Ongoing Coverage:
Movies I've Seen A Million Times
2:35 pm
Sat July 28, 2012

The Movie Kasi Lemmons Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 6:05 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For writer-director Kasi Lemmons, whose credits include Eve's Bayou, The Caveman's Valentine and Talk to Me, the movie she could watch a million times is John Carney's musical Once. "I was so taken by the filmmaking," Lemmons says.


Interview Highlights

On why she loves Once

"I first saw it when it was in theaters and I was just so taken by the filmmaking, honestly. I just thought it was just so spectacularly made. But then I watched it with my sister and the funny thing about my sister and I is that we have completely different movie tastes, you know. Her favorite movie is Love Actually and mine is The Celebration, but we have a place of convergence in our taste. And one day we discussed the fact that we both loved this movie, we went and rented it and watched it seven times in 24 hours. We just put it on and just didn't stop watching it. It was such a sweet experience, we were singing the songs, and you know, pretty soon the kids were singing the songs, it was so much fun! It was our pajama-Once-party."

On why the movie holds a special meaning for her

"Every time that there's an opportunity, you know, or I run into the title, I have to watch it. I feel compelled to. And, I've got to say, it has a special wistfulness for me now because I lost my sister a year ago, she passed away, and so now when I watch it, it's filled with this — it's that wonderful relationship that you have, that you might not get to keep, but that allows you to go on and love again and keep living and gives you strength and power. So it's a really, really special film for me."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. All summer long, we've been asking people who work in film to talk about the movie that changed their life, including this one from the writer/director of "Eve's Bayou."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KASI LEMMONS: My name is Kasi Lemmons. I'm a writer and director. And my movie that I've seen 100 times at least is "Once." It's directed by John Carney. And it's starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

GLEN HANSARD: (Singing) Scratching at the surface now, and I'm trying hard to work it out...

LEMMONS: Well, it has this wonderful opening where you just see this guy, and he's playing guitar on the street - he's a street musician - and he's singing his heart out.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

HANSARD: (Singing) 'Cause this is what you've waited for, your chance to even up the score...

LEMMONS: And we realize that a girl is watching him. She's been watching him. And she gives him a dime. You know, it's really all she has. He's slightly insulted.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

HANSARD: (as Guy) Thanks. Ten cents. Brilliant. Thanks.

MARKETA IRGLOVA: (as Girl) Excuse me?

HANSARD: Take.

LEMMONS: But she talks about how the song, it must mean something to him and, you know, who's this person that he's written this song about.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

IRGLOVA: (as Girl) Who did you write this song for, please?

HANSARD: (as Guy) No one.

IRGLOVA: Where is she?

HANSARD: She's gone.

LEMMONS: The most important thing about his character is that his heart is broken. A woman's broken his heart, and this young girl comes into that turmoil, that void and, you know, starts to take up space. And he realizes that he cares about her.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

HANSARD: (as Guy) (Singing) That one chance that we got when we missed every shot...

LEMMONS: I first saw it when it was in theaters, and I was so taken. I mean, I was so taken by the filmmaking, honestly. I mean, I just thought it was spectacularly made. But then, I watched it with my sister. And the funny thing about my sister and I is we have completely different movie tastes. You know, her favorite movie is "Love Actually," and mine is "The Celebration." But we have a place of convergence in our taste.

LEMMONS: And one day, we discussed the fact that we both love this movie. We went and rented it and watched it seven times in 24 hours. We just put it on and just didn't stop watching it. It was such a sweet experience. And we were singing the songs, and, you know, pretty soon, the kids are singing the songs. It was so much fun. And it was our pajama "Once" party.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

GLEN HANSARD AND MARKETA IRGLOVA: (Singing) When your mind's made up, when your mind's made up.

LEMMONS: It has this beautiful scene where he's asked her to write some lyrics to a song, and she runs out of batteries. The battery is dying. She has to go to the store and get batteries. And, there's just, you know, this long shot of her walking out and playing the music with her lyric.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

IRGLOVA: (as Girl) (Singing) Are you really here, or am I dreaming? I can't tell dreams from truth.

LEMMONS: Every time that there's an opportunity, you know, where I ran into the title, I have to watch it. I'm just - I feel compelled to. And I've got to say it has a special wistfulness, you know, for me now because I lost my sister a year ago. She passed away. And so now, when I watch it, it's filled with this - it's that wonderful relationship that you have that you might not get to keep but that allows you to go on and love again and keep living and gives you strength, you know, and power. So it's a really, really special film for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE")

IRGLOVA: (Singing) Take this sinking boat and point...

RAZ: That's the writer/director Kasi Lemmons talking about the movie she can watch a million times, "Once." Lemmons is currently working on her next film, an adaptation of the Langston Hughes play "Black Nativity." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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