Overnight it’s turned from gazpacho to chicken soup weather. Being that it’s a transition day, I’m making both. Bella’s home sick with a sore throat. She’s curled up in a blanket downstairs reading her Audrey Hepburn biography. I’ve come upstairs to the computer to escape yet another exclamation about Audrey’s dalliances with married men.
I think that the Irish film Once (imdb 7.9/10.0) directed by John Carney could easily be my favorite movie of the year, right up there with Ratatouille. It’s a solid A. But I don’t want to call Once a musical. To begin with, as many of the commenters on imdb have remarked, this movie is cheese-less. There is no hoopla or gimmicky self-conscious musical assemblage – nothing trendy or affected. And all the music is diagetic (new word for me: means all the music appears to come from the world of the film itself). It’s a low-budget film where both the leads are played by non-acting people who happen to be musicians both on and off the screen. Glen Hansard of The Frames plays “Guy,” a broken-hearted busker playing on the streets of Dublin and MarkÃ©ta IrglovÃ¡ plays the “Girl.”
For a movie where you never see the two leads kiss, this movie is impossibly romantic! Their first “date” is in a piano store where the Czech girl (never named) comes to play for free. Guy’s impressed. Soon Guy has pulled out his guitar and is strumming one of his songs and within minutes there is an improbable, but utterly convincing and magic jam session happening. Something’s happening with this film that I think is going to end up influencing all kinds of cinema from now on; it somehow effortlessly and gracefully rewrites what a musical or even a music video might be. I recommend it whole-heartedly, especially to my musician friends. I’m even thinking about taking Bella to see it as I think the R-rating (for language) is misleading; there is no sex, drugs, or violence at all.
Now this film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (imdb 7.7/10.0), I would not watch with Bella even in the house. Not that she would understand a word of what’s going on, but because I wouldn’t want her hearing things, things like the screams of a man getting all of his fingernails pulled off. Violence notwithstanding (takes place in the early days of the IRA) this movie has not only made the most box office money in the history of Ireland, it also won the Palm d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The lead is played by the girlie-faced cutie Cillain Murphy. And there is a haunting rendition of the song from which the movie takes its name at one of the funerals. You can see the mediocre preview here.
Chad and I are only halfway through this one – but I can easily give it an A. The story is riveting.