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‘THE COMMITMENTS’ STILL GREAT AFTER 25 YEARS

I fell in love with The Commitments when it first came out in 1991 and it’s remained a favorite ever since. When I launched my podcast two years ago I wanted to recommend it to listeners but found, to my dismay, that it wasn’t available for rental or streaming online. Now I understand why: its owners were preparing a special 25th anniversary reissue on Blu-ray and DVD. That edition hits the streets today, from RLJ Entertainment, and it’s a welcome sight.

Director Alan Parker and several cast members including Glen Hansard, who went on to win an Oscar for the song he introduced in Once, sat for new interviews, which happily confirm that the movie meant as much to them as it has to its many fans over the years. Parker also contributes an insightful new essay for the program book.

the Commitments-25th Anniversary       Most of the other special features come from earlier DVD releases, including a thorough and insightful documentary from 2004 which features not only the director and cast (with some of their raw screen tests) but the producers, casting directors, cinematographer, author Roddy Doyle and screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. It covers the whole story of the film, from the printed page to its concert-tour aftermath, and is well worth revisiting.

Then there’s the film itself, which remains as fresh, gritty, and irresistible as ever: the story of dead-end youngsters from North Dublin who form a band to play American soul hits. As for the music, it pulses with a sizzling energy: the kids Parker chose from thousands of candidates come together as a cohesive unit and create renditions of soul classics you can listen to again and again. 16-year-old lead singer Andrew Strong is an absolute marvel, and the decision to record all the vocals “live” was an inspired one.

Nothing about the band’s journey is what you might expect yet all of it rings true, with that uniquely quixotic Irish spirit. As Joey “The Lips” Fagan says, at the end of the story, to have ended it in a typical fashion would have been predictable…but this is poetry.

 

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

2 comments

  1. Aaron Jones says:

    Love this movie, have been a fan from theatrical release day one. Still have my 2-disc special edition DVD, but will definitely be picking this up.

  2. C.C. 95 says:

    One of the finest movies about music ever made. Sadley, most Hollywood movies get music painfully wrong all the time. (And most professional Musicians, like myself, have trouble with those films fictionalizing what it is to be in that world).
    This stands with ‘Once’ as one of the best.
    Missing the new Fall edition of the guide Mr. Maltin!! (I know, I know. It’s just that time of the year – and it is like phantom limb syndrome after getting it every fall for 25 years!).

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