Packing ’em in at Cork Film Festival

Woe betide any movie director who gets into Dylan Moran’s black books

Dylan Moran with the Cork Film Festival's Creative Director James Mullighan

Dylan Moran with the Cork Film Festival's Creative Director James Mullighan


Some festivals try to spread meagre smatterings of events over more days than they should, pulling off the festival programming equivalent of Donald Trump’s comb-over after he’s enjoyed a high-nelly spin up Salthill prom on a particularly blustery Tuesday in February.

This is not an accusation that can be levelled at Cork Film Festival. This was the 58th outing of Ireland’s longest-running film fiesta, and, over its nine days, the festival was as follicularly voluminous as the lovechild of Captain Cavewoman and Sébastien Chabal.

Many festivals would be happy to take the theme of political protest as the thread that stitches their programme together. Other cinematic celebrations might feature the punk movement or possibly run a season of Mexican films. There have been festivals in which music documentaries were the primary focus or screenings with live scores were the main event; others run a week’s worth of short films.

Cork Film Festival juggled all these elements while unicycling.

The breadth and depth of what was on offer in our other capital city was impressive – and frustrating. That feeling, usually reserved for multi-staged fields, raised it’s head: conflicting gigs that make you wish for Padre Pio’s powers of bilocation. Bilocation would’ve been a gift, but stigmata might not be ideal when sharing popcorn. Thankfully the FOMO festival feeling was balanced by stumbling across some hidden surprises around the city. I suffered my worst dose of Natalie Imbruglias when torn between Dylan Moran’s Desert Island Flicks gig and Sini Anderson’s The Punk Singer, a documentary featuring Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill and prominent member of the Riot Grrrl movement. I plumped for Moran on the basis that I could either catch the documentary again or quiz Padre Pio about it in the festival club later that night.

There was a big crowd in the Opera House for an event that was almost an aside in terms of what was happening. Dylan Moran was in town on the back of the short film Breakfast Wine, and, while he was knocking around, festival director James Mullighan invited him to choose some interesting films to talk about to the crowds who were queueing across Emmet Place, eager to hear what he had to say.

Moran choose a crop of films and selected some clips from each for himself and Mullighan to discuss. Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, Michael Mann’s Heat, the Coen brothers’ Fargo and The Big Lebowski, Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in Paris and Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher were all included, and it was interesting to hear Moran’s take on them. Heat was particularly revealing; Moran discussed the cinematography passionately, showing relevant examples,
adding extra dimension to a film remembered primarily for the first big-screen tête-à-tête between De Niro and Pacino.

The passion and insight were welcome, but it was when a couple of films got something of a slating that the audience came alive. Dan in Real Life, featuring Juliette Binoche and Steve Carell, prompted a quote worthy of Bernard Black: “All wrong! I wanted to kill them all.” It’s nice to have proof that there’s even just a little bit of the proprietor of Black Books alive and kicking in the real world.

The clips from The Big Lebowski got laughs, but these were nothing compared to those of Liam Neeson’s legendary phone threats in Taken. “Fantastically stupid” is how Moran described the film, going on to discuss a theory that presented the film as a twisted incest fantasy designed by Luc Besson as a
practical joke on America.

Unfortunately for the producers of films such as Dan in Real Life
and Taken, Dylan Moran has a particular set of skills. Skills he has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for films like these. Be careful what you produce – he will find you.

Safe travels, don’t die.

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