Out Now – 24th January 2014

August Osage County

Inside Llewyn Davis
The latest Coen brothers film is out and it is as good as you have come to expect. None of the stills can convey this but the film positively glows. IT GLOWS! Review here.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
I am incredibly ignorant when it comes to Jack Ryan. Last year at a film-centric pub quiz I failed to answer the question, “what character has been played by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck”. The answer was apparently of course Jack Ryan. In my defense the name has never been used as a film title before and it is a little bland. As for the plot? Oh look I’ve run out of

Grudge Match
Stallone and De Niro play washed up boxers who return from retirement to settle a longstanding grudge by punching each other in front of a paying audience. For amusement, and to make you think fondly of my terrible Photoshop abilities, please see the film’s poster.

August: Osage County
When a play is adapted into a film it is often produced as a feature stuffed with “real” actors which struggles with reviews that refer to it as being too stagey. Along comes August: Osage County complete with rave reviews in the theatre, mixed reviews in the cinema, and a whole lot of Meryl Streep. I love theatre and I love Streep so let me at it! Also good for some Cumberbatch perving if that’s your bag.

“Teenagers did not always exist. In this living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and voices lifted from early 20th Century diary entries, a struggle erupts between adults and adolescents to define a new idea of youth.” I’ll be honest with you; this film really appeals to me. I almost saw it at last year’s film festival but at least three other films must have clashed with it. At 78 minutes though I am tempted to wait and see if it pops up on TV.

French comedy let down by a lacklustre IMDb entry and no mention at all on UK distributor Studiocanal’s website. Améliorez votre présence sur Internet!

The General
Buster Keaton’s 192os classic action adventure comedy is back in cinemas 87 years and one week after its original UK premiere. Why not go see it so you can stop pretending to be familiar with his work and become able to discuss the film properly without having to rely on IMDb to feed you information.

Dark Days
Re-release of a not quite so old film as Marc Singer’s award winning 2001 documentary about the homeless population of New York who live in underground tunnels returns to UK screens.

Inside Llewyn Davis – LFF Film Review

Inside Llewyn Davis
When it comes to the latest film by the Coen brothers I pretty much just want to tell you that it’s a great film, both funny and moving and blah blah blah, and for you to just go to see it. This is Joel and Ethan Coen we’re talking about here, they don’t really make bad films. Ok, so they have made a couple of false moves but no one’s perfect; Judi Dench did a cameo in Run for Your Wife after all. If you need more convincing I will go on…

At the centre of Inside Llewyn Davis is, surprisingly, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) a folk singer in early 1960s New York. Davis has hit hard times and doesn’t have a home, a consistent gig, or a stable relationship. We follow him during one terrible week as he hits even harder times which involve an unwanted pregnancy, a creative compromise, and a ginger cat with a habit of running away. We see a man at his lowest ebb who is forced to reconsider his dreams in favour of actually making a living.

The Coens work their usual visual magic and Inside Llewyn Davis has its own distinct look with a limited pallet of browns and greys and a slightly soft sheen to shots that allows the blacks to deepen and makes skin, particularly on Carey Mulligan, positively glow. You’ll have to see the film to understand what I’m wittering on about. The film is set in a harsh winter and the muted colours that leave everything looking infinitely colder. While everyone is wrapped up warm in heaps of attractive knitwear poor Llewyn doesn’t even have a winter coat making him seem all the more pathetic as he shivers within the stark scenery.

Inside Llewyn Davis is about a failing musician so does feature a lot of scenes of a man in dire straights and is not without pathos but this doesn’t mean that the film loses its sense of humour. The screening room erupted with laughter throughout the film as little nuggets of comedy gold were mined by the fine array of character actors at work. The Coens are so often at their best when holding up relatively unsympathetic leads for our amusement and somehow end up earning our sympathy.

When the crowd fell into a hushed silence it was as we all listened in awe to one of the films numerous musical performances. Inside Llewyn Davis is not a musical but with musicians as its core characters there are frequent performances during which we are treated to the entire songs rather than just snippets. These heart-felt folksy tunes are mostly sung by Isaac himself who has a beautiful voice and he was occasionally joined by the likes of Mulligan and Justin Timberlake who aren’t too shabby either. Timberlake plays a gloriously saccharin singer of cheesy songs, the recording session of one of his songs is a film highlight, and Mulligan his unfaithful wife.

This is a film with soul and on the Coen brothers scale sits most easily alongside A Serious Man in quality and in tone. A decent proper film with no gimmicks or distractions Inside Llewyn Davis is a lovely way to spend a cold afternoon.

Inside Llewyn Davis screens at the festival on the 15th, 17th and 19th October and is in UK cinemas on 24th January 2014.

BFI London Film Festival 2013