The latest Irish and Irish American happenings in film and televisio
1.An all-star cast of Irish and international talent gathered in Dublin to shoot a gender-bending film written by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed authors.
Glenn Close stars alongside Irish thespians Brenda Fricker, Brendan Gleeson, Mary Doyle Kennedy and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in the film Albert Nobbs.
Close, who wrote the movie along with Booker Prize winning author John Banville (The Sea), plays the title character, a woman driven to transform herself into a man to get a job as a servant in the 1890’s. Suffice it to say, complications ensue as Albert attempts to keep his true identity hidden, and as romantic feelings begin to bloom among key characters.
Close has been trying to bring this story (based on a book by Irish writer George Moore) to the big screen for well over a decade. She performed the title role on stage in the early 1980s, and has been attempting to make a movie of the story ever since. She is even serving as producer of the Albert Nobbs film. Janet McTeer (Into the Storm) and Mia Wasikowska (who starred with Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre) also appear in Albert Nobbs, which wrapped up shooting in Dublin this past winter. The film was directed by Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives) and is expected to hit U.S. theaters in late 2011 or early 2012.
2. The 23rd annual Galway Film Fleadh opened in early July and featured the latest movie from Irish director Thaddeus O’Sullivan. Entitled Stella Days, the latest film from O’Sullivan (Ordinary Decent Criminal, Into the Storm) stars Martin Sheen as well as Stephen Rea.
The film is based on the book Stella Days: 1957 – 1967, The Life and Times of Rural Irish Cinema by Michael Doorley. Both the book and film explore the small Tipperary town of Borrisokane, where the local cinema provides respite from small town life and economic depression.
Tensions arise when a local priest (Sheen) who loves the cinema begins to knock heads with a powerful bishop, who is more concerned with raising funds, as well as the locals who have begun to ask tough questions about their faith.
Though his birth name is Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez, Sheen’s Irish roots run deep, and this film is a homecoming of sorts for the veteran actor, whose love for Irish culture is well known. Sheen’s mom, Mary, was an Irish immigrant who hailed from Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary.
As part of the festivities surrounding the Galway fest, Sheen was also featured at the Fleadh’s annual Public Interview.
3. Also showing at the Galway Fleadh was Parked, directed by Darragh Byrne and written by Ciaran Creagh. Parked, which stars the always-busy Colm Meaney, was nominated for four Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) earlier this year and was also shown at Cannes. In the film, Meaney plays Fred Daly, a man so down on his luck he has ended up living in his car. But inspiration suddenly comes to him in the form of a pot-smoking fellow named Cathal (Colin Morgan). Parked also stars Irish actor Stuart Graham, who appeared in the acclaimed Northern Ireland film Omagh.
4. Colin Farrell will be having a busy summer. First up, we saw an all but unrecognizable Farrell (complete with cheesy mustache and balding comb-over hair-do) in the workplace comedy Horrible Bosses, which also starred Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Jamie Foxx, among others. (Little known fact: Horrible Bosses was co-written by Irish American John Francis Daley, the Illinois native and actor best known for his role in the cult TV show Freaks and Geeks as well as recent appearances on the show Bones.) In August, Farrell steps into a starring role in the remake of the campy 80s film Fright Night. Farrell, above, plays a mysterious next door neighbor who just might be responsible for a string of murders because he just might be a vampire. The original featured Chris Sarandon as well as Roddy McDowell, and was not exactly screaming to be re-made. Let’s hope Farrell, as well as director Craig Gillespie, come up with enough twists to make this more interesting.
5. While we’re on the subject of summer movies, don’t forget that a number of Irish stars, from Fiona Shaw and Ciaran Hinds to Evanna Lynch and Domhnal Gleeson, will appear in the July 15 flick Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2.
Meanwhile, Olivia Wilde (who was raised in Ireland) will appear in the big budget July flick Cowboys and Aliens alongside Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, and in the August comedy The Change Up, starring Jason Bateman.
6. Also in July, look for Pierce Brosnan and the aforementioned Ciaran Hinds in the thriller Salvation Boulevard. Also starring Greg Kinnear, Ed Harris, Marisa Tomei, Jim Gaffigan and Mary Callaghan Lynch, the film explores the world of evangelism in the U.S.A charismatic preacher convinces the residents of a small town to follow him – and invest in what seems to be a lucrative real estate development. But when one follower sees the preacher in a compromising position, a battle erupts as the preacher’s dedicated followers aim to silence the doubter.
The former James Bond also has another film lined up for September entitled I Don’t Know How She Does It. Also starring Kelsey Grammer, Olivia Munn and famously curvy Mad Men star Christina Hendricks, I Don’t Know How She Does It features Sarah Jessica Parker as a working mom struggling to balance her responsibilities and her personal life.
7. Kenneth Branagh had a big hit behind the camera with the May popcorn flick Thor. Now the Belfast thespian has announced that his next movie project will be My Week with Marilyn. Branagh will star alongside Michelle Williams as well as Dominic Cooper in this British drama directed by Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges. Based on a book by Colin Clark, My Week with Marilyn explores the making of the 1950s film The Prince and the Showgirl, which starred Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams stars as Marilyn Monroe, in a role that is surely going to turn heads, if only because Williams is transformed into Monroe, at least to judge from early photos from the set. Fittingly, Branagh stars in the film as another famous thespian – Sir Laurence Olivier.
My Week with Marilyn looks closely at one week Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) spent with Monroe while her husband, famous playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), was out of the country.
8. Gabriel Byrne has spent recent months touring the U.S. as well as Ireland, serving as his native country’s cultural ambassador. He has been talking up some of his favorite authors, programming screenings of Irish movies and participating in roundtables about the future of the arts in Ireland. But, in the end, Byrne is best known as an actor and it’s apparently time for the Usual Suspects star to get back to work. Byrne is slated to star in a movie called Capital, to be directed by Costa Gavras. Byrne will star alongside Mathieu Kassovitz, who will play a manager at a prominent European bank, which is the target of a hostile takeover by American investors. Byrne is slated to play a representative of the bank’s shareholders.
Capital is slated to shoot all over the map in late September. Sites include Paris, London, Miami and New York. Gavras, the Greek filmmaker famed for directing international art house fare such as Z and Missing, has said the idea for a film on high finance came to him after he read a book called Total Capitalism, written by former Credit Lyonnais president Jean Peyrelevade. The book implies that the world is run by a small group of powerful shareholders.
As for Gabriel Byrne, he may eventually read this charged tome. However, he recently told the New York Post his current reading list includes The Commitments by Roddy Doyle, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, and the 2011 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award prize winner Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.