Der Nachtmahr Directed by Akiz Written by Achim Bornhak Germany, …
Poor Llewyn Davis is not at a good point in his life. In February of 1961, he is a struggling, bearded bohemian shivering through a frosty Greenwich Village, a folk musician seeking the next gig just to keep the wolf from the door. With few possessions other than the fraying clothes on his back and his trusty guitar, he relies on the charity of others to keep a temporary roof over his head, oscillating from staying with two wedded musical companions in the tight-knit folk scene, Jean (Carey Mulligan, deliciously spiteful) and Jim Berkey (Justin Timberlake, polished) and the middle-class Gorfiens , the wealthy, perky parents of Llewyn’s musical partner, revealed to have committed suicide a few months earlier. Davis is a man scorned, sneering at others and certain of his superior musical skills. He’s not the most likable sort, as his futile attempts to escape the confines of his self-imposed cage make for a colourfully arranged period crooner.
The Oscar-nominated director and writer of last year’s potent Wall Steet drama Margin Call has circumnavigated the perils of sophomore filmmaking with All Is Lost. This is J.C. Chandor’s remarkable nautical thriller, plunging its audience into a whirlpool nightmare scenario. In a solo role, Robert Redford is a nameless figure, a stoic seaman sailing through the Pacific roughly 1,700 miles from civilisation before being jolted awake after an abandoned cargo container ruptures a yawning gape in his modest single-berth schooner.
Venerable Woody Grant (a grizzled Bruce Dern) has a singular purpose in mind, to get from his adopted Montana home to neighbouring Nebraska to collect a million-dollar cheque that a suspiciously speculative postal disclaimer has promised to honour. Elderly and suffering with decaying mental functions, Woody clearly can’t see through the marketing scam, and his wife Kate (June Squibb) and son David (Will Forte) grow increasingly exasperated at his dangerous footbound expeditions before arriving at a mutual solution:
“The rich man may fall for a stock exchange ruse, but the poor man’s got nothing to lose.” In case you hadn’t gathered the sentiment of Soldate Jeanette around two-thirds of the way into its brisk 80-minute runtime, the man strumming his guitar at the dinner table says what everyone’s thinking, through his musical praise of a slender existence. The meal takes place at a farm, where former financial high-flyer Fanni (Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg) has escaped to start a new life, away from the hollow boardrooms and into the tangled textures of the forest, surrounded by beings with a detectable pulse, from humans to barnyard critters. Her last remaining wads of cash can be found in the nearby thicket, burnt to a crisp atop a bonfire.
Based on James Duthie’s “I Cycled into the Arctic Circle”, a first-person literary account by a man who accomplished a brave feat in spite of his disability – yet sadly ended his days in an unmarked grave – the quasi-adaptation Dummy Jim pays tribute to not just this mortal man, but also the natural world exalted by his words. The film tells the story of a deaf-mute cyclist with the same name, who travels along the Continent while a group of schoolchildren stage a retelling of his journey for a village fete.
The lyric repeated with unintended irony over the end credits of The Heart of Bruno Wizard has the eponymous rock star sing, “What does it matter in the scheme of things?” The question is applicable to this debut feature by filmmaker Elisabeth Rasmussen; conceivably a learned fan of the 70s underground punk movement that fostered such acts as Mr. Wizard’s subversive The Homosexuals, Rasmussen has turned in an admiring tribute to an admittedly charismatic though hardly royal musical figure, without explicitly detailing any sound reason as to how his documenting is truly warranted.
To anyone well aged and jaded, or fresh out of a Sundance screening, the term ‘coming-of-age’ drama is likely to engender a nervy shudder. There’s only so many varying ways to present a child’s realisation of who he/she is, or what he/she wants to be – at least, this belief has been instilled in us by many films within the genre; Jordan Vogt-Robert’s recent Kings of Summer is a prime example of a film that’s content to play things by the book, relying on a youthful humour to distract us from its thin, cautionary tale of humility. Other films, like the Palme D’or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour, apparently adopt a bolder approach in confronting true desires at the heart of a flowering emergence into adulthood (not that I’ve seen it yet, mind you).
In 2009, filmmakers Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell presented Until the Light Takes Us, an enlightening – excuse the pun – exploration of Norway’s black metal movement, a scene that picked up steam in the 90s and became inundated with controversy surrounding church burnings, murders and satanic posturing.