Reviews New Movies Opening July 8th 2011

This weeks new movies reviewed by Paul Byrne, including The Guard and The Tree Of Life.


THE GUARD (Ireland/15A/95mins)

Directed by John Michael McDonagh. Starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Mark Strong, Rory Keenan, Fionnuala Flanagan.

THE PLOT: In the wilds of Galway, Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is the sort of man who isn’t afraid to call a small shovel a fucking spade. Something visiting FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) initially finds a little hard to fathom when the two team up to track down a drug-smuggling, philosophy-reading trio (Cunningham, Strong and Wilmot).

THE VERDICT: The same Tarantino-esque genre-goosing beloved by his brother Martin (In Bruges) is all present and non-politically correct here in John Michael McDonagh’s debut feature. The always-watchable Gleeson is positively gleeful in his role as the cunning, contrary and contradictory Boyle (exemplified by his Chet Baker sounds and Daniel O’Donnell poster), whilst much fun is plainly being had by Cunningham and co. A little too forced at times, The Guard is still one of those very rare commodities – an Irish film you’d be happy to show the neighbours. RATING: 4/5


THE TREE OF LIFE (USA/12A/138mins)

Directed by Terrence Malick. Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan, Fiona Shaw.

THE PLOT: Waco, Texas, and Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien (Pitt and Chastain) have just received news that their youngest son is dead. As they try to make sense of their grief, the tree father and eldest son Jack (McCracken) planted becomes the gateway into a visual journey through the evolution of life itself, from the big bang through the arrival of dinosaurs and beyond. Jumping back to the 1950s, we get to see the young O’Brien family, Jack given the most difficult time by their demanding, frustrated father.

THE VERDICT: The winner of the Palme D’Or at Cannes, and only Terrence Malick’s sixth film in 42 years, The Tree Of Life is a divided film – between the cosmic and the casual everyday – that will undoubtedly divide opinion too. Personally, I found the 1950s family drama compelling, as Malick – who grew up in 1950s small town Texas and, yep, lost a brother – explores the Haneke behind the Rockwell. The near-hour of spectacular National Geographic porn – Kubrick meets Attenborough – left me a little bit dazed and confused, and a little bit cold, and removed. Ditto Sean Penn’s grown-up Jack, lost in remembrance and grief as he staggers through tall glass buildings in downtown Dallas, his occasional intrusions taking on the sheen of a Blu-Ray commercial. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating hymn to life, an often intoxicating blend of sound and vision, of stirring classical pieces, spiritual ruminations, disarming, debilitating glances and spellbinding images. It’s the family that will stay with you though in this magic-hour tone poem. RATING: 4/5

SOCIALISM (Switzerland/France/IFI/101mins)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Starring Catherine Tanvier, Christian Sinniger, Jean-Marc Stehle, Patti Smith, Robert Maloubier.

THE PLOT: A ‘symphony in three movements’, the first is set upon a cruise ship, as Godard’s favourite target, the bourgeoisie, once again prove themselves useless and pointless. In the second section, Our Europe, we witness a series of kids ask their parents a series of questions, whilst the third and final section is a collage of sound and images from various sources.

THE VERDICT: The 80-year old Godard has said that this will be his last film, and it will no doubt be seen as a fittingly daring finale by his fans, and fitfully obscure and obtuse by everyone else. It’s that age-old conundrum of being dazzled by brilliance or baffled by bullshit, and I can’t help feeling it’s the latter here. Here’s hoping time – and Donald Clarke – proves me wrong. RATING: 2/5


Directed by Bertrand Tavernier. Starring Melanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Gaspard Ulliel, Raphael Personnaz.

THE PLOT: An adaptation of Madame de la Fayette’s 17th century novel, we follow young Marie de Mezieres (Thierry) as her father marries her off to the mild-mannered Prince de Montpensier (Leprince-Ringuet) – although she is plainly in love with the rebellious Henri (Ulliel). The morning after a very business-like consummation (complete with maidens waiting bedside to bring the bloodied sheets to the waiting fathers), the Prince is off to war. And Marie is soon the object of yet another’s man affections. And then another. And then another.

THE VERDICT: The 70-year old Tavernier takes a well-aimed kick – and a poke or two – at the costumed romance in this sobering and sumptuous film. There’s something pleasingly gritty about The Princess of Montpensior, a reminder that life back then wasn’t all paper and quill accompanied by a forlorn narration. Tavernier has a little fun with French history too, reimagining the likes of Duc d’Anjou and Henri de Guise. There’s life – and, most importantly, narrative coherency – in the old dog yet. RATING: 3/5


For one night only, the dancing spectacular Midnight Tango will be broadcast live in various cinemas across Ireland and the UK.

Featuring stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace from TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, this critically-acclaimed production (well, the Southern Daily Echo News loved it, as did Whatsonstage and, hey, The Star) is currently playing a sold out 80-date UK tour. And you can catch it on Wednesday July 13th at 7.30pm in cinemas from Letterkenny’s Century to Dublin’s Cineworld. Full list of cinemas on


Those clever people at Horrorthon, along with Dublin’s Trinity College and the IFI, have managed to convince one of horror and fantasy’s most celebrated authors, Clive Barker, that he’ll be safe in Ireland. For just one evening. Namely July 13th, at 9pm, when An Evening With Clive Barker will include rare screenings of his early films along with a Q&A with Horrorthon’s Ed King.

Full info on


The Sugar Club plays host once again to the bi-monthly film event Film Fatale on Saturday, August 6th when it celebrates summer with a screening of Roman Holiday.

The club will be transformed – it says here – into a 1950s Little Italy especially for the screening, with an Italian-themed after-party featuring live performances and resident DJs, The Andrews Sisters’ Brothers. Appropriate vintage dress is encouraged.

Tickets are €15, and available on Doors open 8pm, with after-party tickets at the door for €5.