Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Man of no importance

Back in the 1990s several famous British actors decided they wanted to appear in Irish movies. One example was the great Albert Finney. In this film he played an Oscar Wilde-loving, gay, bus conducter. He tries to help a young lady get ahead in life only to discover that she's a slut! Set in '60s Dublin it's an average but enjoyable movie. The kind of picture where you admire the old buses used and famous locations. The kind of film they don't make in Ireland anymore - the light-comedy, nostalgic, character-driven drama.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Irish jam

Here's one the Film Board would never fund. An African-American wins a poetry contest and the prize is an Irish pub! Of course when he arrives he spits out the Guinness and antagonises the locals. The evil English(!) landlord wants to claim the pub while local lass Anna Friel falls for the American. However, it's all filmed in Britain and doesn't feel Irish at all. Those hairy cattle are seldom seen in Ireland and the village is a little too tidy to convince. Still, it's an enjoyable movie and fun to watch which makes it better than many homegrown efforts.

Monday, 28 June 2010

WHY IS IRISH CINEMA SO MIDDLE CLASS?

One thing you notice when watching Irish movies (regardless of their quality) is that they appear to be mostly made from a middle-class perspective. Not that this is a bad thing in theory but unfortunately the end result is usually a mediocre film.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Gobshite

Yes, there really is a movie called this! Set in Skerries, Dublin it's about English gangsters taking over a pub. One of the many Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels copies this one has lots of gangsters trying to be funny, shocking violence, plot twists, and uncomfortable scenes. Kind of like Perrier's Bounty but without the hype and IFTA nominations! Of course the accents are all over the place, the funny scenes fall flat but it's an interesting straight-to-DVD effort. The kind of movie you would never hear about - unless you read The Sunday World!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Accelerator

Believe it or not, a decade ago this was considered quality Irish cinema! A road-race movie through the border full of young working-class ravers. There's the predictable conflict between the two Irish groups and lots of funky music on the soundtrack. Similar to Headrush but better. Some end up shot at the border while others drug out of fuel. Then there's a scary attack by rural Nordie locals and lots of joyriding. It's the kind of movie that Irish cinema was crying out for in the late '90s but it's now as dated as Britpop band Shed Seven.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Viva Maria!

Here's one for fans of A Fistful of Dynamite. Set at the turn of the 20th century in Central America a young Irish female bomber works as a stripper before fighting in the revolution. It's fast paced, dated, badly made, and contains cartoonish violence. One great scene has a dove carrying a grenade(!) flying through a window then flying out of another window (without the grenade) and then the building blows up! Starts off in Ireland before moving abroad, it's notable for an anti-British theme.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

TEN FALLACIES ABOUT IRISH CINEMA!

Right, you're sitting at home watching the IFTAs and some nobody gushes positively about our film industry. Or it's Friday and you read another nice three-star review of the latest Irish feature release. Or, you're on a film course and the lecturer raves about the amazing film career you'll no doubt have if you pass his exams! Well what none of those fools will tell you are the fallacies (or misconceptions) about Irish cinema. Thankfully Shoot the Cabbage is here to put you in the know!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Turning green

Here's another Irish film set in 1979. Although filmed in Wicklow most of the cast think they're in Boston! It's the usual bleached-out cinematography for this coming- of-age drama about a young man. He travels to London and decides to bring porn magazines back home to sell! That's about it. A few famous Hollywood faces appear but the film is strictly straight-to-DVD material. A few characters appear out of place and think they're in a gangster movie. It's a genre movie that has little to say about the church or society - thankfully!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

GOOD FILMS DON'T NEED GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES

Here we go again! The world's leading blog on Irish cinema is once more about to slate our state funding system? Except this post's title is taken from an article in The Telegraph* newspaper concerning several British producers begging the paper for continued government film funding. Here are a few quotes from the artice which criticises the letter: Subsidy actually makes art worse; you’ll make something obscure, unpopular and bad; When the first film pioneers set up their cameras in Hollywood, Ealing and Pinewood, they didn’t arrive with their pockets stuffed with taxpayers’ money. In this country of course it's all about keeping the mouth shut. It's like those three monkeys with their hands covering their mouths, ears, and eyes. Sure the Film Board funds mostly rubbish that makes little money but so what? Sure doesn't it give people jobs and brings tourists to our fair land? Nothing will change and all hope is gone! The chances of making a series of artistically or commercially successful Irish films are slim for the forseeable future no matter how many features the IFB supports. In a country full of jobless and lone parents receiving state support it's no wonder that our filmmakers also run to the Government looking for money. The problem with this approach is that they all have to conform. Any originality is filtered out and they end up making films using the same actors and filmmaking style as each other. Films that should be directed by auteurs end up getting directed by a committee! It's all quite sad and careers are sent down the wrong path. I would rather see more films like Anton (no matter how bad they are) instead of cookie-cutter crap like Wide Open Spaces, Perrier's bounty, Film with me in it. Finally, where's an Irish film critic writing an article like this in our papers. Like I said above - it's all about keeping the mouth shut!
*21-6-2010

WHY WON'T SHOOT THE CABBAGE REVIEW HIS & HERS?

There's a new Irish film out called His & Hers. It's getting good reviews and is well promoted. So why won't this blog review it? Because that film is a documentary and Shoot the Cabbage only discusses and reviews Irish fiction feature films. So no discussion of not just documentaries but also animations, shorts, TV series, and even made-in-Ireland features that have no Irish content. Rather than having a vague Irish film blog that spans different types of film Shoot the Cabbage would rather focus in detail on features. That's just the way it is folks!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Hidden agenda

It's no coincidence that the three great British realist directors from the '80s (Loach, Clarke, Leigh) all made a film set in Northern Ireland. Following the political thriller template Hidden Agenda tells the investigation of a shoot-to-kill policy only to uncover an even greater secret involving the deliberate fall of the Labour government in Britain. Of course most of it is fiction but it's great fun following the story. Strange that the most sinister scene in set on O'Connell Bridge in Dublin? Also interesting is the visit to a bar where not all republicans support the IRA! There are some interesting and sleazy characters in this film and it made a good point about there being two laws in the North.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

WHY ARE SH*T IRISH MOVIES GETTING SO MUCH STATE CASH TO PROMOTE?

Another good recent article in the Irish Times* about our cinema. It states that several mainstream and well-known movies (Perrier's bounty, Ondine, Zonad) received state funding to (get this) - promote. These 'grants' were non-repayable! Let me understand this correctly: there are filmmakers out there struggling to make their own stuff and the IFB have given commercial distributers €200K to promote these rubbish films? Where's the sense in that? Not only should these extremely mainstream films have not been funded by the Film Board but to then receive further non-repayable funding to advertise these titles is a joke! We're in recession too by the way. It's also strange that two of these terrible titles received IFTA nominations? Just doesn't make sense? Surely the producers of these titles would have had no problem finding private funding for such commercial projects? Surely the distributors would not need state funding to promote these titles? Why did the IFB give away this money to help promote such rubbish titles? That sh*te Zonad received €75K to promote and yet it only took €34K at the Irish box office! Surely someone could have seen a preview of Zonad and said 'hang on, we're not funding this crap. Let's give the €75K to a new filmmaker who wants to make a debut feature'? Sadly, it doesn't work like this. Sadly, this is the way it works: Lick the ass off the big names and give them money even if their new feature is complete sh*te. How much will Kirsten Sheridan get from the IFB to promote her next feature? Probably more than the average Irish industrial annual wage. The system is rotten and all hope is gone. Zonad is out on DVD now at €15. Don't waste your money!
* Government cash markets Irish film – why not music?

This is my father

One of the better Irish movies from the '90s. It's a flashback story about a doomed romance between a 17-year old girl and Quinn. The anti-happiness brigade forbid the relationship and after the girl gets pregnant Quinn gets hounded by the community. It's one of those films where the story rules so it does get melodramatic. But everything about this picture is impressive: the casting; music score; cinematography; story; and locations used. It's one of those clichéd Irish movies (the local priest resembles Barry Fitzgerald!) that people living here dislike but this is the kind of stuff foreign audiences want to see made here. Good to see that the 'solitary tree in an empty field' from this movie was blatantly copied by the dire Eden over a decade later!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Last leprechaun

Here's one that will never appear on the Irish Film Board's promotional trailer! Made in South Africa(?) but set in Ireland it's the well-worn story of two kids staying with their future (evil) step mother. They meet a leprechaun who's is fleeing from foresters and they have an adventure. One of a small number of Irish movies with an environment theme (Taffin is another). The script is stronger than most homegrown efforts but the effects are terrible. The acting is more suited to pantomime and the story runs out of steam towards the end. Really for kids but it's an entertaining and interesting commercial effort.

Friday, 18 June 2010

IRISH FILM ACADEMY

Not sure what this crowd is up to but they seem to be some kind of film training place? Anyway, walked past their office today and lo and behold what did I see lying just inside their street window? None other than a book called Filmmaking for Dummies! Any respectability this 'academy' had is gone for good from this web log. If you're considering doing a filmmaking course in Dublin then avoid these jokers!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Holy water

When the next tome on Irish cinema gets published chances are it will ignore the most wretched of sub-genres - the one called 'Paddywhackery boll*cks'! This maligned genre includes titles such as Closer you get, Waking Ned, and Irish Jam. Rural locations, middle-aged cast, few children present, fiddle music on the soundtrack, unfunny comedy, sex-starved natives, priests who are 'one of the lads', and a great plan that everyone works together on. The latest example is Holy water and as expected it's sh*t. What's Linda 'Terminator' Hamilton doing in this junk? They steal viagra, it gets into the local water supply, and everyone gets romantic. Except the heist is rushed and we don't give a toss about the characters or who they get off with. Filmed in Devon, England (!) the movie uses red phone boxes, British car-reg plates, and sterling currency yet the accents and surroundings are mostly Southern Irish? What a crock of crap!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Ordinary decent criminal

One of the saddest aspects of Irish cinema is the small number of talented directors who sold out to make sh*te. One famous example is the director of this movie. How could the talented director of December Bride go on to make stuff like this? We have stories to tell indeed! One of three adaptations of Martin Cahill's story this one is the weakest. Hire in a few international stars; use all the famous Dublin locations; copy an ITV crime-drama style; hold back the violence; hold back any impact on the audience; and bore the nads off the audience. It's disappointing crap, the kind of movie that everyone raves about when it's getting made, but no-one will talk about once released! It's like something directed by a committe instead of a talented filmmaker.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

No resting place

Here's one that should get mentioned on a list of lost Irish films! Very rare movie that hasn't appeared on television since the '60s apparently. It's the old story of the settled community vs the travellers. Set in rural Ireland it explores the conflict between the two groups. It also portrays the travellers as outsiders and this is impressively done. What's interesting is that this picture is a naturalist effort instead of a realist one. It's a very good fiction film made by a famous documentary director. Far better in fact than most other Irish titles about travellers. The strange thing is that though this movie has been little seen it's quite similar to many recent acclaimed Irish movies?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Crooked mile

Road movie set from Dublin to Tramore, Waterford this effort has the unique distinction of being made in Jersey instead of Ireland. The best part was the pacing but most road movies have this anyway! Filmed on video the makers do nothing to distinguish their work from countless other similar titles. It's as expected technically well made and acted but is so routine that it's of little interest. A medical-student dropout travels to the South East coastal resort with a young girl. As expected they argue and have various minor adventures. There's a strange encounter with a lorry driver and a few other mishaps for the pair. Like something from a well-trained filmmaker but with nothing to say.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Rat

One of the lesser known Irish directors is Steve Barron. He has made several entertaining Hollywood movies since the '80s. Brought up in Kimmage, Dublin he finally made a movie there called Rat. It's about Postlethwaite turning into a rodent and his family accepts this. Kind of like Stuart Little where it's played for laughs but is still serious. There is some good working-class Irish humour and it's interesting to see a Southside perspective for a change. Kelly is the expert uncle who tells the family what to do. Strange that this movie didn't do well - maybe because it came out during the Celtic Tiger era where people wanted to see modern Dublin instead of a rare good Irish movie?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Tristan and Isolde

Yet another big-budget Yank movie made partly here. It's an old story of Ireland fighting England and an Irish girl ends up with the enemy. She's got a sweetheart back home and various romantic complications ensue. The problem with this movie is that there is zero substance to it. We don't care who gets killed, what happens, it becomes confusing, too many action scenes occur at night, and the history is vague. Then there is the terrible acting, messy editing, and maudlin piano music on the soundtrack. It's the kind of film where actors get cast because of their physical resemblance to other actors from succesful movies such as Lord of the Rings! Then there is the overdirection from Reynolds - most scenes have unnecessary camera movement with only about two actors present. Nothing much to recommend and this story was already made here back in the '70s.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Tara road

Yet another contrived chick movie this one is a house-swap story where MacDowell moves to Dublin after her son gets killed (in a blackly funny scene). There's a silly sub-plot about an affair but it's well made. Also, good is the contrast between the classy American and the lewd, wealthy Irish. Makes many interesting comments about Southside Dublin society which may have not been intentional? Other than that it's an extremely average movie whch has been made several times already.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Ryan's daughter

One of the most famous of Irish movies this one is probably Lean's worst picture. What should have been been a small-scale story is given the epic and extended treatment. Villagers ham it up for the camera, they also outnumber the small number of houses in the area. Scenery distracts the viewer from the slight story. The best part of the film was the relationship between Mitchum and Miles. Other than that it makes Far and Away look like a documentary! Still, very famous film that stood the test of time and gets a mention in every book on Irish cinema. Mills' character was later copied in the film adaptation of The Field.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Magdalene sisters

First the news articles, then the books, then the TV documentaries, and finally the movie. Jaded film that should have been made two decades earlier and caused a sensation. Of course that would have been controversial and probably banned. The kind of movie where you know what's going to happen. The kind of movie that gets great reviews because of its subject matter but is quickly forgotten. A lot of the scenes are so overcooked that they lose their effectiveness. For example that scene where the cardboard-baddie nun counts her money is like something off a book cover. This is the kind of stuff that appeals to a wide audience - the ones who prefer television to cinema.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Disco pigs

Terrible, terrible movie about two romantic neighbours who are inseparable until Cassidy moves away. Then Murphy follows her and they both cause trouble. Lots of repetitive scenes, nasty violence, a silly sex game, nightclubs, fancy camerawork, and hot air. Style over substance, pomp over purpose, respectablility over talent, and hype over content. This is the kind of sh*te that gets used as an example of good Irish cinema. There is no God!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Moondance

Typical movie made here back in the '90s. Coming of age drama, rural vs urban settings, lush cinematography, Van Morrison on the soundtrack, family tensions, emigration, and Brendan Grace! A German girl divides two brothers. Cinema for middle-aged housewives, the kind of rubbish the IFB decided was the way forward for Irish cinema but ended up in a cul-de-sac.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Portrait of the artist as a young man

Good movie based on the Joyce novel. There are two parts - he's a kid in school and gets bullied, then he's older and forms his own outlook on life. There are some impressive voiceovers and scenes on a beach. Intelligent discussions about society and observations on the era. Lots of distinguised Irish actors appear in supporting roles. Lots of Dublin landmarks from the '70s - some of which are now gone. Won't see this movie mentioned too often when Irish cinema gets discussed but it's superior to most titles.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Tiger's tail

It's a new era now! Won't be long before Irish kids will be asking 'mammy what was a Celtic Tiger?'. They'll look back on John Boorman's Tiger's tail and realise that this movie warned everyone. If you let go of that tail then it's all over. Of course this is what happened. In Boorman's film: Temple Bar and hospital casualty wards resemble something from an RTE documentary where the event has been reconstructed using the worst extras they could find. There's nothing subtle about Tiger's tail. It's all about hammering the audience with the excessive orchestral score and platitudes that everyone knows already. Then there's Gleeson's unsympathetic character - we don't care about him. The only good scene was when his double arrived at the house and began crashing the gate. Then there are loads of familiar Irish actors - the ones you're sick of seeing in every mainstream movie made here. Do these people all have the same agent who happens to be married to a casting director? In relation to Boorman's other stuff this movie is down there with Exorcist 2! Imagine if Claude Chabrol had directed this film - could have been really good?

Friday, 4 June 2010

JOSEPH STRICK R.I.P.

It's really sad that this week's death of American director Joseph Strick has been ignored in Ireland. Responsible for two James Joyce films (Ulysses, Portrait of the artist as a young man) he was one of the best known international directors to work here. Brave enough to film Ulysses, he received an Oscar nomination for its script. Even better was Portrait of the artist as a young man which was filmed here a decade later.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

WEAK BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE OF IRISH FILMS - WHO CARES?

Interesting article in today's Irish Times newspaper called Box office breakdown. Basically it states what everyone knows - Irish films aren't good enough to do well in our cinemas. So what I say!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

WHERE'S IRISH CINEMA'S POVERTY PORN?

There was a good article in last week's Guardian* newspaper. It was called Budget cuts are no problem - British film is best when it keeps it real. The gist of the article was that social realism is a cheap way to make truly great cinema. Then the writer welcomed the fact that the new British government will cause more 'poverty porn' films due to their announced budget cuts! However, across the sea here in Ireland it's more important to spend up to €90K on a state-funded short film! This outdated filmmaking model has stopped directors from tackling contemporary issues. Because when you're caught up in making a large budget short you want to make large budget feature films. This means 'pulling out the stops' and producing something so overcooked it resembles a glossy TV movie. Social realist films are the opposite. They involve mundane locations such as parks and cafés, the cinematography is usually flat, and there's subdued music on the soundtrack. All this is a big no no for most Irish directors. Most filmmakers here are overtrained, technically obsessed, and have nothing to say. They are afraid to tackle reality and are more interested in making an Irish version of a Hollywood genre movie. Even though we're in recession and everyone has a story for Joe Duffy most Irish filmmakers are just too middle-class to make films about real people. The only recent Irish examples in this genre (Foxes and Pavee Lackeen) were both directed by foreigners.
*28-6-2010

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Summer of the flying saucer

Without a doubt the worst Irish movie from the last decade. Yes, even worse than over-directed crap like Eden and Anton. Even worse than Kirsten Sheridan's next movie! Imagine an amateur theatre group decided to make a feature film with a group of transition-year filmmakers from a local school. Now imagine a script written by a primary-school teacher about aliens visiting the area back in the 1960s. That's about it. How in name of the higher almighty did this pile of sh*te get funding? Well done to the IFB for this! When people say Irish cinema is in great shape it's because they haven't seen stuff like Summer of the flying saucer. The clothes look like costumes, the acting is straight from the Xmas panto, the music on the soundtrack contains every cliché you've heard from all those famous sci-fi films, the story about aliens stranded on earth is staggeringly unoriginal, the slow pacing would tire you, the intelligence is non-existent, and the whole film sucks so much that I woke up this morning with a headache.

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