Category Archives: Film Listings/Ratings

Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen – 2013) A-

We first meet Llewyn Davis performing a nice folk song. We hear the whole thing in the dimly lit club and maybe assume that he has it made. He gets applause and pats on the back as he walks to the back of the club and promptly gets punched in the stomach! Davis does not have it made, he is basically homeless and lives with a series of friends and acquaintances.  He gets no royalties from his record and his singing partner committed suicide. The film is not a feel good flick as we accompany Llewyn for a week or so of his life as he tries to make it. Like most  Coen films, they manage to get the most out of their actors and characters. Oscar Isaac as Llewyn delivers a great performance as he stumbles through his life garnering pity, annoyance, revulsion and at times appreciation of his talent. This one is not a  big bang in the Coen brothers canon but is a lovely movie none the less.

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson – 2007) C

It’s possibly my least favorite of Anderson’s movies. It tells the story of three brothers on a train trip through India attempting to rekindle their relationship with each other and possibly their mother. It’s got some of the typical Anderson tropes and style but the thing is the film is a bit boring, lacks the humor and joy and with characters that are not very interesting.

Snowpiercer (Joon-ho Bong – 2013) B+

It’s a visually spectacular film with shocking, at times beautiful at times gruesome set pieces. The idea is that mankind set-off the new ice age and the sole survivors live on a long train that circles the globe named Snowpiercer. Of course, being humans, a class system exists between the tail end and first class lead by the “engine” and the malevolent Wilford. The folks in the tail section who live in horrible conditions, eat blocks of mystery protein and are treated like cattle want to revolt. The rebels are lead by Curtis (Chris Evans) and start a violent progress from one crazy carriage to carriage. Each one of those carriages seems like its own world complete with color, mood and characters. My favorite has to be the elementary school one.
This make it sound like a violent video game but it really is not quiet as simple as that. The film does have more nuance, satire, plenty of good performances, and at least one crazy good monologue by Tilda Swinton. It does kind of stumble in the last act, has a silly “grand plan” and it suffers from too much on-the-nose exposition while at times not giving us enough depth for characters (what was up with that dude who never seemed to die?).

Somm (Jason Wise – 2012) B+

It’s a documentary that follows four guys hoping to pass their exam to become Master Sommelier, aka Somm. Of course, everyone knows about a sommelier in a fine dining restaurant but I had not heard of the “levels” in the profession that go up to Master Sommelier. A Somm is very tough to achieve and there are only a few hundred in the world! The amount of work, very high expectation, stress and effort these guys have to go through is insane. The doc portrays that very well and gets us interested in these guys’ pursuit along with their various motivations to become a Somm. The film does not use any flashy techniques or recreations, just a camera following the hopefuls and some interviews with their family and other Somm officials and judges. The topic is very interesting to me and that coupled with the characters made for an engaging documentary.

Gravity (2013 – Alfonso Cuaron) A

A truly beautiful movie with pitch perfect performance by Sandra Bullock and confident direction.  Cuaron utilizes music to great effect here since the film is set in space where there is no sound. It’s intense and has no minute of waste. That does not mean that it’s non-stop action, but that even when the Bullock character is taking a short nap it’s still a superb shot of her in a fetal position in zero gravity as the camera zooms out. My only regret is that I did not get to see this on the big screen. Just like his Children of Men or Y Tu Mama Tambien, this is a film I will be watching often.