Okay, so it’s been said time and time again this year, and I’m just gonna say it again for the hell of it: Irish film is in a boom period.
In the last ten years, we’ve seen international stars made out of Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, Chris O’Dowd, Jamie Dornan, Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan (jeez there really is too many to name these days isn’t there?). We even have some new star directors in Lenny Abrahamson and John Michael McDonagh, a brilliant duo of contrasting talent which we haven’t seen since the ’90s with Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan.
Hell, we’ve even had our first ever feature-length animated films with The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. They did us proud too, both going on to be nominated for Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards.
However, lest we not forget the greats that came before. There’s the obvious in The Commitments, Michael Collins, My Left Foot, Intermission, and of course, The Snapper. But as always, we’re here to remind you of a few fabulous Irish films that you may have forgotten about or maybe have never even heard of…
Breakfast on Pluto
A standout performance for Cillian Murphy during the peak of his career, Breakfast on Pluto focuses on a transgendered woman in the 1970s who leaves her small Irish town for London, hoping to find a place that feels more like home. Simple but stunning, with a rare subject for Irish film that never falters with its light-hearted approach. Though not a film I easily forget, it aches me to know there are some who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing this film.
Steve McQueen’s first feature and collaboration with the now international star, Michael Fassbender tells the vitally important account of Bobby Sands. A landmark event in Modern Irish history as the Irish Republican single-handedly brought the World’s attention to the Northern-Irish conflict with his non-violent protest. McQueen’s film is a hard watch, but it’s high time for a revisit with the recent release of the documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days.
War of the Buttons
This film may be based on a French novel, but this film is 100% Irish, as there are few films that will remind you of your childhood more. I don’t know about you guys, but the sheer brutality, commitment and bitterness at which we used to “play” is both shocking and hilarious. Anybody else used to play IRA? And then recoil in horror at the fact that they used to play a game called IRA?!
I’m getting sidetracked, but War of the Buttons will bring back those insane memories in the nostalgic and fun kind of way. Plus, you’d swear the entire population of Cork was in it, which is always good for a laugh…
The Butcher Boy
The second of Jordan’s films featured here, The Butcher Boy takes dark comedy to a new level, as it’s one of few to do so with a troubled, and insane-man-in-the-making child protagonist. A disturbing but fascinating watch, as each one of the dark iterations enacted by the pre-teen is treated with equal flippancy as walking down the street. As occassionally hilarious as it is terrifying, The Butcher Boy commits to placing you in the protagonist’s perspective, whether you like it or not.
Before there was Brooklyn, there was In America. In America was a smash hit on it’s initial release, propelling Jim Sheridan back into the spotlight and into the Academy Awards for the first time since In the Name of the Father. It follows an Irish family as they move to Hell’s Kitchen from Ireland – desperately seeking a change of scene since their family got cut from five to four. An emotional but touching drama as told through the perspective of the eldest daughter.
Adam & Paul
Lenny Abrahamson has become everyone’s new favourite Irish director, as he has gone from strength to strength since the beginning of his career with Adam & Paul. Abrahamson’s raw talent is in full force throughout the tragicomedy, as the film follows two hapless drug addicts as they scour Dublin City Centre for their next fix. The film is filled with unsavoury characters and scenes, but promises to shift your perspective and make you think next time you walk through the City Centre.