Film buffs spoilt for choice

FILM FESTIVAL fans are on the home straight, but it’s when things get trickiest because the choice this weekend is almost overwhelming.

Features include: Millions, the latest from Danny “Trainspotting” Boyle; Finding Neverland has Johnny Depp playing JM Barrie, the creator of the immortal Peter Pan; Coffee and Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch is a series of rambling vignettes built around caffeine and nicotine, including a turn from the venerable Bill Murray; Strange Fruit, ostensibly part of the gay festival, is anything but minority interest, it’s a brutal tale of murder, bigotry and racism in the Deep South and director Kyle Schickner is in Cork to do some meet-and-greet; The Big Red One: The Reconstruction has rescued Sam Fuller’s 1980 war movie, adding an extra hour of footage.

The Lord Mayor’s family screening, Ella Enchanted - free, and especially for children - is classic fairytale fare.

For those who missed out on the excellent shorts programmes, we urge you to see the roundup of the week - Great Shorts - but, be warned, this is a hot ticket.

A closing trawl of the documentaries reveals some prize catches: Coach, by Liam “Southpaw” McGrath, a year spent with a NYC high school basketball team, and This Thing Happened, recounting the story of the 1927 storm that claimed the lives of 45 fisherman on the west coast of Ireland, are showing as a double bill. Parallel Lines is lovely roadtrip across the US inspired by 9/11.

Tomorrow night is, of course, the awards ceremony and the gala film is Look At Me.

Box office: (021) 4272 263.

A chorus of fat ladies and a brace of baritones have already descended on the sunny southeast as the Wexford Festival Opera began its overture on Thursday. Running until October 31, this autumnal invasion has been an annual event for over 50 years, with the narrow streets and intimate venues all adding to the vivacious atmosphere. The biggies this weekend are Walter Braunfels’ Prinzessin Brambilla and Saverio Mercadante’s La vestale, with repeat performances throughout the next few weeks.

At the beginning of the 1920s, Braunfels was one of the most popular composers alive but, in 1933, a Nazi decree removed the Jewish Braunfels from his post as director of the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. He survived the war, but all had changed. The war firmly divides his compositions: before the war, his work was noteworthy for its lyrical exuberance; after, he developed an ascetic mysticism, the romance of the pre-war years expunged from his work. This piece was composed in 1909 and reworked in the 1920s. It is only in recent years that his reputation has been restored.

Puccini adored La vestale; so did Verdi, who paid the work the highest compliment by plagiarising freely from it for his Aida.

La vestale has been acclaimed as a “surprisingly modern opera”, nothing less than a “colossal” triumph.

Also starting yesterday, the Waterford Arts Festival, which runs until Monday, October 25, offers theatre, film, music, comedy, dance, literature, visuals and craft, and has both local talent and international artists. This weekend, a random dip into the programme barely hints at the variety: a production of John Breen’s eternally popular Alone It Stands which recalls the day Munster rolled over the All Blacks should pack out Theatre Royal; Cobh troubadour Freddie White strums his stuff in Shefflins; Comedy Sportz in Phil Grimes is improv comedy as a contest between two teams with the audience voting a winner; Independent Ballet Wales, in Theatre Royal, are a young, vibrant posse of hoofers from the valleys; while Garter Lane Arts Centre has a day-long celebration of world culture, on Saturday, free to all.

The 2nd Killarney Music Festival features Dickie Rock, Joe Dolan, Brendan Bowyer, Simon Casey, Abba tribute band Bjorn Again, and country stars Robert Mizell and Patrick Feeney.

It’s at the Gleneagles Hotel INEC on October bank holiday weekend.

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