Every year the Irish Film Institute explores a diverse range of science fiction in its Dark Skies programme. In June 2019, Dark Skies returns to the IFI, and this year the festival will explore how the sci-fi genre has responded to our world’s ambiguous relationship to the machines we have created with the theme “Man Vs Machine”.
It’s a scary world out there, but it could be worse. It could be invaded.
It’s a good month for festivals in the fair city of film. With the East Asia Film Festival opening last night at the IFI and the Japanese Film Festival kicking off throughout the country this weekend, the time is perfect to get out of the April showers and into a cinema. Also this month is the return of the Dublin Sci-Fi Film Festival, and last night the festival held a launch party in the Generator Hostel in Smithfield. With the launch complete and the full schedule of films now announced, the second year of one of Dublin’s top film festivals is ready to get underway at the end of the month.
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.
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.
Director: Denis Villeneuve Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas Running Time: 163 minutes
The advanced screening of Blade Runner 2049 and presumably, all advanced screenings of the film, began with a letter from the director, imploring those in attendance to keep tight lipped about the film’s various twists and turns, to “not spoil the magic”. And though there are plenty of spoilers that will, for the purposes of playing ball, be avoided in this review, Blade Runner and its sequel are not films about the plot details, not really. Despite the many story-changing cuts and decades of speculation and misleading trailers and advance screening advanced warnings, these are films whose true value lays not in the story beats but in the ideas and the images and everything else that a rogue tweet or a too-curious eye over a Wikipedia page cannot take away from you. From the outside, Blade Runner 2049 may look like yet another nostalgia cash-in, and an odd choice for one at that, but it’s no mere replicant of the original, providing a beautiful backdrop against which the series’ themes about identity, memory and autonomy are given further thought.
Director: Luc Besson Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, John Goodman Running Time: 137 mins
There’s a great chase sequence near the beginning of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in which the characters exist simultaneously in two alternate dimensions. One a colorful, expansive and beautiful looking desert world filled with wide-eyed consumers; the other an over-packed, messy and dangerous market planet, where the possibility of adventure (or disaster) lies around every corner. Much like this inter-dimensional marketplace, the film seems to exist in two separate states at once. And, much like the characters, viewers will likely find themselves torn between the two. Valerian is awful. But it’s also kind of amazing. And damn if it’s not great to look at!Read more…