The seventh Chicago Irish Film Festival runs Friday through Wednesday, March 3 through 8, at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Tickets for the opening-night program and reception are $30, for the closing-night program and reception $20, and for the remaining programs $10. A festival pass, good for all events, is $65. For more information call 773-445-3838; a complete festival schedule is available at www.chicagoirishfilmfestival.com.
The opening-night feature, What Means Motley? (2005, 90 min.), is based on a true story, though this amiable caper comedy more closely resembles something from the Ealing Studios. In 1999 Barry Mulligan, Ireland's honorary consul in Bucharest, arranged visas for a Romanian folk choir to compete in a Sligo festival, but once the 41 singers had deplaned in Dublin, they all defected, never to be heard from officially again. Mulligan contributed to the script and stars--not as himself but as a low-level Irish con man who invents the scam to rescue a distressed young beauty (Irina Dinescu) and her tone-deaf cohorts from a Eurotrash loan shark and the Gypsy Mafia. John Riley and John Ketchum directed this fast-moving, visually inventive film, also known as Sliding Dice. In English and subtitled Romanian. (Fri 3/3, 7 PM)
J.R. Jones named Breakfast on Pluto among the best films of 2005: "Cillian Murphy gives a tour de force performance as Patrick 'Kitten' Braden, a cross-dressing Irish teenager in early-70s London who's less concerned with the IRA activity going on all around him than with finding his long-lost mother, who abandoned him on a priest's doorstep. This is adapted from a 1998 novel by Patrick McCabe, but its tale of a beautiful dreamer traipsing through a junkyard of ugly realities is a natural for Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), who sets it to a killer vintage-pop sound track. Kitten passes from one mentor to another--Liam Neeson as the fatherly priest, Stephen Rea as a sly magician, Brendan Gleeson as an angry fair worker who wears an animal costume--but by the end of the story the shrinking violet has become the toughest soul on the block, not to mention the best dressed." 129 min. (Sun 3/5, 4 PM)