As often happens this time of year, I’m looking over the vast, long list of movies that entertained, intrigued, and invigorated us all this year, and I’m struck by the embarrassment of riches – and not just in terms of great films overall, but the individual scenes and songs within them, which have affixed themselves to my 2016 movie-going memories. So let’s take a moment to recognize the big scenes and little touches that made these movies special.
Sing Street: “Drive It Like You Stole It”
John Carney’s loosely autobiographical story of teenage bandmates in ‘80s Dublin is full of wonderful little slivers of truth and musical numbers that both rock and charm, and the best of those comes in the run-up to the climax. The homemade music videos of this high school rock band have managed to not only showcase their music, but provide protagonist Conor with an excuse to hang out with his dream girl; she’s helped him devise their most elaborate production to date, a video set at an “American prom” in the 1950s. When the time comes to shoot it, it turns out they can’t quite pull it off. But as they play the song, Conor sees, in his mind’s eye, the way the video should be – and, in its cameo appearances by not only the girl but his divorcing parents, his disapproving headmaster, and his antisocial brother, the way his life should be as well. In that brief but perfect sequence, writer/director Carney captures how, more often than not, artists use their fiction to remake their reality into something more palatable; when the song is playing, Conor can get everything right that’s going wrong in his life. Plus, the tune is catchy as hell.