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The Coen Brother's "Inside Llewyn Davis" Reviewed

Nightmare vision of magical time in New York City history





























How do you make a movie about the Village in 1961 this bad? How do you make a movie about the folk scene in the early 1960s with no feel for folk music, no love of society, no caring for community no heart, no soul, and not a fucking brain in your head? Watch the Coen Brother’s atrocious “Inside Llewyn Davis” for the answer, a ridiculous look at a week in the life of a mediocre folk singer, Llewyn Davis, whose musical partner jumped off the George Washington Bridge and left Davis to try and make it as a solo act.

As portrayed by a septic, nondescript Oscar Isaac, an actor I have seen in a number of films apparently, including “Drive” and “Sucker Punch”,  and who has left not a morsel of memory, Davis is a selfish, solipsistic drain of energy and at the center of “Inside” he is a bore and a drag. The sort of person you’d rather never met. Justin Timberlake, who I don’t particularly care for either, plays the friend who Davis betrays by sleeping with Timberlake’s girlfriend, acts him off screen with ridiculous ease. And Carey Mulligan, as the girlfriend, has never been remotely this bad in the past.

Llewyn spends a week occasionally playing sets and moving from one couch to another, an ungratefully, bearded asshole, then he goes on a road trip to Chicago where he auditions for a folk music manager who says what we all know, Llewyn isn’t good enough  to be a solo act but might do well in a trio. Llewyn, instead of jumping at the chance, turns him down and decides to leave the business.

At their best the Brother’s Coen are the Chekhov of motion pictures, wonderful makers of incidents and moments and allowing these moments to build an often (always?) depressing vision of life with only the occasional  joys shining through. In 1990 and 1991. they released two masterpieces,  “Miller’s Crossing” and “Barton Fink” in succession, but much like the producer in the latter, I can get anybody to give me a Coen Brothers movie at this point and here they aren’t doing a very good job of it. Plus  the sheer silliness of making a movie about the folk scene without a actually getting anything at all right about it, indeed without actually dealing with the scene at all, is bizarre to me. I loathed “CBGBs” earlier this year but it is substantially better than this.  Surely, the folk scene, for anything else that might be true, is about loving music. There isn’t one second of love for folk music. Not even the songs themselves get it right. Certainly, Davis doesn’t feel like a part of anything bigger than he is.

In one of the worst scenes I’ve seen in a musical ever, Davis is relentlessly rude to a Columbia Professor and his wife after they ask him to play a song. But not just the very sweet couple,  Davis in unbearable to everybody he meets and knows: Jim and Jean (the couple he betrays),  his sister, his father, an Army officer, a fellow folk singer, a jazz musician, even a stray cat. Look, I could forgive the Coen Brothers for forcing me to sit through nearly two hours of extremely unfunny and discomforting interactions between an asshole and the ciphers he meet while showing no sense at all of the folk music scene: like nothing, none, nada. But I can’t forgive them for doing it about an asshole etc, who doesn’t love music. That’s just a complete waste of my time. Davis could be an insurance person for all the difference it makes to this movie, his job doesn’t matter at all.

This is a bad, disappointing, movie. Add to it the audacity of quoting from Robert Altman’s masterpiece “The Long Goodbye” and it is worse, but it is also telling. The Coen’s are a coupla dicks who mistake bad manners for art. Fuck em and their fucking movie with them.

Grade: D+

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