If music be the food of love, play “Begin Again”


We all have a story inside us and in John Carney’s case it is accompanied by a soundtrack, an ode to the city in which the action takes place. With “Begin Again,” the director of “Once” now turns his attention to New York City where a burnt-out record producer (played by Mark Ruffalo) and a principled but somewhat pouty songwriter (Keira Knightly) improbably connect and make beautiful (OK, passable) music together.

There’s the “will-they-won’t-they” romance, the domestic complications (on both sides) and one really stand-out performance (James Corden as the unsung hero-catalyst). But mostly it’s a love song to the transformative power of the creative process. The best part of the film, for me anyway, is seeing the music come to life—from the mind’s ear to the cityscape soundstages, performed improvisationally and sometimes on the run.

No recording session has ever gone this smoothly; the right talent is rarely so easy to find and deus ex machina financing is not something that appears every day. But that’s part of the film’s gentle charm. It’s a romantic fantasy where collaboration and creativity come together to give art-for-art’s-sake a starring role.

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Health insurers’ advertising mines the credibility gap


Is AHIP suffering from amnesia? Are all its members afflicted with short-term memory loss or do they think we’ve been living in some parallel universe?

Thanks to the ACA’s insurance mandate, carriers are falling all over themselves to recruit new customers (and profits) with claims of superior service, warm and fuzzy patient care and cutting-edge technology.  Humana promises to “close the gap” between people and the healthcare they deserve (presumably the very same care they denied to the very same people just months earlier due to “pre-existing” conditions). Cigna is all about seeing you as the “living, breathing person” you are (as opposed, I guess, to the source of limitless revenue you’ve been).  And United Healthcare is offering patients and their families information they can trust (and the data the carrier and other marketers can likely use).

Creative but not very credible.

Healthcare providers, meanwhile, are still struggling to get the reimbursements they’re due while compensation for insurance CEOs is at its highest level yet.

Makes you yearn for stricter “truth in advertising” regulations or, at the very least, true and universal health care.


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Apple serves up the schmaltz with its new 5s iPhone and “Chicken Fat”


A confession: I was/am a major fan of “Flashdance.” Even now, whenever I hear the theme song (“What a feeling”) at the gym, it makes me smile and I push a little harder. Mock if you must.

I feel the same way about “Chicken Fat,” Apple’s new spot for its 5s iPhone. Yes, the song has a history and some may snicker at the corniness. But it’s beautiful storytelling, plugged into the zeitgeist of self-improvement  and empowerment (“You’re more powerful than you think.”) and, more importantly for the brand, promotes the benefits of personal health information technology in a very human and organic way.

Would write more but I’m running out to get in my 10,000 steps for the day.

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