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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Begin Again (2014)

I loved this movie, but there is a big criteria for enjoying this film.  You have to enjoy music ballads, and it probably wouldn't hurt to enjoy music within film.  In the classic Hollywood musical, I am fond of the back stage musical, where the music is not part of the dialogue but rather the back drop to the story.  This movie is what I think of as the modern musical, where the story revolves around the music, but the songs are just songs, not ways for two people to communicate.

The director of this movie is John Carney, who wrote and directed one of my all time favorite modern musicals "Once".  This one is not a blow-you-out-of-the-water romance, but rather a quiet repairing of broken romances.  Gretta (Kiera Knightley) is a song writer who comes to New York because her long time boyfriend (playes by Adam Levine of Maroon 5) has landed a record contract.  The boyfriend falls under the sway of his new record company to the tune of sleeping with someone else and selling out his otherwise pleasant music to a decidedly pop record producer.  He's got stars in his eyes, and Gretta is left angry and sad. Fortunately she has an old school mate's couch to sleep on.

Now comes the good part.  Mark Ruffalo plays his role as Dan, the scruffy, drunk, and desperate for a winner record producer, who had a great run for awhile but has hit a significant dry spell recently when it comes to discovering new talent.  He hears Gretta play in a coffee house and envisions an album that she can't quite picture but he pulls off marvelously.  While he is recording her ballads all over New York City he also manages to romance his desperate-for-a-functional-father daughter and his estranged wife (also played pitch perfectly by Catherine Keener).  It is feel good all around and fun to watch.

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