Are you ready? It’s just about time to find your Guinness T-shirt and crack everybody up with “You know what I wish? IRISH I had another beer!” Yeah, that one always kills, most likely because all your friends are hammered.
But aside from the blackouts and inflated drink prices, let’s celebrate the season with five..er..six of our favorite Irish flicks!
6. The Boondock Saints (1999):
Let’s start with the pretend Irish here at home. Jesus, these brogues are terrible. Just awful. But writer/director Troy Duffy’s sordid story of the righteously violent McManus twins did find an audience. They’re out to clean up the Boston they love – or at least ensure that it’s the Irish, not the Russians, allowed to shoot up the neighborhood. Steeped in Catholicism, blood, pathos and, again, the worst imaginable accents, Boondock Saints is weirdly watchable. It helps that Willem Dafoe tags along as one bat shit insane FBI agent.
5. Knuckle (2011)
James Quinn McDonagh cuts an enigmatic presence through the bloody world of Irish Traveler bare knuckle “fairfights” in Ian Palmer’s documentary Knuckle. The unbeaten pride of the Quinn McDonaghs, James takes on challengers from the feuding Joyce clan. Unfortunately, each win quells the action only briefly, as family members’ chest thumping and boasting reignite the feud, and another challenge is made. Palmer aims to illustrate the culture that fuels rather than overcomes its grudges, due in equal measure to unchecked bravado and finance (wagers bring in fast money for the winning clan). Filming for more than a decade, Palmer uncovers something insightful about the Traveler culture, and perhaps about masculinity or warmongering at its most basic.
4. The Guard (2011)
Then to a lighthearted look at drugs and crime on the Emerald Isle. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh assembles a dream cast anchored by the ever-reliable Brendan Gleeson to wryly articulate a tale of underestimation and police corruption in this very Irish take on the buddy cop movie. Through Gleeson, McDonagh shares a dark, philosophical yet silly humor, crafts almost slapstick action, and offers a view of hired guns as workaday folk. The Guard is a celebration of tart Irish humor and character; the actual plot merely provides the playground for the fun.
3. Calvary (2014)
McDonagh and Gleeson return three years later in Calvary. The endlessly wonderful Gleeson plays Fr. Michael, a dry-witted but deeply decent priest who has a week to get his affairs in order while a parishoner plans to kill him. Sumptuously filmed and gorgeously written, boasting as much world-weary humor as genuine insight, it’s an amazing film and a performance that should not be missed.
2. Once (2006)
You can’t celebrate St. Pat’s without some music. In Once, an Irish street musician fixes vacuums by day and dreams of heading to London in search of a recording contract. His unpredictable relationship with a Czech immigrant becomes the needed catalyst. Writer/director John Carney creates a lovely working man’s Dublin in a film blessed with sparkling performances from heretofore unknown leads Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Their chemistry and their music are the heart of the film. This immensely charming slice of life picture, superbly crafted with tender realism, also boasts an honest, understated screenplay, and undoubtedly the best soundtrack of 2006.
1. The Commitments (1991)
Jimmy Rabbitte intends to manage the greatest soul band in the world, so he hand crafts The Commitments, a Dublin-based, all white, blue collar soul band the likes of which Ireland has never seen. (The band includes Hansard again, much younger and with a magnificent ‘fro.) Alan Parker’s “behind the music” style tale of the rise and fall of a band is as charming, energetic and great sounding a way to spend St. Patrick’s Day as you will find.
Those are a few of our favorites…and if you think we missed any…let’s meet at the bar and fight about it!