Irish Eye on Hollywood


    In May, reclusive and acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick will release his latest film Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, as well as Cork-born theater veteran Fiona Shaw.  Shaw will play a grandmother in a family with two troubled parents and three sons.  The film focuses mainly on the youngest boy, whose innocence is shattered as he watches his family struggle with adversity.  This sounds about as cheerful and uplifting as previous bleak films directed by Malick, such as Badlands and The Thin Red Line.

    Colin Farrell’s film London Boulevard – based on Irish crime writer Ken Bruen’s novel – was released in the U.K. towards the end of 2010, but there’s no word just yet if an American release is forthcoming.  The talent gathered here could not be more impressive. Aside from Bruen’s source material and the artistically reinvigorated Farrell, you also have Keira Knightly and director William Monahan, who wrote the screenplay for The Departed.
    However, reviews of London Boulevard in England and Ireland were tepid. As the Irish Times put it: “There’s a fine film in here somewhere, but it’s buried very deep beneath a great deal of classy mediocrity.”
    As for what Colin Farrell will be doing next, he has been linked to remakes of two unlikely hits from the 1980s: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall, a sci-fi thriller which foresaw the rise of cutthroat reality television (it was based on a Philip K. Dick short story), as well as Fright Night, which will presumably attempt to tap into the current craze for all things vampiric.

    On the television front, the FX network must be thrilled at the success of The Fighter, the Mark Wahlberg film about “Irish” Mickey Ward.  Right after The Fighter began wowing audiences and earning talk of Oscar nominations, FX began running a new series about another Irish-American boxer entitled Lights Out.  The series features Holt McCallany as Patrick “Lights” Leary, a washed-up boxer who is thinking about one last shot at the ring.  It’s that or return to work as a debt collector – which he is quite good at because he is so intimidating.  The Leary family struggles to pay its bills and stick together in this show, which is slated to run for 13 episodes.
    Over on Showtime, Natasha McElhone – whose parents were from Ireland – stars alongside David Duchovny in Season Four of Californication.  McElhone – best known for big-screen roles in films such as Solaris and The Truman Show – plays the girlfriend of troubled novelist and teacher Hank Moody (Duchovny). Californication’s fourth season premiered in January and will run Sunday nights on Showtime through the spring.

    Finally, a gem of a documentary made its premiere on Irish television this past Christmas. Fans of Irish cinema should lobby for a U.S. release.
    Ireland’s TV3 channel premiered a new documentary entitled The Irish in Hollywood at the end of 2010.  Spanning more than 100 years, the documentary was narrated by Patrick Bergin, and looks at earlier Irish and Irish American stars such as James Cagney, Maureen O’Hara and Pat O’Brien, before taking us through today’s stars such as Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan.
    According to director Paul Howard, Gabriel Byrne emerges as a key voice in the film, because of his widespread knowledge of Hollywood history.
    “One of the things about Gabriel – and it was one of the most amazing interviews that I have ever done – was that we sat down to interview him about his life and career in Hollywood, but he went way beyond that,” Howard tells us. ” Gabriel was very knowledgeable – knowledgeable to such a degree that he could form very credible opinions on our topics.”
    Until the documentary is released on DVD – which we very much hope it will be – you can read the book on which the documentary is based: Steve Brennan’s Emeralds in Tinsletown.