Saturday 3 December 2016

Runway tale is a happy landing

Padraic McKiernan, Aine O'Connor, Hilary A White

Published 12/06/2011 | 05:00

HEART-LIFTING TALE: Jamie
Kierans and Demian Bichir
HEART-LIFTING TALE: Jamie Kierans and Demian Bichir

The Runway Cert: PG: A private jet makes an emergency landing in Mallow Racecourse in 1983.

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The locals, having affectionately embraced its Mexican pilot, lay a runway to allow for take-off five weeks later. The story makes national news, thus securing a place on Reeling In the Years. Three decades on, the real-life fairy tale is inspiring a superbly judged debut by young Irish writer/director Ian Power.

In fictional Dromoleen, nine-year-old Paco (Jamie Kierans) lives with his single mother (Kerry Condon). By day, he runs amok with best pal Frogs (John Carpenter), and learns Spanish by night in preparation to meet his estranged Iberian father. When a mysterious aircraft comes down one night, Paco runs to the scene to find a dazed and confused Colombian called Ernesto (Demian Bichir) clambering from the wreck. Without a word of English, Ernesto is adopted and smuggled home.

Once his cover is amusingly blown, he and Paco -- now Ernesto's self-appointed and less-than-precise translator -- are brought before a town meeting. The stranded cigar-smoker offers the downtrodden village a PR opportunity, and the community quickly undergoes a new lease of life as it bands together to get the plane fixed and tarmac laid.

Quirky, cheeky and full of heart, The Runway has "future Christmas Day classic" written all over it. As hilarious young scamps with old tongues, Kierans and Carpenter are part of a brilliantly devised assortment of local caricatures. Power's Ireland is one where Travellers read the Financial Times, pirate DJs are cherished and even rainy days have a golden bloom about them.

HAW

Now showing

The Messenger

Cert 15A

HAVING served as a combat paratrooper in the Israeli army, writer/director Oren Moverman brings an insider's sensibility to his striking feature debut. Starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, this compelling piece focuses on the US Army's casualty notification team, which is charged with informing next-of-kin their loved ones are dead.

Foster takes the role of Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, an injured Iraq veteran whose struggles with post-traumatic stress are exacerbated when he is transferred to the unit for the final three months of his military enrolment. He comes under the tutelage of Captain Tony Stone (Harrelson), an emotionally crippled time-bomb, whose method of dealing with the harrowing demands of the day job is to stick rigidly to protocol.

Powerful scenes ensue as this mismatched pair travel through small-town America, knocking on doors to divulge the news that loved ones dread. These scenes brilliantly portray an aspect of war rarely depicted. Many of these interactions were improvised, with neither Foster nor Harrelson being informed how their fellow actors would react. This approach brings both an intimate documentary feel and a breathtaking starkness to proceedings.

Harrelson got a deserved Oscar nomination, while Foster is also masterful. The Messenger loses its way a little in the second half but remains a riveting piece.

PMcK

Showing from Friday

Honey 2

Cert PG

MUSIC video director Bille Woodruff made his feature debut in 2003 with Honey, a cheesy story of dancing through adversity with Jessica Alba in the title role. It did OK at the box office and now he is revisiting Honey's territory, without Honey.

The only main returning cast member is Lonette McKee as Honey's mother, foster mother to reformed little-bit-bad girl Maria (Katerina Graham). Maria is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, which means avoiding her old dance crew, but dance is her life, so she hooks up with another crew and they practise lots for a TV competition. Guess who they're against.

Clearly I am not the demographic that Honey 2 is going for, but, even so, it's just not good. The whole dance-off thing is borderline comic, the cameos, Audrina Patridge and Mario Lopez, underwhelming and in short it's too long and predictable.

AOC

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X-Men: First Class

Cert 12A

X-Men: First Class came with a lot on its plate. It had to offer plausible raisons d'etre for characters and plots while boosting the X-Men franchise's fortunes. The story is wedged between Nazi concentration camps and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

In 1942, young Erik is in a concentration camp while young Charles Xavier discovers a blue girl in his kitchen. By 1962 they are grown up, Erik (Michael Fassbender) into an angry young man seeking revenge on his Nazi tormentor now called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) into a professor and the blue girl into a blue woman, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence).

Each has a different mutation that draws interest from CIA agent Moira (Rose Byrne), via which they end up uniting with other genetic mutants in a fight against Shaw who is looking, along with telepath Emma Frost (January Jones) and a couple of other mutants, to rule a post-nuclear-holocaust world.

Lots of ground to cover, which means that the film is more talk than action. Directed by Matthew Vaughn who co-wrote it with Jane Goldman and the team behind Thor, the use of actory actors, McAvoy and Fassbender in the lead roles works well, adding a nuance that such a plot-heavy film needs.

It's too long by about 15 minutes, and short on humour, but as a story it works and is accessible to X-Men newbies.

AOC

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Kaboom

Cert: 16

ACID hallucinations, sexual awakening, a shoegaze soundtrack -- yep, it's business as usual for barmy LA director/writer Gregg Araki.

Kaboom follows the exploits of a group of US college-going orgasm addicts but also lands us with some hokum about a new-world order, supernatural events and the end of the world. It all revolves around Smith (Thomas Dekker), your average, slightly emo, bi-sexual 18-year-old. He receives anonymous notes and comes across faces and objects that have been inhabiting a mysterious recurring dream of his.

Before long, Smith is being chased about campus by dark figures in animal masks and struggling to separate hallucination from reality. This occurs in between a variety of confusing bedbound excursions. Meanwhile, his best pal is too-cool-for-school lesbian Stella (Hayley Bennett). She ends up getting it on with a French witch who exacts supernatural revenge when Stella dumps her. Like Donnie Darko for the "whatever" generation, Araki's film weds hormonal disarray with conspiracy on a global scale.

You'll leave the cinema scratching your head as to what exactly has just taken place over Kaboom's 83 minutes, yet it's oddly comforting that nutters such as Araki are skirting the fringes of popular cinema.

HAW

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