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Guinness Goes to the Movies

This weekend, the more outgoing Bundlers may find themselves leaving the house for in search of beer with green food coloring or seasonal fast food treats while the rest of us are stuck looking for something watch with some homemade green beer or a mint flavored shake courtesy of a favored delivery app. St. Patrick's Day has always provided an excuse for armies of bros to suddenly rediscover their fictional Irish heritage, but the cultural influence of Ireland tends to get lost in the mix. Maybe the idea of cracking open that daunting James Joyce novel or finding the nearest Samuel Beckett revival when the same Guinness those authors drank is foaming pint glasses all over town presents too much of a spiritual dilemma -- or is it an absurdist take on the meaningless nature of human existence? On the film side, the image of Irish cinema seems baked into the IRA-themed works of Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan from the 1990's. As worthy as this type of historical film may be, Ireland's culture and history is more complex than this cinematic snapshot. For anyone not looking for a Nobel Prize worthy hangover on Monday but wanting to explore a bit of Irish culture outside the usual suspects, here are some Irish viewing options.

Seven Psychopaths - Ireland's most well-known filmmaker of the moment is playwright-turned-auteur Martin McDonagh. While none of his films have been set in Ireland, he has focused on Irish characters in unfamiliar places, as in this meta-comedy/crime movie about an Irish screenwriter and McDonagh proxy (Colin Farrell) dealing with real and imagined killers in contemporary Los Angeles. FWIW, McDonagh's brother has also made some interesting movies about the dark and quirky in contemporary Ireland. (Amazon)

The Eclipse - Another film director/playwright, Connor McPherson may be the most sophisticated spinner of ghost stories on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. This literary horror drama focuses on the haunted nature of everyday life, in which love and loss are more traumatizing than jump scares and cheap thrills. (Free on Tubi TV; Amazon via Monsters and Nightmares)

Young Offenders - Based on a true story, this crime comedy from director Peter Foott recounts the narrative of two aimless teenage weirdos who find a shit ton of cocaine. If Beavis and Butthead were recast as two Irish lads in a joint collaboration between the Coen brothers and Edgar Wright, it would probably look something like this. The movie has already spawned a spinoff TV series across the pond. (Netflix)

The Snapper - Because there were no IRA terrorists, this 90's classic from Stephen Frears arguably got less attention than it deserved stateside. Adapted by Roddy Doyle from his own novel, The Snapper examines the class and religious issues that plagued the country's history in the 20th century with humor and offbeat characterization. It's the funnier, coarser companion piece to the story Frears would tell two decades later in Philomena. (Hulu)

Breakfast on Pluto - The other great movie about gender fluidity and the IRA from Neil Jordan, this surprisingly poignant chronicle of a 1970's transgender cabaret singer/working girl evokes the glam London of David Bowie as much as the political conflicts of the time period. Cillian Murphy remains one of the more underrated and underutilized actors out there, but this performance is perhaps his strongest to date. (Amazon)

Derry Girls - Technically, this takes place in Northern Ireland, and even more technically, it's a TV show not a movie. However, if a 2 hour sitting won't satisfy the thirst for Irish culture, this character comedy about a group of school kids during the Troubles of teh 1990's highlights the full complexity of what it means to be Irish. (Netflix)

Grabbers - If you think Leprachaun is the pinnacle of Irish monster movies, think again. This gonzo story about an Irish village under siege by tentacled aliens turns the country's cultural relationship to alcohol into a potent allegory. For anyone who wants to have their Jameson and drink it too this weekend, this cult favorite is best enjoyed along with the characters. (Hulu)

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