Much like the somber melodies that float throughout its 105-minute runtime, Inside Llewyn Davis will remain lodged in your head weeks after you and the film first meet. With Oscar Isaac's "Fare thee we-e-ell..." ringing daintily in your ears, you'll shuffle out from the grasp of the Coen Brothers' wonderland of gray, but you won't soon be able to relieve yourself of what is arguable the pair's best film yet. Llewyn's is a story so outstandingly simple — he's a man who's s**t out of luck, and not especially deserving of any. He wakes up, loses his friend's cat, plays some music, and wishes things were better. And yet his is the Coens' most invigorating and deftly human tale yet.
Llewyn Davis makes the bold, but practical, choice of never insisting that we love its hero. He's effectively a jackass, justifying all the waste he has incurred with the rudeness he showers on the majority of those in his acquaintance. But Llewyn Davis isn't the villain here, either. The villain is the industry, and all the uphill battles inherent to its machinations. The villain isn't Llewyn's substantially more successful contacts — an old pal Jim (Justin Timberlake) and new fellow couch-surfer Troy (Stark Sands), but the listening public that prefers their saccharine pop to his dreary drips of misery. The villain isn't Llewyn's resentful old flame Jean (Carey Mulligan), no matter how many volatile admonitions she might shoot his way, but the act of God surrounding their unwitting adherence to one another. And it's not even the cantankerous and foul Roland Turner (a delightfully hammy John Goodman), but the endless, frigid open road of which each man is a prisoner (if the film has one flaw, it's that this segment carries on just a bit too long, but that might very well be the point). The villain is the cold.
Call it all a raw deal. But the real dynamism isn't in the challenges that happen outside Llewyn Davis, but in the determined toxicity brewing inside as he meets each and every one.
But this isn't the Coen Brothers' Murphy's Law comedy A Serious Man — we don't watch a chaotic pileup of every imaginable trick that the devil can manage to pull. Llewyn is steady throughout, not burying Llewyn deeper but keeping him on the ground, with the fruit-bearing branches forever out of his reach. In its narrative, Llewyn Davis is as close to natural life as any of the filmmakers' works to date. Perfectly exhibited in a late scene involving a trip to Akron, Llewyn isn't a cinematic construct, but the sort of person we know, so painfully, that we are very likely to be... on our bad days.
Still, working in such a terrific harmony with the grounded feel of Llewyn himself, we have that Coen whimsy in their delivery of 1960s New York City — rather, a magic kingdom painted in the stellar form of a 1960s New York City. And not the New York City we're given by the likes of Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen. Closer, maybe, to Spike Lee or Sydney Lumet, but still a terrain unique to moviegoers. A New York that's always recovering from a hostile rain, and always promising another 'round the bend. One that flickers like a dying bulb, with its million odd beleaguered moths buzzing around it against the pull of logic. There is something so incredibly alive about the Coens' crying city; this hazy dream world's partnership with half-dead, anchored-to-earth portrait like Llewyn is the product of such sophisticated imagination at play.
And to cap this review of one of the best features 2013 has given us, it's only appropriate to return to the element in which its identity is really cemented: the music. Without the tunes bobbing through the story, we'd still likely find something terrific in Llewyn Davis. But the music, as beautiful as it is, is the reason for the story. As we watch Isaac's hopeless sad sack drag himself through Manhattan's winter, past the helping hands of friends and into the grimaces of strangers, as we struggle with our own handfuls of nihilistic skepticism that any of this yarn is worth the agony (or that our attention to its meandering nature is worth the price of a ticket), we are given the rare treat of an answer. Of course it's all for something. Of course it's all about something. It's about that beautiful, beautiful music.
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British actor Jude Law has won a round of rave reviews from theatre critics for his portrayal of William Shakespeare's tragic king Henry V. The Sherlock Holmes star plays the title role in a revival of the Bard's classic work which opened at London's Noel Coward theatre on Tuesday night (03Dec13).
Law, who has previously starred in Hamlet both in the West End and on Broadway, has won over critics with his latest stage outing, landing a five-star review from Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, who called the actor's turn a "terrific star performance".
He adds, "Jude Law, relatively short of stature and with a receding hairline, initially looks an unlikely hero, but this is one of the richest and most detailed performances of Henry V that I have ever seen... You leave the theatre in no doubt that you have witnessed a production of rare distinction and dramatic depth."
Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail, writes, "(Henry V) is a 'big ask', as rugby coaches say, and Jude Law answers it. He is fit enough physically to wear period battledress without looking silly. He glowers beautifully, even if he resembles a slimmed down Phil Collins...
Henry V is not the Bard's greatest play... Yet under Mr (Michael) Grandage's assured direction and with Mr Law's magnetism, this show has a puissance of its own."
Michael Billington of The Guardian concludes, "Law's complex portrait of Shakespeare's contradictory king... is far and away the most fascinating aspect of an efficient, well-managed production... Law, sturdily built and with receding hairline, looks more mature than many Henries. That helps to explain the purposeful gravity he brings to the opening scenes."
He also call hails the actor's performance as "richly layered" and insists it "shows Jude Law maturing with age and getting under the skin of a character."
Whitney Port is following her The Hills co-star Lauren Conrad to the altar - the reality TV regular-turned-designer has announced her engagement. The 28 year old is set to wed Tim Rosenman, who served as an associate producer on her The Hills spin-off The City, after a year of dating, her representative has confirmed to People.com.
Port's happy news emerges just weeks after Conrad announced she is to exchange vows with law student William Tell, while another The Hills alum, Holly Montag, recently revealed she is engaged as well.
However, The Hills bad boy Jason Wahler is already one step ahead of the girls - he married model Ashley Slack a day before ex-girlfriend Conrad revealed her plans to wed.
Pregnant Kelly Clarkson will celebrate Christmas on TV with her new mother-in-law Reba Mcentire, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and William Shatner in a festive special. The Since U Been Gone hitmaker will put her acting skills to the test as part of her seasonal special, Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale, a comedic musical take on the meaning of the holiday.
She will be joined by actors including Goldberg, Williams and Shatner for the 11 December (13) show, while she will belt out festive classics from her new Wrapped in Red Christmas album with her country music pals McEntire, Blake Shelton and Trisha Yearwood.
The TV special will cap off a great few months for Clarkson - she wed talent manager Brandon Blackstock, McEntire's stepson, last month (Oct13) and announced she is pregnant with their first child on Tuesday (19Nov13).
Blackstock already has two children from his first marriage.
Outspoken rocker Morrissey has a new target in his sights - Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge's younger sister Pippa Middleton. The former The Smiths frontman is a long-term animal rights campaigner and he has launched a savage attack on the sister-in-law of the U.K.'s Prince William over her love of hunting, branding her a "thickwit" and insisting she is "the sick face of modern Britain".
The Suedehead hitmaker was infuriated by photographs printed in a British tabloid last month (Oct13) showing Middleton posing with 50 dead birds at her feet following a pheasant shoot in Scotland.
In a statement, he writes, "On October 5, the Daily Mail newspaper gave us all an 'amusing' report of thickwit Pippa Middleton laughing as she stood over 50 birds shot dead by her friends and herself after a 'busy day's shooting'. We are reminded by the Daily Mail that Middleton is a 'socialite', which tells us that she is privileged and can more-or-less kill whatever she likes - and, therefore she does.
"The sick face of modern Britain, Pippa Middleton will kill deer, boar, birds - any animal struggling to live, or that gets in her socialite way. This is because her sister is, of course, Kate, who herself became 'royal' simply by answering the telephone at the right time..."
Middleton caught the world's attention with her figure-hugging frock at her sister's wedding to Britain's second-in-line to the throne in 2011.
Britain's royal baby Prince George has been formally christened at St James's Palace in London. The three-month-old son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was baptised on Wednesday (23Oct13) in front of his parents and other high-ranking royals, including Queen Elizabeth II, her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, and William's father Charles, Prince of Wales.
His brother Prince Harry and his parents-in-law Carole and Michael Middleton were also in attendance during the 30-minute service.
The baby boy wore a Honiton lace and satin gown, a replica of that first worn by Queen Victoria's eldest daughter in 1841, for the ceremony in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.
The service consisted of two hymns and two anthems, chosen by the baby's parents. The hymns were Breathe on Me, Breath of God and Be Thou My Vision, and the anthems were Blessed Jesu! Here we Stand - which was written for Prince William's baptism in 1982 - and The Lord Bless You and Keep You.
There were also two lessons - St. Luke chapter 18, verses 15-17, read by the Duchess of Cambridge's sister Pippa Middleton, and St. John chapter 15, verses 1-5, read by Prince Harry.
After the baptism, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Duchess of Cambridge was seen beaming with delight as she carried Prince George from the chapel to a waiting car.
British royal Prince William attended the wedding of a friend in Norfolk, England on Saturday (14Sep13) without his wife, Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, who stayed at home to look after the couple's baby son, Prince George. William's brother Prince Harry also attended the nuptials, along with his sister-in-law Pippa Middleton.
British royal Prince William has reportedly chosen his party-loving pal Guy Pelly to be godfather to Prince George. Prince William is set to choose Pelly as one of six godparents for the newborn, in line with royal tradition.
The 31-year-old businessman, who organised William's stag party, could prove to be a controversial choice as he is currently facing trial over a drink driving charge, which he denies.
He has been a close confidant to both William and and his brother Prince Harry for many years.
A source tells Britain's The Sun, "He is thrilled to bits about being picked and everyone was congratulating him. He's been told informally by the prince. Guy's been a very discreet and good friend to William over the years. Those are qualities he wants to pass to George."
The other five close associates rumoured to be lined up as godparents are Prince Harry, Prince William's sister-in-law Pippa Middleton, and the royal couple's pals James Meade, Alicia Fox-Pitt and Thomas van Straubenzee.
By now, we know what we're getting ourselves into when we sign on for a new buddy cop movie: One's a hardnosed, by-the-book professional with a no nonsense attitude and a suffering personal life. The other's a fun-loving renegade who uses alternative methods to get the job done, but incurs the wrath of all those trying to uphold protocol. Oh, and they're both dudes. We don't know why that is part of the regimen, but it is an element that has been rigidly maintained through the Lethal Weapons, the Rush Hours, the 48 Hrs, and good ol' Starsky and Hutch. But Paul Feig's The Heat lays waste to this arbitrary pattern, casting Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as a pair of officers who do wonders with the age old trope.
Vexingly, a great deal of cinematic traditions are dominated by male actors and characters. When you think of mob movies, of crime thrillers, of screwball comedies, of science-fiction and fantasy, or of animated adventures, you're bound to think immediately of the vast number of men who have brought these stories to life on screen. But scattered throughout an industry that seems to opt for old hat over new and inventive are the outlying gems that prove that women can deliver these sorts of films with the same majesty and entertainment as their male counterparts.
The Silence Of The LambsGenre: ThrillerHeroine: Clarice Starling, played by Jodie FosterThe theme of gender provide quite a hurdle for Clarice Starling. But in and beyond her universe, she trounces these barriers, becomingperhaps the most memorable FBI agent in cinema history.
The Quick and the DeadGenre: WesternHeroine: Ellen, played by Sharon StoneThe Western is likely more male-dominated than any other genre, which is why Sharon Stone's turn at the head of the 1995 film proves all the more riveting,
AlienGenre: Sci-fiHeroine: Ripley, played by Sigourney WeaverSurrounded by male officers, secret cyborgs, and homicidal aliens, Sigourney Weaver is still the most gripping aspect of Ridley Scott's classic Alien, her strength and nobility never waning as she treads into the most dangerous and horrifying territories imaginable.
Thelma and LouiseGenre: Outlaw movieHeroines: The titular characters, played by Susan Sarandon and Geena DavisEarning audience yehaws no lower in volume than those conjured by Butch and Sundance, heroes Thelma and Louise make for one of the most cherished outlaw films in recent history, not to mention the most moving.
FargoGenre: Crime dramaHeroine: Marge Gunderson, played by Frances McDormandWe love William H. Macy, ya, and that Steve Buscemi is a hoot, dontchaknow. But Fargo is far and away Frances McDormand's movie.
Kill BillGenre: Assassin/martial arts movieHeroine: Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo, played by Uma ThurmanQuentin Tarantino's female characters have always been impressive, with his sword-wielding Beatrix topping the lot in her martial arts adventure. The character exhibits an all-powerful love for her daughter, which drives her through countless bloody missions in the modern classic two-parter.
UnderworldGenre: Vampire movieHeroine: Selene, played by Kate BeckinsaleTrue, there were female heroines in the vampire genre before Beckinsale (yes, we want to give Buffy her rightful nod). But the first true and traditionally dark vamp flick with a badass lady at the center was indeed the Underworld series.
HaywireGenre: ActionHeroine: Mallory Kane, played by Gina CaranoFilled with nonstop action, thrills, gasps, bone snaps, and run-for-your-life moments, Steven Soderbergh's Haywire allows Gina Carano a platform to kick the crap out of every man with whom she crosses paths... which she could very well have done, just as easily, in real life.
BridesmaidsGenre: Screwball comedyHeroines: The lead ensemble, played by Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, and Rose ByrneFinally, another from Feig, and a fan favorite at that. Launching McCarthy's career and giving Wiig her first turn as a movie star, Bridesmaids re-opened the discussion of whether women could handle all sorts of comedy as well as men can. Anyone still on the fence has got to watch this movie again, and fast.
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Courteney Cox has been spending most of her time recently in Cougar Town, but she's about to step behind the camera to direct her first feature film, Hello I Must Be Going. It's written by David Flebotte and will star Seann William Scott and Kate Walsh. The film is about Ted Morgan (Scott), a depressed man who heads back to his hometown to right some wrongs before committing suicide. Walsh will play his sister-in-law Kathleen.
Cox isn't the first former Friends star to try her hand at something outside the realm of traditional acting. David Schwimmer has also done his share of big screen directing, while Lisa Kudrow created an improvised comedy series called Web Therapy, which aired online until Showtime picked it up in 2011. Matthew Perry also created his own series, the comedy Mr. Sunshine, and recently produced the show Go On (though neither lasted more than one season). Most bizarre of the lot: Matt LeBlanc produced Jonah Hex, and we all know how that turned out (not great).
Finally, there's Jennifer Aniston, who has mainly done standard acting jobs since Friends, but that seems to be working out pretty well for her. So stick to it Jen.
While this is Cox's feature directorial debut, she has previously directed episodes of Cougar Town, not to mention the 2012 Lifetime movie Talhotblond. Hello I Must Be Going (which shares a title with an independent dramedy released last year, and as such will probably find itself undergoing a name change) starts filming later this month, so there's no way to tell yet how it might turn out. But we do know it's not on Lifetime, so that's a step in the right direction already.
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