Much to our excitement, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (otherwise known as JDIFF) is on the horizon.
And from the wealth of excellent-looking films on show, we’ve undertaken the difficult task of selecting one highlight per day (excluding the first Thursday, when only one film is showing).
So from the documentary-maker par excellence, Alex Gibney, to the enticing prospect of the surprise film, we bring you the best the festival has to offer over the course of its 10 and a half days (from February 14-24).
Disclaimer: we have not seen most of these films, so don’t come crying to us if they in fact turn out to be rubbish.
Friday: Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God (6pm)
Alex Gibney films are generally not to be missed. The director won the Academy Award for Best Documentary with Taxi To The Dark Side in 2007, and his latest feature, Silence In The House Of God, has also been shortlisted for the prestigious accolade. Early reviews suggest Gibney has come up with an original and insightful take on the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, meaning it is likely to be one of the festival’s earliest and most controversial highlights.
Saturday: Blind Chance (1.15pm)
Blind Chance tends to get overlooked when it comes to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s oeuvre, in favour of more high-profile works such as the Three Colours trilogy and A Short Film About Killing. This highly controversial film, which was banned upon its 1982 release owing to its anti-establishment political undertones, involves a protagonist who is allowed to sample three possible future lives from three different perspectives. And not only was it one of the director’s most underrated films, it also inspired a loose Hollywood remake in the form of Sliding Doors.
Sunday: Shampoo (12pm)
From the age-defying romance of Harold and Maude to the story of a simpleton-cum-respected-politician in Being There, it’s clear that Hal Ashby and his films practically invented Wes Anderson. Shampoo is no exception to his consistently quirky body of work. Ostensibly the story of a dim hairdresser whose main intention is to sleep with as many women is possible, the film doubles as a wry political commentary with its Nixon references and observations on ’60s hedonism. The fact that the film was a huge success financially (it accumulated the fourth highest cinema earnings of 1975 behind only Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) illustrates how it managed to hit a nerve with the contemporaneous generation it portrayed.
Monday: Rebellion (6.20pm)
Mathieu Kassovitz made a significant impact on the world of cinema with his stunning 1995 effort, La Haine. His subsequent directorial efforts have, however, failed to live up to the promise of his exhilarating visual poem concerning French street violence. That is, until now, it seems, with Rebellion billed as being a return to form for Kassovitz. Based on the memoirs of a counter-terrorism expert, the film concerns a police station that is taken hostage by a band of Kanak separatists on the French colony of New Caledonia. Compared to The Hurt Locker given its ability to evoke the tension of warfare, Rebellion is a clear stand out among Monday’s list of films.
Tuesday: Like Someone in Love (6.05pm)
From the provocative Ten to the poetic The Wind Will Carry Us, Abbas Kiarostami’s reputation as a legend of Iranian cinema is well earned. Like Someone in Love sounds like a companion piece to the director’s previous film, Certified Copy, which seemed to be somewhat of a departure for a filmmaker not renowned for making romantic comedies. Yet, given that it focuses on the subversive relationship between an elderly professor and a young student, it hardly represents a director who is intent on going soft or reverting to convention in his old age.
Wednesday: Post Tenebras Lux (3.45pm)
Carlos Reygadas is someone whose work tends to divide audiences and critics alike and early reviews of Post Tenebras Lux (‘After Darkness, Light’) indicate it’s likely to provoke similarly mixed reactions. However, those willing to be challenged and anyone with a taste for experimental cinema would be best advised to keep their afternoon free on February 20, owing to the screening of another highly elliptical work from the same filmmaker who made the beautifully shot Japon and the Martin Scorsese-championed Silent Light.
Thursday: The Look of Love (6.15pm)
Having risen to fame on the back of his ingenious Alan Partridge character, Steve Coogan has often struggled to emulate his TV success ever since. However, clearly, he enjoys a special chemistry with British director Michael Winterbottom. The duo teamed up for the comedic actor’s two most artistically successful movies so far – 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. And they seem to have struck gold again with The Look of Love – a biography of English entrepreneur and real-estate developer Paul Raymond, who opened London’s first strip club in 1958.
Friday: Stoker (9pm)
Nicole Kidman and Park Chan-wook (of Oldboy fame) team up to enable Wentworth Miller’s much-hyped script to finally become a reality. Its plot focuses on a young woman whose strange uncle integrates into the family’s life following the death of her father. And unsurprisingly given the talent involved, the film has been unanimously lauded by the lucky few who’ve seen it so far, invoking favourable comparisons to both Hitchcock and Polanski in the process.
Saturday: The Killing (1.30pm)
Made before Kubrick’s more lauded films, The Killing nonetheless illustrates his directorial flair in abundance, and in particular, his masterful use of light. Lacking the superior budget as well as the sense of gravitas attached to his later larger-scale projects, it remains a compelling noir revolving around an experienced criminal who is intent on undertaking one last racetrack-set heist, and features a sterling performance from, ahem, Sterling Hayden.
Sunday: Surprise film (5pm)
This one could obviously go either way and there is a small chance you will be left miserably wishing to leave the theatre almost immediately after sitting down. But then again, this sense of fear/excitement is the whole point of Sunday’s surprise film. Moreover, choices in the past have generally proven to be quite astute, so here’s hoping the festival once again maintains its record in that regard this year.