Sunday, July 2, 2006

Brassed Off

Brassed Off(1996)
Written and Directed by Mark Herman
Starring Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor
IMDB Entry

Brassed Off bears some similarity to another British film that is far from obscure:  The Full Monty.  In both, people are struggling against unemployment and are looking for wash to cope.  The Full Monty(released a year later) has nudity as a selling point, which, of course, made it a big hit. Pete Postletwaite

Pete Postlethwaite was for a time, one of the busiest actors in films.  In the 90s, he seemed to be showing up everywhere.  You probably don't remember his name, but you certainly remember him in his most famous role, Mr. Kobyashi in The Usual Suspects.  He also appeared in Romeo + Juliet, The Last of the Mohicans, Amistad, Alien3,and Dragonheart, with memorable supporting parts.  He was certainly not leading man material, but always putting in a memorable performance.

Brassed Off is about music (so is Little Voice) and how important it can be in the life of a community.

The radiant Tara Fitzgerald (see Hear My Song) is an efficiency expert (and flugelhorn player) named Gloria, who comes to the mining town of Grimley to see if their colliery (a type of coal mine) can be made viable into the 21st centure.  Postlethwaite plays Danny, the leader of the Grimley Colliery Band, a group of brass-playing miners that has been a fixture in the town for over a century.

Gloria joins the band, the first woman ever, falls in love with Ewan McGregor (who did several very good small British films before being picked to be young Obi-Wan), and comes to take on the mission of trying to save the mine, the band, and the village.  Danny, whose life is the band, makes it his mission to compete in the national championships.

The main difference between this and The Full Monty is one of tone.  Monty is playful about its subject (like Andy Hardy, "Let's all get together and put on a show!" is the solution to the issues).  Brassed Off is . . . well, brassed off -- a British phrase meaning angry as hell.  The final scene is giving the finger to the greed that may have killed the band, not just making the best of things.

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