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Inside Llewyn Davis DVD Review

Inside Llewyn Davis DVD

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is destined to be another Coen Brothers classic.

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” which is loosely based on the life of folk singer Dave Von Ronk, revolves around the sometimes surreal journey of the titular character as he struggles to make a living as a folk singer in 1961 New York. Whether he’s taking a road trip to Chicago with a beat poet and a drugged out jazz musician, getting beat up after a gig, pissing people off, or traveling around with a friend’s cat, there’s never a dull moment in the life of the broke, couch surfing, starving artist who is desperately trying to find himself.

The black comedy-dramedy story of “Inside Llewyn Davis” might seem simple enough, but there’s so much going on under the surface of this film. When I first saw the film in theaters, I dug it, but I didn’t find it to be a top tier Coen film. Like all Coen Brothers movies, however, ‘Davis’ really grew on me. As the film began to simmer in my mind, I realized how much of the film’s material really spoke to me. I became sort of haunted by the film, but not in a spooky or weird way. It just really sticks with you and hits close to home (especially if you are a fellow artist). To say it’s the best film about a struggling artist is an understatement.

Of course, ‘Davis’ isn’t just about artistry; it’s also a loving tribute to the 60’s folk music era. It may be a very niche subject for a film, but that’s the point. Not only are the Coen Brothers delving into a bygone era, but they are also commentating on their own work (and art itself). This movie (and folk music in general) may not be for everyone, but it’s still art that appeals to a certain passionate audience.

Another selling point (to me at least) is that ‘Davis’ tells the story of an artist who may or may not succeed. It’s so rare to see a movie where the “hero” of the story might not have a happy ending. It’s incredibly poignant and, more importantly, realistic as there are thousands of artists out there that tragically never got their big break.

The real life of the film isn’t the great script or direction, but rather the music. Many of the songs are covers of Dave Von Ronk’s own music, but T Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford also created tunes specifically for the film. Even if you aren’t a fan of folk music, you’ll be hard pressed not to have “Please Mr. Kennedy,” “Fare Thee Well,” and “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” running through your head. The songs are all wonderful and they really bring the movie and its characters to life.

On the subject of the characters, I can’t end this review without talking about the cast. Oscar Isaac did not receive an Academy Award nomination as the title character, but he should have as it’s not everyday you see an actor becoming a folk singer so believably. Now, some people have claimed his character is an unlikable jackass, but I think that’s unfair. Yes, he’s rude, he makes mistakes, and he often brings trouble on himself, but he’s human. Despite his questionable life choices, I think you still end up rooting for him because you know he’s talented and you want him to overcome his career setbacks. Justin Timberlake, Carey Muilligan, and Adam Driver also give memorable supporting turns as fellow musicians. Their roles may be short, but they never waste a moment on screen.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1. How does it look? This is a great looking film thanks to the stunning cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. I’m sure it looks even better on Blu-ray.

Audio Track: Dolby Digital 5.1. How does it sound? The music and dialogue sound crisp and clear to this reviewer. Not a false note to be heard.

Extras:
* Ultraviolet digital copy.
* The nearly 43 minute Inside “Inside Llewyn Davis” extra contains film clips, interviews with cast and crew members (including Oscar Isaac and Ethan and Joel Coen), discussions about Dave Von Ronk (who Llewyn Davis is loosely based off of), behind-the-scenes music recording footage, and set footage.

Overall Thoughts: “Inside Llewyn Davis” might not be what you expect, but I think audiences will find that it’s another refreshingly different film courtesy of the Coen Brothers.

 

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March 12, 2014 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , ,

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