Sing Street

635959007554169952-DAY-17-web-12Every so often, a movie comes along that is so uplifting and inspiring, we — the audience — leave the theater grinning from ear-to-ear, feeling a kinship with our fellow moviegoers because of what we’ve all just shared. Sing Street is that movie.

It is the quintessential coming of age tale of a young man, the girl he digs, and the music that moves him. When Conor — played by the delightful new kid on the block, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo — is faced with the challenge of starting at a new school and dealing with the turmoil of a less than ideal home life, he finds happy distraction in aspiring model, Raphina (Lucy Boynton).

To win the affections of this bewitching babe, Conor asks her to be in a music video his band is shooting. Conor doesn’t have a band. Conor is a cheeky, brazen fella who we could all learn a thing or two from.

Determined to birth a band in a hurry, Conor and his cute-as-a-button, hard-as-nails buddy turned band manager, Darren (Ben Carolan, who is all red curls and braces and 1000% adorable) get right to work. Darren introduces Conor to his bunny-loving musician friend, Eamon (Mark McKenna) — who is the player of all instruments in existence.

Things get off to a bit of a rocky start, but Conor’s ever-so-cool big brother, Brendan (Chris Pratt doppelganger, Jack Reynor), sees his younger brother’s immense potential and does everything he can to encourage and support Conor, who is able to bring the outfit together fairly seamlessly.

1980s Ireland wasn’t the most progressive place when it came to new music and what was hot at the moment, but Conor & Co. are a persistent lot. Their songs and music videos are gritty and rough around the edges, but endearing and incredibly catchy. Much like the works of Duran Duran, A-HA, The Cure, The Clash, and Hall & Oates, to name a few.

I am unabashedly enamored with everything about this movie and I had the very good fortune of being present for a Q&A with Writer/Director John Carney, that darling Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and actual jack-of-all-trades Mark McKenna.

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Sorry for the poor photo quality. Left to right: Event Coordinator Steve Prokopy, Walsh-Peelo, McKenna, Carney

Carney has an affinity for bringing music to the big screen as seen previously in his films Begin Again and Once. In fact, Carney teamed up with Gary Clark to write Sing Street’s original tunes. The songs mimic the music of the decade but utilize their own unique voice to give the makeshift band, aptly named Sing Street, a toe-tapping, addictingly innocent vibe that works almost too well. Hell, I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since I saw the movie days ago.

Ferdia spoke about his two older brothers with whom he’s quite close. Both of them are musicians and, much like his older brother in the movie, inspire him to pursue music if that’s his passion. His mother is a singer as well, so it really runs in the family. He mentioned that before Sing Street, the itch to act was never something he had. Since Sing Street, he says he’s been bitten by the acting bug and thank goodness! He’s quite good!

McKenna’s character isn’t much of a departure from his natural demeanor off-screen. He’s a bit soft-spoken, but it turns out he really does play all of the instruments he played in the movie and then some!

The real treat of the night, outside of dancing in my seat throughout the whole show, was a short musical performance of a couple of the original songs from the film by Walsh-Peelo and McKenna!

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Again, not great quality, but McKenna is to the left and Walsh-Peelo on the right.

The message of this movie is one that makes me giddy and hopeful. To quote lyrics from the original song Drive It Like You Stole It, “This is your life, you can go anywhere, you gotta grab the wheel and own it, and drive it like you stole it.”

Go see this movie. It’s funny and touching, witty and bold. It’ll take you through a full range of emotions but it’ll never leave you hanging. The performances are sublime. The kind that not only make you believe in the characters, but become emotionally invested in their adventure. It’s perfection top to bottom.

John Carney, if you’re reading this, please keep doing what you do. It’s magic.

 

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MEG

megcoverI’ve always said that if I were ever on the receiving end of an unprecedented windfall and suddenly in possession of unlimited disposable monies, I would hire a film crew, an experienced sea captain, and two of my favorite comedians — John Mulaney and Mike Birbiglia — to dress up as Chief Brody and Matt Hooper of the Oceanographic Institute, respectively. I would be Quint, obviously.

We would be the Jaws tribute dream team.

The nature of the expedition would be to find proof that Megalodons are not extinct. The sea captain will be there to make sure that we don’t die. Because we would definitely die if it were just the three of us. John and Mike will be there to make me laugh when we inevitably go down anyway and get eaten by regular sharks.

What’s the point of any of this? Well, it just so happens that The Transporter himself — Jason Statham — will be starring in a feature-length adaptation of MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. There were rumors that Eli Roth would be directing this little gem, but it turns out that it’s actually going to be Jon Turteltaub. You know, the guy who directed Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping, and those darling National Treasure movies. Maybe he can kiss his own lucky egg and this movie won’t flop harder than P.J. Hairston.

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For his part, Statham — who is the only cast member on the bill at this point — will be playing the book’s title character Jonas Taylor. Taylor is a deep-sea submersible pilot who discovers a mammoth shark — once believed to be extinct — while exploring the Mariana Trench.

It’s such a cool concept! Being the shark enthusiast that I am, I breezed through the book and I’ve gotta say, it is not good. Unfortunately there isn’t much information available regarding this film yet, but I promise you that I’ll keep an ear to the ground so that you don’t have to potentially sully your browser history.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Green Room

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When punk rock band The Ain’t Rights hits hard times, they’ll go just about anywhere for their next paying gig. Unfortunately, anywhere happens to be a rundown, beat up, hellpit of a bar out in the sticks of Oregon.

After playing to a crowd of swastika-sporting neo-Nazis, Pat (Yelchin), Sam (Shawkat), Reece (Cole), and Tiger (Turner) make for a hasty exit when they’re held up by a macabre discovery; a woman has been murdered in the titular Green Room. And by murdered I mean she’s got a goddamn knife in her head. It’s awful. Just awful. When it becomes clear that escape isn’t an option, a chaotic scene erupts. Within the maelstrom, the clarity of the sad state of affairs crystallizes, forcing the terrified Ain’t Rights to make some nearly impossible decisions.

Doing the unthinkable comes a bit more easily when faced with your own probable demise. Relying on the help of a stranger by the name of Amber (Poots) — who also happens to be a friend of the slain woman — the group must determine who they can trust, if anyone.

Throughout the rest of this white-knuckle, gasp-out-loud, grab-your-barf-bucket, pass-the-Xanax, and so on and so forth thrill ride, the band must keep their wits about them to escape the clutches of Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself — Patrick Stewart — who plays the curator of this fine establishment, Darcy, and his evil henchmen.

Never in one statement have I ever hyphenated so much. I’m hyphen-ventilating.

I’m sorry. I’ll show myself out.

Green Room is being widely regarded as a horror film, but I was lucky enough to participate in a Q&A with the film’s Writer and Director, Jeremy Saulnier who shed some light on that very thing. His take on the whole thing is that the movie is definitely a thriller, but more than anything, it’s a film about war. Which, if you see it, makes total sense. I think it’s that creepy-ass cover of “Bad Moon Rising” in the trailer that gives the indication that it’s a horror movie. And any flick in which people are dying in large numbers often gets pegged in that category. That’s one of the coolest things about Green Room; it’s definitely not what you expect.

Saulnier spoke about his own youth. Growing up, he listened almost exclusively to punk rock cassettes on his Walkman. As someone who used to spend more time than I’d like to admit at shows where people sported clothing held together by safety pins and wore poorly constructed mohawks held up mostly by Elmer’s Glue, I don’t necessarily share his love of this music. That said, I totally get why people dig it.

I’ve never been in a mosh pit and thought, “This is where I belong,” and to see Saulnier — a mild-mannered guy — at least in a Q&A setting — regaling us with tales of his youth and participation in that scene, I guess it really does take all kinds.

In the same vein as what 10 Cloverfield Lane did with John Goodman, Green Room made Patrick Stewart into one of the scariest MFs I’ve ever seen. Saulnier spoke on that as well. He said, and I quote, “We didn’t pick Patrick Stewart. Patrick Stewart picked us. And we were like, ‘Okay! … Great!’ and our minds were just blown.” He talked about working with a man who has such a legacy in film and television. How he thought this guy would come on set and you would be warned about looking him in the eye, but not surprising to me at all, he said that wasn’t the case in the slightest.

While it may not be a horror movie, it is nightmare-ish, but in a much different way than your classic slasher flicks. Without giving too much away, Green Room is packed with stellar performances. Anton Yelchin is a superstar. That kid’s going places. He is wildly and effortlessly talented. Poots is just so cool, too. She’s like the girl in high school who never really fit into any one clique, but everybody thought she was awesome and kinda scary. Solid cast, superb job done by all.

Green Room comes out in select theaters on April 15th and in wide release April 22nd. Expertly crafted and seamlessly executed, the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It is funny and stressful and loud af.

Maybe my favorite part of the screening I attended was telling Saulnier that I watched his movie with my eyes and ears covered nearly the entire time. He was flattered.