Forget the first two Godfather movies; Francis Ford Coppola’s finest work is the movie he made in between those films, 1974’s The Conversation. Gene Hackman delivers one of American cinema’s all-time great performances as a surveillance engineer who begins to take a personal interest in his latest case when he fears the couple whose conversations he’s recording may be targeted for murder. A captivating character drama and an engrossing self-reflective study of the filmmaking process itself, you can catch it at the Irish Film Institute Saturday afternoon.
Another ’70s classic plays at the IFI this week – Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. The story of an aging German woman who embarks on a romance with a young Arab immigrant, it’s a loving homage to the technicolor melodramas of Douglas Sirk, while seething with quiet despair.
It’s a grim week for new releases, and the best of the bunch is oddly playing for one night only. Friday night at the Lighthouse you can catch The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a horror movie that proved a hit on the festival circuit last year and deserves a bigger release. When a father and son morgue duo receive the fresh corpse of a young woman, a night of terror is unleashed.
Graduation is a disappointment given it comes from the usually reliable Romanian director Cristian Mingiu. It’s a plodding tale of a father who gives in to corruption in order for his daughter, recently the victim of an assault, to pass an exam and win a place at a UK college. Thematically it’s interesting, but Mingiu renders it in a fashion that makes it increasingly tedious to endure.
Another endurance test is the lengthy South Korean spy thriller The Age of Shadows. Set during that country’s occupation by Japan, it opens with an outstanding set-piece but will quickly lose your attention unless you have a particular interest in the setting.
Free Fire sees cult British director Ben Wheatley assemble an impressive ensemble cast for a novel premise – an extended gunfight in a warehouse! Sadly, despite a witty script, the film fails to exploit the potential of its concept, as Wheatley proves unable to deliver his action in a satisfying or coherent manner.
The worst of a bad week is Ghost in the Shell, a live-action Hollywood adaptation of a cult Japanese comic book. The casting of Scarlett Johansson has provoked a white-washing controversy, and that’s but one of the film’s problems. Despite some pretty CG backgrounds, it’s an absolute snoozer!
By Eric Hillis of themoviewaffler.com