24th Jan2014

Inside Llewyn Davis – Film

by timbaros

images-81Inside Llewyn Davis is a quiet, downbeat, and different type of movie about a musician who can’t get a break, neither in his musical career nor in his life.

Oscar Isaac excellently plays Davis, a talented folk singer/songwriter in 1960’s Greenwich Village who always seems to have a dark cloud over his head. Loosely based on a book by American folk singer Dave Van Ronk (“Mayor of MacDougal Street”) and directed and written by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis tells the simple tale of Davis as he tries to navigate life with his guitar as his best friend.
Davis, who is practically homeless and will jump at the chance to take perform at any gig for money, lives from sofa to sofa, including one that belongs to his ex-girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan) and her new partner Jim (Justin Timberlake). Together on the music circuit they are known as Jean and Jim. However, Jean informs Davis that she is pregnant, and that the kid could potentially be his. In another apartment that he sleeps in, he, along with the house cat, both get locked out, so he takes the cat (Ulysses) with him on the subway to gigs and to other people’s apartments, including Jean’s, where the cat slips out the window. His sister, who has lent him lots of money, doesn’t have much faith in his singing career. So in the quest to get some money and to get himself heard, he hitches a ride to Chicago (with a cat that may or may not be the cat that was lost) with musicians Johnny Five (Grant Hedlund) and Roland Turner (John Goodman) to meet a club owner who doesn’t give much hope to Davis and his career. And such is the life of Davis. He returns back to New York only to face more bad luck, enough bad luck that he plans to abandon his music career and join the merchant marines.
Davis (who was previously seen in W.E. and Drive) is excellent in this role. He has won several film critics awards for this film, including the National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Actor. Sadly, he was not nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. More shocking is that the music for this film was ignored by the Academy. The true star of Inside Llewyn Davis is the music – a mix of old and original folk songs by the legendary T-Bone Burnett. The BAFTA’s got it right – the film is nominated for Best Original Screenplay (deservedly so), Best Cinematography, and Best Sound (but shockingly again, nothing for its music). The film itself won the Grand Prixe at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Although in color, Inside Llewyn Davis has a smoky hazy look about it, almost like a reflection of dark clouds over a man who goes from rags to rags and no riches. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel perfectly captures this mood. Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the most memorable films you will see all year.

 

30th Sep2013

Runner Runner – Film

by timbaros

images-2Justin Timberlake is a Princeton college student who is addicted to online poker and loses quit a lot of money, while Ben Affleck is the site’s corrupt owner, in the new film Runner Runner.

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) thinks he is an expert at online gambling. He earns his tuition money this way, gambling for himself and helping others to gamble. He still needs lots more money to pay off his tuition bill ($60,000). The Dean of his college tells him to clean up act in 24 hours or he’s going to be kicked out of school. Furst decides to gamble the $17,000 he currently has by betting it all on the site. It’s a risk that goes the wrong way for him as he loses all the money. Confident that the site he is playing on, Midnight Black, is fixed, he flies down to Costa Rica where he is able to locate the owner, a suave and cool Ivan Block (Affleck) and tries to get his gambling losses back. Block takes a liking to the young and very smart man and offers him a job on the spot, a job that would entail Furst being his right hand man, with promises of lots of money and living the good life in what initially appears to be paradise. Little does Furst know that Block also wants him to do his dirty work, which includes dealing with lots of shady characters in the gambling underworld. The plot picks up speed as the FBI corners Furst to demand that he helps them bring down Block or that he will be charged with a felony for his gambling in school. The next day Furst discovers that the whole operation is a ponzi scheme and realizes that his role in the operation is to take the fall for if, and when, Block flees the country. Meanwhile, Block’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Shafran (a beautiful Gemma Arterton), falls for Furst and things get a bit complicated when they enter into a relationship. With the officials in cahoots with Block, and with Furst starting to feel the walls around him closing in, he needs to figure out who he can trust and what he needs to do to separate himself from the business, and from Block.

Timberlake is a real movie star. He is excellent as the young man caught up in web of deceit and corruption. Though it is hard to believe that the 33-year old singer/actor/dancer/everything man is a Princeton college student, Timberlake can and does hold the movie from beginning to end. Affleck is perfect as the oily, slimy rich internet kingpin, unshaven, he exudes mystery and we are quite sure that what we see is what we get. Arterton, last seen in Byzantium, is very good as the love interest, once in love with Block and then falling quickly for Furst. Feeling at times like a television movie/series (Miami Vice, CSI Miami), and at times predictable and unbelievable, Runner Runner, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) is a fast paced crime drama thriller that never drags, is quickly edited, and great to look at.