Oscar Isaac

Film Review: Suburbicon

by Carrie Kahn on October 27, 2017

Clooney emulates the Coens in adequate film noir      

Maggie (Julianne Moore) and her brother-in-law Gardner (Matt Damon) have an unwanted conversation with a visitor.

George Clooney is clearly a huge fan of the Coen Brothers. After starring in four of their films (Hail, Caesar!; Burn After Reading; O Brother, Where Art Thou; Intolerable Cruelty), he tries his hand at directing one of their screenplays with Suburbicon, marking his first return to the director’s chair since 2014’s The Monuments Men. The result is more successful than that mostly forgettable attempt, but his fan-boy energy permeates his new film almost to distraction. Tonally and stylistically, the picture is an unabashed imitation of a Coen Brothers production, which, if you’re a Coen Brothers fan, is super, but does mean that Clooney offers no cinematic originality here.
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Film Review: The Promise

by Carrie Kahn on April 21, 2017

Emotionally powerful new film brings story of Armenian genocide to light

Mikael (Oscar Isaac) arrives in Constantinople for medical school.

April 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, so opening The Promise this weekend is obviously intentional. Irish director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and screenwriter Robin Swicord have made the first major Hollywood picture to tell a story about the horrific event commemorated by that date. If you can’t see the film this weekend, I would encourage you to see it when you can, as a way to both honor the tragedy’s victims, and to learn a history that many non-Armenians know far too little about.
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Top-notch thriller explores the underside of the American dream

Oscar Isaac’s Abel and Jessica Chastain’s Anna discuss their business problems.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac were overlooked during yesterday’s Oscar nominations, which is a bit disheartening, since they both give tremendous performances in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s newest film, A Most Violent Year (which opened in New York and L.A. in December, making it eligible for this year’s Oscars). Chandor, whose previous pictures include the pulse-quickening, terrific Margin Call and last year’s lost-at-sea thriller All is Lost, is a master at pulling his audience into a visceral time and place, and his skill remains exceptionally sharp, as evidenced here in his latest film.

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Spinning Platters highlights some films from the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF), which runs from April 24th through May 8th. Program notes and tickets available at: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide

Coherence
(USA, 2013, 89 min.)

Emily Baldoni in James Byrkit's COHERENCE

Emily Baldoni in James Byrkit’s COHERENCE

This low budget mind bender focuses on a dinner party of four couples on a night where a comet passes over Earth, causing some strange occurrences. Director James Ward Byrkit utilized an experimental production process by which he provided the actors with notes for each scene but no script, allowing for truly real reactions, spontaneous behavior, and improvised lines.  Perfect editing and stellar performances create a palpable tension that’s both haunting and personal.  The result is a tightly bound science-fiction indie crowd pleaser that delights with its twists and turns, keeping us guessing from the first to last frame…and afterwards.

Screenings:

  • Tuesday, April 29th, 9:45 PM, Kabuki

Tickets: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/coherence#.U1vag-ZdVU1

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‘I am a man of COEN sorrow…’

Oscar Isaac cradling the real star.

Oscar Isaac cradling the real star of Inside Llewyn Davis.

In a dimly lit smoky bar, an unshaven, slightly disheveled, solo male singer leans into a mic and begins gently singing, ‘Hang me / Oh hang me / I’ll be dead and gone.’ For the next three or so minutes, we are up close and personal to this singer, watching his calm disposition as he sings out the entirety of the song, not even once looking up at the quiet audience wrapped up in the beautiful melody, drinks, and cigarettes. This is how Inside Llewyn Davis begins, the extraordinary and immaculately conceived new film by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, or as we know them, the Coen brothers. This singer is, of course, Llewyn Davis, and these opening lyrics are deliberately chosen to open the story — they set the tone and capture the somber outlook of the title character. Based on a pivotal moment in our nation’s cultural history, and using a fictionalized version of folk musician Dave Van Ronk to capture the experience of many lost artists of that time period, Inside Llewyn Davis is a pointedly dark and comical drama that serves as an allegorical tale and a cinematic exposé of the unfortunate “futility” of many talented artists.

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The towering, imposing, and yet, gentle-voiced T-Bone Burnett strolled into the room occupied by a few eager journalists.  Oscar Isaac, quiet and kind, followed close behind.  The two artists, one a musician who has been inching closer and closer to becoming a household name for three award-winning decades, the other an actor who is sharply on the rise, not wholly but in part due to his incredible performance as the lead role in the Coen brother’s newest masterpiece, Inside Llewyn Davis, sit down at the table.  Without pause, we jumped into conversation…and it wasn’t hard to get T-Bone going…

What are your five favorite film soundtracks?

T-Bone Burnett: God, I don’t know.  I can’t even think of any.

Oscar Isaac: The Mission.  Ennio Morricone.

T-Bone:  Yeah, that was a good one.  I like My Fair Lady.  Even though I think that Dr. Strangelove is a much more strange and subversive film and should’ve won the Academy Award…I’m talking like a Hollywood insider, like a movie person <<laughter>>… but I loved that musical.  You know the song, “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”?  I can barely make it through that song, it’s just so beautiful.  And “On the Street Where You Live,” It’s just beautiful songwriting and one beautiful melody after another.  It beat Dr. Strangelove, which is one of the most important movies ever.

So, one of the reasons why I called the Coen brothers was because I had become a fan of theirs after their first movie, Blood Simple, because it just had so much of my home (Texas) about it and there was a style of storytelling that I thought was really great.  And their next movie came out, Raising Arizona, that just had this insane soundtrack — “Ode to Joy” on the banjo with whistling and yodeling.  And every joke of it landed for me.  And one thing about the Coens is that there’s history in every shot.  Isn’t that right?

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Film Review: “W.E.”

February 10, 2012

starring: Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, Oscar Isaac, James D’Arcy, Richard Coyle, James Fox, Judy Parfitt written by: Madonna and Alek Keshishian directed by: Madonna MPAA: Rated R for some domestic violence, nudity and language

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