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9 out of 10
STALKER is quite a brilliant examination of mental illness. It also shines a rather scorching light on addiction, abuse, class struggle, and the dysfunction of government. Yes indeed, this one has a lot to say. And every single moment of the film's run time is majestically anchored by its cast; its entire cast. I can't think of the last time I've experienced an ensemble that was more committed, more believable, or more engrossing to watch. Top to bottom O'Connor, along with these fine actors has constructed a horrifically engulfing story. It, of course, all starts with Connors' Oliver and Keoghan's Tommy. Both men convey the confusion, sadness, pain, and plight of their respective worlds magnificently. Their performances leave the viewer no choice but to both care for and fear Oliver and want no harm to come to the young, tortured Tommy. And even though the whole mess ends a tad abruptly, it does so in such an appropriately awful manner, that mouths might just be left agape (in a very good way mind you). STALKER is a high recommend, another fine example of the strength that exists within the Irish genre film community (filmmaker O'Connor is ace), and a stark reminder that what goes on in the hearts and minds of troubled men often has devastating consequences. [9/10] ~Conduit [@conduit_speaks]
King of the Travellers (2012)
Well worth picking up
The cover for this release makes it look like it's little more than a movie about traveller families belting the hell out of one another in bare knuckle fights but this movie is much more than that.
In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it is one of the best movies I have ever seen about the travelling community full stop.
One of the things that I really liked is the fact that a lot of the scenes feel authentic, almost as if they have come out of a documentary about their way of life. That is down to a brilliantly simple but effective movie. As well as actors, the cast is also made up of real life travellers and I think that helped to keep the movie authentic instead of being a melodramatic attempt at recreating their lives.
Another good move is the fact that they use traditional Irish and traveller songs instead of resorting to whatever songs are popular at the time. This really helped with the atmosphere and in my experience, really drew me in to what was going on during the movie.
The quick, sharp directing style of Mark O'Connor is tempered with some really subtle and slow moving moments as well, which allows for the growth of the characters. There are also some very shocking moments but the characters have been built up so well that you really feel for them whenever anything happens to any of them.
The love story between the two main characters is very well done and doesn't once fall in to melodrama. While some have described it as a lesser man's 'Romeo and Juliet', I think that is incredibly unfair. It's the story of two young travellers who want nothing more complicated than to be left to be in love with one another and be left alone yet circumstances seem determined to not allow that to happen.
Cast wise, the movie is packed with some brilliant performances. The best of these by far is John Connors as John Paul. He gives both a sympathetic and powerful performance that is so effective that I couldn't take my eyes off of him whenever he was in a scene. I would definitely watch another movie with him just to see how good he can be in another environment.
All in all, this was an effective, well shot and well acted drama about life as a traveller but it doesn't just stay as that, in fact the movie itself has a very strong message about how violence can breed violence no matter how justified you may feel in wanting to retaliate, which can sometimes lead to very tragic circumstances.
Well worth picking up.
Between the Canals (2011)
Fantastic micro budget Irish crime drama
Fantastic micro-budget Irish crime drama. Shockingly low IMDb rating, especially in contrast to its positive reviews. I guess the film-going public are STUPID (or don't understand the thick Irish accents, in all likelihood). 'Mean Streets' comparisons are apt in its depiction of working-class best friends tied up in petty crime, and the conflict of interest that begins to develop between them. It takes a turn for the weird with the introduction of a bisexual Nigerian drug dealer with a sword.
However, its financial limitations show in the film's length of an hour and twelve minutes, credits included, as is a musical montage of pictures of Irish people. However, it's brilliant what Mark O'Connor did with so little. Review by Jack from Letterboxed