So I haven’t used this blog in a while so I thought in lieu of updating my Letterboxd I’d put out a post about a funny pairing I saw at my local arts centre. Two low budget independently made Irish features about people exploring the effects of stories through film and how that descends them and their production further down strange rabbit holes (about as much as I can say without outright spoiling it). First up!
Hole in the Head
A more heady experimental piece by Irish filmmaker Dean Kavanagh. It explores the exploits of a rather troubled and nearly entirely mute man as he gets a film crew together to recreate home movies his parents made in order to examine his own history and explore deepseated traumas he’s kept buried. This one will really test how much you can deal with more visual and sensory experiences in films because while there is a plot here it’s a lot more focused on the unsettling atmosphere and psychological frenzy created through the imagery.
For me it falls a bit too flat and meandering to be truly wrapped up in what the mood is trying to capture. However it is effective in how unsettling and absorbing it can be, it’s a true slow burn that utilises every second of its run time to create this experience while also managing to be absurd and parodic in its humour so it’s not all airy wistfulness and uncomfortable weight. As said it doesn’t entirely work for me but I admire its ambition especially for a first time into a more narrative foray for the filmmaker. 6/10
The Cry of Granuaile
A little more conventional than the last one, that doesn’t stop it from being really weird! An American filmmaker going through a dry spell on her work is looking to make a feature on the myth of the Irish pirate queen Granuaile, recruiting a researcher to help her figure out what the film will be. I really enjoyed the frayed dynamic between these two women as their tensions and frustrations grow, though it can be a little hot and cold; for a long while it’s hard to get a clear beat on where they’re at.
Still it’s another great descent looking at the influence of history and myth on communities and people, as well as how cultural perspectives from outsiders can make things muddled and get lost in translation. I dug the handheld vibes here-it’s got a very simple shooting style but it helps gain this intimacy as the director ingratiates herself into the community of the small island town they end up in. I also really dig the costuming-it’s well designed but also believable that this is the material this no-budget team would create. It sputters out a bit at the end but it’s a great tribute to filmmaking and the power of myth with all the foibles and failings that can occur. 7/10