“there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
– Charles Bukowski
The Coen Bros. latest flick “Inside Llewyn Davis” literally hit close to home for me. For starters, a few scenes were shot in my neighborhood – and with that I’ve followed the shooting progress chronicled on the numerous local daily blogs adding to my already growing anticipation since 2011. But I’d rather not get into or bore you with my own private Idaho, because its real allure is that I too have a fondness and romanticism for the bygone era of those bohemian Greenwich Village days of the late Fifties and early Sixties when it rivaled the art scene of 1920s Paris. To think that on any given night back then you could catch the likes of Miles, Woody, Mingus, Lenny, Coltrane, Ginsberg, Dolphy, Cosby, or that hack hipster Kerouac just to name a few. It seriously must of been like living in Jazz Heaven whereas now it’s just turned into an extension of the NYU campus.
Anyway, as you know for every one of these prominent cats there are countless others who have fallen by the wayside and it’s this framework the Coen Bros. have concocted the character Llewyn, the struggling folk musician who has recently lost his singing partner after he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Now left out in the cold we follow and piece together a few day odyssey in the winter of 1961 stumbling along couches, ex-girlfriends, coffee houses, recording sessions, road trips, shabby record label offices, estranged family members, auditions, dark alleys, a couple of cats, folkies, merchant marines, professors, junkies, music managers, beatniks, and of course the arrival of Bob fucking Dylan.
As usual with the Coens, the production design, clothing, characters, and music are all spot on. And even without sky fallen Roger Deakins – replacement Bruno Delbonnel’s talents are finally recognized because, let’s face it, Harry Potter and Dark Shadows are the usual Hollywood crap.
It’s good to see John Goodman back after over a decade long absence from the Coens. I only hope that Carey Mulligan never returns, because she’s already in one scene too many playing her usual cocksucking self. As for Oscar Davis, even though Llewyn Davis’ character is seemingly narcissistic and frustrated, he emboldens his character with an underlying integrity to his music of interpretation of folk tunes, which in a way is an art form in itself and apparent when he performs. The irony is that the times are a-changin’ and the advent of the singer songwriter artist is just around the corner leading to fame, success, and vision.
I initially thought about using the oft Dylan quote to begin this with “there is no success like failure and that failure is no success at all,” but considering the Coen’s have alluded to Llewyn Davis to be loosely based on Dave Van Ronk I’d like to think that unlike many of the critics that have the impression that Llewyn is a selfish arrogant folk purist (one who’s not even political?!) that he eventually, like Van Ronk finds his niche. Mainstream success never comes but he will at least find his direction home just like that cat Ulysses does in the end.
“Holding up my purring cat to the moon I sighed.” – Jack Kerouac