Joel and Ethan Coen, supported by an extraordinarily complex performance from Oscar Isaac in the title role, craft a moving, thoughtful, and, in a peculiar way, stimulating film.
From the opening credits sequence, Love the Coopers feels like classic studio holiday schmaltz. Santa Clauses ride around town, dogs dressed in Hanukkah and Christmas garb embrace, and families take pictures for greeting cards. The Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” scores the montage, completing an idyllic portrait of dull but harmless seasonal cheer.
Usually the first thing added to a film when it is remade is glitz. American films from the 1970s had their own distinct, philosophical quality to them, something that inevitably gets lost in translation when the material is put to screen again by a new team of filmmakers. Still, the one thing I didn’t anticipate while watching screenwriter William Monahan and star Mark Wahlberg tackle The Gambler was a lack of visceral thrills. Director Rupert Wyatt’s film nails the look of 1974’s The Gambler, but it lacks the feel of the original.
With Disney leading its renaissance with self-serious titles with tales accounting Greek (Hercules), Native American (Pocahontas), and Chinese (Mulan) empires, it may seem like a slight against the Disney-fication of the South American pre-Inca empire to present a through-and-through comedy. Indeed, The Emperor’s New Groove was fully prepared to be another historical drama firmly planted in Disney canon under the title of Kingdom of the Sun, but thanks to economic troubles (read as: really weird circumstances best covered in the documentary The Sweatbox. Look to Josh’s piece and the Mousterpiece podcast for further reading.) its fate was left to the comedic stylings of Mark Dindal. It’s the sort of destiny that may have lead New Groove to the realm of films like its predecessor in Disney-proper, Dinosaur, doing well at the box office, but scorned from critical attention and far away from Disney canon.
The Coen Brothers return with Inside Llewyn Davis, a caustic yet affectionate glimpse into a struggling artist’s life during the folk music scene of the early ‘60s. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac of Drive) is a temperamental musician in Greenwich Village whose poor decision-making and an inability to connect to others outside of selfish reasons have landed him with little more than the clothes on his back.
Like Father, Like Son There’s a sweetness and emotional weight …
It’s 2013, and in the world of pop culture, most of us comfortably take Pixar for granted. Here is a studio that, from 1995 to 2010, churned out financially successful films that were also unique, exciting, fresh, and captivating in ways other movie studios could only dream of. The relatively dark days arrived with Cars 2, a sequel to a movie that wasn’t as well-liked (rightly so) as Pixar’s other work.