Cyrano is an excellent film, one that fans of Peter Dinklage will hail as perhaps his best performance yet. Beyond his acting – which may just see him hoist the Oscar in 2022 – lies an amazingly-done musical romantic drama. Cyrano will tug at your heartstrings, and make you fully invest yourselves in the lives, and loves, of this wonderful cast of characters.
The film quickly introduces us to our main cast of characters, and establishing their main traits with a fairly efficient and well-crafted ‘show, don’t tell’ approach: Hayley Bennett’s Roxanne remains upbeat, optimistic, witty – despite her stern maid’s warnings of her waning fortunes; Ben Mendelsohn’s De Guiche meets our expectations of his described personality – pompous, arrogant, and fairly repulsive; Kelvin Harrison Jr’s Christian finds himself immediately besotted with Roxanne – at the expense of a pickpocket taking advantage of his lack of situational awareness to relieve him of his purse. Our last main character introduced is the titular Cyrano, and Peter Dinklage immediately establishes his domineering screen presence. We don’t see him at first, as he throws his voice around a crowded theatre, threatening a respected stage actor with whom he had taken issue with in the recent past.
The camerawork and sound editing in this scene is phenomenal – with just a few simple zooms into dimly lit patches of audience, close-up reaction shots of the increasingly terrified actor Montfleury, and Cyrano’s almost omni-directional voice, Cyrano is given an aura of mystery, almost more a Batman-type legendary figure then a man. Just as we hit the apex of tension, we see Cyrano for the first time; and the final nail is driven in, the audience becomes instantly aware of all the elements of Cyrano’s outward-facing personality.
Full of bravado, striking fear into the hearts of others – here is a man whose reputation is literally larger than life, defying the expectations of the society of his time due to his dwarfism, going even further to far exceed the ability of any of his peers. His entrance to the room paralyses the audience – and for the other audience, on the other side of the fourth wall – lets us know that we’re in for nothing less than one of Peter Dinklage’s all-time great performances.
As the film’s plot progresses, we’re treated to two excellent scenes of action choreography, as well as the further development of Cyrano and Roxanne’s characters. Dinklage effortlessly humanises Cyrano, with nothing more than a lingering side-long glance at Roxanne, in a moment of distraction during a swordfight with one of De Guiche’s cronies. Hayley Bennett brings the other half of this encounter, portraying a nervous energy at the possibility of Cyrano being harmed, contextualising their relationship while Dinklage adds a clear, one-sided undercurrent of unrequited love. We’re told as much a few minutes later, as Cyrano delivers his thoughts and feelings both to camera his friend, Le Bret, in the form of a touching musical monologue that finishes our introduction to the titular character: not even thirty minutes in, and already Cyrano de Bergerac is a fully-realised character – we see both the façade of bravado and panache, the superman he presents himself as; and the insecurity, vulnerability, and desires of the flawed human underneath.
The opportunity for him to live out these desires, using a mouthpiece to express his love in the form of newly recruited guard Christian, with whom Roxanne confesses to have fallen in love at first sight. Scene after scene we are treated to Roxanne falling more and more in love with Christian’s soul and personality, expressed in the form of letters secretly written by Cyrano, but signed and delivered in Christian’s name. Scene after scene, we see Cyrano live out the tragic, bittersweet reality of watching the woman he loves love another, made both better and worse because it’s his very words causing it.
My only issue with the film is its final sequence. Cyrano does an excellent job building rising tension: Mendelsohn’s De Guiche poses a continuous underlying threat to our trio of protagonists, exuding an intimidating persona of power and privilege, putting plots into motion from which the characters always only just escape; Cyrano’s ploy to bring Christian and Roxanne together builds and builds as time goes on – culminating in De Guiche’s decision to send Cyrano and Christian’s regiment of guards on a suicide mission, to finally rid himself of them for their slights against him; as well as Christian’s inevitable realisation of Cyrano’s love for Roxanne, just as Roxanne expresses to Christian through letter that she loves him for his personality, and would love him still even if he came back from war disfigured or maimed. This scene takes place right after a strongly emotional musical number, giving us a look into the lives of three unnamed soldiers in their regiment, singing about their lives, their loved ones, and handing over their final letters, fully expecting to die in the coming battle. Christian encourages Cyrano to tell Roxanne that it was him writing the letters, realising Roxanne can never truly love him as she would love Cyrano. He’s shot dead by the enemy, and Cyrano himself is wounded in action – but we’re treated to a several-year time skip immediately after this climax.
Cyrano is long-suffering due to his wound. On death’s door, he finally confesses to Roxanne a few minutes before he finally dies, as she reveals she’s always loved him just as he did her. It feels jarring, and for me personally, was incredibly abrupt. However, I can’t fully criticise the film for this – it’s entirely part of the source material, Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, except that contains a fifteen year time skip, and Cyrano was mortally wounded by a log being dropped on his head. Comparatively, the film’s version of events isn’t ridiculous at all, and Cyrano’s inability to confess his love and letter-writing is well in line with the portrayal of his character thus far, and a scene is thrown in showing Cyrano alone in his room, writing a new letter confessing himself to Roxanne. A wider shot reveals the room’s plastered in hundreds of discarded letters – presumably several years of the normally verbose poet’s attempts to find the right words. It bears the marks of attempting to fix this issue by mostly adapting it out, but it doesn’t go quite far enough for me.
To conclude, Cyrano is a truly great film, and credit has to go to an excellent adaptation by director Joe Wright and writer Erica Schmidt. It’s well-shot, well-written, and the performances will truly astound you, with special credit going of course to Peter Dinklage, who shines even amongst the excellent work done by Hayley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr, and Ben Mendelsohn. It’s an actor vehicle of a film, and while there’s no finer driver than Dinklage, worthy congratulations go to the people who built that vehicle for him – the crew excels in their roles, from camera and sound, sets and costuming, choreography, writing and direction, this is truly a well-oiled machine, uplifting the cast and letting them act their hearts out on the shoulders of giants. If you can see Cyrano do so, and if you’re a voting member of the Academy, give Dinklage the Oscar.
Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.
For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.
Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.
Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.
The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!
Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”
Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners.
Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!
With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.
“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”
With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video.
Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.
‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.
This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.
“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”
The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak.
The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.
The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”
The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial.