Friday, January 17, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

I've whinged before about the frustrations of the unappreciated artist. Whether he's unappreciated because he has too much integrity or simply because he's mediocre is not really the point - the pain is just as real either way. There are posts I've sweated over for days on end, only to garner two-and-a-half "likes" on FB - the half because that click was really meant for the picture of the cat adjacent. The cat, meanwhile, has 2700 likes and 550 comments, as opposed to the one "lolz" on my post.

But this post isn't a whinge; it's just a tip of the hat to the Coens. These are guys who've never really known failure - apart from "The Ladykillers" I can't think of a bad film they've made. You'd think they'd be the last to know what it's like to stare through the cage at success - of watching the geniuses as well as the truly god-awful fly high above them. And yet, here's this pitch-perfect film about a struggling singer.

How they manage to do this film after film, I don't know. "Miller's Crossing," "The Big Lebowski," "The Man Who Wasn't There," "No Country for Old Men," and now "Inside Llewyn Davis;" what do they have in common? I don't know. Definitely not tone. And much as I love their earlier films, I can't help feel that they keep on improving as film-makers. Their plotting and characters have always been top-notch - as is their ability to write great dialogue without being showy, fitting their characters to a T - but this one and "A Serious Man" have something else about them, some magic dust in between the frames. With these two very understated films, there aren't as many individual stand-out scenes or violence or overt humour... or even a clever plot... and yet they're utterly riveting start to finish.

All that said, in this city of 9.6 million people, there's just one cinema screening the film (and only one show per day) - and that in the very first week of its release here. It's a fucking disgrace, that's what it is. Maybe the Coens do know what it's like to be on the fringes - I bet they're gazing at the makers of "Dhoom 3" with unconcealed jealousy.

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