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The Coen brothers have been very open about the various influences behind their new film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Most prominent, the film’s titular character is inspired by legendary folk-musician Dave Van Ronk. The Coens mined Van Ronk’s memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, for details, but — despite some minor similarities (his album cover for Inside Dave Van Ronk is identical to Llewyn’s, and inspired the film’s name) — Van Ronk’s personality and career were very different from those of Llewyn. To find out what else in the Coen brothers’ world rang true or false, we consulted two people who lived through the real thing — Terri Thal, Van Ronk's first wife, and Sylvia Topp, wife of Tuli Kupferberg, author, poet. and lead singer of political-rock band the Fugs.Both women lived in Greenwich Village during the time the film’s events take place, and both were deeply »
- Katie Calautti
For a film titled Inside Llewyn Davis, it's remarkable the degree to which viewers do not get inside the title character, played brilliantly by Oscar Isaac. Of course the title is borrowed from Dave Von Ronk's 1963 album, "Inside Dave Van Ronk," and the Coens have said the story is based partially on Van Ronk's memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street. The film only covers a few winter days in the life of the young folk singer who is struggling to find his footing in the 1961 Greenwich Village folk scene, but it quickly becomes all too apparent that Davis is a man that is going nowhere fast and his own choices are probably to blame. Of course, who's to say that going anywhere has any meaning? And it's clear that Davis doesn't place much value on the traditional trappings of commercial success. In fact, it's hard to know exactly what motivates Davis. »
- Linc Leifeste
It's been 13 years since Joel and Ethan Coen gave us the bluegrass energy of O Brother, Where Art Thouc and now they've jumped forward 30 years to 1961 and the folk music scene of Greenwich Village with Inside Llewyn Davis, a film so perfect it appears almost effortless. Opening in the Gaslight Cafe, the film's title character croons on stage under the soft glow of the spotlight, capturing the attention of the audience to the point one man's cigarette is only a bent stick of ashes, defying gravity as he looks on without moving. As an audience member, this scene, captured beautifully by director of photography Bruno Delbonnel, immediately places you in the time and place. Over the next 105 minutes we'll follow Lleywn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he moves from couch to couch, looking for a place to escape the cold New York winter as he hopes to fulfill his dream to »
- Brad Brevet
A version of this story first ran in OscarWrap: Actors Issue. “I always joked with my parents,” said Oscar Isaac with a grin. “I told them, ‘If I don’t make it as an actor, my fallback is musician.’” Those dual career paths may not have reassured his parents, but Isaac has somehow made them work — and he’s merged them in his quiet performance as the titular folk singer in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The black comedy — or maybe it’s a twisted drama — was inspired by the life of folk singer Dave Van Ronk, and stars Isaac as. »
- Steve Pond
This week on At the Movies, Peter Travers highlights Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers' love letter to 1960s Greenwich Village and one of our fearless critic's top picks for 2013. The film follows a down-on-his-luck folk singer (Oscar Isaac) navigating the New York City coffeehouse scene in 1961. But unlike Dave Van Ronk or Bob Dylan,Davis' story is not one of success. "Anybody can make a movie about a winner," the Coens recently told Travers. "Why not make one about a loser?"
See What's Real in Inside Llewyn Davis
Despite his immense talents, »
“Art is not a mirror to reflect the world,” said Bertolt Brecht. And angst may be in the eye of the beholder. Still, this season’s best picture contenders seem to be serving up equal parts entertainment and very modern anxiety, whether the films are set in the near future, the distant past or the perilous present.
Cynics on both the left and right of the political spectrum might agree that the film with the finger planted on the pulse of contemporary unease is “Catching Fire,” the “Hunger Games” sequel featuring an oppressed 99.9%, a ruling class that follows no rules, and an “entertainment” industry gone berserk.
This year, the deck seems to be stacked against the kind of rosy resolutions that used to be Hollywood’s stock in trade: “Her” examines how young people are increasingly alienated and cut off from each other; “Dallas Buyers Club” underscores how America isn »
- John Anderson
With Inside Llewyn Davis hitting theaters this week, the Coen brothers are working on a "musical comedy" set around an opera. It's one of two projects that Joel and Ethan Coen are in the middle of, they told Vulture. When asked if they would ever consider making a musical, Joel Coen said Llewyn Davis is "as close to a full-blown musical as we would make." Ethan Coen added, "One of the two things we're writing now, it's not a musical per se . . . " Joel said, " . . . But it has what might be considered more traditional numbers. »
The Coen Brothers set a new standard in the music film which is no surprise to anyone. They have a way of making oddball masterpieces of each genre of film they’ve tackled and raising the bar, engaging the heart, soul and reason. A kind of magic. The semi-biographical Inside Llewyn Davis is set in the folk era 60’s in Greenwich Village, the same place where Bob Dylan made his mark along with Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary and changed the music landscape. Musician Dave Van Ronk, whose story is told in Inside Llewyn Davis, must have been an interesting guy, as a small case “star” whose circle included the biggest folk music stars of the day. Like »
- Anne Brodie
"When you read about the scene you see this mania for authenticity," says Joel Coen, describing what enticed him and his brother Ethan into making Inside Llewyn Davis, a film about folksingers in Greenwich Village just before Bob Dylan touched down and took off. But Coen isn't really praising the folksingers' authenticity – it's their mania that fascinates him. In the very next sentence he goes on: "You have these guys like Elliott Adnopoz, the son of a neurosurgeon from Queens, calling himself Ramblin' Jack Elliott. In the film we have »
Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, stars Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan alongside Oscar Isaac, who plays the title character's down-on-his-luck folk singer. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday. Loosely based on the nearly forgotten folk-singer Dave Van Ronk (and inspired by his posthumous memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street), the film follows Davis for a week as he couch-surfs around Greenwich Village in 1961, just before Bob Dylan arrives to change the folk game. (Ethan Coen told Rolling Stone the »
"That's a folk song," says Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) in the opening scene of Joel and Ethan Coen's aptly titled "Inside Llewyn Davis," after playing a tender melody for the cozy room at New York's Gaslight Café circa 1961. One could usually make a similar pronouncement about the Coen brothers' usually eccentric works -- yep, that's a Coen movie, folks -- but this one's a different story. Light on plot, heavy on melody and feeling, "Inside Llewyn Davis" takes some inspiration from the career of folk singer Dave Van Ronk, but avoids the trappings of a biopic or making broad pronouncements about the era. Instead, the nomadic Llewyn's fleeting misadventures, which find him drifting from one couch to the next while struggling to justify his career, lead to a delicate, restrained portrait that results in a different kind of movie than anything else the sibling directors have made before. Littered »
- Eric Kohn
The Coen brothers masterfully return this year with Inside Llewyn Davis, one of the finest films of their long and illustrious career.
The two brothers already have a slew of credits to their name, any one of which you could proudly claim to be your all-time favourite film. And now comes their latest masterpiece, which is sure to appear on many a person’s (and many a critic’s) favourite films of the year come the end of next month.
After picking up three nominations in the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards this week, including Best Feature, Best Male Lead for Oscar Isaac, and Best Cinematography for Bruno Delbonnel, StudioCanal has released a new UK trailer over on Huffington Post, set to Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford’s Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song), along with a handful of images.
Inside Llewyn Davis follows a week in the life of a young »
- Kenji Lloyd
The Coen brothers’ latest film follows Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a folk singer based loosely on singer Dave Van Ronk and his memoirs. “They definitely took it down a Coen road,” says casting director Ellen Chenoweth, who’s worked with the Coen brothers since “O Brother, Where Art Thou?.” Chenoweth says she had known for a while the brothers were planning to do a movie about the 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene and was excited to work on it. The working relationship was easy, but casting the film was challenging, because unlike with many high-profile films, she started the process from scratch. “We didn’t have anyone set, and the main character is a musician and a singer and obviously has to be a strong actor too because he’s virtually in every part of the movie,” Chenoweth says. “We didn’t want to fake it with the music. »
Beverly Hills, Calif. — "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the Joel and Ethan Coen's 16th feature to date. Starring Oscar Isaac as a shade of New York folk singer Dave Van Ronk, it tells the story of the scene that Bob Dylan came into, the calm before a storm. It's a love letter to music of the era, making for a potent collaboration — their fourth — with music maestro T Bone Burnett. The filmmaker siblings are notoriously difficult interviews, though in most of my experiences with them it's been pleasant. You just can't drop the usual mundane queries and expect excitement. »
- Kristopher Tapley
One of the films that we missed at this year’s London Film Festival was the Coen brothers critically applauded Insdie Llewyn Davis, and we’re kicking ourselves because of it. It won’t be long until we can view the film in all of its glory, as it heads to UK cinemas on the 24th January next year with Us audiences can see it as of the 6th December, albeit in a limited capacity (it expands across the country a couple of weeks later).
To get you in the mood for some more Coen genius, here’s a link to the soundtrack for the film in its entirety! The album is online over at NPR, so click the link to go listen.
Here’s the full track listing.
2. “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” (Traditional; Arranged »
- Paul Heath
Ahead of its theatrical release next month and the soundtrack coming out next week, NPR is now streaming the full soundtrack for the Coen brothers' 60's-set folk music flick "Inside Llewyn Davis." Produced by T Bone Burnett, it features almost a dozen original songs performed by the film's cast, which is led by Oscar Isaac as the titular character, a down-on-his-luck musician struggling to make it in the quickly evolving Greenwich Village music scene of the early 1960's. Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, and Stark Sands show up on the album to sing new material, alongside an eclectic array of tracks from classic musicians like Bob Dylan, Nancy Blake and Dave Van Ronk. The soundtrack to "Inside Llewyn Davis" is released on November 11, and the film hits theaters on December 6. »
- Clint Holloway
For their picaresque adventure in the folk scene of early 1960s Greenwich Village, the Coen brothers once more call upon the midas touch of producer T-Bone Burnett. His soundtrack delivers a faithful sample of Bleecker Street's earnest, antique folkery, ably sung by actor Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford and others, yet the flame that illuminated the bluegrass of the Coens' O Brother is fitful. Tom Paxton's Last Thing on My Mind is too well worn, the likes of The Roving Gambler too dull. Contemporary numbers from Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk show what's missing – a speck of grit.
Folk musicJustin TimberlakeBob DylanCoen brothersMumford & SonsNeil Spencer
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- Neil Spencer
Oscar Isaac, who plays the eponymous troubador in the Coen brother’s upcoming “Inside Llewyn Davis,” was on the set of a little indie on Long Island a couple of years back when a grip started passing a “cheapo” guitar around. One actor started playing it, in a style Isaac knew.“So I asked him,” Isaac said, “’Did you ever hear of Dave Van Ronk?’”Erik Frandsen didn’t just know Van Ronk -- the late guitarist, singer and merchant seaman who inspired the latest Coen film. They'd hung out, performed together, recorded together; when not acting, Frandsen continues to play the occasional boite in a Village that’s been gentrified out of any resemblance to the place the movie recreates in all its seedy urban glory.“Dave recorded some of my stuff, and I played with him off and on since the ‘60s,” Frandsen said of the so-called “Mayor of Macdougal Street. »
- John Anderson
- Sasha Stone
“The Great Folk Scare” is how the late singer-songwriter Dave Van Ronk jokingly referred to the 1960s American folk music revival. But there was nothing to fear Sept. 29 at Manhattan’s Town Hall, where a who’s-who of folkies past and present gathered to celebrate the sounds of the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Entitled “Another Day, Another Time” (after a lyric from Bob Dylan’s “Farewell”), the all-acoustic three-hour concert was organized by the Coens and their longtime music supervisor, Grammy-winner T Bone Burnett, as a benefit for the nonprofit National Recording Preservation Foundation, which preserves and archives historically significant audio recordings from America’s past.
The star-studded lineup, which ran the gamut from folk legends Joan Baez and Bob Neuwirth to rockers Patti Smith and Elvis Costello and latter-day folk/country acts like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, drew a suitably star-studded crowd including Glenn Close, Jesse Eisenberg, »
- Scott Foundas
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