Leave it to the Coen Brothers to come up with a film full of colorful characters, although not always likeable, delicious dialogue, and a tale that may hold moral implications for many viewers. Such is their latest outing, Inside Llewyn Davis. The title character is an aspiring folk singer at the beginning of the folk singing renaissance in 1961. He started as one-half of a duo, which broke up, and now he’s trying for a solo career. Llewyn Davis is completely at loose ends. He’s on the outs with what’s left of his family, has no permanent address, and is getting nowhere fast with his chosen profession. He spends the film on a journey of discovery…but for what? Fame? Love? Or maybe just looking for himself, whoever that may be.
I’m more than likely in the minority on this film, but I have a few problems with Saving Mr. Banks, in which Tom Hanks as Walt Disney is having difficulty with the prickly author of the book Mary Poppins, played by Emma Thompson, who wants to micromanage every aspect of the film’s production. If you have seen the trailer, it appears to be a feel-good tale of moviemaking surrounding one of the most beloved films ever made. What the trailer doesn’t reveal is that it’s really two films in one.
Almost everything I’ve read since seeing the new film Out of the Furnacemakes comparisons to The Deer Hunter, which is legitimate. The film takes place in the hardscrabble world of a Pennsylvania steel mill town; the younger brother of the lead character is sent to Iraq, although we’re spared any footage of that deployment; it’s incredibly violent; and yes, there is a scene of deer hunting.
Our film critic, Larry Thomas, interviews documentarian Davy Rothbart about Medora, his newest film about this small-town Indiana’s basketball team and how it mirrors the struggle of the town itself. Medora will be screened at the Contemporary Arts Center on Monday, December 9.
With Christmas gift time just around the corner, give some thought to presenting that special film buff in your life with a DVD or Blu-Ray box set to match his or her tastes and interests. It’s possible to find box sets of just about anything that’s been committed to film. There are sets of animated works for kids; sets of TV shows from the early 1950s through just last season; and sets of films by genre, actor, or director. If you’re into the cinematic equivalent of self-flagellation, there’s even a box set of all of the Police Academy movies.