Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2022

I saw some films from the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2022! 15 in fact! Here they are:

You are Not my Mother

There’s a lot I liked here. I think it’s got some amazingly intense atmosphere and creepy production. For a first timer it’s supremely confident in what it wants the audience to feel and it’s really easy to get absorbed into this. I just wish the story was a little tighter-even when it’s by design I was turned off by how muddled it could be and I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. It also falls into a lot of cliches like a bully character who I hated-I want to stop bullies being written so one dimensionally! It’s got its charm but I don’t feel pushed to ever see it again. 5

Keep it a Secret

A really lovely little doc looking over the history of surfing culture in Ireland. It can go a little all over the place at times but it’s made up with some lovely Irish spirit and a great sense of local history and culture. I cannot imagine a lot of this stuff was easy to track down-it wouldn’t be something we’d have a large public record on. Light and breezy and it really made me want to take up surfing though knowing the waves in this country my clumsy ass would absolutely be putting my life in nature’s hands. 6

The Island

This was fucking magical and completely off its game in the best way. I love the distinctive pop-inspired art style and it’s such a crazily clever contemporary adaptation of Robinson Crusoe while also managing to be something entirely its own. The characters were fun and charming, it takes full advantage of its experimental style and tone and pushes commentary on contemporary issues like border politics, consumerism and the dehumanising nature of technology without it feeling overweighed by these themes or preachy. Fantastic little gem, will be thinking about it for months. 9


This documentary travelled up the countryside of Italy to talk to isolated young people about their expectations and dreams to create an idea of the social temperature around that time roughly early 2020. This was an interesting little piece that gives us some potent and important insights that I don’t know worked entirely as a feature as long as it is. There’s a lot that feels repetitive and it gets especially awkward when they incorporate COVID into this, even if I can see why it makes sense for the themes. This may have worked better as a series of shorts, but there’s some good isolated stuff here so it’s not completely disposable. 6

Swan Song

Lovely little film on a new lease on life and facing the ugly ghosts of the past as an elderly gay hairdresser comes out of retirement to do the hair of a former friend and client who passed. Easily the best thing about it is Udo Kier’s sensational performance, being so singularly witty and charismatic while giving us that sense of pathos. I liked the look of this as well-candy coloured with a sense of forlorn. I just think the story goes in too obvious a direction and falls into some tired plot points you can guess. Still a wonderful experience with a great central performance, highly recommended. 7

Three Minutes a Lengthening

A story about a fascinating three minute clip of a Jewish-centered Polish town taken just before World War 2. It’s a seminal piece of history, I liked a lot of the talk of trying to track this place down and source it using the old and partially damaged footage and centering the film on this 3 minute footage on a loop is really clever. And gets exhausting really quickly. I just don’t think there’s enough here to make a fully compelling film, and even at only 69 minutes it wears out its welcome fast. I enjoyed hearing about this footage, its context and trying to place the location I did not enjoy the presentation or a lot of the insights. 5


I loved this one. I have a personal annoyance about how bullying is depicted in film and this gets it so right. It doesn’t go in deep into the bullies themselves but the culture of silence around it in schools and what coerces children to fall into that path. The acting is so, so good from the kids here and setting it entirely around the school was a stroke of genius-you really get a sense of how insular a child’s life is and that everything that happens at school affects them in such profound ways. Intelligently structured and really emotionally dense, one of the highlights of the Fest for me. 9

Cannon Arms and the Arcade Quest

This one was wild and a hell of a lot of fun. A documentary about an aging arcade player trying to beat the record by playing Gyruss for 100 hours consecutively. On top of the punk rock feel and sense of camaraderie you get a complete picture of drive and passion even in something as seemingly throwaway as an old arcade game. Everyone has such a distinctive quirk and likeability factor that really characterises this film, I love the more sombre moments peppered in and just how determined and there they are for their buddies getting personal bests. It’s a film all about following dreams no matter the source and I had a ball all the way through. 8


Justin Kurzel right in his wheelhouse of pathologizing real life murderers in this chilling depiction of Martin Bryant, the culprit of the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia in 1996, the worst massacre recorded in the country. Caleb Landry Jones is horrifically great as the title role, being suitably gross and unhinged and it really looks into the lack of stable social factors around him that pushed him to this place while not exactly sympathising with him. It sometimes feels like a lot of detail is lost here-especially the context of his relationship with an older woman he moves in with-but it’s a solid slow burner and really gets you into this person’s head. 7

Cop Secret

This one is kind of goofy and also a little lame. While there were times I could get on board with the intentional silliness and over the top madcap energy I just could not hit the wavelength with the humour and it just feels a bit too broad when the main joke is that the hyper-masculinity to American action movies is, well, kinda homoerotic and that’s really fun to literalise it but it’s got a really strange tonal issue where it expects you to take the narrative seriously and also don’t. The villain is fucking great and I appreciate where it doesn’t seem to make the queerness the actual joke here and is just part of the lead’s journey-maybe you’ll get more out of this than I did but it just kinda landed with a thud for me mostly. 5

You Resemble Me

This biopic looks into the real-life case of a French-Moroccan woman who got embroiled in Islamic terrorism after being recruited. I definitely think the first half that focused on her childhood and relationship with her sister was a lot more solid-you get a sense of just how unstable and turbulent her life was that brought her to the state she was at in adulthood. I think there’s a lot of erratic and unfocused camera work that feels very first time filmmaker trying to stand out, but it’s not the worst. I appreciate the context given to this woman’s life and it feels raw and emotionally charged enough to really keep me invested through the run time, even if certain elements could have been better ironed out like her adult relationship with her family. Definitely worth a watch though. 6

Really strong and intensely uncomfortable treastise on relationships and expectations and how they guide your actions. The framing here is extremely clever and it really gets across the absolute motions our leads find themselves in as they question their commitment to this path and each other. It really helps the more surreal elements that pop in here, and while I feel they could have been better utilised to express the emotion of the story, it does round up to a distinctive and really striking little flick that is confident in exactly what it’s trying to say. 8


This is from the director of Pieces of a Woman, and like that film I feel it kind of blows it load in a really stunning opening, but unlike that film the rest of this is strong enough to survive that. It’s fantastically and carefully shot which gets the weight and distinctive feel of every segment being focused on. I kind of wish the third part was locked into one location like the other two but I get why that wasn’t the case and the themes of generational trauma and our fleeting memories of history still really stand out. Not the most impactful for me but still a really strong movie. 7

Dark Horse on the Wind

A documentary about Irish folk singer-songwriter Liam Weldon. It does go above and beyond most talking heads by going into the more social and local impact Weldon and his family had, especially their relationship with the Travelling community, and this impact on his art. I felt about 20 or so minutes could be cut here-there are a lot of waffling segments that trailed me off and it felt they didn’t have enough material for 105 minutes. But it’s solid and a great portrait into a treasure in Irish folk singing tradition. 6

The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

A feminist retelling of a Henry Lawson story sees a pregnant woman protect her family in the Australian Outback as her husband has gone missing. Leah Purcell (who also wrote/directed this) does a stellar job in the part getting the appropriate strength and vulnerability needed for the part. And that’s about as much as I enjoyed here. A lot of it feels largely incoherent and poorly laid out narratively which got worse as things went on and I found it mostly dry with an obnoxious score and arduous dull plot detours that barely matter to the overall narrative. Maybe you’ll find something more profound or empowering from this retelling but it did fuck all for me. 4

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