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'Invictus' and songs in movies (that don't need songs)

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It’s clear in every frame that Invictus is about Nelson Mandela’s strategy to use a national love of rugby in the service of national racial healing in post-Apartheid South Africa. But in case we miss the point, the South African vocal group Overtone sings the emotions we’re meant to feel, in a song called “Colorblind.” So welcome to the first in an occasional airing of one critic’s pet peeves: I hate songs in non-musical movies that tell us what we’re meant to feel! Especially in serious dramas! The minute the tunes come up, I think, “Uh oh, they couldn’t figure out how to get the action across in silence.” Sometimes, I even mentally strip the music out as I’m watching.

I mean, I’m not even crazy about including cool songs by bitchin’ indie bands, the kind incorporated into Up in the Air. And believe me, I love that movie.

See that picture above? That’s Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, riding his new-fangled bicycle to Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” Great song, great scene, great use of music because the music is the action. In a movie set on a rugby field, though, in the heat of competition, when Nelson Mandela himself has urged victory, don’t you think that’s enough inspiration?

Here’s where you tell me all the songs you do or don’t like in movies, and I hum along.

Image credit: Everett Collection