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Layer Cake (2004)
Best British flick since Trainspotting?
While not perfect, Layer Cake really surpassed my expectations. It's far superior to Snatch or Lock Stock. This is one of the best debuts i've seen in a long time. The style of the movie was just great. Cool costumes, production design, cinematography, music and great, great editing. Stays away from the whole Tarantino lovefest that Guy Ritchie goes for and seems to be inspired by the more hardcore end of gangster flick. Not very original but at least it's nicking elements from some classy gangster movies such as Carlito's Way, The Krays, Performance and Get Carter. Kind of reminded me of Gangster No. 1 but with more humour. Well worth a look, I'm sure it'll become a bit of a cult movie.
A Dublin Story (2003)
a very slick Irish short
One of the better Irish shorts I've seen in recent years. Very solidly assembled with good performances and fairly slick visuals and editing. The crisp B&W photography of inner city Dublin reminded me of the way the Parisian projects were shot in La Haine. Even the nastier parts of Dublin look great in B&W. At times the storyline seems a little bit too much like a travelogue about a part of the city but the final scene packs an unexpected emotional punch, while still being fairly subtle. Great use to music too, well integrated into the piece. It's treads the line between been gritty and sentimental without falling too far on either side and gets a fair bit of character development and visual variety into it's tightly paced 15 minute run time. Definitely worth a look.
Love Actually (2003)
Wow, things worked out REALLY well for those people, yeah?
There's an incredible amount of wish fulfillment going on in this movie, i suppose there has to be in a romantic comedy. And i did come out of the cinema feeling good. But didn't the third act go a little too far into the realm of fairytale? I prefered the slightly awkward, bittersweet tone of the middle act and would have prefered if some of the plot lines ended on a slightly more realistic note. Loved Liam Neeson's character but thought the plot line with his son was way too perfect, come on, chasing around the airport, girl coming back to kiss him, yadda, yadda, yadda. Hugh Grant was surprisingly UNannoying, loved his bit on stage; "smile, a little bow, and a wave..." the girl playing Alan Rickman's secretary was gorgeous, more of her please! And where the hell has Emma Thompson been these last few years? Her performance was great, even if her crying scene went on a little long, but i suppose that was the point... Anyhow enjoyable, funny, not as cheesy as it looked in the trailer and lots of really nice performances. 7/10, oh and Kiera Knightly really should eat something soon...
I found this movie very slow moving and ultimately boring, i only stayed until the end because i figured it was building to an interesting climax but in the end it just petered out slowly, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. The cinematography was for the most part bland and TV-like, very uninteresting visually. However I liked some of the editing ideas and the sound design was very good, a lot of the action was told only with sound as there is very little dialogue. I found it very easy to get lost in the story, a lot of the actors are very similar physically and there's not much characterization to distinguish them. The sudden bursts of violence and action were well done, and in most cases shocking and realistic, they jolted me awake occasionly, unfortunately i just didn't really get the characters and their relationships, back story etc. Maybe more will become clear if i see the other two films in the trilogy. However i can't recommend this as a stand alone film at all.
Irish film industry finally starting to 'get it'...
This is a very enjoyable movie. The most fun i've had with an Irish movie since The Commitments. It's got the right balance of grit and cheese. It's tone and accent is very Irish but the pacing and style is fairly slick and American. Well, slick and American in a low budget independant sense. It's got the feel of one of those hip, cocky Sundance movies, but set in Tallaght!
The opening scene with Colin Farrell is great, playing against the audience perception of him from his previous roles. For the next 20mins we're introduced to a bunch of other characters. There is a lot of characters to keep track of here, but you never really get too confused cuz they're played by some of the best Irish talent around and all make there own seperate little impacts. The characters are likeable and for the most part fairly realistic. I was surprised how good David Wilmot and Deirdre OKane turned out. I wasn't expecting them to have such standout roles. Cillian Murphy felt slightly miscast, he's a little too good looking to be totally convincing as a loser working in a supermarket. Colm Meany is hilarious, as a vain cop who's watched a few too many episodes of NYPD Blue or Starsky and Hutch. His obsession with the music of Clannad is one of the best running gags in the movie.
The credibilty of certain situations gets a little stretched towards the end though, tying things up a little too neatly. However most of the time the script moved at such a fast pace and with enough laughs that i wasn't really bothered by most of these problems.
I have to mention Mark O Rowe, the writer. He's quite well known as a playwright in Dublin and he certainly has is own recognisable and unique style of dialogue. In his plays he invents his own slang or exaggerates actual street slang til it sounds incredibly poetic, a bit like A Clockwork Orange. This word play is present in Intermission although it's toned down quite a bit. He throws an interesting-tongue-twister piece of dialogue in there every now and again and it's refreshingly original. "a fair few quids to be made cash-wise." There's also plenty of his eccentric little touches; the scumbag kid trying to get on TV, the wheelchair guy on the floor drinking his Guinness with a straw, the brown sauce in the tea!
Overall, a very enjoyable movie, especially if you're Irish, but it should play well in England too. Haven't got a clue what the American's will make of it though...