In the Words of Carey Mulligan: “SQUAAAK”

Smithereens

Smithereens
1982
Dir. Susan Seidelman

 

 

Llewyn

Inside Llewyn Davis
2013
Dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen

It’s unlikely Smithereens was on the Coen Brothers’ minds when they made Inside Llewyn Davis, but the base similarities are striking: an abrasive, irresponsible artist wanders New York City, living on the charity of other people while trying to wedge themselves into a spot in a crowded music scene. Yet the plot is so much more persuasive in Seidelman’s film. Maybe it’s because Susan Berman’s Wren is such an interestingly broken person, fun and exasperating, a keen robber and naïve ingénue, obsessively making herself an artistic statement and building a reputation on nothing. Oscar Isaac is magnetic as Llewyn, cool in ways most actors can’t even dream of being, but that’s kind of the problem. He’s not the boor that the Coens seem to believe he is. The film runs on informed characteristics: it surrounds Llewyn with embarrassingly shrill female characters to screech and flap at him and it rejects him after performances that would move the dead. The door was locked from the start, so why blame the guy for smashing a few windows?

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