More ADIFF 2016 reviews from Mick McGovern.
dir. Andrew Steagall – ★★★
A mother (Juliet Stephenson) and her teenage son (played by Alex Lawther, young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game) head to their holiday home in the south of France to prepare it for sale, something neither seems to want. The son, Elliot, spends his days working on his poetry which goes by the wayside when he develops a crush on a local boy he spots swimming. The film then follows whether their friendship develops into something more or not and also deals with the fallout when the reasons for the sale are revealed.
Lawther is excellent as the vulnerable yet outwardly smug Elliot and is the main reason the film is worth watching. It’s also beautifully shot and captures the south of France in all its glory. Stephenson isn’t really given enough to do though and the family drama that develops in the final act feels a little unnecessary and overegged, but overall a fine debut.
100 Yen Love (Hyakuen no koi)
dir. Masaharu Take – ★★½
Japan’s recent entry for Best Foreign Picture tells the tale of a 32-year-old slacker Ichiko, who leaves the family home after a row with her sister and sets off to eke out a life on her own. She starts off by taking a job doing the night shift at a 100 Yen Store (a pound shop) where she meets two men, Noma her co-worker and Kano a boxer she has had her eye on. After an extreme event and sick of being disrespected, Ichiko decides to channel all her rage into boxing in a move to regain some self-esteem and assertiveness.
The film’s narrative goes all over the place and takes in some very strange and unexpected turns, it shifts gears and tone at will. The film is also full of static shots and long takes and maybe could have been improved with faster editing and more camera coverage. All in all though, an interesting meditation on self-worth.
No current release date for Irish Cinemas
Time Out Of Mind
dir. Oren Moverman – ★★★
Richard Gere stars as George, a homeless man in New York trying to find some shelter and stability and also trying to mend his relationship with his daughter played by Jena Malone. The film is a hard watch for a number of reasons, one being its success in letting you get a feel for what it’s like living on the streets, as people do their best to ignore you or get rid of you, and also because there is nothing to suggest the film has a plot, thankfully there is one, if not much of one.
The decision also to film from very far away using long lenses is initially strange and off-putting but it does allow for natural performances and also means the sound mix become a major and interesting part of the movie. Gere is excellent, particular in his scenes with Ben Vereen who plays Dixon, a fellow homeless man, who follows Gere’s character around after they meet at a shelter.
Out in Irish Cinemas March 4th
dir. Don Cheadle – ★★
A film about Miles Davis which was obviously a labour of love for Don Cheadle who stars, writes, directs and produces the film, he even composed some music for the soundtrack. This film is no ordinary biopic though, it deals with an older Davis who after a long fallow period has recorded some new music which his record company is desperate to get their hands on but he’s not ready to release it. Ewan McGregor plays a Rolling Stone reporter hoping to get an interview initially but then get his hands on the tape after he learns of its existence. This is all intercut with flashbacks to Davis’s first relationship with his first wife.
This decision to sidestep the full biopic treatment and clichés is a smart move but overall I didn’t find the story all that gripping or interesting, particularly the flashbacks which I felt I’ve sat through before a number of times in similar movies.
Out in Irish Cinemas April 22nd
Son of Saul (Saul fia)
dir. László Nemes – ★★★★
The winner of the Best Foreign Language Picture at the Oscars the other night is a great achievement for first time director Nemes. Saul (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian prisoner of war and a member of the “Sonderkommando” which were units made up of prisoners forced to clean up the gas chambers’ victims. After witnessing a young boy being killed Saul says he’s his son and then spends all of his energy trying to give the boy a proper burial overseen by a rabbi.
The film is shot in the Academy aspect ratio of 1.375:1 to achieve a narrow field of vision and whether this was an artistic or budgetary decision, it works. You feel right there in the horror even though most of it is off screen, the sound mix is incredible using background noise and multiple voices in various languages adding to the viewers’ immersion in what it must have been like and how hard it must have been to endure. The film apparently was inspired by Elem Klimov’s “Come and See” a film I will be seeking out.
Out in Irish Cinemas April 29th
dir. Paddy Breathnach – ★★★★
An Irish funded film set and shot in Havana, Cuba that tells the story of Jesus, a hairdresser who is tired of just doing the hair for a group of drag performers and wants to become one. As his dream is about to be realised his estranged violent father suddenly shows up and is dead set against Jesus performing. But with neither earning money otherwise how else will both survive?
‘Viva’ is very well done and hopefully will find an audience not just in Ireland but all around the world. Breathnach’s direction from a Mark O’Halloran scipt is beautifully judged as is the colourful cinematography and the fantastic score and soundtrack. Even when the film hits a few familiar beats, the emotion from the actors and the story always carries it through.
No current release date for Irish Cinemas