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Great World Of Sound (2007)

DVD Cover (Magnolia Pictures)
Director:
Craig Zobel Craig Zobel
Starring:
Pat Healy Pat Healy
Kene Holiday Kene Holiday
John Baker John Baker
Robert Longstreet Robert Longstreet
Matt Chapman Matt Chapman

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Drama, Message Movie, Road Movie
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 01, 2007
In the age of reality television, where everyone is looking to become famous, where "American Idol" is the most popular show on the planet, it's a miracle we have never seen a film like "Great World of Sound" before. Written and directed by Craig Zobel, who founded the uber-popular jock website HomeStarRunner, "Great World of Sound" blends elements of a narrative drama and a documentary piece and shows the inner workings of some darker sides of the music business. This was a film I had been hearing a lot about, both on the film festival circuit and on various websites that had published reviews; so, I was more than excited about seeing it, finally. What I expected was a quirky indie comedy, but what I got was so much more. The film taps into some very serious issues and features some amazingly honest performances. I am so glad I saw this film, because it has turned into one of my favorite films from the entire year.

The film stars Pat Healy and Kene Holliday as Martin and Clarence, who men who decide to train as music producers for the company Great World of Sound. Layton (Robert Longstreet) and a man named Shank (John Baker) run the company and the first few minutes of the film deal with them instructing their potential producers on how to audition people and look for talent. Here's the one catch - in order for the auditioners to get a record made, they have to get the producers money. To the audience, this all seems too seedy, from the beginning. It takes Martin and Clarence, however, much longer to see that what they're doing is really a pyramid scheme and that they are ripping off these people. The film's central focus is on Martin, whose girlfriend is a struggling artist. They love one another and Martin is doing this to make his life better. Clarence has six kids and is in it for the money and treats every single person in a desperate sort of way. The film is about these men doing what they feel horrible for doing, but can't stop doing it nevertheless.

The filmmakers actually posted real auditions in various cities across the country that they were music producers looking for talent, so most of the auditions you see in this film are authentic. Some of the people are very talented. Some are not. Martin and Clarence don't care if they are talented or not, as long as they can extract money from them and build up their hopes and dreams. The audition scenes are something painful and sometimes delightful to watch, to everything from Martin stumbling and getting petrified when he has to ask about money, and Clarence taking it so far as to preach to a gospel choir about how his 'white boss' doesn't like gospel music. "Great World of Sound" is so honest and so realistic and so endearing that you just fall in love. The sadness to the film is that these men, Martin and Clarence, are actually doing horrible things to these people and maybe even ruining their lives, but they're also just trying to pay their own bills. They are not bad men, they are just having to do bad things to keep themselves afloat.

The performances are Oscar worthy, as is the entire film. Pat Healy and Kenne Holiday are real finds here as Martin and Clarence. I remember Pat Healy as the pharmacist who gives Julianne Moore's character a lot of grief in "Magnolia". He is just stellar here as Martin, playing both the comedy and drama with equal measure. You can really see the gears turning as he's trying to decide what he needs to do about his new job. Kenne Holiday turns in one of the best supporting performances of the year as Clarence. He is just absolutely hysterical, but then he has this one scene with Martin towards the end of the film with such intensity and such heartbreak. I also want to mention Robert Longstreet and John Baker in the roles of the two 'executives' at Great World of Sound, especially Baker - both of them really sell the idea that these men are believing and they really make themselves seem credible, even when we know they are not.

From the opening shot of someone spray painting a typical record with gold spray paint, "Great World of Sound" had me totally hooked. It's a very creative idea to blend the mediums like it does and the pay-off is brilliant. This is such a small film, and will absolutely do well at the Independent Spirit Awards - it's only a shame it won't do better with the Academy Awards, because it certainly does deserve consideration. Kenne Holiday, especially, is probably not going to be bested in the Best Supporting Actor category - I just don't see it happening. "Great World of Sound" was often times hilarious, often times heartbreaking and always entertaining. It's one of those rare indie gems that comes along and really takes you by surprise. If you can find it playing near you, check it out. It is in limited release. If not, believe me when I say - it's your loss.

10/10.
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