101 min - Dir: Stephen Bradley with: Deirdre O'Kane, Sarah Greene, Gloria Cramer Curtis, Brendan Coyle, Liam Cunningham.
How do you capture a personality so enormous as Christina Noble? Over the last quarter of a century, the indomitable Dubliner has toiled energetically to improve the lot of orphaned and abandoned children in South East Asia. Those public achievements ask a great deal of a biographical film-maker, but it is, perhaps, harder still to get any grip on Noble's tragic, puzzling, occasionally fantastic personal journey.
Stephen Bradley's response in his big, thumping bruiser of a film has been to unplug the tearducts, ramp up the period detail and fuel the melodrama. Noble is rarely subtle. The depictions of the heroine's life in grim mid-century Ireland have all the dustily picturesque misery of a Catherine Cookson adaption (by most accounts, Noble's early experiences were considerably worse than those represented in the film).
More than a few characters telegraph their looming narrative arcs within seconds of appearing on screen: the creepy sex tourist; the initially resistant, ultimately helpful, functionary; the nun who seems "nice at first". Yet there is no doubt that the thing works.
Bradley, who writes and directs, employs an effective twin narrative. We begin with Noble, in the adult form of Deirdre O'Kane, making her first journey to Vietnam during the 1980s. She checks in at a down-at-heel hotel and, before too long, has begun the benign meddling that characterises so many of the most effective charity campaigners. Every now and then we flash back to find the young Christina growing up in Ireland. The film would be nothing without robust actors. Happily, Bradley has dragged out two excellent turns to support O'Kane's sturdy lead. Gloria Cramer Curtis is irrepressible as the childhood Noble: a noisy, capable scamp who loved to warble the songs of Doris Day. The Tony and Olivier-nominated Sarah Greene, one of our best young actors, is nothing less than magnificent as Christina in late adolescence and young adulthood. Her friendship with Ruth Negga's) plucky fireball has the makings of a film in its own right. Irish Times - Donald Clarke
In 1989, Irishwoman Christina Noble (Dierdre O'Kane) arrives in Ho Chi Minh City as a fortysomething tourist after a lifetime of coming to terms with her horrendous childhood and adolescence in Dublin. She grew up in a slum, lost her mother to tuberculosis and her father (spiritually, anyway) to drink, and was a ward of both the state and the Catholic church. She spent much of her teens and twenties suppressing her agony over those traumas and new ones, including an unplanned pregnancy ending in adoption. The sight of so many homeless kids on the streets of Ho Chi Minh city awakens the adult Christina's submerged maternal impulse. After trying and failing to help kids personally (bringing two girls to stay with her at her hotel; taking a gaggle of kids to eat in a restaurant on her tab) she decides to start a shelter, and is granted a permit. The catch: she has just three months to find a local partner and fund and build the place, after which point her tourist visa (which was always shaky thanks to her disruptive do-gooding) will expire.
Bradley's script jumps around in time, starting with the childhood of young Christina (Gloria Cramer Curtis), which is envisioned subjectively, less as a documentary report than as scene one in a self-creation myth. The sooty 1940s urban panoramas, complete with piles of rubble and hand-washed clothes hanging from laundry lines and fire escapes, have the funereal grandness of Alan Parker's film version of "Angela's Ashes", but there's also a genuinely (and literally) lyrical undertow produced by young Christina's angelic singing voice (she wants to be a great musical star like Doris Day) which echoes on the soundtrack during key scenes. RogerEbert.com - Matt Zoller Seitz
94 min - Dir: John Butler with: Andrew Scott, Peter McDonald, Hugh O'Conor, Amy Huberman, Brian Gleeson.
Chaos strikes when an engaged man (Hugh O'Conor), his future brother-in-law (Peter McDonald)
and a group of friends go hiking in the Irish wilderness for a bachelor party.
The Stag tells the story of a very modern Irish groom-to-be who, at his fiancee's urging, reluctantly agrees to a stag weekend with his urbane friends, wild camping in the west of Ireland.
Much to their chagrin, the brother of the bride - 'The Machine' - a crazy, unpredictable alpha male, and an explosive Id to their collective Ego joins these modern men. Irish Film Board
Some day, all male-centred comedies will be modelled after
This present account - of a wayward walking weekend in Wicklow - at least forms one of the more likable variations,
holding back the willy-waving to examine how a set of middle-class Irishmen might well interact if pushed beyond their usual boundaries.
As the BBC's short-lived The Great Outdoors recognised, there's considerable mileage in the way these jaunts throw together diverse types.
The process by which Andrew Scott's lovelorn best man is undermined by alpha-ish interloper Peter McDonald is well-observed, while the inclusion of two gay travellers rather smartly sidesteps one of this subgenre's signature panics. One or two set pieces don't quite have the requisite heft, yet the movie clicks whenever co-writer/director John Butler stops to admire the scenery: his fine cast locate the material's underlying pathos, and sustain a funny riff involving the one walker who can't stand U2 ("You are Irish, right?"). The Guardian - Mike McCahill
"You rampant hurrrmurrrsexuahlists" is the somewhat grandiloquent expression one character uses to address his fellow men in John Butler's outdoor-pursuits comedy The Stag, a slapstick romp that mischievously implies Irishmen are not so tough as they used to be.
The man who makes this elongated utterance is called 'The Machine', played by Peter McDonald who makes a welcome return to our cinema screens.
McDonald co-scripted The Stag along with Butler and they clearly think the time is right for aiming humorous darts at the target of contemporary Irish masculinity - in all its post-Tiger, post-modern, metrosexual complexity. The Irish Post - Stephen Martin
78 min - Dir: Mark Noonan with: Aidan Gillen, Lauren Kinsella, George Pistereanu, Erika Sainte, Jesse Morris.
Recently orphaned Stacey (played by Lauren Kinsella
in an auspicious debut), a pre-teen spitfire, is sent to live with her estranged Uncle Will (Aidan Gillen),
a convict who has been given compassionate leave for the purpose.
The pair journey towards a caravan park in the Irish midlands, where they attempt to approximate domesticity.
This is not an easy arrangement, and it's made doubly complicated by Stacey's narcolepsy and relentless smart-mouthing, not to mention Will's drug-taking and parental cluelessness.
Can the pair ever get along? Can Will stick to the terms of his parole? Can he at least learn to cook dinner? The Irish Times [Tara Brady]
"A film made all the more bittersweet by its delicate touch."
Aidan Gillen and young newcomer Lauren Kinsella play a makeshift family navigating each other's guarded feelings in Irish writer-director Mark Noonan's debut. An engaging minor-key drama about a stopgap family solution and its lingering impact on the two people thrown together, You're Ugly Too marks a modest but well-observed debut for Mark Noonan. Shot in the lonely Irish midlands where the writer-director grew up and infused with an evocative sense of place, the film showcases lovely, unforced performances from Aidan Gillen and Lauren Kinsella as an uncle and his orphaned niece who start out as strangers but form a connection probably destined to endure.
Premiering in the Berlinale's Generation KPlus section, which often blurs the lines between films about or intended for children and teenagers, this is a gentle reflection on the importance of trust and truth in relationships. While the emotional stakes are high, the director generally opts to keep the drama muted, which is both a virtue and a limitation. But that restraint also helps its mild dose of sentiment go down easily.
In an effectively drawn role that embraces the somber shades of rueful middle age as well as the laddish vestiges of youth, Gillen (Game of Thrones) plays rough-edged Will, who is given compassionate release six months before the end of his prison sentence to care for his 11-year-old niece, Stacey (Kinsella). Her mother died six weeks earlier of causes that are suggested but never fully explained, while her father has been deceased for many years.
The rapport of this odd couple is amusingly scrappy and irreverent as they dance around their masked feelings of loss, trading barbs in a distinctly Irish surly-sweet fashion. Humor is drawn from the irony that the "eedjit" fresh out of prison is the one endeavoring to curb the jaded tween's bad habits of spitting and cursing.
When Stacey opens up a little with her uncle it's mainly to ask why he went to prison, something her mother never told her and Will is also reluctant to discuss. Though audiences will likely guess the reason before it's revealed, and Stacey clearly has her suspicions, his silence on the subject contributes to keep the wall between them in place.
She makes no secret of being underwhelmed with his decision to drive them across miles of flat countryside
to stay at a caravan park where he and her mother used to go as kids. Other factors emerge as they get to know one another,
notably Stacey's bouts of narcolepsy, resulting in her being put on medication that keeps her out of school.
At the caravan park, they strike up a gradual friendship with a pretty Belgian neighbor, Emilie (Erika Sainte), whose marriage to the moody Romanian Tibor (George Pistereanu) appears strained. A former schoolteacher in her birth country, Emilie repays Will's kindness by offering to tutor Stacey, serving as a tentative bridge between uncle and niece.
The principal conflict concerns the limited amount of time Will has to find a job and prove that he can provide a stable environment for Stacey, before a welfare interview to decide whether the girl goes back into the foster system and he returns to prison to finish his sentence. That pressure, heightened by the scant employment options for a man with a criminal record, takes its toll. The Hollywood Reporter [David Rooney]
102 min - Dir: Terry McMahon with: Moe Dunford, Kerry Fox, Catherine Walker, Philip Jackson, Aaron Monaghan
A young man with schizophrenia discovers love and intimacy, but is denied his right
for both in Patrick's Day, the new film by Terry McMahon which was shown at the 59th Cork Film Festival.
Moe Dunford, who plays the titular Patrick is downright astonishing. There's an overall toughness about his outlook that further strengthens his vulnerabilities and makes his softness all the more real. Impressive to think that this is essentially his first leading role, and given the challenge of playing a young man with a mental illness might have proved a load much too heavy for a newcomer. Yet, his performance is restrained and never falls into the trap of overacting.
Cinematographer Michael Lavelle leaves plenty of room for close ups, a stylistic move which in itself glorifies the landscape of the human face and adds incredible force to the intimacy of the nature of the story.
Patrick's Day is quite simply a film where everything seems to work, including the fluid pace of the film that is at once meditative but also relentless. A few things are left to mention, and must be mentioned. Aside for the element of schizophrenia, this is a film that can be universally understood on every level. Its structure is that of a coming of age story, and the ordeal the leading character is forced to withstand is also frightening because it can be so easily understood by people who do not necessarily suffer from the leading character's condition. www.cinecola.com
"This labyrinthine tale explores the push/pull between Patrick,
a likeable young man with schizophrenia, and his fiercely protective mother, a determined, driven woman who only has
his best interests at heart… or does she?
Boasting riveting performances by Moe Dunford (Game of Thrones) as the afflicted young Patrick, and the brilliant Kerry Fox as Patrick's dragon lady mother, this audacious love story from writer/director Terry McMahon provocatively explores issues ranging from the treatment afforded the mentally challenged to the question of when parental love becomes a destructive force. Exceptional cinema in every way, this is an emotionally engrossing story unlike anything else you're likely to see this year." Palm Springs International Film Festival
Set in Dublin, this beautifully made Irish love story completely captured my heart.
It is an unusual beast: a movie about delusion, deception and the power of love and intimacy to both destroy and heal
that manages to be thoughtful, heartbreaking and funny by turns.
One of the the most impressive things about the film, apart from the absolutely pitch perfect performances by all of the four leading actors, is the way the sound and visuals support the story and engage us. Light, texture, focus, silence, music and muted sound are used to brilliant effect.
Usually these kinds of stylistic devices draw attention to the film maker. Here, in the masterful hands of director Terry McMahon, his cinematographer Michael Lavelle and the rest of the production team, they do the exact opposite, drawing us ever more deeply into the characters, their dilemmas and their struggles to resolve them.
Although the narrative logic of the script falters slightly on a couple of occasions, the humor, the sheer poetry of the visuals, the superb acting and fascinating characters (like the cop who moonlights as a standup comic) made this a wonderful addition to the festival. The Desert Sun - [Palm Springs International Film Festival] [Andy Harmon]
More Than God
(9 mins, comedy) Dir:
Donal tries to catch his wife having an affair. Things go wrong. He's forced to hide under a bed where he bumps into his daughter.
Best Short - Boston Irish FF
Short Film Award - Bahamas International FF
Best Director at Rhode Island International Film Festival 2015
Goodbye Darling (11 mins, drama) Dir: Maria-Elena Doyle
Day five of the 1916 Rising; one day in the enduring love story of Irish Volunteer Michael Joseph O'Rahilly and his wife Nancy.
Part of the "After 16" initiative of the Irish Film Board
(13 mins, drama) Dir:
A lonely typographer with a cruel speech impediment but an eloquent inner voice must face his greatest fear.
Best Live-Action Short - Oscars
(12 mins, drama) Dir:
1982 Cork. Roy's 11, small, and sure he's going to get on his club's starting team. Even if no one else is.
Best Short - Irish Film and Television Awards
Best Short Drama - Galway FF
Queen of the Plough
(12 mins, documentary) Dir:
This observational documentary aims to promote and celebrate women in farming in Ireland. It follows Joanne Deery from Monaghan and Laura Grant from Offaly in the lead up to the National Ploughing Competition.
Best Documentary - Galway FF
(13 mins, drama) Dir:
Ruairi O'Brien & John Kennedy
It's a hot summer and a young inner-city boy, Donal, is trying his hand at cutting lawns for pocket money. His luck changes when he meets Gerry.
Best Irish Short - Fastnet FF
(6 mins, docu-drama) Dir:
Inspired by the Noble Call delivered at the Abbey Theatre by Irish drag queen and rights campaigner Panti Bliss, which lit the touch-paper that helped carry the marriage equality referendum just a year later.
Amnesty International Best Short Film - Isle of Wight
How Was Your Day?
(14 mins, drama) Dir:
A woman is excited about the approaching birth of her first child. Adapted from a short story by Nollaig Rowan.
Best Irish Short - Foyle FF
Best Irish Short - Indie Cork FF
Grand Jury Award - SXSW
Luke and Roger
(1 min, comedy) Dir:
A very short film about a boy and his robot friend.
Winner of the One Minute Film Festival at the Galway FF
(8 mins, animation) Dir:
Violet is the dark, cautionary tale of a young girl who despises her reflection. On the night of the school ball, tired of her abuse, Violet's reflection decides she's not going to take it anymore.
Winner Best Animation - Galway FF
(14 mins, drama) Dir:
Belfast 1972. Laurence welcomes his cousin and man-on-the-run Mickey to a party of drinking, dancing, and young love. By morning, reality catches up with them.
Part of the "After 16" initiative of the Irish Film Board
93 min - Dir: Keith Farrell with: Peter Coonan; Hugh O'Conor; Owen McDonnell; Lochlainn O'Mearain; Duncan Lacroix; Patrick Aidan Byrne; Steve McCarten; Johnny Eveson; Seán T. O'Meallaigh; Séamus Hughes; Sophie Merry; Megan Cassidy; Gina Costigan; Malachy McKenna
Focusing on two of the most ferocious battles that week on Mount Street Bridge and the area around North King Street this is the first film to tell the story from three different perspectives, showing the human cost of the fighting on all sides.
By using first hand accounts to drive the narrative, we tell the little-known stories of the 'ordinary' people involved in the Rising; Irish Volunteers, British Soldiers and the innocent civilians caught in the middle. Mixing archive footage with dramatic reconstructions and first hand accounts it takes the viewer on a journey to the very heart of the conflict, giving them an up close and personal view of the often brutal and bloody fight which affected the lives of the men and women caught up in the chaos.
90 min - Dir: Ian Power with: Peter Coonan, Orla Fitzgerald, David Murray
:: Guest Speaker: Writer Colin Murphy on Skype after the film
The Guarantee recreates the drama surrounding the most significant political decision in modern Irish history when the Irish government decided to guarantee the entire domestic banking system. The story charts the origins of that pivotal decision (four years before that fateful night), and follows developments through the peak of the boom to the beginning of the bust.
On the night of September 29th, 2008, the Irish government decided to guarantee the entire domestic banking system. That decision was made by a handful of men in a room in the middle of the night. By the time the costs can be fully counted, in another 30 years or so, it will have cost over €60 billion - the most expensive bank rescue in history. The Guarantee tells the story of that night, and what led to it. Starting four years earlier, it charts the peak of the boom and the beginning of the bust. from IFI.ie
58 min - Dir: Liam McGrath with: Dolores Keane and Tara Keane
[our first Members Evening of this Season, a Members Only event. We'll have at least one more in the Fall.]
Irish singer Dolores Keane's distinctive deep, soulful voice is loved the world over.
But Dolores' life was overshadowed for many years as she battled with alcoholism, depression and more recently, breast cancer.
Now she has re-emerged from the shadows to share her story. This landmark documentary by Scratch Films for RTÉ Arts pieces together in words, archive and classic song, the extraordinary story of one of Ireland's best-loved cultural icons.
Growing up in Caherlistrane Co. Galway, Dolores was steeped in the deep musical tradition of the area.
She first came to national prominence in 1975 as a member of De Dannann, before moving to London where she married folk musician
and singer/songwriter John Faulkner, the couple returned to Galway in 1981 and Dolores continued to perform around the country
and internationally both with Faulkner and the goup De Dannan.
In the '90s Dolores along with Eleanor McEvoy, Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Francis Black and Maura O'Connell, had a huge hit with their album "A Women's Heart" and following the album's success Dolores toured the world with her own band. However, as the pressures of living on the road and bringing up a family took its toll on Dolores, her marriage to John Faulkner ended and she became vulnerable to depression and was increasingly reliant on alcohol in the years that followed. Dolores stopped touring in recent years but has now re-emerged from the shadows to tell her story.
The film web page for A Storm in the Heart is here.