Begin Again @mnetmovies @SterKinekor @RosebankTheZone #MMScreanings #GirlfriendsGetaway

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Once writer-director John Carney delivers in abundance in his latest musical offering with a splash of romance, Begin Again. Having seen the movie multiple times, I am not sure what I fall in love with more, the music or the characters, or Dan in a towel… not sure if that is in the movie, or only in my imagination – but it is an all round treat.

Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a rather handsome in a “I haven’t bathed in weeks kinda look, but I could have it going on with a little help” is a down and out music producer who has lost his edge, his home, his wife, his daughter and I am sure a cat if they had one. A country song in the making truly. It really helps that he is marvelous to look at. Besides, he seems a little bi-polar in rapid cycling mode, a ride I myself greatly enjoy.

Our Dan, having been asked to leave the record label he had set up with a friend years before, empties that hip flask like nobody’s business. He teaches his daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld) the art of ordering, drinking and running, a skill set we should all know…. alas at the end of that particular day, he finds himself in a pub ordering drinks he can ill afford.

Gretta (Keira Knightley) is not having the time of her life either. That very day found her walking away from her college sweetheart,  Dave (Adam Levine) Mr. Make It Big in NYC (Adam Levine) after he cheated on her. No matter what happens during the movie, I could not force myself to like him.

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She runs to the only other person she knows in NYC, the fabulously, funny and chunky Steve (James Corden) who immediately offers her a spot of tea, as one does. Steve is a street or anywhere they will let him sing kinda performer, and is hitting open mic night, dragging Gretta along in an attempt not to come home finding her hanging from the rafters.

The audience is not won over as Steve drags the unwilling Gretta onto the stage to sing a simple song. Okay look, her body language did not scream “Take me now!”. She however sings a most beautiful tune with a really amazing voice and sublime lyrics. I immediately loved it and knew I had to buy the soundtrack at once.

Dan clearly hears what I heard, as he looks and listens (no pun intended for those in South Africa) and beams as he hears other instruments joining in, angels opening the heavens – okay not that dramatic but you get my point. I loved the look on his face knowing he had struck gold. Problem is, having no real record label to back him up, he can’t sign Gretta who does not even have a demo tape.

Our Dan may be in a tight spot but the wheels starts turning, he calls in a favour and soon the decision is made to record an album on streets with no names, all over NYC. A few strange but lovely artists join in and soon we have a band rocking the city. It is awesome in it’s brilliance. The locations are varied and fun! Love! Light! Laughter!

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I do not want to give the ending away as to whom falls for whom or what happens to the music – but I do want to urge you to go and see Begin Again.  Just know you are able to Begin Again, anytime regardless. Your past does not dictate your future darlings!

 

Gretta: I told you, I write songs from time to time.

Dan: What do you write them for?

Gretta: What do you mean what for? For my pleasure. And for my cat.

Dan: Oh really? Does he like them?

Gretta: She. Yes, she seems to.

Dan: How do you know?

Gretta: Because she purrs.

Dan: Maybe she’s booing.

Gretta: No, she purrs at Leonard Cohen, too, and she has very good taste.

Dan: Maybe she’s fucking with you.

 

Check it out: Begin Again

Can a Song Save Your Life?

Wenchy

#Constellations @Monte_Theatre @JannaViolante @AshleyDowds by @Brian_Trudgeon

Dear friends and other interesting creatures –

I present a guest blogger, @Brian_Trudgeon with a passion for the arts, bears, writing and drawing. I am sure you will enjoy his review of Constellations now on at @Monte_Theatre.

I wish you enough,

Wenchy


CONSTELLATIONS
08 August 14 – 28 September 14
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What a truly stellar piece of writing by Nick Payne. The play tells of a love story that may or may not have taken place in an unlikely collision of paths. Marianne the Quantum Physicist meets Roland the Bee Keeper at a party.

The story plays out across several parallel universes sharing the same space in time. They meet and it ends there. They meet and Roland walks away from a possible infidelity, as he is a married man. In an alternate universe they fall in love.

In one universe he cheats on the marital home, in another she is the infidel. They part forever, or do they? In another universe, can they re-kindle what they had?

Marianne is played by a very talented Janna Ramos-Violante who has distinguished herself in multiple disciplines winning awards as an actress, playwright and director. Her performance in Constellations certainly is stellar. Her perfect English accent, comic pause and timing are outstanding. I am a fan.

Roland is played by Ashley Dowd, well-known to South African’s as a TV presenter, actor on Scandal and Generations as well as author of a travel journal. His plays a very believable role and makes Roland a very endearing character. The perfect Bee Keeper to a Quantum Physicist. He brings a lot of depth and human warmth to his role.

As a duo, they make for a stunning production. They play off each other very well and keep, what could be a repetitive and slow-moving production very interesting. A perfect casting for a really witty and intelligent thought-provoking piece of play writing.

Mention has to be made of the direction of the award-winning Alan Swerdlow, who has done a masterful job of bringing this award-winning play onto the South African stage. A privilege in view of the fact the play will only make its Broadway debut in 2015.

The set is very minimalist and lends itself well the action taking place on stage. Telling a good story can be done with the minimum of props and lighting effects. Lighting truly was used to signify the switch between universes at most. The soundtrack was all it needed to be. No more, no less. Perfect.

If I am to summarise I would say, a very brave production that explores life and how small changes can lead to a multitude of consequences and outcomes that can be happy or sad. The permutations can become endless. As humans we all play a game of, “What if I had done this or that differently? Where would I be now?” Constellations explores this aspect of humanity in a warm, witty, intelligent and honest way.

This is definitely a thinking person’s play and very well worth watching.

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Brian Trudgeon Twitter: @Brian_Trudgeon A forty something IT Geek, want to be great artist. Quirky, Queer, proud father to three with a humanitarian bent. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have always enjoyed writing and have been published anonymously and otherwise. I can claim to be an accidentally published photographer. In my spare time I like to sketch or write the occasional piece of poetry. Born in me is a great love for live performance of any kind and I have great admiration for anyone who offers themselves up on an altar that is the stage.