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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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“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.

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Director: Paul Feig Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding Running Time: 117 minutes


A Simple Favour is being billed as coming “from the darker side of Paul Feig”, the man behind films like Bridesmaids, Spy and Ghostbusters; comedies with a reliance on improv and a focus on women. And while his latest film certainly is further along the Dulux spectrum than those titles, A Simple Favour is still a comfortable step just inside the comfort zone for Feig; a sexy thriller that gets how inherently silly it can be to be sexy, or thrilling. That might sound like a criticism, but it’s key to the film’s charm. It’s a combination of thriller and comedy, but rather than feeling like Feig resting on his laurels it has a refreshing feel, riffing on the genre but never thinking its above it. The result, similarly to Spy, is a pleasant surprise.

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Another Irish film is set to receive a premiere at the prestigious Toronoto International Film Festival. The unique “Gaelspoitation” thriller Black 47 continues its highly successful tour of the festival circuit by stopping off for a North American premiere at TIFF 2018, joining John Butler’s Papa Chulo among many other hotly anticipated films screening in the Canadian culture hub this September.

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 This autumn, one of the most striking films to come out of this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival will become available to the wider viewing public of Ireland. A pulpy action thriller set during The Great Famine, we described the Opening Gala of ADIFF 2018 as  a film that “will inspire thoughtful debates and blood-lusting cheers in equal measure”. Lance Daly’s film is set to hit Irish cinemas on the 7th of September.

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Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Judith Roberts Running Time: 90 minutes


He has a unique set of skills, but Joe, the driven murder machine of Lynne Ramsay’s stunning thriller You Were Never Really Here, is far from the typical one-man rampage and the film has much more than cheap kill thrills on its mind. Taking a standard grim and gritty action film plot and considering it with depth, melancholy and  honesty, this a film that prompts the question, once you’ve been ‘Taken’, can you ever really come back? And can the heroes tragic backstory truly push him forward or has it long-since pushed him over the edge, not a source of inspiration but a devastating destruction?

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Director: Lance Daly Starring: Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddy Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Jim Broadbent Running Time: 96 minutes


For an event that had such a profound impact on the course of Irish history, the great tragedy and injustice from which Ireland’s entire subsequent history as a nation sprang forth from, it’s surprising that the Famine hasn’t found its story told on cinema screens, particularly Irish ones, more often. Director Lance Daly takes that task on in Black 47, last week’s Opening Gala of the 2018 Dublin International Film Festival. His approach is perhaps unexpected considering the subject matter, the film being a roaring rampage of revenge, internalising the anger and injustice of the Famine into one man’s quest for vengeance. Prestigous? No. But undoubtedly compelling.

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