Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., May 20
A divorced record exec (Mark Ruffalo), inundated with booze and bombarded by mediocrity, stumbles upon an open mic night in time to catch a fetching singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) with a sensational “little voice” who he instantly signs. The gimmick: they’ll record an album on the fly at various locations across New York. John Carney returns to the street performer milieu of his breakthrough musical, Once, only this time to lesser effect. The opening number set the bar high: Ruffalo blocks out the background noise of the noisy tavern to fully orchestrate Knightley’s acoustic performance in his head. What follows – performance pieces intercut with Ruffalo’s battle with the bottle and a rebellious teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) – is dramatic background music for a soundtrack in search of a story. Judd Apatow’s participation as executive producer may have contributed to the film’s overall sense of aimlessness. 2014.