What to see in cinemas this St Patricks Day. Paul Byrne reviews the latest films including Submarine, The Lincoln Lawyer, Route Irish, Benda Bilini and the new Woody Allen film.
Directed by Brad Furman. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Maris Tomei, Ryan Philippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena.
THE PLOT: McConaughey plays attorney-at-law Mick Haller, an ambulance chaser who likes to deal with clients in the backseat of his Lincoln Continental (license plate: NTGUILTY). No crook is too sleazy for our Mick, his modus operandi thrown a little when he lands a rich kid (Philippe) who might just be telling the truth when he claims he’s being framed for murder.
THE VERDICT: Based on celebrated crime novelist Michael Connelly’s bestselling series, The Lincoln Lawyer sees everyone’s favourite shirtless stoner Matthew McConaughey returning, in a sense, to his breakthrough movie, 1996’s crime thriller A Time To Kill. Aided and abetted by a top cast, and some behind-the-scenes heavies, Matt nonetheless delivers a slick but hollow outing. Which, of course, is his wont. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Richard Ayoade. Starring Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor.
THE PLOT: Welsh teenage miserablist Oliver Tate (Roberts) falls for school femme fatale Jordana (Paige), whilst also trying to save the stagnant marriage of his quietly-desperate parents (Hawkins and Taylor) from local New Age life coach and pony-tailed lothario, Graham (Considine).
THE VERDICT: Based on Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel, Ayoade’s lo-fi outing is part Rushmore, part Harold & Maude, part Gregory’s Girl, and part Vampire Weekend sleeve. Only not quite as good as that sounds. A film that appears to have been shot entirely using Polaroids, Submarine is sweet if a tad overkooked. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Gemma Jones, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch.
THE PLOT: Set in modern-day London, two married couples find their relationships falling apart, elderly Helena (Jones) turning to her daughter, Sally (Watts) for comfort and guidance when her longtime husband Alfie (Hopkins) decides he should be living the life of a man half his age. And so he gets engaged to bimbo call girl (Punch) as Helena takes refuge in a fortune teller (Pauline Collins) and Sally falls for her boss (Banderas) just as her washed-up novelist husband (Brolin) falls for the mysterious girl (Pinto) across the street.
THE VERDICT: The way Woody Allen tells it, recent offerings Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona are far, far superior to the celebrated Annie Hall and Manhattan. Well, it’s hardly surprising then that his latest follows very much in the fashion of the former two, although this high farce is no patch on such true later Woody Allen classics as Husbands And Wives, Sweet And Lowdown and Bullets Over Broadway. Still, you have to admire the little bugger for trying. Every bloody year. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Ken Loach. Starring Mark Womack, Andrea Lowe, John Bishop, Trevor Williams, Stephen Lord, Talib Hamafraj.
THE PLOT: When his best friend, Frankie (Bishop), comes back in a coffin from Iraq, Fergus (Womack) vows to unravel what really happened to his fellow contract soldier. Frankie has left an Iraqi mobile phone for Fergus, and he soon discovers a botched mission that left a family dead. And Frankie determined to bring justice to the mother left behind – which soon earns him some dangerous enemies close to home.
THE VERDICT: On the surface, this is a revenge tale, one man’s mission to find the shady culprits who killed his best friend. With Ken Loach behind the camera (and his longtime writer Paul Laverty on board), the politics of war play an important part too. Issues of collateral damage, mercenaries, and the industry that pop up around endless wars are all dealt with her, in between the sleuthing and the screaming. RATING: 3/5
BETWEEN THE CANALS (Ireland/16/75mins)
Directed by Mark O’Connor. Starring Peter Coonan, Dan Hyland, Stephen Jones, Damien Dempsey, Yare Michael Jegbefume.
THE PLOT: Dublin’s criminal underbelly has a light shone on it once again in this gritty low-budget tale centred around three small-time crooks who are keen to move up the food chain. Not least of them Liam (Hyland), but reality has other plans for our local heroes. Or is it local zeroes?
THE VERDICT: It would be foolish to read the highly positive response this film received at the recent Jameson Dublin International Film Festival – given that the audience was made up almost entirely of those involved in the film, and/or their families and friends. That said, O’Connor – who also wrote the script – makes the most of a miniscule budget, and some non-professional actors. Damien Dempsey – who also provides the soundtrack – included. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Renaud Barret, Florent de La Tullaye. Starring Maria Barli Djongo, Renaud Barret, Cubain Kabeya, Vincent Kenis, Paulin Kiara-Maigi, Roger Landu, Leon Likabu, Montana.
THE PLOT: Shot over five years, two French filmmakers follow Staff Benda Bilili, a group of largely paraplegic, and homeless, street musicians busking on the streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The band manage to scrape the money together for a recording session, but suffer a series of setbacks before finally releasing an album and, in 2009, touring Europe to a rapturous reception.
THE VERDICT: Inevitably, this stirring documentary has been compared to Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club, but Benda Bilili dances to its own particular set of drummers. The indomitable spirit of not only the veterans involved but even young street kid Roger is evident throughout, something Benda Bilili capture in their often hi-energy music. Their homemade instruments make Seasick Steve look like Jean-Michel Jarre. RATING: 4/5
SHE’S JUST A LITTLE TEASE…
Those clever clogs over at Film Fatale have organized a tribute night for the recently departed bombshell Jane Russell with a special screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The 1953 Howard Hawks classic saw Russell co-headline with Marilyn Monroe, and to make sure everyone gets in the right mood, Film Fatale will be laying on the 1950s showgirl nostalgia for the night. Speaking of which, it’s recommended you make the effort too, and dust down some vintage clothing. The usherettes on the night will be darned impressed.
The Tribute To Jane Russell screening takes place at The Sugar Club on Saturday, April 2nd, at 8pm, tickets at €15. Full details on filmfataleevents.blogspot.com or facebook.com/filmfataleevents.