Monday, July 09, 2007

Just This: Once

Instead of a make-up class this last semester, I decided to bring some local critics to talk to my classes. In addition to my usual fabulous house critics, Movie Mom Nell Minow, we also brought along New York Times stringer Jeanette Catsoulis, who was hilarious and charming. Someone asked her what her favorite movie the year was and, without hesitation, she said, "There's this amazing little Irish movie coming out called Once. You should see that."

OK. Almost three months after she said that, I finally did. Thanks, Jeanette.

This quiet, unassuming movie stars the lead singer of the Frames, a band which I had heard of somewhat but not really paid attention to, and a young Czech woman. They're scruffy, not your regular movie star types. He's busking on the streets of Dublin and the movie begins with an intense performance of him performing. For the first few minutes, I thought that perhaps would just be a long music video -- but while watching some of the performances, I started to realize that (hey, looky there!) the characters and story were building very incrementally underneath. And, however familiar the movie was starting to seem, it didn't look even remotely like what I thought it was going to look like. And I was really loving it.

I had thought about seeing a second film afterwards and realized that the smile on my face was just too big and too satisfying that I didn't need another movie. That hasn't happened in a while, I think.

At some point, I realized with some amusement that, indeed, this was actually a musical. I've refrained from putting that here until now because I don't want people to be turned off by that and sometimes the m-word does that. As many of the earth-shatteringly glowing reviews (seriously, Rotten Tomatoes has it at a whopping 97%, 100% of the "cream of the crop folks, and I hadn't read much about it beforehand) have indicated, however, the movie stands to appeal to even the non-musical lover. So I have no problem saying to anyone reading this to go searching for this flick, or at least put it on the Netflix list. It's that charming.

Jeanette has a great interview with actor Glen Hansard and director (and former Frames bassist!) John Carney at Reverse Shot.

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