17 Irish Movies to Watch on St Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!!

I’m wearing green today even though I have no plans to go anywhere ūüėČ Man, looking at the beautiful photo of Dublin above makes me wish we could actually travel to Ireland, or anywhere for that matter.

Well, we can always travel vicariously through the movies. There are quite a few Irish-set movies I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve also blogged about those movies a few times already, whether it’s memorable scenes, songs, or actors. So I’m going to include those movies I’ve mentioned, as well as new ones that weren’t on the list. Whether you’re into intense dramas, heartfelt rom-coms or family-friendly movies, there’s something for everyone here. So here they are in alphabetical order:

Brooklyn

An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

I’m glad I saw this on the big screen during a film festival a few years ago (which I’ve reviewed here). A seemingly-simple story of an immigrant girl that’s deeply poignant and moving, and as an immigrant to the US myself, I can certainly relate to Saoirse Ronan‘s character. I count this as one of my favorite role of Ronan’s conveys her internal struggles in a subtle but effective way. Directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, it’s also got a great ensemble cast: Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Domhnall Gleeson andEmory Cohen.

Circle of Friends (1995)

Set in 1950’s Ireland, the movie focuses on Benny Hogan and her best friend, Eve Malone. The story centers around Benny and Eve as they enter student life at University College, Dublin. Here Benny and Eve reunite with their childhood friend, the ice-cool Nan Mahon, the ‘college belle’. They also encounter the handsome and charming Jack Foley, whom Benny quickly falls for.

I love, love this movie that I’ve written a post dedicated for this movie here. It’s one of my fave rom-coms that I’ve watched multiple times. I enjoy seeing Minnie Driver on screen and her earlier role as Benny (Bernadette) is just so delightful. The story of friendship is lovely, plus there’s Colin Firth in a rare baddie role.

I love this song You’re The One by Shane MacGowan & M√°ire Brennan.

The Eclipse (2009)

In a seaside Irish town, a widower sparks with a visiting horror novelist while he also begins to believe he is seeing ghosts.

This one you might not have heard of, not to be confused with the Twilight movie. It’s more of a drama than horror though there are indeed some spooky elements. Based on a supernatural love story by author Billy Roche and was co-adapted by Conor McPherson, it stars Ciar√°n Hinds and Iben Hjejle as Michael and Lena, who met during a literary festival in Wexford. Michael is still recovering from the loss of his wife to cancer and he’s confronted by strange visions. Aidan Quinn also makes an appearance as another author who isn’t too keen on the two main characters getting together.

The scenery in Irish seaport town of Cobh is beautiful, and the cinematography is definitely atmospheric.

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

A powerful meditation on guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation, this potent drama tells the story of two men on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political struggle: one a killer, the other the brother of the man he killed. 

This one is such a powerful and poignant film‚Ķ definitely a riveting character study of two people on opposite sides. I’ve actually seen a local play reading of this as a local playwright is trying to adapt this into stage play. Liam Neeson¬†and¬†James Nesbitt are both terrific in their roles, though they barely share a scene together.¬†I’ve written a full review of it here ‚Äď despite being only 89 minutes long, it definitely packs an emotional punch!

Frank (2014)

Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.

Why hire a handsome actor like¬†Michael Fassbender and have him wear a giant papier-m√Ęch√© head for practically the entire movie? Well, that part wasn‚Äôt just a silly gimmick, but there‚Äôs an intriguing story behind it and Fassbender did an amazing job acting without the use of his face. This Lenny Abramson’s movie is¬† certainly one of the weirdest I’ve seen but it’s a quirky and memorable commentary about the creative process. You can read my full review here.

The Guard (2011)

An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is partnered with an up-tight F.B.I. agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.

I love buddy cop comedies! Ok so this one isn’t quite Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys, but it’s two unlikely people, an Irish cop and FBI agent who couldn’t be more different. But of course they end up bonding while working together on an international cocaine-smuggling operation. I love Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle here, their banters are definitely amusing. I just realized that the director, John Michael McDonagh, is Martin McDonagh’s brother who worked with Gleeson in In Bruges.

The Matchmaker (1997)

Marcy is an assistant to Senator John McGlory, who is having problems with a re-election campaign. Desperate for Irish votes, McGlory’s chief of staff Nick sends Marcy to Ireland to trace McGlory’s relatives or ancestors. Marcy arrives at the village of Ballinagra when it is preparing for an annual Matchmaking Festival.

I saw this ages ago but somehow I still remember parts of it, especially the gorgeous Ireland scenery. The film was filmed in Connemara, west coast of Ireland. I also quite like Janeane Garofalo who always plays the smart girl in rom-coms. I wonder what she’s doing now. David O’Hara is quite charming as her suitor, I’d say it’s a much better movie than the more popular Leap Year (despite the gorgeous Matthew Goode, this movie is simply terrible I won’t put it on this list!).

Once (2007)

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

One of the best musical romantic dramas that’s quintessentially Irish with a universal story about unrequited love. This is perhaps my favorite from John Carney (whose later film Sing Street is also on this list!). It’s got a meet-cute, gorgeous Dublin scenery, wonderful music and two actors with a lovely chemistry. I haven’t seen Glen Hansard nor Mark√©ta Irglov√° in anything else since, but their lovely performance is forever cemented in this charming and bittersweet film. This song just absolutely broke my heart, I tear up every time I hear it.

Ondine (2009)

An Irish fisherman discovers a woman in his fishing net whom his precocious daughter believes to be a selkie.

Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan has a penchant for making films with supernatural, fairy tale bent. This one touches upon Celtic mythology involving selkies as in ‘seal folk,’ mythological beings capable of transforming to human form by shedding their skin. Well, the on-screen chemistry between Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda are so palpable as they fell in love on set and they had a kid together. I love the scenery of the fishing village in County Cork, Ireland and it’s lovely to hear Colin use his real Irish lilt.

Philomena (2013)

A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

Most people who read my blog regularly know I LOVE Dame Judi Dench and this is definitely one of her best work. I included this movie on this list of favorite movies about journalists/reporters in movies. It’s also a bit of a road movie as she and Steve Coogan’s journalist character went on a journey to find her long lost son. It’s a bittersweet story of loss by renowned British director Stephen Frears.

P.S. I Love You (2007)

A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.

Ok I’m aware this movie wasn’t well-received by critics (I mean 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, come on!) but it was a hit with audiences (80%). I for one adore this movie despite Gerry Butler’s ghastly Irish accent. It’s the best of his rom-coms in a string of duds (esp. The Ugly Truth which truthfully IS ugly). It’s a lovely story of loss and love, and Holly’s loss of her husband is heart-wrenching thanks to Hilary Swank‘s believable performance. There’s even a rendition of The Man That Got Away from A Star Is Born, Swank is quite good mimicking Judy Garland she could’ve played her in the JUDY biopic! There are also memorable turns from the ensemble cast, particularly Jeffrey Dean Morgan who played an Irish man believably!

The soundtrack is wonderful as well, filled with lovely songs and a sweet score by John Powell.

The Secret of Kells (2009)

A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

I’m including pretty much ALL of Cartoon Saloon movies here, but naturally, it’s an Irish Animation Studio based in Kilkenny, Ireland. Tomm Moore‘s strikingly beautiful hand-drawn animated movies have all earned an Oscar nomination, and it’s easy to see why. The first of his trilogy based on Celtic mythology, it’s spiritually-tinged and speaks about an inspiring message of devotion, bravery, sacrifice and forgiveness. The voice cast are wonderful, with Brendan Gleeson providing the voice of one of the characters.

Sing Street (2016)

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

As someone growing up in the 80s, naturally it’s a treat to watch these Irish boys trying to escape their family life by forming a band. Apparently it’s a semi-autobiographical story of John Carney, and it’s the perfect love letter to the 80s and the power of music. I like the cast mostly-unknown young actors, which featured a star-making turn by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo with his beautiful singing voice. Peelo has a sweet chemistry with Lucy Boynton‘s Raphina and Jack Reynor provides some of the most moving dramatic moments as Peelo’s brother. But the star of the film is definitely the music and all the¬†catchy songs that I’m still listening to even today.

Song of the Sea (2014)

Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the fairies and save the spirit world.

The second Celtic-mythology animated feature from Cartoon Saloon is SO gorgeous one could easily get lost in marveling at the visuals. The world-building and attention to detail is so mesmerizing. I just LOVE the color scheme depicting the ocean, it’s so soothing but also mysterious and magical. This might be my favorite of the trilogy, which I’ve reviewed in full here. Just like in his first film, there’s something so amazingly-evocative in the way the animation is done, where you could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast.

Veronica Guerrin

Based on a true story, this is about the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, a reporter for The Sunday Independent, who exposed some of Dublin’s most powerful crime barons and drug lords in 1996.

Cate Blanchett can play virtually anyone and can disappear into any role. That’s the case here where the Aussie thespian played Irish intrepid journalist who met a tragic end when she tried to expose powerful drug lords. It’s a tour de force performance that every Blanchett fan should watch. Though it’s not exactly an enjoyable movie per se, it’s definitely a gripping thriller. I’d say it’s one of the late Joel Shumacher’s best work and one of my favorite films about journalists.

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.

I actually just saw this one last night as I wanted to watch an Irish movie this week. I think I watched only parts of it ages ago and I’m glad I finally saw it in its entirety. Though the movie was actually filmed in The Isle of Man, it wonderfully captures the Irish spirit and small town life. Ian Bannen as Jackie and David Kelly as Michael are truly hilarious as the two best friends trying to trick the lottery company into thinking Ned is still alive. It’s such a fun, oddball, charming movie that one can watch with the whole family or on a movie night with friends, guaranteed to put everyone in a cheery mood. There are plenty of drinking scenes whether in a town’s pub or at home, too, so a good escapism movie to watch on St Patty’s Day!

Wolfwalkers (2021)

A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.

The last of the Celtic folklore trilogy from Cartoon Saloon is once again nominated for an Oscar! I can’t say enough how gorgeous this movie is, and I’m obsessed with the look of Mebh, the Wolfwalker girl. With her full orange mane and huge green eyes, she’s such a mesmerizing character.

I love the unlikely friendship storyline between Robyn and Mebh, but unlike most Disney movies, the story can be a bit dark and even sad at times so it’s perhaps more suitable for adults and older kids. But like most Tomm Moore’s previous work, the visuals are simply exquisite, and accompanied by wonderful Gaelic music/songs that transports you to a magical world.


So which are your favorite Irish movies? Feel free to suggest some in the comments!

///

FlixChatter Review: Song of the Sea (2014)

SongOftheSea

Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer exactly a year ago. I was so impressed by the visuals of The Secret of Kells (2009), I adore the hand-drawn animation style where virtually EVERY single scene is worth framing. Five years later, filmmaker Tomm Moore is back with another mythical tale, this time it’s based on an ancient Celtic myth of the selkie, creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land (per Wiki).

SongOfSeaStill1

Brendan Gleeson is also back as one of the voice cast, but it’s David Rawle as the young boy Ben who’s the lead of the film, along with his younger sister Saoirse who’s mostly silent throughout the film. The story begins with a young boy losing his mother and later on, which prompts his dad Conor (Gleeson) to place Ben and Saoirse with their grandmother in the city. But from there, he ends up embarking on an adventure of his life.

I have to admit the story isn’t too easy to follow at times, but the visuals are so breathtakingly-beautiful I don’t mind so much. I’m not saying this film is more style than substance, as there’s a deep and magical quality of the mythical tale that once you grasp what’s going on, it’s really quite an emotional ride. I admire the tremendous craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating each animated piece. The vibrant colors and ethereal quality, paired with the lush Celtic music, it’s like a beautiful lullaby of a movie that transports you into an otherworldly realm.

SongOfSeaStills

Like in The Secret of Kells where you could practically smell the trees and the ground the characters walk on, there’s something so evocative about the ocean landscape in this movie. I could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast. The visuals is truly a feast for the eyes that the slower pace actually gives you room to appreciate the artwork before you.

This is an absolute must-see for any fan of animated features, or anyone looking for something unique and magical. There’s a heartwarming familial theme makes this a perfect film to watch with the whole family, even though there are perhaps some scenes that might spook really young children.

This movie was among the nominees for Best Animated Features at last year’s Oscar which went to Big Hero 6. Now if I had seen this last year, I would’ve been torn to pick between the two. Both are worthy contenders to be sure, though in terms of visuals, I think this one is more unique. Props to Tomm Moore for creating yet another animated masterpiece. This is only his second directorial project, so I can’t wait to see what else he’ll tackle next!

4halfReels


What do you think of Song of The Sea?

Thursday Movie Picks #49: Animated Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each.¬†Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is…¬†

Animated Movies

I grew up watching so many Disney animated movies [mostly those Princess movies] and in the 90s, starting with Pixar’s first movie Toy Story, I quickly became a huge fan of their work as well. But Disney and Pixar films are massively popular so for the purpose of this list, I’m selecting three animated films I love that are made outside of those two studios. There are quite a few out there that are worth exploring, and¬†I’m always astonished at the huge amount of work that go into making animated features.

So here are three that left a big impression to me and worth watching over and over:

Chicken Run (2000)

When a bird “flies” into a chicken farm, the fellow chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.

ChickenRun

I saw this Aardman animated feature years ago but I still remember it fondly. It’s such a bonkers¬†idea to sort of remake The Great Escape but with chickens, yet it works brilliantly. Peter Lord and Nick Park’s claymation style is so unique and fun to look at, in fact the shape of the chickens alone are hysterical. I giggle just looking at them! I adore the characters, especially Ginger (voiced by¬†Julia Sawalha) who’s the smartest of the bunch. She and Rocky the circus Rooster (Mel Gibson) didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, but they end up becoming close and believe it or not, their chemistry is so endearing. It’s such a hilarious and action-packed adventure that’s fun¬†to watch over and over. It’s also got some of the funniest lines… “I don’t want to be a pie! I don’t like gravy.” Ha!

….

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

HTTYD

I have to admit the idea of this Dreamworks Animation¬†didn’t immediately appeal to me, so I was so surprised how much I absolutely LOVED it! Of course by the time I saw it on Blu-ray, I kicked myself for not having seen this on the big screen! The flying sequence alone would make the admission price worthwhile. I did see the sequel on the big screen but I still have a fondness for the first movie when Hiccup and Toothless first met.

It’s one of the most memorable¬†depiction¬†of unlikely friendship that’s funny and heartwarming. Visually it’s breathtaking, as I mentioned the flying sequence is a marvel to behold. The music by John Powell has also become my personal favorite amongst a bazillion soundtracks I hear year after year.¬†I re-watched it just before the sequel came out and I still enjoyed it immensely.¬†Who knew a movie about dragons could have so much heart? [read my full review]

Song of the Sea (2014)

Saoirse, a little girl who can turn into a seal, goes on an adventure with her brother to save the spirit world and other magical beings like her.

SongOftheSea

Having just seen this recently, it’s still fresh in my mind [review coming next week]. Made by Cartoon Saloon, an Irish-based animation studio, this is Tomm Moore’s second directorial effort. I immediately wanted to see it after watching The Secret of Kells. Just from the visual standpoint, it’s an amazing work of art, gorgeous and ethereal, and the movie itself has such a mythical quality. The story based on an Irish mythology certainly has a deeper meaning than the typical kids entertainment. In fact, this one might appeal to adults as much as kids.


What do you think of my picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

 

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary¬†blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1.¬†Happy June everybody! So Summer Movie Season is officially underway now,¬†starting with one of the biggest blockbusters of the year X-Men: Days of Future Past.¬†It’s one of my most anticipated films of 2014 and I’m glad to say I LOVED it! I reviewed it just before I left for holiday, you can read it here in case you missed it.

SummerMovies2014

Just looking at June, here are some of the films that are coming out this month:

  • The Fault in Our Stars¬†(June 6)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (June¬†6)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2¬†(June¬†13)
  • The Rover (June¬†13)
  • Jersey Boys¬†(June¬†20)
  • Snowpiercer (June¬†27)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (June¬†27)

Now, Keith has given you his take on what to flaunt or flush from the Summer movies. As for me, another highly-anticipated movie¬†out this month would be Snowpiercer! Seriously I’ve blogged about that one since August 2013 and it seems like we in the US are the last to catch¬†this apocalypse thriller after the whole editing debacle (heh, thanks Harvey Weinstein!). I can’t freakin’ wait to finally see it and¬†hopefully the Bong Joon-ho’s original version. They just released a new trailer, see below:

So which June movie(s) are you most anticipating?
….

2. Yesterday (June 4) is Angelina Jolie‘s birthday, she’s born the same year as moi.¬†The year has been kind to miss Jolie, she seems to get even better with age, looking even more stunning now than ever.

AngelinaJolie2014

I first saw her in Gia¬†(1998), as the tragic 70s supermodel Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. It was such a raw performance from Jolie, and she seemed to have embodied the role so well for a while I feared she might’ve ended up as messed up as the character she portrayed. Thankfully that’s not the case and she seemed to have blossomed since then to become not only a good actress but a philanthropist and humanitarian. Jolie is¬†quite a force to be reckoned with in the industry, I admire her even if I don’t always like her movies. I haven’t seen her directorial efforts yet, but of the movies she’s starred in, I think my favorite would be Beyond Borders, heck I even like her as bad ass Lara Croft & an assassin¬†in Wanted. The absolute worst would be The Tourist as she treated the movie like a fashion photoshoot!

What’s your favorite Angelina Jolie’s film (whether it’s the one she directed or star in)?

……
3.¬†I just stumbled upon this new poster and trailer for Song of the Sea¬†and I knew I had to share. It’s from the same filmmakers as The Secret of Kells which I adore. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, along with Up (which took home the award), Fantastic Mr Fox, Coraline and The Princess and the Frog.

SongOfTheSeaPoster

Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

Directed by Tomm Moore, the voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (who was also in The Secret of Kells), Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt.

The trailer is just so gorgeous, the visuals and animation is so unique and fresh, unlike anything done by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks. I think it’s more akin to Studio Ghibli’s style. ¬†I like the fantastical and ethereal quality of the story, check out the trailer below:

My question is two fold: Have you seen The Secret of Kells? What do you think about this new movie?


4. Quite a few casting news I read the past couple of days, but I’m focusing the ones with actors re-teaming for a new project. At the top of the list is two Brits I love who’s got legions of fans: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. Based on this Radiotimes article, the two talented Brits are rumored to star in Journey’s End, based on¬†R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of WWI. Cumberbatch is rumored for the role of Captain Stanhope whilst Hiddles could be playing Lieutenant Osborne. I’d love it if the two are collaborating again, as their screen time together is way too short in Spielberg’s War Horse.¬†If this happens, I sure hope there’d be lots of dialog as I can listen to these two for hours!

cumberbatch-hiddleston-interview-2

cumberbatch-hiddleston-interview-1

Another duo who might be working together again are Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in a 19th century period thriller¬†The Revenant¬†(per FirstShowing) and Mark Wahlberg with Will Ferrell in what looks to be an R-rated¬†comedy, Daddy’s Home (per Deadline). I love Hardy so any casting news with him sounds good to me, he’d probably steal scenes again from Leo like he did in Inception, ahah. As for Wahlberg/Ferrell, well I loved them both in The Other Guys so yeah, that project sounds like it could be fun.

Which two actors do you wish would collaborate again, either for TV or movies?

5.¬†This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet.

TCM last night broadcasted something different than their usual fare. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic of sci-fi/horror, Alien.

Alien1979

Michael has seen it a half a dozen times but this is one of those movies that seem to retain its impact even with multiple viewings. I saw it on video years ago, but I still remember it being so terrifying. And who could forget THAT stomach-bursting scene with John Hurt?

With that in mind, what was last film, near or far, at home or at the cinema, that caused you to literally toss your popcorn?


Well, that’s it for the JUNE 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‚Äėem all! ūüėÄ