10 June 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
A Glass Act: Singer/Songwriter and ‘Sing Street’ soundtrack curator Gavin Glass on the films that shaped him
17 Jun 2015 : Paul Byrne
Gavin Glass lets us in on the films that shaped him
When he’s not releasing his own chart-topping albums - such as this month’s Sunday Songs - Gavin Glass keeps himself busy helping others find their groove, either as producer in his Orphan Recording Studios in Inchicore, Dublin, musical director for the likes of Lisa Hannigan, or curating the soundtrack to John Carney’s ‘Sing Street’.

How best to describe sweet all-rounder musician and all-round sweetie Gavin Glass? Is he a singer/songwriter who just happens to run one of Dublin’s coolest, friendliest recording studios? Or is he a renowned band leader who has aided and abetted many a fellow musician get their live mojo workin’ who also just happens to be a damn fine curator when it comes to pulling the perfect mixtape together - as proven by his radio show on The Pick Up, on TXFM, and his work as musical curator on John Carney’s upcoming big-screen musical odyssey, ‘Sing Street’?

We managed to drag Gavin out of rehearsals for his latest tour, and away from the studio, the dog and the missus, just long enough for him to list those films that have helped him become the widescreen dreamer that he is...

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (USA 1975/18/133mins)

My favourite movie of all time, hands down. My father recommended this movie to me when I was about 13 or 14. I was babysitting my little sister and it was being shown on TV. I don’t think he remembered how heavy the movie actually was. My folks came home to find me in a dribbling mess. It really had a profound effect on me. Everything about this movie works, especially the cast & their performances. Milos Forman set the film in an Oregon mental hospital (as was the same in Kesey’s novel) and had the actual superintendent Dr Dean Brooks, portray Dr Spivey in the film. Nicholson’s character Randal P. McMurphy (a role he won an oscar for in 1976) is a rough and ready hard-ass maverick who “fights and fucks too much”. He is a champion of the weak and afflicted, with razor-sharp wit, a heart of gold and a disdain for authority and injustice. I was looking for someone to replace Han Solo as a role model and Peacock McMurphy was that dude. Ah…Juicy Fruit.

Badlands (USA 1973/PG/94mins)

‘Terence Malick’s 1973 masterpiece was one of those movies that just stopped me dead in my tracks in my late teens. I had just seen Apocalypse Now and Carrie, which starred Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek respectively, and I heard that Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was based on the film. I later found out the movie itself is based on the actual killing spree that Charles ‘Mad-Dog’ Starkweather went on with his 13-year-old ‘girlfriend’ that left 11 people dead, including her parents and siblings. The cinematography and Carl Orff-Gassenhauer soundtrack are just beautiful and complement each other so well. Hans Zimmer went on to completely rip-off Gassenhauer with You’re So Cool. One of the things I love so much about this movie is the lack of explanation for Sheen’s character Kit’s actions. Summed up beautifully in The Boss’ closing lines of Nebraska - ‘They wanted to know why I did what I did/Well Sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world’.

Cool Hand Luke (USA 1967/PG/126mins)

‘The ultimate anti-hero movie starring one of my favourite actors, Paul Newman. I’m embarrassed to say that I was a massive Guns N’Roses fan when I was 16 and the warden’s “What we have here is a failure to communicate…” monologue was sampled in one of their songs. It was that song that led me to the movie. I don’t listen to Guns N’Roses anymore, but I usually watch Cool Hand Luke every year or so. I especially love the biblical references that permeate throughout the movie. It’s heartbreaking to see how the machine finally grinds down Luke’s ‘unbreakable’ will and resilience. The faces on the inmates when he finally begs for mercy would bring a tear to any cold, dead, black heart. George Kennedy, who plays the inmates leader Dragline, also turns out a stellar performance and won the best supporting actor Oscar. Still think of this movie every time I see a stack of boiled eggs in any deli counter.

The Night of The Hunter (USA 1955/12A/92mins)

Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter has to be one of the most under-rated American movies ever. I saw this when I was very young and it terrified me. I didn’t revisit it again till my mid-twenties. Robert Mitchum is amazingly well cast as The Preacher/Child Hunter and the image of his Love/ Hate tattooed knuckles is just unforgettable. In fact, there are so many unforgettable haunting images in this movie. The car in the watery grave, and the viewpoint of the fleeing children from the spider web. Way ahead of its time. A chiller/thriller classic. One of the few framed pictures in my house is the infamous shot of Mitchum by the white picket fence. “Chhhhhillll-drennn……..”

The Dark Knight (USA/UK 2008/12A/152mins)

I have had a love affair with Batman since I was five years old, when I patrolled the leafy suburbs of Goatstown in my homemade cowl and cape looking for crime to fight. Chris Nolan’s interpretation of The Dark Knight Detective was incredible, as was Christian Bale’s performance as the slightly deranged caped crusader. But it’s Heath Ledger’s portrayal of full blown bat-s**t (sorry) crazy Joker that steals the show. Apparently, Nolan gave Ledger free reign in developing his version of The Joker, which involved the actor locking himself in a hotel room in London for a month, experimenting with voices, talking to himself while writing a diary.

Goodfellas (USA 1990/18/146mins)

My favourite of all the gangster movies. Again, this is a movie I saw quite young and revisit once a year. I’ll usually cook a big Italian feast before I watch this, as this movie always makes me really hungry! Be it the scenes where they are all eating pasta at Uncle Paulie’s or the scene in the prison cell when they are cooking the steaks, using the razor blade to shave the garlic “so it would liquify in the pan”, or the late night feast prepared by Joe Pesci’s character Tommy’s mother (who is in fact Martin Scorcese’s actual mother). It’s a timeless movie with incredible characters and a typical Scorsese coked-up soundtrack. Nearly as quotable as The Big Lebowski or Whitnail & I - which don’t appear on this list, as I’m sure they are on everybody else’s - and rightly so...

The Last Waltz (USA 1978/PG/117mins)

I had to include one music film! Apart from Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense, there is no other concert movie that even comes close to The Last Waltz. The Band, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, Paul Butterfield, The Staple Singers and eh….Neil Diamond (Robbie Robertson was producing his Beautiful Noise record, that’s why he way there!) all join together for one final concert to mark the end of The Band as a touring group. The decision to call it quits was not what the members of The Band wanted, other than Robbie Robertson, who had accumulated a hefty bank balance from claiming songwriting royalties for most of The Band’s back catalogue and this is clearly evident in the interviews with drummer/singer Levon Helm. Directed by Martin Scorsese, who was best buddies with Robbie Robertson, the film captures a group of musicians at the peak of their musical prowess but also the bittersweet last hurrah of a rock and roll band who grew up together as kids. It has had a huge influence on me as a musician and producer.

Rio Bravo (USA 1959/PG/141mins)

I’m a western nut. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting down to a two-and-a-half-hour arse-numbing horse opera. I love all the gritty Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone stuff, but I have a special place in my heart for John Ford and Howard Hawks westerns, old school cowboyers. I’ll pretty much watch anything with The Duke in it. I especially love The Searchers, True Grit and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance but Rio Bravo is probably my all-time favourite. It’s just a really innocent feel-good movie and features a great cast with Dino Martin as The Dude (far out, man….) and Ricky Nelson as Colorado Ryan. Walter Brennan is also great as the cliched Stumpy. There are some great songs in there too, My Rifle, My Pony and Me and Get Along Home Cindy. It always puts me in a good mood and takes me back to watching a late night western with my Dad when he was left in charge.

John Carney's 'Sing Street' is currently in post-production. Gavin Glass will launch his new album, Sunday Songs, at Whelan’s on Sunday June 28th.

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