In the world of quirky, indie-feeling films, there is an endless sea of both good and bad. Likely, there are more bad. But Begin Again shines brightly in the wave of these types of films, gasping to catch your attention.
For those of you that have seen and liked the movie Once, you will love this movie. For those that have seen it and hated it, well, you probably won’t like this, but I would still give it a shot, if only for getting to watch the charm of Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightley.
Directed by John Carney, who also directed Once, Begin Again follows two different lost souls with a passion for music. One is a producer who has just lost his job, his family, and has acquired a bit of a drinking problem. The other is an independent musician from England whose boyfriend became an overnight hit and left his indie sound, and her, behind. They discover each other by chance one night, and head out on a self discovering, musical journey throughout the streets of New York.
As soon as I heard the premise for this film and that John Carney was making it, I immediately put it on my radar. Going into it, I had very high expectations. And this movie met all of them and more.
I think a worry of many for this film is that it would be too similar to Once, but be rest assured that is not the case. While it shares the quirky, indie, musical vibes, it differs in everything else.
What makes Begin Again stand out from others is its ability to fill you up with a sense of nostalgia while also delivering a sense of joy and hopefulness. It’s optimistic even in its moments of melancholy. The optimism is so present it even shows up in the title of the movie. Begin Again, as if saying, another chance, a fresh start. During the films one hundred and four minute run time, it feeds the viewer a variety of emotions and excellently satisfies the hunger for each.
Normally, I’m not one to fall for the apparent charm that the city of New York seems to glimmer with in every movie in which it’s set, especially musical ones. But this time, I fell. The idea of making an album on the streets of such a huge, and while sometimes overrated, yet still, iconic city; watching the main characters walk around with a “splitter” to listen to music together, was beautiful. Setting the film in New York really did give it a certain magic that another location wouldn’t have provided.
The leads of the movie, Ruffalo and Knightley, are simply brilliant. Who knew that Knightley could sing? Most surprisingly was Adam Levine’s performance. While I’m not saying it was anything award worthy, his ability to hold his own with some of the best in the business was something I didn’t think he would be capable of. Perhaps he just had an easy time relating to his character.
One last factor that needs to be discussed for a movie like this is the music. While it didn’t completely blow me away, I still quite enjoyed it. (And played it on repeat as I wrote this review.) The melodies fit the film excellently and perfectly portrayed the emotions of the characters throughout the duration of the film.
Begin Again has easily just become one of my favorite movies - not only this year, but of all time. Others may not feel as strongly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. This film made me laugh, cry, laugh some more, laugh and cry at the same time, and even it’s fair share of happy tears. Packed with raw feelings, a talented cast, and beautiful music, this is a film you won’t want to miss out on. A
Mysteriously thrilling. Mind blowing, and mind opening. Beautifully written. These are just a few ways to describe the latest novel from author E.Lockhart, We Were Liars.
I am going to try to review this book without going too much detail of the plot, as the mystery around it is one of the best parts of the story, and something you certainly don’t want ruined for you.
We Were Liars centers around the extremely rich Sinclair family. Every summer, the family comes together to spend the warm months on their island, owned by Harris, the grandfather of the family. (See, I told you they were rich.) While they seem like the perfect family on the outside, on the inside they’re breaking, fighting over who gets houses and trust funds and other money related things.
We follow the perspective of Cadence, also known as Cady, granddaughter of Harris. She sets up the families typical summer for us, before we learn that some kind of accident happens the year she is fifteen, but as it involved a head injury, she can’t remember what happened. We are also introduced to Cady’s best pals during her summer trips, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat. Or, as they call themselves, the Liars.
The novel will leave you guessing right along with Cady about what exactly happened during Summer Fifteen, as she calls it. All the while, it disgusts you to hear how greedy and power hungry this family is. For me, I never really felt a connection to the characters, and I didn’t really care about them. However, I still cried quite a lot at the end.
One thing I never really understood was why exactly the group of four called themselves the Liars. Lie seems to be written all over this book, yet, there wasn’t that much actual lying. I can’t say much without giving away the plot, but I feel you will agree with my confusion after finishing it.
No doubt my favorite part of this book was the writing. The way E. Lockhart structures her sentences, the way she uses metaphors so intensely that for a moment you aren’t sure if it actually happened, is beautiful. And I loved the little fairy tales she wrote in every now and then. It was an excellent way to transition, and just give small breaks from the story with a different viewpoint.
A book about family, friendship, and love, We Were Liars will conjure up a slew of emotions throughout its short time in your hands. It’s the kind of novel that sticks with you, utterly unforgettable. And, as the book tells you, if anyone asks you about what happens in the end, lie. A
Whether you are a fan of Lana Del Rey or not, there’s one thing that no one can deny: the music she makes is nothing like any other artist is making today. This deems especially true for her latest record, Ultraviolence.
Coming off her album Born To Die, the sound of her latest record takes a completely different turn. Her voice is doubled, giving it this glazed sort of feeling to each track. It feels incredibly raw, from the lyrics she’s singing to the pure emotion laced in her voice. And, there’s that ever present sense of nostalgia, a classic, cool feeling that no other artist is bringing to the table.
Del Rey sings about her ever complicated and pretty problematic relationships, which she is known for, but it’s never been quite as emotional as it is on Ultraviolence. Nothing shows that like the title track, penning lyrics such as, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss” and, “I could have died right there, because he was right beside me.”
Some like to criticize Del Rey for her lyrics and the message she portrays with them. But that’s what I love about her. The depth of her lyrics are endless. They take you back in time, to the days of the greats, while still keeping you glued in her world. She sings about things that no other female artist really dares to touch on. She’s honest and she’s real, and I believe every word she’s saying.
And speaking of criticism, Del Rey certainly had a lot of it back in 2011-2012, right around when Born To Die was released. I personally loved her previous album, and I even think she displayed more of her vocal talent there opposed to Ultraviolence, but she no doubt has her moments here too. Specifically, on the track “Money Power Glory.” The power laced in her voice when she sings that chorus is undeniable.
One of the reasons this album is so different from her previous is her help from The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach. Del Rey is classic enough on her own, but Auerbach brings in more of that old rock feeling, taking out the heavy orchestra and R&B sounds that Born To Die had so much of. I was thrilled when it was first announced he’d be working on the record, and it has certainly turned out magnificently.
Most people are only talking about the regular version of Ultraviolence, but I highly suggest getting the deluxe version. It has some of my favorite songs on the album, such as “Black Beauty,” which is sort of Del Rey’s version of The Rolling Stone’s ”Paint It Black.” And “Florida Kilos,” which is much more upbeat than the rest of the album, and simply a fun song to sing along to.
As much as I’ve tried to here, I’m not even sure I can put into writing what Lana Del Rey has created with Ultraviolence. I already know I’m going to be listening to this album for a while, immersing myself in the lyrics, because there is so much there, so much to look into and try to understand. But can any of us truly understand the inner workings of such a brilliant mind? Perhaps not, but we can try. And try I will. A
On Thursday night, I got to experience the special fan event The Night Before Our Stars. This event included a screening of the film, a poster, bracelet, and a live Q&A afterwards with some of the actors, filmmakers, and author of the novel the movie is based on. It was a wonderful experience, and if you ever get the chance to do something like this for a film you are really excited for, I highly suggest you attend!
If you have been living under a rock, The Fault In Our Stars follows sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who meets a boy in her cancer support group. Based on the hit novel by John Green, the plot follows their unique little love story.
If you haven’t read the book, you may be wonder why so many people care about this movie. Personally, it’s one of my favorite books. The story is told so well, both in the novel and film, the characters are fresh, witty, and the love story isn’t cheesy or fake. It’s beautiful.
For fans of the book going trekking out to see it, I have no doubt that you will love it. It’s one of the most faithful adaptations I have seen. Nearly all of it was direct book quotes, and they didn’t leave many scenes out.
Director Josh Boone made so many great choices when making this film. The tone fit the tone of the book, the flow was excellent, there was just enough voice overs from Hazel, and the flashback scenes were perfect.
Another thing I loved were the music selections. Because this is a contemporary set film, it’s one of few that I don’t mind hearing actual lyrical songs instead of only instrumental. The songs fit the mood of each scene excellently, and really helped bring out the emotion in each scene.
Lastly, I have to talk about the acting. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus) had perfect chemistry. Which was good to see, considering we’d just seen them on screen a few months ago as brother and sister in Divergent. Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel was so spot on, exactly how I imagined the character in the book. Who really surprised me was Elgort. From the first trailer we saw for the movie, I was a little worried that he wouldn’t get Gus right, but he was incredible.
And I can’t not talk about Willem DaFoe’s portrayal of Hazel’s favorite author, Peter Van Houten. I don’t think anyone had doubt that he wouldn’t be perfect, because it’s freaking Willem Dafoe. But in case you were wondering, yeah, he was amazing.
Fans of the novel can rest assure: The Fault In Our Stars is everything you could ask for and more. For the skeptics that haven’t read it, give it a shot. This isn’t your typical cancer film. It’s incredibly beautiful and heartwarming, a story that is going to live on for many generations. A
Hello all! I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’m not sure what’s been keeping me from this blog, but I’m ready to get back into it.
But I’ve also decided to change a few things.
As much as I love movies, I also really love books, music, and television, too. So, I’ve decided to incorporate these into the blog as well. I hope you don’t mind!
I have a feeling there will be a name change in the future (if you have any suggestions, let me know!) But for right now, I’m still thefilmfollower (as you can see)
I hope you all enjoy the new things coming to the blog! And now, I’m going to write a review of TFIOS for you all.
Could Steve Carell win his first Oscar? Check out the newly released teaser trailer for “Foxcatcher.” The film had its world premiere at Cannes this year and critics are already talking about its Oscar possibilities, despite how early in the year it is. This one will definitely be one to watch! The movie is set for a November 14th release date.
The second installment in a franchise is arguably the most important. It’s a make or break situation. It doesn’t have to set up background information like the first film, and it sets the tone for where the series will go from there. Despite what a lot of other critics seem to think, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made it.
The film starts off with a flashback of the night Peter’s parents died, giving us more insight to what happened since the first one left us in the dark about the details. As the movie progresses, we watch as Peter struggles to keep the promise he made to Mr.Stacy, becomes an icon (in his suit, anyway,) reunites with an old friends, and in the end, faces not one, but two different villains standing in his way.
I’ll get the negatives out of the way first, because while I enjoyed the film overall, there were definitely some parts I didn’t like.
First of all, the overall flow of the movie could have been better. Certain scenes just seemed to drag on. One that comes to mind is the scene with Max, aka Electro, when the doctor is testing his capabilities.
Secondly, the action scenes, which also ties in with the flow of the movie. A lot of the action sequences seemed to drag on a lot, especially with Spider-Man having two full on battles at the end of the movie.
Despite these things, there was a lot I liked about it. The acting from everyone was top notch, which wasn’t much of surprise looking back on the first film. The emotion was fantastic, and I don’t need to clarify what I’m talking about for those that have already seen it.
With all considered, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a pretty good movie that I think everyone will enjoy. As for the whole second installment thing goes, as I said before, I think director Marc Webb did well with it. The plot was interesting, it added in many aspects from the previous film, and kept the audience entertained through most of it, especially with the silly-funny lines that Andrew Garfield spews so genuinely. However, I think it could have done a better job at setting up the next film, but I wasn’t completely unsatisfied, either, and I’ll definitely be heading back to the theater for the next one. B
Superhero movies have been all the rage these past few years. Everyone gets excited and happily dishes out the cash to make the trek to the theater when the the new Marvel or DC film hits the big screen. But how much longer can they stick around and still grab audiences attention? Well, if they continue to make them anything like the second Captain America installment, the answer is a very, very long time.
I won’t lie, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Captain America film. Maybe it was the somewhat lack of action, the extremely late hour I was watching it, or maybe it was because I don’t find period pieces as entertaining (I’m young, sue me.) So I was a little wary coming into this movie, but damn did it deliver.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t just your typical action-packed superhero flick. It’s complex, with a corrupt government and a game of who to trust. And yeah, there’s action. Really, really good action. It was one of those rare movies that I didn’t find myself saying “this is dragging out way too long.”
The flow of the movie was excellent, and looking back at it, I can’t really think of any unnecessary scenes. Every part of the film either moved the plot forward or deepened the relationships of the characters. Major props go out to directors Joe and Anthony Russo. This was their first blockbuster movie, their biggest works prior being on comedy shows Community and Arrested Development. Their future is definitely bright.
Chris Evans was as charming as ever in his role as the Capt’ himself. And his supporting cast were better than ever with performances from Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, returning as Black Widow and Nick Fury respectively. Best newcomer award goes out to Anthony Mackie who plays Sam Wilson (aka Falcon.) Evans and Mackie had amazing chemistry to the point where it felt like we’d already been introduced to Falcon long ago.
Even the villain in this one is better than most others with an actual back story. The Winter Soldier not only makes the action sequences great and an equal fight, it further shows the audience the good nature of Steve Rodgers. Plus it’s a perfect tie in to the previous film as we get to see him deal with a ghost of his past.
This may be a bold statement, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best stand alone superhero movie Marvel has came out with yet. With the perfect mixture of action and thrilling story line, this film has something for every audience member. Plus, it has only intensified my wish, no, my need for a Black Widow stand alone movie. Get on it, Marvel! A-
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