Flickin' Nuggets

Awkward title, I know, but I really wanted to use that image.

Today, I shall focus on contemporary British and Irish cinema.

release date: December 5 (limited)

"follows Bobby Sands and other Irish Republican Army inmates of Northern Ireland's Maze Prison in 1981 as they protest, demanding to be treated as political detainees"

It's not much of a movie, but it's an astonishing work of art. I'm dying to see what first-time director Steve McQueen produces next. Top three, if not the best film I've seen this year.

Better Things
release date: January 29 (UK)

"remakes well-worn themes of alienation, addiction and emotional isolation as minimalist, overlapping tableaux"

Again, it's not much of a movie, but it's an admirable (and to some, very depressing) meditation on (dry) intoxication. First-time director Duane Hopkins displays a stellar control of image, sound, pacing and tone.

release date: n/a

"Kylie and Dylan flee their miserable homes on the outskirts of Dublin in search of salvation and Dylan's missing brother"

It's a "one crazy night" movie gimmicked up with Bob Dylan and colour manipulation – a light, pleasant pick-me-upper, the opposite of Better Things.

To cast the two leads, director Lance Daly scoured Irish schools.

British and Irish filmmakers like to cast young people with no acting experience, and it usually pays off.

To cast the two leads in Son of Rambow, Garth Jennings scoured British schools.

To cast heroin addicts in Better Things, Hopkins scoured rehab centres.

Slumdog Millionaire
director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting)
writer: Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty)
release date: November 12 (limited)

"An orphan from the slums of Mumbai is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's Who Wants to be A Millionaire? Held on suspicion of cheating, he tells the police the amazing tale of his life and of the girl he loved and lost"

It's a bombastic, distinctively-Indian Big Fish framed by a game show and starring the guy who played Anwar on Skins. I was prepared to sell it as a bang-up, hyper-vibrant experience, but then the ending sold it for me as a bang-up, hyper-vibrant film.

Is There Anybody There?
director: John Crowley (Boy A)
release date: n/a

"a story of an unlikely friendship between a jaded former magician (Michael Caine) and a little boy obsessed with ghosts and the paranormal"

First off, if you haven't seen Boy A, see it. Andrew Garfield deserves award recognition for his performance.

As for Crowley's follow-up, it's good while it lasts but not particularly memorable.

I've seen all of Crowley's cinematic oeuvre. He's like a less dependable Danny Boyle.

A Film with Me in It
release date: n/a

"a struggling actor and a shiftless aspirant try to handle a series of unforeseen events"

It's Very Bad Things with an Irish sensibility. I could overlook its predictable twists because Dylan Moran is comic money. Shaun of the Dead, Tristram Shandy, Run, Fatboy, Run and now this.

I hope to catch Somers Town, Shane Meadows' follow-up to Adam Riff™ favourite This Is England, by year's end.

Meadows scoured British towns to cast the lead in This Is England, whom he later cast as one of the leads in Somers Town.

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