The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is a relative newcomer to the international festival scene, having started in 2003. However, it has quickly grown into an impressive showcase for world film as well as native Irish filmmaking.
The 2014 edition hosted a number of exciting premieres, including new movies from Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch and Terry Gilliam.
Here is an overview of some of the must-see films from this fest.
“Calvary” reunites actor Brendan Gleeson with director John Michael McDonagh, who previously teamed up in the 2011 hit, “The Guard”. In “Calvary” Gleeson plays a good-hearted priest in County Mayo who does his best to help his parishioners with their problems.
When he is told during confession that he will be murdered within a week, he attempts to solve the mystery of his murder-to-be while facing up to his potential fate. The film has already received rave reviews at Sundance, and has been called a career-best performance for Gleeson.
2. Mystery Road
Aaron Pedersen stars in this Australian film as Jay Swan, an indigenous police officer who returns to his rural Queensland hometown to investigate the murder of a young local girl. He gets no help from either his fellow police or the local populace, and is menaced by Hugo Weaving as a fellow cop.
“Mystery Road” combines the scenery and themes of classic Westerns with a modern-day gritty police procedural. Multi-talented Aussie Ivan Sen not only directed the film, but also wrote the screenplay and composed the score.
3. Last Days on Mars
Ireland is not exactly synonymous with science fiction film, but “Last Days on Mars,” the feature debut of Irish director Ruairi Robinson, aims to change that. Liev Schrieber, Romola Garai and Olivia Williams star as the crew of a Mars space station preparing to be relieved by a new crew.
They only have to survive their last few days as a crew member goes missing, evidence of possible life on the red planet emerges, and the psychological stresses and the hostile alien environment both take their toll.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Few directors’ releases are as eagerly awaited as those of Wes Anderson. From his 1996 debut “Bottle Rocket” to 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom”, Anderson has grown a reputation for quirky, ornately designed, and thickly plotted films. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is his latest, starring Ralph Fiennes as the proprietor of an old-fashioned luxury hotel between the world wars.
He takes great care of his devoted clientele, and they take care of him, as one matriarch shows when she leaves him a priceless painting. This sets off a dizzying crime caper with an all-star cast, as Fiennes and Anderson stalwarts Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman join the likes of Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jude Law and Tilda Swinton in a gorgeously filmed extravaganza.
5. New World (Sin-Se-Gae)
“New World” is the code name of a police operation that embeds Korean undercover cop Ja Sung deep in an organized crime operation. With the previous head of the group recently deceased, Ja Sung’s handler believes it is time to bring down the family – but has Ja Sung been under too long?
Does he still have the same loyalties? Fans of films like The Departed and Donnie Brasco will enjoy the familiar themes of crime and punishment, loyalty and betrayal in this second suspenseful feature from Korean director Park Hoon-Jung.
6. Only Lovers Left Alive
A Jim Jarmusch movie with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston? Cool enough but then there’s the plot: Swinton and Hiddleston as centuries-old vampire lovers with John Hurt popping in as a ragged old Christopher Marlowe (apparently the bar brawl death was just a cover story).
Gorgeously filmed by Jarmusch with his trademark rock guitar soundtrack, these vampires enjoy their life and travels and act as guardians of the culture too often ignored and discarded by the human “zombies” they live among. Swinton and Hiddleston make the vampires of “True Blood” look like true amateurs, and Jim Jarmusch is back on track after the disappointing “The Limits of Control.”
7. No Limbs, No Limits
A standout in both the documentary and native Irish film categories, “No Limbs, No Limits” is the story of Joanne O’Riordan, a teenage Irish girl who has the rare tetra-amelia syndrome, a genetic disorder in which children are born with no limbs and other malformations of the body.
At just 16, Joanne addressed the United Nations at a technology summit, challenging those in attendance to build a robot that she could use. “No Limbs, No Limits” was made by Joanne’s brother Stephen, and tells her story through a mix of home movies, interviews and footage of her inspiring activism.
8. Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson has two surprises for us in sci-fi horror film “Under the Skin” – she is an extraterrestrial femme fatale who seduces and feeds on hapless Scottish men, and she is brunette. Sent to Earth to harvest humans for food, she slinks and prowls through Scottish cityscapes and landscapes, quickly learning how to cast a seductive spell that lures dazed men willingly into her van and her arms.
Jonathan Glazer’s direction offers dazzling visuals and a head-spinning point of view that has the viewer feeling like Johansson’s character, a stranger in a strange land studying the alien yet fascinating human creatures.
9. Zero Theorem
Terry Gilliam returns to the dystopian future world of “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys”, this time with Christoph Waltz as a programmer trying to write software to solve the title theorem, while being tormented and distracted by Management in the form of David Thewlis, and romance in the form of Melanie Thierry.
Gilliam brings his cracked-lens sensibility to another tale of alienation, corporate culture and individual resistance, with memorable supporting appearances by Matt Damon as the mysterious owner of the corporation employing Waltz, and Tilda Swinton (again!) as the artificial intelligence/psychologist who counsels Waltz from inside his computer.
“Zero Theorem” has been called a return to form for Gilliam, and it is a welcome one.
10. The Lunchbox
The premise is right out of a standard rom-com: neglected wife sends a lunchbox of specially prepared food to her husband at work, trying to attract his attention, but it is misdelivered to a male co-worker instead. The two begin to communicate and build a friendship through lunchbox notes, but what could become silly is instead emotional and touching as two lonely souls reach out to each other through a unique form of communication. First time director Ritesh Batra teams up with the great Irfan Khan for this sweet and likeable film.
11. The Stag
Unlike the crazed partiers of the “Hangover” films, groom-to-be Fionan is more excited about planning the wedding than in having a wild bachelor party, and his fiance Ruth has to nearly push him into a stag weekend involving a simple country camping trip.
Simple, that is, until Ruth’s brother, nicknamed “The Machine” gets involved. Think “Hangover” style broad comedy layered over a sweeter underlying character drama, with Gaelic flavor.