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Irish Film Fest

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s weekend than with an evening of great Irish movies? To help you prep for your own Irish film fest right at home, here are a select few Pyxis Mag-approved Irish films that may be new to you, but that terrifically celebrate the stories, filmmakers, actors, and charm of the Irish. Sláinte!

Waking Ned Devine
David Kelly, Ian Bannen, James Nesbitt, Fionnula Flanagan
The Irish village of Tulaigh Mohr (pronounced “Tullymore”) is the setting for this Irish lottery comedy, in which local resident Jackie O’Shea discovers that one of his neighbors is a lottery winner. We won’t give away the turning plot point here, but suffice it to say things go horribly wrong – and then redeemingly right – in a way that will have you completely amused and entertained for the entire length of the film. David Kelly (who recently passed away, making this film even more bittersweet) is completely hilarious as the twitchy, loyal sidekick to Bannen’s troublemaking character, and his haphazardly rushed and, erhm, interestingly ‘attired’ motorbike ride has to be seen to be believed. Between these two main roles and the rest of the townsfolk, this is one great ensemble movie.

Glen Hansard, Marketa Iglova, Senan Haugh
Starring the frontman for Irish band The Frames (Hansard), this sweet little film offers both a personal look into the lives of two musicians – one an Irish composer, the other an immigrant Czech singer (listed simply in the credits as “Guy” and “Girl”) – and a great view into the hardscrabble Irish music scene. Hansard’s character begins the film busking on the streets with his guitar, with some quite funny footage in what’s an otherwise more pensive movie; and Hansard along with Marketa craft some beautifully appealing folk-pop together as their character’s stories unfold. This film also won an Academy Award (and well-deserved) for Best Song in a Motion Picture.

The Matchmaker
Janeane Garofalo, David O’Hara, Denis Leary, Milo O’Shea
In this romantic comedy, Garofalo plays Marcy, a political aid to not-so-bright senator McGlory – alongside fellow not-so-nice aide Denis Leary – and is sent to the remote town of Ballinagra, Ireland, where her mission is to locate McGlory relatives for use in the senator’s political campaign. The cynical-outside, good-hearted inside Marcy at first sees her trip as a huge chore, and just wants to get the whole thing over with (a little difficult to do in the slower-paced Irish lands) but it’s not long before she’s drawn in to the charm of the local village, as well as into the arms of a local fellow journalist. It’s shot beautifully and conveys both Irish and American sensibilities to perfect effect.

The Commitments
Robert Arkins, Colm Meaney, Andrew Strong, Maria Doyle Kennedy
The second of our two musically-themed Irish movies in this list, this one’s got its moments of thoughtfulness, but for the most part it’s a rockin’ jaunt as we watch the climb of an Irish soul band put together by an ambitious singer in Dublin’s grittiest neighborhoods. Each character is sharply defined, and sharp of language, as well; it’s a great roster of actors as well as an interesting trek through the Dublin club scene and the rough-and-tumble rehearsals of this band in-progress. The music’s great, too; the actors, who were mostly unknown when this film was made (Colm Meaney is a regular in such films as Star Trek, and Doyle Kennedy is now a cast member of the uber-popular Downton Abbey), sing, play, argue, and, erhm, swear their way through loads of classic soul tunes, well earning their title of “world’s hardest working band.”

Gangs of New York
Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, John C. Reilly
Irish men arriving in the U.S. were generally enlisted into the U.S. Army right off of the boat in New York City, since many of them arrived with no money and no prospects. Open hostility towards immigrants was common, too, and government assistance was nonexistant; so the streets became battlegrounds, and the Five Corners region of Manhattan became one of the most dangerous places to be in mid-nineteenth century New York. Martin Scorsese directs this tale of Irish-American son Amsterdam Vallon’s (DiCaprio) conflicts with frightening gang leader Bill Cutting (Day-Lewis), and the rest of the Irishmen literally fighting to make a place for themselves in their new land. – Kristi Kates

Ready to watch any or all of the above? Click on each film to order online!