By Sharon Abella | SydneysBuzz October 1, 2013 at 11:30AM
As per Joel Coen, “Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac), is a made
up character, with REAL music from the time period.” Step into the smoky “Gaslight Cafe” in 1961 where Llewyn is up on stage with a spotlight on him singing, “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.”
“The Gaslight Cafe” was an American coffee house located in the basement of 116 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. The Gaslight (alternatively known as “The Village Gaslight”) opened in 1958 and was a well known venue for folk music and other musical acts, until it closed in 1971.
When Llewyn finishes his set, he is told that there is a man wearing a dark suit in the back alley who wishes to meet him. As he approaches him, he gets beat up.
Poor Llewyn, he’s down on his luck, and, in my opinion, born a little too early. Perhaps if he had been playing his songs in the late ’60′s, he would probably have been better received, but because it is 1961, most of the other acts, like “Jim and Jean,” still have a VERY clean cut look, personality and sound.
Broke, couch-surfing, locked out of the apartment with his friend’s cat, trying to get singing gigs, a manager who doesn’t help him, an ex-girlfriend who wants nothing to do with him, Llewyn is looking for a break.
Funniest scene: Adam Driver’s singing role as Al Cody in “Please Mr. Kennedy.”
1. Hang Me, Oh Hang Me – Oscar Isaac
(Traditional; Arranged by Oscar Isaac & T Bone Burnett) 3:26
2. Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) – Oscar Isaac & Marcus Mumford (Traditional; Arranged by Marcus Mumford, Oscar Isaac, T Bone Burnett) 3:01
3. The Last Thing on My Mind – Stark Sands with Punch Brothers (Tom Paxton) 3:35
4. Five Hundred Miles – Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, Stark Sands (Hedy West) 3:27
5. Please Mr. Kennedy – Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver (Ed Rush, George Cromarty, T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen) 1:59
6. Green, Green Rocky Road – Oscar Isaac (Len Chandler & Robert Kaufman) 3:18
7. The Death of Queen Jane – Oscar Isaac (Music by Dáithí Sproule; Lyrics: Traditional) 3:58
8. The Roving Gambler – The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen (Traditional; Arranged and Adapted by The Down Hill Strugglers) 3:05
9. The Shoals of Herring – Oscar Isaac with Punch Brothers (Ewan MacColl)
Q: Why do you make movies about failures?
A: Joel Coen: “Because all the success stories have all been done.”
A: T-Bone Burnett: “Even if the scene or moment is supposed to be bad, the music has to be great.”
Q: How did you want it to look?
A: We actually shot more in the East Village than the West Village. Some streets in the East Village aren’t as built up as the modern day MacDougal Street. We wanted something to feel more like it would have in 1961. We did shoot a little in the West Village; Village Cigars, Thompson Street, Jones Street, and MacDougal.
A: Our first thought for the film was to shoot in black and white on 16mm, but that idea fell by the wayside when we started designing shots.
Q: If you had to describe the Coen Brothers and then Llewyn Davis in one word, what would they be?
A: It is very hard to say one word about the Coen Brothers…..
I would have to use two words about these two men who are iconic.
The Coen brothers are “Authentic Geniuses.”
The character of Llewyn Davis, is “resolute.”
The New York Film Festival (Sept. 27-Oct.13) is going on now. Los Angeles' own Rose Kuo (formerly director of the AFI FIlm Festival) has notched it up this year as our local newspaper L.A. Times has pointed out to us in perhaps a somewhat condescending way. NYFF was never a "quaint afterthought", but it was not what the Lincoln Center Film Society offered the trade with new offerings of films you can see in its spring festival New Directors/ New Directions. But this year, it is on the trade's map of top fall film festivals for the first time since 1984 when Blood Simple of the Coen Brothers made the trade realize its great value. Covering for SydneysBuzz in New York is Sharon Abella, an occasional writer for SydneysBuzz. Editor-in-chief of One World Cinema ,an internationally-minded website about film, music and travel, Sharon Abella holds multiple degrees in the sciences, and she makes the point that this site would not be possible without the help of God, family, friends, and her life partner, Jon Kilik. We are happy to be able to post her articles on SydneysBuzz.