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Set to take place in 2018, the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival is Ireland’s latest international film festival dedicated to filmmakers exclusively using mobile devices. The festival will screen a host of short film, documentary, animation and music videos, with industry and educational workshops as well as a few surprises.

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Action cinema received a much needed shot in the arm in 2011 with the release of Gareth Evans’s The Raid. The film, a taut Indonesian martial arts masterpiece set in one location was quickly compared to Die Hard. That film gave audiences crisp, clear and expertly crafted fight scenes in a tense and claustrophobic setting. These long unbroken sequences were a breath of fresh air in comparison to the stilted, slow, overly edited fight scenes from modern Hollywood action fare. It would be easy to compare Headshot, the latest film from Indonesian pair Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto to The Raid. You can see the elevator pitch,  ‘It’s The Bourne Identity meets The Raid‘ and while it is indebted to both of those films Headshot is very much its own animal. It doesn’t dwell on the amnesia storyline like the former and lacks the big budget Hollywood sheen of the latter. What Headshot delivers is a beautiful, brutal, bloody, bullet riddled action ballet.

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Director: Alan Gilsenan Starring: Catherine Keener, Hannah Gross Running Time: 90 minutes


Adapting the Canadian Author Carol Shields final novel Unless for the big screen was certainly going to be a challenge. The novel, the last book written by the author before her passing from breast cancer, was a sprawling story with many layers of philosophical meditation. The novel tackles gender inequality and the realistic possibilities for women, the nature of happiness as well as identification of people’s place and purpose in time. Writer/director Alan Gilsenan does a noble job of condensing these themes into a digestible cinematic format and with Catherine Keeners raw, realistic central performance Unless feels like a film with a lot on its mind. The resulting film however is never as nuanced and profound as it thinks it is, keeping the audience at an emotional distance when it should be letting them in.

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Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck Starring: TJ Miller, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Anniston Running Time: 105 minutes


It is hard to muster much enthusiasm for the latest festive themed comedy, Office Christmas Party. With the stench of Bad Santa 2 still lingering, another trip to the dark side of Christmas does not seem so appealing. There is of course hope, with the film’s cast stacked to the rafters with reliable faces (Jason Bateman, Jenifer Aniston) and padded out with a seemingly endless list of recognizable comedy actors, Office Christmas Party, from the creative team behind Blades of Glory and The Hangover could at the very least deliver on the raunchy, rambunctious and wild antics promised in the trailer.  All the boxes are ticked in the 90 min run-time: drug use, profanity, alcohol, Christmas tree jousting…yet despite a game supporting cast and some enthusiastic direction, it all feels a bit aimless, safe and not particularly exceptional.

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“Have you got Soul Brother”? It has been 25 years since Alan Parker’s The Commitments appeared on our cinema screens and charmed its way into our hearts. Comprised of unknown performers and set in working class Ireland, this adaptation of one of Roddy Doyle’s most famous works captured the brutal economic hardships of a post-recession Dublin but also the zest and exuberance of what it was like to be young and have a dream.

In 1991, Ireland had the youngest population in Europe and some of the highest unemployment. The Commitments depicted a gritty working class Dublin that up until this time was absent in Irish cinema. A lot has changed in the 25 years since the film’s initial release.  Now a hugely successful West End Musical, the show has recently enjoyed several sell out shows here in Dublin. What better time for Film in Dublin to break down this Irish classic and see if it still has soul after all these years?

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Luc Besson is back, returning to big budget science fiction for the first time in 20 years. That film, The Fifth Element was charming, bright and ridiculous, like a comic book come to life. Owing more to Flash Gordon than Star Wars, the film offered jaw-dropping visuals coupled with quirky performances elevating it above the normal summer blockbuster fare.

Now the first trailer has dropped for Besson’s latest film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Adapted from the long-running French Valérian and Laureline created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, while it certainly looks spectacular, it can’t help but feel a little familiar.

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The current incarnation of HBO’S Westworld series is now on the eve of its fourth episode and enjoying universal critical approval. Mixing thought-provoking science fiction with disturbing horror, the show poses a number of ethical and social questions about socialites rapid adoption and integration with technology. Where do we draw the line between artificial life and human life? Is it murder or infidelity if none of it is real? These are poignant questions in 2016 and the show could not have arrived at a better time to explore these themes. To get a better understanding of this new incarnation we here at Film in Dublin have decided to revisit the Cult 1973 original. Released incidentally only 2 days after the opening of Disney World Florida, Westworld posits a future where rich tourists can enjoy luxury vacations in a state of the art adult theme park, their every needs served by lifelike robots. The vacation becomes a nightmare when the androids start malfunctioning and killing the guests. 43 years after its release, this low budget SCI-FI now seems sharply relevant. It is a cautionary tale of man’s inability to see its own fallibility in the pursuit of innovation.

 

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