Film Review : Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.0
Rotten Tomato Score – 93%

Grand Prize Winner at Cannes for Joel and Ethan Coen
Four Golden Globe Nominations including Original Song, Cinematography, Best Actor (Oscar Isaac), and Best Picture

Directed By – Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring – Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garret Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

I honestly don’t think the Coen brothers can make a bad film. There is not a single film of theirs that I can say I didn’t enjoy in some respect. That statement was made with full awareness that “The Ladykillers” is a film. I actually enjoyed it. Lately, they have been making very subtle and quiet films with heavy undertones of sadness and bleak realism. We saw a completely cold and menacing hitman in “No Country for Old men”, a Jewish man seeming to be under a test from God in “A Serious Man”, and a revolving door of bad decisions in “Burn After Reading”. I don’t think any other filmmakers have such a unique style as the Coens. They have a resume of films spanning all kinds of genres but still seem like they fall in the same universe as each other. I’ll never get tired of seeing them succeed.

Inside Llewyn Davis is probably one of their best films. I absolutely loved it. I’m not going to go so far as call it a masterpiece because it’s going to be something that most people are going to like but certain people are going to fall in love with. People who seem to be set with their lives are going to laugh at the antics of John Goodman and a hilarious supporting cast of characters that fall right into place with all the other great Coen scene stealers. They’re going to appreciate the music and probably be confused with the end and you know what? That’s okay. This movie is really made for people who are having trouble finding where they fit in this world. The story follows Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer without an address who is trying to build a career in his passion of singing songs and playing his guitar. He sleeps on couches. Most people don’t like him. He is the epitome of a lost soul trying to find substance and meaning. I may not be in the same in the same situation as Davis, but I connected with him as somebody who just can’t catch a break in trying to find happiness. It’s a bleak but very real look into a time where so many people were trying to find themselves.

The film is smart and witty. I found myself belly laughing at a lot of scenes which feature the usual Coen sense of humor. John Goodman steals every scene he is in but also plays one of the films more tragic characters. Justin Timberlake and Garret Hedlund don’t have much screen time but each of their characters make an impression one way or another. The always great Carey Mulligan plays a former lover of Davis and a spiteful one at that.

The music in the film is the final character as it’s one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. I’m not even that big a fan of folk music but the songs in here are sung with such emotion and feeling that it was hard not to fall in love with them. I’ll be purchasing the soundtrack. Oscar Isaac, whom I’ve only seen in one other movie (Drive), gives one of the best performances of the year. The dude can also sing. This is obviously to be expected but I was surprised by how good he was. His performance was crushing and while his character definitely came off a bit unlikable, I couldn’t help but sympathize with him. I wanted Llewyn to find happiness in his life just like I want everybody to find happiness, including myself.

The film is fantastic. It’s the perfect film for people trying to leave a footprint on this planet. It’s going to be too depressing for some, boring for the others, and pointless for many, but I found the film to be engrossing and completely endearing to the human need for purpose. It’s a special film with a special performance. I’ll be seeing it again.


Film Review : Monster’s University (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 78%

Directed By – Dan Scanlon
Starring – Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Soh, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Charlue Day, Dave Foley, and Nathan Fillion

A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

I’ve been a fan of Pixar for as long as I can remember. My father and I, up until only recently, made it a small tradition to see the Pixar films in theaters together and while we haven’t gone since Ratatouille, I’ll remember the times we did fondly. Honestly I think we’re just waiting for the right film. “Up” would have been a great film to see with him but the “Cars” films never peaked our interest. I haven’t even seen the second one after the first was so disappointing. While not a big fan of “Monster’s Inc.”, I still wanted to catch this one even though I missed it in theaters and I’m actually glad I waited because I feel I enjoyed it more knowing I didn’t have to pay theater prices to see it. Plus, it would have been a zoo of children.

I think everybody knows the premise of this film and if you don’t it’s not that hard to figure out. The film tells the story of how Mike and Sully met and rose to fame in College to become the scare masters that they eventually became. Honestly, I didn’t care for the story. Pixar is known for throwing in very serious undertones in their stories and in Monster’s University it just seems like they played it as safe as they possibly could. I’ve read this observation with the movie before but it really is just “Revenge of the Nerds” with more hair and teeth. Mike and Sully team a band of rejects and try to overthrow the popular and scarier monsters. I expected more from Pixar.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie. It was silly and a lot of fun but really didn’t try to break any grounds. The monsters introduced in the film were top notch and I enjoyed seeing them all interact with each other. The music was fantastic and the colors in this film are gorgeous. It really just boils down to the film being a good family film instead of the groundbreaking story telling machine that Pixar has built itself into. I’m hoping they come out with a few more films like “Wall-E”, “Finding Nemo”, or “Up” in the near future.