Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: Traders

Ailbhe O’ Reilly trades blows with Traders, which screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

Since the recession hit the world with a bang in 2008 there have been a few economic themed films – The Company Men tried the drama angle, Up in the Air tried the comedy angle and there have also been numerous documentaries.

Traders is the first Irish film I have seen that tackles the subject matter with a dark comedy edge tinged with graphic violence. Traders focuses on two very different lead characters – Vernon Styles (Game of Thrones’ John Bradley) and Harry Fox (Love/Hate’s Killian Scott), who are both left desperate after the company they work for goes under. After their boss takes his own life to escape his financial problems Vernon comes up with a very unique business idea which is the basis for the movie.

The idea is that people down on their luck arrange a secluded place to fight it out to the death with the winner walking away with the life savings of the other person. This is trading and the aim of the game is to keep arranging fights until you have enough money or die trying.

At first glance, Traders may not appeal to everyone – the violence can be quite graphic at times and the plot of ordinary people fighting like backyard brawlers in recessionary Ireland felt too far removed from reality. However, the fast moving and hilarious script keeps our interest and Killian Scott delivers as a captivating leading man. Traders really is Scott’s film, he is in nearly every scene and keeps our attention throughout. He is joined on screen by at least half the Love/Hate cast, which was distracting at times, but does display the many up-and-coming Irish actors around at the moment.

John Bradley is entertaining in his role, but doesn’t stray too far from the role many are familiar with in Game of Thrones. Overall, the directing pair of Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy do an excellent job with a daring and unique film that keeps the audience guessing throughout and even manages to surprise with the ending.

 

Traders screened on Saturday, 11th July  as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July 2015)

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Review: Get Up and Go

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DIR/WRI: Brendan Grant • PRO: Juliette Bonass • DOP: Vladimir Trivic • ED: Celia Galán, Eoin McGuirk • DES: Emma Lowney • DES: Emma Lowney • CAST: Peter Coonan, Killian Scott, Gemma-Leah Devereux

 

Nothing is more awkward then when a joke falls flat. Well, I did hear a titter in the cinema here and there, but it may have been someone clearing their throat. Alas such was the case with Get Up and Go, written and directed by Brendan Grant, a film that tries- and fails – to provide an insightful look into the realities of exiting one’s youth while still clinging to unattainable dreams under the guise of a ‘hipster comedy/drama’. But, hey, at least it tries.

The worst aspect by far in this film is the fact that its two main protagonists are completely unlikeable. And not in an endearing kind of way. True, perfect characters make for dull films, but with no semblance of goodness it’s extremely difficult to engage with a character’s motivation and story arc. Alex (Coonan) and Coilin (Scott) have been best friends for years, but now approaching their thirties and with their creative ambitions as of yet unrealised, tensions between the undynamic-duo begin to grow. Throw in some romantic trouble and wadda-bing, wadda-bang, there’s your plot. The film takes course over 24 hours and meanders from one plot point to another with little cohesion or thought.

After finding out his girlfriend is pregnant, Alex decides to jump ship and finally move to London to pursue his stagnant music career. Vain and selfish, Alex never reaches any form of satisfactory redemption. Immigration for young Irish people is as topical now as ever but Grant fails to seize on this opportunity to explore more deeply the impact it is having on an entire generation and the country at large. Hipsters hanging out in coffee shops serve as the representatives for ‘Generation Y-ers’ and they’re about as interesting as they sound. The whole ‘struggling artist’ shtick isn’t as sympathetic when said struggling artists spend their days sipping €5-per-cup coffees. On the other end of the spectrum is would-be comedian Coilin. Awkward and boring, Coilin completely lacks the charisma necessary to succeed in his chosen career path but remains firm in the belief that his ‘big break’ lies just around the corner. He also isn’t doing too hot on the dating scene, which is no wonder as he is completely incapable of understanding the concept of ‘no’. As Alex and Coilin fuddle from one problem to another and are confronted with harsh truths, both about themselves and life in general, all certainty begins to wane.

Now and again the film comes close to being almost profound, but then undermines this with unnecessary sub-plots and unfunny jokes. In the ‘comedy/horror’ paradigm this film falls firmly on the drama side of things. This would be fine, except that the film insists on rubbing its jokes in the audience’s faces instead of letting it occur naturally. Undoubtedly talented though Scott and Coonan are, a lot of the comedic sequences fail due to their deadpan delivery. The jokes come across as forced and offer nothing in terms of the character’s observations or self-realisation. Punchlines are followed by silence from the audience. But when the joke revolves around a character rubbing his genitalia to make use of his ‘natural musk’ to attract women, expectations must be set low.

The film boasts its use of various Dublin locations, especially pubs and cafes, throughout. However, this is nothing new. It seems no film set in Dublin nowadays is complete without various tracking shots of the city’s landmarks dappled around. Aesthetically, the film does not have much to offer. Its colour palette is bland and its shots straightforward. The musical soundtrack, on the other hand, which exclusively features Irish musicians, is brimming with life and personality. Indeed, it’s one of the best aspects of the film.

Overall, Get Up and Go leaves audiences feeling unsatisfied. It has nothing original to offer in terms providing a real insight into the actual realities of being a young person in Ireland today, its humour fails to pack a punch, and its characters never engage with the viewer on any meaningful level. What’s frustrating is the fact that this film had the potential to become an Irish equivalent of 2004’s Garden State but, where Zach Braff’s film had enough charm to overcome its shortcomings, there is very little here to salvage.

Ellen Murray

15A (See IFCO for details)
98 minutes

Get Up and Go is released 1st May 2015

Get Up and Go – Official Website

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‘Get Up & Go’ Set for Cinemas

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 Get Up & Go,  starring Peter Coonan and Killian Scott,  will be released in Irish cinemas on Friday, 1st of May.

Written and directed by Brendan Grant, Get Up & Go is a slacker comedy which chronicles a hectic 24 hours in the life of would-be comedian Coilin (Scott) and frustrated musician Alex (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.

Get Up & Go is a Fastnet Films  production in association with Fragrant Films and Celofan Audiovisual with the participation of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board and The Film Agency for Wales.

Wildcard Distribution will be releasing Get Up & Go in Irish cinemas on Friday May 1st.

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Interview: Killian Scott

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Lorna Buttimer chats to Killian Scott about his role in Calvary, his fears, and his thoughts on that Love/Hate fizzy orange scene.

You probably know Killian Scott as Tommy from Love/Hate. The aforementioned show is of course the most notorious RTÉ production since Biddy and Miley farmed their way into our hearts. As you likely know, last season’s Love/Hate saw Killian grapple with some tough material. Tommy was severely brain damaged, leaving the character mentally and physically impaired in the last season. You’re probably wondering, like me, if the show is going to bump him next; maybe his appearance in Calvary is a strategic break for it? By his own admission, he is the most likely to go. But alas, dig as I might, the actor is revealing nothing.  It was worth a try, I guess.

He is, of course, more forthcoming about Calvary, his latest film. The feature follows a kindly priest, who learns by confession that a parishioner plans to murder him in seven days, in retribution for the crimes of the Catholic Church. Not knowing whether the threat is real, the priest tries to put right the many problems in his small rural community, and reconnect with his estranged daughter before his ultimatum expires. Gleeson takes the lead as the Father in question, while Killian gifts his talents to Milo, one of Father James’ parishioners.

‘Milo is kind of operating on a different wavelength – a slightly unusual one. My instinctive reaction when I read it was, this guy – there is probably a sense of autism in the mix. Then I spoke to John [Michael McDonagh, director] about it. And yeah, he said, Asperger’s, he wanted it to be subtle. There are various forms of Asperger’s; we decided to go with a more contained sense of social inability. Milo’s predominate complaint is that he can’t engage socially, specifically with women, which is why he comes to the conclusion to either kill himself or join the army, naturally enough!’

Coping with these difficulties, Killian’s character approaches Father James for help. These days it might seem strange for a young person to confide in a priest. However, Killian feels that it’s down to Gleeson’s role in the film. ‘Brendan’s character is one I would trust in the film, you know, and I’m not conventional in that respect. The priest to me is a totally plausible source of advice.’

Unfortunately for Milo, the audience quickly line him up as a suspect in Father James’ would-be murder. A position he admits he missed at first. ‘You don’t prepare for the audience but John told me, ‘You need to be considered a plausible suspect’. So there are moments where we made slight nuances, in regards to a second look; there is something unsettling about the second look.’

He is, of course, not the film’s only suspect. Scott joins a list of others including some of the best screen talent on these shores, such as Chris O Dowd, Pat Shortt, Domhnall Gleeson and Aidan Gillian, to mention but a few. For most of the cast, Scott admits, ‘I only knew them through virtue of their careers. I had met Brendan because myself and his son Brian became good friends when we were shooting Love/Hate.  I met Domhnall a couple of times. And Aiden, of course!’

Gleeson, though is a different kettle of fish. At this stage, he is a bone fide Irish film legend. Scott recognises this and admits the fear he felt at working with the man himself. ‘I remember the day we were filming my main scene in the film with Brendan and I remember just being in that trailer, pacing, smoking because of course it was delayed for ages and of course anxious goblins were appearing. But then I arrived, and Brendan is such a genius and welcoming actor that after a take or two I settled into it.’

Scott reveals, however, the McDonagh’s working style helped ease him into the whole process. ‘We kind of just ran it, and John never stopped us or we never did pickups. We just ran the whole thing, the whole way through and he didn’t talk to us that much, just a couple of basic notes. I felt he just let myself and Brendan find our way through it and it was a real pleasure.’

Further to that, Aiden’s presence also helped. ‘When Aiden was on set I felt a bit more comfortable and there was just this weird moment. There’s this scene where Aiden and me are sitting across from each other at a bar – I caught my reflection and I’m there with a dickie-bow, and I’m sitting very straight. And Aiden is just leaning there with a lollipop in his mouth and this moustache. And it was just a bizarre scenario to be in.’

Speaking of strange scenarios for the actor, he reveals his bemusement at audience reactions to the fizzy orange scene in the last season of Love/Hate. ‘I thought I had a really good radar for that kind of stuff. I was so baffled! I was surprised when that was something people ran with. I always thought that moment was quite tragic, it’s not say that people didn’t find it tragic but they also found humour in it. You can do that though, I mean Calvary is an example of that’.

Returning to Calvary, he makes it quite clear that he truly enjoyed the production of the film, ‘it was lovely – everyone genuinely bonded and got on really well. It was really a pleasant experience. Everyone was working at the top of their game and it just bred a real since of contentment. When you think something is quality, a real satisfaction comes from that’.

And so what’s next for the actor? Well, he’ll be working with no less than man-of-the-moment Michael Fassbender on a feature called Trespass Against Us. ‘It’s about a family of West Country travellers in the west of England in Gloucestershire. It’’s based on a documentary about a real family who were implicated in a serious of burglaries.’  It’s a good thing Scott got over his fears of Gleeson, as he too, is billed for the feature.

 

Calvary is in cinemas now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cinema Review: Black Ice

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DIR: Johnny Gogan  WRI: Johnny Gogan, Brian Leyden  • PRO: Johnny Gogan • DOP: Peter Martin • ED: Patrick O’Rourke • Cast: Jane McGrath, Killian Scott, Dermot Murphy, Marian Quinn

Black Ice begins when an uneasy and distraught local, Alice returns to her hometown near the border for the funeral of her young friend.  After this, a series of flashbacks reveal the events leading up to the crash that caused her brother, Tom and his girlfriend to lose their lives.

This slow-paced thriller examines the dangerous relationship between young people and speed, as then schoolgirl Alice falls for the mysterious, delinquent boy-racer, Jimmy – played by Love/Hate’s Killian Scott. Alice loses her innocence quickly as she finds herself hurtling down the road and into a world of fast cars and corruption.

Featuring some excellent performances from the latest wave of national talent, as well as some fantastically electric chase sequences, Black Ice proves that you can certainly get value for money in these recessionary times with a low-budget feature.

Gemma Creagh


15A (See IFCO for details)

102 mins
Black Ice is released on 20th September 2013

Black Ice – Official Website

 

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New Irish Feature Film ‘Black Ice’ Confirms Cinema Release Date

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Independent Irish production companies Bandit Films and Still Films today confirmed that feature film Black Ice will be released in Irish cinemas on September 20th 2013.  The film will also screen at the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend and had its World Premiere at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in February.  Directed by Johnny Gogan and starring Killian Scott and Jane McGrath, the film is a dramatic action thriller set against the backdrop of the local petrol-head scene in rural Ireland.  Black Ice will screen on Saturday July 13th at 2.15pm at the Galway Film Fleadh with stars Jane McGrath, Dermot Murphy and director Johnny Gogan in attendance.

 

Set in rural Donegal, Black Ice follows Jimmy Devlin, played by ‘Love/Hate’ star Killian Scott, and his complicated relationship with girlfriend Alice Watters, played by newcomer Jane McGrath who has been receiving rave reviews for her feature film debut.  The story, set in a clandestine road racing scene where Jimmy is considered “top dog” among the petrol heads, also follows his and Alice’s struggle to break into the legit professional rally scene, but there are other forces at work in this shadowy border world threatening to undermine their ambition.  The world of cars, whether it be the modified car scene or the rally scene, is a big sub-culture in many countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas. There is a degree of mystery and secrecy around the world of cars, young people and speed.

 

Set in the period around the Irish economic crash of 2008 Black Ice was shot on locations in Sligo and Leitrim, a developing hot-bed of film-making now playing host to the new Ken Loach film. Gogan’s third feature after The Last Bus Home and Mapmaker, Black Ice is co-producer Still Films first fiction film foray having previously scored hits with documentaries Pyjama Girls and Seaview.

 

The title track for the film, performed by Sligo rapper Myster E and Sarah Crummy and written by Johnny Gogan and Myster E will be released as a single in Ireland on 29th July.

 

Johnny Gogan, director and producer, while expressing his gratitude to the film’s wonderful cast commented: “It’s very fitting that Black Ice should be screened at the prestigious Galway Film Fleadh given that the film was produced under the auspices of Studio North West, a hugely vibrant and creative filmmaking community in the North-West of the country.  Their involvement and that of the region’s car community was decisive in the successful realisation of a film with so much action and high production values.  We’re really looking forward to screening the film at the Fleadh, and to the release of the film on September 20th.  All of our cast and dedicated crew worked tirelessly on the project, so to see the final result on the big screen and to have the appreciation of an audience is really important.”

 

Producer Nicky Gogan also commented on the commitment of the cast and crew, noting that “The enthusiasm and energy of the crew has translated onto the screen, where the thrilling high-speed race sequences are brought to life very vividly.  Along with the dynamic aspects of the film, there is at its heart a deeply affecting universal story of first love, with people trying to pick up the pieces and make a life for themselves after the economic crash.  The film really does have something for everyone, and we think it’s a model of how films can be made in Ireland in the future.”

 

The film was produced by Bandit Films and Still Films, with the support of The Irish Film Board / Bord Scannán na hÉireann.

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