The Coen brothers Joel and Ethan are as deadpan and dry-witted as ever with INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (15: Studio Canal), one of their most soulful films to date.
A low-key, melancholy comedy of sorts, it’s about a singer trying to find a balance between artistic integrity and mainstream success.
The backbiting New York folk scene of Bob Dylan’s 1965 put-down anthem Positively 4th Street is the setting for the film.
Oscar Isaac stars in the title role as a Greenwich Village performer struggling to make it through the winter of 1961 after losing his musical partner.
Llewyn Davis shuttles between friends’ apartments and abuses everyone’s trust, particularly the unsuspecting Jim Berkey (Justin Timberlake), whose wife Jean (Carey Mulligan) he has been seeing behind his back.
But the prospect of an audition in Chicago holds the promise of a new beginning.
A rich seam of sadness comes to the fore whenever Isaac sings and the music alone will ensure this haunting, beautifully detailed film will live a long and lasting life.
>Every member of the stellar cast is given their moment to shine in the sweltering spotlight in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (15: Entertainment In Video), the screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage smash.
Meryl Streep is pill-popping queen bitc h Violet Weston, who has a strange way of dealing with her poet husband’s suicide.
Her long-suffering family expose festering wounds, rehash bitter feuds and reveal long-buried secrets in attempts to restore stability at the Oklahoma wake.
Sadly, the book’s dark satire on American society turns into a southern-fried screaming match and it’s more histrionic than involving.
Streep and Julia Roberts, who plays Violet’s oldest daughter Barbara, were both Oscar-nominated, but the expected diva fireworks are more of a damp squib.
Chris Cooper’s moving plea over his wife’s shabby treatment of their son (Benedict Cumberbatch) steals the show.
While it’s all very watchable as every crippling emotional issue of abuse, incest and infidelity is covered, it comes across as hollow and over-baked.
> Fantasy adventure I, FRANKENSTEIN (12: Entertainment In Video) is a brain-dead re-invention of Mary Shelley’s classic literary character as a reluctant action hero.
The infamous scientist’s monster roams Earth 200 years after burying his creator and is drawn into an ancient supernatural conflict.
A game Aaron Eckhart is cast as the monster, here named Adam for extra pretentiousness.
Adam has bits of other genre movies (The Matrix, Legion, Van Helsing) grafted on and winds up in the middle of the war between gargoyles and demons.
The latter are led by a shify-looking Bill Nighy as Naberius, who needs the secret to Adam’s immortality for the usual world domination reasons.
Mediocre CGI creatures are engaged in meaningless jumbles of fighting and it all ends in one of those massive wipe-the-slate-clean explosions and horrific hints of an I, Bride Of Frankenstein follow-up.