Sunday Streams — INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

As the decade comes to a close, the mind turns to the best films of the 2010s, and 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis easily makes the shortlist. A Sisyphean story of a struggling folk musician searching for authenticity in 1961 Greenwich Village would have been enough, but filmmakers Joel & Ethan Coen drag their titular character (played magnificently by Oscar Isaac) across America’s fracturing artistic scene, crossing paths with a bevy of historical figures and mid-century archetypes. The music is outstanding, the performances are pitch perfect, and the cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel is beyond reproach. It’s one for the ages, a … Continue reading Sunday Streams — INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

AT ETERNITY’S GATE

The year is 1888, and Vincent van Gogh must leave Paris. There is nothing left for him here. Cafés won’t show his work, the artists’ collectives are more concerned with bureaucratic policies and money than painting, and van Gogh’s closest, and possibly only, friend, Paul Gauguin is leaving too. He is headed south, to Madagascar; a place where they have never even heard of painting. Where should I go, van Gogh asks. South, replies Gauguin. And so he does. Down to Arles, a rural village of the Mediterranean coast where van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) will spend the next year opening … Continue reading AT ETERNITY’S GATE

ANNIHILATION

If Annihilation could be distilled into a single image, it would be that of a hand seen through a glass of water. Crystal clear, the water reflects precisely what is set in front of it and, in this case, it’s a human hand. But, it’s a glass of water, circular in nature, and so the reflection is bisected — fractured if you will — and though you can see what is being reflected in the water, you can also see what is not being reflected. At first glance, your mind fills in the gaps of the image, but if you … Continue reading ANNIHILATION

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Quite simply, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is magnificent. It’s no masterpiece and certainly not without a few flaws, but writer/director Rian Johnson is given plenty of room to continue the Star Wars saga, answer questions posed in previous installments, and create a world entirely his own. And that he does so without coloring outside the lines George Lucas drew all those years ago makes it all the more impressive. First, a short spoiler-free description of the plot: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is hiding on a remote planet. Hiding from what? A moment of shame. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has been … Continue reading STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Born On This Day – November 29, 1954

“We’ve never considered our stuff either homage or spoof. Those are things other people call it, and it’s always puzzled me that they do.” “Frequently we are writing characters and we are thinking, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to see such and such play this kind of a person?”, and the character starts to grow out of that as you are writing it. It’s a combination of things that you are making up and what you know about the actor.” –Joel Coen Continue reading Born On This Day – November 29, 1954

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY

Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) is a sloppy swindler, a sloppy drunk and even a sloppy murderer. He and his much younger wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst), wander the ruins of the Acropolis when they catch the eye of Rydal (Oscar Isaac) an American ex-pat with Daddy issues. That their paths would cross is inevitable. The fact that it was written, not in the stars, but via the pen of Patricia Highsmith makes it tragedy. Highsmith’s novels have been no strangers to the silver screen, as her first novel, Strangers on a Train made for one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best pictures. Much … Continue reading THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY

Movie Beat – 02.21.14

3 Days To Kill – Kevin Costner is an agent assigned to killing, torturing and blowing-up parts of Paris. I wonder what on his resume landed him the job? He wants out, but his boss (Amber Heard?) wants him to take one last job. He does. Bad idea. His family gets involved, badder idea. He takes his teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) along with him. Baddest idea. What will his wife (Connie Nielsen) think? Directed by that three-lettered Charlie’s Angels guy, McG, and in wide release from Relativity Media.   Almost Human – Two years ago, Mark (Josh Ethier) was abducted … Continue reading Movie Beat – 02.21.14

2013: Another Year of Moviegoing

2013 was an excellent year at the movies, but I said the exact same thing about 2012. Film critic for The New Yorker, Richard Brody, chose to open his year-end summary with this quote, “The year 2013 has been an amazing one for movies, though maybe every year is an amazing year for movies if one is ready to be amazed by movies.” I am always ready to be amazed by movies, and 2013 did not disappoint. I was consistently surprised how many movies continue to develop and unfold in my mind days, weeks, and months after I saw them. They refused to leave and I … Continue reading 2013: Another Year of Moviegoing

Movie Beat – 12.06.13

Breakfast With Curtis – Curtis is a shy young boy who lives next door to his complete opposite, Syd. Syd is a middle-aged bookseller, who spends most of his days drinking red wine and waxing poetically about this and that, but he needs some money, and that is where Curtis comes in. He manages to convince Curtis to shoot commercials for his book business, which he does, and Curtis is exposed to a whole new world through Syd. Free of cliches and irony, this small chamber piece is light and fun with an awful lot of heart. Starring Theo Green, … Continue reading Movie Beat – 12.06.13