Thirteen years ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop outside the courthouse in Jamaica, Queens, and picked up one of the New York tabloids. Probably Breslin, but it could have been Steve Dunleavy or Michael Day. It was long enough ago that it’s impossible for me to find the exact clip. The column I remember told of a young filmmaker, the son of a New York City police detective, who was capturing the buzz at Sundance with a quiet film about life in the outer boroughs. The movie was the Brothers McMullen, and the young director was Ed Burns.
That was a long time ago when Burns was still hauling cameras and equipment for Entertainment Tonight. Now he’s married to Supermodel Christy Turlington. But I’ve been thinking about that story in connection with another quiet, people-oriented film, that’s opening tonight in Boston, “On Broadway.” I really enjoyed On Broadway when I saw it, a film filled with magnificent character actors, funny moments and heart.
The film maker in this case is Dave McLaughlin. I know Dave from when I worked for the City. He’s a great Boston story. A graduate of Catholic Memorial, well-known in West Roxbury, McLaughlin has the soul and the talent of a classic Irish playwright.
Sadly, the film business has changed since the Brothers McMullen caused a sensation at Sundance. The festivals have divulged into esoterica, while the only Boston movies that seem to capture the interest of distributors involve Irish guys shooting, stabbing or strangling each other.
Going to see “On Broadway,” which refers to the main street in South Boston, is a terrific way to celebrate the real Irish family spirit you find everywhere in our city’s neighborhoods, but usually not onscreeen.