BEFORE SUNSET (2004)

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Christopher

I never really thought twice about Ethan Hawke before starting this trilogy but now I think he’s a pretty fantastic actor. This trilogy is so fucking great so far. What I love most is how their dialogue reflects their age. In Before Sunrise they talk a lot about the world, and in this they talk more about their own experiences. I predict that the third one will involve death in some way, even if just a topic of conversation, but I cannot wait to see Before Midnight.

These movies are definitely films I will watch many more times in my life. I’m still disappointed it took me so long to see them but I’m grateful Elizabeth finally made me sit down to watch!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I don’t get it. I don’t get how it’s possible. How can someone make a movie as perfect as Before Sunrise and manage to make a sequel that is just as perfect and sticks to the formula of Before Sunrise without just being a rehashing of it? I don’t know, but it happened, and it’s Before Sunset and it’s amazing.

Part of what makes Before Sunrise so fantastic is how natural it is. Both movies are almost all dialogue, and Before Sunrise does natural dialogue perfectly. Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) seem like strangers when they meet in the beginning and by the end seem like old lovers. Before Sunset does the same thing; the dialogue is so natural that it only feels like a movie in that we know and love these characters from the first movie so well. We find out that while Jesse went back to Vienna six months after the end of Before Sunrise to meet Céline as planned, but she was not there because her grandmother unexpectedly died and she was in Budapest for the funeral. When they meet again, that question is answered pretty quickly, so the audience doesn’t need to wonder any longer after 9 years if it happened.

It’s just so incredible how good Delpy and Hawke are, especially together. When they meet again, there’s that distinct happiness and awkwardness that comes from seeing an old love. Granted, this has never happened to me, but it reminded me of when I would see a boy I had a crush on on the first day of school after not seeing him all summer. Céline and Jesse quickly fall back into their easy conversation, catching each other up on everything. Jesse is married with a child and Céline has a boyfriend. But from the beginning, there’s much more sex or sex-like talk between them than there had been in Before Sunrise. That’s another thing that makes it so realistic. Remember how insane it was to talk about sex before you were having it? In high school I could barely talk about sex, and most certainly not with a male. I couldn’t even talk about it with the guy I was dating, except in code. Then flash forward almost 10 years later and Chris and I easily talked about sex before we even started dating. Céline and Jesse weren’t virgins in Before Sunrise, but they were obviously more inexperienced and nervous. By the time of Before Sunset, they’re in their 30’s, have lived with partners, and Jesse already has a kid. I just loved how subtle that was to show how they and their relationship have grown and aged with time.

Even though they’re both in relationships, as Céline and Jesse walk around Paris it comes up more than once that Jesse wishes Céline had been in Vienna that day, and she implies that she wishes that, too. The deeper into their conversation they go, the more things come out about how they feel for each other. Jesse loves his son more than anything and likes and respects his wife and wants her to be happy, but he knows the marriage is not working and he’s not happy. Céline cares for her boyfriend but doesn’t seem particularly attached, plus he’s a photojournalist and gone all the time. Then they get into a sort of argument, where Jesse admits how unhappy he is and how much he wishes he had the life he thinks he could have had had Céline met him in Vienna. And Céline admits that she feels like she poured all of her love and romantic thoughts into her one night with Jesse and will forever not be happy in love. When Jesse is talking about being unhappy, an amazing thing happens. They’re in a car together, looking at each other and then nervously looking out their windows as the conversation gets deeper. jesse is upset, almost on the verge of tears, and when he looks away out his window, Céline puts her hand up to his head like she wants to touch him, to comfort him, but he looks at her before she can and she puts her hand down. This moment is such a perfect sequel to my favorite moment in Before Sunrise, when they keep nervously looking at each other and then looking away. It’s so great.

Another great thing I loved about this is how much Céline and Jesse try to stall saying goodbye. When they meet up, it’s just to have coffee before Jesse has to catch a plane. But after they have coffee, Jesse suggests that they walk around Paris for a little bit. Then when walking around, they see a tourist boat thing that they get on and Jesse calls his driver to meet him at the boat’s next stop. When they get off the boat and meet the driver, Jesse suggests they drop Céline off at her apartment. When they get to her apartment, Jesse tells the driver he’s walking her to her door. When they get to her door, Jesse asks to come up so she’ll play a song for him, and they do. Every time Jesse suggests something, Céline says something about how he has to catch a flight, but she never pushes it. It just reminded me of the night before Chris’ 25th birthday, which was also the night where we told each other our feelings for the first time. The whole night we were together I was constantly thinking about how I was going to tell him I liked him, but I was too scared, so I kept suggesting we do stuff to stall him from leaving. I’m sure on some level he knew what I was doing, just like Jesse and Céline both know that they’re stalling because they want to be together.

I can’t wait to see Before Midnight. I don’t know where the story will go from here, but I didn’t know where the story would go after Before Sunrise and it ended up being amazing. It’s going to be great.

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INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013)

Inside-Llewyn-Davis-Trailer

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Best Sound Mixing (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland)

Elizabeth

Jesus, what a disappointment this was. I was surprised when the Oscar nominations came out that Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t get nominated for more because it’s a Coen brothers movie. Now I know why: it sucks.

I’m not sure why we’re supposed to care at all about Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). He’s playing a folk musician in 1961, and even though I did really like Issac’s voice, the character of Llewyn Davis was just mean and uninteresting. He’s homeless, has gotten at least two women pregnant whom later had to get abortions (although one didn’t), and he abandons a cat and a possibly dead person in a car in the cold. Uh, no thanks.

The plot also just didn’t make a ton of sense to me. It just kind of meandered with no real conflict, except for the fact that Llewyn is trying to return a cat to its owners. The best part was hearing a rendition of “500 Miles,” my favorite Kingston Trio song. I also sort of don’t understand why this movie is nominated for Best Cinematography. The whole movie looked hazy and airbrushed, and not in any good way that added anything. I mean, look at this. Watching a movie that looked like that was difficult. It was like staring at a bad magazine airbrush for a couple of hours.

I’m sure the soundtrack to this movie is good, and I feel like I’ve heard of people liking this movie. But I don’t get it. The best character is the cat, but then fucking Llewyn Davis runs over a cat later, so fuck that. Also, is it weird that the Coen brothers had a protagonist named Llewyn and another named Llewelyn (No Country for Old Men)? I think it’s weird, at least.

Christopher

When I first heard about this film being made, I immediately knew it was going to be one of my favorite movies, ever. Then Elizabeth and I watched it and I don’t think I could have disliked it more. What is the story? Why do we care? Why are there so many scenes that seem to have no point? I have no idea and I was actually pretty mad how much I disliked it.

I’m glad I saw this but I’m not going to waste my time again . . .

NEBRASKA (2013)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture (Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa – Producers)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bruce Dern)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (June Squibb)
  • Best Cinematography (Phedon Papamichael)
  • Best Director (Alexander Payne)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson)

Christopher

This movie might be my favorite of the year, only second to Cutie and The Boxer. (I was saying Spring Breakers but I really had no clue it was from 2012 not 2013. . . ) Every shot in the movie is so beautiful and I want to go to these places and drink beer at these bars. If I made a movie I would hope it would look similar. I feel like I could really relate to Will Forte’s character, not in his relationship with his dad but just in trying to help and legitimately being interested in what other people had to say. I would watch this movie again, multiple times, and hopefully not too far down the road from now. If you have not seen this I would really recommend this being one of the main ones you see before the Oscars. IT’S DA BESS

Elizabeth

I liked Nebraska a lot, and for a number of reasons.

It was shot beautifully, as if instead of establishing shots, there are postcards. Even though it’s filmed in black and white during a dreary Midwestern fall, everything still looked beautiful. Maybe I’m biased because so much of it reminded me of the Illinois town where I graduated high school, but I think that Phedon Papamichael might just be a genius cinematographer.

I also really loved the characters, especially David (Will Forte). He sort of reminded me of Chris, minus the crappy retail job and lack of girlfriend. But David is very sweet without being a doormat; he’s kind and inquisitive and it’s clear that although he’s continually frustrated with his father, Woody (Bruce Dern), he also wants to spend time with him as father and son, and wants to know about Woody’s life and who is he is. I also loved David’s mom/Woody’s wife, Kate (June Squibb). Chris mentioned a couple of times that she reminded him of my mom, which I don’t really see at all except for the fact that she’s protective and won’t take shit from people when it comes to her family. Kate is crass and sometimes mean, but she’s also an older lady from a small Midwestern town who married into a family that clearly didn’t really want anything to do with her. She definitely wasn’t the most pleasant character ever, but the more time the movie spent with her, the more her true colors as a mother really showed. In general, the Grant family (Woody, Kate, David, and David’s brother Ross, played by Bob Odenkirk) had a really great chemistry. They were all nice, but also a little mean when necessary, the sons obviously cared about protecting and helping their parents, and, well, the parents just sort of did their best.

And another thing I loved was how not devastating Nebraska is. After The Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I haven’t really been in the mood for a movie that just makes you want to kill yourself. I hadn’t really known what Nebraska was about before I saw it, I just knew that it had Bruce Dern and Will Forte. Had I known it was about a father and son traveling together as the father becomes senile, I would have really resisted seeing it because that sounds terrible. The main plot of the movie is that Woody has received a letter from a Publisher’s Clearinghouse-type of place that has made him convinced he won a million dollars and needs to go to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick it up. Instead they wind up in Hawthorne, Nebraska, where Woody grew up and where his family still lives. Rumor travels fast through the small town that Woody is a millionaire, making all kinds of people come out and ask for repayment for past debts. So, normally, I would have no interest in seeing a movie about a confused old man thinking he’s won a ton of money. It just sounds too sad. But somehow, the whole cast (especially Bruce Dern and Will Forte), along with the script, just makes it not that sad. I don’t really know how, maybe because Woody’s senility is not a new development for his characters. But whatever it is, it makes Nebraska go from possibly unwatchable to great.