The Raid (Serbuan maut) // JDIFF 2012

Originally reviewed on Monday, February 27, 2012 following a screening at JDIFF 2012.

Street Fighting Man - ★★★★★

I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the JDIFF screening of The Raid at the Savoy and what we got didn’t disappoint.

To read this next paragraph will probably take longer than the set up for the film. It tells the story of a SWAT team commissioned with taking down a local drug lord who has total command of a block of flats. He rents rooms to all types of rogues and vagabonds and it has become a no go area for the police, until now. The team consists of about twenty man who subsequently get mowed down in about 5 minutes. The remaining few must use all their skills to try and survive the nightmare they have found themselves in.

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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…

More JDIFF 2012 reviews…

This is another guest post by Irish arts blogger Mick McGovern of amawaster.blogspot.com.

You can read his earlier reviews here – A “JDIFFerent” perspective on the first half of the film festival…

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Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)

Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) – ★★★★½

Directed By: Frédéric Jardin  /  Starring: Tomer Sisley, Joey Starr, Julien Boisselier, Serge Riaboukine

Warning: I must start by saying I really like my French gangster/action movies, Point Blank (A Bout Portant) was one of my favourite films of last year and Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) continues in that vein. The film deals with seemingly crooked cops who intercept drugs in order to sell them themselves, however this time, one of them is recognised and the “rightful” owner of the drugs kidnaps his son in order to get them back. The film’s pace is breakneck, it’s full of great fight scenes, tough posturing, laughs and a great central performance by Sisley (looks a bit like Rio Ferdinand). A fine addition to its genre.

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JDIFF announce their 2012 award winners

| o | - Adieu JDIFF 2012

Congratulations to The Raid for taking both the Audience Award and Critics Choice Prize at this years Jameson Dublin International Film Festival!

I thought it was definitely the best film of the festival (check out the ★★★★★ review here) but nice to see it getting some official recognition too. It was great to see Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride receiving the Michael Dwyer Discovery Award for his stellar performance in Silence which I was lucky enough to catch.

You can catch the full list of winners here.

We’ll have more reviews online in the next few days as we look to wrap things up on this year’s festival.

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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Wilde Salome // JDIFF 2012

Wilde Salome / The Picture of Oscar Wilde - ★★★ / Al Pacino

The Picture of Oscar Wilde - ★★★

When the president of the country is in attendance you know something special is afoot. Michael D Higgins beamed and you could tell he felt incredibly privileged to present a Volta award to the septuagenarian Al Pacino. The Volta Award acknowledges outstanding people who have made significant contributions to film. It is named after Ireland’s first cinema, the Volta Picture Theatre on Mary Street in Dublin.

Pacino was genuinely chuffed to receive the award and a warm welcome from the people of “the south Bronx”. Before proceedings got under way he gave a few short words by way of an introduction. He summed it up by saying the film was completed, not finished and he hoped we could follow the many layers and jumps. It sounded like a “I know this is a bit of a mess but enjoy” type of speech.

Having seen the trailer and now having heard Al’s speech to say my expectations were low is putting it mildly. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. The film is really a documentary following Pacino as he tries to stage Salome in L.A. whilst making a film of the production and it also is a mini bio on the life of Wilde. The play not being filmed is a read through directed by Estelle Parsons and is to be performed to the “doctors and dentists of L.A.” while over 5 days he aims to film the play which causes most of the conflict in the film as time is so short as he struggles to balance his time between actor and director.

| o | - A star is born

The piece is full of hilarious Pacino moments where he comes across as some Col. Kurtz lost in the jungle, see desert camel scene and “can I get some napkins” moment. Many of the scenes seem orchestrated which isn’t surprising as Pacino isn’t that stupid and can tell what will be good for the film, he pretty much confirmed this in the Q&A afterwards.

The weak points are the self indulgent pontifications by Al sprinkled throughout the film and when Bono, yes Bono, comes on screen to give his two cents it was hilarious to hear a rather audible groan from the audience. U2′s Salome, thankfully rarely heard since it’s release in ’92 playing over the credits is one of the more odd moments.

Jessica Chastain is outstanding and it’s easy to see how she has and will continue to excel towards stardom. This was the first film completed by her and gives us an insight into the tedious nature of getting a film to the screen seeing she has managed to amass about 5 pictures since finishing Salome. She also gives Naomi Watts a run for her money in a certain area, I shall say no more.

The film could have been a rather boring affair if it was just a straight filming of a play which never works. We get instead a haywire portrayal of the complications of staging any piece of work, never mind in three different forms. A thoroughly enjoyable insight in to the mind of a genius. Oh and Oscar Wilde too.

USA  /  Al Pacino  /  Al Pacino  /  Starring: Al Pacino, Jessica Chastain, Kevin Anderson  /  95mins  /  Drama

Cloudburst // JDIFF 2012

This is a guest post from Dublin-based journalist Sarah Neville.

Geriatric lesbian road trip - ★★★★

“You should see this film, I’m great in it” – that’s what Brenda Fricker told JDIFF director Grainne Humphreys about Cloudburst according to its writer and director Thom Fitzgerald.

“Did I say that? Oh fuck,” the actress exclaimed to the audience at the gala opening of the festival in the Savoy cinema on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

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Potential highlights from the 10th annual Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

10th annual Jameson Dublin International FIlm Festival

Congratulations to the Lighthouse Cinema on their launch of the 10th JDIFF last night. The cinema was packed to the rafters with Dublin cinephiles.

The guest of honour Stellan Skarsgård was in flying form and got us all into festival mood, with the complementary whiskey helping as well.

The programme certainly doesn’t disappoint and for a full look at what’s coming up, check out the JDIFF site or use the embedded program at the bottom of this post.

But to make things that little bit easier when going through the program I have picked a few highlights.

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