[Marxism] A comment on "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 26 12:14:08 MST 2013

On 12/26/13 1:59 PM, Sheldon Ranz wrote:
> Having just seen the movie, I have to disagree with Terri Thal's
> observations:
> "No one in the film seems to love music."  The Justin Timberlake character
> sure looked like he did, and Llewyn sings his songs with soul and
> eloquence.  He's also in a lot of pain because he just lost his partner,
> and he's now adjusting to being solo.

How do you know that he is in a lot of pain? That information is not 
conveyed. In fact the character never expresses much information at all. 
When he is told that he made Jean pregnant, he doesn't even arch an 
eyebrow. When he visits his ailing dad, there is no emotional 
connection. I guess since it is 1962, he is supposed to be some kind of 
existentialist anti-hero like Camus's Meursalt who can't remember what 
day his mom died.

> "Davis sometimes sleeps on their couch and has impregnated Jean, who is a
> bitchy woman."  No, she's not bitchy - she is rightfully angry at his
> irresponsible behavior.  Her line that she was saving women from having to
> deal with Llewyn was profoundly funny.

Oh please, everything that comes out of her mouth the entire film is 
profanity-laced invective. She is as much of a cartoon figure as Bruce 
Dern's wife in "Nebraska".

> "The owner of the Gaslight tells Davis he has "fucked" Jean. He says that's
> a standard part of how a woman gets hired. That's crap. No matter how much
> of a creep a club owner might have been, that was not part of the process
> anywhere."  No one else in  the film says it was part of the process - the
> Coen are just putting this scene in to show how creepy club management was
> in those days (and maybe still is).

Well, everybody in the film is some kind of creep. Just like in "A 
Serious Man". I don't think these guys could make a likable character if 
their life depended on it.

> "But Davis and this respectable doctor sit and talk pleasantly about two
> women's abortions." Say what?  There was nothing pleasant sounding about
> that conversation.  Both were skittish about even mentioning the word
> 'abortion' and Llewyn was certainly not pleasant when he found out he had a
> child.

Maybe a woman has a different reaction to the exchange than you do.

> "The man mutters, "Shachtmanite." That's a political reference that almost
> no one in the world will get -- " This part of the movie the Coens screwed
> up because the muttering was so quiet that almost nobody could hear clearly
> what was being said.  I only managed to pick up on because I read the
> reviews prior to seeing it.

 From the Salon write up, I expected some politics. All these people, 
from Dylan to Van Ronk, were harbingers of the new radicalization. The 
Coens don't have the foggiest idea of what was in the air, as someone 
like I do. My only problem is that I am not a screenwriter. I am a 
memoirist, however, and plan to cover that period in the loving fashion 
it deserves when I begin in January, now that the Pekar collaboration is 
kaput. I lived in the same building as Luke Faust in Hoboken in 1967 and 
got to know him pretty well. He is mentioned as a pivotal figure in both 
Van Ronk and Dylan's memoirs.

> "In the movie, no one is nice."  Oh, please.  The Gorfeins, owners of the
> orange cat, were quite nice to Llewyn, who perhaps didn't deserve it. He
> lost their cat and insulted Mrs. Gorfein at the club, but they forgave
> him.  And a shoutout to Ethan Phillips, whose Gorfein reminded me of his
> Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager, one of the few characters I liked on that
> show.

Yes, Teri missed out on this. The Gorfeins were very decent people. 
Everybody else sucked.

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