Friday, April 24, 2009

My Favorties of "The 00's" - Movie Edition

April 24th, 2009
Friday Morning, 8:15 AM

San Francisco

I am sitting at the corner of Geary and Taylor, the 500 block, having a cup of coffee writing this blog. I love this town. I love the air, the temperature, the characters, the cultures that intertwine, the architecture, the hills and most of all the griminess of the city. San Fran reminds me of New York pre-Rudy. A little beat down in sections, and blossoming in other. More then any other America city, and this includes Rudy's hometown, San Fran reminds me of the US, Europe and Asia all rolled into one. It's a joy to visit here and take it all in. It's 8:15 in the morning and already during a brisk morning walk I heard a trumpeter in the distance and watched a busker playing Dylan's "Visions of Johanna". The city is alive and so am I.

That basker did more then entertain me briefly this morning, he gave me an idea for a blog that I wanted to share. See, it's the end of the decade (already) and it's time to reflect on the 10 years that came and went. Over the course of the next 8 months I will write about my favorite movies, music and moments of "The 00's" (what else to call it?). Hopefully some of these moments in entertainment and pop culture will be new to you and you will want seek them out.

Today I will start with a combination of both music and movies. Today I will write about the best musical I watched this decade, and believe me, I am not a fan of musicals. See, this one is a little different. In this one there are no dancing bears or songs about steamboats in the south or songs about Jets and Sharks. This one is about a basker and a pianist immigrant, the music they create and the chemistry they share and it is about those moments in time that give you clarity and most importantly give you hope and the drive to push on. I start my favorite list with the movie Once (2006).

For me Once was one of those movie experiences that simply moved me. I sat there for two hour enjoying every moment and effortless word of the film. I remember the day I watched Once fondly. I remember coming out of the theater to a beautiful May day, with the sun raging as my eyes adjusted to the contrast of dark and light, I inhaled the fresh air of the city street and smiled. I left the theater knowing that the movie and its music would be with me for the rest of my life. Once was the perfect example of those great movie experiences which force you to recall the person you saw it with, the time of year it was and why you even went to that movie in the first place.

In a nutshell, Once is a little parable of friendship and chemistry and choices and music all set in present day Dublin, Ireland. It is the story of a Dublin basker and a Czech immigrant that share a piece of time together. They share their past and inspire each other to focus on the best possible future, together or alone. The centerpiece of the movie and the "gotcha" moment that hooks into you, is an organic scene at a music store. The Girl (the movie never give the main character names adding mystery to the moments) is a classically trained pianist that comes to this shop from time to time to play and practice. The shop keep likes her playing and welcomes her back with a smile. The Guy, the basker with guitar in hand, leads her in a song he recently composed. They play it together for the first time, with himself coaching her during the song and a little something happens along the way. They feel it as much as we do and the chemistry is undeniable. The moment is pure cinematic gold. It is right up there with Fred and Ginger dancing or Elliott and ET talking or Ray Kinsella and his Dad having a catch. It is a "goosebumps" moment and one that reminds you how much fun the movies can be.

That moment at the piano won them an Oscar for the song they performed, Falling Slowly.

From there we spend a week with the two characters, watching as they become friends (and maybe even more), we hear them share stories about past loves and we listen to them make a demo tape that could change both of their lives. Guy lost his love and Girl lost her love and they find each other in the love of music. For a piece of time they share something only the two of them can. It is intense and whimsical. Will it last forever? You will have to watch to find that out. The final scene/shot is one of the simplest and most rewarding I remember from the decade.

I personally shared that movie with a friend that I do not speak with anymore. One of those friendships that serve a defining purpose in life, but end up crashing and burning due to the intensity of the chemistry and external circumstances. The relationship of Guy and Girl will always remind me of my relationship with the friend that I saw Once with. Our friendship was a vessel that took us from one part of life to another, a conduit to understanding ourselves and our future. Like Guy and Girl, there was wonderful music made (those moments at the piano), there was fear and doubt, the past which clung to us and there was an ending where one was at an airport and one was looking out the window thinking about the gift that the friends gave to each other.

For me and my list, when Guy and Girl are sitting at the piano singing about “sinking boats, home and time” it became one of the defining moments in cinema from this past decade, right up there with the first time we meet Heath Ledger's Joker and his pencil trick in The Dark Knight, or the time when it seems to take 20 Boston Police Officers to hold down Sean Penn after he finds out that his daughter was murdered in Mystic River or the time we spend with Clive Owen and Julianne Moore in the car during Children of Men, or the time we see Leo and Jack lock insane eyes with the Dropkick Murphy's playing in the background of The Departed, or the time Julie Delpy attempts to seduce Ethan Hawke in her Paris apartment 10 years after Vienna in Before Sunset or the time Daniel Plainview finds oil and pretends to find God in There Will Be Blood or that time I sat in the theater thinking that “God Only Knows” would fit perfectly at the end of Love Actually and it "actually" starts right on cue. (I know Love Actually?. My only defense is that I was in a pretty severe post first baby, post 9/11 haze of fear and hope and Christmas. Couple that with British shmaltz, my favorite song of all time, and you have a movie moment for me.) But who cares, it's the movies. They are all there waiting to take us away from it all, sharing them in the communal church of pop culture & art, and the good ones force us to feel, react and live.

What are your favorite movie moment of The 00's?

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