Thanks to my impromptu holiday over Christmas I didn’t get to upload my review of Star Wars Episode 8 on time. It’s been about 10 days since I saw the film and I’ve loads of time to acquaint myself with the general reactions to the film. The critical stuff has, mostly, been very positive with people praising Rian Johnson for taking some risks whilst also remaining faithful to the original trilogy. However, as you’d expect from the Star Wars franchise, the fanboys be pissed. Even before I’d seen the film I’d glanced at an article claiming fans were starting a petition to get the film removed from the canon. I mean, for fuck’s sake guys. This is why we can’t have nice things. Fans were up in arms about the film because it was too different from the previous films. First they complain that The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope and now The Last Jedi is too different. Well, how the fuck is anyone supposed to make a film within those parameters? Before I went to see the film, a girl I work with complained that it was underwhelming. She’s also the person who described Rogue One as the worst Star Wars film of all time. She typifies the view of the old fanboys who can’t see a Star Wars film that is centred around the Skywalker family. There’s more to the force and this universe than Luke Skywalker and, I for one, am ready to find out more. I can’t promise that my hatred of the reactions out there won’t have an influence on my review but it’s not like it’s going to be a problem. I’m not influencing anyone to change their mind about this film. It’s far too divisive.
A few years ago I got into a fairly heated Twitter argument with my old flatmate about Todd Hayne’s unconventional Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. I wanted so much to love it but, aside from Cate Blanchett, found very little to get too excited about. It was an interesting concept but I couldn’t help feeling it was all style and no substance. He, as someone who is a hell of a lot more Indie than I am, was outraged at my criticisms. I always intended to go back and rewatch it but my first viewing has filled me with an unending wariness of films loosely based on the lives of famous folk singers. So it filled me with dread and some sadness to discover that for their latest film the Coen brothers took inspiration from the memoir of the late Dave Van Ronk, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, to tell the tale of Llewyn Davis. Whilst not an out and out biography there was some concern about how it would end up. Plus the Welsh link isn’t exactly subtle and it is hard not to add your own level of subtext. However, the trailer is just magnificent and the Coens so rarely steer me wrong. If anyone could rectify Hayne’s mistakes it would be Joel and Ethan, right?
that he may have impregnated her, asks the friend he cuckolded (Justin Timberlake) for money to pay for an abortion. In his head, Llewyn is a suffering artist who isn’t being given the break that he deserves and he is ready to take his frustration out on those closest to him. But, as we have seen so many times before, great genius is often associated with poor social skills.
It would have been easy for the brothers to dismiss Llewyn as another deluded and talentless performer scrabbling for notoriety but instead they gave him a certain amount of credibility and a genuine chance. Isaac’s voice is the one pure and beautiful thing in Llewyn’s depressing world and it is the very thing that gives him a humane side. Using his struggles to his advantage Llewyn is able to perform some genuinely touching music even if nobody seems to appreciate it. The film offers a selection of music that is permeated with the sadness and frustration of one who is unable to realise his dream and who must know, deep down, that it will remain unrealised. This film is quite simply a pleasure to experience and is certainly one of the brothers’ finest.