Once (2007)

Reid, 11. August 2007, 12:59

Dir. John Carney
8/10

I would guess that Kevin, Chris, Tony, Jill and Mitchell would like this film. On other hand, I can see how expectations could get in the way. The better you can push aside you’re desire for the film to fulfill certain expectations, the better chance you’ll have at liking it. The other thing is people’s enjoyment really depends on a little subjective elements that are tough to predict. There are a lot of elements that either work for you or don’t. Having said all that, I’d recommend all of the above to see the film.

As for Don and Joel, it’s really a tough call, although I think both my like the film, at least a little. (I don’t know Cindy’s tastes, but I’m going to guess you’ll like this.) Penny and Larri really liked the film and Grace just thought it was OK.

Add this to Snowcake and Away From Her for my favorite films of the year.

**
I wish I knew nothing about the film because there were certain elements that would have been even more pleasantly surprsing. But knowing the plot won’t ruin the film. The movie is about a street corner musicians who meets an immigrant woman, who happens to like his music. They make a little music and get to know each other in the process.

***
There are three main reasons I liked this film: 1.) I liked the main characters; 2.) I immediately bought and liked their chemistry; 3.) I enjoyed the music. The last item surprised me because I expected more alternative singer-songwriter material–i.e. lyrics that are about social political issues or poignant narratives. The music in the film dealt mainly with the primary theme in pop music: everything and anything revolving around romance and love (and/or sex). Like most mainstream pop tunes, the lyrics were relatively easy to understand. For the most part they didn’t intense concentration and anaylsis–in a way that I think alternative rock songs often require. I also just liked the music–the melodies, guitar rhythms and the voices of the two main singers.

To me, if you don’t like these three components of the film, you probably won’t enjoy the film very much. These are very subjective elements and it’s hard to predict who will like them and who won’t.

I also really liked the fact that the film interwove the relationship with the love and creation of music. The film showed the way some of the music came together and that was really cool, although I wished the film spent more time showing the process (for example, like the film Hustle and Flow).

The plot was really simple, and I liked that. They director didn’t try to explain too much, nor did he try provide the audience with easy resolutions. By “not explaining too much” I’m thinking of the nature of the relationship. Is there just a connection because of music or is there something more? I don’t think it’s clear. I’d guess there could be something there, but the relationship is in the early stages. Perhaps, there’s a desire on both sides to explore the possibility, but they also have other relationships, too. Still, I liked the way they could appreciate their relationship and the gesture at the end with the camera pulling away from the Girl looking out the window really touched me.

Kevin
hey, idiots!

well, i’ve finally resurfaced on this blog, momentarily. i did have some time last week to see “once” w/ kelly, and liked it as well. (8/10 for Reid? high praise, indeed.) after the movie, i went and did what i often do: i re-read the review in the New Yorker, and i scan blog sites like imdb for other reactions. anyway, a couple of ideas that really added to my appreciation of the movie:

*spoilers* :

1. while the Girl did find Guy interesting, the romantic rapport from her end was intentionally underdeveloped to support this idea all along that she always knew her relationship w/ her husband & daughter was a priority. it reminds me of something like Christo’s Gates: it’s a rare example in our culture to have placed a thing of beauty to be appreciated for its temporary and appropriate place and time in our lives, then having it go away without overindulging in it. the restraint of it was the thing of beauty.

2. at first, the rough and raw quality of the video bothered me, but after awhile i realized it was exactly appropriate to the folk & street music style. there’s part of it that still bothers me about the commercial aspects of the movie being a “long music video” for the Frames, but i’m willing to overlook this for the part of it being about something larger than just a band, or the music.

Reid
The thought of a “music video” never came to mind, but then I didn’t know the director and main actor are in the band, The Frames. However, I read that the actor chosen for the “guy” was not who the director thought of at first.

Anyway, the “music video” comment has some validity. Kevin, what did you give the film?

4 Responses to “Once (2007)”


  1. Reid

    Mitchell

    Once (2007)
    Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova. Directed by John Carney.

    onI so wanted to be unimpressed by this. There was just too much hype around it, you know? I heard the songs before the movie was released, and the songs were interesting but not memorable, and a whole bunch of people just seemed to make too much of a big deal of it before I got a chance to see it. Then it left theaters and although I added it to my Netflix queue right away, I kept pushing it down to avoid finally seeing it, almost as a matter of principle, ‘though do not ask me what principle I was serving, because it escaped me. Stubborn bandwagon-avoiding is not a principle, is it?

    I stuck the DVD in and immediately resented it, because of course the opening scene is a wide shot of a young musician (Glen Hansard as an unnmaed guy) busking on the streets of Dublin, and of course his guitar is a worn-out Takamine with holes in the soundboard, and of course he’s a great singer, and of course the scene is shot with a shaky, handheld, one-camera setup.

    cBut then darn it: the song is really good. When the musician encounters the unnamed girl (Marketa Irglova), she doesn’t just appreciate his music; she asks him about the girl who inspired it, and she seems able to disarm him and me with just the right questions after. Then before we know it, the two are walking to lunch together with a wheeled canister vacuum cleaner in tow, and he is young and kind of noble, and she is younger and kind of pretty, and they play music together and deal with their aging parents and the songs get better and better and I am in love with both of them and everyone else in the movie by the time we’re twenty minutes in.

    eThe characters are very likable, and the story does its best to stick just to them, just to these few days in their lives, where for one there is only one thing to think about, and for the other there is also only one thing, but it’s not the same thing. And the musical numbers play like some completely re-imagined concept of what a movie musical could be, the editing and blocking taking the place of choreography, the conceit of two musicians writing songs replacing the unexplainable device of characters breaking out into unplanned song. Each song gets its own treatment within the framework of the story, almost like an album of music videos tied together by concept and theme. But where video albums, even the most conceptual of them, are still just collections of music videos, this is a real movie with a real story, built first on the characters and second on the songs.

    The mysterious thing to me is that it’s all about the performers. The songs are good, but most of them aren’t great, yet when performed by these musicians in these settings, they grab you and don’t let go. Hansard and Irglova performed on the TV program Austin City Limits a couple of years ago and they were terrific, their personalities and performances elevating the songs above what they are just as tracks on an album, which was a big reason for my reluctance to see the film.

    It’s a huge credit to the film-makers and to the actors that the film is much, much, much better than the songs of its parts.

    PS: This is maybe the most perfectly titled film I’ve seen in ages.

    8/10
    83/100

  2. Reid

    I so wanted to be unimpressed by this. There was just too much hype around it, you know?

    I still don’t really fully understand this reaction yours–particularly for this film. I didn’t think this film got a lot of hype–not in the larger mainstream press, anyway. I could understand if people you knew hyped it to you–because this film has your name written all over it. (You agree with that, right?)

    I stuck the DVD in and immediately resented it,…

    Huh. Why’d you resent the film for the reasons you mentioned? I would think that you’d like the film for those reasons.

    …and I am in love with both of them and everyone else in the movie by the time we’re twenty minutes in.

    I recall feeling the same way. How’d you like the scene where he makes a move and then starts figuratively kicking himself when she abruptly leaves? (I could see you really liking that–and it’s the type of thing I liked in the film.)

    And the musical numbers play like some completely re-imagined concept of what a movie musical could be, the editing and blocking taking the place of choreography, the conceit of two musicians writing songs replacing the unexplainable device of characters breaking out into unplanned song. Each song gets its own treatment within the framework of the story, almost like an album of music videos tied together by concept and theme. But where video albums, even the most conceptual of them, are still just collections of music videos, this is a real movie with a real story, built first on the characters and second on the songs.

    I agree with this and like how you expressed this.

    The mysterious thing to me is that it’s all about the performers. The songs are good, but most of them aren’t great, yet when performed by these musicians in these settings, they grab you and don’t let go.

    Personally, I think the songs are better than you’re suggesting. They may not be all time great songs, but they’re solid pop songs in my opinion. The performances and the context of the film really add to the songs, too, in my view. Really, separating the components that make the songs/performances so effective is too difficult for me.

  3. mitchell

    I didn’t think this film got a lot of hype–not in the larger mainstream press, anyway. I could understand if people you knew hyped it to you–because this film has your name written all over it. (You agree with that, right?)

    I guess it depends on what you call mainstream. I think of NPR, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Sun-Times as mainstream. And writers in those arenas couldn’t stop praising it. That by itself didn’t do it, I guess. It was that plus the fact that everyone made a big deal of the music, which as I said I didn’t think was very memorable (and still don’t; I downloaded the soundtrack the other night and had trouble getting through it once). When a bunch of people tell you that they think I’ll like the music in a movie, I have to consider the source of the recommendation, and most of the sources don’t listen to or enjoy a lot of the type of music that was in this movie. NPR is probably the exception, but NPR tends to embrace the whole genre.

    Huh. Why’d you resent the film for the reasons you mentioned? I would think that you’d like the film for those reasons.

    Because the first three minutes of the film don’t show me anything I didn’t predict was going to be there. It was too obvious.

    The scene you mention is good, but the scene right before it is better, when the guy and girl are in the vacuum repair shop with the guy’s father.

    Have you listened to the songs separate from the film?

  4. Reid

    I guess it depends on what you call mainstream. I think of NPR, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Sun-Times as mainstream.

    NPR is borderline, and I wouldn’t count Chicago Sun-Times, unless you live in Chicago. My guess is not many people listen to or read those publications. My sense is that critics liked the film, but I’m not sure how mainstream all of them were. Anyway, when you talk about too much media hype, I’m thinking of something along the lines of Avatar.

    Because the first three minutes of the film don’t show me anything I didn’t predict was going to be there. It was too obvious.

    You mean, obvious based on what you knew about the film? I guess I didn’t know much about the film going in (I can’t really remember). I still don’t get your resentment, but whatever.

    The scene you mention is good, but the scene right before it is better, when the guy and girl are in the vacuum repair shop with the guy’s father.

    You could be right, but I can’t really remember the scene now.

    Have you listened to the songs separate from the film?

    I think I have, although I believe it was a live performance. (I want to say at Carnegie Hall, but that doesn’t sound right.)

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