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This is a feel good movie about musicians making an album. Mark Ruffalo
and Keira Knightley play producer and song writer who team up to make a
demo filmed all over the city. The songs are pleasant and the
characters are sympathetic and likable even Hailee Steinfeld as Mark's
daughter. There is a nice dynamic between the characters which makes
the movie enjoyable to watch. There is almost as much music as a
musical but it doesn't feel much like a musical.
Who knew Keira could sing so well? She doesn't have the most powerful voice but her singing is musical and right for the type of songs. Mark looks suitably scruffy for the fallen on hard times composer. Nice cameo by Ceelo Green and Adam Levine who sings quite a few songs.
Movies like this are pleasant and uplifting to watch - if you want a break from action or violence of summer blockbusters.
"A movie about modern advances dismantling the art industry as we know
it by replacing the high-paid middle-men with IT, bringing artist
closer to audience." Doesn't sound like a thrilling blurb, but this
movie brings the story to live with incredible writing, great music,
wonderful performances and a brilliant vision. Just like in "Once,"
this not-love-story side-steps the romance plot Hollywood usually uses
like a crutch and focuses on the struggle and triumph or artistic
endeavor. (most mainstream stories end with the message that the only
happy ending ends in breeding. This tale recognizes the value of
humankind's other creative capabilities.) Not that the film's all
esoteric and above family. There are all kinds of emotional wounds we
suffer in this life, in our families. Rather than a sub-plot focused on
starting a family, this story's sub-plot focuses on both growing strong
after a family fails (harder) and on repairing another failed family
And that's all below the point.
Music! What wonderful music they used in this film, from the soundtrack to the original performances. The way they bring the performances and the creative process to life - the pain, the joy, the failures and triumphs - is just thrilling. This is the kind of film that will make you want to get up and MAKE STUFF. And then put it out there because you can. You don't need the middle-men anymore. You don't need the industry.
To create is the highest expression of humanity and so, perhaps, making art (like this film) that inspires creativity in others is yet a step above.
Once again, Carney wins me.
I'll let the other reviewers introduce you to the characters and the plot, I'll just say this -- for me, this is a perfect movie. It took hold of me from the start, took me down to the depths, up to the heights, and never let me go until the last frame. Perfect execution: casting, performances, writing. The actors just nail it, especially Knightley and Ruffalo, though I would have liked to have seen more done with Catherine Keener.
I rarely watch movies twice, but there are people I want to share this with, and I ordered the soundtrack as soon as I returned home.
How will they finish this, I kept thinking toward the end. The answer? Perfectly.
John Carney is one of the few people working in movies today whose next
work I am always eager to see. Along with a few others such as Richard
Linklater, he has proved to me that you can take a premise which has
been explored many times before and view it from a different
perspective to create something that feels original and fresh. His
previous work 'Once' did this and is among my favourite films.
Suffice to say, when I saw the trailer for Begin Again it simply did not grab me. My first worry was that it looked 'too Hollywood' (read as 'cliche and predictable movie churned out to make money with little care or thought for the story it is telling'). I felt a little worried going in to see the film that somehow Mr. Carney had fallen foul of the big producers, making sacrifices to the story in order to get some 'names' into it.
However, around 20 minutes in, my hopes returned and I knew it was going to be special... and it just got better from there. the film builds on the story and characters as it goes on, making me care about them, showing me things I had never seen before in similar movies and above all, making me think. As the credits rolled, I was wiping my eyes, partly from the wonderful soundtrack but mostly because Begin Again is a magical film. It still has the 'spark' that I felt in his previous pictures, a huge amount of love, passion and care that has brought it into being - not just a half baked idea thrown out there to pay back impatient investors. The soundtrack, performances and well-crafted script took me on an emotionally rewarding journey, leaving me feeling inspired, uplifted and a little nostalgic for times gone by. yep, I am gushing, but it really is going to be hard to beat for film of the year for me.
Between the scenes, I also loved how it discreetly touched on some important issues with throwaway lines, addressing things which people take for granted these days: 'Music is for the ears, not the eyes.' and 'don't dress like you are easy' being two of them. Image is so ingrained into art these days, the majority of people all seem to judge a book by it's cover without looking inside. And the same could be said for this film too. On the outside it looks like yet another generic, manufactured Pop Idol... but if you sit down and watch it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised that it has something profound to say and says it well.
Thought provoking, life affirming and highly recommended!
I was expecting a cheesy film. I am not into musicals so was hesitant to commit to this film, in a theatre. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I find some of Ruffalos work, like Now you see me, to be hard to sit through. I did not dislike that film, but I hated his performance. Part of it was how vapid the character was. In this film it is the opposite. He is charming, roguish, creative, and delightful to watch. Quite frankly I did not think Knightly was up to this either. Was I ever surprised. She was great. Well written, well directed, and very good overall. In these days of Hollywood losing its edge, and producing more and more low quality, derivative work, it is refreshing to see a film like this one. And I did not even need to use my earplugs. Transformer this film was not. Thankfully.
I knew virtually nothing about this film - hadn't even seen the trailer
- when I drug my wife to see it last night, and we were both very
pleasantly surprised. The characters are drawn in such a way that they
are both like-able and relatable. In the end, the film builds emotion
with the audience not by means of incredible stretches of the
imagination, but through a gradually reinforced empathy. I have seen
all the summer blockbusters, and the single largest failure in most of
them is that they create shallow characters that the audience does not
The dynamics used in this movie cause an engagement in the audience that is necessary in ANY film for it to be great. This one is not to be missed in the CGI-filled summer.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
John Carney is back with a new musical. His 2006 film "Once" is one of my favorite films of all time and I was interested to see where Carney would go next. Watching the trailers for "Begin Again" didn't give me much hope for it, but just enough for me to go out and see it. I enjoyed it much more than I expected though.
"Begin Again" is very similar to "Once," except Carney has a bigger budget and famous movie stars. It deals with Dan and Greta (Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, respectively) who after being cheated on by their former boyfriend/girlfriend meet up and record some songs together. Ruffalo is great as the down on his luck, charming, but often drunk, music producer Dan. Knightley also has a solid performance. Adam Levine does a good job of being a jerk and James Corden is hilarious as Greta's busking friend Steve. The films has themes of love, fatherhood, and the way we use music in our lives.
"Begin Again" is for all the music lovers out there who enjoy creating music. The movie is filled with characters whose religion is music. Look at Dan's car and how he has a music cable hung up on the mirror next to a cross. There's a great moment when Dan listens to Greta perform for the first time. What is just a voice and guitar slowly grows into something much bigger and beautiful. The soundtrack is more poppy compared to the folk songs in "Once," but they are nice to listen to.
This film is the movie you kind of have to be in the mood for to really enjoy. It can be predictable and sappy at times, but it does it well. If you accept it for what it is, you'll enjoy it. "Begin Again" is a musical treat this summer that will leave you wanting to listen to more music and maybe even creating some of your own.
First, I love that you put the song, Thinking About Your Love, by Skipworth and Turner, in this movie! I've always loved their songs, beat and talent. Great choice. The original music was also quite good! Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly were great, as well as his wife, Catherine Keener, who is always great, and the daughter, Hailee Steinfeld. I love the whole idea of the movie. I could imagine it was fun from the moment John Carney wrote it and set about making it in to a movie. The idea for an album is too clever. Toying with love interests also kept the movie intriguing as did the creative process that was always at work, throughout the movie. My number one judge of a good movie is did it hold my interest and this movie definitely did. I think another way of putting it would be, did the movie seem like it did not seem long, whatever the length of the movie, if it didn't seem long, then it worked, because you lost track of time by being drawn in to the story and characters. Great story and movie! I definitely recommend people go see it and hope it catches fire, because it's much better than most of the movies that are out this summer.
I was a big fan of the group the Frames and was very excited when I
learned about "Once" directed by John Carney and starring Glen Hasard
both members of the Frames. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it had an
almost documentary like feel to it. Begin again for me was a statement
about how music affects our lives and how different songs can take on
different meanings for all of us. For my wife and myself , Ben Folds
the Luckiest has a special meaning in our relationship, to most others,
it is just another song.
I loved how Begin Again opens with a rather banal sounding song being sung by Kiera Knightly in a small nightclub as Ruffalo stands enthralled. Then for the next 15 minutes we discover why.
The movie uses music in that way several times and I felt it really worked. Your enjoyment of the film will probably be greatly determined by what you think of the music. I happened to love it. Even that banal song soon takes on all new meaning. The entire cast is great and Ruffalo certainly delivers one of his strongest performances.
I have not seen Words and Pictures. My limited knowledge of the film is that it might have a similar theme when it comes to music in our lives. This is a little feel good movie. The kind of film that is a welcome respite in Summer blockbuster season. Last year we had the Way Way back to fill this niche. This year is is Begin Again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a movie about trying not to be cliché and cheesy, it was just that. From the portrayal of the cliché music company exec who says, "Capiche," to the all white group of alley kids extorting cigarettes suddenly cooperating to sing background vocals. The daughter, whose mother says is "Terrible" on guitar suddenly plays like Hendrix? Please! This movie was cliché after cliché and held no integrity for its art like it professed in its story. I'm puzzled at how others were able to offer such high ratings for such a ho-hum effort. Either insider connections trying to hype their friends' work or hired review writers. Not sure. Half a star for the story + half a star for the song.
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