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Eithne Shortall: The problem(s) with Cinema in 2014

See Eithne’s Top 10: Friends Of Spooool share their Best Films of 2014

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Last Christmas morning, as the presents were being doled out, my brother declared he had a bonus gift for all of us: he was going to tell us what our problem was. I am taking up the Shortall Grinch baton and come to you amongst all these ‘best of lists’ to tell Cinema of 2014 exactly what its problems were.

Its first problem was a moral one and it came in the form of Finding Vivian Maier. Maier was an American nanny who secretly took thousands of great photographs. These were bought in a fire sale by the maker of this documentary during Maier’s lifetime, but he did not make them known until after her death. He has since made a fortune from selling prints and exhibiting them worldwide. Thankfully, another American photographer (turned-lawyer) took issue with this too and is currently helping a Maier relative contest ownership. Backstory aside, the film contained some serious ethical howlers. Interviewees made major allegations about the late-Maier with no right of reply or shred of proof. You can’t libel the dead, but it doesn’t mean you should.

2014 was hardly the first time women were an afterthought on screen, but it was the first time I realised I could call ‘bullshit’ with my feet. After the intellectual insult that was Plastic and the insidious victimisation of women that was Horns, it was at Horrible Bosses 2 that finally made me realise ‘I don’t need to put up with this anymore. I can just leave.’

Then we come a little closer to home. Irish cinema’s perennial problems remain as follows: not enough marketing, certain reviewers awarding a bonus ‘Irish star’ and suspicious audiences. More specifically, Irish cinema’s problem was probably Jimmy’s Hall. Trite, disjointed and a cheap parody of The Wind That Shakes The Barley. I appreciate that Ken Loach likes to use authentic, local actors but by god, the performances. I can only imagine the outtakes contain shots of the woman who played Jimmy’s Mother reading the lines off her hand. “You can’t take my [pause as she glances down] son.”

Among Cinema of 2014’s myriad of other problems are the songs in Begin Again (never good enough for someone to want to make them famous), the hype around the utterly forgettable Blue Ruin and the fact that Peter Jackson was allowed to release that Hobbit film for a third time. The latter outing is taking home the trophy for most cynical franchise of all time.

You’re welcome, Cinema of 2014. Don’t even mention it.

See Eithne’s Top 10: Friends Of Spooool share their Best Films of 2014


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