Ciaran Mcmenamin

Ciaran Mcmenamin

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Outcast Review


OK
Creepy and atmospheric, this low-budget thriller works primarily because it never over-explains its twisty, grisly premise. And strong performances from the cast manage to emerge despite an extremely murky visual style.

Mary (Dickie) has fled Ireland with her 15-year-old son Fergal (Bruton) and settled in a squalid Edinburgh housing estate, where she immediately starts scrawling protection spells on the walls in her own blood. And there's good reason, as the shady Cathal (Nesbitt) is hot on her trail, travelling with his brother Liam (McMenamin) under orders to "kill the boy". Despite this, Fergal tries to be a normal teen and spark a romance with his new neighbour Petronella (Stanbridge). But there's a beast on the loose and, quite literally, hell to pay.

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The Last Minute Review


Weak
At first blush, Stephen Norrington's (Blade) is the kind of hip nouveau Trainspotting, about a hot young actor who quickly washes out and becomes another sad victim of the UK underworld.

Starring Max Beesley (known almost exclusively for being Mariah Carey's co-star in Glitter) as our ennuied beefcake, Norrington paints a portrait of time running out and life slipping away. Beesley's Billy Byrne jumps from encounters with electronica fetish clubs to jazz-standard-lip-synching hit men, ending up in the arms with one of the least enchanting ingenue I've seen in a long while. Played by Emily Corrie, it's not really her fault -- the lovely lass is stuck under a knit cap that makes her look like a common street urchin.

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To End All Wars Review


Terrible
If you were to take all of the movie clichés from every prisoner of war film since 1937's The Grand Illusion and string them together, you'd get a film slightly better than 2001's To End All Wars. It would be better because it wouldn't also pilfer from Dead Poets Society and The Shawshank Redemption.

In 1942, a Scottish division is captured and taken to a Japanese labor camp in Thailand. On the train ride over, Captain Ernest Gordon (Ciarán McMenamin) narrates in voiceover such mind-blowing insights as, "When you surrender in war, you're stripped of your dignity as a soldier." Soon enough, they arrive at the camp, and before you can say "Abu Ghraib," the abuses begin. After a series of The Bridge on the River Kwai-like encounters with the camp's Sergeant Ito (Sakae Kimura), the soldiers' Colonel McLean (James Cosmo) is murdered for refusing to order his troops to build a railroad. His lieutenant, Campbell (Robert Carlyle), witnesses the act and spends the better part of the film seething and plotting revenge. On the other side of the spectrum, Yankee attaché Reardon (Kiefer Sutherland) plays the part Americans usually play in these films - commercial opportunist. À la William Holden in Stalag 17 (or Bridge, for that matter) Reardon barters his way through the camp, finally succumbing to beatings and torture when Campbell turns him in.

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Titanic Town Review


OK

Of all the movies I've seen depicting The Troubles in Northern Ireland -- and there have been some powerful films on the subject -- "Titanic Town" is the first one that really drove home to this outsider what it must have been like to live in a neighborhood where sniper fire is an everyday occurrence, where the hulks of bombed-out cars sit in the town square and where a quiet residential street can be invaded at any moment by columns of soldiers, armed to the teeth and coming to drag away one or more of your neighbors.

The most visceral moment in this tense but hopeful film, about an Irish Catholic mother of four who takes it upon herself to stop the undeclared war, comes in the middle of the night when the teenage daughter of this housewife-activist wakes up to the sight of paramilitary guerillas taking up attack positions in her front yard. The scene gave me chills, plain and simple.

Our passport into this perilous world is Bernie McPhelimy, a real-life woman of dogged determination who in the 1970s jumped headlong into the quagmire that was (and still is) the bitter, violent, terrorizing clash between Catholic Irish Republicans and Protestant, Britain-backed Unionists.

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Ciaran Mcmenamin

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