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A psychosexual season of cinema begins at the Irish Film Institute this evening titled ‘Killer Couples’. Classic films from across the history of the medium that mix love and criminality will screen at the IFI throughout June.

Mixing salacious genre-films with more fact-based stories, ‘Killer Couples’ has been curated to explore films featuring couples complicit together in the act of murder. From gold-standard noir like Double Indemnity to the subservice teen film Heathers (currently being controversially, wrong-headily reimagined), to films inspired by real-life cases such as Richard Flesicher’s Compulsion, IFI are aiming not to glamorise the connection, but rather to provide a snapshot view of the artist and the audience’s fascination with sex and death, and the connection between the two. The nine film collection includes a wide-range of creative talents, with the words of Dalton Trumbo and Quentin Tarantino, the cameras of Sam Peckinpah, Billy Wilder and Peter Jackson and much more on offer from an intriguing mix of noir.

Check out the full selection of films below. Tickets are available now from the IFI. (Film descriptions below are from the IFI)

Double Indemnity – Wednesday 6th June 2018, 6.20pm

Double Indemnity is considered to have set the template for film noir. Based on a novella by James M. Cain, whose work would also provide the source material for films such as Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett, 1946), it is the story of insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who begins an affair with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), the wife of one of his clients. When her questions lead him to believe that she is considering murdering her husband, he resists at first before becoming a willing collaborator, leading to a maze of complications and double-crosses in this hardboiled classic.

 

Compulsion – Sunday 10th June 2018, 3.45pm

Richard Fleischer made a number of films throughout his career that focused on real life killers, including The Boston Strangler(1968) and 10 Rillington Place (1971). Compulsion is based on the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb case that also provided the inspiration Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) and Tom Kalin’s Swoon(1992).

Here, close friends Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) and Artie Strauss (Bradford Dillman) are the egotistical pair who murder a boy simply for the thrill, convinced that their preparations and intellectual superiority will obviate all consequences. When this assumption proves incorrect, their case is taken by famed attorney Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles, in a part based on Clarence Darrow).

 

The Getaway – Wednesday 13th June 2018, 6.20pm

Jim Thompson’s crime fiction has been adapted by directors such as James Foley (After Dark, My Sweet, 1990), Stephen Frears (The Grifters, 1990), and Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, 2010), while Thompson also co-wrote the screenplay for Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956).

Sam Peckinpah’s take on his work stars Steve McQueen as ‘Doc’ McCoy, inmate of a Texas prison, who persuades his wife Carol (Ali McGraw) to use her wiles on a corrupt and influential businessman in order to secure his release. In return, Doc is forced to participate in a bank robbery that quickly goes wrong, forcing the troubled couple on the run in an entertaining thriller replete with Peckinpah’s trademark balletic violence.

 

Lift to the Scaffold – Sunday 17th June 2018, 3.30pm

Louis Malle’s debut feature gave the conventions of film noir a Gallic twist, incorporating stylistic elements such as photography and lighting that would soon become familiar to viewers as characteristic of the Nouvelle Vague, set to a score by the legendary Miles Davis. Florence (Jeanne Moreau) and Julien (Maurice Ronet) are lovers intent on killing her husband, who is also his boss. Immediately after the deed, Julien is trapped between floors in a lift.

Meanwhile, his car and identity are stolen by Louis (Georges Poujouly) and Véronique (Yori Bertin), a young couple whose own night is about to take a murderous turn, complicating matters for both lethal pairs.

 

Pretty Poison – Wednesday 20th June 2018, 6.30pm

The first film from director Noel Black is a jet-black comedy stars Anthony Perkins as Dennis Pitt, recently released from a mental institution. A compulsive fantasist, Dennis finds an eager listener in teenager Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), who is entranced by his tales of life as a CIA operative.

When he brings her along on a supposed mission to foil a Communist plot, the truth of what lies behind Sue Ann’s innocent face is revealed when she murders a security guard without hesitation. As the body count grows, Dennis is reduced to the status of horrified bystander, subject to her manipulation and cold-blooded nature.

 

The Honeymoon Killers – Saturday 23rd June 2018, 3.30pm

This is one of the great American crime movies and deserves better than its reputation as a minor cult classic. Ray (Tony Lo Bianco) is a swindler who uses the lonely hearts columns to prey on women by promising love and marriage.

Martha (Shirley Stoler) could have been one of Ray’s victims but instead becomes his lover and associate in crime. The couple prove to be a lethal combination when they operate as a brother-sister team, with Ray’s philandering and Martha’s jealousy leading to a string of gruesome murders. Director Leonard Kastle’s take on this material is fascinating and his treatment never less than inspired, resolutely refusing to glamourise either the killers or their victims.

 

Natural Born Killers – Sunday 24th June 2018, 3.30pm

Arguably the most infamous of films featuring killer couples, and one of the most controversial films ever made, Oliver Stone’s social and cultural satire has grown in power in the years since its release.

Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), who meet when Mickey saves her from her abusive home, embark on a killing spree given such coverage by the media that they become folk heroes before their capture. However, imprisonment proves a mere stepping stone to even greater mayhem. Stone’s film is a visceral experience, its frenetic style of shooting and editing perfectly in tune with an era of media saturation and questionable celebrity.

 

Gun Crazy – Thursday 28th June 2018, 6.30pm

With a screenplay by the then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, Gun Crazy features John Dall as Bart Tare, a young man who, despite his gentle nature, is fascinated by guns, spending some time in reform school as a teenager for the theft of one. Following a spell in the army, he meets and marries carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (the late Irish actress Peggy Cummins).

However, Laurie’s life is one of crime, one in which she forces her husband to become complicit. Featuring a bravura one-take sequence of a bank heist, the film is something of a precursor to Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) in its audacious blending of violence and sexuality.

 

Heavenly Creatures – Saturday 30th June 2018, 6.20pm

Something of an anomaly in a career that began with splatter comedy such as Bad Taste (1987) before moving on to Tolkien adaptations, Peter Jackson’s stylish and compelling Heavenly Creatures, based on real events, stars Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey in their screen debuts as Juliet Hulme (now better known as author Anne Perry) and Pauline Parker.

In 1950s New Zealand, the two teenagers, both outsiders, form an obsessive bond, creating their own elaborate fantasy world, over which they rule. Suspecting a sexual undercurrent to their relationship, Pauline’s mother Honora (Sarah Peirse) tries to keep the two apart, unleashing a desperation in the girls that leads to her murder.

 

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville Running Time: 130 minutes


Throughout his long and acclaimed career, Daniel Day-Lewis has embodied personalities that burst forth from the screen, simply too powerful, or imposing, or strong of will to be restrained by mere celluloid and silver. From Christy Brown to Daniel Plainview to Abraham-by-God-Lincoln, DDL has method acted his way through dominating characters, willing audiences into awe, the most impressive man in the room when he isn’t really in it. In his supposed last performance, as the wonderfully and ludicrously named Reynolds Woodcock, DDL applies that same level of performance and applies it to a fussy dressmaker in the immaculate fashion scene of 1950s London. Working once again with Paul Thomas Anderson, the pair have taken what may seem at first glance to be an understated love story and intricately sown some of their best work just underneath the surface, a beautiful piece of work with as many hidden thrills as anything their fascinating main character himself might design.

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It has been a year. In 2017 there was a lot for film fans to contemplate, but in what they say on the screen and in the wider film business. Month after month, entertaining, challenging and interesting films found their way onto Irish screens, either from Hollywood or any number of our own talented Irish directors. It was a year where the sickeningly pervasive culture of abuse in cinema was thrust into the headlines by brave survivors no longer willing to suffer in silence. It was also a year in great filmmaking, where talented, diverse directors were given the opportunity to show their talent, several for the first time, where performances transported us just as believably to the far-off future, the underprivileged, overlooked present and even outside the fluid realm of time altogether. This is Film In Dublin’s list of the best films of 2017, the films that moved us, entertained us, opened our eyes and otherwise expressed everything that cinema is meant to be, in a year that showed that cinema doesn’t always achieve those lofty ideals behind the scenes.

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Director: Michael Showalter Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant Producer: Judd Apatow Runtime: 124 minutes


The whole ‘Boy meets Girl’ shtick seems to have become a staple of Judd Apatow’s career. Usually concerning themselves with a funny American layabout and his/her sudden brush with romance, these films mix situational comedy with some dramatic elements in order to offer a modern spin on the ‘Rom-Com’ experience. However, while Apatow’s name is attached, this is very much Kumail Nanjiani’s film. As such, The Big Sick doesn’t just follow this formula, it improves on it as it demonstrates a high-standard of comedy mixed with some impressive writing to boot, making this Rom-Com one of the funniest and best films of the year.

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Director: Terry George Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale Running Time: 134 minutes


Between 1915 and 1923, the Ottoman government systematically murdered 1.5 million Armenians, massacring men and/or working them to death in forced labour while deporting women, children and the elderly into death marches through the desert. It was a genocide that to this day, the Turkish state has refused to acknowledge. As one of the bleakest acts in relatively recent human history, the Armenian Genocide is undoubtedly worthy of being told to a wide audience, which makes The Promise all the more frustrating. Despite having a relatively high budget, talented and well-known actors and someone with a good track record in historical drama behind the camera in Terry George (the Irish director having directed Hotel Rwanda in addition to writing films like The Boxer and In The Name of the Father), The Promise is hampered in its depiction of history because of its choice to set that history as the backdrop to a romance that is not especially interesting.

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Director: Damien Chazelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone Running Time: 128 minutes


 

Having been subjected to months of hype and subsequently inevitable backlash, it has been almost impossible to go into La La Land without expectations being shaped one way or another. Is it truly the greatest thing since sliced bread, is it a musical for people who don’t like musicals, does it deserve the onslaught of accolades or is it merely the dreaded “Oscar Bait”, to be forgotten as soon as everyone files out of the Dolby Theatre on February 26th? That label and the associations that go with it, that La La Land is deliberately designed at every level to take home Academy Awards, are cynical accusations to make, but we live in cynical times. That is what makes La La Land such an appealing throwback, an abandonment of reality that shows its beautiful stars pursuing and achieving their dreams in the brightest light possible. There’s not much of our real world in struggling actress Mia’s massive apartment decked in classic film posters, or on the various, impossibly romantic dates she shares with jazz fanatic Sebastian. Reality is the antagonist of La La Land, right from the opening where dozens and dozens of motorists abandon an LA gridlock for a showstopping musical number, through Mia’s numerous, disastrous auditions and Seb’s jazz dogmatism setting him back over and over, reality is what the characters are trying to overcome to find happiness.

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Directed by: Morten Tyldum  Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen  Running Time: 116 mins


Passengers is not the nice romantic sci-fi film you’ve been led to believe. What’s disconcerting is that it thinks it is. Thanks to a horribly misguided plot development in the first act of the movie Passengers is a film so far from what it wants to be that it’s staggering to imagine how anyone involved thought it was a good idea. Not only is this plot development completely unnecessary, it unintentionally transforms the whole thing into a profoundly uncomfortable experience.

Fair warning to all here, it’s going to be kind of impossible to discuss the film’s issues without stating what this plot development entails, so rather than continuing to talk in circles, let it be known there are spoilers ahead!

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