Midnight Special: a strong film from a uniquely talented artist

Niall McCann

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Niall McCann

Midnight Special: a strong film from a uniquely talented artist

I'm sure all of you will be over the moon with the return of your fifth favourite movie related column in the print and no -print world of journalism.

This week we will re-enter the cinematic stratosphere by taking a cursory glance over some of the films that are playing near you this week in the wonderful wonderful town.

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of the Justice League

Dir: Zach Snyder

Despite receiving nearly universal derision from every so-called expert and film critic on the planet, this film has performed incredibly well at the box office. This film really represents, paradoxically, the nadir of both the superhero genre and the journalistic genre of film criticism that so derides it.

At once pulling both genres under or at least forcing them to jump the shark. What is the point of film criticism if no one listens to it? Or perhaps this is just another example of the new world we live in, one were consumers have been empowered through the internet to circumscribe the usual protectors of the canon.

What exactly this all means for film criticism we must wait to see but certainly the superhero genre is here to stay, with another 100 of these films to be released in this coming year, it will be interesting to see if audiences, like me, become a tad jaded and tired of seeing adults who should know better prancing about in tight leggings pretending they can fly, in a moral, conservative universe where fascism is synonymous with heroics and not being able to act is a virtue. That I suppose in the 21st century is the true magic of the movies. You might notice that I have not spoken much about the content of the film but as this write up touches upon, even if I did it would not make any difference.

1/5 (5/5)

Midnight Special

Dir: Jeff Nichols

The new film from the talented and often wonderful Jeff Nichols is an excursion into Sc-fi territory with a tale approximating something close to ET crossed with, actually just ET. Taking the role of a father who saves his son from a cult which worship him and believe his reciting of numbers are a key to some sort of celestial event that will change the world, Michael Shannon (a Nichols regular) is, as always, reliably brilliant.

The son and father are helped by the father's taciturn but loyal friend and are not only chased by the cult but also the FBI, who also believe the boy has the ability to harness otherworldly powers.

While not being as powerful or as complete as Nichols previous work such as Mud, Shotgun Stories or Take Shelter, this is an impressive film, which does run out of steam somewhat as it approaches the finishing line but represents far better fare than most reasons to go to the cinema.

Another strong film from a singular talent.

3/5

Sing Street

Dir: John Carney

The new film from the prolific Irish film maker John Carney, director of Once, RTE's popular Bachelors Walk and the recent Brooklyn which was a bit of a sensation.

This is a feelgood film to beat all feelgood films and is all the better for it. Too often Irish cinema veers into ultra bleak territory and this represents a hugely refreshing burst of humour, warmth and hope.

Set in an ultra sparkling and clean Dublin in the 1980's, we are introduced to Middle-class Cosmo played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who has just enrolled in the rough around the edges, Synge Street CBS when his fathers business (played by the omnipresent Aiden Gillen, who just might be in every Irish film ever or may even be some sort of all seeing diety of the Irish moving image, destined mournfully to be type cast in any production made on these shores) starts to suffer in an unforgiving economic climate. All the other kids in Synge Street are merciless bullies. What's more the teachers are even worse. The Brothers are unspeakable. After Cosmo meets a beautiful mysterious girl in the school played by Kelly Thornton, he decides to form a rock band to impress her. As Freud once said, or wrote, the reason men become artists is to impress women and here is no different.

Dublin here is a far cry from what anyone who was ever in Dublin in the 80's, 90's or even recently would recognise but the world rendered here is so loveable and warm hearted that it would be wrong to flag this as a huge problem. This is not the Bicycle Thieves and the fantasy world we are presented with is close to that the overactive fervent imagination of a teenager might concoct.

Following on from his films Once and Begin Again, Sing Street operates in a similar good natured unapologetically romantic way, were in any real nastiness is soon vanquished. It is a sort of heightened reality we recall from the classic Hollywood musicals of old.

The catchy New-Wavy songs are written by Carney himself along with Gary Clark and allow normally taciturn shy teenagers to vividly express their true feelings to one another and the ending is so audaciously romantic that it would be sickening if it were not for the good will built up in the previous scenes.

The young cast are excellent throughout and there is real humour and pathos here. The reviewer found it refreshing to not have to watch intense misery, suffering and sadness on a cinema screen for once and this good natured story is perfect for anyone who wants a little bit of romance along with plenty of laughs.

Ok it may well be closer to a fantasy version of Ireland and Dublin in the 1980's than it is to actual reality but whats wrong with that? Sometimes it's nice to have a happy ending.

3/5

Zootropolis

Dir: Byron Howard. Jared Bush. Rich Moore.

A brilliantly enjoyable animated film for all the family.

The film details the unlikely partnership between a rabbit police officer and a red fox con artist as they uncover a conspiracy that involves the disappearance of predator civilians within a mammalian utopia.

There are plenty of jokes here for both adults and children. Another example of animation that uses the medium to create a world so vivid and tactile that you will lose yourself in it and wish you didn't have to leave. Great fun.

4/5