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Director: J.J. Abrams Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo Running Time: 142 minutes

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If there is one thing we can surely all agree on, it’s that conversation around Star Wars has long since become exhausting. The most popular thing in the world seems destined to be endlessly divisive, drafted unwittingly into assorted sides of the culture wars, something that has gone from nerd fixation to an inescapable franchise conveyor belt. Surely we can all agree that a children’s movie about lasers and space goblins shouldn’t be taken too seriously one way or another. If you couldn’t care less about The Rise of Skywalker with all the baggage it has, it would be hard to blame you. If you watch it and enjoy the film’s spectacle and fan service, more power to you. But in trying to wrestle with the considerable backlash to The Last Jedi, while both concluding a nine film saga and keeping the franchise in good enough favour to continue into the future all while also also trying (one hopes) to be a functioning narrative and entertaining film in its own right, is all too much for one film to rise above. Instead, it falls down a bit of a pit, but has that ever been much of a problem where Star Wars is concerned? It never quite seems to kill things off the way it should.

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Different sponsor, same great programming – DIFF, now the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, is back. The programme for the Dublin International Film Festival 2019 was launched in the fair city of film yesterday afternoon and tickets are flying off the shelf for a trove of fantastic films now.

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Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson Running Time: 152 minutes

Hope, hope, hope, hope, hope….that’s the buzzword in Disney’s latest blockbusting checkbox. A word that too often crops up in The Last Jedi evoking the enduring legacy of the first Star Wars, later retitled A New Hope As creative choices go it struck me as shallow and lazy but for this new chapter in Disney’s ongoing mission to monopolise blockbuster cinema for the next century it’s understandable.  Read more…

Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Benicio Del Toro Running Time: 152 minutes


One thing that should probably be acknowledged about Star Wars before launching into a review of the latest entry to the series is that its cultural footprint is simply too big for anything approaching a consensus to form. Every Star Wars film since the original faced heavy backlash after their initial release. Some were also widely acclaimed at the same time. Some grew their reputation over the years. And some were the prequels. A film that aims to be seen by so many simply cannot please everyone all of the time, even if it tried, but despite the pressure of having to deliver to such a dedicated fanbase and such keenly invested taskmasters at Disney, director Rian Johnson boldly declares never to tell him the odds and instead has made The Last Jedi into the kind of film he knows will entertain one person for certain: himself. Make something for yourself and others usually follow, and those of a like-mind with Johnson will see in The Last Jedi an ambitious, electrifying and reflective blockbuster.

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With Rogue One out this week, I decided to take a look back at last year’s Star Wars offering, The Force Awakens. While both new Star Wars films have been both celebrated and attacked for championing ‘minority’ characters, they’re still very much focused on Fathers and the passing on of power, which shows that patrilineage is still king. Patrilineage means the ways that we keep track of, and idolize, biological fatherhood. And nothing has preserved patrilineage quite like domesticated dogs – where would we be without man’s best friend? Probably still figuring out farming.

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Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson Running Time: 156 minutes

Alejandro González Iñárritu isn’t the first filmmaker to pit a hardworking actor against the forces of nature, the better to show the brutality and cold and unfeeling reality of yadda yadda yadda. But while others might regard the fatalistic and violent reality Iñárritu depicts in The Revenant with some sadness, or pity, or even bemused resignation, about the only emotion he seems interested in showing, if any, is a cold, detached disdain. In that detachment, The Revenant is a visually stimulating, visceral achievement, but its impossible to connect with emotionally, which is maybe not the best outcome for a story about a man losing everything and being left for dead.

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