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Friday, January 10, 2014

A Vega Notion on "Llewyn Davis"--And My Own

Here's a new NYT post with Suzanne Vega's critique of "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Now: I am not a Coen Brothers fan at all.  And I was not crazy about "Inside Llewyn Davis," which was shot in my old Village neighborhood and covered an era I followed quite closely, from afar, at the time (unlike most who have written about the film).

Still, I found the movie much better than most of the other schlock out there (including some of the overrated "best picture" candidates), so I've been in the position of criticizing its strongest defenders and defending it from its worst critics.  Sheesh, from the start the Coens made clear that Llewyn IS NOT DAVE VAN RONK, they merely took some elements of Dave's life and song choices.  So drop that angle, already.

Also, after seeing "Her" today--it's amusing to see fans of that movie knocking the "dull, mopey" characters in "Llewyn Davis."  Just saying. 

Still, the film falls flat and one of its biggest flubs is that (mild spoiler alert) it closes with Bob Dylan in the shadows singing a song.  That's a great idea (though used before, decades ago, in "The Wanderers") but only if they showed him singing one of his groundbreaking original early compositions, such as "Hard Rain."  Then the point could have been made that the era of young singers merely recycling classic old folk tunes, in small clubs or at hootenannys, was over.  They'd have to write their own fresh-sounding songs if they really wanted to break through.  Many, besides Dylan, did--from Eric Anderson to Tim Hardin and back.  And this would have put Llewyn and his career arc in proper context.

But instead the Coens have Bob singing his very traditional (based on a very old tune) "Farewell."  In fact, it includes the same "fare thee well" line we hear in the traditional "Fare Thee Well" that we hear several times in the film.   You could say that it is a Dylan "original" but it's very old stuff.  I didn't know until now that he actually wrote it.   So what's the point of using that in the film instead of, say, "Hard Rain" or even "Blowin' in the Wind"?

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