Inside Llewyn Davis- The Coen Brothers’ first film since 2010’s True Grit is sardonic and strange, and at times very moving. The most apt description I’ve read about it was “Sisyphus gets a cat,” which perfectly encapsulates the existential yet playful journey that the title character (Oscar Isaac, robbed of an Oscar nod) is destined to be on forever. Llewyn Davis is a folk singer, but not good enough to make a living at it. He’s cute, but his personality is too prickly to be likable.
Thanks to a wonderful score with music by no less than T-Bone Burnett, this is the Coens’ prettiest sounding movie. This is also one of their prettiest-looking (hat tip to cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel), capturing a dimly lit, antique vibe that feels perfect for Greenwich Village, 1961. Grade: B+
The Hunt- There is a wonderfully nuanced central performance in The Hunt by Mads Mikkelsen, but there is not a wonderfully nuanced movie to go with it. Thomas Vinterberg’s drama centers around a series of preposterous conceits: a father who went through a divorce not knowing about the existence of lawyers being the biggest one. Watching Mikkelsen’s character Lucas go through Hell because of false accusations of child molestation is wrenching and painful, but the story is so broad and lacking any discernibly human characters besides him that it feels like a Lars von Trier film without the self awareness or ideas.
Why is the woman charged with watching these children calling in “a friend” to question a preschool-aged young girl about the alleged crimes before the police? The only time police are even really present is when Lucas is arrested. This makes Danish people look like the witch-hunting folks in The Crucible, so I find it even odder and more troubling that Vinterberg said in his Cannes press conference, “I have sympathy for every character in this movie. You don’t understand. I have sympathy for them all. When a child is abused, people react.” Grade: C-
Mitt- The Netflix-exclusive documentary Mitt aims to turn the defeated presidential candidate into the human being the media never really let him be. Director Greg Whiteley spent years with the Romneys, starting in 2006 and ending on election night 2012. It’s a well-intentioned and sometimes interesting end product, but it avoids making any real insights about the modern political process and the “real” people living it.
The movie also doesn’t really address any of the controversies of the Romney campaign, outside a very brief clip from his “47 percent” remarks. It seems to exist in the very bubble that Mitt was often accused of living in, offering a brief but ultimately unenlightening glimpse inside. Grade: C