Winter films preview

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker

BY David Prendeville

The summer is over. We’re facing into those long, cold nights again. One source of refuge from the misery is the cinema.

Traditionally, winter was a time for more serious and awards-friendly films to emerge, after the block-buster fuelled summer. The cinematic seasons have become a bit more unpredictable in recent times.

The continued over-saturation of comic-book films has led to a situation where we now have a film like Joker (set for release here on October 4th), which is a comic-book film but also an apparent serious awards contender, having somewhat inconceivably won the Best Film prize at the prestigious Venice Film Festival in September.

The film is undoubtedly helped by having the peerless Joaquin Phoenix as the eponymous villain. The name of the film’s director, however, Todd Philips, most notable for The Hangover films, hardly screams prestige. The film has received mostly strong reviews. 

Martin Scorsese also returns to our screens as director in November with his long-gestating crime epic The Irishman. The film which stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, recently had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.

The film probably ranks as the most high-profile Netflix production to date, as they seem to be the only ones willing to stump the rumoured $150 million-plus budget. The film will likely play in a few select theatres here in early November before sliding over to the streaming platform at the end of that month.

An aspect of the film that has garnered a lot of attention in the build-up to its release is its use of expensive CGI effects work to de-age it’s cast to look like younger versions of themselves for chunks of the film. It sounds like a risky endeavour. First glimpses at the technology in motion in the trailer was far from convincing.

A new Martin Scorsese film, however, is always an event for cinephiles and not least one that has as fitting a cast as this. Locals will have the opportunity to catch the film early, with the Lighthouse Cinema showing a special preview direct from the European Premiere at the London Film Festival on the 13th of October. 

Other highlights over the coming months include The Babadook director Jennifer Kent’s controversial, acclaimed western The Nightingale, which stars Irish actress Aisling Francoisi. That will be released by local company Wildcard Distribution on the 29th of November. 

Earlier than that, satirical genius Chris Morris makes a long-overdue return to our screens with Their Day Will Come on October 8th. There is also no dearth of big releases or franchise films with Terminator: Dark Fate set for release on October 23rd. Frozen 2, which will likely be one of the biggest earners of the year, is due on November 22nd. Kristen Stewart leads a new version of Charlie’s Angels to be released the following week on November 29th.

One of the biggest occasions in the Irish cinematic calendar also returns in November with The Cork Film Festival. The programme is yet to be announced, but film fans will know they are in for a treat if it manages to be a fraction as good as last year’s stellar line-up.

Acclaimed Cannes films such as The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson and the Palme D’Or winner itself Parasite, would be good bets to screen at the esteemed festival.