23 September 2007

Take this sinking boat and point it home we’ve still got time…

I’m not sure this week whether I’m talking about the film, Once, from whence today’s title song, “Falling Slowly” came or whether I’m talking about the soundtrack, so you’ll forgive me if this blog doesn’t make sense this week. You see, it’s very hard to discern one from the other since the music in the film is so much a part of the dialogue of the characters as well as echoing the feel of the city of Dublin, Ireland where Once takes place. You can’t talk about one without the other, or at least I can’t. Perhaps this is what makes it one of the more incredibly entwined soundtracks I’ve ever ‘seen’, quite literally.

If someone had told me this film was classified as a musical I would have scoffed and said – ‘no way am I going to see a musical – I hate musicals…’. However, a few months ago as I was listening to XM Radio on my TV, I heard “Falling Slowly”. My first thought, as I listened to the cadence of Glen Hansard’s singing and the way the song was written/produced was that it was a new track from Damien Rice. After I listened more closely I realized, no this is something new, deeply gripping, and pretty amazing. As the song drew to a close I hit the ‘info’ button and it showed that it was Glen Hansard (of the Irish band the Frames) and Marketa Irglova from the soundtrack to Once. WHO? WHAT? WOW! As I kept hearing the song played on XM Radio I enjoyed it more and more but then life took me away and it wasn’t until they sang on David Letterman on 10 Sept that I decided I had to see the film.

Abby being the music lover she is immediately after seeing them on Letterman downloaded the soundtrack off of itunes. Thankfully, with a guest in town last weekend, I didn’t have time to listen to it but once (forgive the pun). Odd you might think that I could be so in love with a song and not listen to it a ton of times but I really was busy and I’m glad for that.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the perfect day. It rained cats and dogs, the sun would shine, then it would rain again. As Abby and I ran around the city doing errands and getting caught in the rain our treat was going to be walking up to the local indy film theatre (Leammle’s Sunset 5) to see Once. You couldn’t ask for a better time to see this film. It was chilly, moody and the city, for as much as it can, had a romantic air about it. We settled into our seats and prepared ourselves to really like the film. We were wrong though, we ended up both really loving it.

I don’t want to give anything away. This film is too perfect to want to ruin it by talking about scenes in the film that were moving or particularly touching. I will say that Glen Hansard is the very handsome and talented love child of Cat Stevens/Yusuf and Damien Rice. This is evident in the first frames of the film where we see him on a sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon strumming his very old beaten up Takemine and singing the songs he thinks a passerby wants to hear – namely Van Morrison. We find out later that as night falls he sings and plays the songs his soul wants to play – the songs he wrote that give him life and give his broken heart a place to rest.

Guy meets Girl and you have a film that is hard to describe, easier to feel. He is the older love - weary guy living in his childhood bedroom, she’s a young immigrant and talented songwriter who doesn’t know it yet. It’s not a love story, that would be too easy, and love is never easy as is evident as the film unfolds. It’s not a musical, but the songs are part of a subtext of dialogue that have their own life and breathe in this film (the songs were written by both Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – writing partners and a real life couple who recorded the 2006 album Swell Season). We all have our stories, our paths and our history that we carry with us wherever we go and with whomever we meet. Basically, Guy meets Girl and the rest is an amazing film.

Maybe it was the rain, the fluffy, intensely grey clouds and the unusually awesome 65 degree New England Fall - like feel of a city that is normally 95 degrees and terribly ugly in September. Maybe after hearing one song I knew I would love this film. I don’t know – but I do know that all these factors made me feel as if I was in a dreary, chilly, intensely grey clouded Dublin – a fly on the wall of these people’s lives that I got to witness and feel as much as they did.

Which came first? The script or the songs? I don’t know and I can’t figure it out from my research. No matter. Because no matter what for as much as I want you to go buy the soundtrack I think I want you to see the film first. Allow yourself to hear these songs as they are in the film. Allow yourself to feel the songs as you hear the intertwined dialogues of the characters speaking and the characters singing. I think this is the best way to understand both and fully understand whatever your heart feels as you watch these fine pieces of work unfold, hand in hand.

Like me, you may find yourself unsure of whom you relate to most – the young Czech girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders or the thirty-something year old struggling artist. It’s been fifteen hours since I walked out of the theatre and I still don’t know. All I know is I’m still haunted by this film and these characters. As the sun shines brightly this morning in Los Angeles, I still feel like I’m in Dublin, falling slowly.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next Sunday…CHEERS!!!

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