Irish Eye on Hollywood


JESSIE BUCKLEY POISED FOR THE A-LIST

Only the worldwide pandemic could slow down the stratospheric rise of Kerry native Jessie Buckley. And even with Hollywood more or less shut down, Buckley is still getting raves – meaning she will be poised to hit the A-list when show biz really opens up again in the new year.

You can see Buckley now in the offbeat Netflix romance I’m Thinking of Ending Things, as well as the also-kind-of-weird but very entertaining FX TV series Fargo.

“There are many unsettling pleasures in the current season,” the Boston Globe said of Fargo’s fourth season. “The best of them is Buckley’s super polite and super murderous Oraetta Mayflower…. The Irish actor doesn’t just come up with a Minnesota accent that is exaggerated to a just-exactly-perfect degree, she manages to be terrifying …and comic … at the same time. She’s chipper, efficient, and utterly twisted. She’s impossible to look away from.

The recent season also features Ben Whishaw as Irish immigrant “Rabbi” Milligan, a small-time hood thrust into the middle of a gang war that explodes in 1950’s Kansas City. 

Look next for Jessie Buckley starring alongside “the queen” herself, Olivia Colman, as well as Irish thespian Paul Mescal (Normal People) in Maggie Gylenhall’s adaption of Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter.


BLUE BLOODS SEASON 11

Now that we live in a world dominated by Netflix and Hulu and other streaming services many of us have barely heard of, we forget that the old-school networks are still churning out reliable entertainment — some brand new, some aged like fine wine.

The latter certainly characterizes the durable CBS cop drama Blue Bloods. The Irish American Regan clan came back with an 11th season in December. Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Irish American actress Bridget Moynihan are facing a very different TV landscape – not to mention changed attitudes about law enforcement – from when the first episode aired back in 2010. Still, the show remains incredibly popular, and is still under the supervision of Irish American Executive Producer Brian Burns – brother of actor/director Ed Burns.


WILD MOUNTAIN THYME IS NOT MOONSTRUCK

Writer and director John Patrick Shanley is the Irish American force behind Oscar winners and Hollywood classics from Moonstruck to Doubt. So it must have been shocking to face the negative reaction that came upon the release of the trailer for his latest film Wild Mountain Thyme. The Internet burned up with comments about bad accents and what seemed to be a post-card view of Ireland stuck in the days of The Quiet Man.

The backlash was all the more surprising given the film’s strong cast, including Irish actor Jamie Dornan, Mad Man Jon Hamm, Mary Poppins star Emily Blunt, and Hollywood legend Christopher Walken.

Which is part of the problem – Dornan is from Northern Ireland, Blunt from England, and Walken…well, he’s Christopher freakin’ Walken. And so the resulting accents come off as a mish-mash rather than anything resembling semi-realistic 21st Century Ireland.

Which is not to say the movie is as bad as the Internet chatter would suggest. Based on Shanley’s own play Outside Mullingar, Wild Mountain Thyme is set in motion when an Irish patriarch (Walken) decides he may not give his farm over to his reclusive son, but instead to an American relative (Hamm).

Much of this is familiar and, yes, often, more “Oirish” than Irish.  It must be added that Ireland is not exactly the first country to look up to a movie screen and discover that the nuances of its day-to-day life have been flattened to pancake proportions by Hollywood types. The real problem here may be that we’re meant to believe Jamie Dornan as some kind of muttering misfit. As fine an actor as he is, Dornan is a successful model, who fluttered many a heart in the steamy 50 Shades movies.

Still, Dearbhla Molloy is a joy to watch, and these days you could do a lot worse than the stunning County Mayo scenery Shanley caught onscreen.

Look for Dornan next alongside a slew of Irish actors – Ciaran Hinds, Caitriona Balfe – in Kenneth Branagh’s highly anticipated film, simply entitled Belfast.

Wild Mountain Thyme is now available on Amazon Prime


HEAD NURSE SINEAD O’ROURKE

Meanwhile, over at NBC – in a bit of good timing given our new appreciation for front-line medical workers – look for a new hospital drama called Nurses, featuring Irish actress Cathy White. White, who has appeared in cable dramas such as The Vikings, will play nurse Sinead O’Rourke, described by producers as “head nurse and den mother” to the younger, newly-minted hospital workers around which the show revolves.

WOLFWALKERS A HIT WITH KIDS & PARENTS

The Wall Street Journal recently noted that the term “family entertainment” usually “means something parents can sit through without clawing the armrest off the couch.”

But then they offered up the new, much-acclaimed Irish animated epic Wolfwalkers as the type of movie that truly has something for everyone. “With its enchanted forests, the film is terrific fare for kids,” the Journal noted, before adding that adults will be drawn in by the history and religious tension of this tale set in “a pre-Christian Hibernia of pagans, Druids, and nature worship.”

The team behind Wolfwalkers is the same that gave us 2009’s celebrated Secret of Kells – Tomm Moore and producer Nora Twomey – and Wolfwalkers is already moving to the front of the pack when it comes to buzz about Oscar nominations in the animated category. Tommy Tiernan and Mary Doyle Kennedy are among the Irish cast members in Wolfwalkers, which airs on Apple TV+.


O’MARA GIVES VOICE TO SON OF ZEUS

What better time to go way back to old Greek mythology days. And what better traveling companion than Dublin actor Jason O’Mara.

O’Mara is among the international actors lending their voices to the Netflix animated series Blood of Zeus.

The eight-episode series (described by the streaming service as an “adult animated TV” show) provides a crash course in Greek mythology and revolves around Heron, son of Zeus (that’s O’Mara), who must save both earth and Olympus from malevolent forces.

O’Mara – best known for TV shows like Life on Mars and Man in the High Castle, and movies such as The Siege of Jadotville – joins Greek-American Melina Kanakaredes and Greek-Canadian Chris Diamntopolous, as well as Hollywood royalty Mamie Gummer (also known as Meryl Streep’s daughter).

O’Mara  also recently voiced the animated movie Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, alongside Irish Americans Jerry O’Connell and Matt Ryan, and Irish-Aussie Liam McIntyre.


AMMONITE: A LOVE STORY WITH SAOIRSE

You certainly won’t have any acting or accent complaints with the likesof Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, and Fiona Shaw in the recent romance drama Ammonite.

Produced by Kerry native Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Ammonite is a period drama about an isolated paleontologist who falls in love with a rich collector’s wife.

Up next for Ronan is another one of those quirky, star-studded Wes Anderson movies, this one entitled (take a deep breath here) The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, which may finally be shown to audiences at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, usually held in the Spring – and which, as of press time, had not yet been canceled due to the COVID pandemic!

Ammonite is now available on Amazon Prime.


RUAIRI WILL PLAY BUDDY HOLLY

An Irishman will play rock-n-roll legend Buddy Holly in an upcoming biopic about the “Peggy Sue” singer. Ruairi O’Connor will play the bespectacled crooner, while singer Nelly will co-star as Chuck Berry, in the film with the working title Clear Lake. According to Variety, Colin Hanks will also appear, as Holly’s manager. O’Connor has played a number of roles in the Starz historical series The Spanish Princess. He’s also set to appear alongside Steve Carrell and Jennifer Aniston in the upcoming season of Apple TV’s The Morning Show.


SHANE’S CROCK OF GOLD

And speaking of music legends, if the Christmas spins of “Fairytale of New York” didn’t quite slake your appetite for Shane McGowan, punch up the new documentary Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane McGowan and remind yourself that for all of the prattling that goes on about the Pogues’ singer’s well-documented excesses (alluded to in the too-cute sub-title), this guy is one of Irish music’s most important figures from the last 50 years or so.

Crock of Gold is now available on Amazon Prime.


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