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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Stars including pop singer Pixie Lott and supermodel Jerry Hall turned out to support a fundraiser in honour of Amy Winehouse in London on Wednesday night (20Nov13). The late singer's parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse, hosted the Amy Winehouse Foundation's third annual benefit, which raises funds for the charitable organisation set up in the star's memory following her death in July, 2011.
The Winehouse family was joined by celebrities including Lott, Hall, actress Barbara Windsor and JLS star Oritse Williams, who all had kind words to say about the tragic Back To Black hitmaker.
Williams said, "Amy was one of my biggest musical inspirations. I studied her albums when I was a kid so I had to be here."
Hall added, "She was so talented. What a loss," while Lott said, "I love anyone who's got a soulful, amazing voice and she definitely had that. My favourite song was Love is a Losing Game because of the amount of soul that's in it."
Model-turned-reality TV star Tyra Banks has undergone a series of drastic transformations to pose as 15 of the world's most famous supermodels including Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer. The America's Next Top Model host has donned a brunette wig and a well-placed facial mole to portray Cindy Crawford, and she is seen sporting a baseball cap and a sneer while posing as British newcomer Cara Delevingne.
She has also recreated the looks of Moss and Schiffer, as well as Linda Evangelista, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, Twiggy and Brooke Shields.
The 15 project was launched in connection with New York Fashion Week this month (Sep13) and the pictures will be exhibited in New York City until November (13).
Banks has been posting some of the images on her Twitter.com feed, and has won the praise of Crawford, who branded the shots "fierce & amazing", adding, "Work it. Love it. Tyra 15."
Previously unseen portraits of stars including Sir Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and Blur frontman Damon Albarn by legendary photographer David Bailey are to go on show for the first time. The pictures, which also include snaps of the Rolling Stones and Jagger's ex-wife Jerry Hall, will be unveiled in London next year (14) as part of a tribute to Bailey and his long-running career.
David Bailey's Stardust at London's National Portrait Gallery will be the biggest ever retrospective of the photographer's work, and the rare images will be shown alongside more well known shots.
The show launches in February (14).
"In our family, we're definitely 'more is more' when it comes to beauty! My mother also always tells me to drink lots if water and make sure to get enough sleep. It sounds simple, but if really works." Sir Mick Jagger's model daughter Georgia May Jagger shares the best piece of beauty advice she received from her fashion icon mum, Jerry Hall.
Legendary country star Cowboy Jack Clement has died at the age of 82. The revered singer/songwriter and producer passed away at his Nashville, Tennessee home on Thursday morning (08Aug13) after a long illness, reports CMT.com.
Born Jack Henderson Clement in Memphis, Tennessee, he joined the U.S. Marines when he was still a teenager and served his country for four years before embarking on a career in music.
He formed his first band, a bluegrass group called Buzz and Jack & the Bayou Boys in 1953, but soon found fame as a producer and songwriter, picking up work at the Tennessee-based Sun Records, where he collaborated with a young Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.
He went on to work at RCA Records and then teamed up with the likes of Dickey Lee, Allen Reynolds and George Jones, who he convinced to record a cover of Lee's She Thinks I Still Care, which became a big hit in 1962.
Clement also produced Cash's signature tune Ring of Fire, and both tracks have since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
His other producer credits include songs by Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Charley Pride, Tom Jones and Waylon Jennings.
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and has also been immortalised in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame online and the Music City Walk of Fame in Tennessee.
In April (13), Clement was announced as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame's Class of 2013.
Mick Jagger's daughter Georgia May has been targeted by online bullies over her looks. The 21 year old is carving out a successful career as a top model, following in the footsteps of her mother Jerry Hall, but despite fronting promotional campaigns for major brands, she is regularly targeted with vile abuse on Twitter.com.
She tells the London Evening Standard, "I think that it's really f**ked up, personally, but you've just got to ignore it. People have got to be pretty bored and unhappy to be going around on other people's pages. And that goes for everyone, not just famous people.
"You've just got to keep your head up and think, 'You know, what? I'm not going to bother with that. I'm not going to lower myself to the level of arguing with that'.
"They'll say things like, 'Buck-toothed whore' or whatever. They will say, 'Get braces', but it's not as if I haven't heard that one before. I'd be miserable if I had braces right now - what would I do? I'd have to cancel all my modelling jobs! It would be terrible.
"There are lots of other nice young girls defending me, but I personally think it's a kind of bullying. I put myself in the public eye, but I don't let it affect me."
Men, moms, and a mini-series are just some of what CBS has in store for viewers this fall. The top-rated network had their upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday and rolled out the trailers for their new shows. Some looked very good (hello, The Hostages!) and some, well, make us sadder for Will Arnett than Up All Night ever did (The Millers).
The network seems to be staying close to their current formula of bawdy comedies (We Are Men could just as easily be called We Are Two and a Half Men) and glossy procedurals starring Lost alums (Intelligence). But, hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. CBS is also going heavy on star power in the 2013 fall season, nabbing the likes of Robin Williams, Kelly Clarkson, and Sarah Michelle Gellar. All on the same show, no less.
Here are the previews for all the new CBS series and our first impressions of them. Hopefully the network will release the inspired Les Mis parody they did with the cast of How I Met Your Mother in which they croon "One Year More." Seriously legendary.
The HostagesHow they'll turn this into an entire series, we have no idea, but we're already hooked. This intense drama, centered around a doctor (the great Toni Collette) unwillingly put in a Presidential assassination plot by a baddie (Dylan McDermott), looks like a truly well-made thriller.
The Crazy OnesRobin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kelly Clarkson, and James Wolk all shill for McDonalds. Wait, is this why Bob Benson is at Sterling Cooper? He's a mole!
IntelligenceJosh Holloway has the Internet in his brain, or something. Poor guy. It's going to be mostly Lost spoilers in there.
Mom Joining CBS' Mom-day night lineup (get it?!) is the latest from Chuck Lorre, in which Anna Faris plays a recovering alcoholic single mother. Yes, it's a comedy. But, hey, the always-great Allison Janney is there, so that's something.
We Are MenThey are men. Two of those men are Tony Shaloub and Jerry O'Connell and they say and do crass things because, you know, they are men. CBS knows where their bread is buttered.
The Millers Sadly, this isn't a spin-off of Margo Martindale's New Girl Miller mama, rather a new comedy in which she plays Will Arnett's mom who farts a lot. Beau Bridges and JB Smoove star in it as well. They do not appear to be farting.
Under the DomeNot quite as funny as The Simpsons movie, but Dean Norris is there so that's awesome! Spielberg is bringing the mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's classic story to the small screen this June.
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Former supermodel Jerry Hall was so ill with morning sickness when expecting her fourth child, she repeatedly walked out of a TV interview to vomit. The ex-wife of Sir Mick Jagger appeared on U.K. morning show The Big Breakfast in 1997 when she was pregnant with son Gabriel, her fourth child with The Rolling Stones frontman.
However, she left the show's co-presenter Denise van Outen baffled with her short answers and repeated requests to visit the bathroom - and it was not until the two women signed up for reality show Strictly Come Dancing 15 years later in 2012 that Hall managed to apologise for her odd behaviour.
Van Outen tells British magazine Hello!, "When I interviewed Jerry Hall she was very, very short with me. She'd only give me one-word answers and kept nipping to the loo (bathroom). I thought she was rude, but I didn't put two and two together that she'd just found out she was pregnant.
"When we met up again, on Strictly Come Dancing, she was so lovely. I mentioned it to her and she said, 'Honey, I'm so embarrassed, but I couldn't say anything, I was suffering from the worst morning sickness.'"
And… we're back! After a four week slump filled with more placating smiles than actual laughs following the perfect Ben and Leslie wedding, Parks and Recreation was back to its usual hilarious, irreverent self on Thursday with two back-to-back episodes.
In the first, titled "Article Two," Leslie takes up arms against Pawnee's antiquated laws, and in "Jerry's Retirement" Jerry, well, retires. But is there any way good ol' Jerry will be able to stay away from the Parks Dept. for long?
Here are highlights from the Parks and Rec double header on April 18.
Leslie Vs. Patton Oswalt
Genius comedian and King of the Internet Patton Oswalt guest stars in "Article Two" as Garth, a Pawnee citizen hell-bent on maintaining Pawnee's old ways — including bylaws such as "all menstruating women should be confined to their bathtubs." In filibustering Leslie's Town Hall meeting in which she planned to eradicate the antiquated provisions, Oswalt effectively stole the show. In fact, he stole it two days earlier when an outtake of his incredible nine-minute Star Wars/Marvel tirade hit the Internet.
But the genius of this storyline was the way it subtly commented on the greater gun control debate currently rampant in our country. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Garth's clearly ludicrous comment that the Pawnee charter is "not a living document" and shouldn't be changed is a nod — or, more accurately, a head shake — to staunch defenders of the Second Amendment. "Our founding fathers were courageous and they were brilliant, but they also had wooden teeth and pooped in a hole in the ground," Leslie says. They also used their muskets for hunting and protection against livestock thieves.
Garth's filibuster, as impressive as it was, also highlights a hot (albeit less sexy) issue Congress is currently facing: filibuster reform.
Back in the good ol' days of Parks and Rec, the show was less hesitant to take on topics of greater social import. In Season 2, Leslie was faced with her very own sex scandal and addressed the issue of gay marriage head on with the union of two male penguins. In Season 3 we then combated censorship ("Jerry's Painting"). In a show about government, albeit the small town version, I love seeing real-life political issues confronted.
Eggs, Bacon, and Toast!
While Leslie and Garth (in their lovely 18th century garb) dominated the night's first episode, "Jerry's Retirement" was all about everyone's famous punching bag. It's his last day at the Parks Dept. and no one realizes until he's on his way out the door with his little cardboard box. Leslie then determines to make Jerry's last day his best ever.
And that brings us to one of the best things I've seen on this show in a long time: the Gergich Family Breakfast. Leslie joins Jerry, his beautiful wife Gail, and the three Gergich bombshell daughters as they gather 'round the breakfast table for a lively rendition of "Eggs, Bacon, and Toast!"
While I found the B plot involving Jerry — in which the remaining Parks Dept. worker bees seek a new outlet for their tormenting — to be a bit over the top in its mean-spiritedness, it did provide a touching moment between Tom (the "new Jerry") and Ron. It also set up the big return of Jerry to the office, as a part-time intern. We all knew Jerry wasn't really going anywhere.
So Many Pamphlets
This week we also returned to Ann Perkins' pregnancy plotline. Now that Chris Traeger has agreed to be the father of her artificially inseminated child, the two prepare for the big day. But then, a twist! Along the way, the two fall back into lust.
After a few enthusiastic hookups, the two realize they have a rather confusing situation on their hands. While they don't want their baby to be privy to an unstable on-again, off-again relationship between their parents, Ann wonders if maybe she and Chris were meant to be after all. Maybe they could raise a child as a couple. The episode ends with their relationship very much still in Limbo, as Chris offers "The most important thing is that we have a child, and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that," as his only attempt at reconciliation. (And then they make out.) Chris, that you two want a baby is the problem, not the solution.
I think now is the time to applaud Parks' effective use of popular culture references. Few shows can so seamlessly transition from accurate Game of Thrones references — "Everybody on that show can get it," says Donna — to thinly veiled references to The Americans (in the form of Ben's conspiracy theory for the Jerry-Gail marriage), to Oswalt's aforementioned brilliant filibuster.
Keep up the good work, Parks.
Follow Abbey On Twitter @AbbeyStone
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