MONDAY MOVIES: “Begin Again”



I can see myself living in the world in which “Begin Again” is set.

It’s a charming movie in which down-on-his-luck record executive Dan Mulligan (played by Mark Ruffalo) discovers the unseen potential in Gretta James (Keira Knightley) and convinces her to record an album. Their collaboration involves finding innovative and unorthodox ways of making music, to the delight of everyone involved. I won’t give away the rest, but it’s a good-sounding, good-looking, and inspiring movie that I recommend.

The lesson that I took away from the Oscar-nominated film is that if you have a gift — in Mulligan’s case, the gift of finding and making music — don’t give up your dreams just because you’ve hit a rough patch. Sometimes our best laid plans don’t turn out exactly how we envisioned them, but what comes our way instead may be better than we ever imagined.

Click here to watch Adam Levine perform “Lost Stars” at the Oscars








It’s not surprising to learn that “Whiplash” was filmed in 19 days. The brief timeframe speaks to both the surprising simplicity and intimacy of the film, as well as its intense tempo.

Tempo: That’s the key word. It’s a mad rush toward perfection and madness. But at what cost? That’s part of the reason that I wanted to include it on Justin’s Jobs. It’s a common theme of some of the best films this year: People who follow their passions to dangerous levels.

In the case of Andrew Neiman (played by a very focused Miles Teller), he wants to be the greatest drummer in the world. His goal — the same as many of his classmates at an elite music conservatory — is to play for infamous conductor Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons in a performance that is sure to earn him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. But Fletcher is a perfectionist — to the point of verbally and physically abusing his pupils. And this is where the heart of the movie lies: As a teacher or mentor, how much should you push to help someone achieve perfection? To achieve one’s greatness, to become the best in the world at something, what are you willing to do to achieve it? How much pressure are you willing to tolerate?

The relationship between Neiman and Fletcher is intense, and at times, cringeworthy. This is not a lighthearted film. You can even argue that there’s no “good guy” here. The characters’ obsessions make for some great music and an exciting plot line — and it left me wondering what would come of their tortured partnership. Will their tune have a happy ending? It all depends on the tempo.

MONDAY MOVIES: “Interstellar”


Before I talk about this excellent movie, I would like to say THANK YOU for helping to make November the most popular month on record for Justin’s Jobs! We had the most number of page views and visitors last month than any other time in the website’s history, and that’s all because of you. So again, thank you.

Sorry I wasn’t able to do more with “November of News” — but there’s essentially only one movie about news that you really need to see, and that’s “Network“. Once you see that, you’ll never see the news business — or any business, really — the same way. One of the best films ever made. That said, I hope to do an update soon on my “Nightcrawler” post. Stay tuned!

And now, “Interstellar”.

It’s Oscar season, and it’s one of the most exciting times of the year for me. Not only do I enjoy watching and tracking these films, but I also take a lot of joy in applying their messages to our daily lives.

“Interstellar” is no exception to this. It’s the story of a talented pilot-turned-farmer who lives with his family in a dusty, dystopian landscape in the not-so-distant future. Through a variety of bizarre circumstances, he finds himself in a position to explore space for the future of mankind. But will he return? What happens to his family as a result of this opportunity?

I don’t want to give too much away — but let’s say you’re the best at something, and while it’s usually hard to make a living with it, one day you have the opportunity to make it your life’s purpose. It could mean, however, potentially losing those people and things that you love. Would you do it? What if by doing it, you actually save the lives of the people you love?

This isn’t necessarily an original conundrum, but “Interstellar” delivers it in a nearly three-hour package that moves along well. Movies about space exploration and theories of existence aren’t exactly my top choice, but I thought this film wove in those themes with faith and destiny in a way that made it — so to speak — out of this world.

And it’s a good reminder that no matter what opportunities may come your way, always be your best and do your best. You never know what may be around the corner — in this galaxy or another one!