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Posts Tagged ‘Lenny Abrahamson’

It’s been an exciting year for Ireland and its film industry and the proof is in the pudding…or maybe I should say “the Oscars” because, for the first time ever, Ireland has several Oscar entries in several categories. And this year it is very possible that an Irish co-produced film or an Irish actor/actress/director will take home an all important gold statue.

Here is the breakdown of the Irish at Oscars 2016:

Best Picture: Brooklyn and Room.

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Best Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs. Though Michael was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and his father is German, his mother is Irish. His family moved to Killarney when he was a toddler.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Brie Larson in Room. Saoirse was born in New York to Irish parents. When she was three the family moved back to Ireland and Saoirse grew up in County Carlow. Brie Larson is a native of San Francisco, California. And while she’s not Irish, she is being recognized for her role in an Irish film that was directed by Irishman Lenny Abrahamson, who is from Dublin.

Best Director: Lenny Abrahamson for Room. Lenny was born in Dublin. He studied physics and philosophy at Trinity College, where he also directed short videos with the Trinity Video Society, which he co-founded with Ed Guiney. He graduated in 1991 with first class honours (gold medal). Previously he directed Adam & Paul, Garage, What Richard Did, Frank, and, for television, Prosperity.

Best Short Film (Live Action): Benjamin Cleary for Stutterer. Benjamin is an Irish writer/director from Dublin. He completed a Screenwriting MA at the London Film School. Stutterer is his first short film, which he wrote, directed, and edited.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Room, Screenplay by Nick Hornby and Brooklyn, Screenplay by Emma Donoghue. Emma was born in Dublin in 1969. She is an award-winning writer, living in Canada. Her first feature film is Room, which she adapted from her novel by the same name. Her novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and has sold over two million copies. Her latest novel is Frog Music, a mystery inspired by a murder in San Francisco, 1876. She is adapting it into a feature film for Monumental Pictures.

How to Watch The Oscars from Ireland:

The 88th Academy Awards takes place tonight in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood and it will be an all night affair for anyone watching it from Ireland. The famous red-carpet-walk kicks off at midnight Irish time and the ceremony itself starts at about 1.30am. The whole celebration will finish around 5am.

If you have Sky, you will have a few ways in which to watch the glitz and glamour. The E! channel will run its broadcast from 10.30pm-4.30am. Sky Living will start its live broadcast at 11.30pm. And, I believe, Sky will have a dedicated Oscars channel: Sky 331/Virgin Media 307. Alex Zane and Zoe Ball will host the previews until Chris Rock takes over at 1.30am.

Also, The Irish Times will have a live blog of the red carpet pre-event and the ceremony itself.

If you can’t be bothered to stay up all night (and who can blame you…personally I’m only interested in the Irish nominees!), it will be possible to catch up on highlights on Monday evening at 9pm on RTÉ2, when the event will be condensed into a (thank goodness) two-hour package.

Irish Oscar Win Odds:

What are our chances of the Irish bringing home the gold? Well, Laurence Mackin of The Irish Times predicts, “Don’t expect a haul. Brie Larson is 1/33 to pick up an Academy Award of Merit (the Oscar’s official name) for her stunning turn in Room. Variety recently threw its weight behind Benjamin Cleary’s chance in the best live action short category (Stutterer is at 3/1). The others though remain outside bets. Room and Lenny Abrahamson are at 66/1 and Brooklyn is at 200/1.”

I’m going to remain positive, however, and cheer the Irish on into the wee hour of the night. Here’s hoping Ireland wins big.

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Today I’m giving you the facts, and just the facts, regarding Irish films at Sundance 2014 as they are reported across various media outlets. None of these are my own opinions.

There are four films at Sundance that have an Irish connection. They have either received funding from the Irish Film Board (IFB), have been filmed in Ireland, have been in post production in Ireland, star Irish actors, or some combination of the above. The films are: Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank; John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary; Ciaran Cassidy’s The Last Days of Peter Bergmann; and Jack Paltrow’s Young Ones.

Currently there are trailers for only three of the films:

Press coverage, as of today, for the films at Sundance {good, bad and indifferent} includes the following:

Calvary from The Hollywood Reporter: “John Michael McDonagh’s 2011 debut, The Guard, provided the wonderful Brendan Gleeson with a vehicle for some of his best screen work, playing an Irish West Country cop unencumbered by diplomacy skills. But the follow-up collaboration of the writer-director and lead actor is in a whole different league. Gleeson’s performance as a man of profound integrity suffering for the sins of others is the lynchpin of this immensely powerful drama, enriched by spiky black comedy but also by its resonant contemplation of faith and forgiveness. Representing a considerable leap in thematic scope and craft for McDonagh, Calvary deserves to reach the widest possible audience.”

Calvary from Variety: “McDonagh and his collaborators have delivered a technically immaculate work that feels appropriately austere by comparison. D.p. Larry Smith’s widescreen compositions are framed with unfussy precision; as stunning as the rugged landscapes are to behold, particularly the shots of waves breaking against cliffs (the production shot on the east and west coasts), the lighting and color balancing of the interior shots are no less exquisite.”

Calvary from The Guardian: “Calvary boasts a sharp sense of place and a deep love of language. It’s puckish and playful, mercurial and clever, rattling with gallows laughter as it paints a portrait of an Irish community that is at once intimate and alienated.”

Frank from The Hollywood Reporter: “Whimsy and madness mix for an very unappetizing cocktail indeed in Frank, a gently eccentric account of an avant-garde band whose leader wears a large artificial head with a cartoon face painted on it. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson clearly means to beguile with this weird mix of moods and methods — goofy comedy here, sudden slashes of tragedy there, momentary eruptions of musical inspiration overshadowed by admitted mediocrity — but the mash-up of elements combine with a singularly unpleasant roster of characters to create a work of genuinely off-putting quirkiness. Particularly gullible younger audiences and fringe music fans might synch up with the sensibility here to create a modest cult following, but on any serious level this oddball creation doesn’t cut it.”

Frank from Variety: “Of all the acting challenges Michael Fassbender has faced, none quite compares to performing without the use of his face. That’s precisely what’s required in “Frank,” a weird and wonderful musical comedy about an oddball outsider band whose mentally ill frontman insists on wearing an expressionless plaster mask at all times — both onstage and off, in the shower and even to bed. It’s the sort of affectation that gets films labeled as “quirky,” although this one happens to be inspired by a true story. Luckily, helmer Lenny Abrahamson (“Garage,” “Adam & Paul”) puts the pic’s eccentricity to good use, luring in skeptics with jokey surrealism and delivering them to a profoundly moving place.”

Frank from Collider: “Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank is a funny, warm, thoughtful story about crafting an artistic identity, and needing to seize on to someone else’s expression when you don’t have one of your own.  It also provides an insightful look at the fault in trying to forge an identity based on the acceptance of others instead of embracing one’s own oddities and shortcomings even if the world at large sees them as “insane”.”

Young Ones from Collider: “Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones is remarkable in how it does so much right, and yet it leaves the viewer completely cold.  Its strengths are undeniable and its flaws are subtle, so subtle that it can be confusing as to how such a technically superb picture can be so ineffective.

Young ones from Variety:A hodgepodge of Western, sci-fi and Greek tragedy, “Young Ones” is certainly one of the more unique films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But the sophomore effort from Jake Paltrow (“The Good Night”) gets so bogged down in its primal tale of murder and revenge that the most intriguing elements become little more than futuristic window dressing. Unfolding in three distinct chapters, each featuring a different protagonist, the visually rich and dramatically spare pic plays a bit like a cinematic graphic novel. A cult following could be in the offing, but commercial prospects otherwise appear limited.”

Young Ones from The Hollywood Reporter: “Ponderous, self-important and thematically narrow, Jake Paltrow’s dystopian future Western set in a Dust Bowl where water is controlled by the state and monopolized by industry is all oppressive mood and atmosphere with not much on its mind beyond an old-fashioned tale of murder, retribution and a robo-cow. Young Ones is visually commanding and not without inventive ideas, plus its pared-down narrative at least rescues Michael Shannon from the thudding memory of Man of Steel. But otherwise this lethargically paced, dehydrated update on There Will Be Blood will be strictly for artsy minimalist sci-fi enthusiasts.”

Commenting back in December on the early Irish line-up for Sundance 2014, James Hickey, Chief Executive, of the Irish Film Board said: “Irish film has performed very well at Sundance over the last number of years. Films such as The Guard, Once, His and Hers, and The Summit have all been discovered at the festival and have gone on from there to be distributed internationally.” “Both Frank and Calvary showcase the excellent work happening right now in the Irish industry and they include a world-class line-up of Irish stars including Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson. Chris O’Dowd, Domhnall Gleeson, Aidan Gillen and Killian Scott. It is a very positive start to 2014 for the industry and a great representation for Ireland internationally.” 

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The Irish are headed to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and, for the third year in a row, so am I!

The Irish films Calvary and Frank will have their world premiere at Sundance and The Last Days of Peter Bergmann, which premiered at the IFI (Irish Film Institute) Stranger Than Fiction event last September, will be competing in the Documentary Shorts Programme.

Calvary is a black-comedy-drama telling the story of a Catholic priest who has one week to put his life in order after being told, during confession, that he will be murdered. The film reunites Brendan Gleeson with The Guard director John Michael McDonagh, and also stars Marie Josée Crozé, Isaach De Bankolé, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Pat Shortt, and David Wilmot.

Frank is an offbeat comedy from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson. It tells the story of “a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins a maverick rock band led by the enigmatic Frank – a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head”. It is loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of the late cult musician Chris Sievey. It stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy.

The Last Days of Peter Bergmann, directed by Ciaran Cassidy and produced by Morgan Bushe, tells the story of a man (calling himself Peter Bergmann) who arrives in Sligo town in the summer of 2009. Over the last few days of his life, he goes to great lengths to make sure no one will ever know who he was or where he came from. It won the audience award for Best Short Film at the IFI Stranger Than Fiction event.

All three films were supported by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB). James Hickey, Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board recently said, “Irish films have performed very well at Sundance over the last number of years. Films such as The Guard, Once, His & Hers, and The Summit have all been discovered at the festival and have gone on from there to be distributed internationally.”

Having three films this year at Sundance is a roaring start for the Irish film industry. I, for one, can’t wait to see each one and promise to report all the happenings of Sundance 2014 in the coming days.

Press release from the Irish Film Board at http://www.irishfilmboard.ie/irish_film_industry/news/Major_Irish_feature_films_Calvary_and_Frank_to_screen_at_Sundance_Film_Festival_2014/2340

Blog from John Murphy, editor of The Last Days of Peter Bergmann at http://johnmurphyeditor.com/2013/12/11/peter-bergmann-is-going-to-sundance/

Follow Irish director Ciaran Cassidy’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/CiaranCass

Praise for Irish film maker Lenny Abrahamson on Variety at http://variety.com/t/lenny-abrahamson/

Follow John Michael McDonagh, director of Calvary, on Facebrook at https://twitter.com/ReprisalFilms

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