This delightfully entertaining comedy treat features hot screen stars Ewan McGregor (STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE, MOULIN ROUGE) and sexy Tara Fitzgerald (SIRENS). It's the critically acclaimed story about two o... more »ld friends -- and ex-lovers -- whose surprise reunion turns their lives ... and the lives of everyone else in town ... hilariously upside down! Also starring screen favorite Pete Postlethwaite (JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD; THE USUAL SUSPECTS) -- don't miss the fun of the laugh-filled comedy that entertained and captivated audiences everywhere!« less
OK little story, markedly enhanced by awesome music throughout. *THE* *BEST* rendition ever of Rodrigo's 'Concerto de Aranjuez' - and on a Fluegel yet... A must-hear, if not quite a must-see movie. Recommend highly.
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A sublime modern British gem--sadly overlooked
John DiBello | Brooklyn, NY | 05/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll bet you don't remember this little gem of a British film at your local cinema...it passed us by quickly and quietly, and I only hope it can have a strong life in video. But the video's cover is just another sign that the studio just didn't know what to make of this movie or how to promote it. Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan MacGregor on the cover make it look like a love story, which is certainly an element of the plot, but one of many, and certainly not the most important. A British mining town is threatened with closure of the mines, which will put much of the population out of work. Unconcerned with this all is Danny (a brilliant Pete Postlethwaite), the leader of the mine's brass band group, so intent on winning the national championships that he doesn't see at first the turmoil as the members of his band face unemployment--including his own son. There's a triumph at the end, but a bittersweet one, when, at the end, Danny declares that music doesn't matter...it's people that matter (a sound bite you probably already recognize--it was sampled at the beginning of Chumbawamba's hit "Tubthumping"). The most logical comparable to this film (and one nearly everyone makes) is "The Full Monty," but this movie came first, and doesn't sacrifice the realities of the British unemployment problem at the expense of laughs. And if you think you don't enjoy brass band music, "Brassed Off" will go a long way towards changing your mind--this is *not* oompah-pah-pah music of your high-school marching band. Music dramatically underscores the lives of the characters and the tone of the movie. As proof, this movie features one of the most absolutely gorgeous wordless sequences in contemporary British film: while the brass band plays an exquisite version of "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor," the scene cuts back and forth from their practice to the breakdown of negotiation talks between the miners and management--a sublime moment that comes early in the film but sets the scene for many other such moments. Don't miss this one, and don't let the goofy love-story video jacket throw you: this is simply one of the best and most bittersweet British films of recent years."
An absolute gem of a movie!
Michael Meredith | St. Louis, MO United States | 06/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The heritage of the English coal mines (collieries as they are called) has been a mixed one of industrial production, labor strife and music. Music? Indeed, the existence and competition of employee brass bands formed as a diversionary activity for the miners is overlooked by most people born outside of the English coal mining commmunities. What began as a mild diversion has since provided a rich legacy of music that should not be ignored. But musical legacy notwithstanding, there are other factors at play in this wonderful little movie like the Tory policies of Margaret Thatcher's U.K. and the forced closure of many mines over recent years.The idyllic (although certainly not prosperous) existence of one such group of miners is attacked on two fronts; first by threats to close down the colliery, but the addition of a woman (Tara Fitzgerald) to the all male ensemble is even more unsettling. Her talent as a flugelhornist is as bothersome to the members of the band, as her beauty is to one bandmate in particular (Ewen MacGregor). Ms. Fitzgerald has to be the best kept secret in the British cinema as she combines fantastic ability with an almost sublime beauty. I'd rent a "How to Fix a Flat Tire" movie if it featured Tara's face and lyrical voice.Besides the lovely Ms. Fitzgerald, two other actors stand out. Ewen MacGregor shows more range in this role than both of his Star Wars appearances thus far (he also has a much better script to work with). And Pete Postlethwaite would have received an Academy Award nomination had more people simply seen this movie. Postlethwaite is something of a British William H. Macy; he's always rock solid in his character and talented enough to give uniqueness to each character he plays.Faced with the extinction of their jobs and way of life, the members of the Grimley Colliery Band rally around their leader (Postlethwaite) as they battle economics, black lung and an evolving world. Their quest is to win the nationwide band competition at Prince Albert Hall. Despite a misstep or two along the way, usually aided by an extra pint at the pub, they work their way into the finals. Beyond that, you'll have to watch the movie.But no discussion about Brassed Off would be complete without mentioning the music. You could find sufficient enjoyment from the music alone. The soundtrack, performed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band will appeal to almost everyone. It's become one of my family's favorite CD's as well."
What matters more: music or people?
lexo-2 | 11/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This excellent movie suffered from some dodgy marketing. Ewan MacGregor was splashed all over the publicity as a result of his role in "Trainspotting", and while he plays a central role in it very well indeed, he's only one of a superb ensemble of actors. The Yorkshire miners' strike of the mid-80s was, so far, the last great stand of the British working-class against the encroaching forces of capital and "economic efficiency". The mines were the source of not just wealth, but the dignity of entire communities. Coal mining is a back-breaking, filthy, dangerous and ultimately murderous job, and it was the danger and the sweat that gave the communities their pride. One of the things that this pride fostered was the incredible virtuosity of the brass bands. I was never a great fan of brass band music until I saw this movie, but the music in it (played by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, one of the most distinguished bands in the country) is not dull marching music but fantastically intricate and moving stuff. These guys weren't academy-trained musicians, they were mine workers who learned it in their spare time.And yet, one of the central points of the film is that we can all sit back and enjoy the music but little was done by anyone but the miners themselves to stop the destruction and demoralisation of the communities that produced it. That's what gives the film its tragic force, despite the resilience and good humour displayed along the way. (This is also a funny film, if a very sad one.)Much of the weight of the tragedy falls on two characters - Danny, the bandmaster, and his son Phil, a trombone player in the band. Danny is played by Pete Postlethwaite, a stunning actor who seems to able to incarnate an unbelievable range of figures (he was also the sinister Kobayashi in "The Usual Suspects" and the dying father in "In The Name of the Father"). Postlethwaite's character has been a miner all his life, and his frailty is terribly evident, yet he convinces us with his realisation that the music that he has always loved is, in the end, only the swansong of a whole way of life.Phil is played by Stephen Tompkinson, who had previously been visible as a good light comedy actor. Here, his red-eyed, desperate performance is a revelation. Phil moonlights as a children's entertainer, and the sight of him in clown costume being beaten up by the bailiffs emptying his home is fiercely ironic.This is a great movie; the point of it is even greater. The pits were closed down, not because they weren't profitable (most of them were), but because they represented a threat to the new economic order. The final irony is that, with the closure of so many pits and the drop in fossil fuel consumption, the UK is going to have to build lots of nuclear power stations over the next twenty years if they want to maintain the national electricity grid at its current level. Having seen the country of my birth (Britain) being systematically despoiled and demoralised over the course of most of my life by a long Conservative administration, I can only cheer a movie like this, which counts the cost of it all."
This movie speaks to all of us amateur musicians . . .
L. Mountford | Bellingham, WA United States | 01/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So, why do we do it? We devote our meager free time to the pursuit of musical excellence, many of us in amateur brass bands, string orchestras, community choirs and the like -- for what purpose?Because we MUST. No matter how dismal or depressed the rest of our lives are, there's always an opportunity to create something beautiful, something truly magnificent, by combining our talents with those of others.The Grimley Colliery Band is but one example of this. Each member, all men but one newcomer, is facing a crisis -- the closing of the coal mine into which they've poured their sweat and energy for most of their lives, and the uncertain future to follow. Their director, Danny, demanding and hard-headed, has retired from the mine, and doesn't seem to grasp the seriousness of the matter. "Music is EVERYTHING!" he proclaims. The members consider him daft, as they struggle to balance family, the impending union/management show-down, and finances. It's only at a moment of crisis that they realize the point: Danny not only understands the situation, but he also knows that MUSIC is the only thing that will get these proud men through the storm together, whole and with some shred of self-respect.Pete Postlethwaite is brilliant as Danny; Tara Fitzgerald's understated performance as Gloria, the only female member of the band, gives her character a sense of integrity and honor that could easily have been overlooked in favor of more "marketable" characteristics. The rest of the cast is remarkable. Particularly notable is Stephen Tompkinson as Phil, Danny's son, whose descent into abject depression seems to mirror the daily descent into the black hole of the coal mine -- dark, dirty, and dangerous.I liked this movie far better than I thought I would when I saw the cover of the DVD. This is less a romance than an examination of many lives made complete -- by music, by the pursuit of beauty and grace, by focused cooperation. It really doesn't get any better than this."