Irish Eye on Hollywood
Irish-American hunk George Clooney recently said that he plans to return to his ancestral home for a summer of motorcycling. "I am doing a motorbike ride in Ireland this summer," he recently told Dublin radio station FM104. "I hear it rains a lot but I've got the perfect outfit!"
Clooney's last film Leatherheads was a bit of a dud, but he may soon be back in the Oscar nomination form he flashed in Michael Clayton. This fall, Clooney will again team up with Joel and Ethan Coen (who won best picture and best director Oscars for No Country for Old Men) as well as Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading. The film is about a CIA agent who writes his memoirs and is promptly fired. In a twist befitting the whacky worldview of the Coens, the memoirs end up in a women's locker room, and then become the property of shady types who simply want to make as much money as they can. Clooney previously worked with the Coen brothers on O, Brother, Where Art Thou. Along with Clooney and Pitt, Burn After Reading also stars Frances McDormand and John Malkovich. The film is slated to open September 12.
Irish American veteran of stage and screen Brian Dennehy is busy as ever these days. This summer, Dennehy will tackle one of Irish- American writer Eugene O'Neill's lesser-known works, Hughie. The play, which is set to run June 18 - August 31 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, will reunite Dennehy with acclaimed stage director Robert Falls, who directed Dennehy in Death of a Salesman on Broadway a few years back. At the same festival, Dennehy will also appear in another work by an Irish master: Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.
When the summer is over, it is back to the big screen for Dennehy, who will star in a crime drama jam-packed with several generations of A-list talent. The movie is called Righteous Kill, and is set to open September 12. The film also stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Donnie Wahlberg (playing a cop named Riley) and rapper 50 Cent (who Irish director Jim Sheridan directed in the biopic Get Rich or Die Trying). On the Irish side of things, Dennehy will be joined by Dennis O'Hare and up-and-comer Frank John Hughes, a Bronx native. Righteous Kill follows a pair of New York City detectives on the trail of a serial killer.
Speaking of DeNiro, he was among those who created The Tribeca Film Festival, which ran in New York City from April 23 to May 4. In the wake of September 11, DeNiro and others were seeking to rejuvenate downtown Manhattan. So, you could say the city itself is the star of the show. But at this year's fest, it seemed like the Irish stole the show. From dramas to documentaries, Irish and Irish-American talent dominated Tribeca. Big stars from Matthew Broderick to Colin Farrell shined alongside rising talent, such as Irish-born director Declan Recks. Recks' latest film, Eden, competed in Tribeca's World Narrative category. The film, which explores the disintegrating marriage of an Irish couple, is an adaptation of Eugene O'Brien's award-winning play of the same name. One of Eden's stars, actress Eileen Walsh (who won the Best Actress prize at the Festival for her portrayal of Breda), was recently asked to describe Eden and its troubled lead characters, Billy and Breda, who are about to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. "Both Billy and Breda are characters in search of each other," said Walsh. "They are people who have forgotten each other - become almost brother and sister because they know each other so well. Eden is about them searching to remember why they came together in the first place."
Also at Tribeca, the aforementioned Frank John Hughes has a supporting role, along with Linus Roche (who starred in the controversial film Priest), in Yonkers Joe, which stars Chazz Palminteri. Yonkers Joe is set in a working-class white ethnic enclave and explores the life of a low-level criminal whose life is radically changed when he must care for his son, who has Down's Syndrome. Yonkers Joe also stars Thomas Guiry (Black Irish, Mystic River).
Now, here is where the Irish affiliations with Tribeca get a little, um, idiosyncratic. Kicking It is a documentary about homeless men, and their participation in a nationwide soccer tournament. Who better to narrate this film than . . . Colin Farrell! True, Farrell is the son of an Irish soccer player, but this is still quite a departure from the glitz and glamour of Miami Vice. Farrell's next movie is the long-awaited New York Irish-American crime drama Pride and Glory. Directed by Jimmy Egan and co-starring Edward Norton, Pride and Glory is not scheduled for release until 2009.
Meanwhile, another Tribeca documentary, Chevolution, about the public fascination with Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, features commentary from Sinn Fin leader Gerry Adams. Two final Tribeca entries with Irish-American links are Lake City and Finding Amanda. Lake City is a drama starring Sissy Spacek and Troy Garrity (son of Jane Fonda and Irish- American activist Tom Hayden). It is an examination of a fractured mother-son relationship, and how they must confront each other following a family tragedy.