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Joey’s Home Movies For the Week of February 28th – ‘Belfast’ Charms With a Warm and Human Tale

Welcome back to my Home Movies! This week, we don’t have a lot of new releases hitting shelves, quantity-wise. However, when the top pick is something like Belfast, it’s quality over quantity, to be sure. Read on for more…

Joey’s Top Pick

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Nothing warmed my heart last year like Kenneth Branagh‘s Belfast. I spoke to Branagh here about the work, but it’s truly just a beautiful movie. Not only is it impeccably written and directed by the multi-hyphenate, the cast is tremendous as well. Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds may have gotten the Academy Award nominations, but Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan are just as splendid. I spoke to Balfe here and Dornan here about the work, so hopefully you check out all of those conversations. This is some of what I had to say about Belfast in my rave review out of TIFF:

Belfast is a beautiful love letter from Kenneth Branagh. He makes the film incredibly singular in its relationship to him/his family, but presents it in a way that everyone can engage with. Branagh fills your heart for 90 minutes, never overstaying its welcome. This is the rare movie that you want to be longer. When it ends, moments after a lovely line about acceptance, you’ll be all smiles (and maybe tears).

This cast will make you fall in love with them, almost instantly. Newcomer Jude Hill is a revelation, instantly becoming someone to watch, while Caitriona Balfe gets a big screen vehicle to make you fall in love with her talents. Judi Dench is her reliably great self, while Ciarán Hinds has never been better. Then, there’s Jamie Dornan, who will make you completely re-evaluate him as an actor. He has a magnetism here that’s impossible not to be won over by. The rest of the Belfast cast is solid, but the core family is really where it’s at.

Kenneth Branagh puts his all into this deeply personal project. His writing and direction drip with affection and love for the story he’s telling. Never getting too deep into the religious conflict, he truly sees it through the eyes of what’s clearly his younger self. Branagh even integrates Van Morrison music (including a new song) incredibly well, fueling all of the personal nostalgia into something universal. The pacing is perfect, breezing along for about 90 minutes and never overstaying its welcome. He’s never accomplished something as up and down terrific as this. Plus, the black and white cinematography from Haris Zambarloukos is gorgeous.

Also Available This Week

IFC Films

American Gods: Seasons 1-3 (TV)

Bond: The Craig Collection (4K)


La Soga: Salvation

The Real Charlie Chaplin

Stoker Hills

No Criterion releases this week. Stay tuned for more next week!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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