Well, Steph and I just watched bits and pieces of the movie "Once" again (this time with the subtitles on), and I've been listening to the soundtrack non-stop for the past couple days, and Steph said I should write a quick blog update to let all of you know our opinions now that we've really had time to let the film sink in. We definitely don't hate the movie, and we both love the music. I think we were just expecting something different from the film, based on such great reviews that the movie had gotten from a bunch of you. And not that 'unexpected' always equals 'bad' for a film, but Steph and I are both big fans of a strong story, and this film may have a lot of things, but it really doesn't have a strong story.
So the moral of the story is: I like it more than Steph, we're both glad that we saw it, and we were intrigued enough to watch most of it just now for a second time. I'm still not exactly sure how I feel toward it, and it definitely didn't blow me away in the same way it seems like it blew some others, but like I said, I'm definitely glad I saw it and the music is great.
A couple overly-specific points that you probably won't care about, especially if you haven't seen it yet:
1. What a great musical end to the movie, returning to the first song that Guy and Girl originally sang together, but as she looks out the window it swells into a slightly different arrangement with gorgeous strings! Great!
2. The soundtrack that Dave loaned me has a couple secret tracks that are remakes of Van Morrison tunes- AWESOME!
3. Did anyone else think it was fishy how quickly Girl caught on to the structure and melody of the song that she and Guy first sang together? I know I'm not the single greatest musician or singer in the whole world, but I feel like I understand enough to say that you can't perfectly guess every note of a melody well enough to nail your harmony the first time you try it. And there are some weird pauses in between parts of the song that she guesses perfectly, that I wouldn't have understood myself without some explanation.
4. One other critical point: Feel free to make a movie with a way excessive amount of music in it, so that maybe it even sort of feels like you're watching a long music video punctuated with brief bits of dialogue. (Especially if the music's so good.) And feel free to include entried songs when maybe it would be okay to edit some of them down a little. But please don't show me a band recording an entire song in the studio, followed by a musical montage of the band riding in a car and playing frisbee on the beach, with the same exact song playing again over the montage. Maybe I'm being too critical, but it seemed like a weird decision, especially since I was a little taken aback at the amount of overall music.


  1. j.ro on February 13, 2008 at 6:37 AM

    only a musician could right a review like that. it made me think of things i didn't notice.

    we just watched the film last night and i was surprised that i liked it, especially after the first smith review and knowing that I'm a sucker for the guy/girl hookup "happy" ending.

    Maybe knowing that wasn't going to happen helped me out. (I still had tears in my eyes at the end, but more b/c I had the feeling of that was a pure, beautiful moment).

    beyond the music (and broken hearted hoover sucker man being a laugh out loud moment for me) i just appreciated the realness of it w/o it being overly sexual or emotional. there was a simple quality to it that made it somewhat refreshing.

    anyhow that's my take! fun discussion/reviews!

  2. Bob Thompson on February 13, 2008 at 7:32 AM

    Smitty: Kudos on loving the music.

    About the Girl knowing the melody off the bat: he showed her the melody for all three parts before even starting the song, and she has the words right in front of her. Not too hard for a musician like you or I to do.

    You may have a point of playing "When Your Mind's Made Up" twice in the span of 4 minutes, but frankly, I didn't care because it's an amazingly normal-sounding song in 5/4. Hard to do.

    Glad you don't hate it (I thought you might after your last post). Hope all is well!

  3. slivengo on February 13, 2008 at 7:38 AM

    Wow.....I didn't have time to read through the whole review - but this just shows how much ya'll care about the story line in a movie. Ha. It reminds me of the time Erin & Kat insisted we watch the movie Hardball on the bus trip to Florida - you both kept yelling "NO WAY - IT'S TERRIBLE!" You were both so passionate about how terrible that movie is. Guess the storyline was subpar. :) Fun little memory. :) Hope you guys are doing great! Avery is getting so big! She is beautiful!

  4. j.ro on February 13, 2008 at 7:42 AM

    okay, just had a run and had to think more about why i had tears in my eyes at the end. so here is my addendum:

    i think the feeling she did the right thing (one by not going to his place that night; two by not following him to london; three by contacting her husband) even though it wasn't what her heart wanted at that moment.

    she sacrificed her feelings for the greater good of reuniting with her husband (who she did at least have love for in her heart at one time) and giving her daughter a dad. had they not shown the dad at the end interested in Girl playing the piano and loving on his daughter it wouldn't have felt so beautifully sacrificial.

    I think knowing that we all have those times when we're faced with giving of ourselves for the greater good is what made that so real and beautiful to me.

    i mean wasn't their friendship so beautiful for a time?

    can you tell the "beauty" of it resonates with me. Can't say the work beautiful enough :o)

    can you also tell that i don't often take the time to think deeply about things, so this was actually kind of fun for me ;o)

    there ya go! gotta love me filling your blog with mega comments!

  5. sarah b on February 13, 2008 at 10:51 AM

    Avery's growing up!! Here are some reasons I liked Once:
    1. The girl didn't die at the end.
    2. Neither did the guy.
    3. The girl sacrificed her desire to stay with the guy so that she could try to work things out with her husband.
    3.5. It seemed real.
    4. Part of the reason that they were attracted to one another (I think) was the beautiful music they created together, and I can definitely relate to that.
    5. Neither of them are actors.
    6. The music was very very inspiring (and I'm not really easily inspired by movies). I decided to record a CD for my dad of me playing flute.

    Thanks for posting; this was fun to read!

  6. sarah b on February 13, 2008 at 10:52 AM

    P.S. Steph, I saw that you were reading The Higher Power of Lucky, and I started it and kinda lost interest. Is it worth reading? Did you like it? (I read The Phantom Tollbooth this month, and it was GREAT...if you haven't read it, you should check it out for sure.)