You’re Only As Strong As Your Next Move: A Review Of Begin Again

You’re Only As Strong As Your Next Move: A Review Of Begin Again

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Before you decide that TFiOS is the best movie of the summer, watch this heartfelt story about chasing your dreams and making something special happen. 

I recently saw a movie that is going to become one of my favorites, and one that I fully intend to buy the second it comes out on DVD. Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Hailee Steinfeld, is a wonderful film about love, music, and starting over.  

The movie is raw, honest, and genuine – much like the music of Keira Knightley’s character, Greta. It’s rated R, mostly because they swear quite a bit. But in the real world, who doesn’t? The characters – even the broken ones, like Mark Ruffalo’s Dan – are people I would want to be friends with. It is set in New York City, with incredible scenery and a low-key vibe. There is no trace of the distracting glitz that could have ruined the movie if it was set somewhere predictable like LA. Through the dialogue and production, the viewer can see how everyone involved with making the film is dedicated to their craft. The movie’s title aptly states its main message: there is so much beauty in second chances. 

The story is simple: Dan, a once brilliant record executive, is now a faded image of his former self, spending more time getting drunk than he does signing promising new musical acts. His business partner, finally fed up with him, fires him. In a stereotypical fashion, he goes out and drowns his sorrows at a dive bar, where he hears Greta quietly strumming a ballad on stage. In what could be seen as the creative imagination of a drunk man running wild, instruments come to life on stage and Dan hears Greta’s rough song as a full-realized production. He also sees a second chance for himself, a way to get back to the life he once knew. Of course, it’s not that easy. Dan begs Greta to sign with him, but she refuses, saying that she is headed back to England to nurse her broken heart. Slowly but surely, he convinces her, and they set out to make her first album. Since Dan isn’t actually a record exec anymore, he makes a deal with his former partner: they will make a demo album, and from there, the record label will decide whether or not to sign Greta. They enlist Greta’s musical friends to assemble a band, and they make their album on the streets of New York City. The movie itself is a love story to New York and starving artists, and it is an incredible thing to experience as a viewer. The story strips away the crazy showmanship and faux-reality of Hollywood, and the spotlight is able to truly shine on the music, which is what’s important. It’s impossible to not be inspired to chase your dreams when watching this movie. 

The music is all extremely well done, unlike the over-produced pop that dominates the radio these days. The words spill off of Knightley’s tongue so delicately that you really do believe she wrote them. She makes a convincing young musician, and is a beautiful breath of fresh air. Mark Ruffalo does a great job portraying a record label exec who has lost his way, and manages to come off endearing when he should seem like a tool, something Ruffalo has done well before (think The Kids are Alright, except he doesn’t end up being a huge jerk by the end this time around). I also love how Hailee Steinfeld’s character Violet was written – she is witty, sharp, and mature, but you can still see that she is just a lost young girl trying to find her way and impress her erratic father. Adam Levine was even pretty good in his role, and I’m not even a huge fan of his. Months ago, when I first heard he was going to be in this movie, I laughed, remembering his fairly pathetic role on American Horror Story – but I thought his acting actually wasn’t too bad! 

There’s not much more I can say – After all, I’m not a professional movie critic – except, go see this movie!!!

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Elliot Stabler, We Miss You

Not all heroes wear capes.
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In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. The victims of these vicious felonies are saved by two heroes who do not wear capes: Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson.

The King and Queen of New York, Detectives Benson and Stabler not only save the day but entertain me through weekends and procrastination. If you are a fan of the show you know Elliot Stabler leaves "Law and Order: SVU" after 12 wonderful seasons. It shall go down as one of the saddest days of the 21st century.

Elliot Stabler was not one for easy hearts. He was violent and angry but he cared about the people he loved. You couldn't help but love his many kids and wife at home even though you would never stop hoping that he and Olivia Benson would get together. One of the great things and something I miss most is how Olivia and Elliot worked so well together and their chemistry was bouncing more than Cardi B at Coachella. And although at times it may seem as if maybe there might be a chance you know deep down the greatest love was that of a partner.



I mean, come on. Look how cute. The banter, the sly eye contact, be still my beating heart.

Detective Stabler, I miss your violent outbursts. You were a hot-headed detective who sometimes didn't know your limits. That's why you were such a great character to watch. We never knew how far you would go to help a victim. You were interesting. You loved your job yet struggled with it. You cared about your co-workers yet you were selfish. You wanted to help the victims who had been hurt yet you would hurt others to help them.

You tell em' Stabler!

Can we all take a moment to appreciate a shirtless Elliot Stabler? Although the show is still going strong, you are missed, detective. How could we forget all the good and bad times together?

Cover Image Credit: NBC Universal

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