Monday 21 October 2019

Movie reviews: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jeune Femme, Filmworker, Deadpool 2, Citizen Lane

Solo - A Star Wars Story
Solo - A Star Wars Story
Citizen Lane

Reviews of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jeune Femme, Filmworker, Deadpool 2

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Your average film is not a story that needs to be told so accusations that this, the backstory of one of the most iconic screen characters ever, didn't need to be told are daft. It's just that anything to do with Star Wars has not only to be a good film, but a good Star Wars film. A mixed bag in itself. This is a prequel, how Han Solo got his name, met his wookie and found the Millennium Falcon and, after a wobbly start it works fairly well on both levels with enough for SW geeks and non geeks alike.

It has to be daunting for an actor to play a younger version of an icon, doubly so when there is a director change during production. Creative differences meant Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ceded directorial duties to Ron Howard.

Alden Ehrenreich takes some time to settle in to his role as Han Solo but he does it, managing to avoid mimicry of Harrison Ford. We meet him first on the planet Corellia where he and love interest Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) are separated.

Three years later, as a minion of the Empire and still dreaming of going back to rescue Qi'ra, he hooks up with jaded mercenaries played by Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau (in CGI). A mission goes wrong and they end up indebted to criminal boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) in whose company they find Qi'ra, who didn't need saving after all. Another mission ensues.

It pulls together with action from the get go and plenty of humour. Where it works less well is in the chemistry between Qi'ra and Han. Parsec experts should be happy, but so too should the uninitiated, and young kids will enjoy the non-stop action.

★★★ Aine O'Connor

Jeune Femme

Club Cert; Now showing

One of the great strengths of renowned French filmmaker Claire Denis is that her films are like portraits, great detailed studies, usually of women, at a particular moment in their life.

Leonor Serraille's debut as writer/director has that same quality - respecting the audience's intelligence, she creates a complex character through layers of detail.

The Denis comparison however is in no way to undermine that Serraille's film is very much her own, told in her own style and about her own generation.

It is both specific and universal, a personal story that raises broader questions given life through a wonderful performance by Laetitia Dosch.

Paula (Dosch) is 31 and has just come out of a long-term relationship with Joachim (Gregoire Monsaingeon), her former teacher whose current success as a photographer is based on a photo of Paula.

Unceremoniously dumped, she loses all sense of herself and goes slightly mad.

She has burned a lot of bridges with friends and family, so effectively finds herself starting from scratch. She survives because she must and in doing so finds that the goal that kept her going in the beginning is not necessarily what she wants. It also raises broader questions about the meaning of freedom.

An interesting and not always likeable character, Paula makes a great lead. There's no clear timeline, just progress, and it's told well and with humour.

★★★★★ Aine O'Connor


Cert: 15A; Now showing IFI

Leon Vitali thought he had made his breakthrough when he was cast in the role of Lord Bullingdon in Stanley Kubrick's sprawling 1975 period epic Barry Lyndon.

By the end of that shoot, on location in Ireland, Vitali was so enamoured with Kubrick that he gave up his pursuit of an acting career and joined Kubrick's production team, eventually becoming the great director's right-hand man.

You had to be made of certain stuff to survive working with the furiously demanding Kubrick. A Gordon Ramsay-type figure (in Vitali's own words), Kubrick insisted on overseeing every minute detail of his productions, from the score to the dialogue to the marketing. As a result, Vitali sacrificed much of his family life to work long into the wee hours on and off set on projects such as The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.

Tony Zierra's spunky and well- assembled documentary will be vital for Kubrick completists but also delivers in its own right as a study of a real character who applied grit and determination to a starry-eyed idealism that remains to this day.

★★★★ Hilary A White

Deadpool 2

Cert: 16; Now showing

Against a relatively meagre budget, for a Marvel film, of $58m, Deadpool did enormous business in 2016 by bursting the swollen pomposity of the spandex-clad genre and inserting irreverence, bad behaviour and a devil-may-care humour that wasn't afraid to turn both barrels on itself. Producer, co-writer, star and pillar of the franchise Ryan Reynolds and director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) don't monkey with the winning formula for this second outing for Marvel's "mercenary with a mouth". And with the world currently on its knees before the hulking grandeur of Avengers: Infinity War, it feels somewhat agreeable that the next release bearing the Marvel tag is an adult-rated middle finger to such imperiousness.

Deadpool (Reynolds), AKA Wade, comes across a young mutant boy (Julian Dennison) with destructive powers who is the target of a time-travelling assassin called Cable (Josh Brolin, who, oddly, also stars in Infinity War). Cable believes the boy will one day wreak havoc on the world. Wade wants to protect the troubled lad and hires mutant all-sorts to help.

Don't be fooled by this civilised plot outline. Deadpool 2 is mostly a litany of violence, off-colour gags and enough fourth-wall breaks to make you wonder if it's possible for a comedy film to be too self-aware. If you hated the first outing, steer clear. If you didn't, you'll love it. Zazie Beetz and Morena Baccarin co-star.

★★★★ Hilary A White

Citizen Lane

Citizen Lane

Cert: G; Selected cinemas

"Hard to fathom and difficult not to adore," was how artist William Orpen described Hugh Lane, art collector and patron, who a century ago battled to open a modern art gallery that would put Dublin on the world map.

Awful title aside, Citizen Lane is a sumptuous docudrama that sees writer Mark O'Halloran (Adam & Paul, Viva) and director Thaddeus O'Sullivan address Orpen's first point by bringing to life a name over a gallery door with elegance, wit and academic rigour. Plus ca change. Lane, a stately Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, has philistinism, nationalist dogma and even a housing crisis halting progress on his quest to find a suitable home for his collection. Essential viewing for anyone seeking a better understanding of our complex capital city.

★★★★ Hilary A White

Sunday Independent

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