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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Lady Gaga has reignited her feud with Madonna by insisting she has no interest in becoming the next Queen of Pop and doesn't care about the superstar's opinion of her. The pair has been embroiled in a spat since 2011 after Gaga's hit Born This Way was widely compared to Madonna's 1989 track Express Yourself.
Following the comparison, Madonna has taken several swipes at Gaga, performing a mash-up of both songs during her 2012 MDNA tour and jokingly dedicating her track Masterpiece to the singer during a concert in New Jersey last year (12), telling fans, "I'm gonna dedicate this next song to Lady Gaga... Imitation is the highest form of flattery."
However, the Poker Face hitmaker insists she is not bothered by what Queen of Pop thinks of her and has no interest in taking over her position in the music world.
In a radio interview with U.S. shock jock Howard Stern on Tuesday (12Nov13), she says, "I think she's more aggravated that I'm not upset that she doesn't like me. Because I don't care that she doesn't like me. No, I don't care. It's such nonsense...
"There's this thing with some people that I'm a threat to the throne. I don't want your f**king throne, no thanks, I have my own. I actually don't want a throne at all, because I don't view myself as a queen, I view myself as one of my fans."
Lady Gaga blasted blogger and former pal Perez Hilton during a fiery radio appearance on Tuesday morning (12Nov13), revealing the gossip king left her in tears during a terrible interview. The pop superstar told shock jock Howard Stern she felt so betrayed by Hilton she decided to end their friendship on the spot in 2011.
She said, "We were doing an interview... and in the middle of the interview he started asking me really terrible questions. He was being very negative about (album) Born This Way and we had had a lot to drink. He was supposed to be my friend and I felt betrayed, so I started crying. My friend had to come in and pull the camera out, they wouldn't turn the cameras off.
"He apologised, but I sort of felt like it was like, 'But I'm Perez Hilton so I'm allowed to treat you this way'. I looked at him and said, 'Just because you are who you are, does not mean that our friendship doesn't mean anything when the cameras turn on. So, now I see who you really are.' And I was done after that."
Gaga told Stern that Perez has since become a foe, adding, "He's just mad that I don't want to hang out anymore. I don't want to be around fake people. I really believed, when I first met him, that he wanted to change. I really believed that he wanted to bully people less on his site and that he wanted to move into a more positive space. I was really there for him and I really supported him."
Everything came to a head when the singer learned that Hilton was reportedly keen to move into her New York City apartment block.
She added, "He lied and told everybody that he wasn't stalking me, but that next day - after I asked him to leave me alone - he put an offer in on two apartments in the building! Why do you need to live in my apartment (building)?
"If you hate me, hate me from over there. Continue to fire away on your blog and your Twitter."
It seems her radio remarks have re-ignited her feud with Hilton, who took to Twitter.com shortly after the Stern interview aired and wrote, "@LadyGaga So you called ME fake on the @HowardStern this morning. Ha! Thanks for the laugh! Have you looked in the mirror lately???."
He added, "@LadyGaga And I was the one who pulled away from u after I realized what a real-life vampire you are! It's been your M.O. (method of operation) your whole career!"
R&B singer Al Johnson has passed away. He was 65. The lead singer of soul group The Unifics died on 26 October (13) after suffering a heart attack during treatment for a colon infection.
Johnson co-founded the band after meeting Tom Fauntleroy, Marvin Brown, Bob Hayes, and George Roland at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, and they became known for their impressive harmonies and smart attire, scoring three hits on America's Billboard Hot 100 chart, including Court of Love and The Beginning of the End.
He went on to release solo material, including a record with jazz producer Norman Connors in 1980, and also arranged tracks for acts including Roberta Flack, Terry Huff and Tata Vega.
The Unifics reunited in 2004 for gigs in the Washington, D.C. area.
Saturday Night Live has come under fire for their lack of diversity. When asked about having African American female cast members on the show, Kenan Thompson told TV Guide, “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” This is ironic considering Thompson has been doing sketch comedy since he was a child and barely seems "ready."
SNL has shown poor stats across the board. Fred Armisen, due to his Venezuelen and Japanese roots, was holding down double duty as the show’s longest running Latino and Asian cast member. SNL has only had one full-fledged Asian cast member if you count parts of Armisen and Rob Schneider. Nasim Pedrad holds down the fort as the only Middle Eastern cast member on the show. Kate McKinnon made history as the first out lesbian cast member on the show. She is one of three LGBTQ actors to ever be series regulars on the show. Terry Sweeney was out on the show and Danitra Vance was posthumously confirmed to be a lesbian.
Here are some of our recommendations for cast members that could help diversify the popular sketch comedy series.
Goldman co-starred with Mckinnon on The Big Gay Sketch Show. She does amazing impressions including Liza Minelli and Suze Orman, she sings, and tours the country doing stand up. She stars in a bunch of web series with her comedy partner Brandy Howard. She is currently starring on Bravo’s The People’s Couch.
Johnson has already been a cast member on Mad TV and had multiple stand up specials. A clip of her character, Bonquiqui, has received over 60 million hits on YouTube.
Nyima Funk is more than ready to be on SNL. She has performed on nearly every improv and sketch comedy show. Her credits include CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, NBC’s Thank God You’re Here, MTV’s Wild ‘N Out and Short Circuitz, and The George Lopez Show. Plus, she’s topical enough to get a video out at the start of this controversy.
Droege is one of the hardest working gay men in Hollywood. He has become a YouTube celebrity with his impersonation of Chloë Sevigny. He’s done sketch, improv, impersonations and starred in Hot In Cleveland, Key & Peele, How I Met Your Mother, Up All Night, and New Girl to name a few.
Shangela (D.J. Pierce)
Kenan Thompson may not want to do drag but comedian D. J. Pierce would be happy to. He made a name for himself as Shangela Laquifa Wadley. He was the first contestant to be brought back for a second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He has starred on Glee, Community, Terriers, Dance Moms, 2 Broke Girls, Detroit 187, and The Mentalist. He also stars in a hilarious web series with actress and singer, Jenifer Lewis.
Villaseñor recently appeared on America’s Got Talent where she showcased her musical impressions. Not only can she impersonate celebrities like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Zooey Deschanel, she can sing like them too. A reel of her impressions got over a million YouTube views.
Like Thompson, Iglesias also starred on All That with Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon. He was a contestant on Last Comic Standing. He even starred with Channing Tatum’s abs in Magic Mike.
These are just a few of the many comedians, impressionists and actors that could bring not only comedy but diversity to SNL. Who would you recommend?
Folk icon Bob Dylan is staying away from his gay daughter's upcoming wedding, according to her future mother-in-law. Desiree Dennis-Dylan, the singer-songwriter's daughter with former backing singer and ex-wife Carolyn Dennis, is set to marry her partner Kayla Sampson next year (14), but the rocker won't be there to walk her down the aisle.
Sampson's mother Jolene tells the New York Daily News, "Of course he's invited, but he's just not going to go. He didn't say that, but that's what we are assuming.
"It would be sad (if Dylan doesn't attend), but he is really supportive and happy for her."
Desiree's existence only came to light in 2001 after a biography by Howard Sounes revealed she had been born in 1986. Dennis later explained she and Dylan had decided to keep the birth a secret to give her a normal childhood.
Dylan and Dennis divorced in 1992.
Courtney Love has been slapped with a new defamation lawsuit from fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir, two years after settling their previous court action. The plaintiff, aka Dawn Younger-Smith, fell out with the rocker in 2009 after Love reportedly refused to pay for some custom clothing she had commissioned from Simorangkir.
Shortly afterwards, the designer took the star to court amid accusations the Hole frontwoman had ruined her business by posting a series of nasty messages about her on Twitter.com.
They reached a financial agreement in 2011, but Simorangkir claims the singer has continued to bad-mouth her and she is now suing over a radio chat Love had with shock jock Howard Stern in May (13), reports Entlawdigest.com.
In legal papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, a lawyer for Simorangkir writes, "When Stern questioned Love about Simorangkir's prior lawsuit, Love claimed that she 'learned her lesson.' Ironically, in the same breath, Love blatantly defamed Simorangkir by falsely accusing her of stealing from Love and claiming that this purported theft was captured on closed circuit television videos. Love even went as far as to falsely claim that Simorangkir had engaged in prostitution. Love's reckless comments and flippant attitude seemed to shock even Stern, who admonished Love for 'lashing out.' Significantly, Stern warned Love that 'You can't just blurt things out.'"
Simorangkir alleges Love has continued to take aim at her on social media website Pinterest.com, on which she has reportedly repeated her theft claims.
She is seeking punitive damages for defamation.
It's the latest lawsuit Love has had to deal with - she is currently also countersuing her former lawyer in a separate defamation battle.
Singer-turned-reality-TV judge Melanie Brown has opened up about her rough upbringing, revealing she contemplated suicide as a teenager. The former Spice Girls star, who is currently reviving her pop career while enjoying a run as a mentor on America's Got Talent, was bullied for her mixed-race heritage while growing up in Leeds, England.
Brown tells her fellow talent show judge, radio DJ Howard Stern, "Everybody has a rough teenage phase don't they? Whether you are a boy, girl, straight or gay... It's not even making fun. They didn't know what to call me. Black, white, Indian, whatever... It was a bit strange growing up in Leeds. I lived four hours out of London so they are not used to mixed relationships."
As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis has been ordered to stand trial amid allegations he tried to hire a hitman to kill his estranged wife. The heavy metal star was arrested in California in May (13) and charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Prosecutors claim Lambesis paid an undercover police officer $1,000 (£660) to kill his wife Meggan in April (13).
The rocker, who has pleaded not guilty to the crimes, returned to court on Monday (16Sep13), when the officer in question, Howard Bradley, testified to the accusations and alleged that the defendant had given him his wife's name, photo and address, along with the cash, to carry out the slaying.
The testimony, along with accounts from several other witnesses for the prosecution, was enough to prompt San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Kearney to order a trial. The rocker will be arraigned on 22 October (13), when a date will be set.
Lambesis remains free on $2 million (£1.3 million) bail, which he was granted on the condition that he wears a GPS monitoring bracelet and stays away from his wife and children.
His attorney has previously claimed the singer was on steroids at the time of the incident.
If convicted, the rocker faces up to nine years behind bars.
With few acting credits to her name, and most of them supporting parts, Jennifer Hudson might not be your first candidate to handle a character whose story is so rich, substantial, and famously important as that of Winnie Mandela. The Mandelas have earned no shortage of cinematic attention — later this year, Idris Elba will headline his own Nelson Mandela biopic (a project that is earning a crescendo of attention). But the daunting task of portraying the indisputably iconic figure is not one that falls beyond Hudson's reach. In Winnie Mandela, a biographical film by South African director Darrell Roodt, Hudson is the qualitative stand-out.
Jumping sharply from one major point in Winnie's life to another, the script seems more focused on paying tribute to the booming beats of the woman's history than it is to delivering a fluid, cohesive story. With figures like Winnie and her husband Nelson (played in this production by Terrence Howard), it seems like an understandably frantic task to pack every influential bit into the 107-minute runtime, for fear of disrespecting their legacy. However, when the Mandelas begin to feel less like dimensional characters and more like textbook entries, the endeavor actually does a disservice to their humanistic plight. But luckily, the film never falls too far in this regard, thanks largely to the wonders worked by Hudson.
Again, you might not expect someone known best as a professional singer to be able to handle the meat of Winnie Mandela. But she manages both a vigilant strength and a pervasive compassion, laying claim to every scene all the while operating in a vat of deft chemistry with Howard. As the years pass for Winnie, Hudson too grows, handling the evolution of the character with impressive tact. The Winnie we see in the later chapters is a different woman, sure, but one firmly planted in the Winnie we meet at the start of the film — one brought to fight neighborhood boys and adhere eyes to her school books every waking minute.
While writer/director Roodt does not inject his feature with the sort of color and vivacity that a story about the Mandelas does indubitably warrant, we're rarely disengaged entirely, and that we owe to Hudson. Roodt might not have quite found the spirit of Winnie Mandela in his film, but Hudson found it in her performance.
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