Music Video of the Day: Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (2007, dir by John Carney)


On Monday night, I was on twitter and I ended up having a conversation with a number of people about how much we all loved the 2007 Irish film, Once.  Once is the touching love story between an Irish musician (Glen Hansard) and a Czech woman (Marketa Irglova).  Together, they create beautiful music.  Even though the film ends on a bittersweet note, Once is still one of those movies that makes you believe not only in love but also in music.  If you don’t cry while watching Once, you should be concerned.

It’s definitely one of my favorite films of all time.  If you asked me, off the top of my head, what film won the most Oscars that year, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.  But I do remember jumping up and down and cheering when Once won the Oscar for best song.  Glen Hansard gave an enthusiastic, likable, and very Irish acceptance speech.  When Marketa Irglova got cut off by the band, host Jon Stewart brought her back out on stage so she could give her speech.  Here’s what Irglova said:  “This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are…”

The title of that Oscar-winning song is Falling Slowly and it’s today’s music video of the day!  As you can tell, the majority of the video is made up of clips from Once but that’s okay.  Beautiful song.  Beautiful film.  Beautiful world.

Enjoy!

 

Playing Catch-Up: Sing Street (dir by John Carney)


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The Irish musical comedy drama romance (that’s a lot of genres to take in, I know) Sing Street was one of the great and most sadly overlooked films of the previous year.  Fortunately, it’s on Netflix now and I seriously recommend that you watch it.  I watched it last night and I absolutely loved it.

Well, actually, it took me a while to realize that I loved it.  When the movie first started, I was kinda like, “Well, that’s cute and sweet but it’s not exactly blowing me away…”  It tells the story of a 15 year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is growing up in Dublin in the early 80s.  His father (Aidan Gillen) and his mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are constantly fighting and Conor suspects that they’re on the verge of separating.  His older brother, the charismatic but bitter Brendan (Jack Reynor), has dropped out of college and moved back home.  Brendan spends his days stoned and talking about music.

Because the family is short on money, Conor has been transferred to a free school, Synge Street.  It’s a far rougher school than what Conor is used to.  Bullies target him as soon as he arrives.  Meanwhile, the principal, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherly), has taken a somewhat disturbing interest in his newest student.  When Conor can’t afford to buy the black shoes that he’s required to wear to school, Baxter forces him to spend the school day in his socks.

Perhaps the only positive in Conor’s life is Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a 16 year-old who lives across the street from the school.  Raphina is an aspiring model with an older boyfriend and plans to move to London.  Conor tells Raphina that he’s in a band and that he wants her to star in a music video.  To Conor’s surprise, Raphina agrees.

Now, Conor just has to get a band together…

Sing Street was directed by John Carney, the same man who previously gave us the wonderful Once and the somewhat-less-wonderful-but-still-good Begin Again.  Much like those previous two films, Sing Street is a deliriously romantic and rather bittersweet little film, one in which love and emotion are expressed through song.  As a director, Carney has a real skill for capturing the excitement of creation.  The scenes in which Conor and his friend Eamon (Mark McKenna) work on their songs are just as enthralling as the scenes of Raphina and Conor falling in love.

And the music itself is wonderful.  While the soundtrack never quite reaches the heights of Once, it is a definite improvement over Begin Again.  The songs are all catchy and enjoyable but, even more importantly, they sound like the songs that actually would have been written by a talented but confused 15 year-old who has just started his own band.  There’s an aching sincerity to Sing Street‘s songs and they stay with you.  They remind you of how wonderful it is to know that you have your entire future ahead of you.

As I said, I didn’t realize how good Sing Street was until I had nearly reached the end of the movie.  Sing Street is one of those low-key films that kind of sneaks up on you.  At first, you think that you’re just watching another well-made coming of age film and then suddenly, you’re in tears.  You’re hoping that Raphina will make it to London and that Conor will find some sort of happiness.  The film ends on a somewhat ambiguous note but, in the end, you realize you really don’t need to know the exact details of what happened to Raphina and Conor in the future.  Instead, what’s important is that they had this wonderful experience when they were young.  Regardless of what happens to them in the future, you’re happy that they had the experience.

The whole film is undeniably well-acted but I want to make special mention of Jack Reynor, who brings a wounded dignity and rueful humor to the role of Brendan.  He dominates his few scenes and you find yourself happy that, regardless of how messed up the rest of his family may be, Conor has a brother like Brendan.

As I said at the start of this review, Sing Street is on Netflix.  And you should definitely watch it.

For Your Consideration #5: Begin Again (dir by John Carney)


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Continuing my look at ten films that deserve just as much awards consideration as Birdman, Selma, and The Theory of Everything, we now turn our attention to Begin Again.  Begin Again came out this summer and did pretty well both with audiences and critics.  While everyone seems to agree that Begin Again will probably get at least a nomination for Best Original Song, I think that it’s actually worthy of even more consideration.

Begin Again is the latest film from John Carney, who previously directed one of my favorite films of all time, Once.  Admittedly, Begin Again is nowhere near as good as Once but it’s still a charming film when taken on its own terms.

Mark Ruffalo plays Dan Mulligan, a record label executive who, at the start of the film, has definitely seen better days.  His marriage is collapsing, he’s struggling to connect with his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld),  and he’s just recently been fired from the company that he helped to found.  After a day of binge drinking, Dan finds himself in a bar where he hears Gretta James (Keira Knightley) sing a song.

Dan is immediately taken with Gretta’s music but she has issues of her own.  She had just broken up with her boyfriend and songwriting partner, Dave (Adam Levine, in his film acting debut). Though initially reluctant, Gretta eventually allows Dan to attempt to sign her to his former label.  However, Dan’s former partner (played by Mos Def) refuses to sign her which leads to Dan and Gretta independently producing an album together, with the gimmick that the album will be recorded at various public locations across New York.

There’s really not that much plot to Begin Again but that’s actually a huge part of the film’s appeal.  The film rejects melodrama and easy sentimentality and instead, it focuses on the characters.  (That said, Begin Again is definitely a sentimental movie but it’s sentimental in the best possible way.)  The movie is about how two different people come together and, for their own individual reasons, create something special.  Ruffalo and Knightley have a lot of chemistry, Levine is hilariously dorky, and Mos Def is entertaining as the epitome of everything that’s wrong with the music industry.  Best of all, Begin Again — much like Once before it — perfectly captures the thrill of artistic collaboration.  The scenes of Knightley and Ruffalo recording their album are exuberant celebrations of everything that’s wonderful about performance and expression.

And, of course, the music is great!