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Life’s A Breeze-Movie Review 03/12/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Galway Film Fleadh, Irish film, Irish Film and Television Awards, Movies, Newport Beach Film Festival.
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Life’s A Breeze (Irish) 2013

Written and directed by Lance Daly

Starring Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Kelly Thornton

WINNER, Bingham Ray New Talent Award (Thornton), SECOND PLACE-AUDIENCE AWARD-Best Irish Feature, Galway Film Fleadh
NOMINATED, Best Lead Actress-Film (Thornton); Best Supporting Actress-Film (Flanagan), Irish Film and Television Awards
WINNER, Outstanding Foreign Film (Daly), Newport Beach Film Festival

To celebrate their elderly mother Nan’s (Flanagan) birthday, her five adult children surprise her by giving her home a  makeover. Problem is, they got rid of her old mattress, in which she had deposited all the money she had scrimped and saved for all her married life. Now everyone has to face the fact that they have thrown away a small fortune. What ensues is a moderately amusing and touching story, as the dysfunctional family frantically searches for the mattress.

A pleasant enough movie, not overly long, with somewhat predictable characters, but a funny storyline as the entire city of Dublin gets involved. I learned a new Irish slang word: “culchie” – someone from the countryside, often delivered in a disparaging way (as it was in this film).

83 min. Rated R.

Ondine-Movie Review 01/12/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Folk Tale, Irish film, Irish Film and Television Awards, Neil Jordan, Romance, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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Ondine (Irish) 2009

Written and directed by Neil Jordan
Starring Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Dervla Kirwan, and Alison Barry

WINNER, Best Lead Actor (Farrell); Best Supporting Actress (Kirwan); Best Production Design; Best Sound, Irish Film and Television Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Farrell); NOMINATED, Best Original Screenplay (Jordan), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

An updated version of the Irish folktale of the Selkies, seals who transform into humans for a time.

Syracuse (Farrell) is a fisherman and a recovering alcoholic with a solitary lifestyle. His young daughter Annie (Barry), who lives with his ex-wife Maura (Kirwan), has kidney disease and must use a wheelchair. Syracuse does his best to help care for her.

One day, Syracuse pulls up one of his fishing nets and finds a young woman named Ondine (Bachleda). At first she seems to be drowned but comes back to life. Annie begins to believe that she is a Selkie, and she soon has her father and much of the town believing it, too.

Although not a big award winner, I thought this film was refreshing and not overly sentimental. Farrell shows an emotional side that makes his relationships with Annie and Ondine touching, and the ending, which is a bit of a stretch, easier to accept. Alison Barry, who plays Annie, hasn’t acted before this role.

Also check out The Secret of the Roan Inish, for another retelling of the tale.

103 min. Rated PG-13.


The Secret of Roan Inish-Movie Review 10/12/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Folktale, Independent Spirit Awards, Irish film, John Sayles, Light Drama, Movies.
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The Secret of Roan Inish (Irish/English) 1995
Island of the Seals

Directed by John Sayles
Starring Jeni Courtney and Pat Slowey

Among one award and several other nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Director (Sayles); Best Feature; Best Screenplay, Independent Spirit Awards

A little off the beaten path: a friend recommended this movie, which is a retelling of the Irish folktale about the island of Roan Inish, the island of the selkies – seals who are said to take human form. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

Fiona, aged ten, is sent to live with her grandparents across from the island of Roan Inish that they (and she) used to call home. When she gets curious about the local legends about the island, she finds out about her own family history and about her baby brother.

Director Sayles tells the tale without being overly sweet or sentimental; credit in this respect should be also given to the young actress Jeni Courtney in her introductory role. Apparently, she did not go on to act in many other pieces (only three are listed on IMDb).

A great movie for kids and adults.

102 min. Rated PG.


In Bruges-Movie Review *** 06/02/2011

Posted by Films to consider in British, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, Irish film, Movies.
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In Bruges (British/Irish) 2008

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Performance-Comedy (Farrell), Golden Globes
Nominated, Best Writing-Screenplay (McDonagh), Academy Awards
Winner, Best Screenplay (McDonagh), BAFTA Awards
Winner, Best International Film; Best Script for Film (McDonagh); Nominated, Best Actor (Farrell); Best Actor (Gleeson); Best Screenplay (McDonagh), Irish Film and Television Awards

Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes

When new hitman Ray (Farrell) accidentally kills a little boy on his very first job, he and his mentor Ken (Gleeson) get sent to the Belgian city of Bruges to lay low. As they await word from their boss, Harry Waters (Fiennes), Ken tries to get Ray to appreciate the medieval beauty of the city.

A dark story about guilt and redemption mixed in with a great deal of dark comedy, witty dialogue, and a fair amount of bloody violence. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are funny as an unlikely pair of hitmen, and Ralph Fiennes is creepy as a cold-blooded killer who pretends to show consideration for someone he’s about to do in.

Favorite lines (there were many):
Ray says to Ken, “I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”

Be sure to watch “A Boat Trip Around Bruges” in the DVD’s Special Features for a look at this lovely city.

107 min. Rated R. Bloody violence, drug use, and strong language.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley-Movie Review 10/20/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true story, Drama, Irish film, Movies.
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The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Irish) 2006

Winner, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival

Directed by Ken Loach, written by Paul Laverty
Starring Cillian Murphy as Damien and Pádraic Delaney as Teddy

In Ireland in 1920, citizens have started taking a stand against the British crown by fighting for the right to create an Irish Republic. The British fight back, using raids, torture, intimidation, and murder.

The O’Donovan family in County Cork has two sons: the younger one is Damien, who studied to be a doctor and plans to practice in London; the elder is Teddy, who is already in command of the local unit of the newly-formed Irish Republican Army.

Damien witnesses two violent events that change his mind about the course of his life; he joins his brother and becomes a respected member of the unit. As the fighting escalates, the brothers are faced with growing differences in their views about its purpose. What one considers an acceptable treaty with the British, the other sees as intolerable surrender of the goal of complete Irish independence. Finally, each brother must make a terrible decision.

According to Wikipedia, this film “set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film ever.”

127 min. Not rated. Violence.

Once-Movie Review 09/29/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Irish film, Light Drama, Movies, Musical.
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Once (Irish) 2007

Winner, World Cinema Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival

Written and directed by John Carney

Stars Glen Hansard, songwriter and singer/guitarist from the Irish rock band Frame, as the guy and Markéta Irglová, Czech singer, songwriter, and musician, as the girl.

Simply stated, a guy and a girl meet by chance on the streets of Dublin. Their lives are intertwined while they make music together, and their story is accompanied by their songs.

Most of the lyrics and music was written by Hansard and/or Irglová. Their song “Falling Slowly“ won Best Original Song, Academy Awards and Critics Choice Award, and was nominated for a Grammy. (See below for info about an accompanying CD).

Neither Hansard nor Irglová had acted prior to this film, and their very natural performances reflect the friendship they had off-screen.

On a side note, everyone working in the creative realm should have a supporter like the guy’s father, who gradually realizes that his son truly does have what it takes to become a successful musician. He serves tea while the band practices together and critiques the resulting demo tape with a sincere: “That was f***ing brilliant!”

I’ve seen Once twice, will watch it thrice.

86 min. Rated R.

For more about Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová