John Logie Baird – What. A. Guy. Here’s the man who tinkered, fiddled and stayed up seriously late at night making a box with moving pictures. All that work means that we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want. Cheers John!
And yes, we’ve moved on to 3-D, DVD players, digital TV and even iPhones, but the fact is that whatever way you watch it, your favourite movies just can’t be beaten. Especially those that (thanks to the Irish Film Board) happen to be set in your favourite place of all – Ireland.
Into the West
I watched this for the first time when I was 7 years old and to this day it remains one of the most enduringly pretty and honest images of Ireland I can remember. Into the West is a story about two young boys, Ossie and Tito, sons to an increasingly loveless father (smashingly acted by an unfairly handsome Gabriel Byrne) who end up riding off to the West of Ireland on their bright white steed, Tir na nÓg (Land of the young). I like to think that movies like this are the proof that all you need for a good story is to set it in Ireland. Landscape like this is just made for adventure. Warning – you’ll need a bumper box in tissues for the final scene. The soundtrack alone has me in floods.
Who doesn’t love a holiday romance, eh? Right, well, aside from Jeanene Garofallo’s character in The Matchmaker. Arriving in the fictional village of Ballinagra (which in Irish means ‘town of love’ and is actually Roundstone in Connemara) slap bang in the middle of matchmaking season, Marcy (Jeanene Garoffalo) is certainly not in a passionate mood. Problem being that the whole village is an amorous pressure cooker and whether she likes it or not the local matchmaker (a brilliant Milo O’ Shea) is intent on setting her up. Cue lots of ruggedly charming Irish men, romance, broken hearts, heart-breakingly beautiful views of Connemara, chuckles galore AND the smallest hotel room in the world. This is an absolute cracker.
It’s not easy to adapt a play to screen, especially when the play by Brian Friel is one of Irish theatre’s most loved pieces. One sure-fire way to make it a success is to cast Meryl Streep in the lead role alongside Wicklow’s timelessly beautiful and ever-changing mountain scenery (The Sally Gap, Lough Dan, and Lough Tay all star). Tracing the memories of Michael Evan’s summers in his aunt’s house in Glenties, the film is one of those ‘all in’ affairs that’ll have you in heaps of laughter, a mess of tears and possibly dancing, as the title suggests.
Benny Hogan is an independent young lady with a delicate heart (‘I know I look like a rhinoceras but I’ve got quite a thin skin. So be careful with me. Or I’ll flatten ya!’) and that heart is all a flutter thanks to a certain handsome young rugby player called Jack (Chris O’Donnell). Adapted from Maeve Binchy’s rollicking coming-of-age novel of the same name, Circle of Friends makes coming of age look like the funniest and most dramatic thing on earth. Throw in cheating friends, a very handsome-looking Trinity College and some quaint prettiness provided by Inistioge, County Kilkenny, and you’ve got one brilliant reason to eat a bucket of buttered popcorn and a tub of chocolate chip ice cream. Nomnomnomnomnomnom…
Ok, this might not sound all that cheery but Widows’ Peak is essentially a film about a group of widows who enjoy a quiet, happy, uninterrupted life thanks to, well, all being widows. Enter a blonde bombshell in the shape of a Natasha Richardson who is intent on strutting herself all about the town (the town being an amalgamation of Blessington’s lakes and surrounding verdant hills as well as the very pretty village of Inistoige in County Kilkenny). As the tagline for the film goes – ‘It’s not a whodunnit – it’s a who did it, with whom!’. Ahem, yes, well…moving on.
Finally we have an admission to make – this isn’t our first Movies in Ireland post. We’ve done this before – and we loved it. Take a read to see where gems like Braveheart, P.S I Love you and the Quiet Man took over in Ireland’s countryside.
That’s a wrap!