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.
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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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Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or in some alternate, celeb-gossip-free universe – you know that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are officially a couple, and soon we get to see how much onscreen chemistry they have, in the David Wain-directed Wanderlust. The critical reaction thus far has been fairly mixed (we liked it, though!), and movies starring real-life couples in the past have been similarly hit-or-miss. Here are some of our favorites – and least favorites.
Couple: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Considered by some to be the worst movie ever made (and not in the Showgirls sense, where it later turns into a cult hit), Gigli was laughably bad in so many ways – but the chemistry not shared by then odd real-life couple Bennifer is most alarming. It’s also worth noting that Martin Brest is still in director's jail for Gigli.
Couple: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton
Woody Allen did a masterful job co-crafting a great, somewhat groundbreaking screenplay in addition to directing the film – but Annie Hall wouldn’t be what it was in 1977 and still is today if not for the palpable chemistry between onetime real-life couple Allen and Keaton (whose actual last name is, you guessed it, Hall). Aside from Best Director, Screenplay and Picture, the beloved rom-com netted Keaton a Best Actress Oscar and Allen a nom for Best Actor. Clearly the Academy was as touched by the on-screen relationship as moviegoers were.
Eyes Wide Shut
Couple: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
When Eyes Wide Shut – which has to be considered, at the very least, Stanley Kubrick’s most uneven movie – was released, it was positively shocking to see THE celeb couple at the time appearing in a decidedly adult, unmarketable film. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s on-screen relationship was odd and a downer overall, which can also be said about their permanent separation a couple years after the release.
Couple: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
At one point before this biopic about salsa legend Hector Lavoe was released, the film was touted as a proverbial Oscar vehicle for Anthony. The expectations wound up vastly exceeding the end result, and people had much more interest in J. Lo and Anthony’s off-screen relationship than the on-screen version. Hell of a soundtrack, though – if you like salsa music.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Couple: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
To hear Brad and Angelina tell it, they were NOT a couple during the filming of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Whether or not you believe them depends on whether or not you’re a member of Team Aniston, but the chemistry they shared (and star power they oozed) as secretive spouses certainly helped keep the otherwise silly movie intriguing – and, of course, helped turn it into a blockbuster.
Couple: Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow
“What’s in the bo-ox?!” That’s what most people remember about the on-screen relationship between off-screen lovers Pitt and Paltrow in this classic David Fincher thriller. It was more of a side-plot to the story – that is, until Gwyneth’s “pretty head” was needed for the climax – but there was definitely a tangible believability to David and Tracey Mills’ relationship, which isn’t always the case when real-life couples take their romance to the screen.
Couple: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
Will and Jada have been together for what feels like a lifetime – constant rumors of their imminent or past separation notwithstanding – and that more than translated on the screen in Ali, in which he played boxing icon Muhammad Ali and she his first wife, Sonji. Alas, they later divorced, hopefully NOT like the couple that played them.
Me, Myself & Irene
Couple: Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger
It’s almost hard to believe that these two were, in fact, once (briefly) engaged in real life, but that pales in comparison to their even weirder romance in Me, Myself & Irene. Which isn’t to say that their pairing wasn’t funny, or that the movie didn’t have some Farrelly brothers magic, but they just seemed mismatched, and not in a comedic way.
OTHER REAL-LIFE MOVIE COUPLES (WITH GRADES!)
Couple: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
Couple: Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan
Couple: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins
Couple: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe
Couple: Courteney Cox and David Arquette
Couple: Warren Beatty and Annette Bening
The Departed star wed model Rhea Durham in 2009 after eight years together and Wahlberg admits he goes to great lengths to ensure his film roles are romance-free.
He tells WENN, "If it has anything to do with me kissing somebody my wife's not gonna like it so I'll fight to get it cut out. Those are the more important issues. I usually try to choose my battles wisely."
But the Oscar-nominated actor admits convincing Hughes to drop a big sex scene in the new crime thriller cost him his dignity for another shot.
Wahlberg says, "There's a love scene in the movie that I'm shooting now (Broken City) that is very graphic and I'm like, 'I really don't want to do that. I don't think it's necessary, we've been together now seven years and the magic is probably gone in the relationship anyway!'
"She (his onscreen love interest) plays an actress and she's having this really hardcore sex scene that she shoots in the movie and doesn't tell me about it, and then I see it in the theatre and I have a big problem with that because I play an ex-cop who's a private investigator investigating the mayor of New York City. And so obviously I lose that scene but then my compromise was to be nude in the scene by myself after she's gone. I still had to be butt naked for six hours but it wasn't with somebody else!"
Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star in Broken City, which is due for release in 2013.
Russell Crowe fulfilled a promise he made to the chancellor of Durham University in England on Friday (03Jun11) when he hosted an acting masterclass for students. The Oscar winner told author Bill Bryson, the chancellor, he'd talk about his talents and experiences the next time he was in the area some years ago - and he kept his word.
February 21, 2003 11:09am EST
In March 1991 TV stations repeatedly broadcast an amateur videotape of LAPD officers kicking and clubbing Rodney King an unarmed black man. A year later an all-white jury acquitted three officers involved in the beating inciting a riot that killed 54 people and destroyed much of South Central Los Angeles. Dark Blue is a gritty police drama that unfolds in the four days leading up to the verdict. The story revolves around veteran cop Eldon Perry Jr. (Kurt Russell) who does what he needs to do to bring someone to justice even if it means planting a gun--or drugs--on a suspect. But police intimidation and corruption doesn't sit right with his rookie partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman). Their ideologies clash when the two are assigned to a high-profile quadruple homicide and receive orders from a high-ranking member of the LAPD to pin the crime on innocent suspects in order to appease the public. Keough contemplates going to Deputy Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) the only black man in the department about unfair police practices but is worried about going up against such a tight brotherhood. This cop flick is disturbingly realistic--which unfortunately is also its weakness. It tells us what we already know: that the history of the LAPD is meshed tightly with racism and corruption.
Dark Blue's Perry is a vulgar hard-drinking and unscrupulous cop--and Russell (3 000 Miles to Graceland) does a great job embodying the character. He swears knocks back drinks and smokes cigarettes like he's been doing this since birth. In fact Russell creates such a despicable character that I hoped he would get his ass kicked by rioters. As his naïve partner Keough Speedman (Duets) is a little bland. Keough redeems himself by rising above the police department's practices but Speedman's character is almost too nice and fresh-faced to be a cop in a city like L.A. As Deputy Chief Holland Rhames (Undisputed) is well cast but unfortunately the character is so one-dimensional that he doesn't make for a very passionate hero. The problem here is not the acting but the film's characters which are too simply drawn. Keough for example is not only unprejudiced he's politically correct--he has a black girlfriend and gets offended when his big bad partner uses the "n" word. And Holland is not only honorable he's a churchgoing community leader. It's not that these characteristics are bad but they are certainly tautological and stereotypical by movie standards.
If this movie sounds a lot like Training Day it's because scribe David Ayer wrote both of them. Unfortunately Dark Blue's characters are drawn with such a heavy hand they reek of clichés and are a far cry from Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke's complicated and well-developed characters in Training Day. Director Ron Shelton found success with the 1988 hit Bull Durham and--with the 1994 sports drama Cobb--proved that he could deliver character-driven movies that were well worth watching. Despite the rigid characters he manages to deliver a straight-up dirty-cop movie that effectively mirrors the LAPD. (Is Holland for example the film's take on former LAPD Chief of Police Bernard Parks?) Shelton achieves the film's true-to-life feel by leaving out slick car chases explosions and shootouts and paying closer attention to sets such as Perry's unadorned house and the clunker he drives. There are some great scenes towards the end of the film when Perry is driving through South Central as the riots--which caused an estimated $900 million in damages--break out. What's even more chilling however is the lack of LAPD presence at the riot epicenter.