It’s Bonfire Weekend so expect fireworks outside, but if you can’t be bothered to stand in a field in the rain, you can always choose to retire to the comfort of the local multiplex (I use comfort loosely depending on the cinema in question), or even your own front room for emigration, cooking, family discord and Irish mythology.
At 21 years of age, Saoirse Ronan has already been many things. She’s mastered cruel wannabe writers, teenage assassins, dead people and even a remarkably convincing alien, all the more remarkable given how bad the rest of the film was. In Brooklyn, she’s excellent as an Irish émigré heading to the new world for the bright life her hometown can’t offer. There’s a decent romance in John Crowley’s film, adapted from Colm Tóibín’s novel by fellow writer Nick Hornby, but the heart of the story is the experience faced by all those that move away from everything they’ve ever known. It plays on heartstrings at times, and it plays well.
Less successful, considerably so if the reviews and US box office figures are anything to go by, is Burnt, the latest instalment in a line of foodie, chef-mythologising entertainment. Bradley Cooper plays the culinary genius prone to violent outbursts that are meant to show his dedication. Steven Knight’s screenplay has him desperate to rebuild his career and get that final Michelin star after a slump. There will be tantrums, lots of fantasising over food, and the usual use of Sienna Miller in a wasted role that serves only to prop up the male lead.
In stark contrast to the glossy, heavily produced nature of Brooklyn and Burnt (effective for the former, not the latter), comes The Closer We Get. Multi-form artist Karen Guthrie turns the camera on her own family with searing honesty as she explores the difficulties caused by her mother’s illness, and the fall-out that came when secrets from the past surfaced. There’s a warm, intimate atmosphere despite moments of discord, and it never feels less than real, an impressive achievement in a documentary field full of forced efforts.
Now if you want something truly magical, Song of the Sea makes its home entertainment bow this week. Tomm Moore’s beautiful animated fantasy starts out on an isolated island and soon takes in a whole world of Irish folklore as a small boy tries to make it back home in time to save the rest of his family from the various dark fates awaiting them. The animation is stunning, the story magical and the film brilliant. There is no reason not to watch it.
On that note, I’ll leave you to enjoy your viewing. See you next week when Apple’s leading light becomes the latest tech figure to draw Aaron Sorkin’s attention.