Sunday, 2 February 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis and Fuck You Movies

The other night, Richee and I sat down to a comedy DVD from Reginald D. Hunter called In The Midst of Crackers. Towards the end of his set, he discribes film that British people make and enjoy called "Fuck You Movies".  Basically, a Fuck You Movie is a film that doesn't have a happy ending. In all truth, its the kind of ending that leaves you maybe feeling worse than before you saw it, but at least full of questions. These are anti-Hollywood movies. (The film that he says typifies this, Bus 44, is on YouTube here.)

The Coen Brothers new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, is a Fuck You Movie. Set in the early '60's Greenwich Village folk music scene, the film follows the tribulations of Lewyn Davis (Oscar Issac), a soulfull but at the same time destestable musician who refuses all the chances given to him to become a success. To him, success by doing what other people want him to do, being a 'careerist', would ruin the romantic folk fantasy that he has built up and would be inauthentic.

Llewyn Davis typifies the dangerous thought patterns that can ruin a creative persons life. The artistic life that romanticises poverty as a source of inspiration (see Arthur Rimbaud and Thomas Chatterton) becomes desperate when you've no winter coat and you're out-staying your welcome on someone elses couch. Davis is unwilling to play a song, to be a performing monkey as he calls it, to a group of people that love his music, but is more than happy to annoy people that hate him with his melodies. When he realises that he is at the point of no return, all his mistakes are catching up on him, he will continue to make those mistakes blindly.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a Fuck You Movie because, despite his clear talent as a singer and guitar player, he never gets the praise he deserves. It's even more of a kick in the teeth when you see a young Bob Dylan walk on the stage and plays (an unreleased studio version of) "Farewell", you know that Llewyn Davis is destined to become a foot note to a man who dominated and redifined the folk music scene.

It is tempting as an artist to think that you will be the successful one that never had to compromise. This is a good movie to ground you down and put things in perspective.

Listen to mine and Richee's podcast review of Inside Llewyn Davis in the player below or subscribe through iTunes.


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