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Showing posts from January, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

So, you want to be an artist?  Let Inside Llewyn Davis be a lesson to you.  Are you ready to watch lesser talents succeed where you fail?  Ready to watch the money cascade on the seemingly undeserving while you can barely pay your bills (or can't at all)?  More daunting yet, you might find out that for all your commitment, your integrity, for all the deep feeling you have for that art at which you toil, you simply aren't talented enough to succeed, to produce the great work.  And if things are going particularly badly, you might be haunted by an orange tabby cat, as is the case with struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac).

This is not the first time that Joel and Ethan Coen have touched upon themes of art versus commerce, of cultural divides, as they have ranged around in location, subject and genre during their thirty years of filmmaking.  Nor is this their first period piece grounded in American roots music.  What is different at this point in two-headed career of…

Her

Love is all around us:  Droid love, Galaxy love, iPhone love; lots and lots of iPhone love.  These relationships have given rise to a particular kind of 21st-century double date you may have observed at coffee shops, bars and restaurants.  On one side of the table, a man, let us say.  Opposite him a woman, or another man.  The two human beings are ostensibly out together.  But really, it's the little screen, the beloved device clutched in the palm of one hand that commands the unwavering gaze and attention of each person.  A man and his phone, a woman and her phone:  Ah, L'amour....
With his latest feature, Her, Spike Jonze brings us another sort of love story between man and machine.  And much as we see early examples of technology - for all its power and ubiquity - mainly highlighting the isolation of the film's main character, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), Her transcends a mere critique of the dubious uses of technology to explore the very nature of love, identit…

American Hustle

As has become a dubious trend in the past year or so, films use a vintage studio logo (the recent Nebraska), a period title font, or both (Argo), to signify the work as something of substance, timelessness, or at least one belonging to another era.  David O. Russell's American Hustle also employs a vintage font to spell out its opening titles.  But among the film's late-70's trappings, deep as the deepest shag, American Hustle uses what has become cinema's most blaring indicator of the past:  HAIR.  Hair permed, hair curled, hair affixed... hair that is incontrovertibly bad.
We see con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) going about his coiffure as American Hustle begins.  Irving has to work harder than most, try as he does to cover the largely bare top of his head.  So he combs up hair from behind, borrows from a side wall, as it were, to help patch the roof.  A small toupee is affixed to the crown of the head and the reserves of natural stuff are swept over and p…