Next Friday is Culture Night all over the country, and there are quite a few free film activities on the roster nationwide. In Kildare's Moat Theatre, there's a screening of the documentary The End of The Counter, which looks at the arrival of self-service supermarkets to Ireland in the 1960s, while the Liffey Valley Orchestra will play a prom-style concert of music from the movies at the Orchard Home and Garden.
Meanwhile, in the IFI, Dublin, there's a free screening of the family-friendly Irish film The Boy From Mercury (1996), and there will also be free guided tours of IFI Irish Film Archive – numbers are limited, so see www.ifi.ie for details.
Dublin's Goethe Institut Ireland will have an evening of music, film, literature and art from Germany, including some Oscar-nominated German short films, while in Carlow, director Jimmy Fay and writer and filmmaker Derek O'Connor present Erich Von Stroheim's classic 1924 silent film Greed.
For all the details, see www.culturenight.ie
Q A few weeks back, Reel Life drew your attention to the first trailer for Steve McQueen's new film Twelve Years A Slave starring – dual dreamboat klaxon alert! – Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.
Well, the movie had its first screening at the Toronto Film Festival last week – and the reviews were uniformly ecstatic. Several critics declared the next Oscar race already over – with Ejiofor now heavily favoured to win Best Actor – while Fassbender looks on track to get his first Oscar nomination for playing a slave plantation owner so monstrous that he makes Django Unchained's Leonardo di Caprio look like a liberal civil rights activist.
Q Twelve Years is one of the most high-profile movies featured in the line-up for this year's BFI London Film Festival, the programme for which was launched last week.
Reel Life has been covering that festival for the last few years, but the 2013 itinerary is the strongest I've seen yet. Other highly-anticipated films playing include the Irish-set comedy-drama Philomena (another huge critical and popular hit in Toronto), the sci-fi spectacular Gravity, the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, two wildly different Tom Hanks vehicles, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks, and Locke, starring Tom Hardy. The festival runs October 9-20 if you plan on being in town for it.
Q Finally, Richard Curtis's latest comedy About Time started last week and, as tends to happen with Curtis, several critics gave him an almighty kicking. He won't be too bothered by detractors though, as he explained to Reel Life a few weeks back.
"It was only really when Love Actually came out that people started being vaguely interested in thinking about my films as to do with me," he said.
"I got away until then with them being about Hugh [Grant] or Julia [Roberts].
"In a way, that film was meant to be an exaggeration, as it was 10 love stories. I didn't agree with the critics, but I could see that was the film to turn on. I think I was a bit shaken by Love Actually but in retrospect it was one of my most popular films. I think now maybe the critics weren't right and I do find people watch my movies quite a lot. I think they make people comfortable so, if I was very doubtful, I've regained faith and I don't worry about it as much."