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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis Blu-ray Review

"Everything you touch turns to shit."

The above statement could be applied to a lot of the characters in the Coen Brothers' universe. You can pretty much take your pick. However, the one on the receiving end of this particular statement is Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac).

He is the main character in Inside Llewyn Davis, the tale of a 1960s folk singer who's at a bit of a career crossroads. According to the Coens, the fictional character is based on Dave Van Ronk, all the way down to his album cover. Of course, Van Ronk was way more influencial than Llewyn -- at least in the music world.

Llewyn does manage to touch a lot of people in the movie. As you can spectulate by the above quote, it's not necessarily in a positive way. After his partner commits suicide, Llewyn finds himself at a standstill. Does he continue with music or go back to being a Merchant Marine?

While Llewyn tries to figure it all out, he sleeps on people's couches, sleeps with the wife (Carey Mulligan) of a friend (Justin Timberlake), loses another friend's cat, and catches a ride to Chicago in search of a last chance in the music business.

 Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake perform together in "Inside Llewyn Davis." Photo: Alison Rosa/©2012 Long Strange Trip LLC.

Llewyn is sort of like Bob Dylan, but without all of the success and admiration. He's also definitely a Coen creation. Like all of the Coen Brothers' films, Inside Llewyn Davis is filled with interesting characters and interesting music. (It also marks the fifth time they've worked with John Goodman.) However, it doesn't give a ton of screen time to the supporting cast, instead relying on the main character. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just doesn't flow as well or stay with you like some of the Coens' previous work. Still, Isaac has the singing and acting chops to turn this loser's tale into a worthwhile viewing experience.

Want the extended version of this flick? Check out David Kempler's theatrical review of Inside Llewyn Davis.

The Picture

Inside Llewyn Davis is very stylish, but also very dark. A few colors do manage to peek through this 1.85:1 image, but a lot of it takes place in dark alleys and hallways, dank clubs and at night in general. When colors do pop up, they are pretty evident. However, the detail packs the biggest punch here, as evidenced by the nice texture on clothes, facial hair, and the city scenery.

The Sound

Sony has given this release a single DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which is filled with all sorts of surprises. The dialogue is always clear and centered, but there are tons of sound effects to fill the surrounds, including the train, the thunder, the bar chatter, the bumps on the road, and more. However, the music is the real standout -- and it should be, given the nature of the film and T Bone Burnett's influence on the soundtrack.

The Extras
There are no music videos, deleted scenes or trailers here. Instead, Sony has given this release one featurette titled, "Inside Inside Llewyn Davis." At just under 43 minutes, it is pretty comprehensive, covering the music, the cast, the cats, the Coens, and more. However, it would have been nice if each of those things received its own short or if there was a commentary track with the Coens or even T Bone Burnett.
Final Thoughts

Inside Llewyn Davis is a really nice looking film, with wonderful music throughout. However, you don't have to be a folk fan to appreciate the story. Now, it would be helpful if you're a fan of the Coen Brothers. It definitely has the duo's quirky little stamp on it. Even if you are a fan, the film may be a tough pill to swallow. It certainly moves slower and isn't as memorable (or quotable) as some of the Coens' previous work. It's certainly no Big Lebowski (then again, what is?). That said, Inside Llewyn Davis is classic Coen Brothers nonetheless.

Product Details
Actors: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham, Justin TimberlakeDirectors: Joel Coen and Ethan CoenAudio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English)Subtitles: English, English SDH, SpanishAspect Ratio: 1.85:1Number of Discs: 1Rating: RStudio: SonyBlu-ray Disc Release Date: March 11, 2014Run Time: 105 minutesList Price: $35.99Extras:

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