French Cinema Now 2014 began yesterday evening at SIFF Cinema Uptown, and it packs plenty of star power in its seven-day run. Two Days, One Night, the new Marion Cotillard starring vehicle directed by the Dardenne Brothers, opened the fest, and director Michel Hazanavicius and actress Bérénice Bejo of The Artist fame join French Cinema Now for a personal visit next Wednesday. But in true underdog spirit, the Irish Reels Film Festival (beginning tonight at SIFF’s Film Center) promises to be pretty unmissable in its own right.
The Emerald Isle’s film industry may not be as high-profile and internationally-heralded as France’s, and Irish Reels’ relatively low-key weekend tenure at SIFF’s Film Center reflects that reality. What makes this little festival special is undeniably it's programming, a blend of narrative and documentary features and shorts that offer a fascinating window into Irish history, culture and art. And like any good film festival, you can find something to scratch every cinematic itch. Below, please find a list of the Irish Reels Film Festival’s highlights.
The Good Man (screening tonight at 6 p.m.): Irish Reels kicks off its Opening Night Gala with this Phil Harrison-directed drama that dovetails the story of a banker (Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen) wracked with guilt over his role in a stranger’s accidental death with a black South African teenager’s struggles in a Cape Town community. The movie’s unconventional structure and performances have garnered a goodly share of acclaim across the pond.
Review: Irish Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes, and Airs is the rare acoustic guitar CD that isn't dominated by Leo Kottke-style wizardry or a John Fahey influence. It's also a rare example of Irish music played traditionally and not with the ethereal trappings of new age music. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that it's necessary to travel back to 1979 to find an album filled with modest pleasures such as this one.