The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, January 27-February 2

inside-llewyn-davis-oscar-isaac3Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Like most Coen Brothers movies, the under-appreciated Inside Llewyn Davis is at once cool, funny, and sobering, as well as bracingly clear in its concerns without ever defaulting to stilted exposition. Employing a flock of fine actors and an improbably resilient cat, the Coens use the brutal winter of 1961 to evoke both the cruelty and the refuge of an epochal Greenwich Village, and to probe the varied sources (the Beats, jazz, country) of folk’s steep arc alongside rock ‘n’ roll’s as a cultural force. They also noodle on the compulsions and heartaches of artistic endeavor. As Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac captures the bemused sourness and haplessness of the driven artist-for-art’s-sake who’s not getting the love and still sometimes deserves to get his ass kicked. The film presents a darker view of the legendary 60s folk-music scene than some might have preferred, but in doing so it shows that as much as a few iconic stars, legions of tactlessly persevering hangers-on with indomitable egos drive and sustain culture. Jonathan Stevenson (January 31, 5:20pm at Film Forum’s Coens series)

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