Tuesday, October 16, 2007


STEVE - Heartwarming and heartbreaking. Those words essentially sum up this very powerful and romantic movie. The chemistry shared on screen by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who are musicians and not actors) is so powerful. It’s the acting, the storytelling, and powerful music that makes this film (hands down) one of this year’s best.

Walking into the theater I wasn’t sure what to expect from an “Irish Musical”. Those words did not sound appealing to me. However there I was, not really knowing what to expect. Thank the Lord for good surprises.

The movie started off with a hilarious chase sequence that I would be unable to do justice if I tried to explain it. However, might I say that it was a terrific means to get the audience’s attention. Immediately I was pulled in and feeling for the leading man (who goes unnamed for the entire film). From there we are slowly brought into this poor musician’s world through his music. After a wonderful zoom in on our unnamed leading man as he performs on the street corner, the camera pulls out to reveal a young woman (who also goes unnamed) who was listening to his performance. From here we pulled into the obvious, but never acted on romance between these two musicians. One married while the other is still remains in love with an old flame.

The music was the most powerful ingredient in this film. I loved the scene in the music shop where guy teaches the girl one of his songs so she can accompany him on the piano. It is a powerful and moving sequence where sparks flew. Throughout the film their feelings for each other are expressed through the music they write and perform. Thankfully this wasn’t the typical guy met girl, fall in love romance. You so badly want to see that happen, to see the two get together, but their untimely romance is hindered by their past and current relationships. And the fact that they don’t get together or even kiss is what makes this movie work so well.

The last shot in this movie is a terrific closer to the story. The pull away from the window says so much.

However, as much as I really loved this film, I did have some issues. I was, unfortunately, bumped by the documentary style used to cerate that real world effect. It just didn’t work for me, especially when long takes were done. I was too distracted by it. I’ve seen other films that TV shows that are shot with the handheld effect, but the camera was almost too shaky. Was a steady cam even used? I doubt it. Also the lighting was in the film was poor, probably to keep that real world effect still going. I thought it hindered the film rather then enhance it. Some scenes were so poorly lit it was almost impossible to see what was happening.

Nevertheless, this was a truly powerful film on the subject of love and commitment. One worth recommending to others, which is exactly what I’m doing… WATCH THIS FILM!


DAN - Once has been praised as one of the best films of the year. Critics claim that it has reinvented the musical genre. I had heard nothing but good things about this film prior to seeing it, so my expectations were understandably high. I recognize that Once has the potential of having an emotional impact on its audience, but it left me wanting more.

The film follows an unnamed vacuum repair man (Glen Hansard) who spends his spare time singing songs with his guitar on a sidewalk. An also-unnamed flower vendor (Markéta Irglová) expresses interest in his music and reveals her talent in playing the piano. The two become better acquainted as they play and write music together, and a semi-romantic relationship begins to build between them.

This relationship is expressed through the music that the characters write together, but I can’t say that I always felt a connection. The first song they play together, entitled Falling Down, is meant to be profound. It sounds great, but it consists of lyrics that didn’t really mean anything to me. For example:

Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Perhaps I’m missing the ability to poetically interpret these lyrics, or maybe I’m just lacking common sense. Either way, I didn’t understand the meaning of many of the lyrics in this film. Even so, some of the musical moments in this film did impress me. In fact, I like most of the music in this film regardless of the lyrics. I was a bit disappointed, however, having expected to be blown away by the emotional impact this film’s music has had on others.

The camerawork in this film isn’t exactly steady, but it didn’t bother me. If anything, it made the story seem more honest. I’m actually impressed by what was accomplished on a budget of $160,000. The independent nature of this film and the unconventional use of inexperienced actors gave it a somewhat rustic charm.

I can understand why people love this film. It is great in its own right, but I think the fact that it’s an independent film gives it more appeal. My theory is that people give this film extra praise because of its independence; they believe they are a part of an exclusive audience, and they feel compelled to promote the film’s greatness more than they would if it had a larger budget. As a result, I expected more than I got out of seeing Once, but I do recognize its value.

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