Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Captain Phillips
Director Paul Greengrass is known for his trademark erratic, shakey camera work, so it’s only natural that sooner or later he would get the bright idea to set one of his films on the shakey, turbulent ocean. Greengrass’s shakey camera feels perfectly natural in Captain Phillips, and now that the director has found his element (water, hehe), he delivers what it undoubtedly his best film to date. Captain Phillips is an exercise in tension, as the movie gets off to a fast start and doesn’t let up until minutes before the credits roll. Tom Hanks delivers a great performance in the titular role, though his accent does get a little funny at times, but the real star of this movie is newcomer Barkhad Abdi as Muse, the leader of the Somali pirates who serve as antagonists. Abdi delivers a chilling performance while also managing to give pathos to what could otherwise have been a one-note villain. It may not be a complex movie, but overall, Captin Phillips is a gripping thriller with excellent acting and good direction.
4 out of 5

You’re Next
By the time I watched You’re Next, the film had already developed a reputation as this small-scale but surprisingly good home invasion film, and perhaps these expectations did not work in the movie’s favour, because while I found the second half of You’re Next to be scary, darkly funny and oftentimes quite original, the first half is filled to the brim with rather stilted, sub-par acting. This is a short movie, and as such I feel that the payoff of sticking with the film through the clunky scenes early on is well worth it, but this will never win any awards for its performances. Once the film picks up the pace, however, it turns into a very fun horror movie from the old school, and I actually found myself reminded of the original Last House on the Left with regards to how You’re Next blended comedy and gory jump scares. In the end, it’s only just a cut above most horror movies, but the original ideas on display here are good enough that I’m looking forward to seeing what these filmmakers do next.
3 out of 5

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen Bros. continue to maintain an incredibly high standard of quality in their filmography with Inside Llewyn Davis – a portrait of a struggling folk musician trying to make a name for himself in New York during the 1960s. Oscar Isaac gives a tour de force performance in the lead role, making Llewyn both sympathetic but also occasionally unlikeable, and he succeeds in conveying the frustration of an artist who knows he is good but can’t get anyone else to recognize his talent. But it’s the song performances where Isaac really shines, for his voice and skill with the guitar combine with his acting to create a character who we believe completely to be real. Additionally, the supporting cast is filled with similarly great performances, with the likes of Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, and even Justin Timberlake all putting in memorable turns. Inside Llewyn Davis may not be the most upbeat movie, but it manages to evoke a kind of bittersweet hope that feels familiar within the Coens’ larger body of work. With a top notch script brimming with subtext and metatext, and a soundtrack you’ll be humming for days, Inside Llewyn Davis is undoubtedly my favourite film of 2013.
5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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