Tag Archives: Oscar Isaac

NYFF 2013 Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside_Llewyn_Davis_Poster1“Inside Llewyn Davis” features a remarkable lead performance and impassioned journey, but the character’s destructive habits and off-putting attitude can make the experience deflating and unfulfilling.

The film covers a week in the life of struggling singer, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). While trying to make a name for himself in the Greenwich Village folk scene, Llewyn drags his bag and guitar around, crashes on friends’ couches, ruins some of those relationships with his sour attitude and then, when all seems lost, heads to Chicago for a long overdue meeting with a media mogul who doesn’t even know he exists.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is brimming with quality material, but Llewyn’s bleak existence and unpleasant demeanor makes it difficult to enjoy the experience. The guy is just a self-centered jerk. Not only does he suck all of his friends dry by invading their space, but then, while he’s there, he rarely manages a thank you because he’s totally consumed by his own agenda.

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Review: The Bourne Legacy

Why not cut right to the chase? Is “The Bourne Legacy” a worthy start to another “Bourne” trilogy? Yes and no. Should Tony Gilroy get another trio, he’s certainly in good shape as far as the details of this universe go and coming up with exciting and creative action sequences, but we’re going to need access to more of Aaron Cross’ nuances if he’s going to power through as a real person rather than an idealistic secret agent.

We’ve still got the remnants of Treadstone and Blackbriar, but Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is long gone. After Bourne toppled the CIA’s efforts to produce a team of elite assassins, the agency opts to entirely dismantle the program. And no, that doesn’t mean just laying off the folks involved and sending them on their way; it requires their termination.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of those people. Similar to Bourne, he’s the product of Operation Outcome, an agent with deadly combat abilities, razor sharp perception and now a target on his back. While out on a solo training mission, Cross gets a taste of just how desperate the CIA is to take him out. While he does escape the attack, Cross is left on the run with a dwindling supply of “chems,” the pills that help him maintain his abilities. That leads him to Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), one of the scientists responsible for monitoring field agents’ health. Trouble is, not only does Marta not have the chems, but she also narrowly escapes an attack of her own. With no one else to turn to, the two team up to hunt down the pills and to outrun the CIA.

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Interview: Drive Director Nicolas Winding Refn

Drive is a fairly intricate movie. The plot is simple enough – Ryan Gosling’s Driver falls for Carey Mulligan’s Irene, only to find out her family is being threatened by notorious mobsters. Gosling’s character puts his superb driving skills to use to help keep Irene and her young son stay safe. But director Nicolas Winding Refn takes the piece a giant leap further, not only dousing Drive with a unique style and tone, but also with his incredible attention to detail. Everything in Drive has a reason; every element has a value and that’s something you’d think would require a great deal of preparation – but not for Refn.

In honor of the film’s September 16th release, Refn sat down to talk about his experience bringing James Sallis’ book to life. Surprisingly, Refn isn’t working with detailed script notes or even a shot list; elements went into this movie as they came to Refn’s mind and a great deal of that happened in the midst of shooting. When we’re used to seeing filmmakers assemble features based on studio standards, something like Drive sticks out, for this isn’t a piece that conforms to anyone’s preferences except Refn’s. Hear more about his process in the video interview below.

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Review: Drive

Quite clearly director Nicolas Winding Refn worked hard to bring Drive to life in the most appropriate way possible and, in turn, we get a movie that requires a degree of personal investment. Drive isn’t the type of film that lays out its plot points and lets you follow along, rather something that gives you incredible access to the main players, compelling you to become part of the action. At times, the need to decipher the details can be frustrating, but Refn duly rewards you for your work.

Ryan Gosling stars as an unnamed stunt driver and auto mechanic. When not working for Shannon (Bryan Cranston) on movies sets or in his garage, he’s moonlighting as a getaway driver. After a hard day’s work, he heads home to his apartment, which is right down the hall from Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). With Benicio’s father in prison, there’s a void in their lives, a void that Gosling’s character happily and humbly fills.

This synopsis must be kept light, as one of Drive’s most effective assets is its ability to keep you guessing. To give you a hint at where the action heads, Irene’s safety is threatened by a pair of notorious mobsters, Nino and Bernie Rose (Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks), and Gosling’s driver steps in to keep them from hurting her or Benicio.

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Review: Sucker Punch

High expectations can be a killer. Unfortunately for director Zack Snyder, he works extra hard to insert an insanely high outlook into every single thing that he does and lately, it seems to backfire big time. His brain is geared towards directing and visuals and that doesn’t serve him well as a writer. Whereas the basic concept of Sucker Punch combined with Snyder’s keen eye for the visually incredible had immense prospects, it diluted the script. Spectacular imagery without a sensible and engaging story isn’t a film, it’s a mere spectacle.

After the death of her mother, a series of ill-fated events wrongfully lands Baby Doll (Emily Browning) in the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane. Rather than do what they can to rehabilitate her, the staff accepts a bribe from Baby Doll’s sinister and greedy stepfather to lobotomize her. Just as the doctor’s about to hammer his ice pick through her skull, we’re whisked away to an alternate world, Blue’s (Oscar Isaac) club. That’s where she unites with Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung).

While this may be a step up from the hospital, Blue’s club is still very much a prison. If the girls don’t dance, they serve no purpose and Blue has no trouble eliminating his excess baggage. While at first, Baby Doll can’t seem to get in the groove, once she let’s loose and finally dances, she discovers she has the power to not only mesmerize spectators with her techniques, but transport herself to yet another world. It’s in this new realm that she meets the Wise Man (Scott Glenn) and learns that with the help of the other girls and four objects, they can all escape.

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