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Director: Denis Villeneuve Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgaard, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster Running Time: 156 minutes

 


 

Frank Herbert’s Dune is today considered one of the sci-fi forefathers, a richly told epic with much on its mind and an influence on everyone, from George Lucas to Hayao Miyazaki. Adapting the story itself on screen has proven…challenging, for many reasons, the material dense on its own merits and a challenge to capture the eye of audiences without everything that drew from it already obscuring the view.

 

 

Where Jodorowsky failed and David Lynch befuddled, now Denis Villeneuve steps in with a new effort to make Dune a success. His weapon of choice is the modern blockbuster model, a brutalist exercise in asserting box-office through sheer force of will. Every tool in the arsenal – the all-star cast, the source material devotion, the enormous runtime, the spoiler seclusion and sequel hooks – they’re all out there to get Dune over and get the Part Two in future that this film’s opening title implies, fans, stans and studios. The drive is considerable, and tautological: Dune here is a big name franchise because it looks like, moves like and is certainly budgeted like a big name franchise.

 

 

Has it got ambition? Unquestionably. Scale? Massively. Heart? Well. Um.

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Director: Andy Serkis Starring: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, Reid Scott Running Time: 97  minutes


 

The experience of watching the original Venom was an exercise in realising that its chaotic energy, slapdash editing, nonsensical plot and over the top (of the lobster tank) performance by Tom Hardy, all of the things that would in theory make it Not Good, in fact made the film a breath of fresh air. Venom, the Xtreme muscle-bound badass who kills and calls people turds in the wind while he does it, may be a relic of the 90s, but improbably his film and Hardy’s go-hard acting successfully revisited the factors that made that kind of character popular in the first place, and at a stage of superhero films where even the gun-wielding raccoons are looking mournfully into the middle distance and feeling the toll of being a Hero, it’s fun and freeing to watch a comic book character that’s pure Id unleashed. Let There Be Carnage embraces and expands on the previous film’s reception. A wild, weird ride, this sequel is nothing less than a full on, fully sincere coming-out party for the symbiote.

 

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Director: Tomás Ó Súilleabháin Starring: Dónall Ó Héalai, Saise Ní Chuinn, Dara Devaney Running Time: 86 minutes


 

“This was done to us” someone says of the Famine at one point in Arracht, and taking that fact as a given is the jumping off point for the ideas that director Tomás Ó Súilleabháin has on his mind in directing this take on Ireland’s history. Taking the Famine as directly driven by British imperialism as opposed to an unfortunate potato happenstance isn’t mere political point scoring, like Black 47 it allows for a more personal, character-driven story to be unfurled in response to the act. Genocide is ultimately and emphatically dehumanising, and Arracht, meaning ‘monster’, is a story of what becomes of those who have what was done to us, well, done to them.

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Director: David Lowery Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Sean Harris, Sarita Choudhury, Joel Edgerton, Barry Keoghan Running Time: 130 minutes


‘The noble knight’ may be one of the original and best exercises in brand management, a close association forged between valour and jobs for the boys that may not really have reflected reality. Knights may have had a code alright, so do pirates. But even, or especially, when we’re telling myths and legends, we can’t help but tell on ourselves.

The original poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale of a servant of the realm who gets puffed up by his own importance, acts rashly and violently and is deceitful in his efforts to be honorable. When his dishonesty is revealed, Gawain is declared the most blameless knight in all the land and all the other knights wear a symbol of his adventure as a reminder to always be honest. Sounds a bit like Gawain was “one bad apple” that inspired some spurious reforms to me, and what’s interesting about David Lowery’s take on the legend is the ways in which it builds the gap between the stories that we tell and the cold, harsh reality, and how Dev Patel’s Gawain is used to explore the ways that actually, All Knights Are Bastards.

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Director: Joe Carnahan Starring: Alexis Louder, Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo Running Time: 107 minutes


In a world where action movies have mostly been subsumed by the most dominant brands on the market, and therefore always subject to their demands – are they doing right by the character, will they keep the ‘universe’ moving forward – there’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple and trying something new. Simple is a relative term for a director like Joe Carnahan, who in movies like The Grey and Smokin Aces has delivered B-movie thrills with a broader appeal and here in Copshop he’s in similar form with his stars. With Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo both in the producer’s chairs and on the call sheet, Copshop aims to be a certain kind of action flick – something smartly dumb built around two stars your dad can’t name but definitely recognises, the kind to keep him occupied of a Sunday afternoon. And it mostly delivers on that, occasionally and admirably attempting to be something more.

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Director: Tom McCarthy Starring: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cotin, Lilou Siauvaud Running Time: 140 minutes


It’s fair to say that director Tom McCarthy has a keen interest on real life tragedies. While making his bones with independent films like The Station Agent and The Visitor, he has become renowned for his work directing the likes of Best Picture winner Spotlight and executive producing the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Both of the latter involve holding up a mirror to tragic controversies and telling the story through the lens of victims. This task, in itself, often involves provocation, as evidenced by the decision to cut the most graphic scenes from the first season of 13 Reasons Why. His latest feature Stillwater is again approaching very sensitive subject matter, and has been criticised in some circles for effectively taking the real life events of the Amanda Knox story without asking for permission prior to doing so.

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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: 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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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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Director: Lee Isaac Chung  Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung  Run Time: 115 minutes


 

The story of the immigrant experience is one that is very familiar to Irish audiences, all of whom know someone who has taken up and gone away, or who they themselves have been and gone, maybe coming back, maybe not. It’s challenging enough even when, very often for our own diaspora, you’re arriving in a place where a large amount of people are still like you, culturally speaking. To move from Korean to the United States, as the central Yi family has done in the events preceding Minari, is a significant shift itself. But to move from the city, with young kids and a tense marriage, all to try to make it on temperamental Arkansas farmland is an even tricker business altogether.

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