31 posts tagged Carey Mulligan
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013)
Llewyn Davis’s life is made up of a series of near epiphanies. The scruffy folk singer (played by Drive's Oscar Isaac), and titular character of Joel and Ethan Coen's new film Inside Llewyn Davis, wears a constant state of dishevelment like a second skin, always seeming to be on the verge of a breakthrough, yet managing to elude it due to a benign fear of rejection that is all too familiar to any artist. The Coens paint a portrait of the artist as a young and misanthropic fellow, but they also look upon him with genuine affection, a warmth that isn’t lost to audiences despite the film being set against the backdrop of a harsh New York winter. The duo behind No Country for Old Men and Fargo sing an ode to the working musician, molding Llewyn with a craft and care akin to Catch-22's seemingly hopeless and hapless Yossarian. Featuring the eccentric caricatures that usually appear in most of the Coens' films, Inside Llewyn Davis is a smart, thoughtful and entertaining character study of an ordinary but talented man stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of mistakes and missed connections. It is easily one of the best films of the year thanks to a brilliant screenplay, fantastic performances and a killer soundtrack.
The magic in any Coen film lies in the fact that their protagonists - while painfully ordinary, bumbling buffoons who get into ridiculous situations - are just so darn likable. They aren’t your typical heroes (or even antiheroes); they have none of that effortless charm or grace that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in film. Yet there’s an endearing quality to these characters that is unmistakable. This is certainly the case for Llewyn, the epitome of the working musician, and played pitch perfectly by the multitalented Oscar Isaac. You can tell that Llewyn loves performing; there’s an obvious, fiery passion that can be seen with every strum of his guitar and every soulful tune out of his lips. But he doesn’t like being asked to do things at a drop of a hat. He has a disdain for the business side of music that prevents him from ever really getting anywhere with his talent. He never settles in any one place, shuffling in and out of his friends’ apartments like he’s playing a game of musical chairs. The traveling musician knows this nomadic lifestyle all too well. It’s a restlessness whose sole remedy is performing. And Llewyn performs as much as he can, although not necessarily to anyone willing to pay heed because he is also slow to trust (having been on the receiving end of some big disappointments).
THE GREAT GATSBY (2013)
Everything about Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic screams excess. And why not? After all, isn’t the man, the myth, the legend - Jay Gatsby - the epitome of too much? Wasn’t Fitzgerald’s novel both a celebration and condemnation of the decadence of the Roaring 20s? At a certain point, however, past the eye-popping colors, digitized lights of New York City, the 3D, and the ridiculously affected acting, things started to get nauseating. Watching The Great Gatsby was the cinematic equivalent of gorging on too many red velvet cupcakes and throwing them up all over the screen. Perhaps that was the point - to emulate Fitzgerald’s own impatience at such frivolity. But Luhrmann’s adaptation was borderline gluttonous in its attempt to throw everything and the kitchen sink into this glitzy, over-the-top production. While this style certainly worked for him in the past, with Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge, in Gatsby the result was garish, tasteless and virtually unwatchable, possibly because the va-va-voom visuals weren’t balanced by well-established characters and story. Everything in the film was an assault on the senses, leaving no room for the nuanced satire that made Fitzgerald’s novel timeless.
It was obvious that painstaking effort went into building the sets, costumes and overall design aesthetic of the film. In fact, as far as authenticity goes, the film’s production designers certainly accomplished quite a feat with their attention to detail. However, it was nearly impossible to appreciate all the little things that went into constructing such a cornucopia of design because the camera kept frantically jumping about and zooming around, as if its operator was in some kind of drug-induced stupor. I understand that the intention of this sort of frenzied movement was to have audiences relate to the dizzying rush that our fish-out-of-water narrator Nick Carraway felt being thrown into the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous, but the effect was more irksome than expressionist. The camera never lingered long enough for the audience to appreciate how much work went into staging the elaborate drama, and when it did pause (ever so briefly), all that was left to notice was reduced to computer-generated imagery. The film should have made viewers ache to be at a party like Gatsby’s, but due to the frenetic camera work and the barrage of feathers, flowers and various other froufrou, I couldn’t help but find all of it rather tiresome.
Check out the brand new trailer for INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, the newest effort from the Coen brothers, which follows a folk musician as he connects with people from his past while also trying to break into the music scene. Oscar Isaac plays the titular character and he reunites with Drive co-star Carey Mulligan. Also rounding out the cast, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake and Girls' Adam Driver.