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Posts Tagged ‘Barry Ward’

Barry Ward, Maeve Higgins

“EXTRA ORDINARY” My rating: B- 

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A supernatural comedy of exceeding drollness, “Extra Ordinary” feels like a mostly successful mashup of “The Frighteners,” “Ghostbusters” and “What We Do in the Shadows.”

Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) is a thirtysomething spinster living in small-town Ireland. She’s a big woman, socially inept and saddled with a weird family history from which there is no escape.

Rose is the daughter of Vincent Dooley (Risteard Cooper), who back in the ’90s had a best-selling series of VHS tapes dealing with the supernatural (the film is punctuated with snippets from his broadcasts).  In fact, little Rose was her Daddy’s assistant in his investigations of the paranormal.

Now a grown woman, she blames herself for Papa’s untimely death years before. Even more unsettling, eerie happenings seem to follow her like needy doggies. She used to do consultations for people with supernatural problems, but has given all that up to run her own not-terribly-successful driving school.

Enter Martin Martin (Barry Ward), a widower haunted by the ghost of his late wife.  This unseen and temperamental spirit is always knocking bad food (especially donuts) out of Martin’s hand before he can stuff them in his mouth. Even from the grave she’s bossing him around.

Their teen daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) is sick of all these spooky shenanigans; she urges her dad to contact Rose and set up an exorcism.

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Barry Ward as Jimmy Gralton

Barry Ward as Jimmy Gralton

“JIMMY’S HALL” My rating: A- 

109 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Brit filmmaker Ken Loach always has lept in where Hollywood fears to tread. For a quarter century he has been making overtly political films reflecting his leftist/humanist point of view. He’s never been a major box office force, but he’s always been a true artist.

“Jimmy’s Hall” is in many ways the perfect Loach film, a fact-based story depicting the external struggle of left-vs.-right without stooping to caricature or shrillness and overflowing with Irish song, dance and language.

Paul Laverty’s screenplay (based on Donal O’Kelly’s play) begins with the return to Ireland in 1932 of Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who has spent the last decade in exile in New York City. As we see in flashbacks, at the time of “the troubles” Jimmy ran afoul of the authorities for operating a “hall” on his rural property, a place where local folk could go to take classes in art and music, discuss literature and politics, and hold community dances.

Doesn’t sound particularly insidious, but Jimmy’s sin was to run his hall free of the control of the Church,  for centuries (and for another 80 years) the dominant force in Irish life.

Once back in the neighborhood Jimmy is reunited with his mother (Aileen Henry) and with Oonagh (Simone Kirby), the girl he left behind who has since married and started a family. But it isn’t long before the rural folk are urging Jimmy to spruce up the dust-covered hall and start once again providing a place for common folk to gather  to expand their minds  and open their hearts.

Turns out that life in the new republic hasn’t improved appreciably for these hard-working but underemployed Irishmen. The owners of the big estates can still evict poor tenants for the slightest infraction or uppity behavior, and the Catholic Church — as embodied by Father Sheridan (Jim Norton) — once again is prepared to take on any challenge to its authority.

The film’s villains: masters and pastors.

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