Winter Watch List
By Tom Deignan, Contributor
December / January 2017
What’s good on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and more of Irish and Irish American interest.
The holiday season brings with it some much-needed time off for rest and relaxation. Sure, it’s important to catch up with family and friends, but it’s also a great opportunity to catch up on some of those Irish and Irish American movies and TV shows you never got a chance to watch. Here is a selective list of Irish entertainment currently streaming online.
This is an original Netflix production and stars Fifty Shades of Grey lead Jamie Dornan. The film, directed by Richie Smyth, tells the story of 150 soldiers from Ireland who took on 3,000 troops who were fighting on behalf of international mining companies. Based on real-life events, The Siege of Jadotville, set in 1961, is both informative and inspiring.
Jamie Dornan, as well as Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame, stars in this excellent crime drama, which is set in Belfast and originally aired on BBC. Anderson plays a detective on the hunt for a serial killer. The Fall, now in it’s third season, also features veteran Irish actor John Lynch (In the Name of the Father).
If you like your TV dramas with a historical spin then check out these two shows. The first tells the sprawling story of the 1916 Easter Rising while the second features Irish star Cillian Murphy and explores the life of a ruthless English street gang and the Irish police officer sent to bust them up in post World War I Birmingham.
Writer director Gerard Barret gives us the dark side of Dublin in this release from last year. Jack Reynor plays a cab driver trying to make ends meet and keep his mother alive in this flick, which should make you feel a little bit better about your own life.
Hulu / Showtime
On the Irish American side of things, these shows were initially on FX and Showtime respectively. If you didn’t get a chance to see them the first time around, they’re worth a try. Rescue Me features Denis Leary as a firefighter dodging ghosts (sometimes literally) in post 9/11 New York City, while Brotherhood is an intense exploration of family ties and local politics, featuring Fionnula Flanagan as a particularly dark matriarch.
To cheer yourself, up check out this stand up special by the Oregon native, who has also written for TV shows such as Two Broke Girls and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Shameless and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Showtime / Netflix
If it’s Irish American comedy you want than you can’t beat these two shows. Always Sunny is 30 minutes of absurd, rapid-fire zaniness, while Shameless mingles ribald comedy with surprising emotional depth as it follows the struggles of the Gallagher clan of Chicago.
Before he hit it big with the Academy Award nominated Room, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson made this strange little flick, which stars Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Domhnall Gleeson. Fassbender plays a mysterious musician who always wears an oversized mask on his head. This quirky film follows the ups and downs of the musical life and while Frank certainly isn’t for everyone, you’ll like it if you take your movies with a strong dose of oddball.
The Commitments and Waking Ned Devine
Finally, the holidays are a great time to reacquaint your self with these Irish classics. The first, based on Roddy Doyle’s novel of the same name, was unavailable for some time, even on DVD. But now it’s back and it stands the test of time. Directed by Alan Parker, The Committments stars Robert Arkins, Angeline Ball, and a very young Glen Hansard (Once). Then, of course, there’s the 1998 classic Waking Ned Devine, in which Irish villagers attempt to fool lottery inspectors in order to claim money won by the titular dead man. Starring David Kelly, and also Fionnula Flanagan, Waking Ned Devine manages to capture the charm as well as the chicanery of Irish village life. ♦