Sundance 2011 Review: “The Music Never Stopped”

There is rarely a movie at Sundance I don’t like. The selection is fairly broad, but every movie teaches me something new about life. This movie was no exception.

20 years after their son runs away from home, Henry Sawyer (JK Simmons) and Helen Sawyer (Cara Seymour) receive a call that their son has been found. Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci) is in the hospital in an almost comatose state. A brain tumor has destroyed many parts of his brain. The tumor is benign and removed, but leaves Gabriel without the ability to create long term memories.

Henry is completely detached from Gabriel because he feels that this is not the boy he remembers. He throws himself into work, at Polaroid, to avoid dealing with the everyday struggle that Gabriel presents. His boss calls him in and tells him that his future at Polaroid no longer exists. Henry is instructed to take the time he has and spend it with Gabriel.

A note is posted on Gabe’s cork board “Dad comes everyday at 10am”. Their relationship struggles until one night a nurse places headphones on Gabe. This causes him to get up and play the trumpet. Henry begins to research music therapy and discovers Dianne Daley. (Julia Ormond) She offers some hope that music will trigger something and help rehabilitate Gabe.

Dianne begins to work with Gabriel extensively and discovers that music from The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, and many other 1960’s bands brings him to life. He recounts several memories that help Helen, and more importantly Henry, to understand their son.

Henry trades in all of his records, in mint condition, for the music his son loves. He struggles to understand the appeal, but knowing his son is what is important now. The conversations between Henry and Gabriel begin to heal their broken relationship, and reveals that Gabe wishes he could have seen The Grateful Dead play. This pushes Henry to win tickets to a Grateful Dead concert on the radio.

Dianne’s work with Gabe progresses and he begins to associate things with beats of a tambourine. Henry hopes this will help him create new long term memories, but Dianne says that his memories are connected to songs he already loves. Henry feels that if Gabe could learn to love a new song maybe it would create the miracle he’s hoping for.

One night Henry suffers from a heart attack and is sent to the hospital. He doesn’t show up for his usual 10am appointment with Gabe. While in the hospital Henry calls the radio and wins the concert tickets.

Gabriel comes home for Christmas dinner and is reunited with his old girlfriend. This moment causes Gabe to have flashbacks of when they we’re together. Tamara (Tammy Blanchard) then reveals she is married with three kids, but Gabe doesn’t remember this for long.

As they open Christmas presents there is one gift that Henry is especially excited to give Gabriel. The tickets to The Grateful Dead concert. This excites both of them and continues the healing for them both.

At the concert Henry ends up dressing in tye-dye and a bandanna. Gabe is confused when the band comes out and Pig Pen is not on stage. Henry then tells Gabe that Pig Pen died several years ago. He doesn’t retain this information for long and asks again where Pig Pen is. Henry just smiles and listens as Gabe thinks he is sick.

The band starts up and they both sing songs like “Truckin'” and “Ripples”. Then suddenly a new song that Gabriel hasn’t heard before comes on, “Touches of Gray”. He dances to the song and loves it.After the concert they both reminisce about how much fun it was.

We then flash forward to Helen dressed in black and Gabe in a suit. He is running around his room frantically looking for something, but isn’t sure what. Henry has passed on, and missed his usual 10am appointment with Gabe.

At the funeral a boom box is brought out and “Touches of Gray” comes on. This immediately causes Gabe to cry.

As they walk away from the grave side, Gabe says to Helen, “Do you know where I first heard this song?”

Helen replies, “No, Gabe. Where?”

“The Music Never Stopped” was a story of despair, triumph, and miracles. The cast was perfect and gave performances that had the audience crying, cheering, and singing along. “The Music Never Stopped” is based on a true story and brought the entire audience to tears, myself included. Following the movie was a five-minute standing ovation for Jim Kohlberg.

JK Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man) gives an incredible performance as a father that learns to understand and love his son again.

Lou Taylor Pucci (Carriers, Horsemen) gives one of the strongest performances as Gabriel. The character is incredibly complex and you see every facet through his portrayal. In his Lou’s own words from the Q&A, “It was almost like playing two characters.”

Julia Ormond (Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Cara Seymour (An Education) give the perfect amount of support. They both are cheerleaders for Gabe and Henry and help to bring that dimension of real life.

I would have to give the movie 4/4 stars, because it brought out every emotion that I love in a movie. It allowed me to cry, laugh, and reflect on my own relationships. If you are up at Sundance, this is a movie not to be missed!



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Musical Me

Every week I have the incredible opportunity of working with an incredible vocal coach. Dean Kaelin has taught some of the most successful people in the music business. Dean’s students include David Archuleta, Carmen Rasmussen, and Julianne Hough.

It’s been an incredible, rewarding, and humbling to work with him. It seems like every lesson I get something new. I can now sing notes that only a few months ago seemed impossible.

I’ve also found my love for country music. It’s fun and has real meaning behind it. My life has taken an interesting turn in the music arena, but for some reason I feel like it’s the right one.

Is American Idol in my future? Probably not. I would rather take a traditional route. I will be hitting the studio in March, assuming I have recovered from surgery, to record some demo tracks. My excitement cannot be contained.

I will be doing a day by day recovery, but the minute I’m back to singing, you’ll know it!

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Free stuff. Who doesn’t love free stuff? My cousin Michelle, who is extremely talented as a writer and as an artist, is doing a giveaway. Her blog “Circles Dots and Other Distractions” is hilarious, especially for grammar buffs.

This month she is giving away custom envelopes that she crafted out of old German calendars. They are fun, different, German, and one of a kind. There are just a few things you have to do first!

If you want to win, do the following:

1. be a subscriber to her blog
2. send a link to this blog to a friend
3. leave a comment

Head over to her blog, because she is picking a winner TODAY! Click HERE for the link to the giveaway.

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As the days inch closer to my surgery, 15 to be exact, anxiety has set in. Am I doing this for the right reasons? What if I don’t wake up? If I do wake up will I have an infection? Will I be happy with the results?

I think before going under the knife everyone goes through several scenarios of “what if”. I have 15 days to reflect over my life, and while the phrase “my life flashed before my eyes” is ringing in my head. I don’t have the luxury of a flash. I get the in detail, every word, good moment, bad moment, in between moment, etc. This kind of reflection honestly makes one start to think of things that are important.

I also asked people for advice on IV’s. Now I’d like to think I have a high pain tolerance, but when I comes to needles, I am cowering in the corner. I was told to drink orange juice before I have to stop eating and drinking. This will supposedly make the needle hurt less and make my vein easier to find. I’m good for about one prick and then I’m done. If we do more…I might lose it and punch the nurse.

So here is to a speedy recovery, wonderful results, and to the hope that the nurse’s face will be spared!


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Bucket List

As I said in my last post, a bucket list is in the works. Have you ever thought about what you’d do if you might die? It isn’t like I think I’m going to die anytime soon, but I feel that finding a sense of accomplishment early on in life is a good plan.

Here we go…

1. Carve my name in the top of a mountain
2. Learn another language
3. Cook a legit French dish
4. Live in another country
5. Start a non-profit organization
6. One word…Motorcycle
7. Own a home
8. Read “War & Peace”
9. Learn to ski
10. Watch “The Bucket List” (Ha!)
11. Write a book
12. Win a music award
13. Intern in NYC
14. Set foot on every continent
15. Visit the village my great grandpa grew up in
16. Record a full-length album

These are just a few of the things I’d like to do before I die. I’m going to start working on a short, quickly accomplished, list. I want to start working on this right away!

Send me ideas! I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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Rock Climbing

Having a day off is a funny thing. You try to plan out what it is you’re going to do, but when it comes down to it, you never really do what was planned. Today was no exception for me. Not only did Martin Luther King Jr. pave the way for civil rights, but he also allowed for me to have a day off. I wish I would have done service, but alas I did not.

I almost feel guilty saying that I lounged on the couch for the better part of the day, but I did. I watched old movies, read, and ate more than I should have. Relaxation is key to my sanity, and I intend to get my mileage on a day off.

It wasn’t until the afternoon seemed to drag on and on. I sat up and decided that I was going to go rock climbing. I hadn’t been in a few months due to time constraints. I sent a few text messages…BAM…off to Momentum Climbing Gym. I met up with my awesome friend David Cline. (This kid can climb like it is NO ONE’S business!)

I’d be lying if I didn’t say heights scare the crap out of me. There is simply a  rope, David, and a pad keeping me from death this time around. I think that’s why the adrenaline rush is so intense…

I climbed for a couple of hours, but my final climb just about killed me. I didn’t fall, but my arms completely gave out. It was nice to know that all my time in the gym wasn’t in vain. I am not even slightly sore, which is good and bad in my book. Think about how buff I’ll be when I’ve been climbing for a few months.

I intend to do this as often as permitted. No exceptions. No excuses. In fact, I can’t exactly come up with a good excuse right now to not go tomorrow! There is a late night climb on Friday at Midnight, anyone who is interested click here! It is only $5 and goes for a couple of hours. I hope to see many people that I know there.

With my surgery coming up I intend to do as many things as possible! It isn’t like I think I’m going to die, although the thought has crossed my mind, I genuinely want to give life a shot. So with only two and a half weeks to go…my bucket list quest begins! I just have to write said list tonight…


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Sunday Funday!

Do you ever wake up on Sunday and dread what the day will bring? I know that I have, but recently it’s become one of my favorite days of the week. It just takes a little perspective to turn things around. There are many things coming at me this week and I worry I won’t be able to handle them all. Today was the day to prioritize. Therefore I will make a list, in order of importance, so everyone will know what this week holds for me.

1. Nauvoo Pageant Audition– Too many auditions to count, but this is the one that counts most of all! When I decided to come back to the church, I became obsessed with Nauvoo. I wanted to be there, live there, perform there, etc. Last year I auditioned for the pageant and made it to the final callback. Fortunately, the Lord knows what is best for me, and allowed me to get my wonderful job. (Which, by no coincidence, ends in May right before rehearsals begin!) I am determined to show them that I am ready! Not just with my finances, voice, or acting ability, but with my spirit. My life has changed so dramatically over the last year. I just couldn’t feel more right about this audition.

2. Chair Interviews– These are a time suck. My hope is that I will find the right person to fill this job. The last person was so wonderful, but I understand circumstances change. I just hope that I can hold it together this semester!

3. Possible Date– I’ve been thinking more and more about dating. Normally I am able to squash this idea pretty quick. Too many reasons to actually name, but here are a few. I am extremely busy, emotionally unavailable, socially awkward, and really focused on a career right now. So why date? I’m getting rusty and practice makes perfect. Fortunately I think I have found someone to ask out, no pressure, and just have a good time. We’ll see.

4. Bishop Interview– Honestly this one isn’t as big of a deal because I meet with my bishop quite often. That is until I realized that I think I’m ready to go to the temple. Not just for baptisms, I’m talking like legit TO THE TEMPLE! For anyone who knows me on an intimate level, this is a huge step for me and one that most people never thought would happen. Here I am almost 23 years old, haven’t gone through the temple, and no prospect of marriage. I’m sure there is a registry for this type of law breaker in Utah. And no, I’m not thinking LDSlinkup.

That is my week in a nutshell. May not seem as stressful as I made it sound, but it feels overwhelming day to day. These are just the responsibilities I throw on top of my regular ones. We’ll see how this goes…more to come!

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