Once

mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

When Inside Llewyn Davis hit theaters late last year, it showed audiences that being a solo acoustic artist on a small record label was anything but ideal, and the farthest thing from glamorous. But apparently the industry has changed quite a bit since the ’60s, because all it really takes nowadays to beat the competition in those dreary streets of New York City is for Mark Ruffalo to hear your song in a smokey bar and declare you a sensation. That’s it! Well, okay, there’s a little more to it than just Ruffalo’s undivided attention. There are Central Park boats involved and Cee Lo Green‘s wisdom to understand. The trailer for Begin Again, which is the new title for Toronto Film Festival favorite Can a Song Save Your Life? (and a blissful rename at that — what a terrible first try that had been) sets off to show all this and more when Ruffalo’s Dan, a recently fired record label executive, crosses paths with Keira Knightley‘s Gretta. She’s a girl just kicking it around NYC with an acoustic guitar in hand after being dumped by her rock star boyfriend (played by Adam Levine, the second host of The Voice we see featured in this movie).

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Once: The Musical

Plenty of time on the film blogosphere is dedicated to talking about sci-fi operas and superheros, but one thing we don’t always get to is convergence between the world of film and other entertainment mediums. For instance, take the world of Broadway musicals. Did you know that at last night’s Tony Awards, cinema favorites such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Frank Langella and even Spider-Man himself Andrew Garfield were nominated for their work on the stage? It goes well beyond the time South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have spent on Broadway. Many a Hollywood name has spent time in New York, pouring out performances in front of live audiences. For a true film fan, it’s worth a bit of notice. This year especially, with the nominees for Best Musical including stage adaptations of Once and Newsies, two films that we’ve applauded over the years for not only their musical, but also dramatic chops. And as it turns out, Broadway’s got a thing for them, as well.

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Despite a dud for a title, John Carney‘s Can A Song Save Your Life? sounds intriguing, particularly when you consider that Carney is the man who brought us the incredibly charming Once and that he had lined up a somewhat unexpected pair to top-line his production. Back in February, the project was announced with Scarlett Johansson on board to play a young singer looking to break into the music biz after a bad break-up, alongside Mark Ruffalo as a record producer who turns her life around (professionally and personally) . It was set to be a fun little reunion for the Avengers pair, something more romantic and pleasing to the ears. But now Johansson is out and Ruffalo’s name is nowhere to be seen in the latest dispatch regarding the film. ScreenDaily reports (via Cinema Blend), that Johansson has stepped away from the project for “personal reasons,” and that her role will now be played by Keira Knightley (not an entirely bad swap, really). The news reports that Exclusive Media will financing and producing the film, in addition to selling it at Cannes, and as far as other stars, it only mentions Hailee Steinfeld (who is set to play the producer’s daughter), there’s nothing about Ruffalo. With the ‘Ruff (go with it) making such a big splash in The Avengers, it seems unlikely that an upcoming production wouldn’t be trading on his name any way they can. Is he out, too?

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Aural Fixation - Large

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (which I know came and went two days ago, but I wanted to keep the romance going) I decided to get into the spirit of things by looking not just into romantic movies, but movies that featured romantic moments where music played a big part in the delivery. We all know the moment when the music swells and our two leads finally lean in, run for or jump into that kiss or embrace created to make our hearts swoon. But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the moments where the music was just as important as anything said or done and it was the music that truly helped bring the romance to the scene (granted most of these moments were usually also paired with two good looking actors making eyes at each other). Grab your leftover chocolate and conversation hearts and join me in watching these love birds sing, dance and profess their love through the magic of music in these movie moments that are as much about the tunes as they are about the love.

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Actors Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo are already set to tear apart city blocks together as members of The Avengers this summer, so why shouldn’t they be in a love story together as well? Sounds like the logical next step. To that end they’ve both joined Once writer/director John Carney’s next film, Can a Song Save Your Life? Why the ridiculous title? Well, because, like Once, this movie is also about musicians falling in love. This time the story is set in New York City, where Johansson will be playing a plucky young singer trying to start a career in the music business after getting dumped by her stupid boyfriend. While there she meets a charming though mumble-mouthed record producer (Ruffalo) who’s been down on his lucky lately (you know, because he’s a record producer), and the two start up a fling that manages to turn both of their lives around.

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Early on in the documentary The Swell Season, its subjects sit on the floor of their tour bus and stare at a familiar movie poster, a tweaked one-sheet for the Oscar-winning Once, which cast Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard as modified versions of their real life selves. It’s the same poster that appears throughout the documentary in various forms – on CD covers, on sheets of paper, on signs announcing their tour – yet in this quiet moment, Hansard and Irglova appearing to finally be getting their first good look at it. They kneel over it for a beat, gazing, and then they start listing all of the things that have been changed from the original photograph – Hansard and Irglova’s legs have been lengthened, Hansard’s hat has been removed and his hair has been added on, the colors of their jackets have been changed, the two have been made to look as if they may be holding hands, but Hansard is most struck by a change he can’t quite but his finger on – “they” somehow made him “more handsome.” On the most basic level, The Swell Season is about the difficulty in dealing with a sudden rise to fame, and the strange alienation and disconnect that comes with that – what happens when “they” make you “more handsome.” But as the film charts that sudden rise, it also tracks a converse reaction that relies so much on that first ascent as to be nearly mathematical. That’s a fancy […]

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Irish films generally fall into a few limited categories. There’s the dark and dour movies that explore their troubled history with the IRA (Bloody Sunday), films that focus on abuses at the hands of misguided and violent authority figures (The Magdalene Sisters), movies where people sing bad songs poorly (Once), and then there’s the whimsical fantasies about seal people attempting to enslave humanity (The Secret of Roan Inish). That’s it really. But now a fifth category can be added to the official Irish film canon… zany comedy!

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oscars-once.jpg

Marketa Irglova’s acceptance speech, Javier Bardem’s tribute to dear ole mom or Marion Cotillard freaking out. What was your favorite moment?

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The Academy’s music branch executive committee has met and endorsed the validity of “Falling Slowly” as a nominated achievement.

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Take a look at the following video, which is a pitch-perfect encapsulation of the year that was in cinema.

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Forget about all the blockbusters of summer, here are ten films that hit DVD shelves in 2007 that you should be discovering.

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Looking back on the year that was 2007, what scenes or moments from films will live on? What will people be quoting a year from now — McLovin or Dewey Cox?

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Two strangers find love through music — will we find love through DVD?

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In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Zach Braff and Lisa Kudrow helped deliver the nominees for the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards. Have a look at the nominees.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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