Comedy #9: “The Commitments” (1991)
For all of his success, Alan Parker is still underrated as a director. Here is a guy who went directly from working with a young Jodie Foster in the strange all-children gangster musical “Bugsy Malone” to the infamous Turkish prison movie “Midnight Express,” and back to musicals with “Fame.” In “Shoot the Moon” he did possibly the best — that is to say painful, bleak and hopeless — film ever about divorce, and took on the unenviable task of plumbing the psychological depths of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and turning it into a real opera.
Almost as notorious as “Midnight Express” was his film noir/gothic horror mashup “Angel Heart,” — one of the few movies I ever went to see twice in the theater in the same week — with Robert DeNiro in one of his most effective roles, and a blood-soaked Lisa Bonet going all out in an attempt to break away from her Bill Cosby good girl image.
Alan Parker’s best film however (and another we went to see twice in the same week) was his paean to soul music, “The Commitments.” Set in Ireland, it follows a dozen Dubliners in their doomed attempt to launch a band. Heartfelt, eminently quotable and fooking hilarious, with a cast of talented unknowns and a kick-ass soundtrack, “The Commitments” actually had us dancing in the aisle of the movie theater.