Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Take this sinking boat and point it home, we still have time

7 Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, ‘ Falling Slowly’

Music and film is a tough act to pull off; almost as tough as football and film (name one movie about football that stars football greats, has a great storyline, and acting to match! You can’t can you, because - there aren’t any).

Here are the ingredients for a great film about music – musicians who play themselves in the movie (or at least play creditable musicians), great songs played throughout the movie, a creditable storyline. Not much to ask for? I can only think of three movies that meet that criteria: A Hard Day’s Night, Head (by The Monkees) and Once.

I haven’t seen Slade in Flame but I’ve heard good things about it over the years so it may deserve a place. 200 Motels may also qualify but again, I haven’t seen it. And that’s it! Lame musicals can’t qualify. Neither rock documentaries nor music concerts qualify because they’re not fictional. Prince’s films (even Purple Rain) miss out on the storyline front. Elvis? You’ve got to be kidding.

That leaves my stand alone three, and Head is a distant third (debateable musicianship and the plot doesn’t bare scrutiny). What makes Once so great is partly that section when Glen (the guy) is teaching Marketa (the girl) Falling Slowly in the music shop. Clearly a set up (no one learns a song that fast do they?) but believable all the same. The song, of course, is awesome and I fall in love with Marketa every time I see her. Her ‘acting’ is unbelievably great. The first time I watched it in a state of ignorance. Naturally, I loved the film and watched the credits as is my wont. I did a check of the film’s music and realised the actors had written and sung the songs. Of course, it’s the other way ‘round, musicians were acting, but that’s how good the acting is.

The song itself, Falling Slowly, builds to those stretched out vocal sections (on 'time', 'now' and 'along') and has a neat series of changes as Glen points out. The lyrics are about a love that is fragile but there is hope in the song. I prefer love songs like this one to lead me away from despair. The sinking boat in the song can make it home because, ‘We still have time’. Hurrah! The boat is half...erm...empty.

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