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REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod

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“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment

Hold Onto Your Bucket, You Can Visit Colonel Sanders on KFC Island In ‘Animal Crossing’

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Kentucky. Fried. Crossing.

If I told you to live in a tent for a few days, pull a bunch of weeds from the lawn and chop down a few trees for lumber that you will then have to turn into tools with your own two hands all while trying to pay off a ridiculous debt that you unwittingly acquired you might think I’m into corporal punishment. Yet, it’s all those things that make Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch so damn addictive.

The life simulation video game has grown unbelievably popular over these last few months and it’s probably because the game provides a great creative outlet that can keep players entertained for hours while remaining home during quarantine. Even some celebrities have jumped on the virtual bandwagon with Elijah Wood, T-Pain, Chrissy Tiegen and more all sharing their obsession on social media. Well scoot over movie stars, big time singers and supermodels because the biggest household name just changed the game (not literally as I’m sure the game has some sort of coding that prevents actual changes to be made but metaphorically the pun works). That’s right, Colonel Sanders has an avatar and an island and is ready to serve up some chicken.

Credit: KFC Philippines Twitter

Earlier this week, the KFC Philippines Twitter account revealed the news that “KFC Island” would be opening for lucky visitors. To get to the island you have to message their Facebook account with the #KFCVirtualStore for a chance at getting a Dodo Code. Because I am one of the many who have fallen in love with this game I know that a Dodo Code is a unique code which can be shared with select visitors to grant them access to your island. I feel like such a gamer. On the Kentucky fried island there is a restaurant that is replicated to look like the real thing! There’s booths, a kitchen and even promotional posters. Oh and as if this wasn’t exciting enough, if you find the Colonel hiding somewhere on the island you could win an 8-piece chicken bucket from KFC…in real life! (The promotion is only valid for players in the Philippines.)

Credit: KFC Philippines Twitter

Visits to the island are only available until June 20th, so be sure to hop on this finger lickin’ experience while you can!

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Stan Lee Said The Only Way To Combat A Racist Is To ‘Expose Them’ In A Periodical From Over Fifty Years Ago

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A man truly ahead of his time.

The concept of finding strength within a community has never been more pressing than it is right now. Our country is divided in so many ways but amongst the fractures you can see groups joining together in an effort to show that unity is always stronger than division. If anyone can attest to that belief it was the ingenius comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer Stan Lee.

The man responsible for the Marvel universe we know and love today was behind a number of comic books which featured outcasts who looked beyond their differences in order to unify and protect the greater good. A concept our world might need reminding of. In the back of the comics Lee wrote for was a section entitled “Stan’s Soapbox,” where the wordsmith would write short articles expressing some things that were on his mind. One soapbox article from 1968 has resurfaced and gone viral because of how eerily fitting it is for today.

In the article Lee calls bigotry and racism “the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.” But unlike a super villain from one of his comics, racism and bigotry cannot be defeated by a “punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun,” he says, rather “the only way to destroy them is to expose them – reveal them for the insidious evils they really are.” The comic book creator suggests the only way for our world to continue peacefully is to “judge each other on our merits” and to “fill our hearts with tolerance.”

Along with the soapbox article, a clip from an interview with Larry King has gone viral with Lee once again wishing to see more tolerance in the world. When asked what the one thing he would change about the world Lee responded “I’d make people not hate each other because of their religion, because of their nationality, because of any stupid reason. If we can abolish hatred, we live on this gorgeous planet.”

Why couldn’t he be the celebrity that ran for president!? Hopefully the villains Lee warned us about over fifty years ago will soon seem like a thing in the past and that beautiful, tolerant world he dreamed of will become a reality.

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Lizzo’s Performance Of ‘Pomp And Circumstance’ Will Make Any Graduate Feel Good As Hell

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She really is a hoot with a flute.

Ah graduation, that special moment that every student dreams about where they get dressed up in an unbreathable gown and an unflattering cap and sit outside for hours somewhere on a great lawn in the middle of a heat wave just to receive that special piece of paper that says they have completed a super long chapter in their lives. While the ceremonies are not always the most exciting time ever, to be denied the chance to walk across a stage and turn the tassel on your cap due to the pandemic guidelines does seem like a real bummer. To help remedy the graduation blues of 2020, YouTube Originals live-streamed an event called Dear Class Of 2020 which featured some huge stars offering their support. One of those stars happened to be Lizzo who put her own spin on the classic graduation march “Pomp and Circumstance.”

In her performance, Lizzo played the iconic two-minute section of the song that is most widely associated with graduations. After about 40-seconds, the “Juice” singer shares her congratulations to the graduating class and then lets them know it’s time to “turn it up.” With that, Lizzo is virtually accompanied by the New York Phil Harmonic as they jam out (is it still called jamming out when it’s classical music?) to create a truly memorable performance. The performance is visually stunning showcasing some cool digital effects but what truly stands out in the video are the images of black graduates wearing their caps and gowns as they participate in Black Lives Matter protests that are happening throughout the nation. The entire video suddenly becomes much more hopeful as it becomes clear that the future of our nation rests in the hands of these courageous, intelligent and strong young people.

The video ends with a photo of Deveonte Joseph taken by photographer Nathan Aguirre, which went viral when first posted. In the photo, Joseph is wearing his graduation cap and gown on a street in St. Paul, Minnesota, with the lights of a police set up glowing behind him.

Check out the entire inspirational video below!

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