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Best & Worst – Ranking November’s Irish Cinema Releases


Here’s a rundown of what we saw in the last month with whoever reviews it getting the right to bestow a star rating, (NW or PMcG). Take a listen to the latest podcast for some more thoughts on these…

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★★★★★ (NW)

Todd Haynes returns to the big screen after eight years away with an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt”, retitled here to the more obsessive Carol. The film tells the story of two women in New York in the early 1950s.

Cate Blanchett (who was one of Haynes’ Bob Dylans in I’m Not There) plays Carol Aird, a Jersey woman trying to divorce her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) who has a chance encounter with a department store clerk Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) over a train set and a forgotten pair of leather gloves. The two strike up a friendship that slowly turns into something more, but rather than be able to embrace this illicit love they’re forced to repress their emotions.

Every aspect of the film feels just about perfect; the script, the art direction, Sandy Powell’s costume design, Carter Burwell’s score and the 16mm cinematography all fit together like fingers in a glove. And what more can be said of the performances, with Blanchett and Mara bringing the user along on their journey brilliantly.

A sure-fire Oscar contender which deserves every plaudit it gets between now and then.



The Lobster

★★★★ (NW)

This is of course an October film, but both of us saw it in November….

It’s not often you get a film that forces a flabbergasted, delighted grin on to your face for its entire duration. With The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos achieves just that with his dystopian comedy about a future where “single people are taken to The Hotel where they are obliged to find a matching mate in forty-five days”.

Colin Farrell’s acting style and line delivery won’t be for everyone (the Fr. Dougal McGuire comparisons are quite apt), but I would wager it’s the most enjoyable he’s been on-screen since In Bruges. Throw in a wacky jaunt around Ireland (“hey! It’s Joels restaurant on the Naas Road! I thought they were in Kerry…”) and the wonderful supporting efforts from John C. Reilly, Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux and you’ve got one of the year’s wackiest dark comedies.



Steve Jobs

★★★½ (PMcG)

All the world’s a stage so thinks Shakespeare and Aaron Sorkin. It’s rare that there is as much talk (if not more) for the writer of a film as opposed to the director. This was certainly the case with Steve Jobs directed by Danny Boyle and written by the master of the walk and talk Sorkin. It doesn’t follow the usual cradle to the grave formula of most mediocre biopics, instead choosing key product launches to allow the life and times of Jobs to unfurl before a captive audience.

Michael Fassbender is superb at portraying a man dedicated to his craft, unyielding in the search for perfection and keeping us gripped and enthralled. Kate Winslet is the heart of the film, allowing Sorkin to show another deft skill of simmering sexual tension. Boyle brings his flair and pacing knowledge to what could have been a boring pedantic outing, instead making it one of the most gripping of the year. No doubt a fabricated sickly sweet ending is the only bum note in the otherwise harmonious symphony.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

★★★½ (NW)

The franchise adaptations of Suzanne’s Collins’ books come to an end three and a half years after the first film hit screens. The decision to split the final book in two is an issue here with a few slow points in the 2hr 17min runtime. However the energy and precision that goes in to the action set-pieces makes up for those pacing concerns. The sewer scenes with the mutt attack is some of the most exhilarating blockbuster cinema of the year.

While the Peeta/Katniss multiple finale scenes will invoke some Lord of the Rings: Return of the King flashbacks, it does all work in the context of the story and is a fitting end to the series. Plus it all means Jennifer Lawrence will have a whole lot more time on her hands. Rejoice.



He Named Me Malala

Like Father Like Daughter – ★★★½ (PMcG)

The film is a very slick production with no rough edges or great revelations. Yet this can be forgiven as the root of the documentary is an instructional teaching companion to show all children of the world, especially girls, that you deserve the right to an education. (PMcG’s review)




Ellis’ Choice – ★★★ (NW)

Even with these criticisms, it’s very hard not to be pulled in by the sheer scale of the romantic story. Saoirse Ronan is fantastic in a relatively rare leading role and both Cohen and Gleeson make for excellent adversaries opposite her. Homesickness is one of the hardest ailments to describe and anyone who’s ever lived away by choice or force will feel something from the story. It’s just a pity that Crowley and the international production interests opted to apply such a sentimental lacquer over all the loneliness and pain. (full review – NW)


Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Killing Badge – ★★★ (PMcG)

The plot is pretty straight-forward with no new genre defining insights. The novelty is they’re young adults and if the film had a sprinkling more of The Goonies element it may have reached a wider audience perhaps becoming a classic of the field. Director Christopher Landon succeeds in building tension and marries the scare to humour ratio well. (full review – PMcG)


Black Mass

Badfellas – ★★½ (PMcG)

There is nothing new with Black Mass, predictable plot lines, camera angles and character arcs leave you wondering what’s the point. Twenty five years ago in Ireland Goodfellas was released, just go watch that again instead. (PMcG’s review)


Bridge of Spies

Atticus: The Cold War Years – ★★ (PMcG)

Hanks and Rylance are fantastic and a treat to watch but they alone can’t hide the major flaw of the film. Spielberg has plastered his heavy handed pro-America paintbrush all over the place. Time and time again we are shown how great and fair America is with it’s democracy compared to the savagery and chaos of the Russians and Germans. There are no shadows or dark corners, no danger of stumbling across Alec Guinness or Richard Burton. (PMcG’s review)