Sunday, 7 July 2019


Summertime in Galway City slips up a gear or three next week with the arrival of the 31st  Galway Film Fleadh.

Running from Tuesday to Sunday, the festival is packed with premieres, historical treasures and masterclasses.

Hottest ticket this year is a documentary called ‘Cumar - A Galway Rhapsody.’

Created by director Aodh Ó Coiléain, a broad cocktail of local artists offer through chat and craic rare insights into the belly of the city’s artistic beast.

I’m fired up, so in honour of film, and just because I can, I’m going to hit you with some personal favourites.

This list is being created as I write.
Later I’ll wail about the movies I forgot.

Let’s start in 1954 with Elia Kazan’s ‘On the Waterfront.’ Forget petulant Johnny in ‘The Wild One’ and his mumbling mafiosi parody in ‘The Godfather’: dockworker Terry Malloy is Marlon Brando’s finest role.

Stunningly lit by cinematographer Boris Kaufman and given wings by Leonard Bernstein's score, Brando’s hero is accompanied by a phenomenal cast including Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger.

From brutal dockyard we leap into a green and rarely pleasant land, with Ang Lee’s ‘Sense and Sensibility.’

Emma Thomson spent years lovingly adapting Jane Austen’s novel into a superb Oscar-winning screenplay. 

Within the film, as Elinor Dashwood, Thompson produces a moment of acting that takes my breath away every time.

Watch it and you'll know, as well as seeing Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant play parts they were born to.

I defy you not to fall in love with Rickman’s Colonel Brandon.

From the gently insane manners of old England we move to the brutality of the asylum.

Working on a screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, adapted from a story by Ken Kesey (you have to honour the writers!), Milos Forman created a masterpiece with ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.’

A satirical allegory, a comedy, a tale of horror and cruelty, the film offers an astonishing cast of heartwarming eccentrics, as Jack Nicholson’s Randle Patrick McMurphy meets his nemesis in Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched.

Enthralling and disturbing, the film won five oscars in 1975, and its observations on our attitudes to otherness and conformity still ring terrifyingly true.

Next up comes the first of my curve balls. Pixar’s ‘Up’ took me by surprise when it popped into my head just now, but long into my 6th decade, I’m able to appreciate the wonder of today’s animation, in a way only those raised on Top Cat can.

Grumpy widower Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house in a bid to fly off to the rain forest, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a young stowaway on board who’ll heal Carl’s heart.

There are dog jokes, a comforting sense of humanity, and dreams coming true in ‘Up.’ We’re all allowed a little sentimental sugar-coating every now and then.

Enough with the nice, already.
Enter Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’.

Others might choose Mean Streets, Raging Bull or Taxi Driver, but this is the movie that delivers it all.

Marty’s in his prime, De Niro is born to play Jimmy, Joe Pesci’s entire career is defined by one scene in this film, while Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill is the portal to our world, where people like this really exist.

Better still, Hill’s voiceover is replaced by his Jewish girlfriend Karen, played by Lorraine Bracco. She went on to become Tony Soprano’s therapist Dr. Melfi, and in this essentially macho world, it’s great to hear a woman’s perspective.

My pulse races just thinking about it.

Time to relax then, with a gently whimsical curve ball, in the shape of Percy Adlon’s ‘Baghdad Café.’

Flawed and in the end a tad cringey, this gorgeously oddball film shows the relationships that develop when German tourist Jasmin Munchgstettner (Marianne Sägebrecht) accidentally ends up at the Baghdad Café, a truck-stop diner/motel in the middle of the Southwest American desert.

Atmospheric, weird and wonderful, we’ve a boomerang, a piano and magic tricks, while Jack Palance puts in a tremendous turn as Jasmin’s suitor, and CCH Pounder plays a blinder as Brenda, the owner trying to keep the place together. Gradually the two women form a strong bond, and life feels just a little better.

From fluffy duvet filler to bloodstained cars. It’s time for Travolta and Thurman to get on down in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction.’ Through labyrinthine time-twisting story threads we follow Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth as they generally get up to no good.

Harvey Keitel pops in to save the day and Ving Rhames chills the blood, and oh, let’s not forget that watch and Christopher Walken’s backside: Tarantino at the height of his powers.

The reels nearly empty, yet I haven’t had time to wax lyrical about ‘Man On Wire’, James Marsh’s Oscar-winning utterly inspirational documentary about egocentric hero Philippe Petit, who in 1974 defied the law (and common sense) to realise his life’s dream of walking a tightrope across New York’s Twin Towers.

I wanted to wonder whether Francs McDormand outdid her blistering performance in the Coen Brothers ‘Fargo’ with her imperious turn, years later, in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.’

No space to explore opening sequences, like Woody Allen’s jaw-dropping monochrome Gershwin adoration in ‘Manhattan’, and Ry Cooder’s guitar following Harry Dean Stanton’s Travis as he emerges from the desert, at the start of Wim Wenders heart-wrenching ‘Paris, Texas’.

That’s a wrap. 

I love film.

©Charlie Adley

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