I wasn’t quite sure where to file this blog, as it crosses the lines between film and music, and recently released film and a blast from the past. But like so many other things at Watch Yo Mouth, it defies definition, and just is. So I’ll let it be and you can read it.
In light of my recent trip to Ireland and in honor of my still-Guinness-laden liver and happily-ringing ears, I wanted to take a moment to suggest two great but lesser-known films filled with Irish music. They’re available periodically on Netflix, and they’re truly films to sit down and have a pint with. Both are refreshingly un-Hollywood, devoid of the fairy-tale ending, big name actors and special effects. Neither film is concerned with a dramatic, last second saving of the world. These films are about everyday musicians, their everyday hard work, their successes, their failures, their love and lust, and the laughs they share. Both will leave you singing (another reason to watch with a pint in hand- my singing only gets better… Read: louder and more accepted the more myself and everyone else in the room consumes), and both will leave you looking for the soundtracks.
The first of my recommendations is The Commitments.
Directed by Alan Parker and released in 1991, The Commitments follows the story of “the world’s hardest working band.” Set in Dublin far before the Celtic Tiger, it is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a man determined to assemble the greatest band to play soul music in Ireland. Collecting colorful musicians, with language equally as colorful (the movie runs 113 minutes, and the word “fuck” is used 145 times, and yes I’ve counted), Jimmy fights to get practice space, to get musical instruments out of hock, to land gigs, to keep the talented but high-tempered vocalist Deco at relative peace with the rest of the band, and to land a record deal. Through all of the laughs and language, there is a gritty purity about the music that is both saddening and inspiring. And the ending: to paraphrase Joey “the lips” Fagan, the ending is “poetry, not predictable,” which I suppose is why it’s in this blog and is not the popular Hollywood blockbuster. Check out the trailer below:
So next movie night you’re planning, try something new, let the music and the movie “grab you by the balls and lift you above the shite.”
And as a fun musical trivia side-note, look for the kid on the skateboard outside of Jimmy Rabbitte’s window towards the beginning of the film. He is the boy used for the cover shots of U2′s albums “Boy” (1980) and “War” (1983).
The second of my suggestions is Once.
Directed by John Carney and again set in Dublin, this 2006 film is less raucous than The Commitments, but just as delightfully unpredictable and perhaps even more poetic. Featuring the vocal talents of Glen Hansard of The Frames (look up “Lay Me Down”) as the “guy,” and Marketa Irglova as “the girl,” this film follows the unlikely relationship of a broken-hearted street-entertainer from Dublin and an immigrant as they write and eventually record their own music.
Again, this is the story of the everyday, not the Never Say Never of Justin Bieber or the inevitable Taylor Swift movie, and how the everyday can become extraordinary.
Perhaps it is because I am not an incredibly talented musician myself, and I don’t get to experience this on a daily basis, but there is something very powerful in the scene when the guy and the girl, having met only minutes before, walk into a music shop and sit down to a piano to make truly beautiful music. Check it out below:
It speaks to the power of human creativity, and the genuine human connection that it forges between two strangers. It is so simple and so everyday yet so important; it brushes the dust off of everyday life. Again, with an ending more poetry than predictable, Once is worth a watch.
Thanks for the read, and please, take some time out of your day or night to watch these films. At the end of a long day, there can be nothing better than sitting down to watch a truly great movie. Enjoy!