Monday, January 20, 2014

A Serious Musician

Today: Martin Luther King Day.  Like a lot of people, I had the day off.  This allowed me to schedule an earlier appointment for a cleaning at my dentist's office.  Which left a little time afterwards.

I wound up seeing Inside Llewyn Davis.  It continues a trend I hadn't really thought of until today, as far as the Coen Brothers go.  While you might expect filmmakers entering a mature phase to do more crowdpleasing movies, as the tendency is, they've sort of been going in the other direction.  The films they've made in teh 21st century have by and large been bleak, with sympathetic characters falling into awful fates.

Some might quibble about how sympathetic Llewyn Davis is.  The character is, by the way, modeled on Dave Van Ronk, probably a little looser than Barton Fink was on Clifford Odets.  He's snotty for the most part, inappropriate at times.  But I found it hard not to feel for him.  His dilemma is an acute one, in that he can't make a living doing what he loves.  He can't see a way out of it, either.

The movie does have excellent music, of course, much of it sung and played by the cast.  It also features the return of John Goodman to the Coen fold.  His character - a burnt out junkie jazz musician - is undeniably an asshole, and just as undeniably has style.


susan said...

'This is a film about loss and grief, and not making it—themes that without a looping back narrative of success and transcendence do not resound with Academy members. The most significant character next to Isaac's is off-screen, dead, a best friend who has taken his own life. Davis is not only rootless, he is lonely, without hope. Typically in films you root for the hero to overcome staggering odds, to pilot a plane to safety or endure cruelty on a horrific scale. During Inside Llewyn Davis you just wish Davis had a warm coat and that someone would answer when he rings on their doorbell.'

The above is part of a review I read about the movie in the Daily Beast. It sounds as if we're going to have to see it, but as per our usual habits these days, we'll wait for the video/streaming release. I'm glad the brothers Coen didn't go for crowd pleasing.

Ben said...

I'd say the Daily Beast reviewer had a pretty good handle on it. It definitely feels melancholy. Pretty much nothing happens in full daylight, so the early morning hours of winter are the brightest it gets: sad but also pretty. You'll do fine seeing it at home.