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10th Anniversary TLDR: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Please don't shoot me into outer space.
Plot: In Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, gifted but volatile folk musician Llewyn Davis struggles with money, relationships, and his uncertain future.
Direction & Screenplay: The Coens just operated on a different level from everyone else and this was the fifth in a five-film run that is undeniable: No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, True Grit, and Inside Llewyn Davis. Everyone knows what they can do and the kind of highs that they can reach. I would put this up there with the No Countrys and Fargos of the world. Some may grieve the end of their partnership, but perhaps we should be grateful for what we have. This is one of their masterpieces.
Performances: Oscar Isaac can do everything. From his Shakespearean turns like Romeo in Shakespeare in the Park and a four-hour most-text Hamlet not long after his mother died, to big-budgets tentpoles like his fan favorite Poe Dameron in the Disney Star Wars or his animated portrayal of Gomez Addams. However, this is the exact thing he does best. Thoughtful, charming, musical, musing, delicate, romantic. I could watch him play Llewyn for many more hours. I will listen to his Llewyn endlessly on the soundtrack. Throw in supporting performances from actors you-didn't-know-could-sing like the unstoppable Carey Mulligan or the always surprisingly funny Adam Driver, singers-you-didn't-know-could-act like Justin Timberlake, and an appearance from the one-man Coen Repertory Troupe John Goodman - and you've got one hell of a cast.
Cinematography: My only complaint about the movie, unfortunately. I understand that Bruno Delbonnel's 35mm photography is supposed to look period and warm in its blue and grays and browns. However, I think there are points where it just looks muddy. So much so that I pulled out my Criterion disc (yes, approved by Joel and Ethan) because I thought something was wrong. When I flipped it over to streaming, I realized that it must just be my personal taste. Period-looking? Sure. Exactly what they wanted? Probably. But I just think that some of the darker scenes, like the opening cafe sequence, just look murky.
Best moment: "Where's its scrotum, Llewyn?"
Fun fact: Per Ethan Coen on the Criterion extras, "The cat was a nightmare. The trainer warned us and she was right. She said, 'Dogs like to please you. The cat only likes to please itself.' A cat basically is impossible to train. We have a lot of footage of cats doing things we don't want them to do, if anyone's interested; I don't know if there's a market for that.
Imaginary accolade: Best Soundtrack of 2013 (with special recognition for "Five Hundred Miles," "Please Mr. Kennedy," and "Fare Thee Well.")
Everything is too long. Is it too long? Nope, even with a detour (no pun intended) sequence that plays like a short film right in the middle of this feature. If anything, I could take even more.
Rating: It's a beautiful four-part harmony.
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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