Llewyn Davis (8/10)
a lot more to this film than meets the eye. This is the story of folk
music in Greenwich Village just before Bob Dylan arrived and helped
create folk rock that swept the country in the Ď60s with people like his
girlfriend, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell.
fictional, all of the characters are based on real people, mostly
esoteric people of the folk music scene of whom few have ever heard.
Written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, they derived a lot of whatís
in the movie from folk singer Dave Van Ronkís memoir, The Mayor of
MacDougal Street. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) isnít Van Ronk, but his
background is Van Ronkís, so thereís little difference between the two.
Some of the songs he sings are Van Ronkís.
while weíre on the subject of the music, Isaac sings all the songs
himself and the music was recorded live. There are no voice overs or lip
syncing to pre-recorded tracks. Even Carey Mulligan, Llewynís former
lover who hates him, sings in her own voice, and itís a nice voice, as
story takes place during a week in 1961, coinciding with the arrival of
Bob Dylan. The protagonist, Llewyn, is a down and out folk singer who
sleeps with friends who are willing to put him up, all the while singing
music at a little club. He literally doesnít have a dime, living off
whatever he makes singing, which isnít much.
isnít about people who became famous. Itís about the pure folk singers
who paved the way for what was to come. They were arrogant and
unsympathetic to the new people who realized that pure folk wouldnít
sell. They wrote and sang what they wanted, and if it wasnít popular,
then be damned, which, eventually, is what happened to them artistically
and career-wise. They looked down their nose at folk rock. This is a
testament to purism and financial folly.
certainly isnít the romantic tale told by John Phillips and his wife
Michelle of The Mamas and Papas in their hit song, Creeque Alley,
in 1967 of their struggles to become marketable, which included some
time in Greenwich Village in the early Ď60s (hard to believe but they
were a group for only a few years, 1965-68, when they fell apart due to
infidelity, drugs, and personal ambition).
Timberlake makes a short appearance as a character reminiscent of Van
Ronk-contemporary folk singer, Paul Clayton (a graduate of one of my
alma maters, the University of Virginia). Dylan ďborrowedĒ one of
Claytonís songs to write Donít Think Twice, Itís All Right,
resulting in a lawsuit that was settled when it was discovered that
Claytonís song itself was derived from another that was in the public
domain. Clayton committed suicide in 1967.
never seen Timberlake give a bad performance. Although what he does here
is nothing exceptional, itís a good, workmanlike effort.
really liked this movie, even though itís pretty depressing. The music
is good and the recreation of the era and the lifestyle is right on.