KUSP Film Reviewers David Anthony and Dennis Morton
The short films up for Oscars show all the artistry and craft of the feature films and you can view them in 30 minutes or less usually. KUSP’s film reviewers gave a couple looks at the animated and live action short film categories. Above, hear David Anthony’s review of Oscar nominated short animation films. And here is Dennis Morton’s review of the live action shorts.
Or read on:
Oscar Nominated Short Animation – Review by David Anthony
In the run-up to the 86th 2014 Academy Awards, the category of short film subjects includes two subdivisions, live action and animation. Last week my colleague Dennis Morton discussed the live action nominees. Today I will focus on animated offerings.
Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coen Brothers latest film. Because it’s more or less plotless, and primarily a long character study, it’s been a challenge to write about. As the title suggests, the character under scrutiny is Llewyn Davis.
Llewyn is a folk singer, in his early thirties. Like his father, he’s a veteran of the merchant marines, but his dream is to make it in the burgeoning folk music scene of the early 60s. Much of the film is set in Greenwich Village, and in particular, the Gaslight Café, a coffee house that was located in the basement of an address on MacDougall Street.
Review by Dennis Morton (audio above / see text below)
The Great Beauty, an Italian film, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, is almost two and a half hours long, and, on my initial viewing, it took me almost thirty minutes to begin to enjoy it. For the first fifteen minutes or so, the camera is mostly focused on a wild party that takes place on the huge balcony of a posh apartment overlooking the ancient Roman Coliseum.
Was the point to skewer the ostentatious opulence of the party-goers and their host, or what? Upon reflection, I realized there was a touch of skewering in the scene, but that it was primarily a flamboyant way to introduce viewers to most of the major characters in the film.
Before I get started with this review, I feel compelled to make a confession, of sorts. When I entered the theater to watch Jack Reacher for the first time, I knew there would be an abundance of murder and mayhem writ large on the big screen. I knew I’d be witnessing and absorbing a portrait of behavior I find morally repugnant. I knew that Tom Cruise, the film’s star, was not on my list of favorite humans. And yet I swallowed my compunctions and headed in for a few hours of what I guessed might be highly questionable entertainment. Had I spent more time with my reservations, I’d probably have told myself that life is full of contradictions, that we have to learn how to live with them, and then marched into the theater.
And so, now, after having watched Jack Reacher three times, I can tell you that I very much enjoyed this film.
In short, the performances are terrific, including that of Mr. Cruise, who portrays the eponymous protagonist, Jack Reacher. The female lead is Rosamund Pike. She plays the part of a conflicted defense attorney, at odds with her dad, who is a go-for-the-jugular district attorney, played by the estimable Richard Jenkins.
The cast is international. Rosamund Pike is British. So too is David Oyelowo, who is mesmerizing as the lead cop, a man referred to only as ‘Emerson’ in the film. Jai Courtney, an Australian, plays an ice-in-the-veins evil fellow named Charlie. And the great director, Werner Herzog, a German, has a small but chilling role as The Zec, the baddest bad guy of the lot.
The script is based on a novel by Lee Child. Though I have not read any of Mr. Child’s books, I understand that Jack Reacher is a recurring figure in them. I’ve also heard that Tom Cruise, who produced the film, in addition to starring in it, has plans for a series of Jack Reacher movies. May the succeeding episodes be as well made as this one. Incidentally, KUSP’s Rick Kleffel recently interviewed Lee Child on The Agony
Column. You can access a podcast of that conversation on the KUSP website. So – what’s this film about? Well, it’s about an elaborate scheme to further the ambitions of an international crime cartel. To do so requires the removal, by death, of an unwitting impediment to the cartel’s nefarious intentions. And the crime must appear to be the work of someone other than the cartel.
The film opens with a scene of carnage, followed quickly by some ‘cracker jack’ detective work on the part of Officer Emerson. What would seem to be a slam dunk case is quickly challenged by an idealistic, pro bono defense attorney, played impeccably by Rosamund Pike. And shortly thereafter, the mysterious Jack Reacher appears, unannounced. To the surprise of the defense attorney, Reacher arrives to bury the defendant, not to support him.
I don’t want to tell you more about the surprisingly intricate plot of the film. I will say that director and script writer, Christopher McQuarrie, has provided us with dialogue that is frequently witty and sometimes, even moving. He displays a range that one rarely finds in this kind of action thriller.
Jack Reacher is a surprising film, a gem of the genre, and I recommend it.