Follow Me

Close

Director: Bong Joon-ho Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin Running Time: 132 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

The long anticipated Parasite from acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho has arrived on Irish big screens right at the end of what has turned out to be an incredible run of Oscar contenders. While in many ways the Academy Awards could well be regarded as an over inflated industry award, it is difficult not to get caught up in all of the fuss surrounding what is unquestionably the most notable event of the year in film. Similarly, while it might make more sense to maintain objectivity when reviewing films, it’s often challenging to suspend your own excitement for films that you’ve been personally routing for. On it’s own merit, I had been eagerly anticipating the release of Parasite for months. As someone who was first introduced to the now well-established perceptive craft of Bong Joon-ho since The Host in 2006, I was even more delighted that his latest work seemed to be getting the level of international traction that many South Korean films in the last year have undeservedly lacked. Casting memory back through the last couple of years, there seems to have been at least one highly impressive hit coming out of the country every year. In 2016 there was Train to Busan, a frantic and kinetic zombie movie tracking the desperation of a father and daughter to escape a lethal viral outbreak. In 2017 there was Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, a stylish period thriller that picked up the BAFTA for Best Film Not In The English Language. Then there was Lee Chang-dong’s Burning in 2018, a slow burning psychological mystery. All of these features could more than match the weight of any Oscar winning Hollywood films in recent years, but many were regrettably limited to selected art house screenings.

Read more…

Directors: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence Running Time: 124 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

It isn’t much of an exaggeration to call the Bad Boys series to date some of the most hateful films ever to make it to the multiplex. Bad Boys II was particularly repugnant; a cruel, homophobic, racist, cynical indulgence in all of the worst excesses of director Michael Bay, mindless and reactionary even by 2003 standards. That’s on top of incoherent action and grimly repeated buddy cop tropes, just about jolted into life by the chemistry of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Action movies have moved on, and most big budget blockbusters at least try to hide it when they have fascistic overtones or adolescent sensibilities. So seventeen years later and with its stars both in very different places in their careers, was there any good reason to resurrect these crass cops, besides their sworn oath to be bad boys til’ they die? Improbably, yes. This is very much the post Hot Fuzz vision of Bad Boys, its ludicrous macho bullshit has been exposed so thoroughly but so lovingly since by films like Edgar Wright’s that the only real way to move forward is to acknowledge and embrace the OTT tropes. Like a lot of aging franchises, For Life asks the question if it’s old gunslingers still have any gas left in the tank. Then, to raucous effect, it blows up that tank, doubling down on every excess and wallowing in something wonderfully wild.

Read more…

Director: Robert Eggers Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe Running Time: 109 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

 

Flying witches, talking goats, mystical seagulls. That’s only a select few of the mad and intriguing things that director Robert Eggers has brought to his first two feature films; 2015’s The Witch and, now, The Lighthouse. There is no doubt that Eggers likes to challenge cinema goers or, more accurately, create stories that demand attention and encourage debate. A straightforward cinema experience is not something you are going to get here, but you are, without a doubt, the better for that. With The Lighthouse, Eggers delivers an atmospheric psychological thriller unlike any other you’ll see all year. This is an intoxicating, feverish, unnerving and often hilarious experience and one that will have fans ruminating on its messages for years.

Read more…

Directors: Josh & Bennie Safdie Starring: Adam Sandler, Eric Bogosian, Idina Menzel, Kevin Garnett, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield Running Time: 135 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

 

With a career littered by the likes of The WaterboyBilly Madison, and Happy Gilmore, it’s fair to say that Adam Sandler isn’t a name that’s been synonymous with the Awards season in film. It’s never been the case that lowbrow slapstick comedies have been the only thing that Sandler could come up with, but such films seem to be his career’s signature. There are parts of this that have always been endearing to me- for example, his loyal tendency to give his close friends consistent work, even through (at times) offensively rubbish pieces like Grown Ups 2. Notwithstanding this likable fidelity, Sandler has far too often had his name attached to horrendous, Golden Raspberry bait, with 2011’s Jack and Jill being a notable lowlight.

Read more…

Director: Melina Matsoukas Starring: Jodie Turner-Smith, Daniel Kaluyaa, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny Running Time: 132 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

 

The first thing I noticed about Queen and Slim was the theatrical poster. I was coming out of a cinema and was taken aback by the aesthetics of the gritty garage backdrop, contrasted with the glossy greyscale shine. While Daniel Kaluuya played a crime boss in Steve McQueen’s Widows, it was the first time he came off as a true “tough guy” to me. While intrigued as to the plot, I decided to keep prior research to a minimum and walk into Queen and Slim with a blind eye.

Read more…

Director: Greta Gerwig Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep Running Time: 135 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

Not having yet read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women or seen any of the previous film versions means that it’s difficult in many ways to discuss the latest version by Greta Gerwig’s success as an adaptation. Will those who have read the coming of age story of the March sisters cover to cover dozens of times take issue with characterisations that I wouldn’t spot, or balk at Gerwig’s remixing of the story? Possibly, but even without familiarity it is possible to describe how the film feels and to add by way of ringing endorsement that Gerwig’s take on a book around 150 years old is so fresh and vibrant as to shoot it up to the top of the aul’ “must read list”. It feels like someone who loves a story very deeply gush over all the little details of it to you, feeling for the characters like they’re old friends and filling you in with every bit of their lives, a warm and welcoming time in the cinema.

Read more…

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

________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Read more…

Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer Running Time: 130 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

“The game is afoot” renowned mystery-solver Benoit Blanc knowingly crows during one of Knives Out‘s twisty turns, and it seems clear from the outset what game director Rian Johnson is playing here. However mixed (and wearingly unending) the reception may have been for Johnson’s last movie, the man clearly has strong support from Hollywood higher-ups, enough to fund a big “one for him” movie, a “dig out an old idea you’ve always wanted to do and hire everyone you’ve always wanted to work with” movie. And so we get Johnson’s loving homage to the murder mystery genre, a story he’s been kicking around since just after Brick, packed to the seams with rising talents, esteemed character actors and Hollywood royalty. And it’s a bloody delight. The opportunity to self-indulge to this extent is not a luxury every filmmaker is afforded, for what it’s worth though, Johnson uses the platform to delve into some unexpected areas worth examining. If you’re going to do something silly, you might as well do it smartly, which Knives Out accomplished on a number of levels.

Read more…

Director: Martin Scorsese Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Harvey Keitel, Kathrine Narducci Running Time: 210 minutes

________________________________________________________________________________

There is a moment, deep in the runtime of The Irishman where Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran, a man decades in  service to the mafia, tries to talk Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa out of going past a point of no return, Hoffa invoking the wrath of the mobsters he’s found himself in league with. It’s a key communication, a warning to a close friend to put aside his pride and stubborness in the face of certain death, a plea for cooler hands to prevail in a genre where they never do, as well as an internal clash of Sheeran’s loyalties and his warped sense of duty. The words, to say the least, don’t come easy. Sheeran is unable to conjure more than loaded stock phrases and inneundo, a sad Johnny Tightlips mumbling that “it is what it is”. In the mafia, you never say what it actually is, threats and confessions alike meant always to be dangled just out of reach, and the great Martin Scorsese’s pensive reflection of decades of crime shows how these delusions and denials erode a man from the inside over time. Weaving through the histories of these stubborn criminals, The Irishman lays bare just how hollow their power and legacies ultimately are, gently but firmly.”You don’t know how fast time goes by until you get there,” says Frank and the story of how gets there and what is left of him when he does is one of Scorsese’s finest in years. A slow, sad reflection of the past.

Read more…