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) – ★★★★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.
The Good Doctor – ★★★
Directed By: Lance Daly / Starring: Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Michael Pena, Rob Morrow
Irishman Lance Daly (who directed Kisses and The Halo Effect) directs a script from John Enbom (whose previous writing credits include Veronica Mars and Party Down) that deals with a doctor who seems to be in medicine purely for the prestige, respect and power it brings. When he falls for a young female patient who looks up to him, he decides to make sure she stays under his care for as long as possible and by any means necessary. The film’s pace is slow but it never drags and the acting is fine all round, particularly Bloom who I’ve never really rated before. However I didn’t really enjoy the third act unfortunately so didn’t leave fully satisfied.
Curling King (Kong Curling) – ★★★★
Directed By: Ole Endresen / Starring: Atle Antonsen, Linn Skåber, Ane Dahl Torp, Harald Eia
Like Dodgeball and subtitles? Well this is for you then. The comedy in this film isn’t exactly subtle, every scene is an overt attempt to get as many laughs as possible from the audience “and why not?” as someone famous used to say. The film deals with a champion curler (Antonsen, who gives a perfect performance), whose obsessive attention to detail causes him to have a breakdown. He comes out of care years later to find his mentor needs a lung transplant, so he decides to get the team back together to win some prize money to cover the cost. All the characters in this are great fun and noteworthy – the chain smoking mentor, a controlling girlfriend, a player who can’t sleep since his father ran off to become a Rod Stewart impersonator, the Leo Sayer lookalike rival, and a tiny Pepsi Max delivery man, to name a few. The film repeats a lot of what we’ve seen before in sports comedies, it feels more out of love though than lack of originality, but at the same time manages to have a very distinctive look to it (look out for the little nod to Wes Anderson) and some stylish flourishes.
This Must Be the Place – ★★½
Directed By: Paulo Sorrentino / Starring: Sean Penn, Eve Hewson, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, David Byrne
The second surprise film of the festival was this strange episodic road comedy from the director of Il Divo, starring Sean Penn as a retired rock musician now living in Ireland, who has to return to America when his father dies. While at home, he learns his father spent a large part of his life trying to track down his Nazi tormentor, and decides he must finish what his father started. Overall, the film has way too much going on that doesn’t really come together as a whole, switching from comedy to drama and back again too quickly, and taking way too long to get to the plot. The Irish portion of the movie felt really odd to me too, lots of shots of the Aviva Stadium, too much mention of Tesco shares and the fact I was watching Sean Penn in one scene with the “wrecks the cheese” guy from a McDonalds ad and Simon Delaney the next kept jarring me (that’s probably just my problem though). Initially I was put off by Sean Penn’s rather distinctive, specific take on his character, but eventually warmed to it as the film went on. I can’t say I liked this film by any stretch of the imagination, but then again it’s different to anything you’re likely to see anytime soon and has some good laughs and moments including a glorious performance from David Byrne performing one of my favourite songs of all time, I’ll let you guess which one.
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Overall, a very enjoyable JDIFF, just really annoyed I didn’t get to see The Raid, damn you full time employment, damn you to hell.