|the excellent Michael Fassbender|
the people who provide finance for Irish films (until recently*) seem determined only to produce Irish films that are full of the worst cliches and stereotypes of Oirishness imaginable. There are, of course several notable exceptions to this sweeping statement but no doubt you'll know what I'm talking about if you've come across Leap Year or PS I Love You etc. But even worse than Irish films from the Republic of Ireland are the breed of films that have been made about the Troubles in the North. These movies I like to think of as Micksploitation pictures. What is a Micksploitation picture? It's a film set during or just after the Troubles whose intent is not to unpack what was happening in Northern Ireland in the period 1968 - 1998, but rather to simplify the conflict for the lowest common denominator of American film goers in order to get bums (especially Irish American bums) in seats. The films usually have a few stock cliches and plot devices: 1. The IRA are conflicted heroes who only kill evil Brits. 2. The Brits are evil. 3.Northern Irish Protestants are the most evil of the lot - racist shouty 1D characters who hate Catholics with their cornflakes in the morning and their cocoa at night. 4. Belfast, suspiciously, looks a lot like a Manchester. 5. The musical score will be a soaringly sentimental parody of trad. Irish music. 6. The films will be utterly humourless (which if you know Belfast at all you'll know is a travesty) 7. The accents will be terrible. 8. Seriously, the accents... For my sins I've seen quite a few of these films, some are MUCH better than others & some are so bad they are actually kinda good. I do think Terry George, Daniel Day Lewis, Jim Sheridan, Michael Fassbender and Neil Jordan are hugely talented people and as you'll see the way I've presented this list is for comic effect so no hate mail please:
1. A Prayer for the Dying - Mickey Rourke plays a conflicted IRA man driven to his crimes by evil Brits.
2. The Devil's Own - Brad Pitt plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then decides to hassle Harrison Ford.
3. Patriot Games - Sean Bean plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then decides to hassle Harrison Ford.
4. Blown Away - Tommy Lee Jones plays a conflicted IRA man driven to his crimes by evil Brits who decides to hassle Jeff Bridges.
5. Cal - John Lynch plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then sleeps with the dead man's girl.
6. The Crying Game - Stephen Rea plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then sleeps with the dead man's girl (who's really a guy).
7. The Jackal - Richard Gere plays a conflicted IRA man driven to his crimes by evil Brits. (Gere's accent work here is the comic high point of his career, I reckon.)
8. In the Name of the Father - Daniel Day Lewis is upset because evil Brits are framing innocent Micks (except, er, this is actually what really happened!!!)
9. The Boxer - Daniel Day Lewis is upset because he's a conflicted IRA man trying to go straight but is hassled by evil Brits and old pals.
10. Hidden Agenda - Evil Protestants conspire to kill everyone.
11. Some Mothers Son - Evil Protestants conspire to kill Bobby Sands.
12. Hunger - Evil Protestants conspire to kill Bobby Sands
(I actually kinda like the 2 Bobby Sands films...) If you want to see a really good film about the Troubles you should watch Bloody Sunday, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring James Nesbitt, which contains something some of the films above don't have: nuance. '71 is a great film with a fantastic central performance from Jack O'Connell but it was, of course, filmed in greater Manchester. Good Vibrations is about the famous Good Vibrations record shop in Belfast in the 70s and 80s and is pretty good also.
*IMHO Irish films and film-making have really gotten a lot more interesting in the last year or two...