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Getting the bird from Neil Jordan

Posted at 2:01 PM on December 19, 2005 by Euan Kerr

Another strange confluence in the film world: there are two movies opening in the Twin Cities this week where the main characters are men who dress as women, "Breakfast on Pluto" and "Transamerica."

Neil Jordan dropped by the MPR studios a couple of months back to talk about his new film "Breakfast on Pluto." It's the story of a young Irishman called Patrick, who feels much more comfortable as his alterego Kitten. But life as a cross-dresser is never simple, and it's made all the worse by the fact that he's living in a conservative small town in the 1970's when sectarian violence was on the rise. Kitten sets off to find his mother who he believes is living in London, and meets a host of strange characters along the way. (Watch for Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry in a chilling cameo role.)

The film is based on a novel by Patrick McCabe, who also wrote "The Butcher Boy," which Jordan adapted for the screen a few years back. Jordan admits not a lot of people saw that movie because its brutality scared them off. This film he says is much more optimistic. He describes Kitten as being like Voltaire's Candide, always looking for the best in the world, no matter how bleak the situation.

Jordon expertly blends comedy with tragedy in "Breakfast" heightening both as a result. Cillian Murphy plays Kitten perfectly, with a mixture of vulnerability and steely determination which is a wonder to behold, and Liam Neeson pull off a strange religious double play after playing the voice of Aslan in "Narnia." by portraying the village priest who clearly knows more about Kitten's parentage than he's letting on.

Jordan is a quiet soft-spoken man with a dry sense of humor. When asked about the robins which act as a kind of avian Greek Chorus in the films he told me that rather than go the charcter-generated route they had secured some specially trained birds for the roles. I, of course, swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker, much to the delight of the engineer in the control room.

You can hear the interview here.

December 2005
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