Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The stars of "Once" make beautiful music together again

If you saw the thoroughly charming little Irish film "Once" three years or so ago, you surely remember the names Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Well, musically at least, they're back together again, and they sound as good as ever as The Swell Season.

Following - or perhaps concurrently with, I'm not sure - their on-screen romance in John Carney's flick, they were an actual couple too, but have since broken up. And be warned: The fact and feeling of that breakup resonates throughout The Swell Season album "Strict Joy," which I bought from the Itunes yesterday (and have listened to at least three times through since then.)

The sadness of it creeps up on you slowly, however. I was so hypnotized on first listen by the sheer beauty of the music (and, though I'm prone to it from time to time, I'm not exaggerating one bit here) that I didn't really notice it at first. In perfect harmony, the two of them explore all kinds of variations within their basic folk music motif, and they all work (and I guarantee you won't be able to get Irglova's rhythmic chant of "you're every now and then on my mind" on the best track, "I Have Loved You Wrong," out of your head for a long time.) And besides, if you spring for the two-disc special edition, you also get a live album featuring all the great tracks from "Once" and more, so how can you go wrong?

And in some kind of odd convergence that I suppose can only be put up to coincidence, rather big news about Carney's next film, his first with any actual Hollywood stars, has dropped today.

Zach Galifianakis and Amy Adams are about to sign on to star in Carney's comedy-drama (or dramedy, I suppose, if you must) "The Town House," based on the debut novel by Tish Cohen.

The story centers on an agoraphobic man (Mr. Galifianakis, I'd have to presume) who lives with his teenage son in a historic Boston townhouse that he inherited from his rock star father. With royalties from his father's work dwindling, the man is forced to come to terms with his life. A call girl (Adams, maybe, which would by force have to be pretty fascinating) strikes up a friendship with the man.

As I was typing all that, I stopped to add the only John Carney movie I could find there to my Netflix queue and moved it to the top of the list (so I'll get it after returning either Lee Daniels' "Shadowboxer" or Guillermo Del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone," since my wallet forced me to drop back to two movies at a time.) It's called "On the Edge" and it stars two of my favorites, Stephen Rea and Cillian Murphy, and I love me some John Carney, so I can't wait to see it.

Except for that today, all I've got is a trio of videos that are varying degrees of fascinating. First up comes a rather extended look (eight scenes and more than 12 minutes) at Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." You get glimpses of Heath Ledger and the three men who replaced him - Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell - and even better, several looks at Tom Waits as Beelzebub himself. Even if this does turn out to be a trainwreck, I'm still thoroughly psyched to see it when it finally drops on Christmas Day and I'm in NYC. Enjoy.

Next up comes the second (I think) trailer for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," and it's of course very heavy on Mr. Depp as the Mad Hatter. I have a feeling that when this finally comes out in March I'm going to be permanently haunted by that gigantic Cheshire Cat head. Enjoy.

Alice in Wonderland - Extended Trailer

And, though I had my doubts, I think I've definitely saved the best for last with the first trailer for Clint Eastwood's "Invictus," which stars Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman (as a certain man you may have heard of known as Nelson Mandela.) I'm always suspicious of Eastwood's movies because he makes everything so obvious, but I adored "Gran Torino," and this looks even better. Judging from this brief look, I'd say he's captured this magical moment in time, and will take home all the Oscars (and more) that he deserves. Enjoy, and have a perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.

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