Review – Unfriended Plus (“The Banshees Of Inisherin”)

Writer/director/playwright Martin McDonagh is back and bringing with him Brendan Gleeson & Colin Farrell again, his two leads from his 2008 dramedy, In Bruges. This time around, Gleeson and Farrell aren’t assassins for hire, but best friends whose friendship is in serious jeopardy.

In 1923, on the island of Inisherin during the Irish Civil War and local folk musician Colm Doherty (Gleeson) and long-time friend and drinking buddy, Pádraic Súilleabháin (Farrell) are friends. That is until one day when suddenly, out of the blue, Colm declares that he no longer wants to speak to Pádraic. But why? Confused and bewildered, Pádraic is told he’s too dull to have any meaningful conversations with anymore. Bottom line. . . Colm thinks Pádraic is boring. Pádraic, growing increasingly distressed at this rejection, becomes the subject of talk down at the local pub, especially with bar owner, Gerry (Jon Kenny).

Pádraic can’t understand what’s gotten into his former BFF and tries to reason with him, but Colm gives Pádraic an ultimatum: every time he tries to speak to him, he will cut off one of his own fingers with a pair of sheep shears! Okay. . . harsh! This causes others to try and diffuse the situation, the first being Pádraic’s spinster sister, Siobhán (Kerry Condon), who seems to be the only sane person in the room. The other is addled-brained Dominic Kearney (Barry Keoghan) who speaks with an unfiltered mind. As the days go on, the tension between Pádraic and Colm increases until some devasting and heart-breaking occurrences start, causing these two men to end up in a bad place.

If you saw McDonagh’s Academy Award-winning incredible film, 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, then you know you’re in for a tragic, funny, and heart-breaking good time. McDonagh writes lyrically, with people talking naturally and with a passion to their voice. It’s a slow burn at 114 minutes, but you don’t feel it as the characters are oh-so-wonderfully written, even the supporting cast are excellent! From the Catholic priest (David Pearse) to the miserable policeman (Gary Lydon) to the creepy country witch (Sheila Flitton), everyone is terrific. I even have to mention Jenny, the trained miniature donkey.

Farrell & Gleeson have a fantastic chemistry here, so much so, you feel the passion and rage in Gleeson, while Farrell makes you wanna cry. The acting is all too real at times. Condon is outstanding as the voice of reason and I can see her getting a nom for Best Supporting Actress. Keoghan rounds out this dynamite cast as the jokester of the community, giving his Dominic a beautifully nuanced performance. McDonagh doesn’t fool around with fancy directing; he’s just a point ‘n’ shoot kinda guy, but there’s so much he shows with his use of light and shadow. And let’s not forget that scenery! Shot on location in Ireland, the cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous.

**Now showing in theaters

The Odd Couple (1968)

The crowning achievement of playwright & screenwriter Neil Simon, this Academy Award-winning movie was based on his incredibly popular Broadway play. It made mega-bank at the box office and spawned the acclaimed TV series with Tony Randall & Jack Klugman.

Practically word-for-word from the theatrical play (I should know!), the movie follows the sensitive, recently divorced hypochondriac, Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon) as he stumbles into the filthy, disheveled, NYC apartment of his best friend, sports writer Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau, reprising his stage role), another divorced husband. It’s a hot, sweaty, Friday night and everyone is gathered together for the weekly poker game, including policeman Murray (Herb Edelman), nervous Speed (Larry Haines), cigar-chomping Roy (David Sheiner), and hen-pecked Vinnie (John Feidler). They’re all worried that Felix might commit suicide, given the state he’s in.

Taking pity on Felix, Oscar offers his pal a room in his small apartment and Felix accepts, but within only a week, the two men discover they are totally incompatible as Felix runs around cleaning, picking up after Oscar, constantly berating him for being so sloppy, and spending most of his time talking about his ex-wife, Frances. Oscar tells Felix about two English sisters in their building: Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon (Monica Evans & Carole Shelley). But Felix ruins their double date with his home cooking needs and crying jags. The tension explodes later with Oscar demanding that Felix move out, but feels guilty later for having abandoned his friend. At the weekly poker game, Felix doesn’t show up and the gang thinks the worst has happened, until the Pigeon sisters show up stating that Felix is now staying with them!

So popular was this movie & play, it has gone on to be replicated in everything from Saturday morning cartoons to a dreadful 1998 sequel, The Odd Couple II. This movie is iconic, funny, brilliantly written, and you can’t imagine Lemmon & Matthau as anybody else but Felix & Oscar. Their chemistry is perfect, making eight films altogether including The Front Page (1974), The Fortune Cookie (1966), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) Fast Facts: For this movie, Frank Sinatra & Jackie Gleason were initially paired up for Felix & Oscar, as were Dick Van Dyke & Tony Randall. And check out poker player Vinnie; that’s John Fielder, the original voice of Winnie the Pooh! 

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