Upcoming alternative film nights Dublin

We’re now well and truly into Blockbuster season with Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Fast 6, Star Trek 2 having released to gigantic box office figures across the globe.

As much as I enjoy blockbusters I find it hard to comment on them, either being swept away by the awesome special effects, let down by my own over excitement because the previous film in the franchise was so great, or irritated by general lack of a plot or acting of any substance. That said I will be going to see a whole lot of films over the summer and expect to enjoy most of them for sheer escapism alone. What I won’t be doing is watching all the clips and trailers, or reading reviews so as to spoil them for myself.

But if Blockbusters aren’t really your thing then I thought maybe you might appreciate some alternatives to the multiplex. You don’t have to wait until the Autumn to get your fix of alternative films. So what is going on filmwise across Dublin in the upcoming weeks, both outdoors and indoors?

Alternative Movie Nights May 24th

Alternative Movie Nights

Slum Cinema present the double bill : Teeth and Rubber @Hendrons Building, Upper Dominick Street, Dublin 7. May 29th. Starts at 8pm, doors at 7:30pm.

Cost: Donation rather than an entrance fee (also has a BYOB policy with free popcorn).

What is Slum Cinema? Slum Cinema operates on the basis that certain amounts of people appreciate badly made movies. Over the past year or so, it has hosted cult gems such as 1963’s The Sadist (cinematography by, no less, Vilmos Zsigmond, who went on to work on The Deer Hunter and Close Encounters of the Third Kind ), 1962’s Eegah(tagline: “the crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teenage girl ”), 1974’sFemale Trouble (“Where do these people come from? Where do they go when the sun goes down?” asked movie critic Rex Reed in his critique of the movie’s actors and director/writer, John Waters) and 1971’s Vampyros Lesbos (the soundtrack of which includes a tune titled The Lions and the Cucumber ). *Info from Irish Times.


This is the IMDB synopsis: still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a physical advantage when she becomes the object of male violence. Use your imagination.

I love the tagline: “Every Rose Has Its Thorns”.

Teeth is directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, whose exhibition I recently visited at the Tate Modern in London) and stars Jess Weixler (in recent episodes of The Good Wife).


Rubber is the story of Robert the tire who, after becoming enlightened to his telepathic powers ,goes on a murdering rampage. Sounds a little different to Pixar’s Cars.

Grindhouse Dublin

What is Grindhouse Dublin? Serving up a selection of classic or rarely screened films that graced movie theatres on New York’s 42nd Street Grindhouse Dublin will take place exclusively in Light House Cinema Smithfield on the last Friday of the month. Films will commence at 10:30pm but there will be drinks and merriment from 9 in the Light House Cinema Bar.

They haven’t yet announced the film for next Friday but watch their Facebook page for updates.

Hollywood Babylon -June 15th

What is Hollywood Babylon? Roughly speaking- movies best seen after Midnight, in company and with beer. Curated guest screenings, re-imagined film posters by some of our favourite artists and designers, intervals, trashy trailers, cigarette girls…

I recently went to a screening of An American Werewolf in London. It was hilarious! The trailers were fantastic, and there was birthday cake.

Anyway Hollywood Bablyon has put together a programme of films from 1984, including Purple Rain, Revenge of The Nerds, Dune, Terminator and more. See The Light House Cinema page for more info.

Purple Rain screens on June 15th

Workman’s Den Cinema Club

Another film club, this time at The Workman’s Club. They will screen a fillm on the first tuesday of the month, every month! And its FREE!!!

Everyone that comes has an opportunity to choose the following month’s film – everyone writes their name and their choice and at the end of the evening a draw will be made!

Again no info as yet but keep watching their Facebook page for info.

The Sugar Club

Top Gun: Tuesday May 28th 8pm screening, tickets €7/8 available from Entertainment.ie

We’ve all seen it so it doesn’t really need an introduction.  Here’s the trailer

If you haven’t seen it then you should go. As The Sugar Club says enjoy the heart-pounding combination of action, 80s music, and incredible aerial photography on the big screen.

I wouldn’t be Tom Cruise’s biggest fan post Cocktail but after hearing he did his own stunts for MI4 I was won over. Just imagine hanging off the Khalifa Tower in Dubai…ropes or no ropes that is still some feat.

In saying that Tom Cruise can’t climb up sheer rock, with no ropes!! Saw a short film on Alex Holland, a free climber, at the Banff Mountain International Film Festival.  Alex Holland has climbed the three peaks of Yosemite National Park, 95% of which was done without ropes. Now that is crazy!

Alex Holland Free Climber

I also Iove The Sugar Club. Why? It’s a fantastic venue! I recently went there to see Bonnie and Clyde as one of their Film Fatale evenings. They had constructed cocktails to match the evening’s film, hired a band of the era and encouraged people to dress up in theme. So much fun!

I also went there two Sundays ago to Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival.  It was a very artsy Sunday having started out at an exhibition called This Situation at IMMA at NCH. Although nominated for a Turner Prize I personally didn’t enjoy it for a number of reasons: the room was so echoey it was difficult to hear what the actors / participants were saying, one of the participants sounded like David Mitchell from Peep Show so I found it hard to take seriously, and they kept repeating what they were saying. Having studied quite a lot about Situationism whilst doing my undergraduate in French and European Studies and then again doing a thesis on the psychogeography of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange I just wasn’t that drawn into the situation. Apparently my friend’s friend spent two hours in there, which just goes to show we’re all interested in different things. 

Anyway between the exhibition at IMMA and then cycling between Visit 2013 (a weekend event which will see artist’s studios organisations all over Dublin city opening their doors to the public) it was a busy Sunday. I didn’t get to see the Drama shorts at Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival but was there for the Documentary, Experimental & Thriller and most enjoyably for me the Animation Shorts. These were my favourites from the day…but hey I’m biased as I love Animation, particularly Stop Motion Animation.

Cosmo New Year

My Strange Grandfather

Bear Me was also fantastic, as was Dome, both of which won prizes on the day.

There are some fantastic shorts of all kinds on Vimeo if you have enough time to look around. I’ve started to make my own scrapbook of these on Pinterest.

Film Fatale: June 7th


The screening is again sold out but you can still attend the after party, a 1940s summer party mirroring the style of the film, with performances from 40s sweethearts harmony trio The Bugle Babes following Film Fatale’s resident DJs, The Andrews Sisters’ Brothers, who will be playing dance floor fillers from the 20s to 60s. The audience is invited to help set the scene by dressing in their vintage finest, paying homage to 1940s or mirroring the stars of the film Cary Grant or the stunning Ingrid Bergman.

Film Fatale: The Pavillion in Cork, Friday June 21st

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Who doesn’t love this film?

The screening will be followed by a party, á la Brothers Golightly, with Film Fatale’s resident DJs, The Andrews Sisters’, who will play an exclusive set inspired by the movie. As always
The audience is invited to help set the scene by dressing up in their vintage finest, paying homage to the high fashion and mod style of the film, emulating Audrey Hepburn or one of her many dashing suitors.

Find out more about Film Fatale Events on Facebook

Outdoor Cinema

Happenings at Fitzwilliam Square

It feels like ages ago but I went to the screening of The Big Lebowski in Fitzwilliam Square at the beginning of the month. I didn’t make it to The Lion King on the Docks but can’t wait for the next screening…whenever that may be. Keep watching the Happenings Facebook page for updates. They’ll give a couple of days notice for the next event, but whether pending that date could change. It is Ireland after all.

Outdoor Cinema – Up & The Big Lebowski

I may not have written a blog entry for a while but I have actually been quite busy watching films. It has been a super busy ten days between going to London, down to Hastings (where some of BYZANTIUM was filmed) and sitting in front of a cinema screen…be it indoors or on / under a blanket outdoors.

Since last Thursday I’ve seen:

UP @ Meeting House Square

STOP MAKING SENSE @ Light House Cinema

THE BIG LEBOWSKI @ Fitzwilliam Square


Shock horror I have yet to see IRON MAN but am waiting to watch it on IMAX. Will have to fit that in sometime next week, between going to STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS late Wednesday / early Thursday at The Light House Cinema. Party beforehand! I can’t wait! I have it on good faith that it is amazeBALLS!!

For this post I’ll concentrate on the Outdoor Screenings, will have to follow up with the other films.



I love going to see films in Meeting House Square and thankfully won tickets with the Sunday Star Times to go see UP last Thursday. I’d never seen it before. Not quite sure how, think it was one of the few films that I actually wanted to see in 3D (not a massive fan of 3D – although I will be watching STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS in 3D. As I said apparently it is amazeballs. Last 3D film I watched was Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE) but when I missed it because I was too busy working never bothered. It was so cute! My friend actually teared up a little in the opening few minutes. Probably shouldn’t say that…don’t want to embarrass her. Oh well!

UP at Meeting House Square Temple Bar
UP at Meeting House Square Temple Bar

I’d been to an open air cinema in Meeting House Square earlier in the year, actually on Valentine’s Day and the Opening night of JDIFF (meant missing the Opening Film, BROKEN, at the festival. I made the After Party though) and watched BRIEF ENCOUNTERS with my minion (my niece) and a few friends. Not sure why but found it colder last Thursday than I did back in February…perhaps was less prepared thinking that it was actually Spring. My only complaint of the screenings are that I wish there were more paid tickets because it is a bit of a pain having to enter to win tickets to the screening. You can’t really plan your week around a maybe. That said I love the Happenings screenings, perhaps it is because they are actually outdoors that they have to be so unplanned.


Slight diversion but I have my iPod on shuffle right now and this song just came on. Love it!

And to continue with this distraction I never got to the Bowie exhibition in London at The Victoria and Albert Museum. It does run until August 11th though so I should get over to London again before then. I did make it to the Lichtenstein exhibition at The Tate Modern…finally.

Lichtenstein Mmaybe - Tate Modern
Lichtenstein Mmaybe – Tate Modern

I was originally supposed to go to that way back in February. I love graphic design and the Lichtenstein was full of bold brash primary colours. I know some may argue that his pieces are mere replications of other people’s work but I enjoyed it. Some amazing bigger pieces and of course all those dots. Think I have a bit of a thing for dots, repetition, primary colours, and specifically yellow. I wrote about colour in general in a previous post on the cyborg (a man who sees colour through hearing sound waves) and yellow in relation to subtitles in Tarantino’s films. Dots – something to do with perfections and imperfections…also a room in the Lichtenstein exhibition. Last exhibition I saw at the Tate Modern was Yayoi Kusama – also a fan of dots. Dotty!

Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama

I love the Tate Modern. Where else can you see Rothko, Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro and heaps more for free? Even though I paid for the Lichtenstein exhibition it is always in the free rooms that you make the most interesting discoveries. Natalya GoncharovaIbrahim el-SalahiFrancis Picabia and Yves Tanguy.

I also made it to the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House. Having read about it before in The Guardian and seen the cockerel photo (reminds me of chicken dance from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT…sorry I do make some odd associations at times. It is a problem I have.) on numerous occasions I had completely forgotten about it and then walking down The Strand to meet my friend for lunch at Chancery Lane I spotted there was a Picasso Exhibition on in Somerset House.

Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition
Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition

Of course I wandered into the courtyard got distracted by the fountains and then saw the chicken…and never got to the Picasso exhibition. Another time, another place! Malaga perhaps! Tried that last year but of course the one day had allowed for the city there was a bloody strike in Spain. Typical!!


Anyway got completely sidetracked there. UP was lovely! I didn’t make it to BACK TO THE FUTURE this week because instead went to THE BIG LEBOWSKI at Fitzwilliam Square. Now this I can fully recommend. Happenings are screening a series of films outdoors, basically looking at the weather forecast and announcing the screening, film and date only a couple of days prior. The sky looked a little iffy on Thursday but umbrella en tow I headed to the square, my friend brought a waterproof mat and amongst many other friends lay watching THE BIG LEBOWSKI, fully fed from the fabulous stalls (raclette, burgers, Indian, biscuits & other sweet nibbles…I didn’t all of these things of course) and drinking our own beverages. It has to be said that being able to bring your own drinks in is a definite bonus. But don’t over do it – there are only four porta cabins. Ewww!

The Big Lebowski Fitzwilliam Square
The Big Lebowski Fitzwilliam Square 

I’ve said it before but will say it again “The Dude abides“! What a film! I have watched it countless times and still enjoy it as much as the first. More probably because you can look around the screen and at all the character’s faces knowing exactly what is going to happen. Still remember those green toenails on the poster outside the Kino Cinema in Cork on my walk to college as well. You can read an earlier post on THE BIG LEBOWSKI here. The post includes the trailer, some clips and Jeff Bridges’ amazeballs White Russian infused recent voiceover.

The next posts will be on BYZANTIUM, STOP MAKING SENSE, UPCOMING ALTERNATIVE MOVIE LISTINGS and whatever comes to mind.

‘The Bling Ring’ trailer and Sofia Coppola


The jury is still out on whether I like Sofia Coppola or not. I like the idea of every single one of her films but I also feel a little deflated when I actually see them. You may be horrified but one of my favourites was actually MARIE ANTOINETTE.

I know some people have a massive problem with Kirsten Dunst. I don’t! I loved that the entire film just turned pinker and pinker as the film went on. That said I remember nothing else of the film so in this case it was most certainly a case of style over substance. Oh and the cast – which included Judy Dench, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Shirley Henderson, Marianne Faithful, Danny Huston, Tom Hardy and Steve Coogan (of whom I recently wrote about in my commentary of THE LOOK OF LOVE). And the costumes were amazing!! Oh and the music (New Order, The Cure, Air and Aphex Twin but to name a few)  too! So maybe I did like it.

Last year one of my favourite films was A ROYAL AFFAIR. Then again I’m a sucker for period dramas. You can only imagine how much I enjoyed working as an extra on the upcoming TV series QUIRKE with Gabriel Byrne.

Anyway am starting to digress yes Sofia Coppola. But first I just stumbled on a French MARIE ANTOINETTE with Lea Seydoux and Diane Kruger. Bit of a different take on the old tale but I might have to watch this one as well.

So yes Sofia Coppola…I was so so excited to see SOMEWHERE and then the film started with seven minutes (approx) of 80’s heartthrob Stephen Dorff driving around a racing track…around and around. Elle Fanning was fantastic though and the publicist was hilarious, probably because I’ve worked as a publicist.

The first Sofia Coppola film I saw was LOST IN TRANSLATION. I didn’t like it! Then again the image of Scarlett Johansson walking through cherry blossoms is permanently instilled in my mind. As is her and Bill Murray sitting at the bar, and then again in the karaoke booth. And the music! And James Franco…this may have been the first film I saw him in actually. Always interesting to ask yourself when and where were you first introduced to an actor / director / producer / musician etc. At least for me it is! I do it with friends as well. Maybe I liked LOST IN TRANSLATION after all. I certainly love Bill Murray and ScarJo, and the music.

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES was also a very memorable film, but I hadn’t read the book on which it was based so don’t shoot me.


Maybe I do like Sofia Coppola after all. I will definitely be watching THE BLING RING anyway. Emma Watson is great and Judd Apatow‘s wife Leslie Mann always makes me laugh. Paris Hilton is also listed in the extended cast on IMDB so there could be some fun cameos popping up.

The Plot – Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

Due to release in the UK (not sure about Ireland) mid July. Visit the official site at THE BLING RING

Dublin Outdoor Cinema

Dublin Outdoor Cinema

Seeing as Spring has finally arrived heaps of outdoor events are popping up across Dublin’s fair city. It may be lashing down one minute and blowing you over minutes later but the sun has finally started to shine.

Dublin Outdoor Film & Events
Dublin Outdoor Film & Events

Totally unrelated to film but hopefully these will amuse…just bypass the two videos if you only want to know where the films are showing outside.

Have a listen to this track by NONONO called ‘Like the wind‘. Heard this for the first time yesterday just after I’d walked along the canal and almost been blown over. You can listen to more of NONONO‘s tracks on Soundcloud and find out more about the Swedish band on their Facebook page…their official website isn’t working right now.

Have a watch, and hopefully a laugh at this. If you’re not Irish you’re especially in for a treat and an education on how to speak Dublin. The video is called My Fair Mot – ‘Dublinese Classes For Beginners’

Now for the outdoor events…


Happenings is introducing a new instant outdoor culture into Fitzwilliam Square.

In no particular order, and with a mere 30 hours notice, four iconic films will be screened over a three week period in the ultimate urban park Fitzwilliam Square.

Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot

Starting in April, we will be glued to met.ie and our Accuweather apps, picking the best weather days before they pick us. As soon as we score on the weather front, we hit everyone on Facebook and Twitter. Then its up to you to grab the picnic blankets, share the love and get the gang together on the grass.

These are ‘Fiver Flicks’, (yes, that means its still only €5 in) and there will be lots of yummy food and warm beverages on sale. We also operate a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy so please remember to take everything home. But we will as always make it very easy for you.

The first screening of the Instant Open Air Cinema Fest will be screened tomorrow, Friday 19th April, in Fitzwilliam Square. €5 in. Gates open 7.30pm. The first film is SOME LIKE IT HOT.

Screening 2/3/4 TBA

Join the event and like Happenings page on Facebook now to be notified.

Sunday Times Outdoor Film Festival 2013

The Sunday Times are again sponsoring The Sunday Times Outdoor Film Festival and with the new giant umbrellas over the square you’re not at the peril of the weather.

Each week they are giving away 200 tickets to each screening. To be in with a chance to win tickets, see The Sunday Times, Culture Magazine each week! Tickets to all screenings were also available through Entertainment.ie but each film is now sold out so you’ll have to buy the Sunday Times and enter the competition each week.

Screenings are as follows:

April 25th @21.45: Up

May 2nd @22.00: Back to the Future

May 9th @22.00: Cinema Paradiso

Here’s a little bit of ENNIO MORRICONE from CINEMA PARADISO. Ennio Morricone is of course coming to Dublin July 28th and 29th. The second date 27th has just been added and tickets go on sale with TicketMaster Monday 22nd April. You can hear some more Morricone in my earlier post on TARANTINO, DJANGO UNCHAINED AND MUSIC.

May 16th @22.15: Goodfellas

May 23rd @ 22.15: Citizen Kane

May 30th @22.30: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Find out more by following The Temple Bar Cultural Trust on Facebook

Rent A Cat – The Japanese Film Festival


So first things first I’m exhausted – this is my first day at home since last Monday. What with courses, watching films and other film events I have literally not been at home for almost two weeks. And each night I’ve been rolling in between midnight and 3am. Not intentially. I never intend to stay out that long. What can I say I’m sociable. I would like to say I work hard and party harder but well when you’re not earning any money you can’t really say that. But I do! Work hard and play hard I mean. When I do!

My film week started last Wednesday with an advance screening of PILGRIM HILL – I’ve written about it before and if you want to listen to the podcasts with the director Gerard Barrett and see the trailer please check out either of my earlier posts PILGRIM HILL and IRISH FILM IN CINEMAS APRIL. If you want to know what the film was like then well read on.

And beware there may be spoilers. You have been warned!

For ease of use all links in this post are in blue

On Friday I went to the BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL screenings up in Awesome Walls Climbing Centre up in Finglas and well it was aWeSome!! I’ll write about this later in the week….not so much for my Irish readers and friends but for those of you elsewhere. It is an international tour after all. In the meantime feel free to check out the earlier post on BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL and other DUBLIN FILM EVENTS here you can find links to international screening dates as well as info on the films being screened. Again I will write about this later in the week. I’ll post some more videos in the blog proper but here’s something for you to have a laugh at. Scroll to one minute. Boy can she jump!

Saturday I went to FILM FATALE at The Sugar Club. The film was BONNIE AND CLYDE and the dress up theme ‘Dirty Thirties’. Needless to say there were a lot of yellow berets and a LOT of makeup!! I won’t be writing about this with as much urgency as there isn’t another FILM FATALE event until June, the next film is Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. I’m not the biggest Bergman fan so may not go to this one, although the after do was fun as was the dressing up. On the other hand I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I love Faye Dunaway and BONNIE AND CLYDE is a brilliant film. One to be watched over and over and over again.


Japanese Film Festival Ireland
Japanese Film Festival Ireland

Sunday I did a mini JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL marathon with three very different Japanese films back to back. Actually maybe I better work my way backwards and start with this as this festival is also on tour. If you’re in Dublin too bad you’ve missed it but here are the dates for the rest of the country. I say too bad but hopefully some of the films will make it to the Light House Cinema and the IFI at some stage.

Cork: Fri 12 – Wed 17

Limerick: Mon 15 – Tues 16

Galway: Sun 21 – Wed 24

& Waterford: Tues 23 – 25 

So what with being in college Thursday, the BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL on Friday, FILM FATALE on Saturday I finally made it to the JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL IRELAND at the Light House Cinema on Sunday morning. I pre-booked three films, and thankfully so as a couple of them were sold out and all of them were bumped up to bigger screens. A very good sign!


I’ll talk about the second film first because that was my favourite – RENT A CAT. Now if you don’t like cats you should perhaps scroll past this to FROM UP ON POPPY HILL and REBIRTH. I on the other hand love cats. Right now I don’t have one. I was told by my mother that I’m not allowed to have another cat until I’m properly settled…well because my mother ended up having to adopt my cat and my two guinea pigs when I moved to Dublin in 2006 and since then I have been a little bit of a vagabond, traveling and living overseas. For now I have to make do with the occasional cuddle of other people’s animals.

I’ve included two trailers – the first has English subtitles…

The second is better but you’ll have to imagine what is being said…

RENT A CAT is a wonderfully quirky film. Sayoko lives alone, she writes down her goals and on her walls hang large pieces of paper with handwritten text reminding her of these goals – “this year I will get married” and she makes offerings of pineapples, cabbages and kittens to her grandmother at a tasteful shrine in the middle of her sitting room. Her style of dress is a little scatty. I’m guessing you’ve gotten the picture at this stage, no?

Now the cats – they of course become characters in the film. Sayoko, like any cat lady does, talks to them. Kittens tumble and fight with each other in the background and the older cats laze around, basking in the sun. Each cat is of course intended for a different renter because well Sayoko, as well as mastering a range of other unrealistic jobs, and the name of the film suggests rents out cats. She separates the cats out into little individual pockets, puts them on a sort of trolley and walks along the city’s reservoir calling out “rent a cat, a cat, a cat”. It is hilarious and the people she meets, although sad and lonely, each have a back story. And be that story humerous or poignant all of them will bring a smile to your face.

You can’t but help smiling the entire way through the film…but then again I like cats. Apparently there are people who like cats, and there are people who like dogs. I guess I prefer cats but why can’t you like both? Anyway I digress the biggest laughs come from her runnings in with her crazy neighbor whilst she’s outside hanging washing, weeding her plants, playing with ants or munching on noodles in a very interesting (and one could perhaps say unhygienic manner). The old hag (her words not mine) does her very very best to insult Sayoko – telling her that she was a locust in a past life and that is the reason the cats like her. On each meeting the insults escalate, only making them more brilliantly amusing.

To go into each of the renter’s stories would give away too much. You will just have to watch the film, which will be playing as part of the JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL IRELAND in both Cork and Galway.

Now for the other two films I saw…


REBIRTH was the third film and possibly the most visually stunning. It showcased Japan, the islands, the rice fields, the people, the cities and the rain beautifully…and the Japanese don’t seem to complain about the rain the same way we do.

The basic premise of the story is: Kiwako kidnaps her married lover’s baby, spending four years running from place to place (from her friends to an all female commune called ‘Angel House’ to a noodle factory on a mountain in the islands) bringing up the child…loving her. When she eventually gets discovered she is of course imprisoned and the child Erina must return to her ‘real’ mother.

Here is the trailer – unfortunately with no subtitles but you’ll get the picture.

We’re first introduced to the two mothers – #1 – the kidnapper Kiwako – who has aborted the baby she wanted to have with her lover. #2 – Erina’s mother – who on returning from dropping her husband to the train finds her four month old baby daughter no longer in her bed. Why you would leave a tiny baby alone I have no idea but that is besides the point. She did and she obviously regrets it for her entire life.

Erina works in a restaurant, has a lover of her own and one day is greeted outside by a bubbly girl wanting to know how she feels about her past – to which Erina says she doesn’t remember. As the film goes on we find out that she does and are brought to the places and see the memories that she shared with Kiwako.

Visually the film is so beautiful, the scenery is stunning, the girls are so pretty and seemingly innocent and the cinematography is wonderful. There is one very symbolic scene of Kiwako running down the hill after kidnapping Erina. It is literally pouring down and the wind is almost blowing her over. We see this exact framing later in the film – once when Erina having being returned to her real mother runs away and is found by the police. She is dressed in red, a stark contract to the snow falling all around her. The last time we see Erina walking up the hill en route to visit her ‘mother’ where on arrival she is told that she should have called first.

There are so many scenes like this – each heart wrenching. Erina as a little girl is laying in bed being read to, and asks for the twinkle song to which her mother starts to sing “Twinkle, twinkle little star…” and Erina says no the other one. Her mother tries another but that too is wrong because Kiwako had sung another song to her. Her mother ends up screeching from frustration and upset which in turn makes the tiny little girl bawl her head off calling “sorry” over and over again.

The film is both beautiful and subtle…right up to the last two minutes which lost it that 1/2 star for me. To say more would ruin it. Again you will have to see it for yourself. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. Heart wrenching and warming at times. No wonder it won ten awards at the Japan Academy Prize Awards in 2012. You can read about this if it is of interest to you in The Hollywood Reporter.


Now friends of mine (and THE POET in particular) would be much more versed to write a commentary on this film. Alas for now you’ll have to do with my reading it instead. It was the perfect film to watch on a Sunday morning after being up until 3am dancing around at the Dirty Thirties Party until 3am at The Sugar Club with SECRET DANCER. It was bright, it was colourful and it was very very sweet. The setting is Yokohama in 1963 and the film was also nicely rooted in Japanese history, mentioning the Korean War, the Japanese Olympics and the constant wish for change but with that change the removal of all the city’s old buildings. The dialogue was very witty and punchy, with lines like “listen to the sounds of smug pretentiousness”.
The story centers on an innocent romance beginning to bud between Umi and Shun, two high school kids caught up in the changing times. One of Umi’s first utterances is that you can tell the season depending on what flowers are in bloom but in this film you can tell the season depending on what boats are in the harbour. The detail of the animation that follows is just superb. Something that can be said of all Studio Ghibli films.

The filmmakers lovingly bring to life the bustling seaside town, with its misty harbor, sun-drenched gardens, shops and markets, and some of the most mouthwatering Japanese home-cooking set to film. Much of the film is set in the club house where Umi and a number of other rebels meet to discuss philosophy, archeology (at one point two of the boys ask how can we make archeology interesting again, to which the other answers we can’t), literature and a number of other topics. The boys are hilarious. They are even more hilarious when the girls arrive.

Now I didn’t realize the film would be dubbed. I prefer to watch things in V.O. (version originale) and read the subtitles but in saying that the voice cast was pretty well chosen and not at all overbearing. Anton Yelchin (STAR TREK) played Shun – the main male lead and Umi’s love interest in the film. Christina Hendricks, Chris Noth, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Howard and Gillian Anderson voiced other characters but the only other voice that really stood out to me was that of Chairman Tokumaru who was played by Beau Bridges…and what a distinctive voice he has. Almost as distinctive as his brother’s. But not quite!

Again go see it! You will smile. Such detail!!

I would also liked to have seen Takashi Miike‘s FOR LOVE’S SAKE but it didn’t screen in Dublin. For those of you living in Limerick count yourselves lucky because you will get a chance to see it…tomorrow Tuesday 16th April.

009 Re: CYBORG (3D) too caught my attention but alas I couldn’t make it to the screening.


Next posts will be on FILM FATALE, PILGRIM HILL (what I thought) and the BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL…as well as future posts on DOCUMENTARY FEATURES, more UPCOMING IRISH FILMS and ALTERNATIVE MOVIE NIGHT LISTINGS…in which order I have not yet decided. I might come up with something else in the meantime as well.

Again if you feel like I’ve left anything out please do comment. 

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Vagabond Days

The adventures of a little lost Kiwi, making films far from home

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Nordic Thrillers, Suspense, and Crime Fiction

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The global meeting place for our London-based book club

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