A week in the life of struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village, New York, 1961.

The Coen brothers follow their remake of True Grit with this quiet portrait of a musician trying to make a living through his art.

This is an intimate portrayal of an artist in the throes of trying to eat, survive and be successful. Oscar Isaac is as usual, superb, cementing him as the goto actor of the moment. Carey Mulligan is alright, not sure about her, she was good in Never Let Me Go and An Education but how versatile she is, je ne suis pas sûr. Justin Timberlake is alright as well, no big performance break-throughs, merely playing the part. It’s all about Isaac, his stillness, frustration and incredible vocal and musical skills are all on display and he carries this film with ease. It is the sort of film that won’t challenge its audience too much, the struggling artist angle would have failed were it not for Isaac.

It took me a long time to get round to watching this as I knew it would be a certain type of film, I was right. I’m glad I saw it, kinda, but don’t think I’ll be revisiting it anytime soon. This is definitely a taste call. The film is very well-made and features sturdy performances, the writing is sharp as we have come to expect from the Coens and these are definitely reasons to see it.

John Goodman appears; he does what he always does and smashes it as an ‘out-there’ jazz musician. Garrett Hedlund is perfectly ‘beat’ as a poet whose mind is alive with words and thoughts like a crazy person, bringing to mind a stoned Neal Cassady.

The music by T Bone Burnett is a perfect example of the time, creating folk music that seems like it was written in the 1960’s. Joel and Ethan Coen add another film to their oeuvre that, this time, is interesting without any major fireworks (for me). A Sunday afternooner.




DOPE (2015)


“I’m in the mood, can’t bring me down”.

Was this film made for me? I think someone, somewhere must have had me in mind when making this because I couldn’t have been more excited when watching this brilliant film about these geekz ‘n the hood.

Clever script, great acting, priceless comic moments, an outstanding soundtrack; finger-snappingly awesome.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year, an uplifting, coming of age in the hood film that doesn’t shy away from the harshness of the streets but never gets overwhelmed by it. There is so much heart here, one can not help but be charmed.

Shameik Moore plays our hero Malcolm and brings a quiet confidence to the role, he is, for sure, one to look out for. Tony Revolori plays one of his friends, Jib and Kiersey Clemons plays the other, Diggy (“I will slap the shit out of you”) completing the triangle. The chemistry between the three works brilliantly. They are the geekz in a band, ‘Awreeoh’ with their music written and produced by Pharrell Williams and their tunes are phat and phunky, reminiscent of The Neptunes. The rest of the soundtrack is just bomb; Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Digital Underground, Naughty By Nature, Public Enemy, Onyx and many more make this BY FAR, the hippest soundtrack we’ve heard for a minute.

The script is tight, clever and on point (only one tiny plot confusion with a text that didn’t quite fuse, maybe this was down to the edit) but otherwise from the start to the finish the writing is on the money. Written and directed with skill by Rick Famuyiwa this is a film that should be up for a best comedy award somewhere. Funny, whip-smart and hip; it’s a breath of fresh air.

Support comes from Rakim Mayers (the New York rapper A$ap Rocky) as the gangster, Dom making his acting debut and bringing a charisma that shows strong on-screen presence. Zoe Kravitz is beautiful and real as Nakia, Malcolm’s crush. Quincy Brown (Puff Daddy’s kid) is Jaleel, the wannabe gangster, Chanel Iman as his seductive sister, Lily (a nice use of her name that comes to represent a certain substance and creating a bunch of very funny memes-“People on Lily be like….”). The very funny Blake Anderson (Workaholics) given a witty, hilarious exchange about the ‘N’ word “ Whaddup my N-Word?”.

Special mentions go to De’Aundre Bonds as Stacey, the school’s security, Rick Fox as Councilman Blackmon, Josh Meyer as the DEA tech, and a very funny, tense exchange with rapper Kap G playing Fidel X, Forest Whittaker plays the narrator (he is also one of the producers on the film) and finally the great Roger Guenver-Smith as Austin Jacoby. The cast is killing it.

Bitcoins, deep web, Harvard, molly, 90’s hip hop, slippery slopes and social media.

Dope is dope. I watched it twice in less than a week, which is unusual and testament to the entertaining value of this quality film. Check it out.