Catherine Keener

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

by Alan Rapp on January 2, 2015

in Top Tens & Lists

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

Family, friendship, and the struggle to find oneself’s place in the world were the big themes on my list this year. Looking back the year might not have offered me the clear winner to top the list (I gave out no perfect score for any film this year), but it still offered a solid list of ten movies worth noting and celebrating. As always, I tried to see as much as possible but there are a few films, most notably Whiplash and Gone Girl, which eluded me. Others like Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice, and American Sniper won’t release in my home market in 2014 (and which I was unable to view and/or review before the publishing of this list) are also not included (although you might see a couple of them turn up in my mid-year list of Best Movies of 2015 So Far next year). Enough with what didn’t make the cut, here is my list of the Top Ten Movies of 2014.

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Begin Again

by Alan Rapp on October 31, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Begin Again
  • IMDb: link

Begin AgainReleased this week on Blu-ray and DVD, writer/director John Carney‘s tale of the unexpected friendship between a down-on-his luck record label exec (Mark Ruffalo) and a heartbroken singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) ranked at the top of my favorite films from the first-half of 2014. My opinion hasn’t changed.

With a pair of terrific leads and a talented support cast that includes Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine, Mos Def, and James Corden, the movie works as well on home video as it did in theaters as the mismatched pair of attempt to record an album on the fly around New York City in an enterprise that is at least as much about getting over life’s recent hurdles as the finished project. For more, read my original review.

The Blu-ray includes music videos for the movie’s big numbers and a single behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film.

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The Top Ten Movies of 2014 (so far)

by Alan Rapp on July 4, 2014

in Top Tens & Lists

The Top Ten Movies of 2014 (so far)

We’ve hit the halfway point of the year and, as has become the custom, that means it’s time to look back on the best movies of the year so far. This year’s list includes three animated films, two sequels, the return of a beloved television character, a latest (and in one case the last) from few big name directors, and a pair of small indie films topping the list of what has been a pretty damn good first-half of the year at the movies.

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Can a Song Save Your Life?

by Alan Rapp on July 2, 2014

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Begin Again
  • IMDb: link

Begin AgainWritten and directed by John Carney, Begin Again is simply a joy to watch. At times this tale of the mismatched pair of a record label exec (Mark Ruffalo) whose life is swirling around the drain and a young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) dealing with crushing rejection of her now-successful longtime writing partner and boyfriend (Adam Levine) comes dangerously close to being too cute for its own good. Thankfully Carney’s choice to ground the film in serious issues such as heartbreak, betrayal, estranged families, and politics of the music business balances the film’s hopeful tone and message to prevent the movie from ever becoming too cliche or sappy.

While Ruffalo provides both angst and humor, Knightley is the soul of the film. Having only seen her sing in short segments of The Edge of Love (a movie worth seeing more for her performance more than anything else), I was thrilled to find a her lilting voice the perfect match for the indie songwriter thousands of miles from home dealing the emotional yo-yo of immediate heartbreak and at the same time a once-in-a-lifetime record offer.

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