Tag Archives: bob dylan

Another Side of Llewyn Davis

inside-llewyn-davis-poster01 copy

“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.

inside llywen davis

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.

inside llywen davis

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.

inside llewyn davis

“Holding up my purring cat to the moon I sighed.” – Jack Kerouac


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International Man of Mystery

During the 1970’s not only did Scorsese make Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull, but he also had a run of three fascinating and understated documentaries – Italianamerican, The Last Waltz, and American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince, which are now classics in their own right. During this time one can easily surmise that Scorsese was at the peak of his creative powers and innovation (though later The King of Comedy and Goodfellas are works of genius too) and with the exception of Public Speaking, his last few docs have just been a hagiographic poetic waxing bordering on star-fucking!

His latest, George Harrison: Living in the Material World may be even worse. At least Dylan’s creative output pre-motorcycle accident justifies him being deified as he went on to create masterful albums like John Wesley Harding, Blood on the Tracks, Desire, Infidels, Love and Theft, etc. (just to name a few) whereas George’s blew his wad on his debut, All Things Must Pass. I mean the proof is in the pudding – Gone Troppo? To be fair, he did have a few gems on his albums full of clunkers, but Scorsese was less interested in the music and more focused on George’s quasi spiritual journey from a Liverpool Teddy to becoming a some kind of Yogi Bear, secluded in a mansion surrounded by palatial gardens, gnomes…and that’s when I tuned out (basically when George’s Yoda, Norah Jones’ Dad, enters the picture and took Brian Jones’ cred for introducing the sitar to rock). It must be easy to believe in God when you have everything while I can’t get a night’s rest with post apocalypse roaches running around my apartment.

Speaking of the Stones, Shine A Light was also a missed opportunity and just another exercise in showcasing Mick and Keith prancing around, with only snippets of Charlie and Ronnie, completely neglecting that black Bass Player. One wonders why Scorsese didn’t apply the same steady shots, long takes, and editing as The Last Waltz where you can see how the musicians relate to each other – rather than creating the now standard MTV fake drama about a missing set list, cut with a bunch of close ups that can’t show off their guitar chops. But what really pisses me off is how the audience in front row of the stage, like product placement, is filled with models who probably never once even listened to Exile on Main St.! Where as I had to settle and stand in a long line of rejects to watch it in IMAX a year later.

Sorry. I know I come off sounding bitter and opinionated but I do love these golden gods and I Am the Walrus is my mantra – so Scorsese should be more mindful and artistic and not rely on just rare footage that he didn’t even have a hand in shooting and interviews in which he probably wasn’t present for (I refuse to believe that’s the most interesting corner in Eric Clapton’s house) unlike with Fran Lebowitz where he is an active participant. At least, given his track record, Ken Burns’ latest doc, Prohibition, will be infused with depth and not skip or gloss over chronological events with all the grit, grime, and glamour like Boardwalk Empire. But then again, I’m sure Ken Burns couldn’t deliver lines like “That you should see, what a 44. Magnum can do to a woman’s pussy.” Though I’m sure these words are no stranger to Phil Spector, who besides Austin Powers, appears to have the whackiest wig and most memorable appearance in Living in the Material World.

“Please, God, I don’t know what a goofball like me did to deserve this life, but thank you very much, and please let me know if I’m doing anything that would cause you to end it.” – Ringo Starr

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the Baby Boomers

“Ramona come closer shut softly your watery eyes. The pangs of your sadness shall pass as your senses will rise. The flowers of the city though breathlike get deathlike at times. And there’s no use in tryin’ t’ deal with the dyin’ though I cannot explain that in lines.”-Bob Dylan

Mario, Donkey Kong, and just about every other video game has provided geeks the virtual dream of being “the Hero,” needing only their thumbs to Kick Ass and save the girl. Only in Scott Pilgrim the girl is not exactly a damsel in distress but a total skank. Set in bleak present day Toronto, a snow globe world (that even the late Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland would find dismal and mundane) of gently falling flakes and pop up captions against wood wall paneling, cheap carpets, futon beds, and Charlie Brown clothing, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), has left a carnage of seven deadly disgruntled and jealous ex-boyfriends against our posterboy hero, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). Encouraged by his gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), not only to find his own bed but also to save himself from being just another 22 year old slacker bassist in a Breakfast Club garage band, who still dates a high school girl, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), and to instead suck it up and defeat in Mortal Combat the League of Evil Exes.

While Cera continues to portray his typecast to a T, with his band mates equally sharing the spotlight, and Jason Schwartzman continues to ham it up for his Hipster fans, it’s essentially due to modern day and ultimate spoof Director Edgar Wright and The Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope and their attention to detail of this mundacity with it’s Speed Racer like and elliptical cuts and it’s whimsical innocence of arrested development non-pot smoking cast of characters that lift it from it’s graphic comic book origins and video gaming to perhaps actually resonate to the 20 something generation.

But since the Baby Boomers left us with no values and out resourced our jobs who wouldn’t look to an alternative gaming life or start a Ponzi scheme. Instead we have turned pussy whipped into thinking that true love is a milestone to live and die for and in the in term are busy updating our facebook status and cyber-sexing. But then again Joesph Campbell nor Arnold van Gennep never played the bass let alone would ever be associated with a group called the Sex Bob-Omb. I only mention it “‘Cause sometimes there’s a man…I won’t say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero?…but sometimes there’s a man…”

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.” -Woody Allen


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