Tag Archives: coen brothers

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

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.

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.

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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.

inside llewyn davis

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

METER

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Almost Famous

Larry Sellers – Jesse Flanagan, no finer example of art imitating life, may have gotten a D grade on his homework on The Louisiana Purchase left behind in the Dude’s car, but Jessie seems more of dunce after viewing his youtube channel. Then again, stranger things have happened, especially in the alps.

 

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2010 “Epic” 5

1. The Social Network

2. Toy Story 3

3. True Grit

4.  The Fighter

5. The Runaways/Scott Pilgrim vs The World

 

Noteworthy:


Sylvian Chomet follows The Triplets of Belleville with The Illusionist – another marriage of traditional animation and music from the Frenchies reminding us Americans the standard format that 3D and CGI have become, thereby losing it’s poetic sensibilities and abstract qualities. But the Illusionist’s “epic fail” is in it’s focus on the least interesting characters as opposed to washed up vaudeville acts such as a suicidal clown, a lonely ventriloquist, midget concierges, acrobatic painters,  hybrid late 50’s band and a nippy bunny.

Toy Story 3‘s main characters’ relationship to the audience may already have been established but are still always developing as opposed to this Magician who still can’t draw a crowd or a dingy dimwitted materialistic ungrateful Bitch.

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Fiddler on the Roof

A Serious Man Poster

“How is it possible to find the meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?”  – Woody Allen

Scorsese had Mean Streets, Truffaut had The 400 Blows, Fellini – Amacord, and Woody Allen – Radio Days. Countless directors have paid homage to their childhoods as the Coen Brothers join the ranks keeping their quintessential absurdity and profundity but still resulting in probably their most sublime movie yet, A Serious Man. As it never presents itself as a personal nostalgic coming of age movie one can’t help that the world the Coen Brother’s create was not concocted out of their idiosyncratic imaginations but obviously from their own repressed childhood environment. Granted, Fargo was set in their beloved Minnesota and based on a “true story,” I doubt Joel or Ethan ever used a woodchipper or American Indian car mechanics like Shep Proudfoot and instead were more likely come across The Three Wise Rabbi’s.

A Serious Man Rabbi

After several decades of the Coens delving into every genre, what they have drawn from childhood they still retain enough fiction to keep it interesting. This too keeps that fiction by not having the protagonist as their alter egos. Instead we have Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) who is a physics professor struggling to raise his family in small town middle America, Minnesota within a Jewish insular community in 1967. But before we are introduced to this slice of Jewish-Americana the movie opens with a curious quote:

“Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” – Rashi.

After Googling Rashi I found out this dude was far from a simpleton but a medieval French Rabbi who had a thing or two to say about the Talmud.

This then is followed by what is seemingly an old yiddish cautionary folk tale that alludes to the possibility of evil reincarnation or just plain superstition shot in 4:3 aspect ratio for good measure until we go widescreen funneling out from 13 year old Danny Gopnik’s ear via a transistor radio. Soon to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, this pot smoking, Jefferson Airplane loving boy, who steals money from his Dad’s wallet to feed his habits, is unquestionably and ironically the only reasonable person in the movie – for TV and weed are a lot more appealing than parking lots and waddling yentas hacking up last night’s matzoh ball soup.

A Serious Man Danny(The Coens sure know how to dress a set to regress. Go F-Troop!)

As jewy as it may be ultimately it’s about most American dysfunctional families. I mean, every family has a a promiscuous Wife, a backstabbing best friend, a crazy freeloading Uncle that scribbles the meaning of the universe in a notebook or a Sister that is preoccupied with her face and hair.

Serious Man Mom and Daughter

But given the structure of the jewish community it is the Rabbi’s that hold the position of power and the ones that they flock to for guidance only to part ironically with more questions about teeth cavities and how to be a good boy and with the uncertainty that the only truth being that mortality and mother nature are inevitable.

A Serious Man Gopnik

(I should stick with Mentaculus.)

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His name’s Lebowski? That’s your name, Dude!

The Big Lebowski Ashes

“If you will it, Dude, it is no dream.” -Theodore Herzel State of Isreal

After a life long pursuit throwing rocks, Don-ny Doane finally rolled a perfect game before collapsing midst high five with teammates from a heart attack, dying with a smile on his face.

Donny who loved bowling.

Donny died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time and is probably turning over in his grave (though his ashes are scattered from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo) as the hordes of wannabes and bandwagoners congregate at these annual Big Lebowski Festivals throughout the land. 

The Big Lebowski Dude

“Has the whole world gone crazy!”Walter Sobchak

There’s nothing worse then when a cult classic becomes so mainstream whereby joining the ranks and reducing it to the level of the fans that jerk off to Will Farrell and Seth Rogen movies and their jerk off faces thereby ruining it and leaving you saying to yourself, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” Not all of us are a Lebowski. Some of us are Nihilists which is more exhausting. Am I wrong? So come this month’s Lebowski Fest in NYC, for those of us who want our damn undies back, I hope to see a small faithfull band of outsiders protesting holding “nobody fucks with The Jesus” pickets. But till then, goodnight, sweet prince.

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Burn After Review

“Explanations come to an end somewhere.” – Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigation)

 

Despite negative buzz, The Coen Brothers’ 13th movie, Burn After Reading, when compared to their other works may not be considered groundbreaking and original but given the high expectations following No Country for Old Men and the repeat summer comedies of Farrell, Rogen, Stiller, and Jack Black it at least makes you appreciate that there are still real filmmakers out there. This time around they add DC to their list of cities to expose where we find new quirky characters plotting and scheming with reckless and random abandonment. From the opening overhead shot zooming thru the clouds (accompanied by the usual mission impossible type soundtrack) and into the secret insipid interior of CIA headquarters we are instantly thrown into this spy movie spoof black comedy. There we are introduced to agent Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) and his superiors in the act of firing him for his drinking problem. We then follow his plight into the paranoiac espionage nature of DC and it’s scandal ridden sexual infidelities only to clash with bimbo Hardbodies employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) when they accidently obtain a disk of Cox that was “just lying on the floor” in the women’s locker room and their subsequent involvement in blackmailing him to pay for Linda’s numerous cosmetic surgeries and liposuction. To add to these blackmailing amateurs, Cox’s marriage is falling apart as his wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), unbeknownst to him is having divorce papers drawn up and an affair with a married man, Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is a compulsive womanizer and sex toy inventor hobbyist and is also dating Linda. How the Russians get involved in this post Cold War circus is attributed by Osbornes’s disc which is what every spy thriller needs, the MacGuffin.

While the movie was marketed for it’s star studded cast, this cast proves to be more than just good looks. George Clooney caps off his Coen Brothers trilogy of playing an idiot with his boyish bravado of seducing women while Botox Brad and Frances, who literally lets it all hang out, pair up as a comic duo. But it is the meeting of the minds of Pitt and Malkovich that truly reveal the absurdity and comedy of this plot while Tilda Anteater Face continues to play the ultimate cold, stuck up bitch.

In the end, the Coen Brother’s have again succeeded in fighting the idiots we’ve been fighting our whole lives as they join the top of the box office along side these hollywood blockbusters that are consistently praised by retards.

 

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