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Director: Janicza Bravo Starring: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo, Jason Mitchell Running Time: 90 minutes


“Every day on Twitter there is one main character. The goal is never to be it.” So goes an established adage among Very Online Twitter users (synonym for the depressed), and one worth questioning, isn’t it? From rise and fall celebrity stories, to social media ritual sacrifice, to stories we big up to our mates of some mad one on a mad one, there is an accepted understanding, there is a threshold past which you become a ‘character’, and once that happens, are you still a person? Does everything that happens to you then become on-brand for people’s expectations, do people still see you as a person in the same way? Twitter by its nature imposes limits on character. One leading lady of online who proved an exception to the rule is Aziah “Zola” King, whose long thread about the wild story of how her and “this bitch” fell out captivated readers all the way to the end of a thread, a Rolling Stone article and now, an A24 movie. Suitably shallow as befitting its source material, Zola still uncovers plenty of interesting ideas about power, presentation and identity.

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Director: James Gunn Starring: Idris Elba, John Cena, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Daniela Melchior, Peter Capaldi Running Time: 132 minutes


The original Suicide Squad movie could at the most generous be described as a watchable mess. The hap-hazard editing, neon-splattered dour framing and tonal whiplash made for aggravating viewing and no doubt plenty of frustrating meetings at Warner Bros, but there was no denying that there was something there underneath, well, the Jared Leto of it all. That is partly because Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn undoubtedly struck a lasting chord with viewers, and in large part also because the ‘Suicide Squad’ is such a can’t-miss premise. Stick a bunch of mismatched misfit supervillains together in a team, and send them off on deadly, dirty op missions without worrying if any of them make it back alive. It’s a recipe for a blast of an action movie in the right hands, and that’s exactly what is delivered in James Gunn’s sequel.Read more…

Director: Cate Shortland Starring: Scarlett Johannsson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone Running Time: 134 minutes


 

It has been a long auld road to a solo adventure for Natasha Romanoff, who’s had movies in development on and off since long before the MCU was even a dollar-sign shaped twinkle in Kevin Feige’s eye. In-universe and out, a lot has changed for Black Widow over the years, arguably including the peak of fan demand for a movie solely devoted to the super spy’s exploits.


Which isn’t to say that Black Widow, finally in cinemas and on Disney + this month after a Covid-related postponement, is a too-late endeavour. Timing is a funny thing, and if anything the movie stands as a familiar settling back in for fans to movie-sized Marvel after a year off and an intro to what the various Disney+ series have to offer. For non diehards too, it offers a fun, by-the-numbers blockbuster, confidently comfortable big screen fare; in other words, a Marvel movie. 

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Director: Christopher Landon Starring: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn Running Time: 101 minutes


When you’ve got a slam dunk of a premise, a genre movie that can be summed up in five words or less to producers, marketers and audiences alike, it might be easy to rest on your laurels. “Freaky Friday the 13th” as with director Christopher Landon’s previous “Groundhog Day but Scream” Happy Death Day films, is a clear, fun idea to build a movie around, and one that can spin a handy profit on a low-budget. Thankfully, Landon and co continue to have a lot of fun with their frights in Freaky , a horror comedy that revolves around a strong and silent slasher killer swapping bodies with the meek and mousy teenage girl he’d usually be menacing.

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Cinemas have been back for a little bit now in the fair city of film, and with the Light House Cinema due back this Friday too, there’s the faintest sight of light at the end of the tunnel for the Irish cinema business. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve felt safe and up to go to the movies so far this June – tweet us at @filmindublin with #WhatsOnSummer2021 and let us know what you’ve seen so far this summer. In the meantime, we’re doing a Review Round-Up of a few of the flicks that we’ve seen so far since the Grand Reopening.

 

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Director: Taylor Sheridan Starring: Angelina Jolie, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult, Jon Bernthal, Medina Senghore, Finn Little Running Time: 100 minutes


Taylor Sheridan can dine out in Hollywood for some time to come still off the back of his Sicario script. The films that he’s gone on to direct – some good (Hell or High Water), some less so (Wind River) have struck a similar tone to that star-making work, serious but pulpy adult thrillers, simple stories of heists, hunts and murders that tried to ground themselves in real-American lives, the kind of stories of people struggling and suffering that you’d be as likely to see on John Oliver as on the big screen.

 

Sheridan’s latest Those Who Wish Me Dead is on the same page as those stories, but maybe comes in a paperback. It’s the kind of movie you used to get all the time in the 90s – your Peacemakers, your Paybacks, your Patriot Games – that relied on a few scenes of action and the wattage of a good star. Action thrillers, made for grown ups but not too high-brow. Those Who Wish Me Dead delivers this like a ready-meal, nothing mind-blowing but nice, filling and gets the job done, thanks to some strong storytelling from Sheridan and the draw of Angelina Jolie.

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Director: Phil Sheerin Starring: Emma Mackey, Anson Boon, Charlie Murphy, Michael McElhatton Running Time: 92 minutes


An Irish-Canadian co-production, director Phil Sheerin’s The Winter Lake intertwines two family stories in the chilly backdrop of rural Ireland. Tom is a troubled and broody adolescent, who arrives in what appears to be an inherited old farm with his equally troubled young mother Elaine. Both Tom and Elaine seem to be running away from something, although details of their past are sketchy. At the outset, Tom is meandering around the outskirts of the farmland, and ends up digging something out of a lake. This “something” is what sets in motion the rest of events that unfold. The moody teenager meets Holly, a charismatic but distant woman who takes an interest in Tom. At the same time, Holly’s father Ward and Tom’s mothers Elaine develop what appears to be a burgeoning fling. As secrets about Holly’s past and Ward’s true character are gradually exposed, both Tom and his mother find themselves implicated.

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Director: Kevin MacDonald Starring: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Levi Running Time: 129 minutes


With apologies for beginning a review on such a cynical foot, there’s something almost quaint these days in the kind of procedural drama that relies on shock and indignance at injustice for its narrative thrust. The ‘This Is America Dammit’ legal flick has always been a Hollywood staple, with layers of presentation, slicker, smarter versions like Erin Brockovich or Dark Waters do exist, but there’s usually the foundational principle of ‘This Isn’t Who We Are’ involved somewhere, which is harder for audiences to latch onto after so many years of exposure to the idea that injustice is exactly who people in power are, and they’ll just say it isn’t, and even when it’s exposed that it is, they just get away with it anyway.

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Directed by:  Mike P. Nelson Starring:  Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Matthew Modine, Bill Sage Runtime: 109 mins

*TW: Rape, section clearly marked below*

For a long time now I’ve had a fascination I couldn’t shake with the Wrong Turn franchise, and even though our relationship status has never shifted from ‘It’s Complicated’ because of their ableist portrayals of deformed cannibalistic hillpeople, multiple cast injuries and the unauthorised use of an image of a missing woman from Wexford which the family had to fight against in the Irish High Courts, when I saw the announcement that the series would be rebooted, I wanted to give it a chance. It seemed like they were going in a fresh and inoffensive direction. Baby, we’ve changed!

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In our latest Review Round-Up, we’re looking back at a pair of homegrown comedies that caught our eye at the 2021 Dublin International Film Festival. These Irish comedy films both have a dark sense of humour and a heartening sense of ingenuity, highlighting some of the best in filmmaking on our island.

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