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Irish holiday? Celebrate with Irish films!

March 17th, 2010

Alright… It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Time for the ‘wearin’ o’ the green,’ drinking green beer, eating corned beef and cabbage and… watching Irish films?

Do you have a favorite Irish picture? There are lots: there are films made by Irishmen, films set in Ireland, or films with Irish themes; and that’s just the tip o’ the iceberg: there are many more (like those flyover documentaries or ‘Riverdance’-type performances). One of my favorite non-Irish ‘Irish’ films is the charming documentary “Keltic Dreams,” which follows the multi-ethnic children of P.S. 59 in New York City’s Bronx as they master Irish dancing under the tutelage of emigree teacher Caroline Duggan. Although poor and facing many socio-economic and family challenges, these kids rise to the occasion, winning competitions and even traveling to Ireland to dance before the country’s president.

The Keltic Dreams

But several Irish films stand out from the crowd, especially John Ford’s Irish valentine “The Quiet Man.” But there have been more recent films to capture the spirit and charm of small-town Ireland, like this year’s “Leap Year,” or the 1998 sleeper comedy “Waking Ned Devine.” Other Irish films cover ‘the troubles,’ like Paul Greengrass’ “Bloody Sunday” or Jim Sheridan’s “In the Name of the Father.” Still others, like “Angela’s Ashes,” offer a child’s-eye view of growing up poor in Ireland. And even more films feature Ireland or Irish causes as a main subject but barely take place on the Emerald Isle, like Alan Pakula’s uneven “The Devil’s Own”  or Philip Noyce’s superior “Patriot Games.”

Arguably the best Irish films are made by Irish filmmakers. Among the most talented of them is Neil Jordan, whose “Crying Game” and “Michael Jordan” serve as potent documents of their times. But any Irish film will do for St. Patrick’s Day… Just don’t forget the green beer!


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