Irish Eye on Hollywood
Donal Logue is best known for the years he starred in the solid, if not exactly brilliant, sitcom Grounded for Life. His character was named Sean Finnerty, and Logue’s own name certainly is Irish. Yet his Harvard degree, his California-dude affect and the fact that his movie roles have been extremely diverse never made Logue seem all that Irish. But indeed, Logue’s parents were immigrants. And many Hollywood insiders feel he is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Logue currently stars in a new ABC TV hit called The Knights of Prosperity. He also has several star-studded movies in the works. It’s only a matter of time before Logue gets the part that turns him into the next Philip Seymour Hoffman, as actor/director Ed Burns told The New York Times recently. Burns (also the son of Irish immigrants), who directed Logue in his recent The Groomsmen, will direct him in his next movie Purple Violets. Logue will also be seen in the 2007 films Zodiac (about a San Francisco serial killer) and Ghost Rider (a comic book blockbuster starring Nicolas Cage).
Speaking of Ed Burns, he will be seen in the December release The Holiday. In that film, an American woman with a poor romantic past meets up with a British woman with similar problems. Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black also star in The Holiday, which is directed by Nancy Meyers, dubbed the “Queen of Chick Flicks” for directing Something’s Gotta Give and What Women Want.
Aidan Quinn recently agreed to star alongside Anna Paquin in an upcoming HBO movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, about the way American Indians were run off their land in the late 1800s. Until then, Quinn is awaiting the release of two movies he shot. The first is 32A, a coming-of-age tale set in late 1970s Dublin, which also stars Jared Harris and Orla Brady. His other recent film is End Game, a presidential assassination thriller starring Cuba Gooding Jr., James Woods and Burt Reynolds. Look for DVD releases if neither of those Aidan Quinn films hits theaters.
Definitely worth checking out on DVD is the psychological thriller Boxed, about an Irish priest mistakenly kidnapped by the IRA. The winner of the Best Feature award at the 2003 Boston Film Fest, Boxed stars Tom Murphy and is available at www.lightyear.com.
The next Harry Potter movie will be the culmination of a dream come true for a young Irish girl named Evanna Lynch. The 15-year-old, a die-hard Harry fan, was one of 15,000 youngsters who showed up at an open audition in London. There, she earned a role in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, due out in the summer of 2007. Lynch stars as Luna Lovegood, a loner who ends up fighting evil alongside Harry and his pals.
Irish-American actress Jennifer Connelly’s next role will pair her with Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond, set amidst the bloody unrest of 1990s Sierra Leone. Children under the age of 10 have been used in the wars spurred in part by the diamond trade. Djimon Hounsou (who starred in Jim Sheridan’s New York Irish immigration tale In America) also stars in Blood Diamond.
In America is the closing film of the Irish Arts Center’s ongoing Film Series which runs through December 16 in Manhattan. The series also features Pavee Lackeen (December 6), Dancing at Lughnasa (November 22), a documentary about playwright Brian Friel (November 22) and John Ford’s classic The Informer (November 11).
On the TV front, Harvard grad/3rd-generation cop/best-selling author Ed Conlon will likely see his gritty, brilliant memoir Blue Blood turned into a TV show. X Men Last Stand director Brett Ratner is producing a pilot based on Blue Blood.
Now for Irish film festival news. David Gleeson’s Irish thriller The Front Line was selected for the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea. Then the film made its U.S. debut at the Hamptons International Film Festival in late October. The Front Line tells the story of an African immigrant security guard who turns the tables on Dublin gangsters during a bank robbery. Eriq Ebouaney (Kingdom of Heaven), James Frain (24) and Gerard McSorley (Omagh) are among the stars. Gleeson previously directed the critically acclaimed Cowboys and Angels.
Meanwhile, a film festival celebrating the work of young filmmakers from Scotland and Ireland was held in Edinburgh in the fall. Damien O’Donnell, Adrian Meade, Bernard McLaverty, Perry Ogden, May Miles Thomas and Douglas MacKinnon were among the Irish/Scottish talent who attended. Organizers said the festival is a part of a sustained move by the Consulate of Ireland to step up links with Scotland, given the talent in the respective film industries and unique cultural links.
An Irish 3D animated film, produced by Galway’s Magma Films and which may eventually make its way to the U.S., premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in September. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling and Me tells the story of Ratso, an ambitious rodent confined to a duckyard. He eventually persuades everyone that he is the father of the world’s ugliest duckling. The Ugly Duckling and Me (written by Irish author Mark Hodkinson) features Irish actors such as Morgan Jones, Paul Tylak and Barbara Bergin.
In other voice-over news, Liam Neeson will reprise his role in the first Chronicles of Narnia movie. The follow-up, entitled Prince Caspian, is expected to hit theaters in time for Christmas 2007. Before then, look for Neeson – as well as Pierce Brosnan and Anjelica Huston – in the moody Seraphim Falls, which was screened to much acclaim at the Toronto film fest. Word is that this very Irish Western might be released as early as the beginning of 2007, though no U.S. release date has been set.
Colin Farrell has at least two big movies set for next year. The first is The Kingdom while the other is the highly anticipated I’m Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan, in which numerous A-list actors (including Cate Blanchett in a gender-bending role) portray the famous songman.
The Dillon family remains very busy. After getting nominated for an Oscar for 2005’s Crash, Matt Dillon made three movies in 2006: You, Me and Dupree, Loverboy and most recently Factotum, an intense starring role very much worth checking out on DVD. A recent fawning profile in Parade magazine noted that Matt grew up the second of six children in an Irish-Catholic family in New Rochelle, New York. Another one of those Dillon kids was brother Kevin who, along with fellow Irish-Americans Kevin Connolly and Adrian Grenier, recently finished season three of the much-hyped HBO hit Entourage, which many industry insiders say has become HBO’s savior while viewers await The Sopranos final season in 2007.
Finally, an Irish-American filmmaker to look out for is Maureen Foley. Her latest effort American Wake (which has played at numerous Irish festivals as well as the Democratic National Convention) looks at a fireman and a musician, as well as at Ireland and America. Jack (Billy Smith from the Showtime Irish series Brotherhood) has become a hero firefighter, but after losing a close friend is feeling adrift. Niall, meanwhile, is a renowned fiddler whose father offers him a difficult, life-changing choice. Foley’s grandparents were from Inis Meáin and Inis Mór and she grew up in Massachusetts. Her previous film was Home Before Dark. To learn more about this up-and-coming Irish filmmaker go to www.hazelwoodfilms.com.