Dollhouse

What Jeannie Did -

What Jeannie Did - ★★★

Kirsten Sheridan’s third feature film tells the story of five young troubled Dubliners who break into a salubrious property facing the Irish Sea and set about “wrecking the gaff” but inadvertently learn a few things about themselves and each other.

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Death of a Superhero

Comic Book Guy – ★★½

A young adult dying from cancer doesn’t seem like a laugh a minute but with Death of a Superhero it’s the humour that makes the piece worthwhile. Donald Clarke (not the Irish Times film critic) is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster and finds it harder to carry on with the illness feeling devoid of any control in his life. With what looks like attempted suicide, Donald’s parents call in the services of Dr. Adrian King (Gollum, sorry Andy Serkis) in an effort to get Donald to cope with his inevitable end.

One of Donald’s coping mechanisms is drawing his own comic book character; a nameless hooded figure and his nemesis The Glove, a representation of the cancer eating away at Donald. These are interesting segues into the film, making it more palatable to the audience and easily conveying the workings of Donald’s brain. Enter Shelly (Aishling Loftus) as the brilliantly smart and sexy new girl in school and we have the love interest. A concern of Donald’s is his virginity and the fact he still has it. This results in one of the funnier sides to the film when his friends embark on a quest to find a women to satisfy their friend. So when the first female to show an interest in him and not be scared off by his disease agrees to go out with him, things are starting to look up.

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What Richard Did

This is a guest review by Darragh McGrath, follow him on Twitter here. Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

What Richard Did TIFF 2012 review - Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Jack Reynor as Richard Karlsen.

Those Celtic cubs – ★★★★½

[TIFF listing]

Director: Lenny Abrahamson  //  Country: Ireland  //  Year: 2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime: 87 minutes  //  Rating: PG  //  Principal Cast: Jack Reynor, Róisín Murphy, Sam Keeley, Lars Mikkelsen  //  Screenplay: Lenny Abrahamson

With his third film, Lenny Abrahamson moves from the margins of Irish society to its centre and once again finds plenty of rot and waste beneath the surface.

Having previously explored the heroin wasteland of inner-city Dublin in Adam and Paul (2004) and the isolation and abandonment of rural Ireland in the acclaimed Garage (2007), What Richard Did centres on the titular character and his life amongst his upper-middle class family and peers into Dublin’s D4 area. Richard Karlsen is young, popular and has life all figured out at the age of eighteen; his family dote on him, his friends and rugby teammates look up to and admire him and he’s got his fair share of female attention to choose from in his final summer before starting college. The fact that he picks up his team-mate Conor’s girlfriend as his latest conquest is what leads this film down its dark road and is the first sign of the self-destructive nature of these Celtic cubs.

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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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Grabbers

Contains guards but thankfully not The Guard – ★★★½

Set on the fictional island of Erin off the coast of Donegal, Grabbers is an excellently executed addition to the sci-fi/horror/B-movie canon.

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A Kiss for Jed

A friendly peck on the cheek - ★★½

Barry Devlin of Horslips fame has teamed up with director Maurice Linnane to bring us a love story between two very unlikely characters.

Mark O’Halloran plays Ray the unfortunate cameraman who must follow Orla (Jayne Wisener) around New York in search of country and western star Jed Wood for the sole purpose of obtaining a kiss. In New York they are accompanied by Mike (Lee Arenberg), their sound man who learnt his trade on many an adult movie and who observant Seinfeld fans will surely recognise. The rest of the film plays out over three or four days as they search in vain for Jed with Ray and Orla becoming more inclined to one another.

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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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This Must Be the Place

Cheyenne's List - ★★★★

A Robert Smith-esque Sean Penn hunts down his father’s concentration camp inquisitor. David Bryne, a Native American and a buffalo all offer him guidance on his Odyssey and this is just half of the craziness contained in This Must Be the Place.

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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.

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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…

Oscar Shorts: Live Action

Not a bit short on ambition - ★★★★ (overall average)

This year, films in the three short film categories – Live Action, Animation and Documentary – have been grouped together by Magnolia Pictures and Shorts HD. They are being presented in screenings with the intention of giving audiences an opportunity to see the nominated films prior to the Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, February 26th. One of the theatres showing them is Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, where this Spooooler was lucky enough to see the Live Action set.

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