If you don’t believe in magic, you clearly haven’t come across the Coen Brothers. These remarkable men have created a steady stream of brilliant films for nigh on 30 years. Out this week, Inside Llewyn Davis is up there with the best they’ve ever done. Following the eponymous fictional folk singer played by Oscar Isaac as he struggles with creative and personal turmoil, it’s a fascinating tour of the Greenwich Village folk scene and an even more fascinating exploration of failure. And if that’s not enough, it has Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake and a cat.
August: Osage County proves that explosions aren’t only delivered by expensive special effects. Just let a collection of top class actors led by the peerless Meryl Streep tear through a wordy screenplay for a couple of hours and the end result is pretty similar. Adapting Tracy Letts’ award winning play, it looks like it struggles to break away from its stage beginnings but that doesn’t appear to have inhibited the performances.
Tom Clancy’s books are hardly sedate dramas, but even amidst his implausible action centric plots, Jack Ryan was supposed to be more analyst than super soldier. Maybe the time for subtlety and intellectual rigour is dead, or perhaps Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan has watched one too many Bond films, because he seems a lot keener on the spying than the analysing part in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Still, Pine is proving a surprisingly watchable action lead and Branagh also gets to step in front of the camera and ham up a Russian villain. What could go wrong?
Out on DVD this week comes Roland Emmerich’s latest mega budget car crash, White House Down. In a display of blazing originality, Hollywood managed to produce not one but two separate action films where the White House is attacked by terrorists last year. Arguments seem to be raging as to which is worse, but for my money it’s this bloated mess. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx may get to race around the White House front lawn, but by the time someone brings out a flag twirling routine, you’ll know even Emmerich has managed to go too far.
That’s it for now. See you next week for myths, lies and Christian Bale.