Girl Gang

This is something Christa did awhile back and I’ve been planning mine for some time. Basically what female characters would you want as friends IRL and why. (I promise this won’t just be a list of women I have crushes on.) (Never mind, I take that back.)

Gisele Yashar from 4-6 of the Fast and Furious franchise played by Gal Gadot.
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She’s tough, she’s smart, and extremely stylish. I could stand to be more stylish. I would probably be terrified of her at first because she’s so gorgeous and strong but she would eventually warm up to me and teach me to throw a punch.

Veronica Mars from Veronica Mars played by Kristen Bell.
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I know for a fact my life would be better if I had Veronica on call. She’s fiercely loyal and you do not want to cross her. Still though, she has a warm heart and infinite second chances for the people she feels are worth it. She’s still even civil with Dick Casablancas.

Carol Solomon from In a World… played by Lake Bell.
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She’s funny, she smart, she’s ruthless but kind. She loves her sister and brother-in-law and she’s a bit of a mess. I love her and I think we would be great friends. She could help me with my accents and do all the voice-over work for my projects.

Susan Cooper from Spy played by Melissa McCarthy.
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It was really hard to choose just one Melissa McCarthy character because I love them all but in the end I had to go with Susan Cooper because, obviously, she is a spy, and a damn good one. She’s capable and resourceful and very tough and smart and sweet and loving but will mess you up if you’re not careful.

C.J. Cregg from The West Wing played by Allison Janney.
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Honestly, what I wouldn’t give for just an hour with C.J. I can’t think of any character, male or female, who has inspired me more in my life than C.J. She is the epitome of a strong, independent woman, who still likes the occasional man, can be flirty while still commanding respect and is smart, but not a know-it-all and has more integrity and gumption than anyone she’s ever worked with or for. And to see “The Jackal” live just once? Baby, that’s the dream.

What Kind of Writer?

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature today which has enraged some people as he’s technically never written a novel. I guess. I haven’t looked that much into it. The selection committee determined that his hundreds of songs qualified as poetry and were impressive and important enough to warrant commendation.

This reminds me of a line in the film End of the Tour which is about Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky following novelist David Foster Wallace on his book tour for Infinite Jest. When Lipsky pitches his idea for the article his editor tells him “Rolling Stone doesn’t interview writers.” and I remember thinking “Okay, I guess tell that to all the singer-songWRITERS you’ve interviewed over the years.”
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When did we decide that the only serious writers were novelists? If pressed I’d have to say my five favorite writers working right now are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shea Serrano, Megan Amram, Ed Brubaker, and Mallory Ortberg. A few of them have published books but they definitely aren’t considered novelists. I don’t read a lot of novels (although I did make and effort this summer to read a few more) but I’m on twitter every day. I follow a half-dozen entertainment news sites for reviews, recaps, and articles. And I watch a lot of movies and television. All of which has to be written by someone.

I spoke with a friend recently about writing and he asked me how often do I write. In truth, I write something every day. I’m constantly writing. But how often do I finish something and send it off into the world? Much less frequently. I identify as a writer and invariably someone always wants to know “What kind?” and then I have to take them though a tale of my education and my ambitions in my chosen field and on and on. It’s exhausting although I understand the interest. The truth is, I haven’t quite figured out what kind of writer I want to be yet. I doubt I’ll ever write a novel but who knows? I love theatre and television and that’s where I’m focusing my interest at the moment.

There’s a great scene in one of my favorite movies, Igby Goes Down (written by Burr Steers), that I think sums up my experience.

Russell (played by Jared Harris) and Igby (Kieran Culkin) have just been introduced by Rachel (Amanda Peet) who described Russell as “a brilliant artist.”
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Igby: So, you’re an artist? What kind of art?
Russell: What do you mean, “What kind of art?”
Igby: I mean… do you paint.. or..
Russell: I got what you meant, but you obviously didn’t get what I meant. An artist creates art regardless of what form the canvas takes.

It’s meant to be funny, to show Russell and Rachel as the pretentious neo-bohemian West Villagers they are, but the line has always stuck with me.

An artist creates art regardless of what form the canvas takes. 

Think about that the next time you wonder out loud “what kind” of writer someone is.

Gilmores to the Front

I was originally just going to comment on Bassy’s incredible sum-up but I realized I had TOO MUCH TO SAY and being a day behind on Blogtober meant I might as well take the opportunity to turn it into a post. HERE BE SPOILERS IF YE HAVEN’T SEEN THE FINAL SEASON. 

Gilmore Girls means the world to me. I watched the pilot the first day it aired. I remember being completely enamored of Lorelai from moment one and I ‘shipped her and Luke before we even had a word for it.

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Kiss him, dummy.

I agree with A LOT of what Christa said (HELL YES to Rory and Jess finally boning and DEAN IS THE FUCKING WORST) except there was never any question of whether or not I was attracted to Luke. I found him irresistible. He is by far the most stable, reliable, generous, and considerate man in television history. People like to make fun of how grumpy he is but he is so incredibly loving to Lorelai and Rory it’s impossible to see him in a negative way, I think.
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I will never forgive Anna Nordini for stealing fatherhood from him. She claims she did it because he “hated” kids and always complained about their sticky hands but anyone who has met Luke or spent intimate time with him would know that he was an honorable man and would want to know that he had a child! But also, Luke Danes was born to be a dad! He was Rory’s dad (the scene at the vow-renewal party when he argues with Christopher (also the worst) over who was a better dad to Rory KILLS ME) and he was Jess’ dad (which makes the Rory/Jess thing kinda awkward but whatevs) and he was even a dad to his own sister after theirs passed away. He even had a bit of dad left in him for bizarre Kirk.

Luke loves unconditionally. He will bend over backwards to help anyone in the entire stupid town do anything but of course he always had an extra soft spot for Lorelai. Who didn’t, to be honest. She was an extraordinary woman, manager, friend, and mom. Although she did get lucky with boring old Rory.
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Okay, I don’t think Rory is boring, except, yeah, she kind of is. I think Logan was good for her but I’m glad she didn’t marry him. He kind of brought her out of her shell a little bit and let her make mistakes and learn from them. Dean just expected her to be perfect all the time (he was the worst) and Jess was dealing with too much of his own shit to be a good partner. I wish Rory and Jess could have met as adults. I really hope they finally hook up in the revival. I guarantee he’s better in the sack than whiny Dean.
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The true love of Rory’s life, however, was Paris. No one else challenged or supported her as much as Paris did, and she reciprocated in kind. They were there for each other through it all, to back each other up or back each other down, depending on the situation. It was a true symbiotic relationship. I know Rory loved Lane too but they were never on the same level. Theirs was more of a “survived childhood but now what?” relationship. In fact, once Rory moved away, Lane became closer with Lorelai.roryandlane.jpg
I do hate what happened to Lane. She deserved so much better. I mean… Zack?… really? And then twins? On the first try?! Here’s hoping they got divorced, she got back together with Seth Cohen, and was finally able to enjoy sex. I loved their band though. Sebastian Bach was amazing.

I loved Sookie. I loved that she was this incredible chef who was obsessive and awkward and funny and everyone loved her. I wish she would have had a more exciting love life though, not that there was anything wrong with Jackson and pickins were slim in Stars Hollow, but it would have been fun to see her date around a bit more. I love the episode when she’s on bedrest and Luke has to take over her kitchen and she gets her staff to bring her the food so she can check up on him. I adore Michele as well, especially his relationship with Emily.
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Emily and Richard are a tricky pair. I do sympathize with them but I also get so angry at them. But then I remember that it isn’t their fault and they were raised by the same kinds of people they became and it’s just an endless cycle of wealth and shame and doing things just because that’s “what’s done” and never seeing a way out unless you’re 16 and pregnant and know deep in your heart that you will never be your parents. And it sucks they didn’t get to watch Rory grow up but she had such an amazing life that I don’t feel that bad, you know?
babette-misspatty.jpgOf course, you can’t imagine Stars Hollow without Miss Patty and Babette, by far my fave ancillary characters. Babette and Morey were just so perfect and in love and Miss Patty was so happy and saucy all on her own. She owned her past, present, future, and every room she stepped into. They really made the show for me. Also Gyspy, the mechanic. Loved her.

As you can well imagine by this point, I’m very excited for the revival. I think I’ve seen the entire series about three times now and I’m going to give it another go around before the 25th. As stated, I want to see or at least have knowledge of a Rory/Jess hook up, no mention of Dean or Christopher unless they’ve died in a horrible accident together, for Luke and Lorelai to be married and for Luke to have Fathered the hell out of April Nordini including but not limited to: teaching her how to drive, moving her to college, (he knows all about the mattresses now) and, idk, he probably bought her a car and spent months doing research for the safest and most fuel efficient model and ran her through a drill for every possible weather/road/accident scenario and gave her a back up cell phone in case hers dies. And a back up for the back up because, and I can not stress this enough, LUKE DANES WAS BORN TO BE A DAD.

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Full Blown Dad Mode.

Dad!Luke is all I care about. Dad!Luke is everything. Thank you for listening.

Are You Talking Taika To Me?

There is something magical about Academy Award Nominated writer/director/producer/actor Taika Waititi. Just to be clear and get it out of the way up top, he is extremely handsome.
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Like, I just.. Okay moving on.

Like most hard working comedy fans, I first heard of Waititi’s work through Flight of the Conchords, the wonderfully bizarre two-season wonder created by and starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. He wrote and directed one of my favorite episodes, season one’s “Drive By” AKA the one where Bret and Jemaine get into a “race war” with Aziz Ansari.

And, like most of you, I sought out Eagle vs Shark to fill the Flight of the Conchords shaped hole in my heart and found it to be uncomfortable and awkward but in the most endearing and compelling way. I still regularly think about the scene where Lily follows Jarred around the hill singing “Let’s Dance” quite poorly.
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I had the great fortune of seeing Boy at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton while volunteering. I don’t even think I knew what was playing that day, I just happened to have a shift. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Boy is a gorgeous film about growing up and all the messy shit that goes with it, from the point of view of an extremely marginalized child who feels completely average.

Waititi writes small. Smaller than any American independent filmmakers working today. He doesn’t write movies; he writes moments. He writes feelings. He writes personal expressions. And then his masterful director (which is also him) takes over and films it in soul-shaking close-ups and grandiose wide shots.
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His next film, the hilarious and avant garde What We Do in the Shadows was a return to his work in comedy, evidently at the behest of comedy-writing partner Jemaine Clement. The film is largely improvised and shot as a documentary yet still it is uniquely Waititian. After telling us the story of how he ended up in New Zealand, his character puts on a silver necklace given to him by his long-lost love. He can’t wear it without it burning his flesh but he puts it on anyway–regularly, it seems–for the sense of connection to the woman he still loves. It’s funny because it’s absurd but also heartbreaking because it is so relatable.

Earlier this year, perhaps to reset expectations, Waititi released another coming-of-age tale, also set in New Zealand. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is probably my favorite of his films so far. It combines every thing I loved about the last three. I have complete faith in his ability to tackle his next project, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
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Thor: Ragnarok comes out on my birthday next year and I’m happy to think of it as Taika Waititi’s personal gift to me. Thank you, Taika. It’s just what I always wanted.

Sequels Make the World Go Round

Unpopular Opinion Puffin Time: I bloody love sequels. Truly and non-ironically. In fact, I often skip the original and just watch the sequel (partly because I grow wearing of world-building) because THEY ARE BETTER. It’s simple math. free-willy-2-the-adventure-home-535eabd461e0eFree Willy 2: The Adventure Home has 100% more Francis Capra AKA Eli “Weevil” Navarro. So it’s a 100% better movie (but I will still watch them both because Free Willy is amazing) and also Willy and Jesse are already friends so we don’t have to watch them fight.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was directed by Neveldine/Taylor (who perfected the sequel with Crank: High Voltage) and has 100% more Idris Elba. 100% better movie.
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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
has 100% more Helen Mirren. I REST MY CASE.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Better movie than Jurassic Park. It has way more Jeff Goldblum and 100% less Sam Neill. It works both ways.
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Horrible Bosses 2 has 100% more Chris Pine. I feel like you know where I’m going with this one.

I know you’re thinking, But Lightle, aren’t you a writer? Don’t you wish Hollywood would make original movies instead of a bunch of sequels every year?

I do wish that, dear reader, but I know that that is not the world we live in. General audiences are hesitant to make a time and money commitment to something they aren’t sure they’re going to like. I also know that Hollywood is not just one person. It is a studio system run by many individuals competing with each other for your $15 bucks every Friday night. They know that most people (who are not me) are only going to one, maybe two movies a month and just as you make wise spending choices based on the properties that you already know and love, so do they.

What I wish would change is how sequels are made. Make it easier for someone else to take over the franchise. Make movie spin-offs a thing. I’m always in favor of long-form story telling. I love television and comic book series for this very reason. If I become attached to a group of characters, I’m not ready to say goodbye to them after a couple hours. I need to know what else happens. I say, keep the sequels coming! Here’s a few to start with:

W.E., directed by Madonna. I am DESPERATE to know what happened with Wally and Evgeni. Do they raise the baby? Do they stay together? Does she ever figure out what happened to Wallis?? I want more.
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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, directed by Jake Szymanski. Obviously it’s set at Dave and Alice’s wedding. Mike and Tatiana have some problem. Alice is having flashbacks to her first wedding and can’t deal. Cue hijinks.

Reality Bites, directed by Ben Stiller. I watched this the other day (for an upcoming Winona Ryder retrospective) and it blew my mind how closely the experiences of these Gen Xers mirrored what is happening today to millennials. I’m kind of on the cusp between generations and I found myself strongly identifying with their struggles. It would be interesting to see the characters again now, 20 years later. They might have children who are now going through similar problems but are powerless to assist or even empathize because of how differently they view the world. Also I want to see if Lelaina and Troy are still together…

The Heat, directed by Paul Feig. Seriously though, where is my The Heat sequel, The Heat 2: Even Hotter? IT WRITES ITSELF! Complications arise when Mullins doesn’t tell Ashburn that she doesn’t want to be in the FBI and she wants to stay in Boston and Ashburn assumes it’s because she thinks she’s not good enough for the FBI. All while they’re taking down the real criminals of this country: the banks.
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Super stoked for that Spy sequel starring franchise king Jason Statham, but that’s a topic for another day. Possibly tomorrow.

 

 

 

Only Nerds Left Alive

Okay so I love a good fancast. So much so that I am low-key exploring a career in casting. Imagining different actors in specific roles is one of my favourite pastimes.

In the last episode of season 3 of Silicon Valley, Erlich has a phone conversation with Nelson “Big Head” Bigetti’s father, warning him that if he has “any financial dealings with his son in perpetuity” he will “get very Italian” on him. Which paints quite the picture. Who could be Italian enough to scare Erlich Bachman out of trying to extort more money from Big Head? Let the fancast begin!

First, we must consider the age factor. Josh Brener (who plays Big Head) is 31 years old, but I think the characters on Silicon Valley are supposed to be younger, so let’s say mid-20s at the most. My first thought was Robert De Niro or Martin Scorsese (who already has a relationship with HBO) but they are both well into their 70s. I read a recap of the episode wherein the reviewer posited that Bobby Cannavale would be a good choice, but he’s only 46 and I think maybe too young to be Big Head’s dad.

Ray Liotta
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is 62 and not actually Italian (he was adopted by a nice Italian family) but I can’t think of anyone more associated with violent Italians that isn’t Robert De Niro. And he’s been great in other comedy shows.

Stanley Tucci
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is 55 and fully Italian as well as equally menacing and hilarious. And he’s been known to do small television roles.

Christopher Meloni
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is also 55 and completely terrifying. He’s also done good work in comedy, but there’s no part of me that believes he doesn’t know how to dispose of a body.

Since HBO has the means to hire anyone they want any time, it’s just a matter of who they think best fits the show. I believe any of these guys could do an amazing job. I can’t wait until next April to see if I’m right.

Just Sing It

The other day, I caught a gif of Anna Kendrick correcting Stephen Colbert’s assertion that Pitch Perfect 2 was the most successful musical of all time because, as she explained, it’s not technically a musical as the characters know they’re singing and the music doesn’t move the plot forward. (Honestly, god bless the gif-makers. I get all my news in gifs now. Highly recommended.)

Now, I love musicals. I love a good show-stopper. I love a choreographed dance number. I love a romantic duet. I love a tearful confession song. I love it all. I have two songs from the High School Musical franchise on my iPod. I have both the Original Motion Picture and Original Broadway Cast soundtracks for Rock of Ages. I destroyed a cassette copy of the Grease soundtrack because I listened to it too many times. I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. Twice. But I’m not here to talk about musicals.

Whatever Pitch Perfect 2 is or isn’t (it isn’t a musical, we know that for sure) I think we can all agree it’s a great film with an even greater soundtrack.

Soundtracks are important. A good quality soundtrack will evoke the emotions you felt while watching the film and, hopefully, introduce you to new music. I know my personal music library would be a lot more boring were it not for some of the soundtracks I’ve discovered over the years. I love soundtracks so much, I count them among my favorite genres of music. It goes 60s and 70s folk rock, 80s hair metal, 80s new wave, soundtracks, and Motown. In that order, no substitutions. (I know a lot of you are thinking, “But Lightle, where does Bruce Springsteen fit on that list?” Bruce Springsteen defies genre and he laughs at your need to categorize his music.)

So what do we call a movie with singing that isn’t a musical? I don’t know but I know I love them. More than Oscar bait and bad-good action movies, I love movies about fake musicians. Movies about real bands are hit or miss for me, but a good fake band is cinematic gold. Allow me to present my case with a series of examples.

Almost Famous (2000)almost-famous-4_758_426_81_s_c1Oooh, boy. Almost Famous. This is probably where it all began for me. I was turning 15 the year this movie came out and thanks to Freaks and Geeks and That 70s Show, was well into romanticizing the 70s. This movie has affected me in ways I probably haven’t realized yet. I’m still a little bit in love with Russell (even though both he and Billy Crudup are jerks to women) and will always have a soft spot for Kate Hudson. This is the movie that gave the world Patrick Fugit (what is that dude doing now?) and Zooey Deschanel. This movie had it all. Electrifying concert scenes, Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, an amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman performance, and the sing-along to end all sing-alongs. I don’t think you’ll ever meet anyone my age who won’t belt out the chorus to “Tiny Dancer” on cue. However, Almost Famous isn’t really about the band. Stillwater is great, but this is William and Penny’s story. If you want a movie that’s actually about a band (two bands really, almost three) look no further than…

Rock Star (2001)rock-star-2001-01-gI was pre-destined to love Rock Star. I didn’t have a choice. That choice was taken from me when someone decided to cast Mark Wahlberg and Timothy Olyphant in a movie about a hair metal band. I mentioned earlier how much I love hair metal, remember? Steel Dragon is right up there with Whitesnake and Warrant, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care how “real” they are. “Livin’ the Life” is my jam and I refuse to apologize for my impeccable taste.

Unlike Stillwater, Steel Dragon are extremely famous. So famous, they beget not one but two cover bands who fight about which of them is the most accurate “tribute” band during the opening of the film. Chris (Wahlberg) and Rob (Olyphant) founded Blood Pollution based around Chris’ incredible voice and his compulsive need to copy everything lead singer Bobby Beers does, including piercing his nipples. This leads to tension between Chris and Rob and they get into a fight onstage during a gig. The next day, Rob replaces him as lead singer and Chris storms out of rehearsals. But his luck is about to change…

Rock Star is based on a true-ish story about Judas Priest hiring a complete unknown as their new front man and features a motley crew of genuine musicians (John Bonham’s son Jason!) and exceptional British actors such as Dominic West, Timothy Spall, and Jason Flemyng. Also, the hair. Can’t have hair metal without hair, although Mark Wahlberg was the only actor who grew his own. Many of you (Christa) will remember our Marky Mark from his days as a rapper and those skills do translate. Mark didn’t do his own singing, but the stage presence and the abs were all pure Wahlberg. And still the Academy ignored him. I was genuinely convinced he would be nominated for an Oscar. In fact, his Oscar nom came much later for a much lesser film, which I’m guessing was a consolation for the Academy being so wrong about Rock Star, because it truly is a masterpiece.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)inside-llewyn-davis-oscar-isaac-justin-timberlakeSpeaking of movies that were robbed at the Oscars… Meet Llewyn Davis. Llewyn is a homeless and depressed folk singer living in Greenwich Village in the early 60s. He is also a narcissist and pretty angry that the world hasn’t discovered his genius yet. But he doesn’t know that Bob Dylan is waiting in the wings with his guitar and Llewyn doesn’t stand a chance.

So why is he so angry? We know that he lost his partner, but we don’t know why. I assumed he had left for something bigger and better, which would explain Llewyn’s classic abandonment issues. Later when we find out his partner killed himself, it presents a whole other layer to his anger. He is not dealing with his grief well, which we can see clearly in a scene where he blows up at friends over the mention of his partner’s name and refuses to continue playing for them because that’s how he “pays his rent.” (What rent, Llewyn? You don’t have an apartment.)

Llewyn refuses to join another group, but agrees to perform on a novelty track with Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver to make a few bucks, although his desperation for a quick payday precludes him from collecting royalties on the project. He may be too proud to play in a band, but he ain’t too proud to beg for a couch to sleep on every night, cycling through the last 6 people in New York who will talk to him. One of those people is Carey Mulligan’s Jean, who slept with Llewyn at some point before the film starts, despite being in a relationship with Jim (Timberlake). This leads to one of my all time favorite scenes in the film and cinematic history when they discuss their situation and Llewyn defends himself against Jean’s misdirected anger by saying “Have you ever heard the expression, ‘It takes two to tango’?”  I totally get why she’s angry, though. Having sex you know you shouldn’t be having is all fine and well, as long as it doesn’t lead to real world consequences like it does for Jean. She is, of course, more mad at herself than Llewyn, but isn’t about to admit that to him and she knows he’s so depressed that he’ll accept all the blame anyway. 018-inside-llewyn-davis-theredlistAt the centre of this sorely underrated gem is Oscar Isaac, a household name now, but then, a relative unknown. (I confess: when I saw the trailer my first thought was, “I didn’t know David Krumholtz could play guitar.”) It has been argued (by me, to myself, while thinking about this film, which I spend a lot of time doing) that Mr. Isaac might actually be too talented to play Llewyn. A lifelong singer-songwriter, Mr. Isaac has maintained that music and acting were never separate vocations for him and he always pursued them in tandem.  Llewyn is hard to work with and be friends with and share a car with but, he’s got skills. He’s a brilliant musician and when he sings, my heart stops. Regardless of his attitude offstage, there should be no manager or record label not quick to scoop him up. Unless, of course, Llewyn isn’t as talented as Oscar Isaac and therefore all the performances we see in the film aren’t what the other characters are seeing, but rather, what Llewyn thinks of himself. Or maybe he is just an asshole.

Crazy Heart (2009)009CYT_Colin_Farrell_002Finally, some Oscar recognition. Crazy Heart is classic Oscar bait, and it also happens to be about an alcoholic country singer named Bad Blake. Llewyn Davis may be a dick, but at least he isn’t an alcoholic. Not that he’s doing that much better financially than Llewyn at the start of the film, but at least Blake had a successful career to destroy. Rounding out the cast is Maggie Gyllenhall, who was 32 at the time and therefore still young enough to play Jeff Bridges‘ love interest, who was 60, and Colin Farrell plays his former protege and current rival. Farrell also sings on the soundtrack which is very nice. Most of the songs were written by Ryan Bingham who also appears briefly as a house band member at one of Blake’s gigs. The story is classic ‘underdog trying to redeem himself’ and is only really great because of the performances and the soundtrack. Apparently the Academy agreed because Jeff Bridges won Best Actor for his work and Ryan Bingham won an Oscar for his Best Original Song, “The Weary Kind”.

Remember what I said about soundtracks introducing you to new music? Well, I met one of my favorite bands, The Silent Comedy, through this movie. And I mean actually met after they opened for Ryan Bingham in Vancouver, I bought their CD and a t-shirt. They are very nice and I highly recommend them.

 

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Oh my god, it’s a movie about a woman! At this point, I’m really regretting never watching Country Strong (it’s on my list!) because at least that would help even the scales a little more. Meryl Streep plays the titular Ricki here and she also did her own singing and playing. The Flash is pretty solid, too, featuring Rick Springfield on guitar and as her boyfriend. The story is also a classic redemption tale about Ricki trying to make up for abandoning her family in order to chase her dreams of being a rock star, which is something apparently only men are allowed to do. It was an interesting choice therefore, to have her and the band never really “make it” in “the biz” so to speak. They are the house band at dive bar and that’s all they’ll ever be. In the end, though, her children accept her for the flawed women she is and everyone gets to rock out to an amazing Springsteen cover. Win win win.

Begin Again (2013) and Sing Street (2016)3b22c5a0-df77-0131-bfcf-0eb233c768fbI’m in the minority here with my affection for Begin Again, which I am perfectly fine with. I know it’s saccharine and cheesy and I love it anyway. My only complaints are that James Corden didn’t sing enough and the original version of Kiera Knightly’s song that she plays for Mark Ruffalo isn’t on the soundtrack. The rest is perfection. Even Adam Levine isn’t horrible as a caddish rising star who leaves Knightly and in doing so, inspires her to find her own voice. And if that line made you role your eyes, this is not the film for you. Just move along, ’cause you’ll never be happy. Go watch Once and be pretentious.

Splitting the difference between Once and Begin Again, John Carney also brought us Sing Street, the tale of some lovable lads from Dublin who form a new wave band in the 80s and, I know what you’re thinking, “Lightle, didn’t you say earlier that you love 80s new wave?” You’re damn right I did, and as such, I was pre-determined to love this too.thumbnail_23889
There’s so much right here. The daily struggles of life in Ireland in the 80s, the overbearing Catholicism, the music. The joyous, synth-heavy music. If you liked anything about the 80s, you’ll love this soundtrack. As far as I could tell, the cast did all their own playing and as the lead singer, Connor, Ferdio Walsh-Peelo displayed incredible talent. Connor initially starts a band to get a girl, but it soon becomes his ticket out of Dublin and the only way he knows how to express himself. It’s a classic coming-of-age story that never feels too sentimental or preachy. Obviously the message is “you have to be willing to risk it all if you want to find yourself” but it also features a kid who loves rabbits and it never tries to explains why. Sometimes kids just love rabbits.

The entire cast is tops, but particularly Jack Reynor, who plays the wise, slightly jaded, older brother to the ambitious, swooning Connor. He’s invited comparisons to both Seth Rogen and Chris Pratt which I hope comes true in levels of success as well as levels of attractiveness. Seriously, he’s fit.
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As you can see, this genre, whatever we’re calling it, features some films as rich and diverse as my personal music taste. There’s many more I didn’t have time to mention, such as School of Rock, That Thing You Do!, and The Blues Brothers, but these ones arguably have the best soundtracks. And in the end, it’s all about the music, man.