‘Doctor Strange’ Decorates a Shaky Plot With Visual Delights: Review

The newest instalment in the MCU, which sees Benedict Cumberbatch as its latest hero, can’t quite overcome its narrative contrivances with mind-bending visuals.

By Orla Smith

Who needs LSD when you’ve got ‘Doctor Strange’? The MCU’s (That’s Marvel Cinematic Universe for you uninitiated) latest offering takes you into the mirror dimension, or whatever it’s called, promising a visual experience like no other (except for maybe ‘Inception’?).

2016 Oscar Predictions: October Edition

‘La La Land’

By Orla Smith

For this October edition of Oscar predictions, something has changed: I’ve seen some of the contenders. Well, only two of the heavy hitters, but they’re big ones. Catching ‘La La Land’ and ‘Manchester By the Sea’ at the London Film Festival has helped in some ways, but I suppose in others it presents a kind of bias in making these predictions that I’ve tried my best to avoid. In reality, the likelihood that Kenneth Lonergan will get a director nomination is by no means certain, but if he doesn’t it’ll be a travesty, and I have to believe that voters will see that. As for ‘La La Land’… it’s every bit the crowd pleaser that you’d expect, and it’s hard to believe that Academy members won’t go for it in their droves.

‘The Accountant’ Revisits An Old Formula From A New Angle Review

‘Warrior’ director Gavin O’Connor returns with this new Ben Affleck vehicle, whose autistic hitman hero provides an interesting new perspective on old tropes.

By Orla Smith

Why is it that all the best blockbusters are coming out in autumn? Between this and ‘Deepwater Horizon’, this past summer didn’t have to be as bad as it was, but I suppose Hollywood was saving the best of the action genre for the end of the year. ‘The Accountant’ is no masterpiece, but it’s certainly a whole lot of a better ‘Jason Bourne’ than ‘Jason Bourne’.

‘I, Daniel Blake’ Delivers the Truth With Anger and Emotion: Review

Ken Loach’s latest Palme d’Or winner is a vital piece of filmmaking that, while flawed, brings tears and outrage.

By Orla Smith

Amidst talk of this year being the best Cannes film festival in over a decade, there was some shock when it was announced that ‘I, Daniel Blake’, a film that had shown early to modest acclaim and then been mostly forgotten, took home the Palme d’Or (the festival’s top prize). I myself have only, as of yet, seen three of the films that were in contention, and while ‘American Honey’ is a greater achievement, and a film that I probably prefer, I actually don’t find it hard to see why ‘I, Daniel Blake’ triumphed. With the jury separated from the critical noise surrounding the fest, allowed to let these individual films sink in on their own merits, it’s easy to fathom why something like this might’ve sat well all around. A small but defiant snapshot of working-class British life, it’s a film that lingers in the heart and mind.

‘All This Panic’ Captures Being a Teenage Girl With Truthful Grace: LFF Review

Jenny Gage’s documentary builds a portrait of girlhood that’s honest and ultimately moving.

By Orla Smith

There’s a constant cry for movies to be more realistic, less Hollywoodised if you will, but at the same time it’s hard for utter authenticity to be achieved without a measure of tedium. In film, you cut out the boring bits and go for the meat of the story, the moments that mean something. In ‘All This Panic’, director Jenny Gage’s intimate documentary, that’s not exactly the formula that’s abided by. If the film adds up to anything, it’s this idea of poignancy in life as a collective, built up thing.

‘Manchester By the Sea’ Is A Quietly Devastating Masterpiece: LFF Review

Kenneth Lonergan’s latest sees Casey Affleck give a career-defining performance which, like the film around him, thrives in its subtle authenticity.

By Orla Smith

Every movie has to be set somewhere. Sometimes that location is just a placeholder, but other times it can mean more; it can feel merged with the marrow and soul and of the story is some deep and often intangible way. When the setting is the title of your film, that should most certainly be the case. When it comes to ‘Manchester By the Sea’, this remote seaside town in which everybody seems to know everybody else isn’t simply another insignificant narrative choice. It’s a part of the film’s DNA. Waves lap gently against the shore, seagulls swoop overhead, and as they move perpetually and thoughtlessly forward with each easy flap of a wing, they seem so blissfully unaware of the pain that stalls the people below them in their tracks.