Ire­land’s broad way

At the Ir­ish box of­fice, the golden rule is that com­edy trumps darker sub­ject mat­ter ev­ery time, writes Tara Brady. But will your vote sup­port her the­ory?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film 2011 -

NEVER MIND the awards and the crit­i­cal wows: once again the Great Ir­ish Film Love Tester has demon­strated our undy­ing love for broad com­edy. This year, national pa­tron saint Colin Far­rell moved into the banana-skin sec­tor with no lit­tle elan Fright Night and Hor­ri­ble Bosses, Brides­maids be­came the in­dis­putable box­of­fice champ in the Repub­lic, and The Guard be­came the big­gest-gross­ing independent Ir­ish pro­duc­tion of all time. Bud­ding film­mak­ers take note: The Guard’s high con­cept, folk­loric an­ti­hero and potty-mouthed com­edy proved an ir­re­sistible draw.

It’s not rocket sci­ence; most of the in­dige­nous ti­tles that have made main­stream waves – Man About Dog, In­ter­mis­sion, The Guard – are big, sweary carry-ons. Not to be con­fused with na­tive black come­dies. Put peo­ple on a train at gun­point and they still won’t go to those. Don’t say it won’t hap­pen. Have you seen the new beg­ging laws?

Else­where, hot stuff com­ing through: that’s the of­fi­cial Ir­ish Times health warn­ing on Michael Fass­ben­der. The ac­tor strad­dling – and we be­lieve that is the right word – the tippy top of the love tester may well make the Os­car short­list for his per­for­mance as a sex ad­dict in Steve Mc­queen’s Shame. An Academy Award would make a fit­ting en­core to a year that’s seen Fasseb­n­der play Mag­neto in X Men: First Class and Rochester in Jane Eyre.

In re­cent times Ire­land has sunk man­power and money into Euro­pean co-pro­duc­tions with lit­tle to show for it. Fi­nally, how­ever, the coun­try’s ques­tion­able long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ships have yielded gongs and fes­ti­val hits in As If I Am Not There and the Cannes-con­quer­ing This Must Be the Place.

It’s nice to be part of the Euro­pean moviev­erse when we’re not ex­actly the con­ti­nent’s choice in other realms, but this year we’re re­ally miss­ing those smaller kiss­able Ir­ish ti­tles. Aus­ter­ity Ire­land calls for smarter, aus­ter­ity pic­tures. Where have all the mi­cro-bud­get ini­tia­tives gone when we need them most? The best things about Ir­ish film have, in re­cent years, been found in tiny pack­ages such as Once and His & Hers. Would it kill some­body to cook up a de­cent in­dige­nous found-footage flick?

As if fur­ther proof were needed, 2011 demon­strated that if you want Ir­ish au­di­ences to say “ho hum”, give them a black com­edy or so­cial commentary. Like Adam and Paul and A Film with Me in It be­fore, Sen­sa­tion was the lat­est ill-de­serv­ing vic­tim of the curse of the Ir­ish black com­edy. If you want even fewer friends at the box of­fice, then by all means, start bang­ing on about the state of the na­tion. It’s the golden rule of Ir­ish movie prod­ucts: shut up and don’t men­tion the house­keep­ing.

Se­ri­ously. For more than five years the Ir­ish movie punter has care­fully steered clear of films pon­tif­i­cat­ing about, well, Ire­land. So it doesn’t mat­ter that Parked should have spo­ken to the masses. Dar­ragh Byrne’s fine de­but fea­ture was greeted with the same chilly re­cep­tion once af­forded The Tiger’s Tail, Alarm and 8.5 Hours. Global eco­nomic melt­down and empty po­lit­i­cal prom­ises are pre-re­ces­sion rent agree­ments in April. But it’s worse that tum­ble­weed con­tin­ues to blow across Smith­field Square. As long ago as last Au­gust, Cur­zon Ar­ti­fi­cial Eye Cine­mas sub­mit­ted the high­est bid to re­open Ire­land’s most Kubrick­ian pic­ture house. So why are we still wait­ing for the doors to open again? Don’t men­tion the

house­keep­ing. all very well on the wire­less but, in this coun­try, folks have de­cided they’re not putting up with this sort of thing at the mul­ti­plex. The peo­ple have spo­ken. Again. Cine­mas are for go­ing to see Brides­maids, not for speechi­fy­ing.

Our big­gest cold-fish turn-offs are cost­ing the na­tion cold, hard cash, did­dling us out of choice at the cinema and wast­ing valu­able re­sources. Art­house projects in Cork and Gal­way are stuck in var­i­ous stages of de­vel­op­ment hell (we’re told that work is set to re­sume on the lat­ter af­ter a whop­ping 16-month de­lay).

At least in the cap­i­tal we have the lovely Light House Cinema, right? Wrong. It’s bad enough that Light House op­er­a­tors Neil Con­nolly and Maretta Dil­lon fell foul of un­re­al­is­tic

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