St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, which only means one thing for me: avoiding tourists in my city by staying in and watching an Irish movie or two. If you feel the same way, then here’s a list of my favorites. I enjoyed many of these growing up, and I threw in a few newer films from recent years.
Frank is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie. Me? I loved it, and I had no idea what to expect. It’s odd at (most) times, but that was part of its charm. These characters are quite pretentious, just trying to make music with a weird sound. You know those weird-ass bands you find around South by Southwest? This is probably them.
Frank is all about a young man who joins a band. Their lead singer is the mysterious Frank, who keeps a paper mache heead atop his own head at all times. I highly recommend giving this movie a try and sitting through the whole thing; it will all make sense in the end.
Here in Ireland, we love dark comedy. We can’t get enough of it; we laugh at ourselves and try to make light of what’s happening around the country. Calvary is the darkest of dark comedies.
Brought to you by the director of The Guard, Calvary takes place in a town in western Ireland. The local good-hearted priest, played by Brendan Gleeson, has his life threatened, and carries out his remaining days trying to see the good inside of people in this really, really awful town. The people are horrible, you will end up hating them all, and that’s where the dark comedy comes in. If you think it’s funny, then it’s probably funny.
Movies and books always have their trilogies: The Godfather, The Lord of The Rings… But over here, we have something called The Barrytown trilogy, a set of three books from author Roddy Doyle. These became three movies: The Commitments, The Van, and The Snapper.
The Van is my favorite of the three, because it’s the most relatable. The theme is unemployment: one of the characters gets fired from his job, becomes unhappy with the situation, then he and his best mate team up to buy a van and sell fast food. I know that doesn’t sound very exciting, but it all comes down to the relationships of the characters. If you’re familiar with the struggles of looking for work, then this one is highly recommended. And it’s all on YouTube, so there’s no more excuse for skipping out on this one.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Easter Rising, the day we mounted from the British for our own independence. And if you want know more about it, Michael Collins is the movie for you. A very young Liam Neeson stars as Michael Collins, a personal hero of mine, and one of the people responsible for starting the Irish Civil War and kicking the British out of Ireland. I’m not a very patriotic person, but if any movie were to make me one, it would be this (no offense, British readers).
The War of the Buttons
War of the Buttons quickly became a childhood movie of mine, and I still watch it to this day. This is the tale of two gangs of kids in a small town, and it evolves into a full-on class war. Nothing says “war” like seeing ten- and fifteen-year-olds going to battle, capturing other kids, then ripping off their buttons and cutting their ties and shoelaces, getting them into trouble with their parents. Don’t worry, this is a indeed lighthearted comedy for all ages, and it’s full of childhood shenanigans.
The Butcher Boy
Remember when I said we liked dark comedy? Well, The Butcher Boy is another one — and definitely not for the light-hearted. Another film set in a small town (I swear, this isn’t an intentional list of Irish movies set in small towns), The Butcher Boy follows the story of a young kid named Francie and his best friend Joe. Francie is the only child in his family, and it’s not exactly a happy one. His father’s an alcoholic, and his mother suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. This gives Francie a lot of pressure for someone his age, and although he tries to escape from what’s happening in his home with Joe, he eventually becomes a crazy violent character. This movie is intense, dark, and funny when it needs to be.
Article by contributor Brendalf.