A “JDIFFerent” perspective on the first half of the film festival…

This is a guest post by Irish arts (distinct lack of theatre writing though) blogger Mick McGovern, who deposits his thoughts at amawaster.blogspot.com.

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I love the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. In between darting between cinemas and screens, queueing, Q&As and helping with market research (I studied sociology and statistics once upon a time so I have a compulsive need to fill out questionnaires and forms), I even managed to watch some films during the first half of the festival.
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Haywire

Jane Rambo - ★★★★½

Haywire will either have you grinning from ear to ear with childish glee or reporting a crime to the sensible police.

Stephen Soderbergh is back with a run of the mill tale of private contract killers and their shady double-crossing lifestyles. What sets this film miles ahead of the rest is his deft touch. With a real auteur director you should be able to pick out their film from a line up blindfolded. Soderbergh is one such director, and Haywire a perfect example of his craft. From the deep colour changes to the way he shoots his cities, the longing looks of intent between two lovers whilst never being brash and his raw, at times operatic fight scenes with the always on-form David Holmes and the right amount of humour all woven together by a solid ensemble cast.

The particular spy/mercenary/spook in question is Mallory, expertly played by retired mixed martial artist Gina Carano. We see her first enjoying a very watery cup of tea in a run of the mill diner that is until Aaron (Channing “neck” Tatum) comes to bring her back in. To say it all kicks off is a bit of an understatement, what follows is a brutal onslaught of some of the best hand to hand combat since The Bourne Supremacy and the film doesn’t stop for the next 90 minutes. That’s right the golden number, the Fibonacci of action/comedy films: 90 minutes. We are transported from Barcelona to Dublin and back to the states all within that holiest of numbers and at no point does it drag or any scene feel redundant.

Carano in control

Carano is the real star of the show able to rub shoulders with the likes of Rambo, McClane and Dutch, adding  to the canon of deadly female action heroes. The list of co-stars is insane and too long to mention but Fassbender puts in a nice turn as the rogue agent Paul and it’s good to see Red State’s Michael Angarano getting some more work. The Oscar for Best Beard in a supporting role must go to Antonio Banderas and he even gets away with a moustache, is there anything this man’s facial hair can’t do?

Now granted the film is a tad silly at times but knowingly so and no more than any of the films that have gone before it of the same ilk. The humour is intentional and relieves some of the tension from the violence making it more palatable. So I hope people aren’t short-sighted or sexist to dismiss the merit of the film simply because it’s a women who is doing all the ass kicking and name taking.

I would gladly have walked straight back in and watched this again and I can’t remember when last I saw such a smart, well assembled and enjoyable action movie.

USA, Ireland  /   Steven Soderbergh  /   Lem Dobbs  /  Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor,  Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas  /  93min  Biography, Drama, Thriller   /  Release: 18 January 2012 (US, Canada, Ireland, UK)

And the award for worst title of 2012 goes to…

Swedish film-maker Lasse Hallström hasn’t made a movie I’ve been remotely interested in since 1999′s The Cider House Rules. A quick look at his IMDB reveals he is, to put it crudely, a director of “women’s pictures” – Dear John, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Casanova, The Shipping News? Blugh.

But his big release for 2012 actually looks interesting, and dare I say it, kinda watchable… Infinitely more watchable if I were a 50-year-old woman, but hey.

Aside from the cast -Kristin Scott Thomas, Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt – the one thing that is going to catch audience’s attention is its atrocious title.

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

Seriously?

By way of explanation the screenplay, by Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy, is based on a novel of the same name by Paul Torday. Studios don’t really tend to change the name of adaptations from books for fear of upsetting fans of the original work. But in this case they really should have considered it as it’s reaaaalllly lame.

Anyway, despite the fact no one calls The Republic of Yemen “THE Yemen”, I’m sure there’s some logic to it. It received its premiere at TIFF and got very positive reviews.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is simultaneously released in UK/US on March 9th. Trailer was released last month and is below. Warning – it contains uplifting soft rock.

Perfect Sense

Cheque please - ★

“Fat and Flour” says the owner of Ewan McGregor’s restaurant, this is what people will live on if all their senses go and this movie is the equivalent. Read More