If you are looking for a nostalgic trip into a golden age of the 1960s music scene, the Coen brothers’ new movie isn’t it. Inside Llewyn Davis is a melancholy road trip with a luckless folk singer who lacks the charm and manners to get others to appreciate his musical genius.
The New York (and Chicago) he wanders through is nothing like the smartly attired and brightly hued metropolis you might find in hit shows like Mad Men. This is a grey and cold city where the hardest thing to find is somewhere warm and a place to stay.
But Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, does himself no favours. He’s a folk singer who has a habit of upsetting his hosts – including Carey Mulligan, the fellow singer he makes pregnant without ever signalling that he wants to do the right thing by her. Later he accidentally lets a cat out of an apartment and spends half the film trying to find it.
As you would expect in a Coen movie, it is populated by quirky and memorable characters who never do the predictable thing.
What’s lacking is the optimistic feeling of an era of youth and rebellion that we might expect to find in a film about this period. This isn’t so much the 60s as a place outside of time.
This could be seen as a deficit, but there are many odd and amusing treasures as we follow the wanderings of one of life’s outsiders.
This Chinese-made animation about a rabbit who becomes a martial arts master has more than a passing resemblance to Dreamworks’ hit Kung Fu Panda. It actually bombed in its native China – and it’s not hard to see why given the shoddy CGI animation and so-so story. There are some amusing moments but probably the best thing about it is the theme tune, an updating of the classic Kung Fu Fighting.
This would-be Bourne thriller sees FBI agent Christian Slater brought back into the field to solve a series of assassinations in Eastern Europe. Donald Sutherland is cast in his usual role as the intelligence bigwig while heavyweight British thespian, Timothy Spall, somehow ends up playing a therapist called Dr Kahn who hangs out in belly dancing clubs. It’s attractively shot in Bulgaria but otherwise the whole thing is laughably bad and makes no sense at all.
It’s taken a couple of years for this Middle East-set thriller to reach Oman, and it hasn’t aged especially well. Alexander Siddig plays a disgraced Syrian intelligence officer who reinvents himself as a banker in Toronto. When his photographer daughter disappears in Damascus he returns home to find her. Fans of Liam Neeson’s Taken will be familiar with the set-up but Inescapable can’t find its way to sustain the tension required.
A Viking king, Eirick, is dying on a corpse-strewn battlefield, but is given a final quest to fight Thor, the God of Thunder, and save his kingdom. This Malaysian production reaches high with well-executed battle scenes and crashes to Valhalla with everything else. Dominic Purcell as Eirick delivers lines like he is already dead from the neck up, while Thor’s hair is a cartoon red and his hammer made of cardboard. The accents are hilarious, the sets cheap, the script beyond silly and performances beyond wooden.