Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Once - Will Be Seen Many More Times

I just got back from seeing Once, John Carney's perfect movie about a Dublin street musician, played by Glen Hansard.

My wife - who saw it last week with my daughter, while I was writing science fiction and blog posts - raved about it, wanted to see it again, and said I should see it. How could I refuse.

If you have an ear and a soul and a few bucks in your pocket on a hot summer afternoon, do yourself a favor and see it. Actually, I'd say the same about winter and evening.

Carney was bassist in The Frames, Glen Hansard's band. Hansard is a sensitive actor - as well as a terrific songwriter, with a winning voice. Markéta Irglová plays the young mother who befriends, inspires, writes and plays piano with Hansard and his guitar. She has similarly fine talent in acting, songwriting, and singing.

The story was written and performed with passion and restrain. The two love each other. But he has a nearly lost love in London, and she has a husband in Europe.

The recording studio scenes are letter and pitch perfect. If I didn't know that Geoff Minogue, who played the engineer in the recording session, was Boleyn's secretary on Showtime's The Tudors, I'd swear I'd seen him in some of my own recording sessions back in the 1960s. He had the facial expressions and the posture - not to mention the words - down to a tee.

And the songs are wonderful. "Falling Slowly," performed and written by Hansard and Irglová, is a careful, powerful masterpiece. Irglová's "If You Want Me," performed by the two, is a close second. You know what? Every song in this movie is a close second, and very close to the best.

Indeed, I'd say Once is one of the best music movies ever made. It's hard to compare a movie like this to bio-pics such as the excellent Walk the Line or Ray. But if you take movies about world-famous musicians out of the mix, I'd say Once is the best.

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