DONALD CLARKE on Irish films that stood out in 2010
THE IRISH film community had some reason to celebrate this year. For starters, despite the looming presence of the IMF mother ship – it’s like District 9without the colourful lizard people – the nation did still manage to produce a few movies. Some of those made it into cinemas, and at least one, Ken Wardrop’s His & Hers, even became something of a hit. Powered by strong reviews and powerful word-of-mouth, this strange, beautiful documentary built on a healthy opening weekend to play successfully throughout the country.
Meanwhile, international productions continued to land either side of the border. HBO’s Game of Thrones provided the swordplay in the North. Camelot, one more crack at the Arthurian myth, brought chainmail and diaphanous robes to Ardmore. Sean Penn was in the country for This Must Be the Place. Glenn Close has recently arrived to shoot Albert Nobbs.
Approaching the subject from a more obtuse angle, one could, however, argue that the best news came in two scenes from Maya Derrington’s fine documentary Pyjama Girls. A study of two working-class teenagers from Ballyfermot, the picture discovered its subjects making unprompted, well-informed remarks about Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sistersand Lenny Abrahamson’s Adam & Paul.
Most of us involved in the Irish film business – however peripherally – occasionally suspect that civilians are largely untouched by the nation’s cinematic output. Pyjama Girlsproved that some domestic pictures really do make an impact on the mainstream.
All of which acts as precursor to our consideration of the best Irish films to play in cinemas this year. It’s hard to avoid the benevolent beast that is His & Hers. Beginning the year by winning a prize at Sundance, the picture gnawed its way deep into the national consciousness. Depicting the lives of a group of Midlands women, the film received a few complaints for focusing on life within the home, but Wardrop was always clear that he was not attempting any sort of comprehensive survey.
Also worth noting were two documentaries: Pyjama Girlsand Risteard Ó Domhnaill’s The Pipe, a study of the Corrib Gas controversy. The Carney Brothers’ Zonad, an alien invasion comedy, really divided audiences (as many howled as threw tomatoes) but it struck me as a properly funny piece of work.
The Screenwriter Prize goes, however, to Ivan Kavanagh’s The Fading Light.Following a family’s reaction to the awful death of their mother, the picture, though nowhere near as formally perfect as His & Hers, packed an extraordinary emotional wallop.
Without further ado, Screenwriter’s favourite five Irish films on release in 2010.
1 The Fading Light
2 His & Hers
3 Pyjama Girls
4 The Pipe