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How can you be a revolutionary when you’re such a traditionalist? The traditionalist being charged here is Sebastian, a jazz pianist who walks the streets of modern day Los Angeles in two-tone wingtips, clinging to the past from head to toe. Played by Ryan Gosling in the new film La La Land, he shrugs off the accusation, which is just as well: the question is really directed at the ambitions of the film itself, an...
Whatever else the Coen Brothers may be—a somewhat cagey, idiosyncratic pair; independent filmmakers with a broad body of work; even Oscar winners—they are pastiche artists and genre revisionists first and foremost. Blood Simple, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn’t There are neo-noirs; Miller’s Crossing is a gangster film; the oft-forgotten Intolerable Cruelty has roots in the screwball; and The Ladykillers and True Grit, a western, are both remakes. But in each...

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