• (Photos) Fashion Group International, Night Of Stars 2018
  • Screen Captures: My Life Without Me
  • Photos: Global Citizen Festival 2018
  • Mark is featured in the Summer Issue of Total Film. Thanks to my friend Luciana for donating the scans! I have also added the new Hollywood Reporter photoshoot.


  • Author: Liz
  • June 07, 2014
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  • Author: Liz
  • March 28, 2014
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  • The film, which sold for around $7 million in Toronto, is now called “Begin Again”

    Alas, audiences will now never find out whether a song can save their lives.

    Filmmaker John Carney’s 80’s -set musical drama “Can a Song Save Your Life?” was the big hit at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, garnering a standing ovation and the biggest deal of TIFF: $7 million and a rumored $20 million marketing budget from The Weinstein Company. Apparently, the belief was that the movie, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, would be easier to market with a new title.

    Now, the movie will be known as “Begin Again,” and will begin its public push under that name as the closing night picture at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26.

    About a pair of musicians (Knightley and Adam Levine) who move to New York, and the rise and fall of relationships that follow their move to the big city (that’s where Mark Ruffalo comes in), the film closes a festival that will be kicked off with “Time is Illmatic,” a documentary about NYC rapper Nas.

    “This beautiful music infused New York story encompasses the spirit of Tribeca where music, film and performance play such a key part of this year’s program,” Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, said in a statement. “To be able to work with our neighbor and dear friend Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company to bring this film to U.S. audiences for the first time is a bonus for our entire community.”

    This year’s festival slate is led by films written by Joss Whedon and Nicole Holofcener, as well the directorial debut of actors Courteney Cox and Chris Messina. Other stars with films in the festival include Elizabeth Banks, Aubrey Plaza, Robin Williams, Max Greenfield, and more.

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  • Author: Liz
  • March 20, 2014
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  • At the Toronto International Film Festival for August: Osage County, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Philomena amongst others, The Weinstein Company, headed by co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, has purchased the U.S distribution rights to John Carney’s musical drama Can A Song Save Your Life? starring Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine in his feature debut. The film follows the relationship between music producer Dan (Ruffalo) and young singer-songwriter Greta (Knightley) and also stars Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld. It marks a return to musical terrain for Irish director John Carney, after 2006’s Once. TWC was in auction with Lionsgate following an exuberant world premiere that sparked buyer interest, but eventually came out the winners in a $7 million deal.

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  • Author: Liz
  • September 10, 2013
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  • “One of the things I love about music is the way it can act like a sort of time machine, transporting you back to the moment you first heard it or a particular performance you saw, and more than that, it can remind you of the person you were at that moment. I hear certain songs, and the world around me melts away and I find myself feeling and remembering and I can’t think of anything else that does it quite the same way.

    In 2001, I made a last minute trip to Sundance with Kevin Biegel, another of the writers for Ain’t It Cool. We didn’t plan it. We had no idea what we were doing. It was the first time at a major film festival for either of us. And for the most part, we just sat in the press screening rooms watching whatever played, not sure what to expect. At the end of one of those days, already packed with great movies like “Chain Camera” and “Dogtown & Z-Boys,” we saw the first screening of “Hedwig And The Angry Inch,” and when it got to the song “Origin Of Love” in the middle of the film, I was transported. It seemed to me to be the perfect explanation of what it is we look for in this world in other people, inclusive of everyone, optimistic but heartbroken, and by the time the song was over, it was one of my favorite songs of all time.

    In 2006, I didn’t make it to any of the festivals where “Once” played, so by the time I saw it, it was on a “For Your Consideration” screener DVD. I was on vacation with my wife and our one-year-old son Toshi, and as they slept one night, I watched the movie on my laptop, headphones on, and those songs punched a hole in me, one right after another. The next night, my wife and I watched it together, sharing the headphones, and it obviously affected her just as strongly. That soundtrack felt like something that had been sent to me specifically, and I think that’s probably what many people felt when they heard it. There was something intimate and direct about that music that made people feel protective about the film as a whole, and a few of the tracks have had a permanent home on my iPod ever since.

    Those are just two examples of songs that worked their way inside me as soon as I heard them, but I could list dozens. Hundreds, most likely. I hold my music closer than the films I love because it works on me differently. With film, there’s a part of me that is always pulling apart the magic trick even as it happens because I can’t help myself. That’s just who I am as a film fan. With music, I am content to let these little three-minute slices of raw emotion work on me without trying to analyze why. Anything I want to feel… joy, pain, heartbreak, hope… I can call up the right song at the right time, like Phillip K. Dick’s mood organ, and I can slam that needle right into my heart and get the same rush every single time.

    [spoiler]It should not come as any surprise that John Carney, who wrote and directed “Once,” has made another great film that focuses on songwriters and the way their lives influence their work, and I love that it doesn’t feel like he’s just trying to reproduce that movie’s charms. This is a “bigger” film, in the sense that it stars people you’ll recognize from big mainstream blockbuster films, but it has just as pure and open a heart as “Once,” and as I walked out of the Princess Of Wales theater tonight, I had that same feeling, that sudden belief that the answer to the question posed by the film’s title, “Can A Song Save Your Life?”, is a resounding yes.

    The film opens in a small club in New York. James Corden is onstage, finishing a song, and he takes the mic to tell everyone that he has a friend in the audience and he wants her to come onstage and sing a song. Greta (Keira Knightley) really doesn’t want to do it, but he pushes her, and she ends up walking up and playing a lovely, simple song about feeling so low that you want to step out in front of a train, taking that one step you can never take back. There’s almost no response when she finishes, but the camera pushes in on one person, Dan (Mark Ruffalo), standing there in the middle of the club, totally flattened by what he just heard.

    For the first act of the movie, Carney flashes back to show us how Greta and Dan both ended up in the club at that particular moment. Dan is an acclaimed producer and A&R guy who has been on a cold streak for several years, and he seems to be locked into this downward spiral. He has a daughter named Violet (Hailee Steinfeld) who he rarely sees, and an ex-wife (Catherine Keener) who he still misses, and he can’t seem to pick himself up anymore. Greta came to America with her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine), who is just starting to emerge as a star in his own right, and he pulls the ultimate musician cliche, cheating on her as soon as the opportunity presents itself. She ends up heartbroken, turning to her old friend, played by Corden, ready to leave the States and go home.

    That moment in the club changes everything for the two of them. Dan becomes convinced he’s found something worth fighting for again, an artist who he can help become the best possible version of themselves, and Greta starts to believe that she can have her own life, one that’s not defined by Dave or anyone else. Over the next few months, the two of them collaborate on a very special project, and the majority of the film deals with that process, the way a piece of art comes together, the feelings and ideas that go into it, the way it’s shaped by where you are and who you are, and Carney seems to get it all right.

    Ruffalo starts the movie in a pretty rough place, and he doesn’t try to pretty it up. He’s charming in a ramshackle borderline homeless sort of way, but he’s a mess. He can’t even dress it up for other people. He just broadcasts “I AM BROKEN” with everything he does, and it’s starting to wear on the people in his life. The way he gradually reveals the guy who Dan used to be, the guy he could be again, is lovely and real. And the film is smart enough not to try to wedge in a romance between the two of them. Dan knows that this is a smart, beautiful girl who he is working with, but he’s drawn to her because he genuinely believes that her art deserves to be heard, that it can reach other people the way it reached him.

    This may be the most winning performance I’ve seen Keira Knightley give. I run hot and cold on her depending on the role. The last film I saw her in at Toronto was “Anna Karenina,” which I liked. The year before that was “A Dangerous Method,” which I really, really, really did not like. But in this film, she’s so warm and funny and unafraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve… and most of all, she can sing. She performs several songs in the movie, and she’s lovely. She seems to come alive in those songs in a way I’ve never seen from her before. The music they record together is music I genuinely want to buy. It’s really risky to build an entire movie around the creation of a work of art, because you can’t just tell the audience, “THIS IS GOOD ART.” They have to feel it, or the film doesn’t work, and the songs here are smart and spare and emotionally direct, and watching them come together, it’s hard not to invest in them by the end.

    Adam Levine could easily be playing a cartoon douchebag with the role here, but the film avoids making things that easy. He has one song near the end of the film where we see past all the trappings of stardom, where he lays his heart out there, and it works completely. When someone sings like that, there’s no filter between them and the audience, especially when it’s a song that is so sincere. Catherine Keener doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but she manages to turn Dan’s ex-wife into something more than an easy stereotype as well. In general, it seems like the movie is often simple, but never easy, and that’s a hard trick to pull off.

    It makes fantastic use of New York City, and I’ll let you see the movie to see exactly what that means. Yaron Orbach has shot a number of films I’ve enjoyed, but his work here is special. There’s a spontaneous feeling to it, like we’re just barely capturing these events, and that energy feeds into the music, into the performances, even into the audience reaction. The supporting cast all manage to make an impression, even in brief appearances. Cee-Lo Green and Mos Def both fit their parts perfectly, and the rest of Greta’s band seems perfectly chosen. Steinfeld is at that moment in life where she’s somewhere between girl and woman, and Violet desperately needs her father to be a good man again, someone she can reach out to as she faces her own problems, and their relationship is etched beautifully.

    In my own personal life right now, I am, to put it kindly, a goddamn catastrophe. I feel like a walking wound most of the time, and I recognized something in the way Dan reacts to the world at the start of the film. Maybe that’s why I found it so cathartic to watch him re-engage with art in a way that nurtures him back to health and happiness. I have a feeling many people will respond not only because of what’s onscreen, but because of whatever they’re feeling and going through. It’s the sort of movie that I feel protective of right away, because it’s delicate. It’s not trying to be a giant megablockbuster that opens on 3000 screens. It is heartfelt and deeply human, and it means every word it says. For the first time this week, I don’t feel like I just got hit by a truck. I’m sure that will settle back in, and it won’t go away quickly, but this is why so much of my life has been devoted to art. There is nothing I’ve ever taken from a bottle or a pipe or a pill that even begins to deliver the rush and the satisfaction of a great piece of art. And tonight, when I head back out onto the streets of Toronto, my iPod fully loaded, my headphones on, I’ll let all of my favorite songs work on me anew, and I’ll keep this feeling going as long as I can. Songs and films save my life every day, and I suspect John Carney’s latest will be embraced by audiences everywhere who feel the same way.”[/spoiler]

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  • Author: Liz
  • September 08, 2013
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  • “I caught 12 Years a Slave and Gravity last week at the Telluride Film Festival, so the following declaration is a little bit of a cheat, but the best film that I’ve seen at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, thus far, is John Carney’s Can a Song Save Your Life? The charming romantic-drama, which I caught at its world premiere on Saturday night at the Princess of Wales Theatre, revolves around musicians during times of transition and features beautiful original music — just like Carney’s last, Once (2006), which was awarded the best original song Oscar for “Falling Slowly.” This time, though, he has a slightly larger budget and big-name stars: Oscar nominees Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld, plus musician-actors Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (making his big screen debut), Mos Def and Cee-Lo Green. The audience offered large ovations when the film ended and when the director and stars took the stage for a post-screening Q&A.

    If and when this film gets picked up for distribution — perhaps by Fox Searchlight, which distributed Once and was heavily represented at Saturday night’s screening — the only question about its awards prospects will be whether they will apply to this year’s or next year’s race. Two-time best actress Oscar nominee Knightley, I would argue, is the film’s lead, and is terrific as always, demonstrating not only acting chops but also a truly lovely voice that I didn’t believe was hers until Carney confirmed it after the film. (It turns out she also sang in the little seen 2008 film The Edge of Love.) But, for my money, Ruffalo steals the show with a complex and endearing supporting performance that could earn him an Oscar. God knows he’s been worthy of one on at least two occasions in the past, with You Can Count on Me (2000), for which he wasn’t even nominated, and The Kids Are All Right (2010), for which he was — but he’s even better in this film. And he’s the sort of actors’ actor and stand-up guy whom the community would love a good excuse to recognize.

    In the film, Knightley plays a Brit in America who has been seriously dating a fellow singer-songwriter for five years until he strikes stardom and cheats on her, leaving her devastated and prepared to return to England. The night before she is to fly back, however, she is dragged by a friend to an open-mic nightclub and pressured into performing her latest effort. Fatefully, in the audience that night there happens to be a talented but down-on-his-luck music producer, played by Ruffalo. He is an alcoholic and, at the moment, on the outs with his boss (Mos Def), wife (Keener) and daughter (Steinfeld). But he is still perceptive enough to sense great potential in Knightley’s character and sets about trying to convince her to work with him. They decide to team up, for lack of better options, and aim to help each other not only face the future, but mold it according to their dreams.

    The film, which was largely improvised, is not just a rom-com — although some may see some similarities between it and another Knightley pic, Love, Actually (2003). It is also a beautiful ode to New York City, a meditation on the tortured life of artists and a celebration of what music is really about, or should be. It would make for a killer double-header with Inside Llewyn Davis, a 2013 awards hopeful that focuses on another lost soul who is equally fascinating but possesses a bleaker worldview than these two beautiful spirits, who I defy you to not fall in love with.”

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  • Author: Liz
  • September 08, 2013
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  • ‘Once’ director John Carney’s ‘Can A Song Save Your Life?’ starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo – is set to receive its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

    ‘Can a Song Save Your Life?’ follows Keira Knightley’s character as she moves to New York to pursue a music career, who falls on hard times until a music producer (Ruffalo) helps to turn her fortunes around.

    The film is executive produced by Judd Apatow and boasts an impressive supporting cast includes music star CeeLo Green; Mos Def; Adam Levine (Maroon 5); Catherine Keener; James Corden; and the young Oscar-nominated star of ‘True Grit’ Hailee Steinfeld.

    ‘Once’ proved an enormous international hit for Carney, winning an Oscar for its signature song ‘Falling Slowly’ for Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in 2008.

    John Carney also directed Irish films ‘The Rafters’ and ‘Zonad’, and several episodes of RTE’s ‘Bachelor’s Walk’.

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  • Author: Liz
  • July 27, 2013
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