I’ve been letting Film Fight slide a little, but it’s time to get back to it. February was almost five months ago, but was exceptionally strong, with six films that were all (spoiler!) really good. Not a bad one in the bunch, but what will win?
First up, Inside Llewyn Davis is relatively restrained for a Coen Brothers movie, showing life for a talented but struggling musician in the 1960’s folk scene. The titular character’s problems are mostly of his own making, finding himself unable to progress personally or artistically. The soundtrack is excellent throughout, the performances and characters are spot on, and the whole thing looks just right. The divisive meta ending aside, this is a strong movie. (See my Inside Llewyn Davis Twitter review).
Dallas Buyers Club is the sad story of a man who finds out he has AIDS and is given 30 days to live. Struggling to come to terms with his death sentence, he has to start putting aside his prejudices and old life in order to survive. Touching, sad, and wonderfully acted, this is another excellent performance by Matthew McConaughey; an actor on a great run of late. Very good. (See my Dallas Buyers Club Twitter review).
The Lego Movie is exactly what you might hope for: a funny, daft and often self-deprecating adventure aimed at kids, but with more than a few nods to the older audience members. The original characters are all good enough, but it’s the weird takes on existing characters (like Batman) that really shine. It’s got a good message, and manages to be both fun and well-considered. (See my Lego Movie Twitter review).
Her is about a lonely, quiet man who finally finds love again. To give it the twist you’d expect from a Spike Jonze film, his new partner is the artificial intelligence that he installs on his computer to put his life in order. The film follows their romance, as a commentary on the ever-changing nature of relationships from new love to drifting apart, but set against the question of what it means to be human. Jonze doesn’t let the big ideas get in the way of the story, as you’ll find yourself rapt from start to finish. A very good movie. (See my Her Twitter review).
Richard Ayoade’s second feature film, The Double, is about a man whose small life starts to fall apart when he meets his more successful doppelgänger. Set against a surreal Kafkan bureaucracy that makes the whole thing feel weird, we see the lead unravel scene-by-scene. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job as both the mild and meek character, and his charismatically aggressive double. There are no big laughs, but that’s fine: the humour is all in the tension. Funny. (See my The Double Twitter review).
Finally, Only Lovers Left Alive is about a vampire who is growing weary with immortality, especially with the humans he sees as ruining the planet. When his distant wife comes to comfort him, the film really starts. Between the cinematography, editing, and music, the film has a weirdly hypnotic feel that gives the comfortable romance a surprising warmth. This does, however, mean that the few dodgy lines of dialogue are oddly jarring, pulling you out of the trance-like mood. Still, both Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are excellent, with a great supporting cast around them. A little odd, but definitely worth seeing. (See my Only Lovers Left Alive Twitter review).
The winner? Well, this is the toughest month in a very long time, but I think the contrast of scope and intimacy in Her being handled so well puts it ahead.