movie will be. But it is still a solid family film, and definitely worth your time and money if you’re a parent and want to do something fun with your children.

Darren Beattie

G (See IFCO for details)
86 minutes

Two by Two is released 1st May 2015

 

 

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