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Movie 29: Jimmy's Hall

grass
29 JIMMY'S HALL (UK, 2014)
Dir: Ken Loach
Cast: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Jim Norton...

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When Jimmy Gralton returns to Ireland after years of exile in the US, he decides to reopen his controversial dancing hall, to the displeasure of the Catholic Church.

Jimmy's Hall is based on a true story.

While Gralton's story may seem like a not-so-significant snippet of Irish history, it certainly captures the complexity of post-independence Irish identity in the 1930s, and the influence of the Catholic Church on the population.
While I do not find Jimmy's Hall to be memorable enough for the Cannes Festival, I enjoyed its emotional scenes, subtle love story, and excellent acting. It is also a valuable depiction of countryside mentality.

3/5

Movie 28: Troll 2

Walking Dead
28 TROLL 2 (US/Italy, 1990)
Dir: Claudio Fragasso
Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy...

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It's about goblins, not trolls.

This might well be the best worst movie I've ever seen. The acting, the makeup, the plot, the dialogues, EVERYTHING is hilarious.
Oh, and by the way, there's no trolls in Troll 2, the movie is about gobelins!
An absolute must-see!

N/A/5

Movie 27: Paranormal Activity

jack
27 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (US, 2007)
Dir: Oren Peli
Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat...

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A young couple decides to record on camera, day and night, the paranormal activities occurring in their house, which they believe is haunted.

My friend and I were in the mood for a scary movie, and we picked this one because it has the reputation of being particularly nerve racking. While we both tend to be easily scared, this one failed to truly impress us.
The concept is great and quite effective at the beginning, but ultimately Paranormal Activity does not deliver the memorable scenes and climax I expected from it.

2/5

Movie 26: Jersey Boys

Moulin
26 JERSEY BOYS (USA, 2014)
Dir: Clint Eastwood
Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken...

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A musical biopic of The Four Seasons.

I've never had the opportunity to see Jersey Boys on stage, and I didn't even know about The Four Seasons before I saw this movie (even though their discography is mainstream enough that I was actually familiar with some of their songs). As a result, I was delighted to hear the songs and enjoy the vintage ambiance.
However, I have the feeling Clint Eastwood failed to be very creative with his direction. Oftentimes, Broadway film adaptations struggle to be more than a copy/paste version of the original (The Phantom of the Opera being the worst example of this phenomenon), which causes the cinematography to be unimaginative. Alas, Jersey Boys falls in that category of adaptations; it is still worth the watch for the great music and excellent acting.

3/5

Movie 25: Palo Alto

Virgin Suicides
25 PALO ALTO (US, 2013)
Dir: Gia Coppola
Cast: Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco, Nat Wolff...


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Palo Alto follows a few months in the lives of confused and somewhat depressed high school kids.

Palo Alto does not have a very clear plot, but attempts to capture the wide range of emotions adolescents experience, and more specifically the frustrating lack of control that tends to define the early years of our lives.
A critic claimed that it is one of the best films ever made about high school, and I agree.The characters are a good sample of the personalities usually found in high school, and all of them are given enough screen time to be fairly well rounded. The cast is also very convincing.
It is impossible not to see the similarities between Gia Coppola and Sofia Coppola's cinematography and concerns. I am curious to see where the former's career is eventually going to take her.

4.5/5
blue tea
21: A L'OMBRE DES JEUNES FILLES EN FLEURS (Eng. Trs: IN THE SHADOW OF YOUNG GIRLS IN FLOWER) Marcel Proust (France, 1919)

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The second installment in Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" focuses on the author's first love stories and his obsession with female beauty.

I enjoyed this second installment even more than the already impressive first one.
Proust is the ultimate narcissistic writer, and his lyrical daydreams are filled with delightful insights on human nature. His detailed depiction of early twentieth-century society is also particularly valuable because he both adores and loathes it. This contradiction is what makes him the ideal witness of his time; one who is willing to be an active and enthusiastic member of society, while remaining detached enough to fully understand the mechanics of it.

4.5/5

Book 20: Irish Freedom

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20 IRISH FREEDOM: THE HISTORY OF NATIONALISM IN IRELAND Richard English (Ireland, 2007)

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The ironically named Richard English's aim is dual; to provide his readers with a concise history of Irish nationalism and its evolution throughout the years, as well as to more broadly define the practically universal concept of nationalism.

While I would not recommend this book to those who aren't at all familiar with Irish history, my beginner's knowledge was enough to help me follow English's arguments.
Let me tell you, it's easy to sense that the author isn't a big fan of nationalism, but his personal views do not prevent him from delivering a fairly objective commentary.
I believe all of us should at some point stop and think about nationalism as a defining societal force, and this book certainly asks the right questions; has nationalism in some form always existed?, is it necessary?, what human needs does it fulfill?...

4/5

Movie 24: Starred Up

bottle
24 STARRED UP (UK, 2013)
Dir: David Mackenzie
Cast: Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend...

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When Eric is moved to an adult prison due to his aggressive behavior, he is reunited with his father who has spent a significant portion of his life incarcerated.

Despite the plethora of prison films that have been released ever since cinema exists, Starred Up manages to rise above the rest thanks to a flawless script.
What makes the difference is the quality of the relationship arcs. Beyond the unusual father and son reunion, every level of the prison hierarchy is explored, from the helpful volunteer's struggle to be respected by the convicts as well as his peers, to the corrupt wardens.
The cast is also remarkable, and Jack O'Connell's performance in particular glued me to the screen.

5/5

Movie 23: Maleficent

Sleeping Beauty
23 MALEFICENT (USA, 2014)
Dir: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley...

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The classic tale of Sleeping Beauty told from the perspective of the villainess.

Angelina Jolie is predictably the most enjoyable and convincing element of this adaptation. She possesses the charisma and somber elegance that made the original Maleficent a memorable villain.
Maleficent and Disney's Sleeping Beauty ultimately tell completely different stories, so do not expect them to converge. Along with recent Disney animations such as Brave or Frozen, Maleficent is a feminist retelling of the fairy tale, which explains the changes that were made to the plot.
Elle Fanning's genuine acting is as refreshing as ever, and Sam Riley's crow provides the movie with its best comic relief. Unfortunately, the three fairy godmothers and their chronic stupidity fail to engage the adult audience, and Sharlto Copley is once more overly annoying because of his strange and distracting voice and speech.
Visually, Maleficent is as colorful as a fairy tale should be, although the CGI looks a little too fake at times.

3/5

Movie 22: Maps to the Sars

purple icecream
12 MAPS TO THE STARS (Canada/US, 2014)
Dir: David Cronenberg
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson...

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Hollywood stardom has dangerous psychological consequences.

I'm far from being a fan of David Cronenberg; I find A History of Violence and A Dangerous Method to be two of the most ridiculous-in-a-not-funny-way movies I've ever seen, but the quality of Maps to the Stars' acting should seduce even those who struggle with its director.
Mia Wasikowska really shines as a mysterious teenager with a dark past, and Julianne Moore demonstrates the extent of her talent as an aging, schizophrenic actress.
Maps to the Stars is a satire that fully embraces its genre, while A History of Violence offers elements of the satire, but eventually takes itself too seriously and becomes ridiculous. This movie explores different layers of Hollywood insanity (expensive therapists, ruthless competition, drug abuse, boring franchises...) with the crazy and dark sense of humor it needs.
I must admit I would have preferred a more conclusive ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed this cast of insane characters from beginning to end.

4/5