Out of the Furnace, Expecting and Inside Llewyn Davis are new to theaters this week. Find out which one fits your film tastes with our Cineast previews.
Inside Llewyn Davis
In the early ’60s, Bob Dylan rose up out of the ranks of coffee house folksingers in Greenwich Village to eventually become among the most indelible of American icons. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense: the young Dylan was highly driven, had a way with a song, a Chaplin-esque stage presence and appeal, and a tremendous flexibility. But in the Greenwich Village of the early ’60s, there were a lot of other performers who possessed similar qualities, and of course at the time there was no way of predicting that Dylan would be the superstar—or that there would really only be ONE superstar to emerge from the scene. Inside Llewyn Davis, the new film from the brilliant Coen brothers, portrays a week in the life of the Greenwich Village folk scene from the vantage point of the fictional Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a character loosely based on the great Dave Van Ronk—a folksinger known for his virtuosic guitar playing and faithfulness to “authentic” folk styles. Like Van Ronk, Llewyn Davis achieves a measure of success but is eclipsed by less principled performers. The film, which has been hailed by critics, features numerous full-length performances of folk songs performed by the cast members. In addition to Isaac, the film features Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, and that old Coen brothers standby, the great John Goodman.
Can you say “chick flick?” Christmas is coming soon, and as if all of those nativity scenes aren’t advertisement enough for having babies, Expecting is here to entice us even more. The story is that Lizzie has tried many times to have a child with her husband and it hasn’t happened, and now her kooky friend Andie turns up with a bun in the oven that she doesn’t want. Andie agrees to give the baby to Lizzie and her husband, but they insist that Andie stay with them for the duration of the pregnancy—a plan that spells trouble as the disruptions caused by the change in domestic arrangements puts strains on settled relationships. Could Lizzie wind up with her baby, but without a husband? Could Andie decide to retract her offer? Will the viewers stay awake to find out?
Out of the Furnace
Not for the squeamish, but with an Oscar-studded cast, Out of the Furnace features Christian Bale as an upstanding steel worker forced to do violent battle, against a thug played by Woody Harrelson, to try to save his brother, played by Casey Affleck. Set in a depressing rust-belt city, the film is determinedly gloomy and ominous, but with the promise of undying love offered as a ray of hope. The cast also includes Forrest Whittaker, Sam Shepherd, and Zoe Saldana.