Thursday, November 6, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: BEGIN AGAIN

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

This week's movie is an unusual one that I like very much: Begin Again (2013, Rated R, Available On DVD).


I don't think this movie received much attention. (Okay, now everybody tell me that of course you've heard of this movie and you can't believe I didn't know about it instead of telling me you've never heard of it the way you usually do.)

The fact that Mark Ruffalo is in Begin Again attracted me to it. I used to have trouble remembering which actor is Mark Ruffalo and which one is Paul Rudd.

Mark Ruffalo


Paul Rudd

I have now memorized which is which. Although I think Paul Rudd is very funny, Mark Ruffalo is the superior actor. He can do drama and still do stuff that's funny. Begin Again is a drama, but thanks to Mark Ruffalo, it has some funny moments.

Ruffalo plays Dan, who started a record label with a friend but hasn't signed any new talent in seven years. He also sold his ownership in the label, so he's a nobody even when he bothers to go in for business meetings. Dan is an alcoholic whose wife, Miriam (Catherine Keener), had an affair, so he moved out of their home and into a not-so nice apartment. Dan and Miriam have a daughter named Violet (Hailee Steinfeld), who has absolutely no respect for her father. And why should she? He does stuff like take her to a bar with him where he downs some beers and then realizes he doesn't have money to pay for them. They run for it and when they get around a corner, he thinks they're safe. Then the bartender comes up behind him and tells Violet to look away while he smacks Dan. 


Dan: Don't you know anything about your father?
Violet: Yeah.
Dan: What?
Violet: I do. I know what mom says.
Dan: What does mom say?
Violet: She says you're a pathetic loser.
Dan: She says that affectionately.

But then magic happens. Dan goes to a bar and hears Gretta (Keira Knightley) sing and play the guitar. We see bits and pieces of this sequence in different ways. My favorite rendering is when Dan is so caught up in his love for Gretta's song that he imagines instruments coming in on various parts. The instruments are on the stage. No one is there to play them, but in Dan's mind, they move because he's re-imagining the song. 

Gretta is in New York because her lover and songwriting partner, Dave Kohl (Adam Levine), has suddenly become a big hit. Now, instead of being Dave's partner, she does stuff like fetch coffee for everyone in the recording studio. All of a sudden, he's a big deal, and she's nobody--like Dan. At first, Dave tries to keep Gretta involved in the record he's making, but then he lets go, enjoys his own ride, and leaves Gretta in the dust.

Dan convinces Gretta to record an album that he produces. She plays outside, all around New York, in a celebration of the city. 

Greta: Are you really an A & R man? You look more like a homeless man.

Violet gets involved and plays guitar on a song. Gretta teaches Violet some life lessons, and Violet's relationship with her father improves. Dan and Gretta spend a night re-enacting something he and Miriam did when they first met. I thought Dan and Gretta would fall in love, but no. It's better than that. It would have been a cliche if Dan and Gretta ended up in love.

I can't tell you what happens with Gretta's record because that would spoil the movie, but it's a happy ending for everyone, except maybe Dave, and I just say that because he's a jerk to Gretta; but he's a commercially successful jerk.

Keira Knightley learned to play the guitar for this movie. She lip syncs to a recording of her own voice, which is kind of breathy, but sweet. The problem is that the lip syncing isn't done very well. It always bugs me when the sound of the movie doesn't keep pace with the movements of the actors' mouths.   
Overall, this movie is great: good acting, with the exception of Adam Levine, who seems creepy to me; solid screenplay; and best of all, magical moments.

Begin Again earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.

Obviously an R rated movie is not for children (at least I hope that's obvious; if it's not, you have some issues). You need to decide for yourself about teens. Begin Again has a lot of profanity, drinking, and drunken behavior.

Happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


53 comments:

  1. Paul is cuter, but Mark is a great actor. Keira is a wonderful actress but I imagine learning how to play guitar and lip sync were a bit out of her comfort zone. Adam Levine...well, he's creepy to me without acting...

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    1. You're right: Paul is cuter. I don't think I've ever seen Adam Levine before. He's in a band, right?

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  2. Yeah, I want to see that.
    I like Rudd.
    And Ruffalo, but Rudd has a particular charisma.

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    1. Yeah, Rudd is cute, but Ruffalo has a greater range as an actor.

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  3. I also enjoyed Begin Again! You're right about there being something creepy about Adam Levine. It's interesting that Keira Knightly learned how to play the guitar, but still had to lip sync. I'm mad at myself for not catching that. It was definitely a "feel good movie," but it still had a surprise ending. Excellent review, Janie!

    Julie

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you agree with me that it's a feel good movie.

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  4. As a book reviewer, movie critic and friend, you, Janie Junebug, earn The Shady Del Knight Zeal of Highest Approval.

    I haven't seen Begin Again. I never heard of it. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party.

    (Just thought I'd throw that in.)

    I agree that a familiar formula began to take shape in Begin Again and the movie was saved when Dan and Gretta did not predictably fall in love. I can't believe they allowed Keira Knightley's lip sync to drift out of sync. That would break the spell for me because I am very picky about such details. Continuity errors are also a pet peeve of mine when I watch movies. Still and all, movies about the record business are of interest to me and most of the main characters seem likable and redeemable and therefore I will try to catch Begin Again.

    Happy Thursday, dear Janie!

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    1. Continuity errors bother me, too, and I seem to notice them more frequently these days. Is it because I'm older and fussier, or are the continuity people not doing their jobs?

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  5. Janie, I'm not familiar with other characters but do love to see Kiera Knightley. She has such a neat quality about her. Sounds like a good movie.

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    1. I think this is her best role so far. Hers is an out of the mainstream character.

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  6. I've only ever seen Mark Ruffalo in the Avengers as The Hulk. Yeah. Perhaps I should check out some of his other movies.

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    1. I had no idea he played The Hulk. He was cute and funny with Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30, and he played a detective in a movie that starred Tom Cruise pretty much as himself because he played a bad guy. Jamie Foxx was in it, too. Might be called Collateral Damage. And he's in The Kids Are All Right. I like that movie a lot. I'm very fond of Annette Benning.

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  7. This means I must visit the Red Box and make a withdrawal! Sounds like a great movie. Ruffalo is very nice but Rudd has sexy eyes(sigh).

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    1. I agree. Paul has sexy eyes. I love him in Knocked Up.

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  8. I've loved Keira since she did Bend It Like Beckham and Adam Levine has actually been pretty good in every small part I've seen him in. Add this to the fact that there's music - I'm definitely watching this one.

    My favorite Mark Ruffalo flick is Zodiac. My favorite Paul Rudd flick is EVERYTHING HE IS IN...

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    1. My favorite Mark Ruffalo is 13 Going On 30, or The Kids Are All Right, or Collateral Damage (might not be the correct name of the movie). I like Zodiac. Paul Rudd is very good in Judd Apatow movies.

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  9. My wife likes both of these male actors, and I'm surprised I haven't been dragged to the theater to see this one.

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    1. It's too late to be dragged to the theater now. It's on DVD.

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  10. I really dislike when lip syncing doesn't match the video.

    Now I'm kind of curious about happens between Gretta and Dan.

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    1. Yes, getting the lip syncing right should be a huge priority. Watch the movie to find out what happens to Gretta and Dan. I love the end.

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  11. I came across this movie at Redbox, but I had never heard anything about it so I passed. I will have to rent it this weekend- I'll just tell my guys Knightly does a nude shot, so they don't veto it.

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    1. HA! When they find out it's not true, tell them it's not your fault that I said Keira takes off her clothes.

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  12. I've heard of this movie but I didn't see it yet. I like Mark Ruffalo a lot but I don't see him as romance guy. Maybe I'm wrong.
    Good review.
    Heather

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    1. I think he's very romantic in 13 Going On 30 with Jennifer Garner.

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  13. I always think of Paul Rudd as younger...I think because he was in Clueless. I like both actors, but I really like Mark Ruffalo. I don't know why--he just seems like a really nice guy!

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    1. I love Clueless. It's so funny and adorable.

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  14. i never heard of begin again but i'm interested. thanks!

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  15. I LOVE Mark Ruffalo! I can't believe I've never heard of this movie. Definitely want to see it.

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  16. I want to see this! (And hey...isn't adam levine a little creepy in real life anyway?)

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    1. I don't know. I've never paid any attention to him. I guess I block out what I don't like.

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  17. I'll have to check this out. :)

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    1. I hope you like it. I've been so concerned about you.

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  18. I want to see this! I have a hard time with Mark Ruffalo since seeing him in the godawful movie "The Cut," which ... just don't. Don't even google it. Maybe this will be a palate cleanser.

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    1. I didn't know he was in that. I read the book, so I didn't see the movie.

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  19. Okay, I don't know this movie, but I really like Mark Ruffalumpagus. I had to look up that Paul guy because I wasn't familiar with him.

    -andi

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    1. I see Paul around a lot--maybe even more than Mark.

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  20. I really like Mark Ruffalo. I especially liked him as the Hulk.
    Oh, crap, now THAT doesn't sound terribly sophisticated.

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    1. A lot of people seem to like those movies. I'm not one of them, but I won't make fun of you, Penwusser.

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  21. No need to worry so much about me... I am doing well, just having MANY issues with my computer, so I am reading, just not commenting. :)

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    1. It's a lousy time for your computer to stop cooperating.

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  22. And you sold me! You should write for a new paper. Well, do they even exist anymore? Maybe for an online column!

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    1. MOVIE WEEKEND is an online column. I used to be a newspaper reporter/editor. Never again.

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  23. I really like Mark Rufffalo too. There's just something about the guy, he grows on you from movie to movie. Thanks for the review of this one that I had not heard of before,

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    1. I think he has a wide range as an actor. Nice to see you, Inger.

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  24. Remember the days when movies were in the theater for months not minutes. Pre DVD for sure.

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    1. I remember seeing two movies for fifty cents.

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  25. Replies
    1. Why don't you follow me and then perhaps I'll consider following you?

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  26. Okay... saw it, LOVED it. Love that it doesn't end with them hooking up... and LOVE that Levine was kind of an ass with some redeeming qualities.

    Also, I'm going to look up the Soundtrack, the music choices were phenomenal. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you loved it! That makes me happy. I love the music, too.

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