|the, really rather good, Michael Fassbender|
It's a truism that most Irish films are bad. Most of everything is bad so that's not that surprising but the people who provide finance for Irish films seem determined only to produce Irish films that are full of the worst cliches and stereotypes of Oirishness imaginable. There are, of course several notable exceptions to this sweeping statement but no doubt you'll know what I'm talking about if you've come across Leap Year or PS I Love You etc. But even worse than Irish films from the Republic of Ireland are the breed of films that have been made about the Troubles in the North. These movies I like to think of as Micksploitation pictures. What is a Micksploitation picture I hear you ask? It's a film set during or just after the Troubles whose intent is not to elucidate what was happening in Northern Ireland in the period 1968 - 1998, but rather to simplify the conflict for the lowest common denominator of American film goers in order to get bums (especially Irish American bums) in seats. The films usually have a few stock cliches and plot devices: 1. The IRA are conflicted heroes who only kill evil Brits. 2. The Brits are evil. 3.Northern Irish Protestants are the most evil of the lot - racist, Lambeg drum beating orangemen who hate Catholics with their cornflakes in the morning and their cocoa at night. 4. Belfast, suspiciously, looks a lot like a Manchester. 5. The musical score will be a soaringly sentimental parody of trad. Irish music.
For my sins I've seen quite a few of these films and for your edification here's a wee list of some of the worst offenders.
1. A Prayer for the Dying - Mickey Rourke plays a conflicted IRA man driven to his crimes by evil Brits.
2. Hidden Agenda - evil Protestants conspire to kill everyone in their path.
3. Hunger - evil Protestants conspire to kill Bobby Sands (I actually kinda like this one).
4. The Devil's Own - Brad Pitt plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then decides to hassle Harrison Ford.
5. Cal - John Lynch plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then sleeps with the dead man's girl.
6. The Crying Game - Stephen Rea plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then sleeps with the dead man's girl (who's really a guy).
7. Patriot Games - Sean Bean plays a conflicted IRA man, driven to his crimes by evil Brits, who then hassles Harrison Ford.
8. The Jackal - Richard Gere plays a conflicted IRA man driven to his crimes by evil Brits. Gere's accent work here is the comic high point of his career.
9. In the Name of the Father - evil Brits frame innocent Micks (except, er, this is actually what really happened).
10. The Boxer - conflicted IRA man tries to go straight but is hassled by evil Brits and old pals.
If you want to see a really good film about the Troubles you should watch Bloody Sunday, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring James Nesbitt, which contains something many of the films above don't have: nuance.