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  • Bollywood boogie

    April 9, 2009 @ 11:37 am | by Fiona McCann

    ‘Sup all you Slumdog fans – or specifically, those of you who were foot tapping and knee jiggling through that last sequence of all-cast dancing. Bollywood is coming to Dublin, in the form of a five-minute short by Fishfilms, and dancers are in demand. The big blow-out boogie at the end is to be filmed on Sunday, April 19th, and all you have to do to be part of it is learn the dance steps below, and send an email to dublinbollywood@gmail.com with your name, phone number, playing age (?) and dance ability.  Via Culch.ie and Critical Junk.

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  • Update

    @ 9:51 am | by Fiona McCann

    Reading: Molly Fox’s Birthday, by Deirdre Madden, having just finished The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga (a pacey rags to riches story with a twist, giving frightening insight into India. It’s an accomplished debut, and though it lacks the weight and wonder that marks a book out for generations to come, it’s still worth a read), and Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson (beautifully gentle, crafted story that rings of loss and strange connections).

     Watching: Lots. I’ve been on a lot of flights. Saw Benjamin Button – meh. Though Mr Gateau’s rewinding clock was touching and effective, and there were some gigglish struck-by-lightening scenes, the rest was more of the same overwrought, emotive gum that’s getting churned out at a great rate of late, achieving its tear-jerking aim only through the boredom that resulted from watching three-odd hours of it. Also Revolutionary Road – not bad, though hard to separate from the book, which, unsurprisingly was better. And snippets of Australia, which is not the kind of film to watch on a six-inch screen.

    Attended: The opening night of All My Sons at the Gate. It’s a timely production of a play with an alarming contemporary resonance, that deals, as Arthur Miller often does, with the moral choices faced by men in a world where money maketh the man. The Gate production is a straight-up affair, allowing Miller’s text to do its thing, to play out the stories of ordinary Americans in a moral, human context. Len Cariou is powerful as Joe Keller (in one exhausting, emotionally-charged scene he seizes, electrically) , Barbara Brennan is emotionally fierce as Kate, Peter Gaynor is compelling as George Deever and while the other performances don’t quite meet the measure of these three, it still makes for some gripping, lingering moments. Read Peter Crawley’s review here.

     Missed: David Byrne on Monday. Don’t want to talk about it.

  • Wendy and Lucy

    April 1, 2009 @ 3:06 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Wendy and Lucy is a small film set in a Pacific Northwest that thrums and squeals with trains passing through and passing by strange towns where you can’t get “an address without an address, or a job without a job,” yet people live, count time, are passed over. Modest, pared down yet fully, touchingly human, it’s like an on-screen Will Oldham song, unadorned, honest and wholly American. It also boasts an appearance by the aforementioned Mr Oldham himself as Icky, but it is a mesmserising, Michelle Williams, who plays Wendy with pitch perfect honesty and understatement, that really steals the show. Oh, and a very endearing dog. Anyone seen it (the film, not the dog)?
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  • Oscarzzzzzzzzzzzzzz?

    February 24, 2009 @ 12:31 pm | by Fiona McCann

    No real surprises on Sunday night, apart from Mickey Rourke not getting his gong. Expecting a snooze (and boy did I need one) I will say that Hugh Jackman’s dancing was a hoot, I loved all the musical razzmatazz, and the new format was a strangely moving tribute to the undeniable longevity of the Academy Awards. The sight of Hollywood legends like Eva Marie Saint, Sophia Loren (if that was, in fact, Sophia Loren) and the divine Christopher Walken made for some good milking of the old cinema magic, though it did result in a bit too much onstage hugging for the winners.  Tina Fey and Steve Martin’s Scientology dig was delightful, Ben Stiller’s impression of Joaquin Phoenix skittily spot on. So yeah, the winners were predictable for the most part, and the dresses largely dreary, but so help me, the Oscars won me back, though I should point out I watched most of it on YouTube. Speaking of which, here’s Sean Penn’s worthy, but, you know, worthy, acceptance speech. YouTube Preview Image

  • Five Minutes Of Heaven

    February 21, 2009 @ 6:10 pm | by Fiona McCann

    It’s 1975 and Alistair Little is a cocky teenager living in a Lurgan housing estate, with pictures of Bruce Lee and George Best on his wall, an oversupply of testosterone and a burning desire to be a man about town. He joins the UVF, and asks to be allowed kill a Catholic. The man he murders is Joe Griffin’s brother, and 11-year-old Joe is witness to the killing. Thirty three years later, a repentant Little and revenge-hungry Griffin are invited to meet by a television company eager to film the encounter. Both men need this meeting for different reasons, this five minutes of heaven where confronting the past will either put their demons to rest or unleash new ones. It is a masterful, modern and complex look at how post-conflict truth-searching plays over a human heart. Though there are occasional slips into caricature (the television producers are particularly inane), and moments of over-scripted dialogue, the two central performances, with Liam Neeson as the Protestant Little and James Nesbitt as the Catholic Griffin in a canny juxtaposition of their real-life origins, are powerful and nuanced. Nesbitt in particular shines in a role that allows him scope to reveal all of the complexity of being human and male in a world of us against them. (more…)

  • Il Divo

    February 18, 2009 @ 1:39 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Last night I attended the Film Festival screening of Il Divo, an astoundingly inventive and beautifully crafted (if confusing: too many Italian politicians, bankers, businessmen, dates, subtitles and political machination for this viewer, unschooled in Italian political history, to follow) film with a wonderful soundtrack, astonishing lensing, and a stand-out performance by Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti. Afterwards, director and writer Paolo Sorrentini received an award and participated in a short question-and-answer session with the audience. Q&As usually make me cringe, given the kind of soapboxing by audience members it appears to induce, but this one was worth it for a few sharp questions and a wonderful revelation at the end from a gentleman who described himself only as “someone who worked at the Department of the Taoiseach for thirty years.” The gentleman in question said he met Andreotti on several occasions, and pointed to the accuracy of Il Divo‘s portrayal of this powerful political figure who thrice served as Italy’s Prime Minister. He followed with a recollection of Andreotti’s impact on our own Charles J. Haughey, remarking on the latter’s clear fascination with the former. Having just watched a film about Andreotti’s Mafia links and brutal treatment of his enemies in politics and the media, it was particularly entertaining to hear the name of our former Taoiseach introduced. The gentleman in question got a larger round of applause than Sorrentino.  

  • BAFTA boredom

    February 9, 2009 @ 10:57 am | by Fiona McCann

    No surprises last night at the largely predictable BAFTA awards, which managed to make even Terry Gilliam and all his Monty Python output seem boring. Things perked up when it looked like Sharon Stoned might forget to finish her sentences, but no such luck. Nobody tripped, gushed, cried (except a possible sniffle from Goldie Hawn as she presented Best Supporting Actor, but then she’s always teetering on the teary-eyed) or made a fool of themselves, with good-time veteran Mickey Rourke’s expletives delivered so tamely that the bleeping seemed superfluous. Even the dresses were dull. Onanistic twaddle for the most part, which leads one to wonder why we have all become so mesmerised with this one professional realm that we are so glued to the screens when they hand out their sycophantic accolades. Bah. If that’s entertainment, I’m tuning in to the Annual Builders and Plumbers Awards – at least there’d be bottom on show. In the meantime, I’m taking recommendations for the Jameson Film Festival – what should I be booking?

  • D’Unbelievable

    February 4, 2009 @ 11:01 am | by Fiona McCann

    Tipperary actor Pat Shortt won Best Actor in the Evening Standard Film Awards this week for his role as Josie in Lenny Abrahamson’s powerful film Garage. Though he had to share the gong with Michael Sheen for his Frost in Frost/Nixon, Shortt’s win for a heartbreaking performance – I mean it, this will make your chest hurt – as a lonely, small town petrol pump attendant, was very much deserved. It was also a joy to see Abrahamson up there against Stephen Daldry and Danny Boyle in a nominations shortlist that is selected by a jury of film critics, though Daldry got the nod in the end for The Reader. Those who haven’t seen Garage yet, this is a timely reminder to catch one of the finest films to come out of Ireland in years by a director who might well be the best thing to come out of Irish cinema in . . . well, ever. There, I’ve said it.  Any better contenders?

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  • Frost, Nixon and Ron Howard

    January 26, 2009 @ 10:45 am | by Fiona McCann

    Saw this Oscar contender last night, and apart from a fine performance from Langella as a disgraced president (though not necessarily a ringer for Nixon), Frost/Nixon is a serious disappointment. It’s a Ron Howard of a rewrite, all build-up to the all important climax (aided by a fabricated phone call that turns the tables in the clunkiest of manners), where, you know, good triumphs evil and lo! Frost gleans the all important admission of wrongdoing from a former president and the Day. Is. Saved. Phew, didn’t see that one coming. Which shouldn’t matter in a pic like this where you already know the outcome, except it’s played to us in such a way that we’re apparently supposed to be on the edges of our seats. The thing is, the premise of this film is a fascinating one, and interview technique is something in which I have a particular professional interest, yet Frost/Nixon simplifies even that, all encased in a clumsy faux-documentary style that adds nothing but confusion to the whole endeavour. And yes, you get the sense of the humanity of a man who has been historically demonised (though whether you even agree with that notion is a whole nother story), and some interesting glimpses of how the whole process comes together, but it’s not enough to carry what seems at times a facile version of events. As a film about a historical, political figure, Milk far outranks Frost/Nixon. As for Rebecca Hall’s Caroline Cushing – hard to say why she was written in at all, other than as blatant eye candy. Shudder. Skip it, go see Milk instead. (Speaking of which, check out this bizarre, oddly focussed review by Philip French and let’s see if you see what I see). For a very different take on Frost/Nixon, by the way, by our own film critic Michael Dwyer, click here.

  • Grouching the Oscars

    January 22, 2009 @ 10:24 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Warning: May contain spoilers. And yes, I know, we’ve been through it all back to front by now, but here’s my tuppence worth (if it’s even worth that. Bah, who cares, none of you are paying anyway). Slumdog Millionaire? A good night out, if you don’t mind footage of children being mutilated in your feelgood flicks, but really, best film of the year? Though I am glad to see it get the nod for score – say what you like about M.I.A.’s Paper Planes but that stuff is catchy and hey, I loved the big dance sequence at the end.  Mark my words, with this whole tanking economy business, musicals are going to be HUGE again. It’s an uplift thing. Brace yizzerselves. Milk impressed me, but more for the story – hard to go wrong with such a subject, really. And yes, Sean Penn plays a gay man convincingly, but why is everyone acting as if this is the world’s greatest accomplishment? As for that Benjamin Button business, I have no intention of going near it, frankly. Anyone like to tell me why I should? And seriously, Angelina Jolie in Changeling? I’m not saying she’s bad, but frankly, I couldn’t get past the fact that she was never, ever seen without her eye shadow. Such weighty issues distracted from the frothy subject matter of missing children and women being incarcerated.  Heath Ledger scared the pants off me in The Dark Knight, but it’s impossible to know how much of my knowledge of his subsequent death infused my experience of that film. I would suspect a lot, and along with the rest of the world, predict he’ll win the Supporting Actor gong. Finally, I did enjoy Wall-E, the first part in particular, where he trundles adorably around cleaning up rubbish on a burnished earth. Didn’t quite warm to the stuff in the spaceship so much, in terms of the aesthetic, though the concept was amusing. What else about the Oscars? Not seen Doubt yet, have been avoiding The Reader (I’ve read the book, I know the story) and don’t want to go near Revolutionary Road until I’ve read the book and know that story too. And hurray to Martin McDonagh for In Bruges. But seriously, it just all feels interminably dull and uninspiring. Does anyone really believe these awards mean anything other than a box office boost?

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