From March 19th to March 29th, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will invade the city, making us all feel much more cultural and cinematically savvy. But with well over a hundred different feature films on show across the eleven days, it can get a little bewildering and overwhelming as to what you should dedicate your time to. Which is where we here at State step in to cast a shining light and help you find exactly the right films you’re looking for.
One of the highlights of the JDIFF is the fact that some of the biggest and best names in show business arrive to talk to the audiences about their latest projects, and this year that list of famous faces is longer and brighter than ever. We’ve got Russell Crowe in town to talk about his directorial debut The Water Diviner (Savoy, Fri 20, 19.30), a real old-school melodramatic story of a father searching for his sons who are believed to have been killed at war. Next up we’ve got Kenneth Branagh showing off his live-action take on Cinderella (Savoy, Sat 21, 18.30), and his rags-to-riches drama is sure to have an entirely new generation of film-goers fall in love with the lavish fairy-tale. Then there’s Pressure (Cineworld, Fri 27, 21.00) accompanied by fantastic character actor Danny Huston, playing a member of an ocean-floor team who find themselves trapped down there by a storm up top. Alan Rickman will also be in town to show off the results of his first time in the director’s chair; the Kate Winslett staring period romance drama A Little Chaos (Cineworld, Sat 28, 18.15). And finally, while not exactly a film, Kim Cattrall will be bringing with her the pilot episode of her new series Sensitive Skin (Movies@Dundrum, Thurs 26, 18.30), a US remake of the hit BBC programme of the same name.
Film fans will be spoiled by some of the documentary options in this year’s JDIFF, as two of the best picks involve documentary crews getting involved in the making of movies themselves. First up is My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Lighthouse, Fri 20, 18.00), which is an on-set doc following the director of Drive attempting to follow up that sleeper hit with Only God Forgives, and the unique problems that presented. For those who are fans of something a little trashier, we recommend Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Cineworld, Sat 21, 16.00), as it takes a look at the Z-list stars of the most accidentally entertaining B-movies in recent Hollywood history. If you’re looking for something a little more serious and though-provoking, then you can’t do much better than Coming Home (Lighthouse, Sat 21, 16.00), an Irish co-production that unveils the life of Angel Cordero, an innocent man just released from jail after thirteen years and how he tries to slowly put his life back together.
Scary movies aren’t normally the kind of cinematic treats you’d find within a film festival’s line-up, but this year’s line-up goes some way to rectify that, and what makes it double-y impressive as that the first three of these horrors are home grown! From the Dark (Lighthouse, Sat 21, 20.30) is the follow-up from the director of Stitches, who has ditched the black comedy and replaced it with tightly wound fear, as a couple find themselves in the middle of nowhere being tormented by an unknown creature. Let Us Prey (Lighthouse, Fri 27, 22.40) features Irish legend Liam Cunningham as a malevolent mind-twister who descends upon a quiet police station to unleash hell. And the last of our Irish horror picks is The Canal (Lighthouse, Sat 28, 20.30), involving a film archivist who discovers footage of a murder in his own home from over 100 years ago, and soon afterwards things start to go bump in the night. Looking further afield, there’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Cineworld, Mon 23, 18.15), which a sorta-meta-sequel-remake of a 1970’s movie that mushes together urban legend and life imitating art, and then there’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Cineworld, Wed 25, 20.45), a feminist mish-mash of vampire mythology, western thriller and mumblecore indie, all shot in lo-fi black and white.
After all those scares, you’ll probably be in the mood for something a little more light-hearted, and thankfully, JDIFF can provide and we can pick out some of our potential favourites. I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Lighthouse, Fri 20, 18.00) is already a hit in its Italian home, and is sure to prove just as popular here, telling the story of a group of intelligent but unemployable men who turn to making a new type of illegal narcotic in order to make ends meet. Amanda Seyfriend, Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts and more are part of the all-star cast of While We’re Young (Cineworld, Sat 21, 20.00), as an older couple try to remain hip and relevant when a new, younger couple move into their neighbourhood, only to find the new couple aren’t as friendly as they first appeared to be. Lastly, we recommend Force Majeure (Cineworld, Thurs 26, 20.15), a dark comedy that exposes the awkward selfishness of a father when he abandons his family to save his own life during an avalanche, only for them to survive and continually throw his reaction back in his face.
Some films aren’t quite as easy to identify by genre, or their stories don’t sound quite as accessible as some others, but below are some films that grabbed our attention and are sure to be talking points throughout the festival. The Fool (Cineworld, Fri 20, 18.00) involves a plumber who discovers an apartment block is going to completely collapse within the next 24 hours, and his race against time to get the local Russian government to order an evacuation. Andrew Garfield headlines 99 Homes (Cineworld, Fri 20, 20.30), as a father struggling to make ends meet, and ends up working for Michael Shannon’s evil repo-man. Then there’s the German cyber-thriller Who Am I – No System is Safe (Cineworld, Sun 22, 14.00), involving a group of hackers so good that they garner the government’s attention which leads down some very scary roads. The Artist’s leading man Jean Dujardin heads up The Connection (Cineworld, Sun 22, 18.45), a suitably French twist on the 1970’s classic The French Connection, and last but not least there’s The Tribe (Lighthouse, Tues 24, 18.00); told entirely in sign language without any subtitles, telling the story of a boarding school for the deaf that turns out to be a front for organised crime.
JDIFF isn’t just about presenting us with all of the shiny and new films, it’s also a celebration of the history of cinema itself, and that continues this year as the legendary Ryan O’Neal is celebrated and will be in Dublin to accompany screenings of both Barbara Streisand co-starring zany rom-com What’s Up, Doc? (Lighthouse, Fri 20, 14.00) and the Stanley Kubrick directed period drama classic Barry Lyndon (Savoy, Sat 21, 13.30). The utterly amazing Julie Andrews will also be gracing the capital with her presence, taking part in a massive Q&A event (Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Sun 29, 15.00) before presenting The Sound of Music (Savoy, Sun 29, 19.30), which will also close out this year’s festival.
To buy tickets for these movies, as well as more information on the rest of year’s festival, head to www.jdiff.com.