The 51st New York Film Festival is in full swing with an impressive lineup of highly anticipated features, including "Captain Phillips," which opened the festival, and the upcoming debuts of Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Spike Jonze's Her.
Here, we present a round-up of what we've already seen, which includes the aforementioned Captain Phillips, the Joel and Ethan Coen film Inside Llewyn Davis, and Richard Curtis' About Time. So, yes, why don't we get on with it already and round them up in a handy capsule format, just for you ...
It's remarkable that Rachel McAdams ever agreed to do this movie. I picture her getting the script from her agent and thinking it was a practical joke. "Oh, a time-travel movie. I get it: The Time Traveler's Wife was bad. Ha ha. You got me."
Or perhaps it's on McAdams' bucket list to be in a good time-travel movie. (Or, most likely, she wanted to work with Richard Curtis.)
About Time is the story of Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), whose dad (Bill Nighy) informs him that all of the men in their family have the ability to travel through time. (Though, there are limitations. It's explained that they can't go back and kill Hitler, or anything like that.)
What I thought would be a movie about the romance between Tim and Mary (McAdams) -- and, yes, there's some of that -- is truly about the relationship between Tim and his father. (Note: I am a sucker for father and son movies.) (Second Note: I am a sucker for father and son movies especially when the father is played by Bill Nighy.)
As with most time travel movies, the time traveling, when thought about too much, makes no sense. But, really, who cares? That's not really the point here. And if you really want to see an accurate time travel movie, then go watch Primer again.
Inside Llewyn Davis
The best thing and the worst thing about the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis is the earworm "Please Mr. Kennedy" performed by Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac and, most importantly, Adam Driver.
It's the best thing because this song is pure joy. Written by aspiring musician Jim Berkey (Timberlake), it's basically an earnest attempt at some sort of protest song that, in the end, is just so silly that it's stupid message about "not wanting to be shot into outer space" makes it brilliant. This point is driven home by Adam Driver's spoken word "Oh no!" and "Uh oh!"s and "Outer ... space!" throughout the song.
It's the worst thing because since seeing Inside Llewyn Davis, I've spent an unreasonable amount of time (A) listening to this song on an almost never ending loop from the advanced copy of the soundtrack that showed up at the office and (B) thinking about this song when I have to turn that loop off to go to sleep at night.
(And, yes, I'm the dumb one who missed his chance to see this song performed live -- with Elvis Costello subbing in for Timberlake -- because I wanted to watch Breaking Bad when it aired as opposed to using my DVR.)
Anyway, my point is that I've spent more time thinking about this song than the actual movie. And that's a shame, because the movie is fantastic. As Chris Rosen points out, Oscar Isaac is great as the folk singing title character, Llewyn Davis, who's trying to stay true to his craft in 1961 New York City.
For some reason I had it in my head that Llweyn Davis (the movie and the character) would be more "folksy." I wasn't expecting the movie to feel so jaded, and I mean that as a compliment. As far as Coen brothers movies go, Inside Llewyn Davis is closer to Fargo in tone (with a lot less murders) than something like Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
A new ownership group is taking over the radio station where DJ Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) works and, now, everyone is fearful for their jobs. After being laid off, Pat (Colm Meaney) returns to the station, armed with a rifle, and takes the staff hostage. Alan, who wasn't there at the time of Pat's attack, is sent in by a hostage negotiation team to be the middleman of the negotiations. Though, Alan starts to like his newfound relevancy, and just possibly lets Pat's siege go on longer than it should.
Before seeing this movie, I was unfamiliar with Steve Coogan's famous-to-everyone-else-but-me British disc jokey character. So, you certainly don't have to be a fan of this character -- or, for that matter, even know who this character is -- before seeing this film. And, yes, I laughed a lot during Alan Partridge.
I've already written about this movie at length. I only include it here again because I can't stop thinking about it. It honestly might be Tom Hanks' best pure performance that doesn't require dramatic weight loss.
The Wind Rises
Boy, this is a pretty film. It's strange, I've become so accustomed to the new style of computer graphic animation -- often dimmed by the lighting associated with 3D - that I had completely forgot just how beautiful hand drawn animation can look. This is especially true in the hands of director Hayao Miyazaki.
Now, the subject matter has drawn some criticism. Young Jiro dreams of flying. As an adult, he becomes an engineer and eventually becomes responsible for creating some of the planes that Japan would use during World War II. It's told from the perspective that, basically, even your dearest dreams can have nightmare results. And considering Japan's role in WWII, there comes your criticism. (And, yes, we see young Jiro meeting with the Nazis at one point, but Jiro makes it clear he doesn't trust the Nazis, for what it's worth.)
When I saw the film it was subtitled. Fom what I understand, however, when Disney releases the film around the country early next year (following an Oscar qualifying run this year), "The Wind Rises" will be dubbed in English. Now, this doesn't bother me like it would for a non-animated film, but I just hope that the tone of the subject matter -- or this particular point of view from a side we don't often see -- isn't changed in translation.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
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