“Hearts Beat Loud”

Though I would appreciate a title reading “ Hearts Beat Loudly” , this sweet Brooklyn musical family is this summer’s special treat. Red Hook  looks like a community that could support any downed dreamer.

Nick Offerman is the bearded and plaid-shirted owner of a record shop. His name Frank Fisher fits him perfectly. He is open and wistful, still a fisher of dreams. His own recording career was cut short by his wife’s cycling death.

He has been a widower raising his daughter ( Kiersey Clemons) for seventeen years. His mother, played beautifully by Blythe Danner, is exhibiting signs of mental decline, and daughter Sam is gearing up for pre-med classes in far away California. He has wonderful friends like the local bartender, Dave ( Ted Danson) and his vintage record shop landlady,Leslie ( Toni Collette).

Still things could be better. His mother is picked up for shoplifting, his store is going under, and Sam is growing-up too fast. Writers Brett Haley and Marc Basch hit just the right tone for this bittersweet indie. Frank can’t seem to locate Sam’s needed birth certificate, yet he has her dried imbilical cord at hand. Sam and Frank have a history of jam sessions. It is through these that we see Sam fall for Rose ( Sasha Lane) and her song lyrics have dad putting their session on Spotify. Frank calls them “ We Are Not A Band” after Sam’s rebuttal to him about singing and songwriting together like he and her mother used to do. Their song goes viral and decisions must be made.

Dave tells Frank that “ we always don’t get to do what we love.” He is an old actor himself, now bartender. Yet, my favorite scene maybe in the coffee shop where Frank is buying strawberry woopy pies for Sam. He hears their song in an indie mix over the sound system, and runs around yelling “50,000 people are listening to our song”.

There are lots of side stories like life. Leslie really likes Frank, and he does not seem to notice. When he speaks of “ getting his button shirt on” and toasting the demise of “ Red Hook Records” we love this guy. His memories consist of the first time Sam got a Groucho joke, and of a growth chart marked on the wall of the shop. He accepts Sam lesbian relationship by saying, “ when life hands you conundrums, you turn them into art.”

Rose, herself, gets her aphorisms from comic books. As she teaches Sam to ride a bike ( a no-no under Sam’s Dad ), she intones:” You gotta be brave, before you can be good.” More than a coming of age film, “Hearts Beat Loud” is about the music of life.






“I’ll See You In My Dreams”

      When more than three fourths of our life is over, “So What?” may be a sobering question. Somehow the film “I’ll See You In My Dreams” makes mortality, at least the idea of it, a no brainer. One lives like one always has lived with daily rituals in place and friends in one’s corner. Blythe Danner is matter-of-fact, practical, and no nonsense as she has an aged and ailing pet put down, deals with a rat in her house, bouts of loneliness, and the quirks of friends.

Set in Southern California, this is a slow, low budget, slice-of-life film that empathizes with rather insulated and well-off seventy-year-old white women,who find themselves bored with golf and bridge. Sally (Rhea Perlman) longingly jokes how sexual the “tee” vocabulary is what with “ball”, “hole” and “stroke”. The retirement home Speed Dating and the medical marijuana forays seem contrived and equally pathetic. The pool boy relationship Carol (Blythe Danner) invests in is more realistically linked to her teacher/songstress background. Poor souls looking for support and connection is thematically here as Lloyd (Martin Starr) needs Carol’s attention and support as badly as she needs his.

In one scene, Lloyd takes Carol to a karaoke bar after being impressed with her East Village club history.
Danner’s rendition of Julie London’s “Cry Me A River” is pretty weak,while throaty. The best part of this Indie film is in the details.The bouquet of daisies replaced by the bowl of lemons,the dog’s leash, the digital clock’s red numerals, and the endless wine guzzling leave their mark.The cemetery urns,dust and the left cigar and the small trowl door knocker all leave us knowing that Carol will keep living each day and dreaming about tomorrow.

Brett Haley,director and writer, does a good job with Cath ( Malin Akerman) ,Carol’s daughter’s role~just enough love,concern and tension. Enjoy Danner’s blue,gray,and accented yellow wardrobe as you learn about her husband’s death twenty years ago. Her raised eyebrow,her classic trench coat and Riedel clinks make us know what she is thinking when one has “30 seconds to shift”. Georgina ( June Squibb) and Rona  (Mary Kay Place) complete the cast of  girl friends.

Sam Elliott’s Texas charmer role did surprise and his remark,”Hard to lose somebody no matter how many legs they have,” later has ironic resonance as his fate is learned. The song lyrics of the young pool cleaner/cum poet make the title of this film make sense.