The eighth annual Chicago Irish Film Festival runs Friday through Wednesday, March 2 through 7, at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, 773-445-3838. Tickets are $10-$40; for more information see chicagoirishfilmfestival.com.
The fine Irish character actor Gerard McSorley, best known as the malevolent crime boss in Veronica Guerin, will appear at the center on Friday for the opening-night program, which includes the Chicago premiere of his 2006 feature Middletown (Fri 3/2, 7 PM). McSorley gives a sensitive performance as the aging owner of a small-town filling station, but the film is pretty bad, an overpitched Catholic drama that slides into absurdity by the climax. Screenwriter Daragh Carville reworks a familiar Hollywood premise, with one of McSorley’s sons becoming a two-bit crook (Daniel Mays) and the other a sanctimonious priest (Matthew Macfadyen); the young men clash when the priest comes home to take over the local parish, though the conventional morality is reversed when the holy man emerges as the bad guy. Also appearing Friday is director John Callaghan, who will screen his comic short Imagine This.
The intimate relationship between food and sex isn’t exactly a fresh idea, but Irish writer-director Anthony Byrne infuses his 2005 musical comedy Short Order (Sat 3/3, 7:30 PM) with color, wit, and intelligence. Among the international cast are Emma de Caunes as an alluring young chef slumming at a short-order joint, John Hurt as an absurd French waiter, Jon Polito as a hot dog merchant making all the expected allusions, and Vanessa Redgrave as a mysterious bar patron with the secret to immortality.
Among the other features screening are Perry Ogden’s Pavee Lackeen, a 2005 docudrama about the trials of an impoverished family forced out of their home (Sat 3/3, 2 PM); John Fitzgerald’s 2006 documentary The Emerald Diamond, which chronicles the recent founding of the Irish National Baseball Team (Tue 3/6, 7:30 PM); and two rare revivals, Donovan Pedelty’s 1938 bootlegging comedy Irish and Proud of It (Sun 3/4, 2 PM) and Paul Rotha’s 1951 drama No Resting Place, with Maureen O’Sullivan (on a double bill with Pavee Lackeen, Sat 3/3, 2 PM). –J.R. Jones
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Short Order.