This Week’s Cinema Roundup

Cinema roundup Nov 21Computer Chess, my pick for the best film of 2013 thus far, opens on Friday at the Irish Film Institute. It’s a wildly inventive tale, set over a weekend in a rundown cat infested hotel where some of America’s greatest minds have gathered to pit their Chess playing computers against one another. Set in the early eighties, the film is shot on the sort of low grade black and white video format of the era, creating a voyeuristic fly on the wall feel. This might turn off some viewers but after a couple of minutes you’ll be so invested in the fascinating characters that the film’s low rent visuals won’t even cross your mind. No other film of 2013 can equal Andrew Bujalski’s low budget masterpiece for humour, intelligence and originality.

Completely lacking in humour, intelligence and originality, however, is The Family, the latest nail in the coffin of Robert De Niro’s once respected career. Here he plays a gangster (snore) whose family are relocated to France under the witness protection programme. The film is made by a Frenchman, Luc Besson (Leon, The Fifth Element), but in attempting to win over American audiences it spends most of its time mocking the French, in a completely laugh-free manner. De Niro has sadly reached the point where he’s been making bad movies for a longer period (starting from 1996’s The Fan) than he spent making good ones (1973’s Mean Streets to 1990’s Goodfellas).

The year’s most controversial film, lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Colour, finally opens almost seven months after it won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme D’or. Some, including the film’s lead actresses, have labelled it a piece of exploitation that represents homosexuality in an unrealistic manner, while others have called it a masterpiece. I found it pretty middle of the road but have to agree with the charges of exploitation.

It’s playing as part of the annual French Film Festival, which runs from Wednesday 20th to Sunday December 21st at the IFI. The full line-up can be found at

Also opening is Parkland, a mediocre TV style recreation of the events following the Kennedy assassination, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which oddly wasn’t screened for the press in Ireland but has received generally positive reviews abroad.

By Eric Hillis

Picture Caption: Patrick Riester in Computer Chess