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Published on March 16th, 2012 | by Sue Murphy


St. Patrick’s Day: What Irish films to watch and what you should avoid… like the plague.

Well, tis that time of year again, bigorah and bigosh, when the leprechauns come out to play and we all go off looking for pots of gold under the rainbow over yonder… Well it’s that time of year for Michael Flatley.  However, the rest of the known world will be donning green and drinking Guinness (a drink most people will pretend to drink while slugging vodka in the corner) and telling anyone who will fucking listen that they are Irish.  If, like me, you only celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in other countries (it is way more fun that way, you get free booze) you might consider this the most opportune time to take shelter from your fellow Irish brethren, who never really get the chance to go out and so deserve a couple of alcoholic beverages, and watch some classic Irish films. 

As a nation, we are way too hard on our film industry.  We are the country who produced Neil Jordan, Michael Fassbender, Oscar winner Brenda Fricker, the mighty Brendan Gleeson and his wonderful son Domhnall, Colin Farrell, gone but never forgotten Richard Harris, “I will find you” Liam Neeson, the man who would be Bond Pierce Brosnan, “Scarecrow” Cillian Murphy, the Galwegian Peter O’Toole, Fiona Shaw, Jim Sheridan… We have produced international masterpieces with Oscar winning performances and have proven that we are incredible storytellers.  For a small island, what amazing achievements, what talent and what promise… 

On the other hand, we need to move on from stereotypical Irish films that deal with the same dilemmas, church, abuse, Northern Ireland and all that comes with it, alcohol, the famine, tried and tested formulas that have worked for us in the past.  The reality is now some of our greatest animators have left the country, new production companies are looking abroad to make a move forward and rarely, unless it is specifically stamped IRISH, will a project get the funding it deserves.  And yet, we have a huge number of nominations for shorts at the Oscars and are producing talent every year that is, without a shadow of a doubt, world class.  As an industry, we are making moves forward (Parked,  d etc) but it’s time to stop funding the leprechauns.  Well, unless they’re beautifully animated integral parts of a story…  We are so much more than that.

I digress…

 5 Films you should watch this Paddy’s Day

1. In the Name of the Father

Unsure how angry you can be about injustice?  Oh, well you should watch this then.  Against a heavy political backdrop, Day-Lewis and Poslethwaithe give stirring performances in a remarkable film by Jim Sheridan which is almost certainly more about family and relationships than it is about troubles in the North.  Don’t be proud because the British had to apologise at the end, be proud because this is truly one of the greatest films you will ever see.  
2. Garage
See rant above. Mark O’Halloran’s tragic story of Josie, the local garage employee, sweet and good-natured, his life changes over the course of a summer.  Hardly the Ireland of the Bord Failte adverts, Garage has received international acclaim.  You might want to drown your sorrows rather than start a hooley though…
3. The Field
Richard Harris. That is all.
4. The Other Side of Sleep
Besides the fact that we really needed a female director in here, The Other Side of Sleep received a lot of attention at Cannes last year and is on limited release from this weekend.  The suffocating tale of Arlene who questions her involvement in the death of a young girl in the village when she wakes up beside her dead body, this is a very different rural experience of Ireland than has been lavishly filmed before.  On a personal note, this is perhaps one of my favourite Irish productions.  Watch in a dark room with no noise.  Unsettling.
5. The Quiet Man
There has been many a night when I have woken up at 3am with this song blasting through the home house, this is my Dad’s favourite film and I can’t hear a bad word against it.  Ford unfortunately, had his heart in the right place.  Sure, the Americans only love it.  Get into the spirit of things…. “There was a wild colonial boy….”

5 Films you shouldn’t watch on Paddy’s Day

They don’t deserve clips.

  1. Far and Away – Cruise, worst accent of all time.
  2. Leap Year – on the top 10 worst list of all time.
  3. PS I Love You – Butler, what were you thinking?
  4. Darby O’Gill – The Quiet Man is inoffensive. This? Well this is offensive.
  5. Circle of Friends – Where is there anything right about it? Chris O’Donell, the worst actor ever, ever.

“With a shillelagh in me ear and a shamrock up me nose, I’ll be off to Connemara in the morning….”

Ah fuck, I forget His n’ Hers. It’s amazing. Watch it.

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