“Inside Llewyn Davis” By Joel and Ethan Coen

September 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

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: Joel Coen: “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.”

"Inside Llewyn Davis" Premiere - Red Carpet - The 51st New York Film Festival

Actress in the film, Bonnie Rose, Bette Midler’s stand in for “The First Wives Club,” and “Isn’t She Great,” and Dodi Gamble in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” answered the following questions for me.

Q: If you had to describe the Coen Brothers and then the character of Llewyn Davis in one word, what would they be?

A: Bonnie Rose: “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.”

Article by Sharon Abella

“At Berkeley” by Frederick Wiseman

September 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

The legendary social documentarian, Frederick Wiseman, made the 1968 fly on the wall documentary about interactions with teachers and their students at Northeast High School, entitled, “High School,” and other similar works entitled, “Hospital,” about NYC’s “Metropolitan Hospital’s ED,” “Domestic Violence,” “Public Housing,” “The Cool World,” about life in a youth gang in Harlem, and “Titicut Follies,” about the inner workings of a mental institution in Massachusetts. He is probably the reason there are HIPAA privacy laws now in place, however, his films are riviting.

“At Berkeley,” a 4 hour documentary, as you can probably guess, goes inside the classrooms, administrative faculty staff meetings, and on campus arts and entertainment performances demonstrating the inner workings of one of the nations top universities. Wiseman quietly and non obtrusively places the camera on the subjects allowing people to be themselves and conduct business as usual without asking any questions. The viewer feels as if they are in the same room with the subjects.


Not surprisingly, many of the vignettes discuss the economics of what it’s like to attend the higher learning institution and the challenges faced to financially run the facility. Other discussions include, the minority viewpoint, how to fight inequality and how to make a difference, former graduates of the University discussing the differences from then and now, the new facebook generation, a computer programmer who gets a robot to pick up a towel, a professor teaching his class about the concept of time and the laws of physics,

e-legs, the lightweight battery powered exoskeleton, which gives paraplegics new legs, and gets them out of the wheelchair and walking onto their feet. The exoskeleton consists of a robotic frame controlled through crutches. The crutches contain sensors; putting forward the right crutch moves the left leg, and vise versa. The eLEGS battery can enable a user to walk for one day before it needs to be recharged, according to the product’s developer Berkeley Bionics,


how ordinary people are responsible for social change, however, do not get the credit they deserve, what drives leaders to make those changes? A class discussing Henry David Thoreau, a janitor cleaning up, people just walking along naturally in the hallways and courtyards, a student crying because she feels guilty that her parents have to work so hard for her to attend the school, priorities of people who spend $30,000 for a new car as opposed to higher learning, the lawnmower on campus, tenure, cancer research, the Free Speech Movement Cafe, television news crews interviewing a student discussing the California budget, and egalitarianism, tai chi, lunges, a tight rope walker, the classroom of Richard Reich, the American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator, who served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, and star of “Inequality for All,” discusses the organizations missions, and rewarding honesty.


A researcher on the Hep C virus, the Executive Vice President, layoffs, an increase in tuition, salary cuts for faculty, their competitors Yale and Princeton, study groups and racial discrimination, dancing in the courtyard, their sports arena and marching band, military training, police activity, the BART system, protestors, faces of students on a wall mural, a march held on Oct 7 with students who feel education should be free, the chancellor speaking to the media, the library, supernovas, the international admissions process, and reaching the brightest star, Sirius.

After watching four hours of footage, you feel as if you know your way around the campus without even needing a map, and as if you have received a degree from the University, without having paid the tuition.


Article by Sharon Abella

Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips” !!!

September 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Welcome to the 51st annual New York Film Festival 2013!!!


The festival, which runs from September 27- October 13, 2013 is jam packed with incredible films including: “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Her,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Nebraska,” “About Time,” “All is Lost,” “American Promise,” “Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian,” and many more.

Ken Jones, the new director of programming, succeeding Richard Pena, introduced the director of “Captain Phillips,” Paul Greengrass (United 93), (Bloody Sunday). Paul shared with the audience how he and his 10 year old daughter took a walk in Central Park and he explained it’s been 40 years since he began his filmmaking career with a super 8 camera he found in his art room in secondary school. How he dreamed of becoming a director, showcasing a film at the NYFF. “It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of “Battle of Algiers” director, Gillo Pontecorvo.”

Although Somali piracy has threatened international shipping since the beginning of Somalia’s ongoing Civil War which began in 1991, when a coalition of clan-based armed opposition groups overthrew the long standing military government, the majority of piracy cases have mostly occurred in the 2000’s, from 2005-2012.

I could write more about Somalia’s history, however, I would have to type the name of different factions and militant groups responsible for the mall shootings in Kenya, and I don’t want to take the chance.

In 2009 alone, over 70 ships had been hijacked by pirates in the waters off the coast of Somalia (the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden), one of which being the cargo ship the “Maersk Alabama.” On April 8-April 12, four Somali pirates seized the ship loaded with 17,000 metric tons of cargo, bound for Mombasa, Kenya, 240 nautical miles off Southeast of the Somali port city of Eyl, with a crew of 20 from “The United States Merchant Marines” onboard. Most of the occurrences are foiled, others end peacefully once the ransom has been received, and others incur fatalities.

The United States Merchant Marine (also known as USMMA or Kings Point) is one of the five United States service academies. It is charged with training officers for the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, or the transportation industry.

Midshipmen (as students at the Academy are called) are trained in marine engineering, navigation, ship’s administration, maritime law, personnel management, international law, customs, and many other subjects important to the task of running a large ship.

The Captain of the “Maersk Alabama,” Captain Richard Phillips was born in Winchester, Massachusetts and graduated from Winchester High School in 1973. Phillips enrolled at the University of Massachusetts and planned to study international law, but later transferred to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he graduated in 1979. During his schooling, Phillips worked as a cab driver in Boston. Phillips married Andrea Coggio, a nurse, in 1987, and had two children, Daniel and Mariah.

On March 28, 2009, he set off from his home in Underhill, VT to the waters off the coast of Oman and Somalia to unload cargo containers. Knowing he was in dangerous pirate territory, he ordered for the tightening up of security and for the cages to be locked, even while in port. At the same time, four pirates set out from Eyl, Somalia in 2 skiffs, with a mission to “get a big ship, so they can get paid.” When the Maersk noticed the skiffs on their radar, they went on lock down and prepared the fire hoses and necessary procedures, however, the ruthless pirates managed to place and climb up a ladder on board, screaming and demanding money. “$30,000 is nothing, we want millions!” “Irish, don’t move or I will —- you.” “Irish, don’t worry, everything going to be alright.”

This Hollywood psychological thriller, released by Sony Pictures, will have you sitting on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding, and if you like Tom Hanks, as much as I do, crying.

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Article by Sharon Abella

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