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Joel and Ethan Coen discuss 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' long-time collaborations and the allure of New York
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the Joel and Ethan Coen's 16th feature to date. Starring Oscar Isaac as a shade of New York folk singer Dave Van Ronk, it tells the story of the scene that Bob Dylan came into, the calm before a storm. It's a love letter to music of the era, making for a potent collaboration — their fourth — with music maestro T Bone Burnett.
The filmmaker siblings are notoriously difficult interviews, though in most of my experiences with them it's been pleasant. You just can't drop the usual mundane queries and expect excitement. But when you key on to something they really want to discuss, usually something that has nothing to do with the film at hand, they light up. They don't suffer too much heady consideration about their work and remain pragmatic, almost refreshingly so, in the face of such things. Nevertheless, they collectively make for one of the most vital voices in all of American art.
I recently sat down with the duo to discuss, among other things, long-standing collaborations, the allure of stardom and the romance of New York City. Read our back and forth below.
As I wrote last week, the Palm Springs Film Festival makes a habit of giving their annual Desert Palm Achievement Awards to surefire Best Actor and Actress Oscar nominees, and they've almost certainly maintained that record this year. Matthew McConaughey was recent named the first recipient; now he's joined by "Gravity" star Sandra Bullock -- "the epitome of cinematic talent and versatility," in the words of fest chairman Harold Matzner. (I bow to no one in my love for Bullock, but... the epitome?) The actress, currently Cate Blanchett's chief challenger in the Best Actress race, will be presented with the honor at the festival's awards gala on January 4. [PSIFF]
Let's be frank: "Little Shop Of Horrors" is the best thing to ever happen to the Disney company, and they had absolutely nothing to do with it on stage or on film.
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's stage production was a grimy, crazy, bloody little rock musical that featured the end of the world, a sadistic abusive dentist, murder, and a man-eating plant, and it was a huge off-Broadway hit. During the five years it ran, Disney went through the roughest years for their animation division ever. "The Fox and the Hound" opened the decade with a swing and a miss, and in 1985, "The Black Cauldron" came very close to closing the doors for good.
No matter what small charms they possessed, both "The Great Mouse Detective" and "Oliver & Company" represent a company that is floundering, unsure what to do or how to do it. There were some amazingly talented people working on those films, both holdovers from the actual era of Walt Disney himself and young artists who would later reshape the industry, but they weren't making movies that really showcased all that talent. They were making films that felt like they were on auto-pilot, playing to a model that no longer worked.
It was hard to avoid mention of the Bat-kid online this weekend, and for good reason. It was an enormously sweet story with some amazing images available, a pretty great combination.
Earlier today, I sat down with Christian Bale to talk about his work in the new film "Out Of The Furnace," and it was pretty obvious from the moment I walked into the room that he was in a great mood. I know Bale has a reputation for being very intense, but I've always found him to be a thoughtful, articulate interview. You just have to walk in ready to have a real conversation. Today, though, there was that extra something, no doubt motivated in part by the pride he takes in his work in the film.
I had to ask him about Bat-kid, but not just about the boy. I mean, I think it's safe to say that no one's going to be coming out as strongly anti-Bat-kid in the press any time soon. My question was more about how it feels to be part of a legacy that can inspire people the way they were inspired by this story.
At the AFI Fest premiere of "Out of the Furnace" last weekend, director Scott Cooper pardoned the absence of Christian Bale by quipping, "He's parting the Red Sea as Moses in the Canary Islands, but he really wanted to be here." Indeed, Bale has been hard at work filming Ridley Scott's "Exodus" these last few weeks, and the actor told HitFix in a recent interview that audiences can expect a far cry from what Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille delivered 60 years ago.
A review of tonight's "Masters of Sex" coming up just as soon as I expect you to act like a seismometer...
A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I have enough ammuniition to kill you every day for the next three years...
A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I win the Beach Patrol Cup...
A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I bring you breakfast in bed...
As awards season trudges forward, the two weeks surrounding AFI Fest have easily been more packed with fetes and soirees than ever before. And on Sunday afternoon, it was Universal and Focus holding events for Oscar hopefuls "Rush" and "Dallas Buyers Club" respectively.