I write these for friends and if you love movies you are a friend: I saw a movie last night that was so good that I have spent the last hour looking up information about it on the Internet Movie Data Base and related links. I have included the Fox Searchlight website for the movie at the bottom of this review so you can hear the music. So now I know that is was made in 17 days and at a cost of less than $150K and reflects a Dublin of 10-15 years ago when Dublin was much poorer and more working class.
And, I would be much poorer in life and spirit, and my heart, like most of us, covered in scar tissue from life, would not seem so vulnerable and new, if I had not seen this movie. A simple story of a street musician in Ireland, singing covers during the day for Euros, and his own music at night for cents. A verging on middle aged man, still living with his Da, repairing vacuums in a tiny shop and writing songs to his lost love in his tinier bedroom. Approached by girl, an immigrant, who loves his songs, understands the pain that gave them life, and soon they are in a music shop with the girl playing the piano and together they prove that art isn't produced from big budgets or green lit by ten vice presidents and that seventeen days and a pittance can make me get goose bumps just trying to write a review of what I saw in a dark theater with ten other people in a complex dominated by Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman.
I knew a woman once who only read novels about unrequited love. What a wonderful phrase: unrequited love. Archaic, unrequited, love, universally known and unknown, and as a friend said about the movie and its songs: no great art came from happiness. But the movie isn't sad, it's pulsing with life and music and incident and the process of how art is made. I have always been a sucker for movies about how art is made: Shakespeare in Love, Topsy Turvey, as examples, but in both those, art that was known. In Once, on the streets of Dublin, an Irishman and a Czech girl, remind us of how, to my generation, the guitar was king, a guitar, bass, drums and piano a symphony orchestra, and there was no power like the power of rock and roll. In all generations, love sought, found, lost, and sometimes regained is the stuff that brings us to the theater, to the book, to the movie.
I'm in the midst of reading a book by an Irishman, a detective novel, the hero a reader, and the author uses the book to list books he likes: from one...'the body moves on, the mind stays and circles the events of the past.' This must be true of the writer/director.
You won't forget these people. I can't forget their songs. We should all meet, my movie loving friends, and talk about this movie in a bar in Chicago I know that has great music on the jukebox, cold cold beer, and is dark enough so we would all look good. Neil Young sang: only love can break your heart, Once asks 'how often do you meet the right person', and as fellow movie goers I ask how often can the right movie be made, shown in your local, and break/make you heart at seven of a beautiful summer's eve? It's the best movie of the year. Maybe of the last five years. But, I am not a dispassionate critic, I loved it.
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