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Barber (2023) – Movie Review

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Barber (2023) – Movie Review

Barber, 2023.

Directed by Fintan Connolly.
Starring Aidan Gillen, Steve Wall, Desmond Eastwood, Liam Carney, Gary Lydon, Rúaidhrí Conroy, Ailbhe Cowley and Nick Dunning.

SYNOPSIS:

Val Barber, a private investigator, is hired by a wealthy widow to find her missing granddaughter. Set in Dublin against the background of a global pandemic, Barber’s initial investigation into Sara’s disappearance quickly darkens. Before too long, Barber finds himself entangled with powerful men of shady morals determined to thwart his investigation…

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Viewers of a certain generation will see this and remember the days of Covid-19. Barber was produced and filming during the global pandemic of 2020/2021 and it shows. We have characters using face-masks and being reminded of their importance, reminding others about social distancing, reminding others we can’t shake hands, reminding why we need hand sanitiser, and using video calls to conduct meetings. If there is a film that acts as a historical document to how the film industry kept turning during Covid, this is it.

Away from that, Aidan Gillen leads us around a rainy, often gloomy Dublin as a private investigator searching for a missing young girl. While it is initially a bread-and-butter job for our mop-haired sleuth, he crosses paths with those willing to use blackmail, bribery, assault and intimidation to steer him away from the truth. All the while he juggles his own private life, such as forbidden romances and caring for his daughter in rehab. He’s one of the many private eyes we have seen in TV and film who do a dark and dangerous job because they love the thrill of a chase, even if it pushes them to their limits at times.

Gillen is a talented actor, and leads a cast of native Dubliners for a very authentic crime drama. Yet it’s a story that’s not very exciting to warrant a big-screen outing. It deals with very current themes that are most popular in the genre – corruption, abuse and mental trauma. Powerful men in powerful positions prey on the weak and naïve. Barber doesn’t walk the line between good and evil, he’s not that style of investigator, but he’s certainly seen and experienced enough to know when evil rears its ugly head. And like all good P.Is, he has a small team around him to help crack the case such as a desk-bound researcher, an old colleague who drowns in a pint glass helping him solve clues, and a tech-geek who bends the rules for cash in hand.

It’s the sort of crime drama that you would see on Sunday night television in a six-part series. Conversations take place in warmly lit pubs, small offices by a busy street, dark streets, cars (usually whilst holding a long lens camera). You know the drill; all on location and all practical, which is decent at least.

Director Connolly tries to inject as much character development for Barber as possible away from the crime to get you to care, and while he is a likeable chap, there’s not enough meat on the bones except him bouncing from character to character who help or hinder him. Forrest Gray provides a familiar soundtrack of chilling piano and slow-brooding strings, again making this feel like some TV drama (when you learn he composed Bridgerton, you can see the dots connecting in how he writes for the small screen).

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You’ve seen this all before, and it is strange to see this attempt to break the big screen. Much more suited for small that could easily expand the characters, and give Gillen more juicy plots to follow in future, rather than this slightly lacklustre and overlong “pilot” feature.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Chris Gelderd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

 

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Movie Reviews

Bad Newz Movie Review: Vicky Kaushal and Ammy Virk’s hilarious rivalry elevates this laugh riot

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Bad Newz Movie Review: Vicky Kaushal and Ammy Virk’s hilarious rivalry elevates this laugh riot
Story: Saloni Bagga (Triptii Dimri) gets pregnant with twins conceived through a rare phenomenon, heteropaternal superfecundation, which means there are two biological dads. In a hilarious rivalry, the would-be papas compete to win her heart and fatherhood. Whom will she choose?

Review: In the laugh riot that comes after Good Newwz (2019), Saloni Bagga dreams of culinary stardom and resists her mother’s marriage pressure until a whirlwind romance and marriage with Akhil Chaddha (Vicky Kaushal). While she craves career glory, her husband longs for a family, as his carefree attitude creates friction in their relationship. An incident throws her dreams and job into disarray, forcing them to acknowledge their incompatibility. Divorce ensues, and Saloni seeks a fresh start in Mussourie. There, she has a one-night stand with her boss, Gurbir Pannu (Ammy Virk).

Fate throws another curveball: Akhil reappears, and on the same night, things get tangled again. Six weeks later, a bombshell drops—Saloni’s pregnant with twins, and a paternity test reveals both Akhil and Gurbir are fathers! This unexpected twist sets the stage for a side-splitting battle between the two men, each vying for Saloni’s love and a shot at fatherhood.

Two heroes in a comedic duel for the heroine feels like a familiar rom-com setup. The plot might not surprise you, but the film shines in its outrageous humour. While the script and screenplay remain on uneven ground, director Anand Tiwari and writers Tarun Dudeja and Ishita Moitra understand that laughter is the key ingredient. Jokes and one-liners (by Dudeja) pepper the narrative, ensuring you’ll chuckle even after a supposedly serious scene. The film feels light and breezy, with the cast seemingly having a blast themselves.

Highlights include hilarious self-referential jabs at Karan Johar, from Akhil’s (Vicky Kaushal) possessiveness over a Katrina Kaif poster to Gurbir’s deadpan declaration that he’s “no Manmarziyan’s Vicky Kaushal” (referencing another Kaushal rom-com). These playful nods at Bollywood tropes add another layer of amusement and will crack you up.

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The film’s pacing suffers from a rushed first act, as Akhil and Saloni’s romance, marriage, and subsequent split feel underdeveloped. Similarly, Saloni’s fling with Gurbir lacks depth and is unconvincing. While the soundtrack boasts catchy tunes like Raula Raula, Mere Mehboob Mere Sanam, and Jaanam, their rapid-fire placement disrupts the narrative flow. Repetition in comedic situations and a predictable plot further hinder the film, especially in the second half, which feels overstretched.

Vicky Kaushal shines as the self-centred and loud Punjabi who eventually undergoes a satisfying character arc, learning to prioritise Saloni’s dreams. His impeccable comedic timing and energy are matched by Ammy Virk, who holds his own as Gurbir, the other more polished father figure in the chaotic equation. The best scenes are between the duo and their strong chemistry enables the comedy to roll out effectively. Triptii Dimri looks pretty and pulls off emotional scenes but struggles with comedy.

With a hilarious premise and two funny men, this one’s a laugh riot. Even when the plot takes a familiar turn and stretches, the witty dialogues and spot-on comedic timing from the cast ensure you’re consistently entertained.

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Movie review – Twisters

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Movie review – Twisters

I’d rush into a tornado to save Glen Powell. Twisters feels like this year’s Top Gun: Maverick, a crowd-pleasing epic theater experience that feels like a throwback summer blockbuster in the coolest of ways. Much like the latter-mentioned legacy sequel, Twisters supersedes its predecessor in just about every way while bolstering new stars and bringing new thrills. 

Twisters follows tornado trackers Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Javi (Anthony Ramos) who look to test an experimental new tracking system. They come into contact with the charismatic yet reckless Tyler Owens (Glen Powell) and his gang of social-media-driven Tornado wranglers. The film is directed by Lee Isaac Chung, who also directed 2020’s Minari

Powell always thrives in the lovable douchebag role. His character in this movie feels like an evolution of Hangman in Top Gun: Maverick. Side note, Powell would make a good Indiana Jones. A handsome, tall, and gruff nerd who’s likable and charismatic. I especially felt this while watching this year’s Hit Man and Twisters only helped to exemplify it. 

Edgar-Jones shines in her first huge role, bringing loads of heart. The romance between Edgar-Jones and Powell was very push-and-pull in a very fresh way. The characterization in this film also really outdoes its predecessor.

Everyone has much more nuance and depth, reflecting the way movies are made today. I wish Ramos had been given more to do and work with, but he does get some solid emotional beats with Edgar-Jones. It’s also really funny seeing David Cornswet play the exact opposite character of Superman, a corporate shell who doesn’t care about people.

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I already know that country stuff is gonna pop off when this movie gets really popular. But it was a smart market to capitalize on with how popular country music is now. Artists like Beyoncé and Post Malone tapped into the genre and now so has modern Hollywood. 

I attended its premiere in Los Angeles, thanks to 1iota (1IGOATA) for the opportunity. It was so cool to be able to see the premiere set designed to look like it had been through a storm and to get to see all the people who worked on the movie in person. It’s one of those things that reminds you of how cool Hollywood is and can be.

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Movie Reviews

Film Review: 'Oddity' is a Little Chiller That Shows a Lot of Atmospheric Promise – Awards Radar

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Film Review: 'Oddity' is a Little Chiller That Shows a Lot of Atmospheric Promise – Awards Radar
IFC Films

Dread is a great tool for horror. Even if nothing overtly terrifying is happening on screen, if there’s an element of dread on hand, you’re primed for anything. Horror uses it better than any other genre, so a good genre filmmaker can go to town. Oddity is a solid example of this, as a horror movie bathed in dread. It’s nothing like the recently released Longlegs, but then again, what is? Taken on its own, this is an effective little fright flick.

Oddity is the sort of film that works best as a calling card for its director. Beyond that, the atmosphere on display is worthy of praise. The story itself is a bit on the light side, but it winds up coming together in a pretty interesting way. If you like smaller horror films, then this is one to check out, as it delivers far more than it doesn’t.

IFC Films

One year after Dani (Carolyn Bracken) has been brutally murdered at the home in southwestern Ireland she shared with physician Ted Timmis (Gwilym Lee), the latter is still living there. He claims it’s because it’s close to his job at a nearby psychiatric hospital, though others think there’s more to it than that. Ted’s former patient Olin Boole (Tadhg Murphy) has been pegged with the slaying, though again, not everyone thinks that was the case, especially when Olin was savagely killed shortly thereafter. When Dani’s blind twin sister Darcy (also Bracken) shows up on the one year anniversary of the murder, she startles Ted and his girlfriend Yana (Caroline Menton). Darcy is a medium and has a gift for him, one that he’ll wish she had not brought with her.

From here, the supernatural begins to rear its head. Darcy has a wooden mannequin for Ted, which belonged to her and Dani’s mother. He’s not interested, while Yana is hugely put off by her and the doll, but they want to be polite. The longer Dani is around, and the more trance-like she gets, the more scared Yana gets, eventually with very good reason.

IFC Films

The cast lends an effective seriousness to the proceedings, even if no one here outright blew me away. The main trio of Carolyn Bracken, Gwilym Lee, and Caroline Menton anchor things with a quietness that is almost more befitting a drama. Bracken gets to do some interesting things later in the game, while Menton gets to be effectively frightened, but they’re all in service of their director’s vision. In addition to Tadhg Murphy, the supporting cast includes Jonathan French, Joe Rooney, Steve Wall, and more.

Filmmaker Damian Mc Carthy should have a nice future in horror, given his sense of atmosphere. He utilizes dread and some occasionally gnarly visuals to good effect. His direction is ahead of his writing, as the pacing is a bit slow, but it eventually comes together. Oddity lives up to its name, but it does feel longer than it’s under 100 minute running time. Once Mc Carthy tightens things up a bit, his next work will not just be good again, but almost assuredly great. I’m bullish on his talent, that’s for sure. At a certain point, you’re stressed at the horrific possibilities, which is huge within the genre.

Oddity never ascends to the next level, but as a small fright flick with some strong atmosphere, it works. The sense of dread and potential for terror is there, so when Mc Carthy makes another genre effort, I’ll be there. He’s got the goods.

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SCORE: ★★★

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