French kisses & misses

Wednesday night sees the return of the Irish Film Institute’s French Film Festival, which will see the Temple Bar cinema become a hub of Gallic culture for twelve days. We’re prone to a spot of subtitled action here at Spooool and so have taken a few minutes to put together four picks and one miss for the fest.

Check out the official site here or click here to download a PDF copy of the programme. Read More

Halloweeen means Horrorthon!

Running from the 25th to the 29th of October the Horrorthon is presenting 32 films to wet your appetite for blood. Ticket info and the full list of films can be found here, and we’ve selected five that warrant your attention and previewed them below

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TIFF Day 5 – To the Wonder

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

Not quite a tree of life – ★★★½

[TIFF listing]

Director: Terrence Malick  //  Country: USA  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish  //  Runtime: 112 minutes  //  Principal Cast: Javier Bardem, Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams  //  Screenplay: Terrence Malick

How the hell do you go about reviewing a Terrence Malick film? That’s actually a serious question. The traditional structure we like to follow here at Spooool – nice soft welcome and intro, plot details, chat about what works and what doesn’t, quick summary – doesn’t really apply to his films.

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TIFF Day 5 – Sightseers

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

We’re all going on a summer holiday – ★★★★

[TIFF listing]

Director: Ben Wheatley  //  Country: United Kingdom  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime: 89 minutes  //  Rating: 18A  //  Principal Cast: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris, Richard Glover, Monica Dolan  //  Screenplay: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram

The latest film from Ben Wheatley (alas no relation) returns to the black-as-night humour showcased in his feature debut Down Terrace while sprinkling in a few of the sickos that featured in so well in last year’s Kill List.

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TIFF Day 4 – Byzantium

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

Time for new blood – ★★★

[TIFF listing]

Director: Neil Jordan  //  Countries: United Kingdom / Ireland  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime: 118 minutes  //  Principal Cast: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller, Daniel Mays, Caleb Landry Jones, Kate Ashfield, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Uri Gavriel, Thure Lindhardt  //  Screenplay: Moira Buffini

A quick prediction. No review of Byzantium, the new Neil Jordan vampire film, will be filed without reference to Stephanie Myers’ Twilight series or Jordan’s 1994 Pitt/Cruise/Banderas film Interview with the Vampire. If a reviewer somehow fails to mention either of these film, then chances are an eager sub-editor will remedy the situation and stick in a reference somewhere.

With the enduring popularity of the Twilight films, there is still a lot of money to be in vampires. Byzantium sees director Neil Jordan returning to the vampire genre for the first time in 18 years since Interview with the Vampire.

Not as easy as it looks… Hmmm…

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TIFF Day 4 – The Sessions

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

The diving bell and the 40-year-old virgin – ★★★½

Director: Ben Lewin  //  Country: USA  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime: 95 minutes  //  Rating:14A  //  Principal Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy  //  Screenplay: Ben Lewin

The Sessions (previously known as The Surrogate, but changed due to similarities with the Bruce Willis action film from a few years ago) is based on the real-life story of polio-sufferer Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a devout Catholic who goes on a quest to lose his virginity. The film is based on a newspaper article that O’Brien, a poet and writer, had published – “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate“.

O’Brien has full body sensations but is unable to move his body below the neck, meaning getting the ride is proving difficult. He seeks the counsel of a Berkeley hippie priest played by William H. Macy and decides to enlist the help of Cheryl, a sex surrogate (a therapist who works with a patient by initiating a sexual relationship) played by Helen Hunt.

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TIFF Day 4 – The Central Park Five

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

It does matter if you’re black or white – ★★★★★

[TIFF listing]

Directors: Ken Burns, David McMahon, Sarah Burns  //  Country: USA  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime: 119 minutes 

Ken Burns is best-known as a history documentary-maker and the man who pioneered the method of slowly zooming in on or panning across a photograph or illustration in order to create a sense of movement. For his latest film he teams up with his daughter Sarah and producer/director David McMahon to share the sensational story of a miscarriage of justice which saw five male teenagers – from black and Hispanic communities in harlem – serve between six and 13 years in prison for the alleged rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park.

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TIFF Day 3 – Everyday

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

Every day seems a little a longer… – ★★★★

[TIFF listing]

Director: Michael Winterbottom  //  Country: United Kingdom  //  Year:2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime:94 minutes  //  Principal Cast: Shirley Henderson, John Simm, Shaun Kirk, Katrina Kirk, Stephanie Kirk, Robert Kirk  //  Screenplay: Laurence Coriat, Michael Winterbottom

Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday is not going to be for everyone. The man responsible for an incredibly diverse twenty features in twenty years (24 Hour Party People, 9 Songs, The Killer Inside Me and The Trip to name but a few) has put together a slow, thought-provoking film which sets out to explore how a family exists and survives when a parent goes to prison.

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TIFF Day 2 – Imogene

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

Kristen Don’t - ★½

[TIFF listing]

Directors: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman  //  Country: USA  //  2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime:103 minutes  //  Principal Cast: Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Kristen Wiig

Husband and wife team Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s fourth directorial feature (American Splendor being the splash-making debut with The Nanny Diaries and The Extra Man being the more forgettable follow-ups) tries to tackle the story of Imogene (Kristen Wiig), a failed play-write in her late thirties who fakes a suicide attempt in order to get the attention of her ex-boyfriend.

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TIFF Day 1 – Jason Reitman’s live script reading of “American Beauty”

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

8 actors and a plastic bag – ★★★★★

While most of the attention of the watching media was focused on the opening gala screening of Looper at Roy Thomson Hall, those of us present in Ryerson University’s theatre were treated to a much more unique evening’s entertainment.

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TIFF 2012 – A look ahead

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

| o | – It’s TIFF 2012 time!


I finished up at my job at the tail end of July and we all (@dunnez, @oheag2 and previously @parallellevision) moved out of our lovely old house on Toronto’s Davenport Road. Since then I have spent time faffing about with my family, camping in Canada’s wondrous Algonquin Park and travelling around the eastern side of the US. Usually you do all those things and then go back to your homeland, but since Christmas when I formulated this plan I knew I had to base my exit strategy from Toronto around one thing – TIFF.

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What’s wrong with Katy Perry’s Part of Me popumentary?

Louise Bruton is a freelance pop-culture writer from Dublin. Her work has appeared in The Irish Times, The Dubliner and Hot Press. She blogs at Read her previous work here at

| o | – ‘Katy Perry: Part of Me’ aka ‘Where Katy’s mirror confuses us all’.

Katy Perry’s cinematic release of Part Of Me (★★) - in 3D for added swirling, candy bra action – is described as an “intimate look at the fun, glamourous, heartbreaking, inspiring, crazy, magical, passionate, and honest mad diary of Katy”. You get these things but at absolute face value. There is no evaluation of what a hectic year it was for the Perry machine, with 124 live shows across the world and a high-profile divorce from that lovable vagabond, Russell Brand. We learn no more than we would from one of E!’s True Hollywood Stories.

Perry did minimal press following the high-profile end of her marriage of 14 months so this was her time to have her say. In one moving scene, filmed minutes before she’s due onstage at a sold-out show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we see Perry hunched over, crying. The show goes on regardless, with her manager, Bradford Cobb, and assistant, Tamra Natisin, describing it as depression. That is one of the isolated scenes that shows the real Perry. Artists often claim that they want fans to know the ‘real me’ and popumentaries are a great way to do that but Part Of Me was mostly surface water.

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A five-point plan to prepare for The Dark Knight Rises spoiler-free

Image from Roger Cruz tumblr

You may have heard that there is a new Batman film coming out next week. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises will hit cinemas both sides of the Atlantic at midnight on July 19th/20th.

In this day and age it’s incredibly easy to ruin the impact of a blockbuster by drowning yourself in trailers, posters, TV spots, fan reactions and reviews. Case in point was the 25-minute “super-cut” of The Amazing Spider-Man which presented all of the various promotional material into one straight narrative which will have rendered the final product pointless for anyone who watched it. (read all our Spider-Man coverage here)

So in order to make sure everyone gets the most out of their TDKR experience we’ve put together this five point plan to make sure you make it through the next 10 days.

And needless to say, more important than these, just have a little bit of common sense in the next 10 days – if you see an article or review of The Dark Knight Rises, don’t read it!  Read More

10 years on: An ode to the original Spider-Man trilogy

| o | – The original Spider-Man film grossed over $820million world-wide.

Cast your mind back ten years. Brazil have just beaten Germany to win their fifth World Cup, The Queen was prepping for her Golden Jubilee and the original Spider-Man was sitting pretty at the top of the UK and Irish box office just above the second of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. Sam Raimi’s film had been released two months previously in the USA, but had taken a few weeks to make it across the Atlantic so was still keeping European audiences glued to their seats while Men in Black II played to audiences stateside.

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In Conversation: Niall Sheerin discusses his new short “Tramp” and the challenges of producing your own Irish film in 2012

Film-maker and guest contributor to Spooool Niall Sheerin launches our new “In Conversation” interview series with a discussion of the trials and tribulations of producing a short film in Ireland in 2012.

Niall has just finished the first round of shooting on his latest project, Tramp. You can view some of his previous work embedded at the bottom of this feature or at vimeo/niallsheerin.

Niall Sheerin, director of Irish short film Tramp

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Looking ahead to Toronto’s Hot Docs 2012

Hot Docs 2012 runs from April 26th to May 6th

So living in Toronto has some huge advantages for film fans. And now I’m not talking about the civilised, intelligent audiences, but instead the city’s phenomenal festival offerings!

Leading the charge is the world’s biggest film festival, TIFF, which burns through the city every September. But in second place is the world’s preeminent documentary festival, Hot Docs. I was lucky enough to get to my first Hot Docs last year (and wrote a little about it here and here) and it’s a fantastic festival which excels with the small things like ticket sales, line-ups and Q&As.

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Christ is risen! Cinema’s greatest Jesus films.



The central figure of the Christian religion. Jesus conducted a mission of preaching and healing (with reported miracles) in Palestine in about ad 28–30, which is described in the Gospels. His followers considered him to be the Christ or Messiah and the Son of God, and belief in his resurrection from the dead is the central tenet of Christianity.

It’s Easter, the time when Christians the world over get fierce excited about our Lord kicking the can, then, like any good man who gets knocked down, he got back up again.

Being brought up in Ireland, religion played a big part for both of us growing up, Páraic on one side of the Reformation fence and Nigel on the other – the fact one of us has a fada in his name and the other gets the quintessentially British name probably reveals our parents’ allegiances.

Anyway, no matter where you go on Sunday mornings, it’s hard not to be even a little bit interested in the story of Jesus Christ. Cinema is no different with countless adaptations down through the years. For the weekend that’s in it, we present our seven favourite Jesus films – in no particular order…

(P denotes a Páraic pick, N is Nigel’s)

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Our five picks to play Italy’s slimiest… Silvio Berlusconi

| o | - This man deserves a movie

So The Guardian is reporting that the Silvio Berlusconi film everyone was getting so excited about may not actually be happening.

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So-called Classics #1 – Scent of a Woman

| o | - Tits ! Ho-ahh!

Welcome to our new and hopefully regular feature “So-called Classics”. All connoisseurs of film have those few pictures they should have seen and may even go to great lengths to pretend they have; Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin, Manhattan, Flash Gordon – the list is endless. As Mark Twain said on “classic” books…

Something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

So here at Spooool we’ve taken it upon ourselves to knuckle down and conquer the classics. No longer will we look at our shoes when The Big Lebowski is brought up in conversation or slyly change the subject when someone mentions how superior Infernal Affairs is to The Departed. These won’t be straight forward reviews but more-so examining what makes the film a “classic” and if it’s warranted. From time to time there may be spoilers so don’t say we didn’t warn you, but we’ll try our best not to mention what Rosebud was.

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Irish round up // JDIFF 2012

We finish up our coverage from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival with a look at various Irish productions. The Terence McDonald selection documented in their Out of the Past series, Pat Collins’ Silence and the six Irish short films put together by the programmers.

| o |

Terence McDonald (Out Of The Past) – ★★★★

Directed By: Terence McDonald

These “Out of the Past” collections of films are part of an ongoing IFI endeavour to show off some of its archive material. Terence McDonald was an amateur film maker from Derry and a school teacher by trade. Here we get a wide range of his filmic talents: documentary, slapstick shorts and “faux” art-house. The stand out piece for me was The Portable Theatre (1968) which concerned the McCormicks, a traveling show in Ulster. An excellent historic record and a slice of Ireland in the late 60s it shows how the family felt indestructible as they had stayed off cinema and felt the television was no match for them either. Cutting family interviews with recordings of them performing results in a fascinating account of the time. The Man from Aunt (1965) and The Fugitive (1966) show McDonald’s love for the masters of comedy Chaplin and Keaton, while Nebelung (1978) reveals he had a flair for the more avant-garde and surrealist side of cinema. An excellent collection of films and one can only hope they can find their way onto DVD.

Silence – ★★★

Directed By: Pat Collins  /  Starring: Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde

The latest offering from director Pat Collins is not so much a film about silence but more so the sound of silence. It follows Eoghan (Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde) who travels up the west coast of Ireland with his final destination being his home on Tory island. He has been commissioned to record the sound of silence, or rather the sound of the world uninterrupted by man and machine. The piece, as to be expected, is very light on dialogue but this is really trying to explore and examine the many beautiful and varied landscapes in Ireland and the effect they can have on one’s life. There is also some excellent use of archive footage of Islanders from years ago and the use of Ordnance Survey maps to chart Eoghan’s route is very novel. The director told us at the Q&A that he doesn’t understand why people are getting a documentary feel from the movie but I feel it does have elements of a documentary about it. The way in which Eoghan interacts with the people he meets doesn’t seem that natural and feels more like mini interviews than chats that have cropped out of nowhere, this is most evident when chatting to one of the island children “as Gaeilge”. While certainly beautiful to watch and a fantastic exploration of sound, it can feel sometimes like a video piece for a gallery installation instead of the fictional film that the director was hoping to achieve.

JDIFF Shorts

First up was Centre of the Universe by Brian Dunster, a tale concerning a girl who is space mad when she was young. Flash forward 20 years and a man from outer space, not little or green but tall and ginger needs her help in saving the universe. Money is never abundant in shorts so it’s best to stay away from effects as they’ll no doubt look cheap. The acting is fine but the story is pretty weak and unexplored, resulting in more of an after school message. (★★)

Switch was similar enough fare by Thomas Hefferon using a voice-over to terrible and annoying effect with the voice reminding me of the speaking information points from museums. The story is incredible juvenile and ridiculous while the acting is good especially from the lead girl portraying someone in a coma. (★)

Pairs and Spares by Philip Kelly was a bit baffling, it’s incredibly short (even for a short) and you realise what’s going on within about 30 seconds of watching it. With nods to The Big Lebowski evident throughout, it’s not wise to remind people of a brilliant piece of film as they’ll just end up comparing it to yours. (★)

Rats Island is a much bleaker affair from Mike Hannon. It shows how in the recession a man and his son survive on next to nothing in our possession obsessed times. Nothing is really explained as to how they ended up in their present predicament but small clues are shown by way of a battered family photograph possibly alluding to a break-up or death in the family. The relationship between father and son is brilliantly captured in how they carry out their daily routine. What is also magnificent is that it is unclear if this fiction or non-fiction, but regardless it’s utterly captivating. (★★★★★)

Rhinos by Shimmy Marcus is a lovable tale about two people who happen upon each other in Dublin’s Stephen’s Green. Thomas is the bearded Irishman while Ingrid is the beautiful German without a word of English. Their initial conversation is very witty and written excellently, we then follow the pair around Dublin for the day and see their relationship develop. It’s a bit cliched at points and there isn’t much new to offer but the heart and humour at play makes up for any shortcomings. (★★★)

Frontiersman follows different men from the wilds of Co. Donegal and is a superb advertisement for the county. Director Derek O Connor manages to capture the beauty of the landscape and then delves into the character of the people giving them dimension and heart. One man walks hours at a time to photograph abandoned homes from a forgotten age thus showing the resilence of the people both then and now. As we pop into McDaid’s wine bar in Ramelton, we see that Donegal has more than beautiful views to offer. (★★★★)

- apologies for image quality on these. Nothing but hilariously low-res pics anywhere for them…