Controversy may be on the agenda when Pierce Brosnan’s new film is unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival this February. Brosnan will star in The Ghost Writer, one of the films slated to open the fest. The film has been directed by none other than Roman Polanski. Polanski, of course, was recently placed under house arrest and is back in an L.A. courtroom, the latest episode in a decades-old saga that began when he was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s. Since then, the director of classics such as Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby has split Hollywood into two camps. Supporters feel the case is complex and the aging director should be shown some leniency. Others believe it is about time Polanski faces justice.
Either way, Brosnan will star in The Ghost Writer (based on a novel by Robert Harris) alongside Ewan McGregor. In the film, Brosnan plays a former British prime minister who is writing his memoirs. Like Polanski himself, the film’s protagonist is facing a legal battle. Brosnan’s character is facing an indictment by an international criminal court. The Ghost Writer also features actresses Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams.
Brosnan will also be seen in Remember Me, due out in March, alongside Twilight saga star Robert Pattinson and Chris Cooper. The film is about a complicated father-son relationship made even more complicated when the son falls in love.
Another big-time film with Irish ties will be unveiled at the Berlin film fest in February: Martin Scorsese’s latest, Shutter Island. Based on a novel by Irish-American novelist Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), this thriller is set in the 1950s and also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. The film revolves around two investigators hunting down an escapee from a Boston asylum.
Indeed, the legendary Scorsese continues to look to Irish Americans for inspiration, as he has in many of his past films, from the classic Goodfellas (Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, was Irish American) to more recent movies such as The Gangs of New York.
Aside from Shutter Island, keep an eye out for Boardwalk Empire, produced by Scorsese and slated to debut on HBO in September. Starring Steve Buscemi and Kelly MacDonald (who plays an Irish immigrant), the mini-series is set in 1920s Atlantic City as organized crime figures were establishing themselves at the gambling mecca.
When the thriller The Green Zone opens on March 12, it may be one of the most Irish movies ever made – although only supporting star Brendan Gleeson is technically Irish. Matt Damon (who played a troubled South Boston Irish kid in Good Will Hunting) stars in this latest Iraq war film, which also features Irish-American actress Amy Ryan, best known for The Wire as well as her turn as a troubled Boston Irish lass in Gone Baby Gone. (She earned an Oscar nomination for that role.) The Green Zone, finally, is directed by Brit Paul Greengrass, who directed the riveting docudrama Bloody Sunday.
March will also see the scheduled release of Liam Neeson’s next film Clash of the Titans, in which the Irishman plays Zeus in this epic action-adventure film about warring Greek gods. Neeson will also be busy this summer, appearing in The A-Team remake as well as the romantic thriller Chloe, also starring Julianne Moore.
Charlize Theron (significant other to Irish actor Stuart Townsend) is reportedly going to star in a film based on Irish writer Sebastian Barry’s recent novel The Secret Scripture. Set to film in Ireland, famed Irish producer Noel Pearson has also been linked to the film. Barry’s best-selling novel revolves around a 100-year-old woman who looks back on her colorful, at times tragic, Irish life.
Brendan O’Carroll is another Irish writer who is no stranger to Hollywood. O’Carroll’s books were the basis for the film Agnes Browne, starring Anjelica Huston. Now, HBO is eyeing O’Carroll for a series about an Irish immigrant family in the U.S. entitled We’ve Arrived. O’Carroll was even quoted in Ireland’s Evening Herald as saying: “It’s a possibility I’ll star in it myself, I hope so. Basically it’s for HBO and it’s about an Irish immigrant family who arrive in America and they’re a bit lost with the traditions over there. I hope it will be a success, they seem happy with what we’ve got so far, so with any luck it will go down well.”
The 1980s were very good to director John Landis and actor Dan Aykroyd. Landis directed a string of blockbuster comedies, from National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers to Trading Places and Coming to America. (Landis was even tapped to direct the iconic “Thriller” video by the late Michael Jackson.) Aykroyd, meanwhile, starred in several of those Landis flicks, as well as Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Now, Landis and Aykroyd are teaming up to bring a tale of Irish immigrants and murder to the big screen. The film, set to begin filming soon, is tentatively entitled Burke and Hare, and explores two Irishmen in 19th-century Scotland who made a fortune digging up bodies and selling them to doctors for research. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Run Fatboy Run) and David Tennant are also slated to star in Burke and Hare.
Irish short films may be represented at the 82nd annual Academy Awards in March. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced that Ireland’s Brown Bag Films will be among those considered for nomination for their short film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, directed by Nicky Phelan and produced by Darragh O’Connell. Short films undergo an extended nomination process, with nearly 40 films eventually being narrowed down to the five final nominees, which will be announced on February 2.
Ken Bruen (The Guards) wrote the novel. William Monahan (The Departed) wrote the screenplay. And Colin Farrell is starring in it. So London Boulevard, currently filming, should be a treat for Irish movie fans. Also starring Kiera Knightley, London Boulevard is a kind of updated version of the film classic Sunset Boulevard. Bruen’s novel revolves around an ex-convict whose only job prospect after prison is to work as muscle for a loan shark. But when he meets a beautiful woman, and also lands work fixing things up around the house of a rich actress, he figures his luck might finally turn around. Of course, it doesn’t, which becomes abundantly clear when his past catches up with him. Look for London Boulevard to hit screens later this year.
On to TV news. When the Denis Leary drama Rescue Me begins season number six next year, expect to see more of Irish-American actress Maura Tierney, who recently underwent surgery for breast cancer. Tierney had played the wild love interest of Tommy Gavin, the equally wild Irish-American firefighter played by Leary.
“We are just about finished writing the entire sixth season . . . and then there are nine more” episodes for Season 7, Rescue Me executive producer Peter Tolan told People magazine. “So we know we’re going to bring back Maura Tierney, because we loved her and she loved us, which is even more fulfilling.”
Finally in DVD news, a funny thing happened to John Huston’s poetic final film The Dead on the way to its DVD release. Following the initial release of this beautiful 1987 film, based on the classic short story by James Joyce, a production error clipped ten minutes from the running time. That error has now been corrected, and the running time restored to 83 minutes. Lions Gate has even offered to replace the faulty, 73-minute versions of the DVD. If you purchased the wrong version and need more details, e-mail [email protected] or call (800) 650-7099.