The Broken Circle Breakdown

Oscar Isaac in INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Inside Llewyn Davis It’s NYC in the early ’60s, and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make his mark on the folk music scene. His efforts seem to be continually in vain though as pretty much nothing works out they way he wants. Is it fate? Or is it simply because he’s a bastard who fouls every relationship he has with his attitude. It’s probably too early to say, but screw it, it’s my column… Joel and Ethan Coen‘s latest is quite possibly their best and most mature work. From Isaac’s brilliantly nuanced performance to those of the supporting cast (including John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, and others), from the fantastic score to the gorgeous cinematography, this is a tremendously affecting look at one man’s struggles against the world and himself. The Coens’ script is a work of art from which more beauty is born, and I really can’t recommend the film highly enough. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Foreign Film

Best Foreign Language Film remains one of the tougher categories to predict well in advance, but the last few years have seen the race narrow in the final weeks to reveal an obvious winner. In a Better World, A Separation, and last year’s Amour were all easily identified winners before the Oscar telecast. This year appears to be no different. The nominees come from a fairly respectable spread of countries including Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Italy, and Palestine. Cambodia’s submission is only their third ever and their first to receive a nomination, and just as notable is the fact that the film is a documentary. Hopefully they’re happy with the footnotes, though, as they won’t be taking home the gold on Oscar night. Keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…

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Best Foreign Films of 2013

Cinema is a worldwide artform, and as such many of the year’s best and most exciting films often come from overseas. Quality is no guarantee of visibility though as subtitled films rarely get a wide reception in American theaters, and worse, many don’t even make it to our shores until a year or more after opening in their own country. That’s the kind of factor that makes ranking foreign language films a difficult and inconsistent process. I try and go by actual year of release when possible, but for obvious reasons I’m not adverse to including entries that made their U.S. debut this year, too. But these are details… let’s get to the movies! Genre films rarely make “best of” lists like this , but I make no apologies for their inclusion here. Best is best, and if my best happens to include a character named The Queen of Saliva so be it..

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Broken Circle Breakdown

The stage can be a magical and cathartic place where artists express themselves and connect with an audience, but sometimes it’s difficult to leave your real life off stage to become the performer your audience came to see. Many films have tackled this subject, whether through fictional narratives of made up bands or by recounting the lives of famous artists, but The Broken Circle Breakdown takes things one step further to showcase the music just as much as those performing it. Living in Belgium, Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens) do not seem like two people who would be into American bluegrass music, but when Didier invites Elise to come check out a local bluegrass band with him, and Elise realizes Didier is in the band, she falls in love with more than just the music. The bluegrass music of the The Broken Circle Breakdown is never restricted to the stage, with the music bleeding into Didier and Elise’s life as much as their life bleeds into their performances on stage. The music doesn’t merely accent a scene or help to drive the emotion, it becomes a part of Didier and Elise and follows them through the highs and lows of their relationship.

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review broken circle breakdown

Watching two musicians performing onstage who are truly, deeply, madly in love is a rare and wonderful thing. At a concert I attended last spring, I witnessed a professional musician completely miss his entrance into a song because he was so transfixed in watching his partner sing. It was a surprisingly moving moment that transcended the supposedly calculated public-ness of stage performance – a room full of people witnessed a genuine encounter of real emotional intimacy. The Belgian import The Broken Circle Breakdown creates a moment like this early on in the form of a predictable yet tender on-stage kiss between the two leads in the initial chapters of their relationship. It’s a simple and brief moment, yet it’s integral for a film like this to work. Despite the risk of seeming cliché, we have to believe that this public moment shared onstage matches the intimacy we’ve witnessed thus far in the couple’s private life. And it does work, so well in fact that it almost supports the whole film. As the central couple endures a devastating rollercoaster of a relationship, knowledge of their chemistry and love is essential for the film’s melodrama to feel both warranted and affecting. Imbued with palpable sincerity by writer-director Felix Van Groeningen and performed convincingly by Johan Heldenbergh as banjo player Didier and Veerle Baetens as tattoo artist-turned-singer Elise, The Broken Circle Breakdown is a human drama of incredible intimacy whose episodic journey through life’s ups and downs is accompanied by some really outstanding […]

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Ender

The first weekend of November is hallmarked by a continuing wave of prestigious Oscar contenders and pockmarked by the chaff that studios are still dumping into a handful of contractually obligated theaters. How else do you explain Last Vegas and Dallas Buyers Club landing on the same week? Beyond those we’ve got a boy vying to be the last starfighter, a pair of biopics that look difficult to swallow and a ton of limited releases that show promise. Get up off your knees, reach for the stars, and check out the trailer-ized list of movies coming out this weekend.

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Broken Circle Breakdown

Abiding love, cowboy hats, singing duos and tempestuous relationship drama — it’s not hard to compare The Broken Circle Breakdown to Walk The Line. Except that it’s Belgium’s entry for the Oscars this year. The film from Felix Van Groeningen focuses on a pair (Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh) who fall in love at first sight, enjoy some clashes of character and then struggle through their daughter’s illness. It was picked up by Tribeca Film for theaters near you after a stellar festival run and is currently reveling in popularity (alongside its bluegrass soundtrack) throughout Europe. Check out the prestige-filled trailer for yourself:

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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