Inside Llewyn Davis
dir Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; with Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan 13/US ****
In a whimsical mood, the Coens explore a musical movement through the eyes of someone who thinks he should cut his losses and run. On the other hand, he has nothing left to lose. Anchored by a hugely engaging performance by Isaac, the film is a meandering odyssey that's packed with great ideas and wonderful characters, leaving us smiling rather than thinking... FULL REVIEW >
dir Kelly Reichardt; with Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning 13/US ***.
Reichardt takes on eco-terrorism with her usual askance, original approach to filmmaking, avoiding big thrills for introspective drama and provocative moral dilemmas. Every layer of this film is subtle, which is remarkable when such a hot-potato topic is involved. But it's also a bit sleepy... FULL REVIEW >
Tom at the Farm
dir Xavier Dolan; with Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal 13/Can ****
Dolan once again impresses with his robust filmmaking style, this time with a creepy twist on the Hitchcockian thriller. In addition to creating vivid, enticing characters, he keeps the atmosphere warm and witty, so we're not sure whether the next scene will make us laugh or chill us to the bone... FULL REVIEW >
dir Jill Soloway; with Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple 13/US ***.
A comedy that travels to some startlingly dark, bleak places, this film takes an intriguingly messy look at sexuality and relationships. With solid performances, there are no easy resolutions here, as the characters essentially have to work out their own issues in order to get on with each other... FULL REVIEW >
Short Term 12
dir-scr Destin Daniel Cretton; with Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr 13/US ****
With documentary-style realism, filmmaker Cretton offers a bracingly honest exploration of the fallout from child abuse. But even though the film visits some extremely dark corners, it remains clear-eyed and hopeful about the future. Which helps us engage as we get deeply involved with the characters... FULL REVIEW >
The Last Impressario
dir Gracie Otto; with Michael White, Lyndall Hobbs 13/UK ****
This lively, engaging documentary profiles a dying breed. No, this kind of independent producer doesn't exist in the days of the multinational entertainment industry. But Michael White has changed the face of the arts with his resolutely progressive approach to projects. This hasn't made him rich, but he has scores of amazing famous friends... FULL REVIEW >