Celebrities, actors, politicians, actually any one with an ounce of fame and without an ounce of shame seem to always want to get into the glamorous record business. That is as true today as it has been for many, many a decade. And one of the simplest ways to back into a recording career is to release a Christmas record, either novelty or a heartfelt, weepy ditty. But I have to say it’s very odd when a cultural icon steps into these murky waters.
When Cary Grant recorded “Christmas Lullaby” in 1967 it was just a year after he retired from the movie industry, leaving as one of the most popular and respected actors of all time. Obviously, Grant learned a few things from his occasional, and unintentionally amusing, stabs at singing on screen. Check-out his performance as the Mock Turtle in the 1933 Alice in Wonderland, or his attempt with a ballad in Kiss and Make Up, because in 1967 Grant mostly recites “Christmas Lullaby” in that perfectly invented accent of his. He gently whispers to his sleeping daughter the joys she’ll find on Christmas morning, about the time Grant promises that angels will always be there to watch over and bless her he breaks into song … well sort of … I guess it was easier for the former Archie Leach to invent the actor we know as Cary Grant then it is for Cary Grant to invent a singer. But who cares, it’s still Cary Grant! Like Audrey Hepburn’s line in Charade whenshe asks and purrs, "Do you know what's wrong with you? Nothing."
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It's a simple but complicated film about two people who meet in Dublin and begin writing songs together. There's not terribly much plot to it, but I thought it was fantastic. Nothing seems contrived in this movie, it all feels completely real. It truly captured a tone, a beautiful feeling of not only melancholy but also joy and inspiration. There's not much dialogue and most of the communicating actually goes on through the music, which really makes this film different and intriguing.
We had an instore here at Amoeba SF with the film's stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova back in August and I had the chance to meet them (without ever having seen the movie) and discover how fantastic and genuine they truly are. Watching the film last night reminded me of the feeling I had when we met: Once, like Glen and Marketa themselves (and their equally tremendous road manager Howard), kinda grabbed me right away and I could tell everything was going to be great from just a few minutes in.
There's a lot of integrity to the characters in the film. It's a movie about people who are flawed but good hearted, which felt...different from most movies these days. It was a pleasure to watch this film. There aren't a bunch of jump cuts and flashy sets. I enjoyed the fact that the minimal dialogue allowed the viewer to put pieces together and create the story by paying attention. There's no pandering to the audience in this movie, and that's one of its most refreshing details. There's also a hell of a lot of chemistry between the two main characters and it's compelling to watch and become absorbed in. When I finished the movie, I wanted to watch it again right away, which is an unusual feeling!