Sunday, September 30, 2007

Movie Review - Once

So, to kick off my family vacation in Ireland this week, I thought I'd post a recommendation of this pretty cool movie I saw last month, called Once. It's set in Ireland (hence the connection) and revolves around a busker singer songwriter guy who falls for this girl. It's basically a romantic movie - no Jedi warriors or drunk dudes screaming "Fill it AGAIN!"

But it's a really unique film and it stayed with me after I saw it. This was because of the way it was filmed and put together, pretty much. That plus the music.

Very much a low budget, indie film, the thing was shot in two weeks with a crew of six who all agreed to work for free after the funding fell though. The actors are not really actors at all, but are friends of the director. It makes the whole thing feel very organic and home grown, which is my favorite type of movie after big budget over the top weirdo movies like Brazil.

Anyway, the other thing is that there is a lot of music in it. I would almost call it a "musical" but it's not. However, when the lead character, played by Glen Hansard (from the Irish rock band the Frames) breaks into a song on his beat to shit guitar on the street corner, you hear the whole song. All 3 or 4 four minutes of it. Good thing he's talented as hell because there are six or seven songs throughout the movie.

This makes for a slower pace, so be ready for that.

But this is also a musician's movie. For example, when the character played by Hansard (we never learn his or anyone else's name), finally pieces a band together and hits the studio, it's very realistic. The way the musicians interact, the way the for-hire producer is totally blase until he realizes that the band is's all very true to life.

The main woman character, played by newcomer Marketa Irglova, is also very believable. She has a great spirit and really drives the Hansard character to realize his potential. It made sense when I found out afterwards that the two knew each other before agreeing to the project. It's almost like the movie captured their budding relationship.

The songs are great too - they are a departure from what I usually blog about, but I got the soundtrack afterwards and they hold up. These songs are sung from the soul. This guy has music pouring out of him. He's incredible. But again be warned - even the upbeat ones are pretty melancholy.

Go to the movie's MySpace page and check out the song "When Your Mind's Made Up" and you will see what I mean. Make sure you listen to the whole song, past where it picks up. I wish I was uninhibited enough to sing a song like this.

Hansard and Irglova are also in a band called The Swell Season, on tour playing songs from the movie, plus others. They are playing in Portland in November and I am going to try my best to make that show.

Not sure if Once is on video yet but if you want something earnest, heartfelt and different, check it out and let me know what you think.

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