This weekend marks one year of living in Fayetteville, and while I’m not really in a stock-taking mood, I’ve found myself thinking about moviegoing and place a little this weekend. Sicko still hasn’t reached Fayetteville and probably won’t for at least two more weeks, which means I’ll likely be making a trip to Raleigh, maybe tomorrow. I’ll admit that I’m a little disappointed that a film with such a large built-in audience isn’t playing here by now. Fayetteville is a medium-sized city and Moore has proven that he can open films in a big way. Kind of makes me think that Mark Cuban is on to something with day-and-date releasing. I’m adjusting to living outside of a major cultural center better than I expected, but I also have to think there are better alternatives for providing more access to good, important movies to more people in a timelier fashion. This isn’t quite the same thing as Tama’s very useful concept of “the tyranny of digital distance,” but belated access to some of the movies I want to watch has been a little frustrating.
That being said, if it weren’t for Fayetteville’s one art house theater, the Cameo, I’d probably feel completely lost here. Last night, I did get to watch Once (IMDB), the Irish musical featuring Glenn Hansard and his band the Frames. Hansard plays a Dublin street musician (listed in the credits only as Guy or The Guy) who meets a younger Czech musician (Markéta Irglová), and although The Guy initially brushes her off, she returns, and it becomes clear that she is also a talented musician. The two develop a tentative friendship based on their shared status as outsiders who are passionate about music, and they eventually collaborate to record a few tracks at a recording studio.
I’m no fan of musicals and often find the disruption of a narrative by musical numbers annoying, but Once makes the musical performances work. As Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice writes, “the magic of the movie is how utterly wrenching it renders these songs, which thrive alongside the film’s simple, eloquent, dusky narrative.” And, more than anything, that’s what I liked about the film. It’s passionate about music, about how songs can tell stories, communicate emotions, and help us connect with other people. And as both Wilonsky and A.O. Scott speculate, Once is a film I’ll certainly want to watch again (and for a taste of the music, check out the official website).