The Commitments

I went to an early morning meeting before work, and ate some raspberries and strawberries from the spread that was provided. I took a look at the crossword puzzle sale before heading for work. Thankfully, it was a shortened day for me. I went home and watched the DVD of Alan Parker’s “The Commitments.” I wished I’d seen it before, because it was really quite an enjoyable movie. After the political content of “Mississippi Burning” and “Come See the Paradise,” it was good to see a film that was just entertainment. This movie reminded me of “Fame,” only set in Ireland. In the cast was nobody I knew. You had a manager, who outlined why soul music was great. He took out an advertisement and held the auditions, which attract a motley group. Naturally, he had to get hold of the prettiest girl in the neighborhood. He brought a video of James Brown to inspire the troops. He dealt with the problems of the group, managing egos and trying to get paid. There was a lot of good humor in all of this, and I laughed out loud several times. I may have laughed more times than when I saw “The Interview.” We see a lead singer who can grind out the emotion, although he has the handicap of being white. He was good, though not as good as Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, or Sam Cooke. A bit of audience response goes to his head, and he starts to act like a superstar. He actually had the chance to be a star. One person who shows up to join the band is a middle-aged trumpeter who says that he spent years in America jamming with the likes of Joe Tex. There’s something mysterious and suspicious about this character. He has a way of attracting women, so he creates some tension within the group, but he gives the music some punch. The three girls need some practice, but they get better as the movie moves along. Their Irish accent make “Mustang Sally” sound odd at first. They are the kind of girls who dish out the rough language, so they have something inside them that can come out through the music. It’s a struggle to get that sound going. It is so elusive. Watching these people with their Irish accents and slang, I couldn’t always understand what they were saying. In fact, I watched this movie with the English subtitles on. I still wasn’t sure what a “tosser” was, however. The disc actually was from Korea, and the default subtitle setting was for Korean subtitles. I couldn’t read the notes on the DVD cover. Two of my favorite parts of the movie were the auditions and the driving to a gig in a food truck. I agreed with a lot of the observations people made about the music. I wasn’t too sure whether you could successfully transfer soul music to Ireland, but at times the performances made me think of Creedence Clearwater Revival. However, another comparison that came to mind was the Blues Brothers. During one of the gigs, there is a fight over money that reminded me of “Midnight Express.” The question in the last scenes is whether Wilson Pickett will pay the group a visit. I’d say that the one real flaw in this movie is that the ending is a bit of a letdown. We didn’t want to see a lot of internal turmoil boiling over at the same time. It felt a bit exaggeration, too, especially from the girls. I felt a lot of pleasure in viewing this movie, which was something in the vein of “Bugsy Malone” and “Fame.” I liked the way it touched on ordinary lives and people’s dreams. This people were picking up unemployment checks and working low-grade jobs while trying to do something more meaningful. This is was story of doing it through music. It was a lively little movie that I think that people will still be watching with enthusiasm twenty years from now. I always felt that Alan Parker’s best work was in “Midnight Express” and “Fame.” “Shoot the Moon” had intensity and an intriguing quality but went off target. Still, I thought it was hard to forget Diane Keaton and Albert Finney in it. I couldn’t like “Angel Heart.” Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro in the same movie should have made for a classic. “Mississippi Burning” had the FBI agents as the good guys, which went against history. Thinking about the movie made me think back on all the great work that Gene Hackman did over the years. Hackman’s fans have feared that he’s dead, but he’s just retired. He is an old guy, though, and he deserves a rest. I watched the Partridge Family episode “The Red Woodloe Story, featuring William Schallert. In one scene, the family seems to really sing along to one song. “Find Peace in Your Soul” never appeared on an album. Tracy was rather clumsy in her delivery of her lines, as any very young girl would be. I watched the NUMB3RS episode “End of Watch.” Some kids find a police officer’s badge, leading to an investigation. Amita is uncertain about being in a curriculum committee, and Charlie’s father is sued over his plans for a golf course. Megan was sitting down a lot, hiding her belly. I fell asleep for a while before waking up to watch a bit of Dennis Weaver as McCloud. Lauren Graham and Rainn Wilson were on the Seth Meyers show. Now that he’s gone, I kind of miss Craig Ferguson, although he’s going to make a local appearance. The host of the replacement show wasn’t very interesting. He talked about the camera operators. It must be pretty difficult to find up that air time with anything worthwhile. One of the guys in Death Cub for Cutie played the keyboards and a guitar. They didn’t excite me. Almost nobody in music excites me these days. Some of the people who died on January 31 include A.A. Milne (1956), Samuel Goldwyn (1974), Moira Shearer (2006), and Molly Ivins (2007). Today is a birthday for John Lydon (59), Nolan Ryan (68), and Carol Channing (94). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 31, the Jackson 5 hit the top of the singles chart in 1970 with “I Want You Back.” In 1989, an issue of Playboy magazine featuring nude photos of La Toya Jackson hit the newsstands. In 1993, Michael Jackson performed the songs “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “We Are the World,” and “Heal the World” at Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In 2005, jury selection began for the Michael Jackson sexual abuse trial. My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of January 2015 are: 5. Tyqwon Eugene Welch, 4. Suge Knight, 3. Hayat Boumeddiene, 2. Cherif Kouachi, and 1. Said Kouachi.

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