Sunday, July 06, 2014

Same Trick

I saw Begin Again this weekend.  It stars Keira Knightley as a talented singer-songwriter coming off a tough break with her celebrity boyfriend and Mark Ruffalo as a washed-up record executive who sees her in a bar and decides to make an album with her.

Early on we hear her sing a song, unadorned, and soon after (as we begin again) we see Ruffalo watching the performance while imagining other instruments playing along.  The scene is a bit of a tour de force and we're clearly supposed to like the new version.  Not that Knightley's character isn't a bit of a stickler for the purity of her work, but she has no trouble adding backing, including strings, to make the song come out.  Of course, we're rooting for Ruffalo so we couldn't have him destroy her songs.

Yes, I was reminded me of One Trick Pony, a 1980 movie written and starring Paul Simon.  It's about a washed up musician (Simon) who was never to begin with.  He's got a shot at a comeback and then he meets a producer (Lou Reed!) who wants to add a lot of backing.  This is the big moral moment--should he sell out and go along, or fight the power?  If I recall correctly, the Paul Simon character keeps his integrity and destroys the tapes (while the real Paul Simon stayed in his palatial home and counted his royalty statements).

Interestingly, both films are against the "big record companies" (even though those companies are suffering a lot right now), but in the Simon film, created by a man who hit it big in the integrity-filled 60s (though the first big Simon and Garfunkel hit, "The Sounds Of Silence," only hit it big when a rock backing was added long after they were out of the picture), would have a different view of what selling out means.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you like the film (I need to know).

8:02 AM, July 07, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Since you ask, yes, I liked the film. It had its problems, including a weak ending, but I liked it.

(And I wasn't a big fan of Once. They should call this film Twice.)

10:38 AM, July 07, 2014  

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