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12 Irish Movies to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Posted by Billy Gil, March 14, 2016 04:55pm | Post a Comment

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or appreciate great Irish films. Here’s a list of 12 releases we love, in no particular order. (At Amoeba Hollywood, find our St. Patrick’s day movies and music in a special section near the stairs.)

Once (2007)

This Irish musical/romantic drama stars stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as struggling musicians in Dublin who bond musically and fall in love. The film became so beloved that it was adapted in a Tony Award-winning play. If you’re in L.A., you can win tickets here to the show’s closing night at the Pantages Theatre March 20.

 

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

This fantastical drama from John Sayles tells of a young girl sent to live with her grandparents in a small Irish village near the island of Roan Inish, where selkies — seals that can become human — are rumored to reside. This combination of heart and Irish folklore makes the film a family-friendly winner.

 

Brooklyn (2015)

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My Own Personal Oscar: 11 Best Films of 2014

Posted by Charles Reece, February 23, 2015 02:18am | Post a Comment
Hohum, the Academy Awards are over for the mostly lackluster year of 2014. Here are a few gems, very few of which were celebrated or probably even noticed by those deciding on nominees. In no particular order ...

Wild Tales - Damián Szifrón

Six short short stories of vegeance that evince a Coen brothers level of comedic tension (recall the classic bag drop off scene from The Big Lebowski, for example). Pure cinematic bliss.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Matt Reeves

Aside from getting to see apes double-fisting arms on horseback, I loved the atypically depressing political message of this film. No matter how much a few individual apes and humans might strive to get over interpersonal problems, that doesn't mean shit in the overall scheme of things. For once, a Hollywood film portrays the problem of structural difference (the unbridgeable otherness of ape culture to what's left of humanity) instead of pasting some subjectivized problem over the gap that allows for a pat narrative resolution (more often than not in the form of a loving relation or the superhero's coup de grâce to the face).

Goodnight Mommy - Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

This film has the most agonized scream I've encountered since the beginning of Cries & Whispers. A parable for contemporary times that asks how much plastic surgery can a person have before she becomes someone else. Twin sons spend the duration of the film brutally experimenting on their mother to answer that question. Obviously, this one cuts too deep for the aging Academy. Skip the overhyped Babadook, Goodnight Mommy is the only dyadic familial horror film that matters.

The Duke of Burgundy - Peter Strickland

Whereas something like Fifty Shades of Grey attempts to mystify fetishism through censor-evading occlusion, Duke of Burgundy denudes its mind numbing repetitious detail. The former's trepidation (anyone over 12 can see the film in France) results in boredom, which the latter can only mock ... and without men. BDSM isn't dangerous or challenging, just kind of silly -- something the middle aged bourgeoisie do in their leisure time, because they can't get it up otherwise.

Calvary - John Michael McDonagh

Given a title like that for a story about a priest being threatened due to the sins of his church, the central theme is heavy handed enough to drive the point into the skull of any viewer. But Brendan Gleeson's character is so engaging and humane that he manages to escape all the ideological chains and wounded character cliches trying to tie him down to yet another lame social message picture about the Catholic Church. Gleeson should star in everything.

Force Majeure - Ruben Östlund

With a stringent formalism that's admirable particularly in the age of shaky cam, Östlund investigates the role of masculinity in the family unit. A man runs away from his wife and kids during an avalanche, but is too ashamed to admit it later. Thus, the setup for a tough feminist dilemma: how to distinguish patriarchal presumptions about women and children first from any moral outrage that might be felt at the father's fleeing. 

Gone Girl - David Fincher

Another interesting feminist twist last year, and one which the ideological victim wing can't stand. The smartest, most devious, most evil and all around most interesting character in a story is a woman. Actresses get so few chances to play the malevolent mastermind (even worse is that one of the rare exceptions, Disney's Maleficent, has now been retrofitted as mere victim). Together, Gillian Flynn and Rosamund Pike have created the best onscreen feminist villain since Basic Instinct. I'm sure Camille Paglia will love this film, too.

Oculus - Mike Flanagan

In a better year, this one might've not made my list, but it's definitely a cut above most of what I saw or refused to see in 2014 for it's elegant use of old fashioned in-camera trickery to destabilize the viewer's ability to determine whether the characters are hallucinating or seeing reality. The film never gets to the diegetic facts of the matter until the tragic denouement. Much eerier than the digital monsters that pop up in most horror films these days (including the aforementioned and -dismissed Babadook).

The Rover - David Michod

I imagine this dystopia is something like the horrific vision Susan Brownmiller had in mind when she wrote about 'rape culture.' Goddamn, but it's mean! It's like Mad Max with all the hope and comfort of genre tropes stripped away. Of course, it, too, is Australian. What a country.

Sabotage - David Ayer

I'm not sure it was intentional, but unlike the vast majority of macho-fascistic action fantasies, this one portrays the protagonists as the steal your lunch money assholes they would be in real life. In lieu of having you root for them, the pleasure comes from watching them eat each other alive in what amounts to a Hobbesian microcosm qua heist gone wrong film. Sabotage allows for a more real Arnold, both in terms of his wrinkles and as a summation of what type of character he tended to play back in the 80s. And given the increased diversity in such films these days, it turns out that the women who fall for these australopithecine goons ain't so nice, either.

The Raid 2 - Gareth Evans

Best director of the year award! If Michael Bay (or some other purveyor of chaos cinema) takes an Eisensteinian approach to action, Gareth Evans is the genre's Bazinian rebuttal. For example, consider the prison fight sequence in light of Bazin's much beloved Citizen Kane. The camera movement and editing are there to ground and reveal the reality of the fighting, not to have the audience infer something must've happened after the fact.

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Most of the above are available for your home viewing pleasure: The RoverDawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Raid 2, Sabotage, Oculus, Gone Girl and Force Majeure.

Non-studio posters came from: Fro Design Company, Design Dragus and Harry Movie Art