4 Stars Music

The Swell Season live at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, New York – September 17, 2008

Glen Hansard (of The Frames and The Commitments) and Markéta Irglová recorded an album together called The Swell Season, and now tour under the name. They fell in love while filming the excellent Once, and are now a couple.

Interestingly, they got their Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” out of the way right away, perhaps to avoid having the audience call it out as a request over and over throughout the evening. Personally, I felt Hansard goofed off a bit too much, even during serious songs like a new one I believe was called “Broke Down.”

4 Stars Movies

The World’s Hardest Working Band, The Commitments

The Commitments remains a favorite, even some 17 years after first seeing it in the theater. I’ve owned the soundtrack since then, but for whatever reason, had not revisited one of my favorite films. But having recently seen and loved Once, costarring Commitments alum Glen Hansard, I was inspired to check it out one more time and see if I still loved it after all these years. If The Commitments (the band) are the World’s Hardest Working Band, then The Commitments (the movie) may be the World’s Most Unashamedly Crowd-Pleasing Movie. There’s not a single scene that doesn’t charm, amuse, or get me rocking to the sweet sounds of soul music.

Where are they now? Original members Dick Massey and Kenneth McCluskey still tour as The Commitments. Director Alan Parker (look for VHS copies of one of his previous films Birdy in one scene) built on his success with musicals Fame, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and The Commitments by directing the mammoth production Evita. Andrew Strong (Deco Cuffe), a wee 16 at the time, still has his golden voice and is now a solo artist. Maria Doyle Kennedy (Natalie) is now a star of the television series The Tudors. And Glen Hansard just won some kind of award or another…

Two bits of fun trivia gleaned from the IMDB entry: the actual kid from U2’s Boy and War album covers cameos in the film, and the script racks up a spectacular 145 f-bombs.

4 Stars Movies

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová falling slowly in Once

Now this is a musical (of sorts) I can get behind. The unnamed “Guy” (Glen Hansard, already a rock star in The Frames and a movie star from The Commitments) is a street busker, playing popular songs for pennies during the day, and saving his own passionate compositions for the empty streets at night. “Girl” (Markéta Irglová) is an immigrant from the Czech Republic, looking at an unhappy future as a single mother, in servile jobs, with no outlet for her own musical talent. Each has become stuck, but their meeting jostles each other into motion.

What a fucking great movie. That’s it; that’s my entire review. See it, and get the soundtrack.

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