An armchair tour of Ireland high and low 

4 films we're watching this week

The Quiet Man

1952

No film by the great Irish-American director John Ford shows his affection for the Emerald Isle like this one. John Wayne plays an Irish-born American prizefighter with a dark secret returning to his quaint home village. Despite some broad caricatures that wouldn't fly today, the movie is saved by the bewitching Maureen O'Hara and great fight scenes, especially with Wayne squaring off against potato-faced Victor McLaglen.

Angela's Ashes

1999

Angela's Ashes, the film adaptation of Frank McCourt's autobiography, juxtaposes intensely sad circumstances with the brand of humor they result in. Set in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, McCourt's childhood was rife with destitution and scant with food. His father was a drunk, his mother was continually pregnant, and several of the family's children died young. Wondering how this film could contain a single chuckle? Ponder this question: Should thrown up communion be washed away with holy water or regular water?

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

2006

This masterpiece about two brothers from County Cork ripped apart by Ireland's fight for freedom from occupying Britain is gut-wrenching. For those seeking a deeper understanding of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), it's a must-see. You may want to watch it with the closed-captioning on — the dialect is thick and the dialogue requisite.

Once

2007

In a genre typified by campy theatrics, this low-budget musical earned critical praise, thanks to its naturalistic approach. Leads Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (of real-life musical duo the Swell Season) have an undeniable chemistry — Hansard as a thirtysomething Dublin busker with dreams of recording a demo and moving to London, and Irglová as a teenage immigrant flower seller with her own secret musical aspirations. — mt

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