The Irish Mail on Sunday

I, Frankenste­in

- Davis, Inside Llewyn Ulysses. At Tiffany’s? Breakfast Touch Of Evil? Davis Fargo Inside Llewyn August: Osage County. Frankenste­in I,

Back in the midSixties, a reporter asked Bob Dylan what his songs were about. ‘ Oh,’ said Dylan, ‘some are about four minutes, some are about five, and some are about 11.’ The Coen brothers would surely answer in similar style if you were to quiz them on the meaning of the brilliant, baffling

their shaggy dog movie about the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961, in which the young Dylan puts in an appearance.

Actually it’s more of a shaggy cat movie. Llewyn (Oscar Isaac), a struggling singer-songwriter desperate for a record deal, spends most of what passes for the story tracking down a friend’s errant ginger tom. Only at the movie’s end does he learn that the cat is named after James Joyce’s similarly inscrutabl­e novel

But how to explain Ulysses’s habit of strutting the same Manhattan alleys as Audrey Hepburn’s cat did in

Or why the crippled junkie jazz player Roland Turner (a delightful­ly gruff John Goodman) is a dead-ringer for Orson Welles in

Not that this is a movie just for buffs. For one thing, there are star turns to cherish from Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and, best of all, F Murray Abraham as a terrifying­ly clear-eyed record producer. And then there are the songs that Llewyn and his rivals sing. T Bone Burnett’s new arrangemen­ts of folk standards make for the soundtrack of the year. Even after two viewings I can’t tell you what

is about. But I can say that like the Coen brothers’ masterpiec­e, (newly released on Blu-ray), it’s about perfect.

Not so Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts give barn-storming performanc­es in this version of Tracy Letts’s hit Broadway play about a dingbat Serthern-frard matriarch. But director John Wells is too faithful to his source. His movie has stagefrigh­t, and those grandstand­ing emotions that fill a theatre are an embarrassm­ent on your sofa.

A misconceiv­ed fantasy actioner that owes less to Mary Shelley than it does to every other CGI flick in existence,

left I bored.


 ??  ?? masterly:
Frances McDormand in Fargo. Inset: Oscar Isaac as
Llewyn Davis
masterly: Frances McDormand in Fargo. Inset: Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis

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