Steven Spielberg directs. Tom Hanks stars. Joel and Ethan Coen co-write. The list goes on and on, nearly every member of the cast and crew is heavily trophied and an expert in their field. When filmmakers of this caliber collaborate, it's something to behold -- the evidence is in the details.
I interviewed actor Gabriel Byrne by phone in 2009, my final interview for Venice Magazine. It was simultaneously one of the easiest and most difficult conversations I've ever had. Easy because Byrne and I had that very rare thing: an instant rapport.
Be warned. John Maclean's directorial debut, Slow West, practices truth in advertising. But "slow" seems harsh as an adjective for this compelling film. "Patient" would be a more apt description; "studied" or "measured" would be two more.
I will take a day and a stack of screeners (or links) and apply my 20-minute rule: I'll watch for 20 minutes and then decide if it's worth continuing. Many don't even take that long. Because a movie worth watching announces itself almost from its first frame.
"It is easy to be pessimistic, and to feel like a victim, but we need films that inspire us to go out and change things for the better. We have plenty of tragedy in real life in this part of the world; we don't need films to reinforce an already pervasive sense of despair."
It's the time of year when critics release their lists of the year's best films. It feels like a competitive sport -- or a provocation, which all of these lists are, by nature. As in: "This is my list of the best films. If you don't agree, you're wrong."
What happens to a musician when desperation overshadows inspiration? The atmospheric new film Inside Llewyn Davis, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, tracks a grieving folk singer-songwriter in search of his Muse -- or any Muse.