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Irish Eye on Hollywood: March / April 2019

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in The Irishman.
Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in The Irishman.

By Tom Deignan, Columnist
March / April 2019

THE IRISHMAN FOR 2020?

It’s time for Academy Award predictions – for 2020!  It’s never too early to look ahead and see which films Hollywood honchos are positioning as Oscar bait, to lure crowds away from their iPhone apps and Netflix accounts. The influential show biz web site IMDB.com ranks The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s next movie (to be released by Netflix, of course), as the top contender among the movies slated to be released this year, and eligible for next year’s Oscar race.

<em>Caitriona Balfe.</em>

Caitriona Balfe.

Also ranked high for the 2020 Oscar race is a pair of reboots with elite Irish talent – Dumbo, featuring Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton, and Little Women, with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet. Also tipped for lots of attention next Oscar season is Ford vs. Ferrari, starring Irish actress Caitriona Balfe alongside Matt Damon. Rounding out the 20 or so flicks that are expected to garner heavy awards attention are Ad Astra, an outerspace drama starring Irish actress (and Oscar nominee) Ruth Negga, The Goldfinch, directed by Irishman John Crowley, and Fonzo, a gangster biopic about Al Capone (Tom Hardy), who was married to Irish American Mae Coughlin.

 

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REMEMBER THE 27 CRUSADERS

And then on the opposite end of the cinematic spectrum, there are those small but powerful documentaries that make their way around festival circuits and private screenings in the hopes of getting their stories of local characters and color out into the world – and perhaps catching the eyes of a major film company.  One such movie – slated to be screened at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for free this June – is Remember the 27 Crusaders.

This is the story of a historically Irish-American Catholic school in Philadelphia, which sent an extraordinary number of young men to fight in the Vietnam War. In fact, according to the filmmakers, Father Judge High School – located in Northeast Philadelphia – suffered more casualties during the Vietnam War than any other Catholic high school in America.  (The school is named to honor the founder of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, which donated land so that the school could be built.)  The film – directed by Shawn Swords and produced by Irish American Films and Thistle Dew Studio – premiered at Father Judge High School Auditorium in November 2018, and revolves around poignant interviews and memories of the times the service men spent at Judge, and how the war affected their friends and families.  Remember the 27 Crusaders will be shown Wednesday, June 12, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Keep an eye out for other screenings.

 

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Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

BRANAGH TO DIRECT ARTEMIS FOWL

It may or may not get Oscar consideration, but you don’t get much more Irish than the blockbuster-to-be summer 2019 release Artemis Fowl. Based on the series of fantasy novels by Wexford native Eoin Colfer, the movie – at least for now, entitled simply Artemis Fowl – will be directed by Belfast native Kenneth Branagh, who has fully shaken off his Shakespearean roots and gone Hollywood. This is just the latest big-budget flick for the BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated actor-turned-director, whose recent directorial efforts include ThorCinderella, and Murder on the Orient Express, based on the Agatha Christie novel. The Artemis Fowl movie will also feature Kilkenny youngster Ferdia Shaw in the title role, as well as numerous other Irish and British talent. Meanwhile, Branagh is already looking beyond 2019, having signed on to another Agatha Christie project – a movie based on another of her books, Death on the Nile.

 

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Greta stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert.

Greta stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert.

NEIL JORDAN REDUX

Irish-born Oscar winner Neil Jordan has been relatively quiet for a decade or so, but he has assembled a strong Irish team of talent in front of and behind the camera for the psychological thriller Greta, slated to hit theaters in March. Written and directed by Jordan (The Crying Game,Michael Collins), Greta stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie) as well as Isabelle Huppert in the title role. Moretz plays a young New Yorker who finds a purse belonging to Greta on a subway train. Soon enough, Greta is luring the young woman into a friendship that veers from obsessive to deadly. Greta also features Crying Game star and Belfast native Stephen Rea, as well as Colm Feore (born in Boston to Irish parents), while celebrated Irish cinematographer Seamus McGarvey will collaborate with Jordan behind the camera.

 

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Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

SAOIRSE & KATE IN DOUBLE HEADER

Take one English Oscar winner, and one Irish three-time Oscar nominee, and what do you get?  A very unlikely love story.

In March, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan will begin shooting a film with the working title of Ammonite. The film follows the life and work of Mary Anning, a paleontologist whose fossil discoveries provided important insight to pre-historic life in the United Kingdom. People.comreports: “Set at an English coastal town in the 1820s, the movie will follow Anning (Winslet) and a wealthy woman from London struggling with health issues (Ronan) as they develop an intense relationship.”

The movie will be directed by Francis Lee, whose 2017 drama God’s Own Country was about a romance between two men working together on a farm.

Aside from the aforementioned Little Women, Ronan is also slated to begin shooting Wes Anderson’s latest film The French Dispatch, also featuring Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro and – yes – Kate Winslet.

 

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Amy Ryan is in Maniac.

Amy Ryan is in Maniac.

GABRIEL AND THE LOST GIRLS

Art imitates life – and features Gabriel Byrne, and a trio of Irish-American New Yorkers – in the dark, forthcoming movie Lost Girls. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Kolker. That novel seems to have been inspired by the numerous missing women who turned up in remote beachfront areas along Long Island. Many of the women had fallen into financial trouble and turned to online prostitution. All in all, as many as 20 women may have fallen victim to the same killer over the last two decades. Lost Girls, slated for release next year, stars Byrne – who can also be seen in the current Netflix show Maniac, alongside Jonah Hill and Emma Stone – as well as Amy Ryan, Dean Winters, and Kevin Corrigan. All three of these Hollywood vets have New York Irish roots. Ryan – who took her mother’s name, rather than her birth name Dziewiontkowski – has appeared on shows ranging from The Office to The Wire, while Winters played prisoner Ryan O’Reilly on Oz, and Johnny Gavin on the Irish-American TV drama Rescue Me. Finally, Corrigan is entering his fourth decade in show biz, having appeared in films ranging from Goodfellas to The Departed.

 

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KEOGHAN WILL STAR IN Y

The hunger for post-apocalyptic stories only seems to be getting stronger, so Irish star-in-the-making Barry Keoghan – after doing serious historical Irish fare such as Black ’47 and the Belfast drama ’71 – has signed on to an FX TV series with a big-time sci-fi twist. Keoghan will star in a series simply entitled Y, and based on the book Y: The Last Man, which explores a world where some sort of terrible disaster has wiped away – get this – all male mammals, with the exception of one male human being. Y also stars Diane Lane, Imogen Poots and – fittingly for Keoghan – the California-reared actress Marin Ireland. The series will also star Timothy Hutton as the U.S. president. Which means there are already two males in the cast. But, hey, it’s a post-apocalyptic world. So anything can happen.

 

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THE IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

Finally, Irish broadcaster RTÉ has a surprise hit with the Easter Rising mini series Rebellion (currently streaming on Netflix), so it’s no surprise they went ahead and produced a sequel. Entitled Resistance, the film dramatizes the events of the Irish War for Independence, the guerrilla battle between Irish republicans and the British, which raged from roughly 1919 to 1921. The bloodshed lasted until the infamous peace agreement which partitioned Ireland – and led to further fighting, this time between the Irish themselves. Keep an eye out for Resistance, which will surely make its way to the U.S. ♦

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