I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Sound of Noise (2010)
What’s it rated? Rated R for multiple characters that look like the Nihilists from Lebowski, poor treatment of bagpipes and a sad bastard that hates music.
Did people make it? Written by Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and Jim Birmant. Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson. Acted by Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson, Magnus Börjeson, Marcus Haraldson Boij, Fredrik Myhr, Anders Vestergård, Johannes Björk, and Sven Ahlström.
What’s it like in one sentence? If Stomp were performed in the same world Amélie takes place in, but with a lack of anything twee.
Why did you watch it? The one-two punch of RelaxingDragon and Gabe T has me in front of whatever they agree on.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Ummmm, well… it’s about a tone deaf anti-terrorism agent who is on the hunt for six percussionists who are making a four part movement as an act of civil disobedience and anarchy. They use the chest of hospital patients (plus all of the medical “instruments”), construction equipment, bank supplies, power lines and more to make their composition reality. Will the detective capture the musical mischief-makers or will they play themselves out? To tell anymore would be cheating.
Play or remove from my queue? I would definitely play this one as soon as possible. It does something I haven’t seen many films attempt before: it takes an incredibly absurd story and shoots it like a serious crime thriller. The film takes itself seriously and never devolves into a pretentiously self-aware navalgazefest, but instead stays a consistently and propulsively fun fantasy, while also being a secret character study.
Bengt Nilsson plays Amadeus Warnebring, a man tone deaf from birth, but raised in a family of musicians, conductors and composers. Music is the bane of his existence, as it is just noise to him regardless of how beautiful it truly is. It’s hard for me to imagine what being tone deaf is like and, even though the film doesn’t clarify that for me, Nilsson plays the frustration and anger on Amadeus’ face well enough to at least point me in the right direction of the ballpark. When the Six Drummers start playing their composition all over the city as a form of guerrilla musicianship, Amadeus always shows up minutes too late. The twist on the procedural thriller conceit (aside from Sound of Noise spitting in the face of categorization) is that anything the Drummers have used as an instrument (whether it be people or inanimate objects) doesn’t register sound for Amadeus and becomes a beautiful, focused spot of silence for him. Watching him desperately try to track down the sonic terrorists (while also appreciating the beauty of silence for the first time) is moving to watch but also mildly frustrating since it’s obvious we’re never going to find out why he can’t hear the items once they’re played by the drummers. It’s a fantasy and we don’t really need the big answers to the little mysteries, but it’s such a weirdly specific idea that it would have been cool to see that the writers had an answer to the one big puzzle the film lays down.
The film even manages to avoid becoming repetitive, even though the structure of following the four movements of the anarco-musicians composition lends itself to following a pattern. It’s awe-inspiring to watch these brilliant musicians (in the film and in real life) create some incredible music through everyday actions. The finale with the Six Drummers hanging from the power lines and using the suspended cables like violin strings was an absolute showstopper and easily one of the finest musical film sequences I’ve seen since Dancer in the Dark. Really, the only misstep I found in the film was the shoehorning of a romantic sub-plot that felt completely unnecessary, but still innocuous enough to not be a diversion from this wonderful world I never wanted to leave.
Do you have a favorite line? It’s not a line of dialogue, but the animated sequence where we see the sheet music come alive and progress into real world anarchy was absolutely brilliant.
How’s the music? Incredible! The six actors that play the renegade percussionists are actually the credited musicians for the four movements that drive the film. The music is reminiscent of something you’d hear in Stomp, without ever being derivative or beholden to it. The intense and (obviously) percussive score by Magnus Börjeson and Fred Avril reminded me of Jon Brion’s work in Punch Drunk Love, but without the propulsive intensity of that piece. The music in Sound of Noise is much more playful.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? This film only made around $23,000 in the US. it amazes me the things that get traction here.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Bernie (loved this movie’s face), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the third funniest live action show on television), Klown (you know I liked it), 30 Rock (The sixth funniest show on television) and Parks and Recreation (my second favorite comedy on television after Community).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? If you like the music then Stomp will definitely appeal to you and if you like the absurdest plot line then films like Rubber and Delicatessen will do you just fine. Also, Sound of Noise reminded my friend Danny of The January Man for some reason. So, you might like that one, too.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 4.0
Can you link to the movie? That seems fair.
Any last thoughts? One of the things that drives my love for this film is that all of the absurdity and bizarreness are played so straight that, by the end of the film, everything they’re doing seems perfectly rational. Well, if not rational, then at least somewhat understandable. Maybe not understandable, but you can empathize.
Did you watch anything else this week? I watched That’s My Boy because I’m a masochist (a bit funnier than expected), but I mostly read The Ask and the Answer, which is the second book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Read those books!
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Butter? I failed to mention that even though Jennifer Garner’s character is completely unlikable, Garner does the best she can with a thinly written role. She does deserve better than the stuff she’s been getting recently. I think she needs to give up her transition to the big screen and jump back into a series that can show all the different wigs and outfits she can wear.
Next Week? Sleepwalk With Me followed by Interzone followed by Cleanflix.