When the kids were toddlers they’d call this or that film is a “talking movie.” People sitting indoors and playing verbal ping-pong, etc. Well, John Michael McDonagh ‘s The Guard is one these, but what talk! What delicious Irish ping-pong! It’s a witty ramble-on thing that’s simultaneously digressive and twinkle-eyed, and one of the best “cops and bad guys batting the ball around” movies in ages. I don’t know if this indie Irish production will be eligible for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, but it ought to be. It’s all dessert.

Brendan Gleeson, star of The Guard, and director-writer John Michael McDonagh following an LA Live Regal showing — Friday, 6.24, 11:05 pm.

I did a short phoner with McDonagh a couple of days ago. I’ll post it tomorrow.

I had a little bit of trouble hearing all the dialogue when I first saw The Guard at Sony Studios (Jimmy Stewart, room #24) last week. Irish-speak has a certain gliding, looping, burry sound that can you can lose the ear for if you’re not careful. It’s a little like Shakespeare — once you find it you can hear it, but you can fall off the track if you’re not careful. In any event I heard every syllable during last night’s 10 pm screening at the LA LIVE Regal. I think it was because the sound sounded a bit sharper and cleaner.

Gleeson’s role as Boyle, an irreverent constable who’s mildly, indifferently corrupt in little and medium-sized ways but at the same a good bloke, is probably the best of his career. He’ll definitely be in line for some Best Actor action when 2011 Oscar season kicks in.