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Podcast: Charming Musicians, Frosty Survivors, Talking Apes

It's one-on-one podcast time this week. Nathaniel and Nick discuss two movies they're sympatico on (Begin Again and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and one which halfway divides them (Snowpiercer). 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

00:01 Intro & Scene Stealing
01:30 Begin Again: rough starts, Mark Ruffalo's abrasiveness, Keira Knightley overall excellence, how it compares to Once.
14:00 Why we're not talking Boyhood. Plus the difficulty of grading ambitious movies.
20:00 Snowpiercer: allegory, structure, and the fight over the final cut, Tilda Swinton of course. Plus Bong Joon-ho and Korean cinema.
35:00 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: highlight scenes, amazing imagery, franchise politics, Jason Clarke, and Caesar vs. Koba.
45:00 "Lost Stars" 

What is this picture doing here?
You'll have to listen to find out.


Begin Again Snowpiercer Dawn of...

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Reader Comments (16)

Great listen, guys!

I am so with you on Begin Again - the beginning seemed off tonally, but as soon as Keira and Mark got together and started making music it just soared, and all the performances were totally endearing. Keira got stuck in a lot of period stuff early in her career but I like her as a contemporary woman better - she always seems looser and more natural in those parts.

The debate over Snowpiercer, IIRC seemed to be centered on Harvey wanting more explanation in the beginning as well as cuts to tighten. I think the former was completely unnecessary and the latter debatable. I think the film could be tighter, but I'm not sure what I would cut, exactly, because I had such a good time while watching it, and it didn't ever feel overly long, maybe just slightly slack in spots, but for me those spots were a necessary reprieve from the crazy violence and action sequences. I also thought Tilda navigated the border of camp pretty brilliantly, but I naturally respond to those types of performances in films like this.

Dawn of... I just did not like at all. It just went on and on and on and offered nothing different from what I was expecting - and the one twist it did provide (regarding Caesar) felt like they just chickened out about that plot point. There were moments of good filmmaking and I liked the scenes with Koba playing dumb, but all of that was in the trailers. One of the most disappointing films of the year for me, despite some good moments.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I know you liked the unique use of the two versions of "Lost Stars" in Begin Again, but I'm here to point out how there's a nearly identical plot-point in High School Musical (and they even tried to repeat it in High School Musical 2)

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

conrado -- whoa. really?

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I completely despised Begin Again. There's not an authentic moment in the whole film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is okay--far more generic than the reviews indicated. Snowpiercer is not as good as The Host, but I'm very much in favor of Bong's gonzo tonal weirdness, even if the plot/worldbuilding aren't quite up to snuff.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate

That's funny. I also liked Begin Again the most after walking out, but I'd place it lower on my list of films for the year than the other two. Snowpiercer totally grossed me out, then I decided after the school that I loved it, then that long ending... totally agree that Weinstein may have been right. I assumed it was confusing because he had editing things out, then found out later it was the full version. If Ed Harris had never been part of the film, it would have been a far more interesting ending.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

After seeing Wish I Was Here, with Zach Braff's Kickstarter saved artistic freedom, I almost feel inclined to always be on the studio's side. Because editing can't be a bad thing! Even with my own stuff, I feel the need to be precious and save unnecessary things for a sentence or joke or whatever I am proud of.

And I liked Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but it's been two weeks and all I remember is the excellent production design.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKacey

Nathaniel -- Yup, it's not a major plot-point, but there is a character who's a composer, and she is mad about the way Ashley Tisdale's character is performing her soulful ballad as a bouncy-happy song.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Comparing Begin Again to Once...I think that the reason I preferred Once is that the chemistry between Hansard and Irglova was much better than the chemistry between Knightly and Ruffalo, because H&I were a real-life couple. That made it magical, something I can't really say about Begin Again.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

I agree with almost all of the points and arguments raised on both sides about Begin Again and Snowpiercer, which is rare when it comes to film debate. I think that has something to do with the richness of both movies and the intelligence in these opinions too, of course. Begin Again is the rare film that gets better, better, then better and has the best ending it could have had (both of them!). People seem to not give enough credit to how string the character Keira played was as in "strong-female-role". She was open to love, but also very independent, not objectified nor sexualized in any form and had high moral and ethic values. I love the character and the performance. As far as Snowpiercer, there is SO much to be talked about, which is a feast for film lovers. Whether someone like it or not, there is no denying how ambitious it is and how that should be celebrated firsthand. As far as Tilda, I thought she was brilliant - great bold choices in every aspect (talk about milking every second of screen time). I would see a prequel if that meant her character was put on the forefront!

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Bill_the_bear, Glen and Marketa weren't a couple when they were filming the movie but ended up getting together for a brief while afterwards. It doesn't diminish the chemistry and the loveliness of the movie though.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Such a great listen. It's so refreshing listening to two people with opposing opinions about a movie discuss it with zero ounces of condescension or dismissiveness. ALSO wonderful to hear critics take the deliciously earnest Begin Again seriously despite its flaws. Keira really is a gem. Thank you both!

Nick -- Before you compile your top ten for 2013 it might be worth checking out White Reindeer, which is all the things its trailer says it is ( AND under 85 minutes. It was one of Guy Lodge's favorites last year, so if you won't take my word for it, take his! I saw it in December and I still think about it almost every day.

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSheela

So much fun!
I want to see Begin Again for Keira and maaaayyybe the Apes movie but

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I still have that VF issue. Love the cover... and so interesting that both ladies have seen their careers turn back around recently.

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I always seem to be slightly off-consensus when it comes to Tilda performances. eg. I prefer her work in I Am Love to Julia (though she's spectacular in both, obviously) and Kevin to Michael Clayton and now Snowpiercer to just about all of them.

I thought she was mesmerising, unhinged yet tightly controlled genius. *spoiler* I was devastated when she died so relatively early *end spoiler* The lifted the film to a higher register in her every scene. And I'm totally down with Mr. Goodbar's suggestion of a Tilda prequel.

Also, I like the description of her performance as live-action anime character.

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

There already was a prequel about Tilda's character. It was called The Iron Lady.

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

My favorite thing about all three movies was Allison Pill's schoolteacher scene in Snowpiercer. I was giddy the whole time. THIS is why she needs to be in awesome character roles and not the abysmal Newsroom on HBO with such a limp, sexist character.

I also second Nick's opinions on the disturbing racial undertones of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I was straight up rolling my eyes whenever they reared their head and I was already kinda over the movie near the 3/4 mark.

My favorite South Korean director is actually Lee Chang-dong. ;)
I do love The Host, Thirst and Mother quite a bit tho.

Can't wait to hear all the opinions on Boyhood, there's so much to talk about. Patricia Arquette!

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

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