Interview: Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh, ‘Calvary’

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Lorna Buttimer chats to John Michael McDonagh, writer/director of Calvary and its star Brendan Gleeson ahead of the film’s release in Irish cinemas.

John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson clearly get on well. Calvary is their second feature together, and it sees the two tackle the Sligo landscape to portray the life of Father James, the kindly priest who learns by confession that a parishioner plans to murder him in retribution for the crimes of the Catholic Church in seven days’ time. Not knowing if the threat is real, the priest tries to put right the many problems in his small rural community, and reconnect with his estranged daughter (Kelly Reilly) before his possible murder.

Gleeson, of course, plays Father James, the player upon the Sligo stage. ‘Father Jamo’, in Gleeson’s words, is someone aware of his particular uniform. But what separates him from his peers is the fact that he is a ‘modern creature’. ‘Like when Jesus knocks the hell out of the money guys in the temple and kicks them out, it seems to me that Father James comes from that line. There is a rage in him about the self-serving, petty mindlessness of it all,’ claims Gleeson.

Father James comes to the Catholic Church after a marriage, a child and a troubled life with alcohol. In Gleeson’s view, these experiences make his character stand apart. ‘It gives him a personal life, a personal history. Father James has been in the world; he has had contact with stuff maybe other priests don’t have.”.

As a result of such experience, Father James is able to reach out to his parishioners and through that, maybe discover who wants him dead. ‘John said I was more or less a Samurai in a way. And the funny thing was when I went to get fitted for the vestments I got a real weird goose-bumpy, tingly kind of a thing, where it was like a suit of armour, and you’re the protectorate of all things good. I wasn’t prepared for it or didn’t expect it.

‘And that’s what he does – he goes and he takes on the forces of despair and he’s fighting his own temptation of despair quite a lot too. Rather than someone who went into the church naively, he understands how dark it can be and the temptation to go into despair. He becomes a lightning rod for everyone else’s disillusionment and they try their hardest to break him. But in the end they don’t really want to break him at all; they want their own cynicism to be overturned by his belief.’

The film is marked by its use of location. Shot in Sligo, both are keen to emphasise how the film flourished under Ben Bulben’s deep shadow. ‘The locations are very important, you know, Galway was very important on The Guard and Sligo was very important on this one,’ says McDonagh.

‘It has a real bearing on how everybody interacts,’ elaborates Gleeson, ‘and just the way people carry themselves. It’s only working when you feel part of the place. And you can see that in the film – you really can.’

With smaller budgets, crews and time, sometimes Irish films don’t make it to the actual location. For Gleeson, this is a huge mistake. ‘You’re going to get the counter argument that if you go to a location it’s a day to travel and a day to travel back and if you’re trying to keep to budgets that you’re pushing to the limit. There is always the temptation for people to say “sure Wicklow’s just down the corner”. But it has a huge impact on the film – the whole Ben Bulben thing in this, it’s so iconic.’

Speaking about Ireland’s landscape, McDonagh tells how Ryan’s Daughter ‘was a big influence on this and The Guard – the way it’s shot; just beautiful scenes all the way through, scenes that showed how you could shoot Ireland’. He further muses, ‘With Calvary, if you look at all the scenery, you wonder why hasn’t an Irish film been shot there before?’

To answer this, McDonagh recognises that the Irish film industry is perhaps too centralised in Dublin. When budgets and schedules are tight, Wicklow, ‘down around the corner’, is cheap and easy for outdoor locations. For the director this isn’t palatable any longer. ‘That seems to be the default position but it just leads to this kind of visually claustrophobic set of films that are all or mostly set in the Dublin environment,’ and for McDonagh, that doesn’t cut it. Here is a filmmaker that wants to explore, portray and discover what that the Irish landscape has to offer.

Calvary premiered at Sundance. McDonagh says he was delighted with the reaction. ‘There’s the strain of black humour that lasts throughout the movie. I thought about half way through that the audience were going to go ‘Awh this is gonna’ go really dark’ but what happened was, even in the last third of the film, we were still getting laughs and I think it was because certain scenes were just so dark that people just wanted some kind of relief. I was pleased they got the reactions, the rhythms and everything, and I think they grasped quite quickly that the film wasn’t The Guard Take Two’.

And the question on everyone’s lips – will the two work together again? The answer is yes –  it’s already in development. ‘Yeah, we’ve got one more’, reveals McDonagh, ‘I haven’t written it but it’s gonna be about an abusive paraplegic, so Brendan will be in a wheelchair scuttling around South London!’

Calvary is released in cinemas 11th April 2014

 

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From the Archive: Interview with Brendan Gleeson and writer/director director John Michael McDonagh on ‘The Guard’.

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In 2011, John Michael McDonagh’s debut feature The Guard was awarded Best Irish Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh. To coincide with our coverage of this year’s Fleadh, here’s a chance to check out Emmet O’Brien‘s interview with Brendan Gleeson and writer/director director John Michael McDonagh, which featured in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 138, 2011.

An unusual mix of old-fashioned values with some decidedly un-PC humour, The Guard is one of the year’s most surprising films. Sharp tongued and engaging, the story of a clever if uncouth Garda, Gerry Boyle, and his battle against drug dealers and corruption, is a great example of contemporary Irish cinema. With a satirical sweep, it enjoys poking fun at the concept of an American cop film but is observed through an undeniably Irish filter. Not as jarring as it could be, the film is a consistently engaging and well-balanced piece which has gone down well in Cannes and at Sundance. It shares the anarchic spirit of the finest of Irish Crime Cinema, like older films such as I Went Down (another Gleeson project) to the more recent triumphs of In Bruges (a movie made by John Michael McDonagh’s brother). I caught up with the director and his leading man to discuss black comedy and how even a simple story of cops and robbers can shed light on much deeper themes, all the while keeping it fresh and darkly comic.

The Western as a genre looms over the piece, its tropes fairly evident. People are always aware of that iconography even at a subconscious level – did that inform the writing?

John Michael McDonagh: That’s one of the key themes of the film, that Boyle is the small-town sheriff and the bad guys have ridden into town. That’s why I wanted to capture that landscape and the music, and use Calexico’s score to bring a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone tone to the whole thing. Audiences know the rhythms of the Western, that this plot is going to build to the shoot-out, the climatic gunfight. They know the undercurrents and the subtext so you have that framework. It’s up to you to then surprise them with dialogue or character.

Brendan Gleeson: Western imagery permeates everyone’s sense of the world – of a certain generation anyway, once you have that culturally placed and anchored properly. Boyle joined the Guards thinking he’d be Gary Cooper. He maintains a notion of the challenges he wants to face, which is a very Western concept. The final shoot-out, continues that idea of the cowboy who isn’t afraid to go out in the fight.

Boyle is quite a complex character. A simple surface reading would be that he is a bigot but there’s much more going on there. Has audience reaction to him surprised you?

John Michael: I’ve been hugely surprised that some people have come away from the film labelling him as just a racist, ignoring key scenes elsewhere in the story. They’ve completely missed the point. He’s an equal opportunity misanthrope. He has a W.C. Fields type of outlook. If you have scenes that set up a character one way and then undercut it with a scene of him discussing Russian literature with his mother, then that’s a clue that there’s more going on with this character than you may initially think.

Brendan: For me this film is primarily a character study. It’s all left a little cryptic. You do get to know him but I don’t think you’d be able to predict him anymore than you could at the start of the film, which is pretty cool. There’s a feeling of limbo to him but he still has great integrity and he prods others to see if they have that same integrity. He’ll come at you in a way you’d never expect. There’s a certain amount of Columbo-style investigating with him and he looks to the backward traditions. Maybe that makes him a lonely character, holding onto old ideals of nobility. The depth of his stoicism is astonishing and people needlessly focus on the politically incorrect side of him at the cost of the whole character.

There’s a great economy to the script. In one short scene you set out the three very distinctive villains of the piece with a conversation about their favourite philosophers. Not something you usually see in an Irish crime thriller.

John Michael: My intention was to think, what do you normally see and then to write the opposite, to subvert wherever and whatever you can. Villains are always shouting and swearing at each other in this type of film so I thought let them have a measured conversation about philosophy and the main villain of the piece was trying to bring that idea a step forward. Liam Cunningham’s character doesn’t really want anything, like bad guys normally do. He’s just kind of bored. I knew I’d need more than one villain so I hit upon having three and you had to decide how to make each one unique. When you’re dealing with just one guy then you always have non-descript henchmen. We didn’t want that. Each of these guys could be the main villain in their own movie and it made it much more interesting to write.

Brendan: It’s not often you get three villains discussing Nietzsche (laughs). It’s hilarious but in a way they’re not the real nemesis. Gerry doesn’t feel threatened by them because they can’t really get him. As villains he’s way beyond them and his enemy is more an ennui and a fear of disengaging, of pulling away from this world.

In some ways they’re a MacGuffin [plot device] to get his arc going.

Brendan:He’s grateful to them for arriving, because he finally has a challenge he can rise to.

Whereas the FBI agent is more of a counterpart – ideologically if not personally.

John Michael: With Don Cheadle’s character, Everett, he’s sort of an archetype for Boyle to bang his head against but even there we tried to invest his character with some quirks – the sugar cubes he has, and the fact that his kids are named after members of the Black Panthers. Little moments like that because there was only so much you could do with a character like that to give him a separate identity.

The way the relationship builds between Everett and Boyle is quite organic.

Brendan: In America they really followed Don’s character. He was their way into the humour of the piece. His reactions against Boyle confirmed what they were hearing from some of the riskier dialogue. Americans are more conservative than us so a lot of Boyle’s jokes were met with disbelief or a ‘Did he just say what I thought he did?’ type of reaction. They access Gerry through Everett.

What I like is how there’s not really a resolution between them. It reminds of a scene in Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986) where the characters go to shake hands and Tom Waits pulls it away and it’s a real moment between them. They have closeness due to the journey they’ve been on. Don even asked me at one point ‘do these people even like each other?’ (laughs).
So you can share an intense experience but that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly best friends.

Let’s discuss the cross pollination of taking an American procedural character and placing him in a quirky Irish town. Was that the initial drive for doing the film?

John Michael: Well the concept was let’s take a CSI and totally fuck with it. I hate those shows, and it perpetuates the myth that with all this technology and equipment you can solve crimes. It’s all a lie. Boyle hates any modern technology like that, mobile phones or computers. A lot of that comes out of my own hatred for movies that lean too heavily on technology. I hate it when there’s a cut to people on a laptop or fingers tapping away. It’s lazy; you should find a different way to communicate that sort of information. It should be more cinematic.

Brendan: Speaking of cinematic, there is such a fusion of genres in this. I think the sense of place is vital to maintaining that. Seeing the little touches of Connemara tells you where the picture lies. The genres become mixed because the viewpoint is mixed. The perspective of that place encompasses the different styles, the crime film, the Western, the black comedy and that’s what makes it possible for all these things to work together. That sense of community. It’s important that when we make films here we’re not afraid to take things actually from here to add to the film, the things that aren’t put up as touristy or sold as commodities but just the more genuine touches. It should reflect a way we look at the world even if it’s good, bad or indifferent.

John Michael: You’re getting people into the cinemas with what they think will be a ‘buddy cop’ formula and hopefully the finished product will surprise them with all these different aspects and that sense of surprise gives a bigger reaction.

There is a stylized quality to it that to me brings to mind Twin Peaks, or Fargo – small-town idiosyncrasies.

John Michael: I don’t mind hearing that at all. I love David Lynch. There’s a constant undercurrent of menace to his work that I enjoy a great deal. And in ’70s movies, the investment in character would give this great sense of melancholy and the whole film would have more resonance.

Brendan: It may be up beyond what is strictly true but you know the qualities here are based on truth. It’s very real, the hilarity of normal people. Fargo did a great job of getting inside a cultural identity. I know it’s exaggerated but you could only write it if you know it, if you lived it.

The timelessness of The Guard is a strong asset to the film.

Brendan: John is very clever in retaining that timelessness. The way the set is dressed, the old telephones and, in the film’s most iconic moment, Boyle has an old Garda dress uniform. It keeps the setting vague, the way it should be.

John Michael: Those old phones are making a comeback. Like vinyl, he puts on an old Chet Baker record in one of the scenes, and these old things always come back and I didn’t want the film to be dated in any way. When you see that in a film, it takes you out of it. You can become too distracted by that stuff and the story suffers.

Speaking of distractions, the Daniel O’Donnell poster in the background in Gerry’s house was a nice touch.

Brendan: Yeah I wasn’t so sure about that!

John Michael: (laughs) Well we decided since that was a heavy and violent scene that Boyle looking at the poster is like addressing his own conscience. Strange to say it but Daniel O’Donnell’s the conscience of our film!

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We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – The Guard

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of…


We Love…

25 Years of Irish Film

 

The Guard

(John Michael McDonagh, 2011)

‘… the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along…’

Rory Cashin

It is just me, or were most Irish movies completely devoid of fun? That’s not to say they were bad, but they weren’t exactly a joy to watch, since they were usually awash with the Troubles or dealing with some kind of abuse. We were the frontrunners when it came to making depression porn. But then the McDonagh brothers came along with their one-two punch of In Bruges (which, despite all the Irish-ness involved, can’t really be labelled an Irish film) and The Guard (which, thankfully, can).

Also delivering a killer one-two was Brendan Gleeson, who helped ground In Bruges, but is primarily the main reason The Guard soars so highly, with ‘high’ being the operative word, as we’re first introduced to his Sergeant Gerry Boyle taking acid which he has taken from the pocket of a very recently deceased car-crash victim. His racist, alcoholic, drug-taking, prostitute-loving, IRA-dealing character is so all consuming that it takes a repeat viewing to be reminded that the movie also features such usual heavyweights such as Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong.

Now then, what have we here…

While the international cocaine smuggling ring plot seems like a take-it-or-leave-it afterthought, the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along, as his unwanted FBI partner Cheadle interrogates the locals, who respond with an Irish interpretation of what we think America thinks of Ireland, all impenetrable accents, unending rainfall and unquenchable thirsts for alcohol.

While it’s not all played for laughs (Boyle’s interactions with his dying mother are quietly heart-breaking), the film knows not to stay too serious for too long, and at 96 minutes, it’s not around long enough to outstay its welcome. Which is another nice change of pace for Irish film, or as the Sergeant would put it, ‘They take too long getting to the fecking point.’

Rory Cashin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRsMLuCP8a0

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DVD Review: The Guard

Out now on DVD, The Guard is a potent mix of Western tropes, slick black comedy and American cop procedurals, and although it may sound cluttered, it is actually a fairly smooth concoction. It tells the story of a Garda dealing with drug runners and corruption in a modern, if still oddly timeless, Ireland. Brendan Gleeson excels as the main focus; his character-actor sensibilities complementing a leading-man flair, which has been too long dormant. Playing The General, or say Michael Collins, threatened to make him iconic, but the essaying of historical characters always dominates a role. With The Guard he is allowed to create a character from scratch and the nuances he brings to the role of Sgt. Gerry Boyle are a masterclass in how to combine pathos with biting humour. Don Cheadle’s straight-laced FBI agent is left to navigate the eccentricities of this man and provides the film with a charming fish-out-of-water dimension.

Occasionally ever so slightly self-satisfied, the film works due to its balance. Despite some heavy themes, it is never too bleak nor does its emotional core ever become too sentimental or cloying. A modern gem but not for the politically-correct crowd, that’s for sure.

Emmet O’Brien

  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Jan 2012
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2011 LOS ANGELES IRISH FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES PROGRAM AND TRIBUTE TO FIONNULA FLANAGAN

 

The Los Angeles Irish Film Festival (LAIFF)  announced the program for the 2011 Los Angeles Irish Film Festival (Thursday,  29 th September  to Sunday, 2nd October  2011) including the US premiere of Dreaming the Quiet Man and the West Coast premiere of The Swell Season.

On Opening Night, the festival will also honor the renowned Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan accompanied by a special screening of the critically acclaimed box office hit The Guard, a comedic thriller written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle and Fionnula Flanagan. LAIFF is celebrating the film as a landmark for Irish cinema being the most successful independent Irish film in Irish box office history.

For more information about the festival including the complete line-up, and to purchase tickets to Closing Night and general admission tickets to individual films at LAIFF visit  www.lairishfilm.com.

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THE GUARD Is The Number 1 Independent Irish Film Of All Time

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THE GUARD has  overtaken THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY in the Irish box-office  to become the most successful independent Irish film of all time. Overtaking other successful Irish titles including IN BRUGES, VERONICA GUERIN & MAN ABOUT DOG, THE GUARD has now grossed over €4.13 million in Ireland. This figure is also significantly ahead of other heavy-weight films this year like THE HANGOVER 2, THE KINGS SPEECH, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.

THE GUARD is also finding audiences around the world and has been in the top 10 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand already this month. In the US, it has grown week on week and now in its sixth week with a box-office total of nearly $3m million and it has now expanded close to 200 screens in the US. With further releases planned for later this year in Germany, France, Italy and Holland, we expect  THE GUARD to become one of the most successful Irish film exports in recent times.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the film is produced by his partners in Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo, along with Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures (who also co-produced THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY). Element Pictures Distribution is distributing the film in Ireland.

Speaking on the phenomenal success of the film, writer-director John Michael McDonagh commented that ‘It’s been extremely satisfying for me that such a hard-drinking, whoring, drug-taking, anti-authoritarian character as Sergeant Gerry Boyle has struck so resounding a chord with Irish and International audiences.’

On behalf of Element Ed Guiney said ‘This is a landmark film for Irish cinema and we are delighted to be part of it. Its brilliant that it has hit so big at home but its also more important than ever that Irish film punches above its weight internationally – and its case proven with The Guard.’

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Irish Film Board said ‘This is great news for the Irish film industry.  We’re delighted to see an Irish film compete successfully with major Hollywood blockbusters here in Ireland and also achieving a strong audience response worldwide.  It’s a testament to the local and the international appeal of Irish film and the quality of filmmaking in Ireland.’

Speaking on behalf of Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo said: ‘We are thrilled that the Irish public have taken the film to their hearts in such numbers. To become the biggest Irish film of all time is an incredible honour for a British production company with its first feature! We thank John Michael McDonagh, our partner at Reprisal Films, for his incredible work as writer-director and we will always be in debt to Brendan Gleeson for his genius performance as Sergeant Gerry Boyle. ‘

THE GUARD is an Irish/UK co-production, backed by the Irish Film Board and Section 481 as well as International Financiers. It’s produced by Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo for Reprisal Films and Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe  for Element Pictures.

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'The Guard' at the centre of Sarajevo Storm

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John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard is at the centre of a storm that erupted at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Its international programmer Howard Feinstein has resigned over what he saw as a shift of its director Miro Purivatra and its creative director, his wife, Izeta Gradevic towards celebrating celebrity culture over filmmakers and cinema.

The evidence cited by Feinstein included his Q&A with Oscar winning director Susanne Bier taking place without a single photographer present as Angelina Jolie was receiving a ‘Heart of Sarajevo’ award at the same time, and also his fight to include The Guard in the festival’s Panorama section.

In an open letter written by Feinstein and published by indiewire.com he explains more about The Guard’s role in his creative differences with his employers.  Purivatra and Gradevic wanted both Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle to attend the festival but when only director John Michael McDonagh could make it Feinstein states that ‘unbelievably, management wanted to keep him only for the Open Air screening, so he could blow kisses. I had to fight to have him do a Q & A with the Panorama audience. This is that murky area in which cult of (perceived) celebrity and the qualitative characteristics of selections overlapped in a negative way.’

In the days that followed Izeta Gradevic released a statement on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival also published in full on indiewire.com  which did not refer to Feinstein’s open letter, but amazingly Feinstein’s airing of dirty linen didn’t stop there as he gets involved in a lengthy mud slinging match with a former employee of the festival in the comments section of the Gradevic statement.

To read Howard Feinstein’s open letter click here

To read Izeta Gradevic’s response click here

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Healthy Second Week US Box Office figures for 'The Guard'

Element Pictures’ The Guard took in $194,000 this past weekend August 5-7th in the US bringing its total to $309,000.  But once again it is its average revenue per screen that is worth shouting about. 

According to www.boxofficemojo.com, The Guard’s $10,211 average on 19 screens made it one of the most successful films last weekend.  New blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes topped the both total gross with $54 million and average revenue per screen with $14,803.

The only other films to beat The Guard’s average in the top 48 were thriller Gun Hill Road on 3 screens with $12,600 per screen, and Bellflower, a film written, directed, produced, edited by and starring Evan Glodell, on 2 screens with $12,000 per screen.

More evidence for The Guard that ‘if you screen it, they will come’.  We are looking forward to next Monday’s totals as it is released on more screens.

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'The Guard' to expand to 100 screens in the US in August

On the back of its incredible average revenue per screen figures last week at the US Box Office, see story here, independent Irish feature The Guard will open across 100 screens in 50 cities in the US in August.

 

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, producer Ed Guiney revealed that Sony gave it a ‘platform release’ in L.A. and New York and last weekend’s numbers ‘gave them the confidence to think it could break out’.  Sony will then assess its success at the end of August which could lead to an even wider release.

 

Described by the LA Times as ‘not just a breath but a very funny gust of fresh air’ The Guard is still showing in Irish cinemas, for more details of where you can catch it click here.

 

To listen to Ed Guiney on Morning Ireland click here.

 

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Another slap on the back for The Guard in Sarajevo

The Guard has received the highest score ever recorded at the Sarajevo Film Festival, which took place 22–30 July. The film, one of the biggest Irish successes of recent years, won the Audience Award at the 17th Sarajevo Film Festival

And in other good news for Irish film, animator David O’Reilly’s short film The External World was also selected for screening at the Sarajevo festival and director Juanita Wilson (The Door, As If I Am Not There) was awarded the prestigious Katrin Cartlidge foundation bursary.

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'The Guard' is second at the US Box Office!!!….sort of

The Guard's Milkshake

Element Pictures The Guard phenomenal success continues as it comes second at the US Box Office in average revenue per screen in its opening weekend, trouncing blockbuster new releases such as Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs.

The Guard took in $80,400 across 4 screens according to www.boxofficemojo.com for an average of $20,100 per screen,  Joe Cornish’s (Joe from comedy duo Adam and Joe) sci-fi comedy Attack the Block also out on limited release in the US this week achieved $130,000 across 8 screen for $16,250 per screen. Topping the average revenue per screen chart this past weekend is The Future directed by Miranda July taking in an impressive $28,200 on its single screen.

All three films put Cowboys & Aliens to shame as it took in a measly $9,653 per screen but a respectable $36,200,000 in total.

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Brendan Gleeson wins New York Comedy Award

 

Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle have been given a lifetime membership to the legendary New York comedy club, the Friars Club, which boasts Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg in its ranks.

The odd couple has been awarded the Best New Buddy Comedy Duo Award for their performances in The Guard, which has grossed over €2 million.

Jerry Lewis, abbot of the Friars Club, congratulated the pair, and referring to his own partnership with Dean Martin, joked, ‘I know a thing or two about buddy movies… Only one can be the pretty one, only one can be the smart one, and only one can get the girl. But when it’s done right, both get to be the funny one, which is why Don and Brendan have emerged as the Best New Comedy Duo… and well-deserved. Congratulations from one half of a great buddy team to the new buddy team!’

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‘The Guard’ K.O.s Transformers, Kung Fu Panda and the X-Men


The Guard's Milkshake

The Guard has drunk the milkshake of the Transformers, the Pirates Of The Caribbean, X-Men babies, and that Kung Fu fighting Panda. The Irish film’s gross box-office to date now reaches over 2 Million Euro, making it the biggest Irish release here since The Wind that Shakes the Barley and The Guard is now on its way to becoming one of the biggest film hits of the summer, all the while working a pair of purple y-fronts.

 

Directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

 

For full list of cinemas showing The Guard log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th.

 

 

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'The Guard' is in hot pursuit of €1.5mill at the Irish Box Office

Darkly comic Irish thriller The Guard continues to storm the Irish box office with takings of €397,000 this past weekend taking its total past €1.42 million.

In a weekend that saw the final installment of  the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, break all time weekend records in North America this represents an extremely strong showing for an independent Irish feature.

The €410,000 showing earned it second place in Ireland behind the bespectacled wizard and it took in €94,000 yesterday Monday July 18th alone suggesting strong word of mouth.  It also came in at number 5 in the combined UK and Ireland box office totals.

Click here for full list of cinemas showing The Guard.

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

Read our review of The Guard here

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'The Guard' is number 1 at Irish box office

the_guard

John Michael McDonagh’s comedy-thriller THE GUARD is a box-office smash with a weekend gross of over half a million euro, knocking BRIDESMAIDS from the coveted No 1 position. This is a fantastic result for an Irish film and its opening weekend results are comparable to other hugely successful Irish films such as MICHAEL COLLINS and IN BRUGES. THE GUARD also picked up Best Irish Feature award at the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend.

Speaking on the success of the film, Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures says that “We are thrilled that Irish people have flocked to see the Guard in such strong numbers. The international success of the Guard has been exciting but success at home is still the most gratifying. The film clearly has caught a zeitgeist and provides audiences with a welcome distraction and relief thanks to the genius of John Michael McDonagh and the brilliance of Brendan Gleeson”

THE GUARD is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

For full list of cinemas showing THE GUARD log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

THE GUARD is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

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The Guard

the_guard

 

DIR/WRI: John Michael McDonagh • PRO: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe • DOP: Larry Smith • ED: Chris Gill • DES: John Paul Kelly • CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham

A potent mix of Western tropes, slick black comedy and American cop procedurals, The Guard may sound cluttered but is actually a fairly smooth concoction. It tells the story of a Garda dealing with drug runners and corruption in a modern, if still oddly timeless, Ireland. Brendan Gleeson excels as the main focus; his character-actor sensibilities complementing a leading-man flair, which has been too long dormant. Playing The General, or say Michael Collins, threatened to make him iconic, but the essaying of historical characters always dominates a role. With The Guard he is allowed to create a character from scratch and the nuances he brings to the role of Sgt. Gerry Boyle are a masterclass in how to combine pathos with biting humour. Don Cheadle’s straight-laced FBI agent is left to navigate the eccentricities of this man and provides the film with a charming fish-out-of-water dimension.

Occasionally ever so slightly self-satisfied, the film works due to its balance. Despite some heavy themes, it is never too bleak nor does its emotional core ever become too sentimental or cloying. A modern gem but not for the politically-correct crowd, that’s for sure.

Emmet O’Brien

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Guard is released on 8th July 2011

The Guard is in hot pursuit of €1.5million at the Irish Box Office click here to find out more.

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'The Guard' receives marketing support from EFP

The Guard by John Michael McDonagh is one of 11 European films that have been confirmed by European Film Promotion’s members to receive Film Sales Support at North America’s prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

With the continuous financial support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union, FSS has been influential in helping bring European cinema to audiences around the world, in particular to North and South America.

Seven feature films and four documentaries are at the receiving end of the marketing support which covers up to 50% of costs for a publicist, the production of publicity material or ads in the trades. The films are being represented by seven different European sales agents and three production companies.

UK sales agent Metropolis International sales are new to FSS and will be representing The Guard at the festival.

For more details on the programme visit www.efp-online.com

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Irish Features at Sundance

From more than 9,000 submission to the Sundance Film Festival, two Irish feature films were chosen to be a part of this year’s line-up. The Guard, a comedy thriller starring Brendan Gleeson, and Knuckle, a documentary about an Irish traveller community, will both be screening their world premiers at this year’s festival which runs 20–30 January, 2011 in Park City Utah.
For more details visit www.sundance.org

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