Much like the somber melodies that float throughout its 105-minute runtime, Inside Llewyn Davis will remain lodged in your head weeks after you and the film first meet. With Oscar Isaac's "Fare thee we-e-ell..." ringing daintily in your ears, you'll shuffle out from the grasp of the Coen Brothers' wonderland of gray, but you won't soon be able to relieve yourself of what is arguable the pair's best film yet. Llewyn's is a story so outstandingly simple — he's a man who's s**t out of luck, and not especially deserving of any. He wakes up, loses his friend's cat, plays some music, and wishes things were better. And yet his is the Coens' most invigorating and deftly human tale yet.
Llewyn Davis makes the bold, but practical, choice of never insisting that we love its hero. He's effectively a jackass, justifying all the waste he has incurred with the rudeness he showers on the majority of those in his acquaintance. But Llewyn Davis isn't the villain here, either. The villain is the industry, and all the uphill battles inherent to its machinations. The villain isn't Llewyn's substantially more successful contacts — an old pal Jim (Justin Timberlake) and new fellow couch-surfer Troy (Stark Sands), but the listening public that prefers their saccharine pop to his dreary drips of misery. The villain isn't Llewyn's resentful old flame Jean (Carey Mulligan), no matter how many volatile admonitions she might shoot his way, but the act of God surrounding their unwitting adherence to one another. And it's not even the cantankerous and foul Roland Turner (a delightfully hammy John Goodman), but the endless, frigid open road of which each man is a prisoner (if the film has one flaw, it's that this segment carries on just a bit too long, but that might very well be the point). The villain is the cold.
Call it all a raw deal. But the real dynamism isn't in the challenges that happen outside Llewyn Davis, but in the determined toxicity brewing inside as he meets each and every one.
But this isn't the Coen Brothers' Murphy's Law comedy A Serious Man — we don't watch a chaotic pileup of every imaginable trick that the devil can manage to pull. Llewyn is steady throughout, not burying Llewyn deeper but keeping him on the ground, with the fruit-bearing branches forever out of his reach. In its narrative, Llewyn Davis is as close to natural life as any of the filmmakers' works to date. Perfectly exhibited in a late scene involving a trip to Akron, Llewyn isn't a cinematic construct, but the sort of person we know, so painfully, that we are very likely to be... on our bad days.
Still, working in such a terrific harmony with the grounded feel of Llewyn himself, we have that Coen whimsy in their delivery of 1960s New York City — rather, a magic kingdom painted in the stellar form of a 1960s New York City. And not the New York City we're given by the likes of Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen. Closer, maybe, to Spike Lee or Sydney Lumet, but still a terrain unique to moviegoers. A New York that's always recovering from a hostile rain, and always promising another 'round the bend. One that flickers like a dying bulb, with its million odd beleaguered moths buzzing around it against the pull of logic. There is something so incredibly alive about the Coens' crying city; this hazy dream world's partnership with half-dead, anchored-to-earth portrait like Llewyn is the product of such sophisticated imagination at play.
And to cap this review of one of the best features 2013 has given us, it's only appropriate to return to the element in which its identity is really cemented: the music. Without the tunes bobbing through the story, we'd still likely find something terrific in Llewyn Davis. But the music, as beautiful as it is, is the reason for the story. As we watch Isaac's hopeless sad sack drag himself through Manhattan's winter, past the helping hands of friends and into the grimaces of strangers, as we struggle with our own handfuls of nihilistic skepticism that any of this yarn is worth the agony (or that our attention to its meandering nature is worth the price of a ticket), we are given the rare treat of an answer. Of course it's all for something. Of course it's all about something. It's about that beautiful, beautiful music.
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As we eagerly await (wait, wait, wait) the distant release date of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, why not rewatch some of the Harry Potter films? Which one was your favorite? Here are ours, ranked worst to best.
Sorcerer's Stone/Chamber of Secrets
Both so bad they don't even deserve their own ranking.
Order of the Phoenix
Many name Order of the Phoenix as their least favorite book – Harry's angrily depressed for a good portion of the story, and that's not exactly fun for the readers. A lot of that dementor-y angstiness carries over to the film, which doesn't make for the best cinematic experience. Quibbles aside, we can all agree that Imelda Staunton was the perfect Umbridge.
Goblet of Fire
This one gets a lot of hate (they did cut out a lot of the best moments), but I don't know; the awkwardness of the whole Yule Ball debacle kind of saves it for me. Oh, and the adorable Beauxbatons hats.
Deathly Hallows Part I
People say that Deathly Hallows is basically Harry Potter and the Never-ending Camping Trip. Which, okay, it kind of is. But I think the marriage between the book and the movie worked well here – even though Daniel Radcliffe/Emma Watson's chemistry had everyone clamoring for a rewrite of the Hermione/Ron storyline.
Half-Blood Prince was awesome, right? Right? ::crickets:: At least JKR's got my back (it was reportedly her favorite of the first six). I loved the balance of humor and darkness in this one. The Felix Felicis scene? Daniel Radcliffe at this best. And the extra material that Rowling added about Professor Slughorn's remembrances of Lily Evans? Absolutely beautiful.
Deathly Hallows Part II
A just conclusion for a franchise that went on for roughly a decade – it certainly went out on a bang (well, a bang followed up by that infamously bad epilogue, anyway).
Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner of Azkaban was such a breath of fresh air after the first two butcheries, was it not? Many hail it as the film that saved the franchise – it finally captured the humor of the books, and the Harry/stag patronus scene continues to get me time after time. And honestly, the entire time turner sequence made for some popcorn poppin' cinema.
When Hollywood.com visited the set of the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, director Sam Mendes made it clear that he had a deep love of the old school 007 movies, and that the goal for his entry was to "go back to the Fleming." Franchise masterminds Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson echoed the idea of returning to the vibe of the source material, even though the movie wouldn't be directly adapting it. Judging from the first trailer for the movie, the literary starting point seems to have worked: Skyfall looks distinct, straying from the familiar look and feel of an action movie.
With the choice of Mendes, Broccoli and Wilson follow the successful path of the Harry Potter movies. They're investing in auteurship — allowing a director with a vision to use the mythology of Bond as a starting point, but never folding to the demands and expectations of modern blockbusters. That's where Quantum of Solace and many of the late Pierce Brosnan-era Bonds went wrong. Quantum felt like a riff on the Bourne movies, swapping out Matt Damon for the new-and-improved James Bond. Skyfall doesn't overtly imitate anything, even the successful Daniel Craig reboot Casino Royale, of which Mendes is a huge fan. Like the jump between Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, or even the radical departure in aesthetics director David Yates made when he took over the series with Order of the Phoenix, Mendes 007 spy adventure feels like a stand alone, even while carrying over Craig as Bond, Judi Dench as M and other signature elements of the series.
The Potter/Skyfall comparison is even more apt thanks to the outright British-ness on display in the trailer. That was one of Mendes' goals — make his movie feel better connected to the source material's home country. It's there, with rainy landscapes and a grit that previously helped ground the Potter movies in a necessary reality. The work of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (Road to Perdition and most of the Coen Bros. films of the past decade and a half) transforms Skyfall into an unexpected visual feast. The take should only help to integrate the film's big action scenes in a dramatic and realistic way. We get only a glimpse of the epic opening in Istanbal, but the push in the trailer is mood, intensity and character — an aspect severely lacking from Quantum.
The eight films comprising the Harry Potter franchise were all about risks, and 007 finally seems to be following suit. There's no one right way to make a James Bond movie. Skyfall is an exciting new departure.
Skyfall, starring Craig, Dench, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes, hits theaters November 11, 2012.
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[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
The hit spy movie also took home Best Thriller at the London ceremony on Sunday (25Mar12) after winning the majority of votes from readers of Empire magazine. The film saw off competition from Attack The Block, The Inbetweeners Movie, Submarine and Tyrannosaur to land the Best British Film honour.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was named Best Film, ahead of Drive, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, while David Yates won Best Director for helming the final installment in the blockbuster fantasy series.
Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, Daniel Radcliffe and Andy Serkis all lost out to Oldman in the Best Actor category, while Olivia Colman was honoured with Best Actress for her turn in harrowing drama Tyrannosaur.
Ron Howard won the Empire Inspiration award, Michael Fassbender was this year's Empire Hero and Tim Burton was named Empire Icon.
For his first project post-Harry Potter, David Yates, director of the final four installments of the blockbuster Warner Bros. franchise, is reportedly eyeing a familiar face to play the lead. According to Deadline, Emma Watson is "in discussions" with Yates to star in Your Voice Inside My Head, a drama adapted from Emma Forrest's memoir of being saved from suicide by a cancer-stricken psychiatrist. Warner Bros., the studio expected to develop the project, is said to be looking at several big names, including Tom Hanks and George Clooney, to play the role of the psychiatrist who brings poor Emma back from the brink. Suicide? Cancer? Clooney? Hmmm ... sounds suspiciously like Oscar-bait.
Watson can next be seen in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Her Harry Potter pal Daniel Radcliffe's latest film, The Woman in Black, opens this Friday. Check out the trailer:
The Brit, who took charge of the last four Potter films, tells Daily Variety he'll take the next two to three years to perfect the project.
He says, "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."
The time-travel TV show was must-see viewing in Britain between 1963 and 1989 and it has since found a new generation of fans thanks to a mid-2000s revival.
Matt Smith is the current and 11th Doctor. It is not known who will play Yates' timelord, but early speculation suggests his Harry Potter stars Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe are in the mix.
Marcus Nispel’s silly violent fantasy epic Conan the Barbarian is Hollywood’s second attempt at building a franchise based on pulp author Robert E. Howard’s signature character. The first yielded two films of diminishing quality – 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and 1984’s Conan the Destroyer – and is best remembered for launching the career of future governor Arnold Schwarzenegger whose Austrian accent in the films is so thick as to render the bulk of his dialogue unintelligible.
Playing the title role in the update is Jason Momoa whose muscles aren’t quite as gargantuan as his predecessor’s but whose line-readings are at the very least comprehensible. (His own accent betrays hints of Hawaiian surfer-dude.) Momoa is most famous for his recent turn as a Khal Drogo on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones a far superior work of hard-R sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Thrones like Conan the Barbarian boasts bare breasts and beheadings galore but beneath the sex and savagery lies real intelligence. All the titillating elements are icing on the cake for a series founded on compelling characters and ingenious storytelling
Not so much with Conan the Barbarian. The film begins with a lengthy prologue inexplicably narrated by Morgan Freeman that briefs us on the essential details of the film’s mythology – and you’d best be paying attention because the ensuing film treats story and character as so many enemies to be vanquished. The opening scene announces the movie’s savage B-movie ethos thusly: When Conan’s very pregnant mother is injured in battle (barbarians don’t get maternity leave) his father (Ron Perlman) delivers his son via an impromptu battlefield Cesarean photographed in graphic detail. A warrior is born.
The plot involves a grown-up Conan gunning for revenge against Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) the sorcerer-chieftan who killed his father and obliterated his tribe the Cimmerians when he was just a boy. Conan is something of a rock star in the marauding world his bloodlust not so all-consuming that he can’t stop to enjoy a flagon of mead with the odd topless slave babe. His credo is cogently expressed as “I live I love I slay I am content” – words to live by if there ever were.
On the path to vengeance Conan links up with a runaway nun Tamara (Rachel Nichols) whose special blood is required by Khalar to resurrect his dead wife. Or maybe it’s needed to conquer the Kingdom of Hyboria. Whatever. The attraction between Conan and Tamara is instantaneous and powerful – what girl can resist such charming lines as “Woman come here ” and “You look like a harlot”? Films like this can usually get by with one female speaking role but Conan the Barbarian offers a second: Marique (Rose McGowan) a scheming goth-witch whose affection for her father Khalar is clearly beyond familial. The role was originally written for a man.
Nispel’s previous films include two horror remakes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th) and the barely releasable Pathfinder. He directs with casual disregard for context rushing hurriedly from one bloody set-piece to the next coherence be damned. Action is paramount in Conan the Barbarian; the film is positively bursting with it leaving little room for anything that might engage us on any level beyond “guilty pleasure.” Some of the action is memorable some of it tedious but the violence is inspired. In one scene while questioning a man whose nose he’d hacked off just a few frames earlier Conan jams his finger into the man’s exposed nose-hole causing it to spew icky clear fluid. Now that is some enhanced interrogation.
Previously on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1 you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky erratic action of TF3 director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness Potter is and always has been a human story one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again Daniel Radcliffe Emma Watson Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure the awe the comedy the thrills the people the places the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.
Radcliffe, who shot to stardom as the boy wizard at the age of 11, recently opened up about his alcohol issues in men's magazine GQ, confessing he was so worried about becoming an alcoholic he is now teetotal.
He said, "I became so reliant on (alcohol) to enjoy stuff."
Yates admits he was shocked to hear Radcliffe's revelations, but he's proud of the former child star for handling his issues so well.
He tells the New York Daily News, "I think it's a real testament to Dan as a human being to share that with you guys. And he shared it because he'd dealt with it and he'd moved on from it."
Producer David Heyman adds, "It didn't affect his performance and it most certainly didn't affect the making of the films."
Yahoo Movies premiered this new little featurette designed to help non-book-reading fans of Harry Potter get a little up to speed. It explains the theory of the Horcruxes and what Harry and his merry band of friends have to do in the final book.
For fans of the book, this is just a basic review of the plot. But there’s some additional footage and a little tease of how the director is treating Voldemort this time around. It's an interesting little clip, no doubt, but avid fans won’t learn much from it.
Source: Yahoo Movies