Best Movies of the 2010s
#13 – Sing Street (2016)
I didn’t deliberately set out to make a Top 20 of the Decade list that looks a lot different than all the ones I’ve read across the web. But only a handful of my titles are showing up on those “professional” lists.
John Carney’s Sing Street wasn’t properly appreciated when it came out three years ago and it’s certainly not getting its due now, but for my money it’s one of the greatest coming-of-age tales and one of the greatest music movies ever made.
Yesterday we got our second random Barenaked Ladies song in a week and today we get our second R.E.M. song in two weeks.
In the previous post, I described the band’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi — the last album to feature drummer Bill Berry — as their swan song. Indeed, they were never the same and never as good after that record.
In 1997, a year after the release of New Adventures in Hi-Fi, R.E.M. founding member Bill Berry, their drummer, chose to leave the band to live a quiet life on his farm. His departure followed a scare a couple of years earlier in which he collapsed onstage with a brain aneurysm. No doubt that sort of thing causes you to reevaluate your life in short order.
Beyond playing the drums and a host of other instruments, Berry was an active songwriter for R.E.M. (the full band is credited with writing all of their songs, though Berry’s name has specifically been attached to such classics as ‘Man On the Moon,’ ‘Driver 8’ and ‘Can’t Get There From Here’).
And his musical contributions aside, I don’t think it can be overemphasized how much the absence of a family member means to the family he leaves behind.
It’s become a cliché to say that Pixar is the most consistently wonderful creative force in cinema today. But like many clichés, it’s a cliché for a reason… and Up — the studio’s tenth film — is the latest example of why they leave everybody else in the dust.
I won’t bother with a detailed recap of the film’s plot. Most people who read this will have seen the film already, and if you haven’t you should go do so instead of reading about it here. Very quick synopsis: elderly widower Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) travels in his house via helium balloons to the South American paradise he and his wife always planned to visit. A nerdy and needy kid winds up as an accidental stowaway. Adventures, laughs and life lessons ensue.
R.E.M.’s last four albums — Up, Reveal, Around the Sun and Accelerate — have been mild disappointments. Those records followed New Adventures in Hi-Fi, the excellent and underrated follow-up to Monster, and they were all recorded without drummer Bill Berry, who quit the band to live on his farm after surviving a brain aneurysm.
By no means is it a coincidence that R.E.M.’s weakest efforts followed the loss of Berry. I don’t know how much he contributed to the songwriting, but there is a chemistry in some bands that, once altered, can never be reclaimed.