So when it comes to talking about your own country’s cinematic output you are in danger of becoming the protective parent, unable to see the flaws within and only focusing on the positives. Worry not we Spoooolers are firm believers in being even harder on your own output to ensure the best is seen and the rubbish is brought out into the harsh light of day.
Overall it has been a good year for Irish cinema with one release making it into our Spooool.ie top 5 of the year here’s a clue; it’s not A Belfast Story. Always a good producer of the documentary, Ireland had some gems this year in The Irish Pub and Men at Lunch, to name but two. Stories came from all walks and corners of the island with Jump and Good Vibrations taking place north of the border and Pilgrim Hill and Black Ice raising the flag for isolated rural Ireland. Your funny bone had plenty to be amused with The Hardy Bucks Movie and Life’s a Breeze while we had work from first time directors like Gerard Barrett (Pilgrim Hill) and Ciaran Foy (Citadel) joined by some old favourites returning behind the camera, chief amongst them Neil Jordan (Byzantium).
As always cinema attendances were low this year for Irish releases. With a few poor scheduling choices meaning that some Irish films opened on the same weekend, returns were certainly low. Hopefully through word of mouth and online viewing options such as the on-demand service Volta they can gain some ground and be seen by the audiences they deserve. Below are my picks for the five best Irish films released this year and two that should never have seen the light of day. All the original reviews are included so I won’t waffle too much. Be sure to post your comments and thoughts below with omissions and alternatives.
BEST IRISH FILMS OF 2013
#1 – Good Vibrations
The opening paragraph from my review back in March sums up pretty well why Good Vibrations is the Irish film of the year.
The directing team of Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glen Layburn have produced a masterpiece about one of Belfast’s maddest characters, Terri Hooley, during its maddest time, the troubles. Good Vibrations is an exhilarating experience that leaves you warm on the inside, humming some of the best songs ever penned and giving you ideas about changing the world.
#2 – Citadel
It hasn’t been the best year for horror with many films reverting to hackneyed formulas, being remakes of classics or just failing to deliver on the most basic criteria of a horror movie; to scare you. Citadel is in no danger of falling into these categories. It tells the horrifying tale of Tommy who is left alone to care for his newborn baby after his wife was the victim of a savage attack. A sort of biopic for director Ciaran Foy who was himself the victim of such an attack during his youth making him suffer from agoraphobia. Citadel is a nerve-racking roller-coaster which ticks all the boxes and we look forward to seeing what else the director has up his sleeve.
#3 – The Hardy Bucks Movie
The Hardy Buck lads are firm believers in the adage “make hay while the sun shines” and no better opportunity for a film of your successful television show than Ireland qualifying for UEFA’s Euro 2012 championship. So off they trot to Poland in the hopes of getting to see those boys in green work their magic. The film stretches a tiny bit thin but the first forty five minutes are some of the funniest comedy you’ll see this year and there is enough to keep your attention until the credits roll.
#4 – Byzantium
Neil Jordan was pissed off watching vampires reduced to melancholic teens pining for one another and brought them back to their bodice ripping, big boobed, bloodthirsty best. Jam-packed with rivers of blood and a high body count Byzantium is a modern telling of a classic tale and bares many of the hallmarks of his earlier film Interview with the Vampire. Solid performances from Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton make this a welcome return to form for both Jordan and the vampires of old.
#5 – The Irish Pub
Echoing the success of His & Hers from a few years back, Alex Fegan has set about scouring the country for some of Ireland’s most interesting pubs. The film is packed full of characters proud of the tradition they are carrying on and examines the role, for better or worse, the Irish pub has within society. The perfect watch to accompany the turkey sandwiches.
WORST IRISH FILMS OF 2013
#1 – A Belfast Story
Good Vibrations shows how to make an inspiring film about one of the darkest times in this island’s recent history where as A Belfast Story is the worst type of idiotic nonsense so far removed from any notion of reality it makes The Hobbit seem believable. You can only wonder what possessed Colm Meaney to take part in this juvenile tripe.
#2 – Man on the Train
Ah poor Larry Mullen Jr. he really shouldn’t give up the day job. For a man obviously packed full of rhythm (he plays drums for U2), he gives the most stiff and wooden performance you will see this year in any film, never mind just Irish cinema. Packed full of clichés, be they characters or plot points Man on the Train is the type of film where you spend most of time simply remarking why the hell was this made? Answers on a postcard.