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Movie Review: Hit ‘n Strum

April 5, 2013

Hit 'n Strum PosterHit ‘n Strum – A 4Branch Productions Release

http://hitnstrum.com

Release Date: April 5th, 2013 @ Cineplex Yonge & Dundas

Rated PG for mature themes and language

Running time: 90 minutes

Kirk Caouette (dir.)

Kirk Caouette (writer)

Kirk Caouette (music)

Michelle Harrison as Stephanie

Kirk Caouette as Mike

Paul McGillion as Christopher

Kelly Richard Fennig as Apallo

Dana Pemberton as Rasta

Angelo Renai as Business Man

Michael Kopsa as Physician

John Mann as Guitar shop clerk

Reg Tupper as Music Executive

Marion Eisman as Stephanie’s mother

Hit 'n Strum

©4Branch Productions.  All Rights Reserved.

Rasta (Dana Pemberton), Mike (Kirk Caouette) and Apallo (Kelly Richard Fenning) in Hit ‘n Strum.

Our reviews below:

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Hit ‘n Strum Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The most impressive thing about the small Canadian film Hit ‘n Strum is the work of Kirk Caouette.  The former stuntman does quadruple duty behind the production which he directed from his own screenplay, delivering a believable supporting performance while also performing the excellent soundtrack.

Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) is a rich business woman who accidentally runs down a homeless man with her car.  He is an immensely talented musician named Mike (Kirk Caouette) who lives on the streets of Vancouver, trying to make ends meet as he plays his guitar and sings on the sidewalk.  Feeling guilty over the accident, Stephanie buys him a new guitar and agrees to help him get back on his feet, even trying to sign a record deal for him and his buddies, Apallo (Kelly Richard Fenning) and Rasta (Dana Pemberton).  But Mike doesn’t want necessarily want her help, having set up a life for himself on the streets, even if it is taxing on his physical health.

There is a bit of an over reliance on fadeouts between scenes and these edits can sometimes make the timeline a bit confusing.  But Hit ‘n Strum is also an incredibly well intentioned film, and it represents a promising debut for the multitalented Kirk Caouette who absolutely excels in all of his many roles, starting with the touching script and his believable performance.  He also directs the film with great sensitivity, which is made all the better for having a hopeful but realistic ending, without sidestepping into easy inspiration.

The soundtrack is excellent, with all of the songs written and performed by Kirk Caouette in a style that recalls Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Rodriguez.  With several standout performances, including the haunting tracks “Release Me” and “Hands With the Devil,” the music is a big part of what makes the film worth seeing and the soundtrack is highly recommended.  This is a moving little Canadian film that is absolutely worth seeking out.

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Hit ‘n Strum Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

A small Canadian indie, Hit ‘n Strum is a simple and very real-feeling story about two people from very different worlds.  When business woman Stephanie (Michellle Harrison) is driving distracted, she accidentally hits a homeless man (Kirk Caouette).  When he stumbles out of the way of her car, she panics and drives off, but not before they’ve seen each other.  The next day, Stephanie recognizes the same man busking near her office.  Feeling guilty for driving off, she tries to offer him help, but he doesn’t really want it from her.  But she persists, surprised at the talent this man and his two fellow buskers in his band have.  It is a story about two people trying to understand each other’s lives, and how even brief connections between strangers can change their lives forever.

While a few of the edits (slight overuse of fade to blacks as though made for commercial breaks) didn’t quite mesh, the film works as well as it does due quite a bit to Kirk Caouette, who not only plays the lead, but also wrote/sings the songs and wrote/directed the film.  No stranger to the film industry, according to IMDb, Caouette has been a stuntman since the mid-’90s, although Hit n’ Strum is his first film writing, directing, and playing a lead role.  But I think the thing that really elevated the film for me is the music.  The songs created for the fictional busking band “Mike and the Cobblestone Prophets” are really good – the soundtrack is available on iTunes and I strongly recommend you check it out as well as giving the film a chance.

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Hit ‘n Strum Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Sometimes things happen for a reason.  In Hit ‘n Strum, Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) is a wealthy business woman who begins to discover an overlooked aspect of urban life when she hits a homeless man while driving distracted.  The man, Mike (Kirk Caouette) is unharmed, but she feels she must do something to help.  It turns out he is a very talented folk singer, who busks on the streets of Vancouver with his two buddies.

Stephanie wants Mike to bring his talents to a wider audience, so that he can move off the street.  While Mike is hesitant, an unlikely friendship develops between him and Stephanie.  Hit ‘n Strum has a few similarities to The Soloist, another film about musical talent and homelessness.  Like The Soloist, Hit ‘n Strum conveys a friendship between a homeless person and a person who is determined to get their friend off the street.

The film contains several original songs, written and performed by co-star Kirk Caouette.  They really carry the story along, by providing insight into some of Mike’s hidden life.  What makes Hit ‘n Strum believable is that the viewer never knows Mike’s entire ordeal.  The audience only knows as much as Stephanie does.  The connection between Stephanie and Mike is very moving.  It never moves into cliché, and it is one of the most believable human connections put on screen recently.

The film’s quiet, low key Canadian feel gives it yet another air of believability.  With no content other than brief thematic language, Hit ‘n Strum would be suitable to be shown at a community or church group.  This is a touching film that will move anyone from teens to adults.  Hit ‘n Strum is worth seeking out.

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Hit ‘n Strum Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

How many of us who live in urban areas really give much thought about who a homeless individual is as a person?  Hit ‘n Strum is a wonderful Canadian indie film that centres around a friendship of sorts that develops between a homeless busker musician, Mike (Kirk Caouette) and the rich young business executive, Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) who accidentally hits him with her car.

When Stephanie flees the scene of the accident, she is consumed with guilt and returns the next day to try and find the man to see if he’s okay.  What she discovers over a series of encounters with Mike at his usual street busking spot is that he is a talented folk singer/songwriter who seems content to earn whatever meagre amount passers by throw in his guitar case.  She also discovers that Mike is very private about his past and hesitant to move past his street life.  Stephanie manages to convince him and his two fellow street musicians to record a CD at her expense and see where the experience takes them.

Hi ‘n Strum works thanks to the very talented efforts of writer/director, singer/songwriter and lead actor Kirk Caouette.  His performance as the shy and guarded musician feels authentic.  The songs all written and performed by him are the backbone of the movie.  The lyrics reveal much of Mike’s backstory in a natural and believable way.  The story never feels contrived or melodramatic, but reminds the viewer that we really can’t judge someone else’s life choices.

Hit ‘n Strum is worth seeing for the efforts of Kirk Caouette, especially for those interested in the power of music to express oneself and the issue of homelessness.

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Hit ‘n Strum Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Hit ‘n Strum opens in downtown Vancouver where the successful and attractive Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) hits the street person Mike (Kirk Caouette) with her car. When he appears not to be seriously injured, she panics and drives away even though he has had a good look at her. She later discovers him busking near her workplace, but when she approaches him to apologize, he claims she owes him nothing and doesn’t keep an expensive guitar she buys him as a peace offering.

The fiercely independent Mike rejects Stephanie’s materialism, preferring to live outside with what he can make from his music and recycling. When he gets sick from tuberculosis, Stephanie lets him crash in her apartment over the objections of her fiancé  (Paul McGillion). She also books studio time so he can make a CD for her wedding that she pitches to a Toronto promoter. Though Mike resists all Stephanie’s efforts to reach out, he has a profound effect on all those around him.

As a modest Canadian film, Hit ‘n Strum is above average, given its fine cast served by a sensitive script, and an impressive achievement for former stuntman Kirk Caouette. Besides his writing, directing and starring role, including taking the car hit in the opening scene, the songs he has written and performs in the film are really good.

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Consensus: A strong showcase for the multitalented writer and director Kirk Caouette who stars in the film and provides the excellent soundtrack, Hit ‘n Strum is a small Canadian production with a believable story that is worth seeing.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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