Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dublin Film Festival 2014 Report - 22nd and 23rd February

The Lost Weekend

Tracks (dir. John Curran) marked the third and final Mia Wasikowska starring film I saw during the festival, and this is the only one where she takes center stage. It's another extremely strong performance from Wasikowska, here playing Robyn Davidson - a young Australian woman who traversed over 2,500 kilometres of Australian desert in 1977, mostly solo. Her companions are four camels (one a calf) and a dog. The increasingly ubiquitous Adam Driver plays the photographer who meets her at certain intervals, and she's also joined for a period by an elderly Aboriginal guide). Wasikowska and Curran manage to capture the character's almost stubborn drive in a consistently engaging way - there's a welcome element of vagueness about the motivations (perhaps because the motivations were vague), instead focusing on the various challenges Davidson faced over the course of her months traversing the difficult terrain. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dublin Film Festival 2014 Report - 20th and 21st February

Many Stories of Film

The Reunion
A Story of Children and Film sees critic turned filmmaker Mark Cousins explore some of the many, many ways childhood has been portrayed in cinema. As the title indicates, this is a sort of spin-off to Cousin's epic 15-hour documentary (and accompanying book) A Story of Film, which boldly and surprisingly successfully attempted to celebrate the vast history of moviemaking. A Story of Children... is a more focused affair, but this 'essay film' illustrates Cousins' impressive critical faculties and dizzying knowledge of the medium as he provides fascinating analysis of trends, themes and aesthetics over elegantly chosen clips from a wide range of films. At the outset Cousins explains he will largely stick to more obscure and forgotten greats - although there are a few pitch perfect inclusions like E.T. - and he provides all but the most avid cinephile with a range of fascinating looking films from around the world to seek out.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dublin Film Festival Report - 16th-19th February

Stuck in the Middle

Is the mountain climbing documentary a legitimate subgenre yet? Beyond the Edge (presented in 3D, for whatever reason) follows in the steps of Touching the Void and The Summit, this time recounting the story of the first two people to reach the peak of Everest in 1953. Using a mixture of documentary footage and recreation (plus liberal voiceover interviews), the film explores the subject in bland, uninspiring detail. It's all a bit of a trudge, the story interesting but the delivery dull. There is a beautiful 360 degree pan when the pair finally reach the peak, but that's a rare highlight in a film that is predominantly bog standard documentary fare that does little artistic justice to a remarkable story.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dublin Film Festival Report - 13th, 14th, 15th February 2014

Opening Gambit

One of the problems anyone will face when attending a film festival is simply trying to take the time to reflect on the films as they rush from one cinema to the next. Sitting down and writing about them is another thing again, and I don't envy the professional critics who have to watch five or six films a day and quickly turn around high quality, coherent reports at the same time. But hey, they're paid for the privilege.