A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical romance from John Carney, who also wrote and directed Once and Begin Again. Set in the 1980s, this brightly comical film is packed with fabulous songs, both real hits from the period and fantastic pastiche numbers. And it's vividly performed by a fresh cast.
It's set in 1985 Dublin, where 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is furious when his parents (Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) transfer him to a local catholic school due to financial trouble. Conor's adored older stoner-rocker brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) is still living at home, while their younger sister Ann (Kelly Thornton) observes the craziness of her family with wry detachment. Then Conor falls for sexy bad girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton), trying to impress her by telling her that he's in a rock band. So now he really needs to create one. He gathers some other outcasts at his new school, and they become Sing Street, trying to write some "futurist" songs. But finding their own sound is tricky.
As this scrappy band comes together, they take inspiration from the music around them, including pop bands like Duran Duran, The Cure and Spandau Ballet. Their own songs and clothing hilariously echo these styles as they try to find a way to connect with their audience while expressing themselves artistically. And the songs are fiendishly catchy, each accompanied by a hand-made music video that cleverly traces the boys' passion for music and their coming-of-age as artists in their own right, all within the context of the period. At the centre, Conor's journey is twisty, complex and hugely resonant. Walsh-Peelo is a very likeable actor who's thoroughly believable as a young guy trying desperately to act grown up, despite the terrible examples of his bickering parents and slacker brother.
Continue reading: Sing Street Review
Conor lives in Dublin and for the past 13 years, he's had a nice comfortable life. He lives with his brother and his mum and dad and was privileged enough to have a private education; however as his folks start having money problems Conor finds himself at the local school in surroundings he's unfamiliar with.
Nothing comes easy for the teen but he makes a couple of friends and when he spots a girl called Raphina, he knows that she's the girl he's meant to be with. Growing up in the 80's, you weren't anyone unless you were in a band and Conor has just hatched a plan in his mind that's sure to see him climb the social ladder - and more importantly win the heart of his new beau - Conor is going to start a band and Raphina is going to be the lead star in their first music video. The only problem is at the moment there's no band.
Changing his name to Cosmo and recruiting some more guys to join his band, Cosmo sets fame and the girl of his dreams in his sights.
And from the looks of it, everyone stayed out of Veronica Guerin's way. The real Guerin (her story was previously made as the morose When the Sky Falls, starring Joan Allen) was a star columnist for Dublin's Sunday Independent in the 1990s who decided to start writing about the gangsters behind the explosion of drug trade sweeping across the city. As presented by Blanchett, Guerin was a pretty fearsome, fearless creature, not afraid to simply walk into Dublin's worst slums, stepping over the syringes carpeting the ground, and start asking questions of the junkies and even the dealers. She has a convenient stool pigeon in arch-criminal John "The Coach" Traynor (the marvelous Ciarán Hinds), whom she treats as an underworld rock star of sorts in her column, in exchange for information. It's an education in charm just watching Blanchett stalk into a room, fix on the person she needs to get something out of, be it The Coach, a friendly police detective, or even a member of Parliament, and just about always get what she wants. She's like a bulldozer in a sharp suit. And when Dublin's worst start pressuring her to back off the story - a fist to the face, a bullet through the window of her study - it just adds fuel to the fire.
Continue reading: Veronica Guerin Review
In 1996, high-profile anti-drug crusading Irish journalist Veronica Guerin was violently gunned down in broad daylight at a highway crossing. The event galvanized the island nation, resulted in a sweeping take-back-the-streets campaign in the Dublin slums and led to constitutional changes allowing the freezing of assets and seizure of "unexplained wealth" from suspected drug kingpins.
But Guerin's one-woman uphill battle against the nation's deeply entrenched criminal element might seem like the stuff of TV movies if it weren't for the warmth and tenacity of Cate Blanchett's beautifully well-rounded starring performance and the unblinking starkness of director Joel Schumacher's gritty account of the events leading to her death.
"Veronica Guerin" doesn't paint its subject as a saintly heroine, but as a the inexperienced investigative reporter she was, driven more by dogged fearlessness than journalistic savvy (she'd been a writer of human interest features and church scandal stories). The always sublime Blanchett ("Elizabeth," "Heaven") captures her character's beloved motherhood, her matter-of-fact compassion for the slum-dwelling young victims of Mercedes-driving heroine pushers, and her a gift for cutting to the bone with bold stories that do everything but name names (which she couldn't do under the nation's strict libel laws).
Continue reading: Veronica Guerin Review
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A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...
Before we even get into talking about Veronica Guerin, one thing needs to be made...
In 1996, high-profile anti-drug crusading Irish journalist Veronica Guerin was violently gunned down in broad...