Pick of the week: “The Confirmation” (Netflix) — My full review is here. You want the very definition of a hidden treasure on Netflix? It’s this gem from Bob Nelson, who wrote Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” and brings his unsentimental but affectionate eye for small-town characters to his debut as a writer-director. Clive Owen plays an alcoholic divorced dad who brings his eight-year-old son (the wonderful Jaeden Lieberher) on a quest to find his stolen toolbox. It’s a riff on “The Bicycle Thief,” both eloquent and no-nonsense, and Owen and son run across a ton of great character actors on their journey, including Patton Oswalt, Maria Bello, Matthew Modine and Robert Forster. This one’s a keeper.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance Cinemas in Madison. R, 1:45, four stars out of four.
If you see a man walking down the street in wintertime, freezing because he doesn’t have a warm coat on, you think one of two things: 1.) he can’t afford a warm coat, or 2.) he left it at home.
In “Inside Llewyn Davis,” filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen show the reasons why their hapless folk singer hero, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) seems to be out in the cold in so many ways. Part of it is beyond his control — he’s a folk singer trying to make a living in early ’60s in New York’s Greenwich Village, a tough line of work for the great ones (and Davis doesn’t seen to be one of them). And part of it is a result of Davis’ penchant for self-sabotage, antagonizing allies and burning bridges and generally being a pill in the name of art. He doesn’t have a warm coat, but if he did, he’d figure out a way to lose it.
This is Friday, normally the day when I write about “What’s Playing in Madison” for the next week. But because it’s the holidays, what’s playing in Madison this week are the same movies that were playing in Madison last week. There’s nothing new opening Friday, and the UW-Cinematheque and other local screening series are shut down over winter break.
So, instead, I thought I’d look ahead to some much-anticipated films that have opened in other cities already, but haven’t made it to Madison, and handicap when I think we’ll finally get to see them. Some are considered Oscar contenders, others thought they would be but may have gotten lost in the shuffle.