Saturday, 31 October 2015

Week 41: Spectre

Director: Sam Mendes
Writers:  John Logan Neal Purvis Robert Wade Jez Butterworth et al
Seen:  28th October 2015
Venue: EYE Cinema
Snacks: Popcorn
Mood: Shaken AND stirred

 It is not easy to maintain popularity in anything for over 50 years, but like it or not the Bond film series has done just that. And if they continue to be like Spectre it will be around for many more years to come because very much like Skyfall it is slick, stylish, superbly directed and brilliantly acted.

There have been seven personifications of James Bond since the first of the franchise appeared in 1962. That year the man himself was played by Sean Connery in Dr. No, which was an instant success. It is true to say the franchise has had a few bumpy moments along the way but since 1962 there have been 23 more outings for James Bond. Spectre is the 24th instalment and 007 this time is played effortlessly by Daniel Graig, who has headed 4 films to date. When I saw Bond 23 – Skyfall - I remember thinking it was the best Bond for years if not altogether and now I am asking myself the same about Spectre. So, did Sam Mendes, who also directed Skyfall, surpass what he achieved with 23?

The answer to that question is completely subjective and I’m not going to delve into that debate but I am sure Bond aficionados would enjoy arguing about that over a large number of vodka martinis. For me they are both equally as good but what I can say is, I would be happy if the 25th Bond was led by Mendes and Graig. Whether or not that will happen is unclear, however Graig, recently said in an interview when asked would he do another “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists.” Ok Danny boy calm down.

The Bond franchise keeps up with the times as the main premise of this film is about surveillance alluding to that omnipresent debate of big brother versus security. As M, played by Ralph Fiennes states, to the man leading the fight for government to gather more information around the world, “your plan” he says “would give George Orwell nightmares”. It does however, also have the Bond usual’s. The car chase, the villain, played chillingly by Christoph Waltz, the Bond girl, played by Léa Seydoux, and I glad to see the representation of the Bond Girl has moved with the times also, she is now a much stronger character. If I had to say something bad about the 24th Bond, it is a tad too long, nevertheless it is a very entertaining film that ticks all the boxes for a 007 film and some.

Oh fuck it I’ll call it. For me Skyfall was slightly better, for reasons I’ll spare you and instead discuss with my better half and co-blogger, who also really enjoyed Spectre but has yet to see Skyfall, this will be rectified soon.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Week 40: The Lobster

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers:  Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou
Seen:  24th October 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Popcorn
Mood: Mmmmm

In The Lobster Colin Farrell plays a gormless singleton who enters a hotel of sorts, to find someone to experience life with. If he fails to meet someone in a certain amount of time he will be turned to an animal of his choice which is…a Lobster. He is not alone in the very peculiar hotel, it is occupied with interesting characters that are in the same position as Farrell is in. They are played brilliantly by actors such as John C. Riley, Jessica Barden, Ben Whishaw, Ashley Jensen and Olivia Colman as the eccentric hotel manager. Farrell plays the part perfectly with loads of subtlety and an ever-present expressionless face.  However, when Farrell leaves the hotel to join the singletons in the woods things get a little bit, dare I say it for Yorgos Lanthimos film, boring. Suffice to say that it is still a very good film.

Yorgos Lanthimos the Greek provocateur once again has created a strange, recognisable yet distorted world in The Lobster, just as he did in the wonderful Dogtooth and Alps. However, out of those three films I think The Lobster, while it is as equally an interesting concept, was not as enjoyable to watch. The problem for me is the Lobster is broke into two films and first half is a lot more interesting, funny and engrossing than the pretty tedious second half. The first half is situated in a hotel that is full of interesting characters who are frantically looking for a partner which creates great humour and surreal moments. While the second half concentrates on less interesting characters with less scope for narrative.

While some people might consider The Lobster as an intellectually high bow film, it is very funny with plenty of laugh out moments and while it gets a little lost in the middle it is still certainly worth a watch.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Week 39: The Queen of Ireland

Director: Conor Horgan
Writers: Conor Horgan/Philip McMahon
Seen: 21st October 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: M&M's 
Mood: Elated
MI+Panti+bliss+yes+vote+dublin+castle+equality+marriage.jpg (650×488)

The 23rd of May 2015 was an historic day for Ireland as it became the first country ever to vote yes to legalise same sex marriage via public referendum. I remember the day well (and always will).The spirit of love and elation in the air was palpable whilst a double rainbow hung joyously above the streets of Dublin.
The Queen of Ireland brings all the emotion flooding back along with a lot of hearty laughs that come from the wicked sense of humour of Miss Panti Bliss. This documentary follows Irelands most famous drag queen Panti  AKA Rory O’Neil on the run up to this historical vote. We get to meet both of these equally endearing and fabulous personas from the very beginning.
Rory grew up in sleepy Ballinrobe in County Mayo where he had a pretty standard Irish upbringing until around the age of 12 when he started to feel different and out of place. He went to art college in Dublin and found his feet in the underground gay scene, then to Tokyo where Panti was born, finally returning to Ireland in the mid 90’s when same sex relationships were at long last made legal – a date that continues to shock as it is so recent. This documentary really hits home how far Ireland has come since 1993, when same sex relationships were decriminalized to only 22 years later to the same sex marriage referendum, this is something Ireland can be extremely proud of.
The documentary follows Panti’s infamous legal battle with RTE in 2014 and what followed in the aftermath of her truly moving and heartfelt ‘Noble Call’ speech on 1st February 2014 in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The speech has so far amassed well over 700,000 views, was retweeted by various celebs including Stephen Fry and Graham Norton and was described by Fintan O’Toole as ‘the most eloquent Irish speech in almost 200 years’…….basically if you haven’t seen it , do so now!
What more can I say here this doc is full of laughs, glee and just makes you want to burst with pride when recalling that amazing and historical day. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and wonder at the fabulosity of the queen of Ireland – Miss Panti Bliss.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Week 38: Macbeth

Director: Justin Kurzel
Writers:  Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, Todd Louiso (screenplay) based on the play by
William Shakespeare           
Seen: 3rd of October
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Munchies (not as nice as they used to be)
Mood: Shakespearian

When I saw Justin Kurzel first feature The Snowtown Murders (2012) I was blown away. A film based on the shocking true events of a serial killer in Australia, it bore the marks of a new brave director, as scene after scene pushed the audience to the edge. My view at the time was to keep an eye out for his next venture but I presumed he would continue to make contemporary realistic films. So when I found out he was to direct Macbeth I was a little surprised but then excited. The excitement came from an anticipation to see how such a creative director would present one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays visually and cinematically. My excitement grew even more when I heard the cast – Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, Paddy Considine as Banquo and David Thewlis as Duncan
Macbeth is the story of a Scottish warrior (Macbeth) who becomes King by means of killing his predecessor (Duncan) and how his mind then deteriorates as Macbeth himself describes “my mind is full of Scorpions”. The interesting thing about Kurzel’s interpretation is you really get a sense of the harshness of that time and the mental state of a man who struggles with his very existence. Kurzel and Fassbender say that they saw Macbeth as having post-dramatic stress disorder, which makes sense for a man who was both battled hardened and war weary.

So did it live up to my excitement? In short yes, well at least in cinema terms - it is simply a sublime adaption. However, Shakespeare is a hard sell sometimes, predominately because the language/dialogue does require a considerable amount of concentration. Macbeth is visually powerful and the performances are all top shelf especially by Cotillard and Fassbender and if you can manage the difficult dialogue it is certainly worth seeing.