Home > Film & stuff > Films for the Post-St. Paddy’s Day Hangover

Films for the Post-St. Paddy’s Day Hangover

One of the all-time great movie posters.

St. Patrick’s Day has arrived and there are probably a few things you haven’t considered in order to make your March 18th hangover more manageable:

  • How do I get green vomit stains out of my carpet?
  • Was my casual, alcohol induced racism the reason I have a black eye?
  • What movies should I watch while I eat dry toast and chew aspirin?

Well, to answer the first two questions– Oxiclean and yes. More complicated, however, is what Irish-related movies you should indulge in while you grip your couch for dear life as your head begins to split open. I’ve come up with a list of just a few of my favorite films full of Irish characters. I started to dangerously slip into an all-IRA/crime theme, so I made sure to include some humor and romance as well for those of you who resent the bomb setting, alcoholic, murderous stereotype. There’s no doubt I’ve left out some real gems inspired by the Old Country, but a couple of these oughta get you through the day just fine, provided you can get someone else to get up and put the DVD in your player.

So in no particular order, here are a few flicks for those who love the green blooded potato eaters across the pond… or in Boston:

  • The Crying Game: A thriller/romance/black comedy that will turn you on your ear, unless the reveal has been spoiled for you (the movie’s 20 years old now, so it probably has). Even if you do know Dil’s (played Jaye Davidson) secret, the movie is still a well-written and superbly acted joy. Stephen Rea gives a terrifically subtle performance as a conflicted IRA member who sets out to do right by the girlfriend of a prisoner he watched die. Plus, this is Neil Jordan’s best movie.
  • Road to Perdition: Perhaps Tom Hanks’ best and most underrated performance of his career, this Sam Mendes film is part Irish mob thriller and part father-son road trip. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Michael Sullivan (Hanks) goes on the run with his son after his wife and child are murdered by the petty son of his long-time employer/father-figure John Rooney (Paul Newman). The late Conrad Hall shot this gorgeous period piece, which co-stars Jude Law, Daniel Craig and Stanley Tucci, and it’s truly one of the great films of the past 20 years.
  • Once: A critical and (small) audience darling when it came out, Once manages to be a non-annoying musical that focuses on two musicians living and creating in the heart of Dublin. Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard are the real-life professional musicians who lead the story down a road so charming that even the most cynical of movie-goer has to be impressed (so if you’re one of those “too-cool-for-the-room guys” who hates this movie, I’ll spit in your face). Its stripped down composition and honest look at a romantic relationship makes for a beautiful film experience.
  • The Commitments: I’m white. I love soul music. This movie is about lily white Irish people who make soul music. I love this movie. Full of exceptional R&B music, the film follows a group of average, bored, downtrodden Dubliners who decide to realize a dream by forming their own throwback, ’60s inspired soul group. Lacking some of the traditionally necessary elements that soul musicians possess (the black experience), one character defiantly proclaims, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe, Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland, and the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud!”
  • Gangs of New York: I like a movie that portrays a part of history that’s rarely discussed. Civil War movies have been made before, but this film shows the battles in the streets of New York, and not between soldiers. Daniel Day-Lewis perfectly plays Bill the Butcher, a sadistic, power-hungry gang leader who despises Irish immigrants and wants nothing more than to keep the U.S. for his “Native Americans.” Martin Scorsese directs what was at the time his most lavish and ambitious film, and it’s his first of many collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio. Roger Ebert summed it up pretty well when he said that if Scorsese never made the caliber of movies like Raging Bull or GoodfellasGangs of New York might be his career-defining effort.
  • The Brothers McMullen: With a minuscule budget and an incredibly sparse shooting schedule, filmmaker Ed Burns made one of the most memorable and effective films to come out of the mid-’90s indie boom. Three Irish-Catholic brothers (Ed Burns among them) deal with guilt, women, love and sex in Burns’ script that never has a false moment. Every character is expertly written and the dialogue is superb. Burns has recently gone back to his tiny budget roots, and McMullen is a perfect example of what a talented writer/director can do with serious commitment and a little bit of cash.
  • Mystic River: Clint Eastwood directs this Boston-based story about a cop (Kevin Bacon) investigating the murder of the daughter of his childhood friend (Sean Penn). Tim Robbins is heartbreaking as a pal from their youth and a possible suspect in the crime. Filled with themes of Catholic guilt and questions about morality, Mystic River is one of the most effective Boston-based films that have seemingly multiplied over the last decade, and it’s a shame that it lost the Best Picture Oscar to the third Lord of the Rings film.

And for good measure, here are a few others worth checking out: In America, HungerThe DepartedThe Town, and Good Will Hunting.

So don’t fret, St. Paddy’s partiers– the 18th doesn’t have to be the Hell-on-Earth you expect.


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