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My Best of 2011: The Guard & Loving Irish Film…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

The Guard is number eleven. Check out my original review here.

I imagine anybody who lives a country about the same size of Ireland has that same essential insecurity about their national cinema. Unless you live in a major market, it seems that home-produced films are generally relegated to the less mainstream cinemas and subject to less promotion or publicity, unless they happen to star one (or more) of your home-grown talents who happens to have been successful overseas. And, as you discuss or review your own cinema, you start to question yourself: are you harder or softer on a particular film because it came from your country? or should you be harder or softer on those films? Do you hold the films produced by your own country to a higher or a lower standard than those produced in major markets? When I recommend a film produced in Ireland, I catch myself, asking “if this weren’t produced here, would it be notable?”

I think there are far more films that are notable than most might imagine, and I also think The Guard is almost definitely one of them. It’s a distinctly Irish film, but one that doesn’t exclude the outsiders looking in.

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Non-Review Review: The Guard

“Good to go,” an Irish drug smuggler remarks as the plan comes together for a big delivery. His English colleague derisively remarks, “I f**king hate that. Americanisms. ‘Good to go’!” It’s hard not to read small moments like this as a bit of self-reference on the part of John Michael McDonagh, as the film takes every opportunity to reflect on the Irish fascination and digestion of American pop culture, as contrasted against the somewhat unique national character. Sparkling with witty dialogue and packed with sharply-observed commentaries on Ireland and its relationship with our bigger Atlantic cousin, The Guard is a clever little film that is well worth your time.

Once upon a time in the West...

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