New York Film Festival capsules: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ and ‘Bastards’

Oscar Isaac (plus cat) plays a down-and-out 1960s folk singer in the Coens' "Inside Llewyn Davis." Credit: Alison Rosa
Oscar Isaac (plus cat) plays a down-and-out 1960s folk singer in the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Credit: Alison Rosa

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
5 (out of 5) Globes
The Coen Brothers are never upbeat, even when making a blockbuster like “True Grit.” But with their latest, they’re in one of their dark moods, mercilessly torturing an uncompromising, eternally downcast 1960s Greenwich Village folk singer (Oscar Isaac), who can’t catch a break even as his genre is taking off. Penniless, floating from couch to couch and estranging his ever-dwindling circle of confidants and benefactors (including a permanently pissed Carey Mulligan), Llewyn Davis floats through his own life like a sleepy ghost, awaking only to burn bridges. There’s no hope for him beyond just barely eking by, and the consistent horrors that befall him, along with the various tabby cats put inadvertently under his care, become equal parts depressing and perversely hilarious. As in their bleakest works (“A Serious Man,” “Burn After Reading”), this is life in a universe where the only gods are the filmmakers. And they’re in a sadistic mood.

‘Bastards’
4 (out of 5) Globes
Storytelling isn’t French filmmaker Claire Denis’ (“Trouble Every Day,” “White Material”) forte, nor should it be. She’s about mood, texture and loose observations. In terms of narrative clarity, her latest has been compared to “The Intruder,” her most inscrutable — though still enchanting — work. It’s not that impenetrable. Though it takes awhile for all her pieces to settle, the story stars Vincent Lindon (the Huey Lewis lookalike who starred in her “Friday Night”) as a ship captain out to wreak vengeance upon a richie (Michel Subor) involved in a sadomasochistic sex ring. The exact details of his mission aren’t always clear, especially when he takes residence in the same apartment building as his mark’s mistress (Chiara Mastroanni), whom he starts romancing. But details are never important in a Denis film, which explore momentary pleasures (or non-pleasures) and a crippling sense of melancholy, which as ever is provided by a score by Tindersticks at their seediest/saddest. It’s all building to something, and the conclusion is both disappointingly obvious and breathtakingly visceral.

Views From the Avant-Garde
NYFF’s annual round-up of current (and sometimes classic) avant-garde work gets into the thick of things this weekend at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. The latest from titans like Nathaniel Dorsky and Ernie Gehr are expected, but do check out the gorgeous, retro works of rising star Jodie Mack, whose 16mm animations get a program all to themselves. See the full lineup here.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…