INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
2013, CBS Films, 105 min, USA, Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Just before the early-1960s folk boom turned them into magnets for aspiring singers, the clubs and coffeehouses of Greenwich Village were peopled by the likes of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling troubadour whose traditional repertoire puts him on the margins of the music business along with a handful of other earnest and occasionally eccentric characters. The Coen brothers’ INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS brings the birth of folk into focus as effectively as their O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? did bluegrass. That earlier film’s musical midwife, T Bone Burnett, handles similar duties here as an Executive Music Producer, and stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake all do their own singing on screen. The film was the Grand Prix award winner at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.


BRINGING OUT THE DEAD
1999, Paramount, 121 min, USA, Dir: Martin Scorsese

TAXI DRIVER director Martin Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader return to the gritty streets of Manhattan - in an ambulance. This time Nicolas Cage (in one of his best performances) takes the wheel as burnt-out paramedic Frank Pierce, bedeviled by a heroin epidemic that’s gripped the city and haunted by the patients he couldn’t save. His partners on the graveyard shift deal with the chaos of the job in varying ways: Ving Rhames appeals to God, while the brutal Tom Sizemore puts his trust in a baseball bat. An underrated meditation on how tenuous the ties to life and to sanity can become.


O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
2000, Buena Vista Pictures, 106 min, USA, Dir: Joel Cohen

Taking much of its inspiration from Homer’s The Odyssey, this Coen brothers comedy stars George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as escaped convicts in Depression-era Mississippi. On a wild goose chase for loot from a previous crime, the trio encounter bluesmen, bank robbers, Bible thumpers and politicos, and become unlikely hitmakers as the “Soggy Bottom Boys” (in real life, the film’s bluegrass-filled soundtrack topped charts and won three Grammys). Costarring John Goodman. The title is taken from the social-realist film-within-a-film Joel McCrea's character wants to make in Preston Sturges' SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS!


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