Thursday, June 28, 2007


Written and Directed by Brad Bird

Gusteau: If you focus on what you’ve left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead.

Rats are a hard sell. They’re filthy little rodents with fierce, ugly teeth that scurry across your feet when you aren’t expecting anything, dragging their long, scaly tails behind them and sending those they cross into squeals of fear. Rats in a kitchen comedy are arguably an impossible sell. If you don’t like rats to begin with, you certainly don’t want them anywhere near your food. Yet here we are smack in the middle of the premise for the near infallible Pixar’s latest summer crowd pleaser, RATATOUILLE. Separated from his rat colony, Remy (voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt), finds himself accidentally putting his culinary talents to good use in what was once one of Paris’ most prestigious kitchens, earning him rave reviews. Of course a rat can’t take credit for fine food preparation so he forms an unlikely friendship with a gangly, awkward fellow by the name of Linguini (Lou Romano), who serves as his front. Together they bring new life to an aging restaurant and inspire each other to be better than they believe themselves to be. The folks at Pixar might have been sniffing too many expensive cheeses when they concocted this mousecapade but they may also be the only people out there who could have pulled it off. Only, under the writing and direction of Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES), they didn’t just pull it off; RATATOUILLE is a masterwork in the field of animated filmmaking, deliciously reaching heights that no rat has ever reached before.

Remy is no ordinary rat. He has a gift, a gift that is being squandered at home. He understands the complicated calibration of cooking. He knows the spice for every occasion yet his overbearing father (Brian Dennehy) uses his heightened senses as a tool to sniff out rat poison amongst the garbage. Like so many of us born into situations that do not lead instantly to fame and fortune, Remy is destined for greatness but has yet to be discovered. Not only does he need to win over the hearts and stomachs of notoriously finicky food critics (like the one voiced so delectably by Peter O’Toole) but he must also win over the potentially lost appetites of modest movie goers who may not want rats with the their popcorn. Bird’s animators studied the bahavior of rats extensively and felt it would be best to have the rats walk about like humans, on two feet, in an effort to appear more likeable. Bird refused. He wanted the rats to act like rats. He wanted their ideals to win us over. When trapped in a jar early on in the film, it is Remy’s charm that gets him set free. There is an earnestness, a yearning, a hope seen deep in his pleading eyes that reminds us just how often we find ourselves trapped in jars by people bent on keeping us down. Besides, aren’t we all just rats in the race?

Like Remy, Bird and his Pixar cohorts know to add a sprinkling of depth to their dishes and that presentation is key. RATATOUILLE raises the Pixar standard of beauty to new levels while seasoning the whole with hints of meaning that are only completely realized once they hit your palette. Pixar’s Paris is a foggy riverside with scattered street lamps at one moment and a string of window lights and fountains the next. While it is romantically distracting, it is nowhere near as chaotic as the view from two inches above the floor. Rats scamper and the camera follows as Remy swerves in and out of kitchen crevasses and sewers (always sure to wash his hands before touching the food). The fluidity of the movement through such luscious colour is hypnotic and magical, simply what one would expect from the city of love. Somewhere tucked away in this city is a tiny one-bedroom apartment the size of a storage space known as not much but still home to Linguini. The friendship formed between the man and his rat is unlikely, yes, but it anchors the film with its humbling mutual appreciation. They learn to rely on each other without forgetting how to contribute the most vital parts of themselves. Theirs is a friendship so powerful and so respectful that it changes the minds and hearts of the naysayers who play witness to it, including those sitting comfortably in front of the screen.

“Anyone can cook.” These are the words of Chef Gousteau, Remy’s inspiration and hero, that run throughout RATATOUILLE. Cooking can be interpreted as anything and therefore anyone can do anything they want. Just look at Remy, a rat with an impossible dream that comes true despite every odd and thanks to hard work (and a dash of fate). Better yet, just look at Pixar. By not simply following the recipe but rather using inspired, unusual ingredients, they have managed to make a mesmerizing masterpiece that is astonishing, endearing and about a rat.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Written and Directed by Michael Moore

Tony Benn: If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.

Years ago, Michael Moore set out to produce a documentary about the American health care system and how that affects both those with and without insurance. In 1999 though, the Columbine shootings redirected his focus towards gun control and teenage violence. The health care project was put on hold and BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE was made and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Hollywood had found a new spokesman and Moore rode that wave for as long as he could. He was about to return to the health care project when the war in Iraq began. Again, Moore felt his efforts would be better put to use elsewhere. FARENHEIT 9/11, part expository documentary, part slander campaign to ensure George W. Bush would not be re-elected, became the highest grossing documentary of all time. He may have had notoriety like he had never known but he also had an increasing number of angry detractors. Moore’s success was inflating his ego and that ego was taking up more screen time than the subject matter itself in his films. Well, Mr. Moore has heard your complaints and has redirected his focus once again by removing it from himself and placing it back on the subject. Eight years after its original conception, Moore is finally ready to give us SICKO.

While Moore’s mug does still find its way into the action and his voice guides us along our tour of the world’s hospital waiting rooms, he is less invasive and more sympathetic in SICKO. In fact, we don’t even see him for the first third of the piece. Instead, real people with real horror stories of disappointment and struggle put a face to the bureaucracy. Having no insurance, Rick must make a decision between reattaching his middle finger ($60,000) or his ring finger ($12,000) after the tips are sliced off in a buzz saw accident as he cannot afford both. In her 50’s, Donna is forced to move in to her daughter’s storage room with her husband because their medical bills have far exceeded what their insurance will cover. The American people already know that their health care system does not work for everyone so SICKO ensures that people know the desperate realities of those that are left behind. Moore makes sure to get all his pills in a line by giving historical context to the deterioration of provided health care and establishes profit as the unsurprising devil. There have been so many stories of death and unnecessary suffering by this point in the film that the tears come naturally when you see the livelihood of real people being cast aside for profit expansion.

Yet through the tears, there is laughter to be had in SICKO and most of it is directed at Moore himself, as an American representative. Moore leaves the USA to explore whether socialized health care is as poor and pathetic as the American media and American Medical Association would have you believe. In Canada, he meets a hockey player who sliced several fingers off while playing and didn’t have to choose between having any one in particular reattached nor did he have to pay a cent for the operation. In England, he meets with a doctor who still earns a strong six-figure salary that affords him an Audi and a million-dollar home despite the government signing his checks. In France, he meets with a group of Americans who have relocated to France and are now enjoying social health benefits like 24-hour medical service that comes to your door. Moore seems as if in a constant state of shock and awe as he asks patients leaving hospitals what their bills cost. The response is always nothing but not before they have a good laugh at how ridiculous his question is.

When the initial urge to laugh has run its route, SICKO reminds us that we are laughing at how dire this situation has become. How else can one describe it when homeless patients, clearly without insurance, are dumped in front of shelters after being forced out of a hospital and forced into a cab? Moore still can’t resist a cheeky, sarcastic turn but his filmmaking is maturing. While past efforts struggled to maintain their objectivity, feeling at times like one man’s personal vendetta against the powers that be, SICKO is more like a rallying of the people, exposing many Americans’ selfish motivations to look out for themselves above all else as their ugliest problem. Instead of yelling incessantly at the Bush administration and the corporations that pull the strings, all Moore seems to be concerned with is how the American population is still allowing for a world where the weakest among them is left to die in the streets.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Written by John Orloff
Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Mariane Pearl: This film is for our son so he knows his father was an ordinary man, an ordinary hero.

Telling the truth is generally considered to be the first step on the path to righteousness. It brings redemption to some and relieves the guilt of others. Many people have a hard time accepting the truth when faced with it. That difficulty in dealing is perhaps the main reason some run far away from the truth altogether. Given how troubling facing the truth can be in everyday reality, being subjected to it in celluloid on the big screen is a very hard sell. This is even more relevant when the film in question is based on an event that was played out to the point of emotional exhaustion in the media. (Just ask the producers of UNITED 93.) This is the plight of A MIGHTY HEART, an adaptation of Mariane Pearl’s novel of the same name, about her experiences during the search for her kidnapped husband, Daniel Pearl, in the winter of 2002. For director Michael Winterbottom, this is only the beginning though. Assuming he manages to get people to see the film, (casting Angelina Jolie in the role or Marian Pearl certainly doesn‘t hurt the film’s chances), Winterbottom must then get people to forget that they know how it’s all going to end.

Winterbottom is too smart to go against the grain. Instead, he uses the audience’s prior knowledge of the story to incite an even deeper emotional reaction. He begins by establishing his style. A MIGHTY HEART is not a documentary but rather a fictionalized reenactment of actual events that is shot and edited like a documentary. There are no talking heads but the camera is an active participant in the drama that unfolds. Hand-held movement, jump cuts and an omnipresent observer’s point of view lend realism to the film’s already tense premise. For those who aren’t aware, Jewish-American journalist, Daniel Pearl (played here by CAPOTE scribe, Dan Futterman) was kidnapped in Pakistan in January of 2002. The violent act became an international scandal as the group that claimed responsibility for the crime demanded the liberation of prisoners from American detainee prison, Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. The American government does not give in to the terrorists’ demands. It doesn’t end well. The film focuses on the efforts made by Mariane, the Pakistani police, the C.I.A. and the journalistic community throughout the search for Daniel. Knowing Daniel doesn’t live through the ordeal and that this search is fruitless may leave the audience without hope but the dedication and fervor with which the case is attacked carries enough hope to inspire an overwhelming sympathy that sinks our hearts when what we know is coming actually comes.

A blustering soundscape and tightly framed street and crowd shots elevate stress levels to unimagined heights. Mariane is alone in a foreign country, searching for the most important person in her life. Knowing the odds are against her, holding on to hope becomes all the more complicated when she is surrounded by strangers, traffic and the sounds of incessant honking, cell phones and random farm animals. The chaos is absolutely inescapable. Yet still, Mariane must remain calm. After all, she is the heart of this operation. If her heart fails, all hope is lost and all efforts will fall apart. Jolie exhibits both outer strength and inner fragility at the same time as Mariane. She is direct and focused in face of this horrific reality, holding it together for Daniel, herself and her unborn child but Jolie’s distant eyes and suddenly fidgeted demeanor suggest just how difficult maintaining all this composure truly is. Being a journalist herself, Mariane’s most endearing quality is perhaps her ability to remain hopeful in spite of all the horror she has known in her own career without coming across as naïve. Jolie’s balancing act upon such a tightly wound rope is truly genuine in both its intention and execution.

Any movie entitled A MIGHTY HEART cannot spend all its time entrenched in fact. After all, there is a delicate, growing love between Daniel and Mariane that is also being held prisoner. This love though cannot be held captive and gives life to hope. Their love comes back to Mariane in flashes throughout her suffering. Insignificant moments like the last time they saw each other take on new meanings, making the loss feel larger while still reminding her what she is fighting to find. The truth behind A MIGHTY HEART is that it takes one to live through something like this and, more importantly, live past it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Written by Lisa Addario, Christian Darren, Don Rhymner and Joe Syracuse
Directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Filmmaker: Do you have any other talents?
Cody Maverick: What? You mean like singing and dancing? Nah, man, I just surf.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me some penguin. Of course, I am referring to the line of clothing and not the waddling bird. Regardless, I too fell in love with the emperor penguins along with the rest of the world a couple of years back when THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS swept the summer documentary box office. That was the same summer the mischievous animated penguins of MADAGASCAR had people begging for more (which they were unfortunately given months later with the dreadfully drab short, A CHRISTMAS CAPER). Penguins were all the rage. After winning the Best Documentary OSCAR, the penguin love only continued to grow with the holiday hit, HAPPY FEET. The premise there, after essentially crafting an animated reenactment of the mating ritual outlined in the aforementioned documentary, penguins sing to express themselves while one dances instead (see above quote for cheeky acknowledgement). HAPPY FEET was a big success and went on to a surprising win for Best Animated Feature at last year’s Academy Awards. And so the trend continues with another animated feature about penguins, SURF’S UP. Only now it may seem the public is growing weary of these tuxed-up birds. Perhaps there is only so much penguin love to go around. It’s a shame really because SURF’S UP may be the best of the (animated) bunch.

To differentiate itself from all the previous penguin fare, SURF’S UP, is constructed as a mockumentary. To capture an on-the-cuff style, a special motion capture camera system was mounted to an old Sony video camera to give the illusion that the movie was shot with a hand-held camera. Factor in jump cuts and film scratches from different stocks and you have a style that is both authentic and dynamic. A film crew (voiced by the actual directors, Ash Brannon and Chris Buck) has decided to follow an aspiring surfer by the name of Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) on his journey that begins at his humble home in Shiverpool to the Penguin World Surfing Championship. With blizzards gusting in the background at home and forestry looking lush and wet at the championship, SURF’S UP uses nature to not only establish its fish-out-of-water story but to wow its audience. The beauty of the animation itself is enough to make SURF’S UP a serious contender come award season when the waves of praise come crashing ashore.

Set amidst these beautiful backdrops is a bevy of lovable, genuinely hilarious characters. What is perhaps the film’s strongest achievement is the spontaneity it creates in a style that is so meticulously designed and planned. The penguins sincerely seem as if they are on camera. They are both uncomfortable and candid. At home, Cody is surrounded by his doting, doubtful mother (Dana Belben) and oversized, pesky brother (Brian Posehn). The tension in this family is palpable and unnervingly funny. En route to the competition, Cody comes into contact with talent scout, Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), whose neurosis run through his head almost as fast as his little bird legs run on land and an oddball surfer/rooster named Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), who is as laid back (read potentially stoned) as one would expect a surfer to be. Cody is taken under wing by a former surfer named Geek (Jeff Bridges) once at the competition and their playful interactions keep your gliding through to the finals. SURF’S UP packs in more unexpected laughs than one would expect and the fact that they are unexpected is what makes it so incredible.

SURF’S UP also makes sure to bang home an important lesson for the kids. After all, this is a summer family film and there needs to be a lesson learned. Cody learns a number of things along his way but they all amount to understanding a thing or two about patience. “Winning isn’t everything” and “There are more important things to life than winning” make appearances but what is most important is the philosophy that will help Cody win out overall. Stop fighting and learn to ride the wave. It is a lesson that even the filmmakers should have heeded as there are times when the imposing hand of the powers that be can be felt in the film’s construction to ensure it is as marketable as possible. Oddly placed soundtrack choices and shots that could not have been caught by documentary filmmakers undermine the credibility of the mockumentary but hardly take away from the fun to be had. SURF’S UP will surprise you, crack you up and leave you wanting to catch the wave again and again.

The only question left to answer is whether polar bears will be over saturating the marketplace after the people who brought you THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS bring you AN ARCTIC TALE later this summer.


Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Turk Malloy: Is it in yet?
Virgil Malloy: I hate that question.

I am a member of minority group. This group is made up of a small number of people who actually enjoyed OCEAN’S 12. Sure it was somewhat unbelievable and occasionally ridiculous but it kept a good groove on while filling the screen with some slick style. The boys all looked like they were having a good time, perhaps too good a time. Maybe audiences felt like they had taken it all too far; that the Ocean gang was having fun without them. And so, a director and a cast who generally don’t seem to pay much heed to appeasing the masses, have returned to the original scene of the crime, Las Vegas, for their third and final caper in OCEAN’S 13. The main goal for this reunion is to make up for their supposed misfire last time out and every possible effort to do so is made diligently. With the exception of Julia Roberts, the original players have all returned. From Clooney to Pitt to Damon to Affleck (no, not that one, the younger one), the stars are all out. Even Al Pacino has come on board to lend more weight to this already heavy load. And with Mr. Style himself, Steven Soderbergh, at the helm, the dream is kept alive. So why then, with every element so perfectly placed, has the fun disappeared almost entirely?

Perhaps perfection is part of the problem. The Ocean gang is a smart bunch, crafty fellas. They are also often prone to making mistakes. The situations they find themselves in stem from their own decisions and almost always lead them to the brink of unraveling. The cracks they need to squeeze through get tighter and tighter, creating both intrigue and urgency for the viewer. OCEAN’S 13 finds Danny Ocean et al plotting sweet revenge against Willie Bank (Pacino) for putting Ocean member, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), in the hospital after screwing him out of a huge hotel/casino deal. The plan is to ruin his prestigious grand opening and milk him for hundreds of thousands of dollars all in one night. The execution is vast, ranging from rigging the dice at the source of manufacturing in Mexico to orchestrating an earthquake to disarm the stronghold security system that stands between them and the prize. Clearly, the good guys are going to win but never does it feel that there is a chance this might not happen. The urgency and intrigue were bet and lost.

Pacino is a welcome addition to the mix. His portrayal of hotel mogul, Willie Banks, is so sinister and egotistical that you can’t wait for the Ocean boys to bring him down. However, while Pacino is stepping it up, Clooney and Pitt might as well have had their stand-ins play their parts. The camaraderie that brought such joy and laughs to the Ocean film experience in the past has grown tired. When the boys laugh now, it almost seems like the joke is on us; that getting us into the theatre with their pretty faces was all they were obliged to do. Once there, entertaining us was not part of their contract. These two haven’t left it to just showing up for work in a while and the effect weighs you down. Luckily, Damon, Affleck, Scott Caan and Don Cheadle are still working for their paychecks, bringing wit, charm and humility to an often-lifeless script. Sadly, the sporadic laughs are not enough to call this film funny, or even fun for that matter.

So if OCEAN’S 13 isn’t fun, what is it? Well, it’s neatly packaged and pristinely presented. Soderbergh has a fantastic eye. He has a knack for crafting colorful films that are visual worlds unto themselves, which draw the viewer in to a point where the real world can look somewhat drab in comparison once you leave them. Only this time out, he spent too much time setting everything up that no room was left for error or chance. It’s like a perfectly dealt hand that just isn’t played with any finesse. It’s ironic really how a film set against the gambling capital of the world takes so few risks. Soderbergh sets out to distract the audience with OCEAN’S 13, like any good casino would. With all the flashing lights, pretty colours and fireworks, you might not realize that you’ve been playing the slots for longer than you should.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Written and Directed by Judd Apatow

Pete: Isn’t it weird when you have a kid and all your dreams go out the window?

Judd Apatow is something of a contemporary creative hero. He is a man who works within a rigid system and delivers consistently hilarious fare that manages to remain oddly honest and revealing. The director of THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN returns this summer with KNOCKED UP, a comedy about dealing with the unexpected that lives up to all its expectations. After one night of drunken, messy sex, Alison and Ben (Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen) find themselves in a situation many have found themselves in before, pregnant. Alison is fresh from a promotion while Ben is busy doing nothing at all. Neither expected to see the other ever again, much less raise a child together. This is horrible timing for both of them but both must learn that nothing makes two people grow up faster than having a baby. And what do two grown-ups do when faced with a less than ideal scenario like this one? Why they give up on looking for love and force a relationship to form between each other for the sake of their child and in the interest of being responsible human beings. The idea that they could actually be successful is hilarious enough in itself.

Apatow sets us up from the start. We meet Ben in the middle of a stoned back yard boxing match of enormous proportions. Moments later, we meet Alison waking to her alarm so that she can prepare for her responsible day as a functional member of society. They meet each other in a bar later that day. Alison is there to celebrate her promotion and Ben is there to drink. Alison is young and vibrant; Ben is a pudgy stoner. He is not without charm but social hierarchies would keep him way out of her league. And so KNOCKED UP begins its journey into the male fantasy. In this fantasy, a male nobody can get with a female somebody with absolutely no explanation that would give it any sort of rational sense. Without it though, there would be no premise to develop. Further to this, Alison decides that she and Ben should do their best to be together. This successful woman who already has a supportive family that could help her through her pregnancy and raise the child suddenly sees no chance of finding her own happiness and learns to settle.

Are you laughing yet? C’mon, this is funny stuff. The funniest thing about KNOCKED UP is that it actually is funny. Heigl and Rogen both turn in fantastic performances that will certainly leave audiences wanting even more of them. They are also surrounded by a number of supporting players who may be one-sided but make the most of their limited depth. On Alison’s side, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd play Alison’s sister and her husband. They too found themselves unexpectedly pregnant when they were younger and decided to take a shot at happiness together. Only, all these years later, he makes excuses to be out of the house to clear his head and she doesn’t trust that he’s being faithful. On Ben’s side, he’s got a pack of stoner buddies (Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Martin Starr) who help him keep it real. They also stop him from becoming the man he needs to be if he’s going to be a good father. Where Apatow’s talent steps in is in making all of this symbolism apparent without being the least bit obvious or overwrought. The entire cast is clearly having a blast with their characters and with each other, making it impossible not to laugh along with them. There are also more pop culture references than you can shake a “Gilmore Girls” series finale at.

Despite all their chemistry though, Heigl and Rogen never fully convince me that they have actually fallen in love. Sure they each learn a thing or two about themselves and how to be better to each other but in the end, Apatow does more damage than good. One walks away from KNOCKED UP thinking that a baby can bring people together or save a relationship. One also walks away thinking that to grow up means to leave your dreams and frivolity behind you, to settle in to a potential life of boredom and disappointment. Finally, and fortunately for all involved, one also walks away from KNOCKED UP laughing one’s ass off and not caring one bit about convention and the dangers that stem from it.


Written and Directed by John Carney

“I don’t know you but I want you all the more for that.
Words fall through me and always fool me, and I can’t react.”

From the moment ONCE begins, it is clear that the experience about to be had is unlike any you’ve had before. A busker sings for his dollar in the street. The quality of the image is grainy; the steadiness of the camera is shaky at best. The day turns into night and the song goes from bright to dark. The passion with which it is sung is almost overwhelming and suddenly borders on off putting. From the manner in which the busker is framed, it isn’t clear whether anyone is there to hear his song but his fervor brushes skepticism aside and declares that the song itself and the satisfaction derived from singing it, outweigh the importance of having someone hear it. But someone is listening after all. A young woman from the Czech Republic stands transfixed before our busker on this Dublin street and a spark ignites the flame that gives ONCE its warmth. Writer/Director, John Carney, removes all convention from the movie musical and creates a film that reads like a well-written love song about two musicians falling in love with each other and the music they create together.

In the early 90’s, Carney left his rock group, The Frames, to pursue a career in filmmaking. The Frames continued on without him and new lead singer, Glen Hansard, eventually took leave to search out new musical ventures, moving from Dublin to the Czech Republic. Here he met Marketa Irglova, a classically trained pianist, and they developed a project entitled The Swell Season. Though the two are not linked romantically, their meeting and the music that came out of that became Carney’s inspiration for ONCE. During the week that follows their initial meeting on the street, the two artists who are never referred to by name in the film, learn to accept that they are inexplicably drawn to each other. Given the chance, a relationship between the two could become one that would help each other grow. He would make a great father figure to her young child and she would drive him to make something of himself. Though ONCE’s tone is simple, these two characters’ lives are not. He has a girlfriend in London he longs to be with but feels he cannot out of obligation to his father in Dublin, while she is still married to an estranged husband whom she is unsure she has a future with. The trick then becomes to remain in the moment with each other and never allow for their relationship to go where it naturally feels it should.

Albeit a modern approach to a movie musical, ONCE is not so modern that it leaves the music behind. Instead the music becomes the catalyst for love. She is first drawn to him by the sound of his song. He sings it with such passion that it gives her a direct view of his soul. It is not all who are able to show such vulnerability yet when the song ends, he trips over his spoken words and nothing comes out as it should. At first, she almost seems a nuisance to him. It isn’t until he hears the beautiful music she can make with her hands that the glimpse of her soul captures all his attention. Theirs is a mating ritual carried out in song. When one sings or plays, the other listens. When one cannot express the proper sentiment in words, it is music that gets the point across. When the two find themselves alone in a local musical instrument shop, they learn what it means to sing together. In order to do so, they must truly listen to the sound of the other’s voice and fall into the same pace and rhythm of their notes. Their voices, as it turns out, are the perfect compliment to each other. The harmony they create leads into a song that is itself a representation of the love between them, both fragile and pure.

The delicate chemistry between Hansard and Irglova is framed in such a stripped fashion that it only further serves to concretize the genuine sincerity between the two. Almost entirely hand held and lit only with natural light, ONCE seems less like intricate filmmaking and more like layered storytelling, or perhaps more appropriately, song writing. Put simply, ONCE is like a perfectly soft song played acoustically in a park; it seeps into your soul, soothing you as the sun beats down upon your smiling face, allowing for all cynicism to melt away while your reaffirmed belief in love is sung from your mouth.