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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Actress Nicole Kidman and country star Keith Urban like to spice up their relationship by sending each other saucy text messages. The singer is currently juggling his tour commitments with filming for reality TV show American Idol, on which he is a judge, while his movie star wife is shooting on location in London.
The couple has imposed strict rules about keeping in touch while they're apart, but Urban admits they have both broken their own rules as they try to find new ways to keep the spark in their romance alive after seven years of marriage.
During a taped interview with U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, which will air on Monday (28Oct13), Urban said, "We just make it work. We never text, we never email. Phone calls only, which I really love that."
However, the Without You hitmaker then grew embarrassed as he confessed, "Maybe one text. Maybe one cool kind of, you know... Nice sex texting. I'm a little red right now."
Sir Paul McCartney is convinced he is responsible for The Rolling Stones' reunion gigs, insisting his constant touring inspired them to hit the road again. The Brown Sugar rockers got back together last year (12) to mark their 50th anniversary with huge concerts in London, New York, and New Jersey.
McCartney made sure he caught their show in the Big Apple, and he is adamant his old pals Keith Richards and Sir Mick Jagger were prompted to tour again by his own love of playing live.
He tells NME magazine, "They wanna be part of what I'm doing. 'Cos (sic) I've been touring quite consistently. But it's what we do, it's the thing we're best at. And we've had a lot of practice and we've got a lot of music to draw from. So, it's really natural that if the Stones are getting on - which they are - they come out."
Two upcoming Chief Keef shows in Texas have been scrapped by concert promoters amid concerns the teen star will miss the gigs due to looming legal problems. The rising hip-hop artist, real name Keith Cozart, is due before a judge in his native Chicago, Illinois later this month (Sep13) to face allegations he has failed to keep up with court-ordered child support payments for a daughter he allegedly fathered when he was 15.
The 18 year old, who is already on probation for 2011 firearms conviction, has also fallen foul of the law in recent months for speeding and trespassing, while an arrest warrant was issued in June (13) after he skipped a hearing relating to misdemeanour drug possession charges dating back to last summer (12).
Now concert bosses at ScoreMore have decided to pull the plug on a pair of Texas shows as they are no longer willing to wait and see if he will be able to stay out of trouble to honour the dates.
A statement posted on their website reads: "Yesterday we were told that Chief Keef was summoned back to court and that he may indeed be going back to jail... We are not willing to gamble with your money, and quite frankly, he has failed to report for some of his recent shows, which made us feel like the promises of change were aspirational rather than actual.... We will not allow that to happen. Chief Keef's shows on September 18 in Austin and September 19th in San Antonio are officially CANCELLED."
In August (13), Chief Keef was ordered to pay $230,000 (£153,000) in damages to promoters in London after failing to turn up for a scheduled gig there last December (12).
His legal woes have continued to mount - earlier this month (Sep13), the landlord of his Illinois home asked a judge to evict the rapper from the $1 million (£667,000), six-bedroom property after he allegedly racked up debts of $10,000 (£6,670) in unpaid rent.
There's nothing like a decent soundtrack to bump up even a cruddy film to cult status. The savvy band cameo, too, is a black art invoked to let you a director knows their hardcore from their grindcore and/or is "down with the kids." These five movies take this tactic to rocking heights.
"All-righty then!" Who can forget Jim Carrey in the brutal Cannibal Corpse moshpit in Ace Venture: Pet Detective (1994)?
Repo Man (1984) had an innovative hardcore punk soundtrack that's British director Alex Cox's love letter to '80s LA. Fun fact: Zander Schloss, who plays Kevin the Nerd in the movie, joined the Circle Jerks on bass after the band's cameo in this sublimely bats**t cult classic. The Circle Jerks (who Emilio Estevez's Otto "can't believe he used to like") sing a lounge version of "When The S**t Hits The Fan."
In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan return for more time-travelling high jinks. Bring on a most excellent Battle of the Bands storyline and a reinforced heavy metal soundtrack! Megadeth penned a song for the movie, KISS features heavily and, more impressively, Faith No More's "Big" Jim Martin appears as a lecturer (from the past, obviously). But most righteous of all is the Primus cameo where Les Claypool and co. perform "Tommy the Cat" from then-current album Sailing the Seas of Cheese.
In Empire Records (1995), some fourth wall/ space brownie alchemy means stoner Mark gets to jam on TV with freaky metal prankers GWAR. "Hey Mark, you play a mean guitar, man! It's a shame you must diiiiiiie!"
In Michelangelo Antonioni's Swinging London classic Blow-Up (1966), The Yardbirds' Jimmy Page, Keith Relf and Chris Dreja perform "Stroll On" after the director couldn't get his first choice (Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd) for the pop-art rock band cameo. Still, who can forget Jeff Beck smashing his guitar with iconic rock ‘n roll swagger?
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Actress Zoe Saldana and her artist beau Marco Perego have sparked reports they tied the knot over the weekend (31Aug13-01Sep13), after the couple was spotted wearing wedding rings. The Avatar star and her boyfriend were photographed in London on Monday (02Sep13) reportedly trying to shield their ring fingers from the cameras.
According to the Daily Mail, Saldana was seen wearing an engagement ring and wedding band and Perego had a gold band on his left ring finger.
The actress and Perego have been dating since May (13), following her split from on/off boyfriend Bradley Cooper.
Saldana was previously engaged to Keith Britton, whom she dated from 2000 to 2011.
As of press time, Saldana's representative has yet to comment on the reports.
Rock legend Carl Palmer had to turn down the chance to become Black Sabbath's new drummer when the heavy metal stars reunited in 2011 because he was too busy touring with supergroup Asia. The former Emerson, Lake & Palmer star has revealed pal Tony Iommi offered him the job when it became clear Bill Ward would not be part of the reunion but he had to decline the dream gig.
Palmer, who will launch his first Los Angeles art exhibit at Mr. Musichead gallery on Thursday (22Aug13), tells WENN, "Tony and I did talk when they were looking for drummers to make the album and he put me forward. I couldn't do it because I was off with Asia, we were touring and then something else came up. I couldn't have done it but I would have loved to. It just wasn't on the cards."
But the rocker, who is hoping to attend Black Sabbath's homecoming gig in Birmingham, England in December (13), admits that playing in a band like Iommi's is something he'd still like to do.
He adds, "I was classically trained but basically I'm a rock drummer and I've never been in a true out-and-out guitar band like Black Sabbath, where it's just big riffs - very simple but very dynamic... It would be extremely invigorating.
"The older I get the more I appreciate that music... I was late to come to heavy metal. Asia had a bit of that but we were a little bit more corporate rock and melodic."
One thing Palmer won't be doing is reuniting with Greg Lake and Keith Emerson anytime soon.
He states, "I don't really want to play with ELP anymore. I've made that very clear. We played in July, 2010 in London and that's gone."
Rapper Chief Keef has been ordered to hand over $230,000 (£153,000) in damages to bosses at a promotion company after he failed to show up for a scheduled gig in London. The 17-year-old hip-hop star, real name Keith Cozart, was due to perform at the Indigo O2 Arena on 29 December last year (12) but backed out at the last minute, prompting thousands of disappointed fans to request ticket refunds.
Executives at Team Major launched legal action against him in March (13), claiming Keef's actions cost them over $75,000 (£50,000).
The rapper failed to respond to their lawsuit and after four months, a U.S. judge ruled in favour of Team Major and ordered Keef to pay out $230,019 (£153,346) for damages, loss of earnings, and reputational harm, according to TMZ.com.
The Rolling Stones turned up the nostalgia on Saturday (06Jul13) as they played to a packed crowd in London's Hyde Park, 44 years after their last performance at the open-air venue. The rockers were joined on the tree-lined stage by blues star Gary Clark, Jr. and former member Mick Jones, who played his first gig with the band during their last performance at the central London park in 1969, two days after the death of guitarist Brian Jones.
Speaking before the landmark show, guitarist Keith Richards told Andy Bush of Britain's Absolute Radio, "Well, I'm not emotional but I feel very excited about it. And also, we will have Mick Taylor with us and that was his first gig with the Stones, so there is a kind of a full circle being drawn here as well."
Richards also revealed the band didn't choose the set list for the big gig until just hours before taking to the stage in Hyde Park, adding, "There is still a bit of juggling going on, but I mean those things can be decided on the night."
Celebrity guests including new parents David Walliams and supermodel Lara Stone, actress Gemma Arterton and Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie watched on as Sir Mick Jagger, who is preparing to mark his 70th birthday in three weeks' time, led the legendary rockers through a string of hits including Start Me Up, Gimme Shelter and Honky Tonk Woman.
The rockers closed the show with their anthem (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and a fireworks display.
The concert marked the first of two gigs at Hyde Park, the second will take place on Saturday (13Jul13).
A lock of Sir Mick Jagger's hair is set to go under the hammer next month (Jul13) after it was discovered by a relative of his former girlfriend. Model Jean Shrimpton dated the Rolling Stones star during the 1960s and her grandmother held onto the clipping after Jagger got a trim at her family's farm.
Now fans can get their hands on a piece of the hitmaker's luscious locks when the off item goes up for sale at Bonham's Auction House in London on 3 July (13).
The star's strands are expected to fetch at least $2,300 (£1,484), with proceeds from the sale going to the charity Changing Faces, which provides financial support to those with physical disfigurements.
Selling off Stones' stars' hair has become a new trend in Hollywood - a clipping of his bandmate Keith Richards' hair recently sold for $1,400 (£903) at auction.