Thursday, 30 September 2010

IRELAND'S FORGOTTEN DIRECTORS: BRENDAN STAFFORD

Stafford directed three B-features in the early '50s: Men Against the Sun, Armchair Detective, and Stranger at My Door. He was also cinematographer on his features and also worked on famous TV series (Danger man, Prisoner). He started out in Dublin as owner of a photography studio.

November afternoon

Here's a little-known fact: before Dogma 95 arrived some Irish filmmakers were already making feature films using video cameras. This one is about two couples who arrive in Dublin for a weekend. It's in black and white, has a jazz music score, and has an incest subplot. Impressive movie but too pedestrian to really stand out. Like most Irish movies it's technically well done but not particularly cinematic. Best scene has one of the men doing a Tati across Eden Quay holding a tray of drinks!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Pigs

Filmed and set in the '80s recession this Dublin drama details the lives of a group of dropouts. It's one of the best Irish pictures from that decade and has a unique style that suits the story. It's about welfare fraud and how a group of outsiders live together in a derelict building. One guy has given up on everything and walks around wearing a towel around his waist! Far better than most Irish films made during the prosperous '90s this is the kind of cinema we need more of again.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Hear my song

Impressive movie about Joseph Locke. He's on the run as a tax exile and has to be persuaded to return to Britain from Ireland to replace an imposter. That hotel is near Merrion Square. Best scene has Dunbar hanging off a cliff! Another good scene involves a cow getting dragged into a well! Magical movie that's much better than most later Irish-made films in the '90s.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Puckoon


Another interesting failure. This one is based on the famous Spike Milligan book and has a great cast. It's about the drawing of the Northern Irish border back in the 1920s and the tensions among the different groups involved. Not as good as it should be and the cast are a strange mix (Elliott Gould!). Little known but not rare as it's out on DVD.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Flick


Another Celtic Tiger movie this one is about a middle-class guy caught up in selling drugs and his persecution by the police and other dealers. Set in the usual Dublin haunts: nightclubs, bars, and D4 parties. A well-made and stylish movie but empty and lacking focus. Lots of jazz music on the soundtrack, the film makers care more about these characters than we do! Some of it is really good: the impressive sex scene(!), the police rushing under the backlit garage door, the old schoolmate now working as a doctor looking forward to the class reunion, and the late night garden party. Not a recommendation but this is probably the best of those Celtic Tiger films.

Title: Flick
Genre: Drugs
New/old: Old
Cinema/DVD: DVD (region 1)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saltwater

Interesting movie set in a North Dublin seaside resort among an Italian family. Best scene has a guy vomiting fruit juice at a lecture! Too arty for a mainstream audience and too theatrical for the arthouse crowd this movie is an interesting failure.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Dancing at Lughnasa


This is just rubbish. Has there been a good movie made from an Irish play? Even Hitchcock couldn't manage it with Juno and the Paycock. A group of close women and their brother (who's too interesting for this movie) bond and triumph over there surroundings. Set in rural Ireland back in the '30s. No wonder it was one of Streep's least successful films? Set in the same location (fictional) as the '70s film Philadelphia here I come.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bogwoman

Yet another Troubles picture this one is told from a woman's viewpoint and of how she moves from an observer to an active partaker in the troubles. It's a TV film (also got a theatrical release) with a grainy look. Much effort made at recreating the clothes and settings of the era at the beginning of the conflict. The usual images from these films are present and it's an interesting low-budget picture.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The actors


Useless theatre comedy about Caine and Moran hamming it up for laughs that only the cast and crew would find funny. Every cliché from similar movies are here: the camp Nazi, the gangsters, the mix up, the petulant kid, and the deliberate misquoting of Shakespeare. All the usual Dublin locations used in other movies of this kind too. Hyped up on release but forgotten now. Caine's similar film Noises Off is far better.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Kings

One of the most over-hyped Irish films in recent years. The big deal was that it was in the Irish language and was submitted for a nomination in the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Picture category (it didn't get nominated). Like a TV play it's all theatrical acting and long takes without much happening. The only interesting part of the story was Meaney (the one success). The other men ended up alcoholics and as John Hurt-lookalikes! Some interesting scenes: the embarassing one at the tube station and the way the local pub was no longer 'Irish'. But the film is nothing special and was overrated.

Monday, 20 September 2010

WHERE TO RENT I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE?

Well done the Irish Film Censor's Office! Not only did they recommend that everyone in the country go and see Michael Collins but now they've banned the notorious DVD nasty I spit on your grave. In the same month that the more violent Savage gets released? Both movies have a castration scene too! Of course Savage is an Irish movie and will no doubt be remembered thirty years from now! I spit on your grave is a badly made movie about a writer who gets raped and takes revenge. The main problem with the movie is that it's too realistic. However, if you really, really want to see what all the fuss is about then Dublin Business School library have a DVD copy!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Swansong

Or the Occi Byrne story. This is another coming of age bullying drama that belongs back in the '90s with Sweety Barrett and Frankie Starlight. Extremely watchable but for all the wrong reasons. The bullying isn't as bad as made out and the family secret is easy to figure out. There's also a strange setting that looks like the '60s or could it be the '80s? The major problem is that almost every scene is taken from another Irish movie: the fishing trawler, the harsh Christian brother, the priest having sex with Occi's mother, the mental hospital, the outsider in a sh*t small town, emigration, the rude worker in the dole office, and the grim setting.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

TEN REASONS WHY PAVEE LACKEEN IS THE BEST IRISH MOVIE FROM THE LAST DECADE!

If there's one movie made here in the noughties that stood out from the rest it's a small picture called Pavee Lackeen. It even won an IFTA for Best Film and rightly so. Sadly it won't get much of a mention when Irish cinema gets discussed in the media but Shoot the Cabbage salutes this fine film.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Cal

Another great '80s Irish movie that's long forgotten. This one is set in the North where a young man falls for an older woman from the other side (Mirren). A romantic Troubles movie! Good music from Dire Straits and well directed by Pat O'Connor.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

TEN THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT IRISH CINEMA!

It's not all bad! Believe it or not there are some good things coming out for our film industry.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Reefer and the model

Another interesting movie from the late '80s that's not easily available. A group of mismatched dropouts plan a robbery. There's a gay subplot and a remarkable scene involving a man having sex with a pregnant woman. Add in a fine music score, a counter-culture theme, rural locations that are not touristy(!), a defeatist setting, and a pis*take of popular genre. Some of the scenes were like theatre. Won a major international film award too. No film-school head could make this movie.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TEN THINGS TO HATE ABOUT IRISH CINEMA!

It's been a quiet few months in terms of movie releases. Looking back over the titles reviewed here so far it's apparent that there are more turkeys than prize hens. Anyway, here's a list of things Shoot the Cabbage hates about Irish cinema.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Molly's way


There's the offical version of contemporary Irish cinema (IFB, IFTAs, etc) and then there's the Irish cinema you really have to seek out. Molly's Way is one such movie -a pregnant Newry woman visits Poland to find the father. She meets local characters and observes the surroundings. It's similar to Disappearance of Finbar but is a road movie without the road. Like other movies in this genre absolutely nothing happens. A few incidents but these characters then disappear. Impressive in a low-budget way but nothing special. The woman from the later Alarm strongly resembles the Molly in this movie.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Joyriders

Another rare '80s movie about er joyriding. This was a decade before Accelerator and it's much better. The great Billie Whitelaw makes an appearance and the story is about a mother and a stranger who travel from Dublin down the country. A lot of Irish movies from that decade made a big deal about the contrast between the capital and the rest of the country. Connolly has the lead role (what happened to his subsequent acting career?) and the movie tackles the backwardness of '80s rural Ireland.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

SHIMMY MARCUS SH*T DIRECTOR!

Well that was €7 well spent. Not an Irish movie but Soul Boy really was rubbish. In a sense that the best scenes seemed to have been taken from an old documentary! In a sense that even the songs used on the soundtrack weren't the best ones to select. In a sense that the story was trite - a young guy falls for a girl, follows her to the Wigan Casino, gets hooked on the scene (drugs and music), gets taught to dance by an admirer, then falls for this second girl after a dance off with the first girl's thuggish boyfriend. In a sense that it's so forced (a bus has a sign saying 'York' so we get a close up of this just to hammer this point). Oh yeah, there's a silly sub-plot about Pat Shortt's Irish character. The director was promising that this movie would be like Saturday Night Fever meets This is England. The only problem is Marcus is about as talented as Paddy Breathnach (remember the similar Blow dry?). Even worse than Headrush. Anyone who has paid to see Soul boy (it's on in ONE Dublin cinema)? Well Eddie Hobbs has a new TV consumer show and is looking for written complaints.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The courier

Stylish but woeful Dublin gangster movie about a courier who discovers that he's transporting drugs around the city. A decade before Veronica Guerin/The General this one has Byrne playing a psychotic criminal. Uses two directors (bad idea) and the movie is all style and zero substance. The great Ian Bannen appears and some not-so-great Irish bands (next U2!) are on the soundtrack. This movie is an interesting failure but deserves to be better known.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

WHAT WILL IRISH CINEMA BE LIKE IN THE '10S?

It's a new decade and a new start for Irish cinema. The economy is fu*ked and the Film Board is not as respected anymore. We're now into the third decade of the current Board and things can't go on as before. Will the next decade produce new Irish movies that succeed at the box office? Will the next decade produce new filmmakers that have an original voice. Or will the same stuff keep getting made? Will successful Irish movies happen more by fluke than by design? Will most Irish films fail to find an audience? Will the IFTAs keep on scraping the barrell to award the most mediocre of Irish feature films? Will fresh new actors appear on our screens or will will keep seeing the same faces again and again? Will the Film Board follow the UK Council and get abolished? Will Perrier's Bounty ever make back its budget? Will Kirsten Sheridan make another feature to justify all the hype (and 'loans' from the Board?). Will there be a splurge of underground low-budget features that get made outside of the 'system' and could develop into a New Irish cinema? Or does anyone really give a sh*t as long as jobs are created and Ireland gets used as a location in foreign films?

Sunset Heights


Futuristic Nordie gangster movie with a subplot involving abuse. Clever premise using a present city and pretending it's years from now. Lot's of Reservoir Dogs-type gangsters fighting each other and using witty dialogue. Lots of establishing shots to increase the mood. Lots of actors who look like nightclub bouncers. An obscure movie from the '90s that's long forgotten but shouldn't be.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ailsa

One of the first movies funded by the current Film Board. This one is a slow-paced and arty picture about a man stalking a woman who lives in his building. Nothing special but interesting nonetheless. Certainly stands out from the director' later titles.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Circle of friends

The most commercially successful of the Film Board titles from the '90s? Three young women move to Dublin in the '50s. Cummings is the standout as he steals the movie from everyone. He also steals money from his job! Like most of these titles there's the usual contrast between the big city and the rural locations. Lots of frank talk and sleazy characters too. Impressive movie but not a patch on similar Hollywood titles e.g. The group.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Lonely passion of Judith Hearne

Here's a good trivia question. Which Irish-themed movie was produced by George Harrison and Elton John? A single woman falls for the wealthy brother of her landlady but he's only interested in finding a business partner. Set in '50s Dublin it's all interior scenes and closeups (could be the DVD transfer?). There's one scene set at Hapenny bridge (interesting footage of the old buildings there from the late '80s). British director Clayton was world class but this is one of his lesser efforts.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Most fertile man in Ireland

Yet another Nordie comedy this one is about a guy who impregnates women from both sides of the community. Then he wants to see his kids but can't. Best scene was the mother describing her husband's ass when younger! Everything you'd expect to see in a comedy like this and it does eventually wear out its novelty. Great title though!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Undercurrent

Another super-rare Irish movie from the '90s this one is filmed I think on 16mm?Anyway, it's of interest because it's one of the first low-budget independent Irish titles to get a theatrical release. A politician's daughter gets kidnapped and the police investigate. Lots of terrible acting, too many establishing shots, poor lighting, ITV crime drama storyline, and slow pacing. What else would you expect?

Friday, 3 September 2010

WHY CAN'T WE MAKE GOOD GENRE?

If there's one kind of Irish movie that's bound to fail it's the genre picture. A failure both commercially and artistically. It's not difficult to see why either. From screwball comedies (Happy ever afters), sports (Studs), criminals (Perrier's bounty), romance (Trouble with sex), boxing (Strength and honour), zombies (Boy eats girl) and countless others these titles sound bad before they even get released. Copying the Brits/Yanks, overconfidence, inability to make anything different, inability to 'improve' on the genre, lazy and clichéd filmmaking, cookie-cutter scripts, and bad casting. Films made by people who don't fully understand the rules of what makes these genres work in the first place. A more interesting way to make good genre cinema is to find Irish directors who are not afraid to try something different. Surely an Irish movie about hurling would make an interesting sports movie? It would certainly stand out internationally. How about another Clash of the ash?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

IRELAND'S FORGOTTEN AUTEUR!

The next time someone complains that we've yet to produce an auteur tell them we did have one. His name was Norman Cohen and he worked during the fertile period of British cinema in the '60s and '70s. Fair enough, he may not be up there with Fellini and Rohmer but he certainly could be considered an auteur as his films were alike and his style easily recognisable. Unlike today's Irish rent-a-teamplayer-committee-mentality-jobbing directors Cohen's films stood out because they were risqué, played for laughs, and quite funny. So there goes any chance of his receiving much acclaim in the middle-class, politically-correct vaults of Irish cinema academia. Most of his stuff is now out on DVD (even his London documentary) - just don't try the IFI shop!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

How Harry became a tree

One of the more impressive Irish movies from recent years. Like Foxes this one is directed by an East European so it has an unusual outlook. Out goes the sentimentality and clichés and instead we get an interesting and confident direction. It's a tale of family rivalries in a rural community in the middle of the twentieth century. Meaney is almost mad and finds a local enemy to take his bitterness out on. Similar to The Field but without the theatrics and with more intelligence! Oh yeah, they definitely shoot a cabbage in this movie!

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