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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová -- Once: Music From the Motion Picture

 photo 220px-Once_Soundtrack_Cover_zps03e102b3.jpg

The duo in Once are the rare movie musical characters who actually have a reason to be singing. They are musicians working together with little more common tongue than song. Their songs and Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová's chemistry carry the simple premise of the film. It's quite enjoyable, both in its cinematic form, and on this soundtrack, which I don't think misses a note from the film. Folk music usually isn't anything close to my style, but these two musicians are incredibly talented, and Hansard has a voice for the ages. This is good stuff.
Once comes from the period that launched that fun time in my life I was raving about a few reviews back. Back then, my wife and I went on a true tear of movie-watching excellence that included this film as well as Mysterious Skin (the kind of movie you only watch once), After the Wedding, The Lives of Others, Eagle vs Shark (one of the weirdest, funniest movies I've ever seen), as well as many others.

This scene marks the moment in Once where my wife looked over at me and said, "I love this movie." It believe it occurs 30 seconds into the film. I ended up having to purchase this soundtrack for her twice. I recommend the Collector's Edition, as the two additional Van Morrison covers it includes are quite good.
Fast forwarding six years, we recently watched The Swell Season, a documentary on Hansard and Irglová's current musical act of the same name. It's a great look into their relationship, as well as a meditation on the effect of Once on the duo's lives. If you're a fan, check it out.

2007 Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax
1. Falling Slowly 4:04
2. If You Want Me 3:48
3. Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy 0:53
4. When Your Mind's Made Up 3:41
5. Lies 3:59
6. Gold 3:59
7. The Hill 4:35
8. Fallen from the Sky 3:25
9. Leave 2:46
10. Trying to Pull Myself Away 3:36
11. All the Way Down 2:39
12. Once 3:39
13. Say It to Me Now 2:35
14. And the Healing Has Begun" (Van Morrison, Collector's Edition Only) 5:19
15. Into the Mystic" (Van Morrison, Collector's Edition Only) 4:21


Neal said...

I heard Roger Ebert (sigh, going to miss that guy) and Roeper reviewing Once on their show way back when and they really liked it, so we got around to seeing it about eight months later. We waited far too long, in my opinion. The music is consistently excellent and I'm glad the story didn't go the predictable route. You can have a meeting of the minds without it being sexual, which is what Hollywood so often needs to do. They even proved it with the American cover of the DVD, as the two are holding hands--something the original poster did not have (you hear Glen Hansard complaining about it in the documentary).

I'm trying to think of when I really clicked with the movie. I liked this opening scene, but I think it was a little later for me that I had the moment of real connection--when Marketa is pulling around her Hoover and they go and sing Falling Slowly in the music store. That was a real "woah" moment (and I loved how it ended, with the music shop owner's smile as he was eating his lunch).

Random favorite bit from the movie, from when Glen Hansard is trying on a suit. "How do I look?" He asks. "You're gorgeous," the old shop owner says from his chair in the corner in a wonderfully gruff Irish accent. That line might be used with frequency in my household. :p

If you all haven't checked out the Swell Season album, you should. It's not quite as good as the Once soundtrack, but it's darn close. Two Tongues is the best of the lot and extremely raw... even harder to listen to after watching that documentary. :(

Not sure what to make of the documentary, to be honest. Glen Hansard has since said he regrets some of the scenes in there (he notes he was drinking way too much then), but the documentary really does seem to focus on their dysfunction more than how well they work together. They have a bit on them talking about how they got together, but there is a lot of focus on them falling apart as a couple.

Still interesting to see the story behind things, but the film makers did seem to leap on that breakup and framed the whole movie toward it. I much preferred the looks at how to deal with fame and what does it really mean to have won an Oscar... the movie is on more interesting feet there.

Nicholas said...

Man, this comment cracked me up. I had to let Crystal read it. Swell Season is one of her favorite bands. She said to tell you that she sang "In These Arms" to Fox every night when she rocked him as a baby...the chorus, not the verses.
I do wonder if the documentary's focus on the breakup happened just because the crew was filming during that period, but I am so skeptical of "non-fiction" narrative that I kind of suspect that the outdoor cafe scene was either staged or a re-enactment of what actually happened. We already know both of them can act...I guess I could be wrong, but I couldn't shake that feeling. The rest felt pretty honest. Overall it was pretty good stuff.

Neal said...

It's always hard to say when a documentary is being truthful, I agree. Mr. Bowling for Columbine probably wasn't the first to fudge the facts to make his movie a little more forceful.

It's hard for me to say with the cafe scene. None of the words or behavior are out of keeping with what they do elsewhere (especially the unhelpful band or crew member that leaves, saying, "Uh-oh, mommy and daddy are fighting"), and it's good to remember how young Marketa Irglova is as well (she's what... 19 at the time of filming Once?), and Glen is a good bit older with a hefty amount of baggage. Both of them are in kind of tough spots and I don't think a camera being there is helping things, either. Jessica found some info somewhere that Marketa didn't want to do the documentary at all, so I would guess it exacerbated the things she was going through as well.

At any rate, I wouldn't expect the documentary to ignore the breakup, it just had a lot of focus on it over other parts of who they were, it seemed like. I dunno. I know they have to figure out what to focus on and that there is a narrative even to documentaries, but it did seem focused on the negative to make things more "dramatic."

Heh, that's funny about The Swell Season (and probably a good thing Crystal didn't sing the rest of the lyrics...). We missed out on our chance to see them live. They were going to be in the Twin Cities a December a few years back, but it was insanely busy at the time and we didn't feel like we could do it. Silly us, since that was likely our one chance at it.

Nicholas said...

Man, you never know. They seem optimistic that they'll work together again. I know that guy committing suicide during their set really messed them up, but I feel like they'll come back to touring eventually...and of course, they'll hit Minnesota and shun the South!