The tributes and remembrances continue to pile in at a rapid pace, many of them lovely, comprehensive, and moving salutes to a man whose cinematic visions scarred and stunned generations of moviegoers and whose passing no horror lover could have possibly been prepared for.
Listening to music is good for the heart
Based on the Oscar-nominated documentary Small Wonders , Music of the Heart tells the story of real-life violinist Roberta Guaspari Streep , who co-founded Opus , a strings program that provides musical instruction to young Harlem students. Despite its place in Academy history, Music received a muted critical reception and pretty much bombed at the box office , even in spite of its Oscar-conscious late October release.
I was eager to view it again for Streep, but also interested in seeing if my early fondness for the film currently streaming on Netflix held up underneath the considerably lesser light it has been cast in as of late. Whereas The Blind Side shamelessly painted its briefly-glimpsed Memphis housing project as a dank, drug-infested den overcrowded with corrupting thugs and welfare queens, the Harlem of Music looks, sounds, and feels like a local, lived-in multicultural community that is changed but not, you know, saved by the audacious efforts of a persevering white person.
She also learned to play violin for the role and, unsurprisingly, plays it expertly, and in Carnegie Hall no less. Streep has terrifically specific chemistry with everyone on screen, including Angela Bassett as a toughened alternative school principal, Cloris Leachman as her mother, Aidan Quinn and Jay O. They keep Meryl from falling into any of her usual cadences or settling into her surroundings too comfortably and, in turn, the classroom scenes function as funny and fleet depictions of the sort of unpredictable public school learning experience that is so rarely evoked in mainstream moviemaking.
I highly doubt Music would be described as "earnest" or "treacly" if a male teacher was at its center.
Music Uplifted my Heart - Ananda India
Precious few films pay this much strenuously invested attention to the professional, personal, and romantic pursuits of a fully-dimensional female protagonist, and Craven deserves immense respect for so beautifully respecting Roberta's daring and mastery while also respecting her marital grief, her occasional prickliness, and her more-than-occasional pushiness. With the invaluable aid of Streep's winning performance and Gray's humane writing, Craven creates a remarkably real woman to stand at the tender heart of this story.
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HEART’S TWO MILLION IN THE MUSIC terms and conditions
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The true story of a young teacher who fights against the board of education in her bid to teach underprivileged kids in a Harlem school the beauty of music through the violin. In her struggle she loses everything as the system comes down on her with all their might but her determination for the kids happiness helps her to battle back with wonderfully inspirational results. I really had no desire to subject myself to what I envisioned to be a minute barrage of inspirational life messages and feel-good sentimentality. What a pleasant surprise then to discover this to be a genuinely moving and heartwarming true-life tale of an extraordinary teacher, Roberta Gaspari, and her equally extraordinary students.
We have, first, the neophyte white middle class schoolteacher, plunged into the heart of a problem-ridden inner city Harlem school, filled with burnt-out teachers who have learned to expect little and thereby garner little from the youngsters placed in their charge and children themselves whose troubled home lives provide little in the way of a nurturing environment for academic achievement. We encounter the predictable first-day stumbles of this headstrong, idealistic newcomer as the students challenge her authority and the relevance of her violin class in no uncertain terms; we see how, through discipline and the sheer force of her own determination, she eventually connects them to the music they are learning to play, building their self-confidence and slowly winning the respect of their often skeptical, and, occasionally, downright hostile parents in the process.
Then comes the great challenge, as the school board, after ten successful years in which the program has earned a sizable reputation and even been featured in magazine articles, pulls the plug on the funding. Thanks to the sheer determination of Gaspari, the parents whose children's lives have been forever altered, a magazine writer and the voluntary participation of a number of the world's premiere violinists a large number of whom appear as themselves in the film , the group stages an amazing fundraising concert at Carnegie Hall, the proceeds from which save the program and help ensure its survival for the next several years.
At no time is Roberta ever portrayed as a saintly figure. In fact, she is a woman filled with all sorts of insecurities and vulnerabilities, exacerbated by the devastating sense of bewilderment and loss caused by the unexpected termination of her marriage and her seeming need to be dependent on a man for comfort, support and a sense of purpose. She is often overbearing, pushy and pigheaded and not just in the classroom where it counts, but also in her personal life where it often alienates her from the ones she loves most. Yet, somehow out of this mass of self-doubts and personal missteps, she finds the inner strength and emotional wherewithal to work miracles.
Streep throws herself so completely into the role that we cannot take our eyes off her for a single one of the film's enthralling minutes and I doubt that she is ever off screen for more than a few seconds in the entire film. It is a truly glowing performance.
Equally impressive, director Wes Craven is to be highly commended for drawing such an impressive array of credible, down-to-earth performances from a large cast of outstanding preteen actors. Thanks to them and an air of naturalism in the dialogue, the scenes between the youngsters and their teacher always ring true and believable.
I defy anyone - even the most tone deaf, musically disinterested member of the audience - not to be deeply touched by the final scenes of this film. Craven, from all his years doing those slasher films I suppose, really knows how to generate a sense of suspense as we follow the pre-show behind-the-scenes preparations of the nail-biting participants. The recreated concert itself, with a number of the real life participants brought back to play for the occasion, is utterly engrossing and leaves the audience both rheumy-eyed and covered with goose bumps. That being the case, I guess that isn't such a bad thing after all!
The creator and cast shared their feelings on the big night and the power of love. Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video. Start your free trial.
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Story of a schoolteacher's struggle to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids. Director: Wes Craven. Writer: Pamela Gray.
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From metacritic. Wes Craven Films. Spectacular Top Films about Education. Mix of Biopic films. Top films set in n the US: New York. Share this Rating Title: Music of the Heart 6.