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.
Damsels In Distress – ★★★½
Directed By: Whit Stillman / Starring: Greta Gerwig, Annaleigh Tipton, Adam Brody
A dialogue-heavy, college based comedy that deals with a group of girls, led by Violet (Gerwig), who endeavour to help improve the lives of other students by doing such humanistic things as giving doughnuts and coffee to suicidal people and teaching them to dance. Their views on the world are challenged by the arrival of Lily (Tipton) who suggests some of them are misguided and the plot spins off from there.
The film features some musical elements and a new worldwide dance craze but manages to stay on the right side of twee and annoying, not easy. It’s a classic case of people who think they are smarter than they actually are saying the stupidest things. After 13 years it’s good to have Stillman back.
Superclásico – ★★★
Directed By: Ole Christian Madsen / Starring: Paprika Steen, Anders W. Berthelsen
A Danish comedy-drama set in Buenos Aires and loosely centred around the Superclásico (a Boca Juniors and River Plate match for non-football fans) and deals with a wine merchant (Berthelsen) served with divorce papers whose wife (Steen) has left him for an Argentinian footballer. He decides the best thing to do is take his son with him to Argentina and see if he can salvage the marriage.
It’s a film that doesn’t rely too heavily on culture clash jokes and should simply be applauded for that, however anyone wandering in misguidedly expecting an arthouse movie might be put off by some of its attempts at crowd-pleasing broad humour (not me of course) and the subplot of the son falling in love for the first time drags slightly.
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen – ★★½
Directed By: Lasse Hillstrom / Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Conleth Hill / (IRISH RELEASE DATE – 20th April 2012)
Title doesn’t really scream “by the numbers Brit Rom-com” but everything else in it does. The romance didn’t really work for me or the interplay between McGregor and Blunt.
There were some laughs to be had though it must be said, the banter between McGregor and his boss (Hill) worked well, but it’s Kristen Scott Thomas who walks away with the movie playing a pushy, bossy and OTT government civil servant, it’s a character and a performance that belongs in a better movie, it’s a pity In The Loop was made a few years ago.
Your Sister’s Sister – ★★★
Directed By: Lynn Shelton / Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass
A dramedy that’s basically three people in a cabin, talking a lot and dealing with their feelings and where they should go with their lives (I’m not really selling this am I, but to mention more of the plot would kind of ruin it).
Thankfully the characters feel real and everything seems to develop naturally enough (Shelton confirmed that most of the dialogue was improvised) and Mark Duplass seems to improve as an actor every time I see him. A clunky acoustic guitar backed montage towards the end of the movie is the only lowlight (they always annoy me).
Jeff, Who Lives At Home – ★★★½
Directed By: Jay & Mark Duplass / Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon / (IRISH RELEASE DATE – 20th April 2012)
Speaking of Mark Duplass, straight after “Your Sister’s Sister” was this gem which features a disgustingly talented cast and deals with Jeff (Segel), sent on a simple errand to buy some glue who ends up going on almost mystical quest to fulfil his destiny while helping his brother (Helms) out with his marriage problems.
It could have gone wrong in lesser hands but thankfully everything and everyone in it seems to hit the right notes (particularly liked the score), the comedy never feels too forced and the characters are never given a chance to become too cartoony or caricatured.
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Another 4 films to go, hopefully momentum keeps up and I don’t get stuck watching a complete turkey!