This time last year I was asked to write a long article on any topic for a film criticism module as part of my undergraduate degree. What follows is the product of this class, my exploration of, at the time, … Continue reading
Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
As a Coen Brothers film, I don’t think Inside Llewyn Davis has their iconic sense of humour; however it does seem to be on par with the development of their works. In comparison to my personal favourite, Raising Arizona, it would be difficult to draw parallels between the two, you can’t really see the same auteur traits, however in comparison to their later films such as True Grit and A Serious Man, and you can definitely see the darker style and ambiguous almost dissatisfying ending.
Llewyn, not necessarily the most sympathetic character as critics are quick to pick up, is a struggling folk musician in 1960s New York. We follow his journey, both literally and metaphorically, to make a living out of his music, and to be able to live with his music.
We are introduced to fellow musicians, fans of the TV show girls will be thrilled with the appearance of the show’s Adam Driver, as well as the lovely Carey Mulligan playing Jean, of Jim and Jean, Jim being played by Justin Timberlake. However in this pair, it is Jean that steals the show, arguably the most sympathetic character, going through an extremely human experience. Had we sympathised with Llewyn, the audience may have found her character annoying and loud, however though her constant referral to Llewyn as “Asshole”, we find ourselves agreeing with her, and also being able to find laughter in her anger.
Although this isn’t my favourite Coen Brothers film by far, I have had the soundtrack on loop all morning. For a film about a musician, it achieves making the music the main character. It is different to other films in the way music is presented; it allows the music to just play. There’s no huge introduction to each song, there’s not a massive production, its natural and it flows with the narrative rather than interrupting it.
You cannot talk about Inside Llewyn Davis without mentioning the cat. The cat is, personally, my favourite character. The care that Llewyn gives this cat also adds a certain bit of humanity to his otherwise cold and quite careless personality. He goes through the film insulting other people, whether on purpose or otherwise. This cat almost redeems him from this through some part of the film.
The unlikable protagonist can be seen as typical of the Coens. Their crime thriller Fargo arguably has little or no likeable characters, neither doe A Serious man, however it’s their ability to create real characters and still make the audience want to watch their films that show their distinct and incredible ability as film makers.
Witten by Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
Directed by Edgar Wright
My most anticipated release of 2013 provided appearances, within the first 60 seconds, from Peirce Brosnan, Michael Smiley and Bloody Mary from Shaun of the Dead. My first thought: how am I going to afford all the repeated viewings I’m going to need to fully appreciate the brilliance of this film?
Determined to finish the ‘Golden Mile’ in his home town of Newton Haven, Gary King (Simon Pegg) rounds up his gang of friends, now family/ business men, to finish what their 18 year old selves could not. To reach The Worlds End. When they arrive, their town is not what it used to be, and the name of the final pub takes on a whole new meaning. Appearances from previous Wright/ Pegg/ Frost collaborations will not leave cult fans disappointed, and the mixture of Bromance, Rom-Com and Dystopian end-of-the-world sci-fi genres are guaranteed to reel in the imaginations of new fans.
I was lucky enough for my local cinema to be showing the full Cornetto trilogy along with the midnight release of The Worlds End and so my mind was refreshed and ready for the newest instalment of my favourite trio. I was happy to notice that the classic Edgar Wright montages are again present along with incredible performances from classic British actors, such as Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike, and inside jokes that I know I will be sharing with my friends for a long time to come.
What sets this apart from the other two films in the trilogy is the much deeper back story to the main character, which some fans may find shocking as it is emotionally a lot darker than the other films. Also the much stronger willed character of Nick Frost, who plays T- total wingman turned business man Andrew Knightley as opposed to the unemployed Ed of Shaun of the Dead or inept police officer Danny of Hot Fuzz. As those of you who have seen interviews with Wright Pegg or Frost will know, the film also contains less direct references to other films which I have become accustomed to when watching a film by this trio, but it does not take anything away from the film, it was just a decision by Wright to pay a more subtle homage to Sci Fi literature. Never the less, The Worlds End has the funniest most unpredictable ending I have seen in years, relatable to everyone in the cinema, you will love this film.
As I have been waiting for this final instalment of the trilogy for so long it may come as a surprise that it actually met and exceeded my expectations! Although my favourite will always be Hot Fuzz, this is an incredible ending to my favourite zom-rom-com-police-parody-dystopian trilogy. I woke up with my ribs hurting from laughing so much from the screening last night, that’s the best way I can describe how much I adored the film. Literal rib cracking laughter. Words cannot describe how much I love this trilogy, but I have tried. For anyone who is yet to go and see The Worlds End, be prepared to wake up as I did, sides hurting from the continuous laughter, and for those who already have … Lets Boo Boo.
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt
So for anyone who has already watched the film, did you guess the right card at the beginning? I did. I was hooked from that. I felt like I was part of the audience in the film, it made me feel like the magic was being performed and revealed to me personally. Maybe that’s why I have such a high opinion of the film when other fellow filmeys don’t? I just love the magic of film and when the film literally is magic … well … I’m sold.
Think Hustle meets Dynamo: Magician Impossible. Similar group dynamics and close up involvement. A group of seemingly random magicians are chosen by an unknown sponsor and quickly become 4 of the most famous magicians in the US. As can be seen from the trailer, they perform a magic trick turned heist but in order for the FBI to catch the ‘Four Horsemen’ as they have branded themselves, the FBI must admit to believing in magic. So many questions are brought up by the film, who is this unknown sponsor? Are they capable of real magic? What’s the reason and power behind their sudden rise to fame? Most questions are answered but some answers remain elusive. For me this adds to the magic of the film, the uncertain and unpredictable, bordering on slightly cheesy, ending.
But watch out, each section of the film leads to the reveal at the end, there are little clues throughout which, if you were watching, all make sense at the end of the film. The resolve, for some was anti-climactic but for me, as I had picked up on all these little hints, it was one of the “ohhhhhhh” moments that you wait for and crave at the end of a film like this. We are also given a few characters that we are allowed to love to hate. Morgan Freeman is a whistle blower who gets his comeuppance in the end and Michael Cane is a money hungry millionaire who also gets duped by these Four Horsemen, we as an audience feel a bit of smug when this happens, as we haven’t been duped, we therefore feel smarter than he is which, let’s face it, is always a good feeling. This mix of personalities introduced in the film, who aren’t even lead roles, is what makes the film feel so intricate with its story lines. There are no loose ends, each character has a purpose, each line/ action has been thought through. This, to me, is what makes truly good film making. If I do have any criticisms it would be that the ending is a bit rushed, the bit reveal was a bit underplayed so it didn’t feel like a big reveal, in fact I almost missed the conversation, there could have been a way to explain it more fully. For me, I feel the ending needs a second viewing as I’m sure that I missed a few key words which would have made it all the more clearer. I wouldn’t exactly call the ending abrupt, just had a slightly early emphasis.
What really struck me though was the rapport the actors had with one another, the feeling of people being thrust together as a group and being forced to get on and sometimes playing on the tension in order to create illusions and get information. It’s difficult to explain without giving too much away, so, as I hate spoilers, I’m going to leave it there and just encourage you all to go and see it for yourself. See if you get as hooked on the magic as I did.
Directed and Written by James DeMonaco
The year is 2022 and the American Dream is in full view, the crass colours stand out on the screen in an imitation of the Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s. James DeMonaco seems to adopt the falseness of that era in his introduction of the perfect Sandins and their neighbourhood. The claustrophobic nosey neighbours and deliberate magnification of everything from faces to movements imploring us to notice their imperfections sets the uneasy atmosphere. The effect given is that of the unrealistic expectations of America, the larger than life lifestyle is represented and this can only be experienced, in my view, whilst watching it on the big screen.
During the Purge, the Sandins, the wealthiest family in the neighbourhood are locked down in their house, their choice is to hide rather than seek but the night has other ideas, when the youngest of the Sandins acts on his conscience, the family are thrown into a situation where they must decide; kill or be killed.
The Purge can be seen as a strictly American film, with it only being fully understood by those who live in the USA. The importance of the constant reference to the ‘new founding fathers’ can only be understood by those whose everyday life is already effected by the original founding fathers. American audiences may see this as a comment on society, a political stance or just a ‘what if?’ film, but those who do not have a considerable understanding of American life and politics may find it difficult to gain the full message of the film.
I’m still not sure about whether this is an amazing idea/comment on where American society is heading of just another Battle Royale type film. I can’t fault the acting, Ethan Hawke plays the competitive all American father, Lena Headey, the Game of Thrones beauty, plays the concerned, not quite fitting in housewife who would do anything for her children. I guess it comes down to the fact that yes I did enjoy it but no I would not buy it on DVD. I’d recommend it as a rental on LoveFilm or Sky Box Office when it comes out or trying to catch it at the cinema now, but it loses its effect after the first time viewing. The shocks can’t happen twice and, as there has already been a sequel rumoured I’d wait for that for my next fix of The Purge.