the Change I Wish to See

...and whatever else it takes to find my pants



I saw "Once" today. And it was brilliant.

I took some good advice and stuffed it in my bag before I left the house. It's now back in its auto-mailer, peeking out of my vest's pocket and I don't want to let it go.

I watched it squirreled away in the basement of our law library, holed up in the smallest "conference room" you've ever seen (that I had reserved to "study"). And then I went on vacation. I didn't read a thing. I stopped kicking myself for not having a paper topic (when I actually need 3). I forgot I had a phone that at any given moment could simultaneously alert me I had an email, a text message, a voicemail, a call, a Facebook wall post, and a class in three hours. Well I almost forgot. Actually, I was really, really aware of it because I'm constantly worried that I'm going to break, lose or be separated from it in a questionably legal manner. But I forgot about the symbolism of it.

Right: this was supposed to be about "Once," not OCD.

The characters didn't have names. Even the credits introduced them as "guy" and "girl." When you're standing in a room across from someone who's completely naked, the name is the last to matter. And both guy and girl, especially guy, were completely bared. At times, I shielded my eyes, embarrassed by how starkly human and familiar they were. I watched them unfold and had to avert my eyes out of my own sense of shame.

And all of my suspicions were wrong. I saw the trailer months ago and cringed at the idea of yet another film driven by songs with as much crowd appeal as a Paris Hilton performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (i.e., 'and the home... of the brave... that's hot'). I just can't understand why people think you can make movies revolve around song-centerpieces that aren't written by great songwriters; as if being in a film excuses a song from being able to stand on its own. But every, single, one of these songs is memorable. Every, single, one (even the conversations he plays in the back of the bus, realizing it's often easier to sing because it sounds like a different voice).

My vacation is over. I should've been back at work a long time ago. But this movie was just so authentic. I watched the special features (not the deleted scenes, the commentary). The director and leads reveal that people are so convinced the story is real they stop them, convinced they had watched a documentary, and ask what happened next. And what do you say about fiction that couldn't possibly be?

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