Begin Again Directed by: John Carney Written by: John Carney Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden and Hailee Steinfeld
Begin Again is a cute, light-hearted musical with just enough bite to avoid being irredeemably fluffy. It’s a movie where I knew everyone would be all right at the end, because the main characters’ redemption arcs are so unchallenged that the story would work whether they score a hit record or not. Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a heavy drinking, has-been record executive with a crumbling marriage. While down on his luck and drunk at an open mic night, he discovers Greta (Keira Knightley), a recently dumped singer/songwriter whose music becomes the driving force of their uplift (and ours).
Those character archetypes sound unbearably cliché, but writer/director John Carney’s disinterest in mining the narrative for drama proves to be an asset here. Ruffalo and Knightley have enough chemistry to make their recording sessions interesting, and it was surprising to see how exactly their relationship conflicts settled.
A Dangerous Method Directed by: David Cronenberg Written by: Christopher Hampton (screenplay & play), John Kerr (book) Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel
David Cronenberg is a director obsessed with the crossroads of violence and sex. His films vary greatly in both tone and narrative structure. For proof (since we are soon talking about science) lay down the science fiction horror show Videodrome next to his more recent pulpy small-town thriller A History of Violence.
It makes since, then, that a film about the birth of psychoanalysis, revolving around the violent sexual relationship between Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his patient Sabina Spielren (Keira Knightley), would be a work best fit for someone like Cronenberg. A Dangerous Method is not a straight-forward exercise in period filmmaking like its costumes and curiously English-speaking Europeans suggest, though. The film begins intent on dispelling that rumor, as Spielren howls with bursts of rage and laughter in the claustrophobic confines of a horse carriage. She is dragged out by a group of men and taken into Dr. Jung’s care in Switzerland.
Never Let Me Go Directed by: Mark Romanek Written by: Alex Garland (screenplay), Kazuo Ishiguro (novel) Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, and Sally Hawkins
Imagine as a child that your head is filled with ideas of life; of the aspirations and dreams of what it is meant to live it. Your eyes light up at the prospect of being a doctor, a teacher, or anything else but a kid. At that age, you’re ready to move on.
It’s not so hard to imagine those notions, because in one way or another we’ve all lived them, and it’s exactly that point that Never Let Me Go wants to hit home. Though it takes place in an alternate reality where some people are raised to donate their organs to others, these are still people in every sense of the word. They are allowed to live life, if on a much smaller time line.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Directed by: Rob Marshall Written by: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
The third film never exactly left the franchise concluded and satisfied. With a small cliffhanger, another billion in the bank and a chance to make swords swing out at audiences in 3D, Disney brings back the beloved peculiar swashbuckling pirate saga with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Whether there is an audience demand or a creative reason to refuel the franchise or not is not a concern to the studio that is likely to pocket another billion for the fourth installment after worldwide box office gets boosted by 3D. Taking the title from a the 1988 Tim Powers’ novel which shares plot elements with the film, Disney plucks Rob Marshall to take over the Gore Verbinski directed franchise. After coming off of last year’s overhyped flop Nine, Marshall uses his expertise in stylization and glamour seen in Chicagoand Memoirs of Geisha to add a splash to the series. Continue reading →
Atonement Directed by: Joe Wright Written by: Christopher Hampton (screenplay), Ian McEwan (novel) Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, and Vanessa Redgrave
Atonement isn’t a time capsule for your grandparents. If you’re looking for the lavish period drama with the costumes as the stars, it’s gone with the wind. This movie, yet another adaptation of a well-received if faded from memory book, is a love story for the modern age; that is to say, a pretty damn depressing one.
The movie starts off on a perfect 45-minute grace note, setting up the passionate exchange between Robbie (James McAvoy) and Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Cecilia is a wealthy daughter of an affluent family, Robbie is not. The thing that separates this fairly common class clash is bitter jealousy, brought along in the form of the innocent young Briony (Saoirse Ronan).