Calvary (2014)

I am such a huge fan of Brendan Gleeson and for that reason I keep an eye on his output.  A lot of his movies don’t make the mainstream press and this one was no different, hopping in and out of the cinema fairly quickly.  Usually the ones that don’t make mass appeal are the one set in Ireland with a very Irish lilt to it.  The Guard for example falls into this bucket as do many others that will pop up in this review series later on.

The setup for the movie is established in the first scene.  Gleeson plays a local preacher who is receiving confession from someone who states he is going to be murdered in a few days to atone for the sins of the church.   Gleeson is a good natured priest who tends to his parish as best as possible while they all deal with their sins.

He isn’t as stressed about this information as you may think, with him maybe taking solace that this may be a higher powers will and he is being tested.  So he travels around his parish, helping his parishioners through their sins while trying to determine which one of them has issued the threat to kill him.

As with The Guard, the humor in this movie is black.  In other words, guilty laughter is willed throughout the story.

Gleeson’s son (Domhnall Gleeson of About Time fame) pops up as one of those he visits.  Must have been strange as well as an honor to act as well as they both did off one another, father and son.

This movie I think is a little better than the The Guard, but it is a close call.  Gleeson plays that worn out, pragmatic priest to perfection and given some great lines that are delivered in that dead pan, mater of fact manner.

Father James Lavelle: I’ve always felt there’s something inherently psychopathic about joining the army in peace time, as far as I’m concerned people join the army to find out what its like to kill someone. I hardly think that’s an inclination that should be encouraged in modern society, do you?

Calvary is a great movie that wouldn’t have worked without the cast chosen.  It is a movie that has a wonderful repeat-ability with you gaining a little more from each viewing.  Take it for a spin, and if you all in love with it, then check out the The Guard.

#76 in the series


Viewing Date
Monday, 2nd November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

If you loved Local Hero then you will love this tale of a village set in western Ireland, who discover that one of the 50 odd residents has won the lottery.  However at first they don’t know who, but soon discover it is the one person that didn’t come to the party.  Poor man had died – of shock that he had won that much money.

Knowing that poor Ned Devine would have wanted the village to share in the winnings, Jackie (Ian Bannen) and Michael (David Kelly) hatch a plan to convince the lottery official that Michael is Ned as they pull a classic bate’n’switch con on a village level scale.

Of course, there is one that gets greedy and puts the whole operation at risk.  Not going to give anymore of the plot away, but enough to say, the setup is beautiful and there is lots of black comedic moments.   One particular stand out scene, keep an eye out for when Jackie and Michael discover the body for the first time and try to readjust his smile.  I was literally crying with laughter.

James Nesbitt, prior to us The Hobbit duties, as the local pig farmer who is desperately trying to woo the love of his life, a local girl (Susan Lynch) who writes greeting card versus for a living while raising her only young son.

While set in Ireland, the whole movie is filmed in the Isle of Man, which substitutes for Ireland and Scotland on a number of movies.  The tax breaks in this little offshore tax haven are too good to refuse for some movie makers.

The movie did fantastically well at the box office, with a budget of $3M it returned over $50M to the makers.

I love this movie and it never fails to lift my mood when I need some good clean laughter.  If you haven’t taken it for a whirl, then get it onto your list as soon as possible, you won’t regret it. 


Viewing Date
Friday, 25th September 2015


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Standby (2014)

This is a no effort-required Irish romantic comedy about a man who, finds himself working with his mother for the Irish tourist board at the information desk at Dublin airport.  A girl from his 8 years past, arrives at the airport stranded for the night, waiting the next flight to the USA (hence the title reference she is on standby).

Naturally this could have been the one that got away, but he didn’t have the courage to go and chase her down.  So this is his second chance.

I did expect a lot more from this outing.  I was excited when it was recommended to me from a few other movies in the same genre.  I had not heard of it before, and while it may not have hit the mainstream, sometimes you discover a real gem that has been locked away waiting to be viewed.

The lead is played by

Brian Gleeson, who I didn’t click at the time, is the son of my favourite Irish actor

Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and the younger brother of 

Domhnall Gleeson (About Time).   Now I know, I can see the strong family resemblance.   Feel a bit dumb not joining those dots as I am usually quite good at finding the connections.

The female lead, the love interest, is carried by

Jessica Paré of Mad Men fame.  It has to be said, she is not your classic beauty here in this movie, not even eliciting a sexy girl’next’door look.  She was far more sensual as Don Drapers squeeze.

They bump through the usual will-they-or-won’t-they scenario’s of the usual rom-com journey, with the natural outcome that we are rewarded with for sitting through it all.

It isn’t an offensive comedy, it has some funny lines (as Mark Kermode would say, passes the 6 laugh test) and it doesn’t spend too long in any given scene where you would normally be saying get on with it.

It is no Notting Hill so Richard Curtis, the master of the under stated romantic comedy, can rest easy.

If you want to watch something that couldn’t quite gain mainstream popularity then you won’t go too far wrong.  Just lower your expectations and you’ll have an enjoyable evening.

Viewing Date
Wednesday, 9th September 2015


IMDB YouTubeTrailer