Thursday, December 19, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Film buffs can't help but get excited over a new Coen brothers film.  Sure, some of their films are better than others, but even their failures are ambitious ones at that.  In the 80's and 90's they brought a totally new voice to cinema with films like 'Blood Simple', 'Raising Arizona', 'The Hudsucker Proxy', 'Miller's Crossing', 'Fargo', 'The Big Lebowski', and my personal favorite, 'Barton Fink'.  There were many copycat films made by directors who were clearly heavily influenced by the Coens, but no one could really do what they did nearly as well as they did it.  Of course in my opinion, the new millennium didn't bring about the same quality in their work to which I had grown accustomed.  'O Brother Where Are Thou', 'The Man Who Wasn't There', 'Intolerable Cruelty', 'The Ladykillers', 'A Serious Man', 'True Grit', and even the Oscar winning 'No Country for Old Men' all had elements that I liked, but none of them compared to their prior works in my opinion.  And unfortunately they reached a new low for me with the highly anticipated 'Inside Llewyn Davis', about a struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village 1961.  I won't say anymore about the plot, not because I don't want to give away spoilers, but because there just isn't a whole lot to say.  This one's more about making you feel the sense of melancholia, brooding, and disappointment that Llewyn Davis feels, than it is about plot.  Sure, you get the typical Coen quirk, with good cameos by John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.  And there are more than a few awkward pauses and extra long blank stares.  But while this was extremely welcome in past Coen films, I found it slow and tedious here.  Some may call the pacing here artistic.  I'd call it boring.  To be honest, I wasn't even overly fond of the all-too-present (yet undeniably catchy) folk music that will make or break this for you.  Nor did I feel connected to any of the characters, or entranced by the paper thin storyline.  Of course a lesser Coen Brothers film is always better than a lot of the Hollywood Assembly Line stuff, because it least it makes you think about it afterwards.  I just cannot understand why this film is popping up on so many Top 10 lists.  Personally I think it's a clear cut case of The Emperor's New Clothes.  And I for one am not afraid to tell him he's butt naked, even if my esteemed film critic colleagues see it differently.

Grade: C+

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