Saturday, December 21, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis review

Movies like Inside Llewyn Davis are hard to write about.
Like many Coen Brothers films they're simple. Yet also complex on other levels. They definitely have a lot more to them than immediately meets the eye, but I can't figure it out exactly yet. And they're really good. It can be hard to express how you feel about a movie a lot of times without sounding cliche. I'm trying to find what to say about this movie, but to be honest it's pretty hard for me. But I'll try. First off let me tell you what this here film is about. It takes place in 1960's New York. It's centered around a cynical young folk singer named Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac). Llewyn is what you'd call down on his luck. He doesn't have an actual address. He can't afford an address. He hops from couch to couch, sleeping at one friend's house at one night and another's the next. He lives off of the minimal money he makes off his musical gigs. Mostly playing at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village. Llewyn's life seems to be an endless cycle of disappointments and obstacles, each seemingly worse than the next. His partner jumps off the George Washington Bridge. Gets his married friend pregnant. Accidentally lost his other friend's cat. Gets stranded on the highway on the way to Chicago. It seems like Llewyn Davis never catches a break. His whole existence is a pointless Odyssey. A Frodo without a mount Doom. A hero with no destination and no epic battle. Embarking on a journey to nowhere. An exasperated adventurer who just wants to sell his record. Davis isn't your classic hero. To put it in the words of Carey Mulligan's character, Jean, he's an asshole. Although you definitely feel for him most of the time, Llewyn Davis is the kind of guy you want to punch sometimes. Llewyn is a jerk, but his crappy circumstances are partially to blame. He reminds me a little of Larry Gopnik, the protagonist in the very underrated Coen Bros. movie, A Serious Man. They both have a lot of problems that seem to be unceremoniously dumped on their laps that they have to try and deal with. Their endings may not be happy, but they're story is certainly one worth telling. The Coen's are master filmmakers and I absolutely love them. The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Raising Arizona. The Coen Brothers are cinematic geniuses who have birthed an array of awesome films. Inside Llewyn Davis isn't their best, but it's still really good. Even if you had problems with the characters and the story (which I did not), you still can at least appreciate their darkly funny and sometimes somber dialog and their fantastic use of camera and editing. Many directors are great at say, directing actors, but they struggle in many other areas. Joel and Ethan Coen are pretty versatile in their skills. They direct the actors in such a way that they really get the most out of them, but they also create such a vivid world in which their movie takes place. For No Country they made this whole dangerous, dusty western atmosphere that fit the movie just fine. For Inside Llewyn Davis they have captured the whole 60's NYC folk scene perfectly. Not only that, but every emotion and aspect of Llewyn's life seems to be reflected into the film's setting. It all works really well. Granted, it's not a perfect film. It drags in certain spots and there are a few parts that are longer than they should be. Overall though, it was really quite well done. The acting was really terrific too. Oscar Isaac was fantastic as the title character. I remember seeing that guy in some really small roles but all I can say is, where has he been all this time. I suppose it takes the Coen's to really bring the potential out in an actor. Carey Mulligan is superb too as Llewyn's sometimes friend. Justin Timberlake was alright as Carey Mulligan's character's boyfriend, but he' yet to show he can really act. John Goodman shows up for a bit as a washed out jazz musician. He brings some laughs. Although then again, when doesn't John Goodman make you laugh? All that stuff is great, but I have to mention the soundtrack. Inside Llewyn Davis may not be the best movie ever, or even the best of the year. But it certainly has the best soundtrack in any movie I can remember. There are a lot of fantastic folk songs here. The movie is worth seeing for the music alone. Yeah, it's that good. Anyway, Inside Llewyn Davis isn't The Coen Brother's best, but it's still really terrific. I can't help but recommend it. I give Inside Llewyn Davis 4.6 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and make sure to like me on Facebook at! 
By the way, I'm going to stop doing #tbt reviews so I can have more freedom to review more movies and not worry about what day to review them on. I'm also getting increasingly annoyed with the hashtag so that's a reason too. Anyway, Happy Viewing1 (Happy Holidays too!)  

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