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Another Side of Llewyn Davis

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“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

you.”

– 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

METER

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F. The Great Gatsby

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“That is what you are. That’s what you all are…all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation” – Gertrude Stein

I’ve seen nerds dressed up like Hobbits, Harry Potter and Star Wars characters, and of course those Rocky Horror’s – but never, to my surprise, have I come across flappers and tailcoats like I did at last night’s opening of The Great Gatsby. But here in New York City I guess it’s to be expected, because New Yorkers will use any ridiculous excuse to dress up like it’s homecoming spirit week; like SantaCon, No Pants Day, and that day once a year where people walk around with grease smudged on their fucking foreheads. Now there’s a lost generation.

Anyway, there are timeless novels and there are timeless movies. And then there are timeless novels rebooted into seemingly timely movies – and director Baz Luhrmann is just the name to pizazz us. Punching us with a 3D CGI presentation of that roaring 20’s bygone era with of all people, Jay-Z and a posse to hip hopify it – because my generation is so lame and unhip to Louis’ Potato Head Blues or Duke’s East St. Louis Toodle-O. Though I do get it with our modern excesses and appreciate Baz’s revisionist fairytale approach, he could at least tone it down a bit and not be so fucking splashy with colors and confetti and corny snow falling letters.

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Many consider the novel to be an example of some of the finest economy of words that are not only poetic and subtle, but are also steeped in metaphors and symbolism – one can only marvel on Fitz’s prescient notions at such a formidable age of 25 and his capturing of an entire era and the quintessential American dream. Whereas Aussie Baz has the protagonist Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) butchering F. Scott’s cadence with his narration, sounding like a fucking dimwit reading an eye chart.

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Other than the revisionist attempt, the real redemption of The Great Gatsby is the Great DiCaprio. I mean who else of this generation could play him? Maybe Ben Affleck, but then it would really be fucking retarded. Carey Mulligan seems to be desperately trying to make the Daisy Buchanan character deeper than she is, but that is hard to do when you look like this:

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The recently departed Ray Harryhausen basically said CGI is just another tool, and the audience doesn’t give a damn what technique is used. But I suspect he was talking about creatures and monsters, not Gatsby’s gold coast mansion. Also there’s Ebert. It finally hit me last night that he’s departed as well, because when doing these silly blogs I actually do read almost every review on Meta and Rotten – Roger’s always first. Even though he was a bit of a tool sometimes (he did give Avatar his highest rating of four stars) my go to guy now is Rex Reed, who’s got a tool stuck up his arse. Anyway, I suppose Baz is trying to make some kind of correlation of the 1920’s decadence to now – But I’m curious as to what Lena Dunham thinks of the movie, because besides the fact she couldn’t even finish reading the novel, she has been deemed the voice of this new lost generation living in New York City.

“What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” – Ecclesiatesthe great gatsby

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They Drive by Night

“…a five-minute window…anything happens a minute either side of that, and you’re on your own, I don’t carry a gun…I drive.”-Drive

Other than that, as far as getaway driver Ryan Gosling is concerned, his rules of the road end there except for his pathological addiction to being close to cars and his penchant for sucking on toothpicks. That is, until he meets up with his next door neighbor, Michelle Williams – I mean Carey Mulligan – in this existential neon neo-noir directed by Nicola Winding Refn. But before Mulligan enters the picture and revs up Gosling’s soft side with his silent goofy aloof expressions, the movie begins with an adrenaline shot of a night time car chase evading Johnny Law with chopters throughout the “hundred thousand streets” in downtown LA. After this I was eagerly awaiting some more high octane fun but instead veered into a seriouso character study of how a lonely man in a satin scorpio patch jacket can have such a tender heart but ultimately reveals his ultra violent nature of a scorpion. Though obviously steeped in and influenced by numerous past flicks at least Drive revitalizes the noir crime genre and what sets it apart is Refn’s assured direction and the (at times a bit overbearing) retro eighties like soundtrack. Too bad it didn’t drown out the fucking dialogue between those two kikes, Albert Brook and Hellboy. Albert is completely miscast as a razor wielding gangster and should resurrect his writing and directing career or else his legacy will be the voice of Finding Nemo.

While Mulligan and Gosling are busy making puppy faces at each other, her ex-con husband cuts in with one of the best scenes cock blocking him. The other notable one is the motel money murder madness scene where Gosling’s pointed gloved finger bitch slapping interrogation goes awry. Too bad he can’t use those tactics in the real world.

SPOILERS. You would think that Drive would climax in a dazzling car chase as it began but instead we get a tiny fucking elevator with a slowmo make out scene and a stomping session. In keeping with the existential motif and ambiguous ending, Gosling drives off into the night. Hopefully his first stop is the dry cleaners.

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