Side Door Cinema

Dazed and Confused

Posted by in Musings, Reviews, Sidedoor

Looking back on Noah Baumbach’s ‘Kicking and Screaming’. More episodic than Frances Ha and less acidic than the Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach’s debut as director established the template of his oeuvre. In Kicking and Screaming he takes us back to the immediate aftermath of graduation where everyone wonders ‘what next?’ Released in 1995, having already made a splash at Sundance, we find our four protagonists stuck in that frozen ennui between college and the real world. Those on the outside such as Eric Stoltz’s character Chet don’t want to leave that life…read more

Torn by Tarantino

Posted by in Musings, Reviews

Any regular cinema-goer will have been acutely aware for some time that ‘The 8th film from Quentin Tarantino’ was out this month. This was another western (following on from Django Unchained) and so I settled down with a fair idea of what I was going to get. It was a violent, dark, bloated, ensemble western with a lot of bloodshed and even more talking. Samuel Jackson once again proved what a magnetic screen presence he can be and Walton Goggins finally has a role to showcase his talents. Only Tarantino can get…read more

Five favourites from last year

Posted by in Reviews, Sidedoor

2015 was another fine year of film with some huge box office hits helping global cinemas pull in record revenues. As always there were surprises, disappointments and a few treasures. Here’s a list of some favourites released last year: 1. Birdman  Winning best picture at last year’s Oscars, this is the story of a faded Hollywood star struggling to regain fame by producing a new Broadway play. There’s a fair chance that Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárrituj could repeat the feat with new film The Revenant already scooping big at this year’s Golden Globes. Everything about Birdman is brilliant:…read more

A knight in shimmering armour

Posted by in Musings, Sidedoor

I stumbled across Lasse Hallstrom’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? sometime in early 1999.  The circumstances are still quite vivid: arriving back to my empty student house on a Sunday evening, I turned to the Culture magazine of the Sunday Times.  The aforementioned film was on the listings for that evening and I can still clearly recall the blurb… What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).  Johnny Depp.  Whimsical drama. I had never heard of the film but it became apparent later on that it had been well received and Leonardo Di Caprio gained…read more

Two masters: the Dardenne brothers

Posted by in Foreign film, Sidedoor

Only seven filmmakers have been awarded the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Few have featured as prominently as Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Each of their seven films to date could be justly described as a masterpiece and their name comes with a guarantee of quality. Yet they have regularly been accused of only making one type of film; something they do not necessarily refute themselves. So what is it about these elusive siblings that have established the Dardenne brand as a major force in cinema? They…read more

21st century cinema

Posted by in Foreign film, Sidedoor

A few years ago I was pretty ill. Bedridden and couch-ridden for the best part of two months, I began to look for something new to read in between those horrible episodes of sickness. I came across a lead article in a particular issue of Sight and Sound magazine called ’21st Century Cinema’. It was essentially a survey of the key trends and movements in the preceding cinematic decade, finishing with their top 10 films. Off the bat, I didn’t necessarily agree with their list and in actual fact this…read more

Discovering more

Posted by in Musings, Sidedoor

Over the past year I have been taking time to listen closer to those who craft the drama I enjoy. I have discovered the world of audio commentary. And it has been a revelation. Normally found in the extras or special features section the audio commentary often offers the chance to re-watch a full-length episode with a commentary. In essence we’re invited to listen in on a conversation with some of the passionate and creative people involved in the production.  We’re invited to listen in on a conversation. This new appreciation…read more

Take your flunky and dangle

Posted by in Reviews, Sidedoor

The crime drama has been an ever-present throughout cinema. Its durability is a testament to our love of good and bad, deception, redemption, crime and punishment. The film noirs of the 1930s and 1940s have their own rhythm but no crime film transcends genre quite like Miller’s Crossing by Joel and Ethan Coen. It doesn’t seem to know whether it is a gangster picture or a film noir. Maybe both. Maybe neither. But it doesn’t matter. This film, undoubtedly the Coen’s finest, is the greatest gangster film of them all….read more

Six films in the diary

Posted by in Sidedoor

2015 has a movie agenda bigger than any in recent memory. It is a year of the biggest tent-pole releases imaginable. Pages upon pages will be dedicated to Avengers 2, Spectre, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mockingjay Part 2, a little something called Star Wars… to name but a few. Enough will be written about each of these. There are many other releases scheduled that may slip under the radar but might just prove to be the real triumphs. I am going to tentatively suggest six that may be worth keeping…read more

Some films won’t let go easily

Posted by in Sidedoor

Some films won’t let go easily. They pierce and resonate; asking questions, stirring emotions and sometimes even provoking responses long after the credits roll. Two films released last year that fall into this category for me are Calvary and Short Term 12. Both are low budget, independent films that punch hard and above their weight. Calvary is a profound Irish commentary from writer and director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard). It’s a dark comedy drama that offers a troubling moral and theological investigation. Brendan Gleeson, who gives a fierce central…read more