Paul Byrne reviews the latest movies to hit Irish cinemas including SANCTUM and BRIGHTON ROCK

SANCTUM (USA/15A/108mins)

Directed by Alister Grierson. Starring Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley, Christopher Baker, Dan Wyllie, Alice Parkinson.

THE PLOT: Seasoned underwater explorer Frank (Roxburgh) and his headstrong sidekick Carl (Gruffudd) bite off more than they can chew when they – along with the former’s son (Wakefield), the latter’s airhead girlfriend (Parkinson) and, eh, Crazy George (Wyllie) – get trapped inside an underwater cave. And so, another battle between man and nature ensues. Alongside some state-of-the-art camera trickery, of course.

THE VERDICT: A sucker for the life aquatic, and for the latest in hi-tech photography, it wouldn’t have taken long for James Cameron to jump on board this underwater thriller. Inspired by co-writer Andrew Wright’s near-death experience – leading a diving expedition into a system of underwater caves when a freak storm collapsed the entrance – the often stunning visuals here do all the work. Which is just as well, as the characters, and the dialogue, kind of suck. RATING:2/5

 

BRIGHTON ROCK (UK/16/110mins)

Directed by Rowan Joffe. Starring Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Phil Davis, Sean Harris, John Hurt, Helen Mirren.

THE PLOT: It’s Brighton, 1964, and the battle between mods and rockers rages on. Just after his gang leader is killed by a rival gang, Pinkie Brown (Riley, so effective as Ian Curtis in Control) recognises one of the attackers as Fred Hale (Harris), setting off a revenge killing that gets mildly complicated by, of course, a rather attractive young waitress (Riseborough).

THE VERDICT: Just as the Coens have said that their True Grit is not a remake of the 1969 film but a new adaptation of the original Charles Portis novel, director Joffe has been at pains to point out that he wasn’t remaking the acclaimed Boulting brothers’ 1947 film here but adapting Graham Greene’s 1938 novel. Not that such declarations of intent have saved this film from getting a mild kicking from the critics. Joffe throws in some interesting ideas of his own, but the early promise soon gives way to cliché and, hey, scenes faithfully lifted from the earlier big-screen version. RATING: 2/5

 

RABBIT HOLE (USA/15A/90mins)

Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard.

THE PLOT: Eight months after they lost their little boy in a traffic accident, Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) are still struggling to readjust their lives. Therapy sessions, Becca’s mum (Wiest) having also lost a son, the pregnancy of Becca’s sister (Blanchard) – nothing helps. So, Becca reaches out to the high school student (Teller) behind the wheel…

THE VERDICT: Two parents in a daze over their recently deceased child has always been a tough subject for cinema, and for audiences (the recent Anti-Christ being a prime, if hysterical, example), and it’s surprising to see Hedwig & The Angry Itch director/star/co-writer John Cameron Mitchell behind the camera here. The problem though is in front of the camera. Namely, Nicole Kidman, a once fine actress reduced to a porcelain parody of her former self. And her presence stifles – nay, slowly kills – yet another movie. RATING: 2/5


NENETTE (France/IFI/70mins)

Directed by Nicholas Philibert. Starring Nenette, her son Tubo, and the voices of Abel Morin, Lcie Morin, Agnes Laurent, Georges Peltier.

THE PLOT: Having arrived – from her native Borneo – at the Jardin des Plantes in the centre of Paris back in 1972, 40-year old orang-utan Nenette has long been a star attraction. Having outlived three male partners, and mothered four offspring, Nenette now shares the spotlight, and her space, with her son, Tubo, the camera staying on the duo and their habitat whilst we listen to both the passing public and the voices of those people connected to the zoo and to Nenette.

THE VERDICT: With no narration, we experience here both the deafening chatter and the deafening silence that is an average day for our orang-utan subject. Clearly drained from 40 years of passing bursts of enthusiasm, the daily conveyor belt of people behind the glass gradually morphs into a human lava lamp for Nenette. With Philibert letting silence do so much of the work, the viewer is left to draw his own conclusions about this institutionalized cuckoo’s nest, where animals are held for our viewing pleasure. RATING: 3/5

 

THE GREENE MACHINE

The IFI continues its season of Graham Greene screen adaptations – as one of the latest, Brighton Rock(the third Greene remake in a decade), also hits our screens.

In amidst the films themselves, Adrian Wootton, the CEO of Film London, will give his Talk On Graham Greene at the IFI on Feb 9th at 7pm.

Amongst the films are England Made Me (starring Michael York and Peter Finch), The Comedians (Greene’s indictment of Haiti’s brutal regime under Papa Doc), and The Quiet American (the Mankiewicz adaptation). Other offerings include Jordan’s The End Of The Affair and the award-winning TV thriller The Tenth Man, starring Alec Guinness.

Running from Feb 4th to the 24th, get thee over to ifi.ie for the full details.

 

THE JDIFF STRIKES AGAIN!

Running from February 17th to the 27th, this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival boasts such premieres as Ricahrd Ayoade’s Submarine, Juanita Wilson’s As If I’m Not There, Paul Fraser’s My Brothers and David Keatings’ Wake Wood. Amongst many others.

Those expected to fly in for the, eh, love of film (as opposed to a real Guinness in a real Irish pub) includeHarry Shearer, Emilio Estevez, Ken Loach, Martin Sheen, Stellan Skarsgard and the slippery Kevin Spacey (here to reminisce about The Usual Suspects, when he had a film career).

You can get the full line-up of films and events at jdiff.com.