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When Joel and Ethan Coen were assembling their new film Inside Llewyn Davis, they realized the film posed a unique challenge: their script featured a lead character who needed to be able to play and sing just as well as he had to act, and there are other side characters who need to be able to play and sing as well. The brothers lucked out with Oscar Isaac, who turned out to be a more than competent musician in addition to being an actor of no small skill.

Three new featurettes talk about the creation of the film specifically with respect to the music — one features music producer T-Bone Burnett discussing the creation of the song ‘Please Mr. Kennedy,’ which features Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Adam Driver. One focuses on finding Isaac and working with him, and is backed by a lot of early rehearsal footage. The last is about finding some of the supporting cast, including Timberlake and Carey Mulligan. Read More »

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We’re back to the question of what the Joel and Ethan Coen will do to follow the stellar Inside Llewyn Davis. We’ve recently heard that there could be scripts that take place in the world of opera, and possibly in ancient Rome. The latter led people to think of a script called Hail Caesar that had been talked up many years ago, meant to star George Clooney. The actor called it a capper to their loose “idiot trilogy,” the first two films being O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty.

Turns out that Hail Caesar script is still in play, and could even be next. But it isn’t the Roman movie — or it might not be, anyway. The Coens talk, below.  Read More »

The Coen Brothers

Inside Llewyn Davis opens in limited release tomorrow, and with a new Coen Brothers film on screens, there are two great pleasures to take up our time. One — the primary one, obviously — is discussing the movie itself, and there is no shortage of topics with respect to Inside Llewyn Davis. The other is more minor, but still entertaining: sifting through comments from the directors to get a sense of what new horizon they’ve fixated upon.

One option, floated some time ago, is a film set in or around the world of opera singer, and another new one is set in perhaps the most unlikely Coen territory: ancient Rome. Read More »

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The Coen Brothers‘ new film is Inside Llewyn Davis, and this one is particularly special. It’s a beautiful, bleak picture. One of the characteristics of the movie is a silky, strangely luminous color palette that relies on subdued silvery grey and faded browns. It’s nearly black and white.

That led me back to the brothers’ 2001 film, The Man Who Wasn’t There. Released in black and white, the film was shot in color — with a palette not dissimilar from that of Inside Llewyn Davis — and then graded to B&W in post-production.

A color version of the movie was also finished for contractual reasons, and released on DVD in markets such as France and South Korea. Though the movie wasn’t really intended to be seen in color (most of the making-of shots you’ll see are even B&W) it’s still an interesting way to see the film. Below, see a long color clip from that version, and watch an interview with the Coens talking about its creation. Read More »

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen BrothersInside Llewyn Davis has earned strong buzz from the get-go, picking up the Grand Jury Prize shortly after its Cannes debut and earning Best Feature at the Gotham Independent Film Awards this past weekend. Now, after months of hype and even more months of marketing, it’s finally about to arrive in theaters.

Oscar Isaac leads the drama as Llewyn, a singer trying to make his way around the folk scene in the early ’60s. He’s not having an easy go of it: his solo career isn’t taking off, his best friend’s girlfriend is pissed at him, and he doesn’t even have a proper coat to keep him warm through the winter. But his misfortune is our good luck, as his many trials make for a pretty great film. Watch the newest U.K. trailer after the jump.

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Hopefully you’ve got 90 minutes of free time in the next couple days, and assuming that you do, bookmark this long talk about the emotional effect of music when paired with image.

“Art Of The Score” was put together by the World Science Festival and the New York Philharmonic, and is hosted by Alec Baldwin. He’s joined by Ethan and Joel Coen, their frequent collaborator Carter Burwell, and neuroscientist Aniruddh Patel. The topic in general is music and film scores, and the ways in which they create an emotional response in the audience.

The talk begins with the example of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the fact that Alex North’s original score was shelved in favor of music that Kubrick had used as the temp track, including the well-known Richard Strauss composition ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra.’ But it goes a good bit deeper than that over the course of the hour-plus talk, from the neurological response to music, to the ways that musical influences can shape the direction or gestation of a film, and the ideas behind choosing music that conflicts with the image or scene, rather than directly complimenting it. Watch below. Read More »

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake

All movies have soundtracks. Some of them have really good soundtracks. Very few of them have soundtracks so exceptional, they’re able to inspire a concert and a subsequent documentary of their own. But leave it to the Coen Brothers to be that exception.

Their latest film Inside Llewyn Davis centers on a musician (Oscar Isaac) struggling to make it on the folk scene in ’60s New York. To complement that premise, T Bone Burnett has produced a killer soundtrack filled with performances by Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers, and more.

All of them plus a few more famous friends (including Joan Baez, Colin Meloy, Patti Smith, and Jack White) got together for a benefit show in New York City this fall, and Showtime is now releasing that one-night-only concert as a documentary. After the jump, check out a trailer for the network’s Another Day, Another Time, plus another new clip from the movie itself.

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Stream the ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Soundtrack

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T Bone Burnett has worked with Joel and Ethan Coen on the musical component to the brothers’ films a few times, starting as a “musical archivist” for The Big Lebowski, and most notably acting as producer for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. That album became a hit in its own right, and there’s reason to expect that Burnett’s contribution to the Coens’ new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, will find a similarly warm reception.

The film is out on December 6, but you can listen to the soundtrack now. I’d understand wanting to wait to hear the music until the film opens, especially for the songs performed by star Oscar Isaac, but in reality the record stands on its own. There’s a mix of folk songs and traditional tunes here, and it’s a lovely set of tunes.  Read More »

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