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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Tlc star Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas has become the latest celebrity to strip for animal rights group Peta. The Grammy Award-winning singer has bared all to raise awareness about the abuse of tigers in circuses.
Photographed crouched inside a cage and wearing nothing but striped bodypaint, Chilli is urging fans to 'Boycott the Circus' in the ad.
PETA officials have learned that many big cats used by circuses are beaten into submission, and when they're not performing, they are locked away in cramped, filthy cages.
Tiger lover Chilli says, "There's so much cruelty behind the scenes, which is a something that a lot of people don't get to see. They're (circus trainers) being mean to them to make them do this trick... and I think that everybody needs to be aware of what's really going on."
Asked why she decided to strip off for the provocative new campaign, the Waterfalls singer adds, "If you can raise awareness to something that's important, such as this, then you should. I know for a fact that I would never want to be in a cage."
She joins a growing list of celebrities, including Alec Baldwin, Jada Pinkett Smith, Olivia Munn and Edie Falco, who have teamed up with PETA to speak out against circuses that use animals.
Splash NewsAlec Baldwin's recent career could be mistaken for one extremely long audition for the role of The Incredible Hulk. Only last week, his weekly MSNBC show was suspended for two episodes after he was filmed using a homophobic slur against a photographer during a New York street encounter. But it's not just photographers who don't like him when he's angry. Everyone from his eleven-year-old daughter to American Airlines flight attendants have felt the wrath of the Thomas & The Magic Railroad star for next to nothing over the past few years. Here's a more in-depth look at five of his victims.Ireland BaldwinBaldwin's most astonishing rant was directed towards his then eleven-year-old daughter Ireland in 2007 after she missed a pre-arranged phone call. Foregoing any chances of a "Father of the Year" award, the raging actor repeatedly called her a 'rude little pig' while also taking a pot shot at her mother, Kim Basinger, who later denied getting her revenge by leaking the voicemail to the press.Jay From StarbucksA poor unfortunate barista named Jay had the misfortune to catch Baldwin on one of his many off days when he apparently failed to treat the star with the utmost worship, resulting in a very personal and public review on his favourite platform for abuse, Twitter: "Starbucks on 93 and B’Way. Uptight Queen barista named JAY has an attitude problem."American Airlines Flight AttendantsUnable to tear himself away from the importance of playing Words With Friends, Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight in 2011 after he refused to turn off his smart phone. Despite inconveniencing hundreds of his fellow travellers, the word game addict still believed he was the wronged party and subsequently launched into a misogynistic rant on where else but Twitter.The New York PostAfter claiming that the New York Post's Gary Miller had assaulted him outside his home earlier this year, Baldwin was then accused of hurling a string of racial slurs at the photographer. When asked about the allegations by one of the newspaper's reporters, a charming Baldwin then replied, "I want you to choke to death."Daily Mail Journalist George StarkCertainly not the first celebrity to take issue with a story printed on the venomous Daily Mail website, Baldwin perhaps understandably took umbrage with journalist George Stark following the claim that his wife Hilaria had been tweeting during James Gandolfini's funeral. Less understandable is the vicious and vile way he chose to respond, describing the hack as "a toxic little queen" while also threatening to "put his foot up his f****ng ass."
A lawyer for Cee Lo Green has been denied a request to ban cameras from the courtroom as the R&B star fights a drug possession charge. The Forget You hitmaker, real name Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, stands accused of giving an ex-girlfriend ecstasy before having sex with her last year (12).
He pleaded not guilty to the allegation last month (Oct13), when a charge of sexual assault relating to the incident was dropped due to insufficient evidence.
He returned to a Los Angeles court on Wednesday (20Nov13) as his lawyer, Blair Berk, argued the media should not be allowed to film the proceedings over fears it would "jeopardise" Green's right to a "fair hearing".
She also raised concerns about Green being solely filmed by the press after the judge told cameramen not to turn the lens on her or her staff.
However, Judge Shelly Torrealba rejected the claims, insisting the public had a right to have an insight into his court hearings, while maintaining she would not appear on camera over safety concerns.
A preliminary hearing was subsequently set for 16 January (14).
Green remains free on $30,000 (£20,000) bail.
Rockers Phoenix had to postpone two shows in their native France this week (begs11Nov13) after frontman Thomas Mars experienced problems with his voice. The illness prompted the band to axe a gig in Lyon on Thursday (14Nov13) and another in Nantes on Friday (15Nov13) as doctors advised Mars to rest his vocals.
The 1901 hitmakers are due to continue their European tour in Toulouse on Saturday (16Nov13), although it is not yet known if that show will have to be pulled too.
The members of Phoenix's supporting act Haim took to their Twitter.com blog on Friday to send their best wishes to Mars, writing, "Really bummed these last 2 Phoenix shows were canceled (sic)... Sending Thomas lots of good vibes so his voice gets better! See you in Toulouse."
It's not the first time Mars' vocal issues have forced the cancellation of shows - the singer fell sick in September (13), resulting in the group bowing out of a planned performance at London's iTunes Music Festival.
Engaged stars Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy opened up their Pacific Palisades, California home for a wedding at the weekend (09Sat13), but not their own. The actress hosted the ceremony for her fiance's pal Thomas Kirk, who is the media manager for Bellamy's band Muse, and his bride Jaclyn Ferber.
The candlelit ceremony and reception was planned by wedding organisers from Bash, Please, who took over the front yard of Hudson and Bellamy's home, where the creative actress had set up a Teepee Lounge, full of pillows and blankets.
The hostess and her fiance have been engaged since 2011, but have yet to name the day for their wedding.
One of the stars of hit U.S. TV period drama Hatfields & Mccoys is suing producers of the mini-series for injuries he received on the set. Thomas McKay, who played Jim McCoy, claims he was thrown from a horse and into a tree.
In his lawsuit, he claims the producers assured him he was in good hands with the on-set horse experts - but they put him on an out-of-control beast.
The actor claims he suffered serious and permanent injuries, which caused him "great physical, mental and nervous pain", reports TMZ.com.
McKay also alleges the horses were abused on the set.
He is suing Hatfield & McCoys Productions, Thinkfactory Media and others for unspecified damages.
New mum Evan Rachel Wood is in talks to star in a spin-off to hit film 10 Things I Hate About You. The 1999 film's director Gil Junger is developing a new movie titled 10 Things I Hate About Life, and he's keen for Wood to join actor Thomas McDonell in the project, according to Vulture.com.
The film will centre on a depressed and desperate couple which shared suicidal thoughts.
Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger starred in 10 Things I Hate About You, but their characters are not expected to feature in the new movie.
Tom Cruise grew incensed during a court deposition to fight magazine allegations he's a bad dad after defence lawyers compared the actor to his own absent father. The Mission: Impossible star has launched a $50 million (£33 million) defamation case against publishers at In Touch and Life & Style after taking issue with articles published in 2012 suggesting he had abandoned his daughter Suri following his split from Katie Holmes.
He was quizzed about the allegations in September (13), when lawyers for the magazines asked if there were any parenting similarities between him and his dad, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, who split from the actor's mother, Mary, in 1974, when the future movie star was 12.
According to court papers, the 51 year old bristled at the question and fired back, "Absolutely none. My father didn't pay money, he didn't call... Even the fact that you would suggest that I was being like my father, it's the same thing my father did, and suggesting that that's something that I'm doing in terms of abandoning my children, I find that greatly offensive... My parents were divorced and I didn't see him."
During the hearing, Cruise defended himself against reports he went more than 100 days without seeing young Suri, now seven, following his shock summer 2012 separation from Holmes, stating, "When a divorce occurs, things change... now you have to ask for permission and organise schedules to make things happen... It's not an ideal situation...
"Certainly what doesn't change is the love that I have for my daughter, the fact that I didn't abandon her emotionally, physically or otherwise."
He also told lawyers that his devotion to Scientology was "one of" the reasons behind his divorce, although he later reportedly asked to change his statement, insisting, "Katie has never told me that this was a reason for our divorce."
The defamation case is due to begin in a New York City court next week (begs11Nov13).
Former child star Corey Feldman has revealed he missed out on a major role in 1980s movie classic E.T. The Extra Terrestrial when the film's writers opted to abandon a storyline about two best pals who befriend an alien. The Lost Boys star was initially cast as lead character Elliott's buddy and landed a guided tour of the movie studio lot that was to house the production from director Steven Spielberg himself - but when the mogul sat down to finetune his family film, it was decided that Henry Thomas' character didn't need a best friend.
Feldman tells U.S. news show Access Hollywood Live, "In the original script... Elliott, who was played by Henry Thomas, had a best friend, who was actually his partner in crime during all the adventures, so it was him and his best friend who found the alien... and then there was a massive rewrite right before they went into shooting.
"Steven and I had kinda formed a friendship because he was showing me around the sets, showing me Poltergeist and all this stuff he was working on, showing me his process, and then he went away to write. He calls me six months later and says, 'I have some bad news. Unfortunately, in the major rewrite your part got cut; it's now about a boy and his family'."
Feldman admits he was shattered at the time, but he'll always respect Spielberg for picking up the phone and breaking the news himself.
The actor adds, "Isn't it nice to know that a man of Steven Spielberg's power... is still a man of his word? He took the time to reach out to a young boy and say, 'I know this is gonna break your heart...' but personally gave me that call. That is something I truly respect and admire."