Take The Full Monty, add a sharper emotional edge, and replace the strutting strippers with a dignified British band. That's the essence of Brassed Off, a bittersweet gem released in 1996, a year before its more popular (and Oscar-nominated) counterpart. In the Yorkshire town of Grimley, there has always been a coal mine, just as for the last 111 years there has been a brass band, and it seems that Danny (the wondrous Pete Postlethwaite) has been the director for every one of those years. Tory economic policies, however, are closing coal mines around the country in favor of nuclear power, and Grimley appears to be next on the list. Danny is unfazed by the threat, claiming, "It's music that matters." But some of the men are about to quit the band until the appearance of Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald at her most radiant), who dazzles the all-male group (including old flame Andy, played by Ewan McGregor) first with her beauty, then with her flügelhorn playing. The new member gives the band a boost as they continue to perform and compete, but closure remains very real, as director Mark Herman (Little Voice) accompanies the band's performances (played with gusto by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band) with scenes of angry labor-management confrontations and family strife. In this context, some of the characters claim that the music is an irresponsible form of escapism. It becomes clear, however, from a touching performance of "Danny Boy" to the stirring conclusion at Royal Albert Hall, that music is an expression of the human spirit, a bit of beauty and sanity in a harsh world. With defiance, the band can play "Land of Hope and Glory," even when the land offers them neither. --David Horiuchi
This band behind me'll tell you that that trophy means more to me than owt else in the whole world. But they'd be wrong! Truth is, I THOUGHT it mattered. I thought that MUSIC mattered. But does it bollocks? Not compared to how people matter. Us winning this trophy won't mean bugger-all to most people. But us refusing it - like what we're going to do now - well, then it becomes news, doesn't it?
You see what I mean. That way, I'll not just be talking to myself, will I? Because over the last ten years, this bloody government has systematically destroyed an entire industry. OUR industry. And not just our industry - our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of "progress". And for a few lousy bob. I'll tell you something else you might not know, as well. A fortnight ago, this band's pit were closed - another thousand men lost their jobs. And that's not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight. But when it comes to losing the will to live, to breathe, the point is - if this lot were seals or whales, you'd all be up in bloody arms. But their not, are they, no, no they're not. They're just ordinary common-or-garden honest, decent human beings. And not one of them with an ounce of bloody hope left. Oh aye, they can knock out a bloody good tune. But what the fuck does that matter?
And now I'm going to take my boys out onto the town. Thank you.
Poor old biddies. Don't they know they're pissing in the wind, like the rest of us?
Can they do that, women?
Piss in the wind.
No, Ernie. That's just the point.
No, but on a nice day, you know, when there's no wind about. They can't - you know - get any direction on it.
All right, whatever it is that lasses do that's pointless.
Bloody hell. So much to choose from.
Fart in a force ten?
By god, Phil, you don't half know some funny women.
Steady lads. My missus does that.
You daft bastards. Women Against Closure? That is when she's not farting in a force ten!