Saturday, April 21, 2018

Belonging

'Safe. Peaceful. Loved. Complete. Where I belong. Where I was always meant to be. I wrap my arms around you, and take you in. Our bodies become one, I don't know where you end and where I begin.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™


Friday, April 20, 2018

Sailing the World

'I believe that we must let our dreams take flight while being guided by our hearts.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

To Be Special

'There are people who consider themselves special. Others, silently are.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Rodrigo Santoro by Baz Luhrmann @ Chanel NÂș5 '200

The Battle

'Pride and love are fighting in my head. In a war without mercy, where death does not exist. All that exists is one woman.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Kurt Russell


Friday, April 6, 2018

Hope must never be lost ...

'Hope must never be lost. For as dark as the road may seem... there always lies light at the end of it.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Nicole Kidman

Monday, April 2, 2018

Movie Review - 'Begin Again' (2013)

'Headed to the top. The only question as I meet you on my way is if you're coming with me or not.' ~ Iveta Cherneva

A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter, new to Manhattan, turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. John Carney's low budget romance musical 'Once' (2007) was a breakout hit that foregrounded the emotional complexities of its central lovers with delicate tunes. By contrast, 'Begin Again' (2013) — which originally featured the more revealing title 'Can a Song Save Your Life?' revolves around the exploitation of that very same feeling. The story centers on forlorn aspiring British songwriter Gretta (Keira Knightley 'Colette' (2018)), who's adrift in Manhattan after getting dumped by her philandering rock star boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine - Maroon 5), and being discovered by struggling music producer Dan (Mark Ruffalo 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017). Eager for fresh talent, Dan pushes Gretta to sign with him and record an ambitious outdoors album across the city. She's initially reticent; songwriting is just something that she does. The film explores this tension with a blithe attitude that foregrounds several enjoyable melodies performed throughout the movie, but it also feels every bit as commercial as the world in its crosshairs.

Executive produced by Judd Apatow, Carney's movie revolves around a familiar set of character types that wouldn't seem out of place in a studio comedy like the ones associated with the Apatow brand. Yet it works significantly better than more mainstream productions thanks to the legitimacy its actors bring to the project. Knightley's sorrowful state plays nicely off Ruffalo's sputtering enthusiasm for show business. His character's own background would strain from contrived ingredients if it weren't endowed with the credibility he brings to it: The actor's relationship with his wife (Catherine Keener 'November Criminals' (2017) is on the rocks following an earlier affair, while his angst-riddled daughter (Hailee Steinfeld 'Pitch Perfect 3' (2017)) copes with her burgeoning womanhood under her parents' close watch. Meanwhile, Dan's longtime producing partner Saul (Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def) wants to kick him out of the venture since he's unwilling to embrace mainstream trends in the industry. The movie's title doesn't lie: Gretta's talent has the potential to give Dan's career meaning again — just as it can rescue her from her sorrows.

'Begin Again' explores this scenario with a light, inoffensive touch. The stakes are nicely established with Knightley's performance of a solemn tune about loneliness during an acoustic set forced on her by friend Steve (James Corden 'The Late Late Show'). Hesitant to share her work with the world, she has zero stage presence. But minutes later we witness the entire scene a second time around from Ruffalo's perspective: Drunk and frustrated with his flagging career, the character perks up when he hears the music and gazes at the performer with a giddy smile. Behind Knightley, the other instruments suddenly come to life on their own, as Dan imagines the potential for Gretta's music in the hands of a good producer and backup musicians. It's the only moment of genuine magical realism that endows the movie's musicality with an innovative edge. Dan's drive to sign Gretta based on this experience gives the premise a fairy tale quality that makes it easy to invest in his mission, since we're experiencing his client's potential along with him.
Following a cheeky cameo by CeeLo Green as the posh musician willing to finance Gretta's album, there's no doubt whether Dan can find the resources he needs to get back on track. After a while, the real star of 'Begin Again' is its original compositions. Performing on rooftops and alleyways while Dan happily watches from the sidelines — and at one point joins in. Gretta delivers a series of tracks with a genial presence that makes the case for her star potential. By foregounding the two main characters' investment in the scenario, Carney makes it relatable. When the story veers into whimsical territory — as when Gretta records a song on her ex-boyfriend's voicemail to announce her frustrations with him, or when she traipses around the city with Dan listening to jazz on his headphones — Carney shares a charming sense for music's cathartic power. A feeling I have experienced many times over. 'We need vision, not gimmicks', Dan professes to his business partner. 'Begin Again' struggles to confront that advice, but finds it on enough occasions to demonstrate its accuracy.


© Frank Borsellino™
* From Where I Sit!
March 30, 2018

* Mark Ruffalo & Keira Knightley




Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Movie Review - 'Limitless' (2011)

'Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself. Believe in your abilities and
your infinite potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all
that you dream of and hope for.' ~ Roy T. Bennett

'Limitless' is a clever, stylish little exercise in drug-fueled paranoia. This film
raises the question, 'If the apple from the tree of knowledge fell right into your lap,
would you take a bite? And then what would you do?' The apple in this case is an illicit
designer drug 'NZT'. Now, it isn't just another quick high, but instead, it makes a lie
of the old saying that we only use 20 percent of our brains and cranks that percentage
up to 100. Can you fathom that! The possibilities are endless in theory and also for
the purpose of this story.

A thirty-something writer Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper 'Burnt' (2015), is divorced with
a terminal case of writer's block. Here is a guy who was just dumped by his most recent
girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish 'Perfect' (2018), because he's going nowhere at the speed
of light. By circumstance, our slacker finds himself in possession of a stash of the
wonder pill. Suddenly, Eddie -- seducing the worlds of writing, women and Wall Street --
has got massive amounts of game and brains, attracting the attention of both barons of
the boardroom like Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro 'The Wizard of Lies' (2017), bullies on
the street like Russian mobster Gennady (Andrew Howard 'The Brave' (2017), and some
mysterious third guy who keeps giving him the side-eye and chasing him around Manhattan.
And did someone mention side effects? Baby, this apple bites back. This is where Eddie
might be starting to realize that getting really smart really quickly may have been
a dumb thing after all?

Bradley Cooper is great and really plays up both sides of that coin, the intellect and
when the drug wears out, the pauper. I have been a big fan of his since the series 'Alias'
(2001-2006). I always enjoyed him because he stretches and doesn't just skate on his looks.
He tries to be diverse in his choice of roles such as 'Joy' and 'Burnt' (2015), 'American
Sniper' and 'Serena' (2014). In raunchy fare like 'The Hangover' (2009) and plodding rom-coms
('Wedding Crashers' (2005) – didn't you hate him? 'He's Just Not That Into You' (2009) –
again the cad and everyone loved him in 'Valentine's Day' (2010).

'Limitless' is based on the novel 'The Dark Fields' by Alan Glynn and is directed with
a nimble efficiency and sense of visual humor by Neil Burger ('Divergent' (2014). It is
at times reminiscent of the work of Danny Boyle ('T2 Trainspotting' (2017), it never takes
itself too seriously but still manages to be suspenseful and clever. Burger, Cooper and De
Niro opened up what was a much cluttered book and injected it with a jolt of cinematic
electricity. Smart move - smart movie.


© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant
March 27, 2018