A long time ago in the 1990s only certain Irish movies were allowed to get made. They had to be set in the 1950s, rural areas, father-son tensions, girls with long hair, poverty, local pubs, priests, shawls, and wealthy landowners. Or else they had to be magical, mystical, films set near the sea, and preferably aimed at kids. People hated these movies and rightly so. Technically bland and pedestrian they followed the TV-drama template of zero risk, emphasis on script, stage acting, and dull cinematography. Oh, and don't forget to add an over-the-top music score please. That will do nicely. But people got angry. 'We want modern stories featuring good-looking characters in urban settings' they pleaded. The country was changing and Irish cinema had to change too. So the movies we made moved on - no more IRA films, no more rural dramas, and no more 'magical' films featuring dwarves and children. Thank goodness for that so. But what was to follow? What was to replace these wretched movies? Step aside you miserable, grim cinema and make way for a new kind of filmmaking: the CELTIC TIGER* movie!
Big, big mistake. I'll say it again! Big, big mistake. What should have been a decade of New Irish Cinema resulted in some of the worst titles ever seen on our screen. So bad, that they were laughable. What were these movies? How did they get made? Read on and I'll reveal all!
Some time at the end of the '90s Irish filmmakers started taking risks. No, I don't mean a Celtic version of Heimat! They tackled contemporary Irish society. Great, state-of-the-nation stuff then? Nope, not that either. They wanted to show modern Ireland in all its glory: cafés, intelligent discussions, materialism, sexy young cast, nice music on the soundtrack, confident Ireland see. Think the opposite of '80s stuff like Pigs!
So what did we get? Well the first big title was About Adam. It's about a guy who shags three sisters and almost does it with their brother too. It was middle-class, fun, sex, wealthy, and CRAP! The Brits didn't like it. They said it was like all the interesting bits were strained out so as to appeal to an international audience. It was directed by a guy who would direct an even worse Celtic Tiger movie a few years later called Alarm. That was rubbish too. See, the girl moves to the country because she can't afford to live in Dublin. Because property is too expensive. That's what happened in the Celtic Tiger. So she goes mad. What? Because she's an intelligent person surrounded by country fools! They steal her bike, then set off her house alarm, they change her greeting cards. If she stayed in Dublin she would not have gone mad. But she would, because we now have a Luas and that nearly drove her mad. So mad, she didn't bother wearing makeup! That's the Celtic Tiger's fault too. Bad, bad movie. Another piece of Celtic Tiger crapola was a film called Goldfish Memory. What's that about? I can't remember because I've got a memory like a goldfish. See they can only remember for three seconds. Nope, they can remember for longer than that as this movie explains. It was supposed to be a dawn of new Irish Filmmaking. Shot on digital camera this was a new era. Except it wasn't. What we got was a lot of dull characters swapping each other with jazz-light songs on the soundtrack. Like a Robert Altman movie but without all that nasty originality and talent. It was all rather sad - and expensive. Cost a million I remember? For a digital feature? But what was the point then of filming on video? Then there was Trouble With Sex. This was even worse! It was about the 'clash' between 'old' Ireland and the Celtic Tiger. He was working in an old pub. She was a solicitor. They met, and had sex. Then the trouble started. What was this trouble? Singing Crowded House songs? You can fall in love! But they didn't. They were just passing by. Run-down pubs clashed with IFSC apartments. It was really bad stuff indeed. Then there was a film called Headrush. This was another Celtic Tiger movie. Why? Because it was all about developing a business and buying into the risk-taking of that era. Except they sold drugs. In Holland to a fun lovin' criminal? People danced in new clubs to funky sounds. The girlfriend dumps her boyfriend because he wouldn't get a job. She worked in a bank. It was respectable back then in the Celtic Tiger years. The movie was as usual terrible because there are no good Celtic Tiger movies. Then there was Tiger's Tail from our best Irish director who's not Irish - John Boreman no Boorman. He was shocked about this Celtic Tiger thing and rightly so. People puking in Temple Bar, hospitals clogged up, and builders comparing themselves to James Joyce. Except it wasn't very good. It was really bad actually. In fact it had the worst 'acting' from extras in any Irish movie. Another effort was 8.5 hours. This was made in the Celtic Tiger era but by the time it got released it was all over. The Celtic Tiger not the movie. I wish it was. We had to witness a 'lady' giving an estate agent head so she could buy a Dublin 4 apartment which has now probably halved in value. Ha, ha! That was funny indeed. The rest of the movie followed the production lines of Goldfish Memory - film the thing on video and make it look expensive - fail! Then there was probably the worst one of all. A film called Speed Dating came out a few years back. You won't see this one anymore because it's not getting a DVD release (unless you're in Australia). Strange movie full of perky Celtic Tiger cubs saying things like 'I'll help you' and 'It's not stalking it's research'. It was all really, really sad because these poor people had nothing to say. It was crap. Still have a sore neck from shaking my head watching this rubbish. Anyway yet another Celtic Tiger movie was a thing called The Front Line. this one took a different angle and 'tackled' racism. In an ITV crime drama kind of way. There were all these photogenic Africans working in Ireland. Everyone was nice to them except the nasty criminals and scummers. It was about the effects of the Celtic Tiger but thankfully didn't show African getting mutiple PPS numbers because that would be racism (or interesting filmmaking). The director of this rubbish also made another wretched Celtic Tiger movie called Cowboys and Angels. It was about giving up your safe job in the Civil Service and becoming a drugs mule/fashion model/art student. Why he couldn't do all this in his spare time beats me? Because it was the Celtic Tiger era where Civil Servants were losers who die in toilets at their retirement party. Very bad movie even for a Celtic Tiger one. Then there was Dead Bodies. This was a horror-thriller in the vein of Shallow Grave. Except of course it wasn't as good. Lots of early shots of modern Dublin with its gyms and fast pace. That's the Celtic Tiger see? Another awful movie. Then there was When Brendan Met Trudy. That was another Celtic Tiger movie. It was so unoriginal that even the title ripped off another movie! Then there was W.C. This one was set in a jazz club. There was a sub-plot about illegal immigration because we had this in the Celtic Tiger. But they've all gone home now. There are probably other examples of the Celtic Tiger movie but I've got a headache trying to recall all this rubbish. You will too if you ever watch these titles!
* Also called a CAPPUCCINO movie!
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