Inside Llewyn Davis - emperor's new clothes?

I’ve enjoyed a number of the Coen Brothers’ movies. This one, however, perplexes me. I’ve re-read a number of reviews in which the writers actually do describe the events in the movie, the characters, and broadly discuss some technical aspects of movie making. But none of them, despite the fact they are generally rave reviews, explicitly says what makes the movie so good. 4 or 5 stars from almost everyone, but nothing saying why. For me, the movie is bland, empty, and without redeeming value. Mainly, I felt virtually nothing for the whole movie. It was devoid of anything that evoked any emotion or engagement. I thought the main character was a bit of a dick, had only moderate talent, and wasn’t a very interesting person. And the events weren’t very interesting, either. I didn’t care what happened to him. In the long run, the movie was like a random snapshot of somebody in someone else’s life. Meh. I think the buzz about this movie is waaaaay over the top and far in excess of the virtues of the movie. This movie will waste your time and you won’t feel uplifted, redeemed, or enriched in any way for having viewed it.

I got the impression that it was something along the lines of A Serious Man 2: The Beginning. :slight_smile: A movie that goes nowhere, does nothing, but paints a vivid picture of someone’s life and struggles, with dry humor and interesting characters.

Yeah, well, y’know, that’s just, like, uh, your opinion, man.

Au contraire. I loved this movie, and I absolutely feel enriched for having seen it. The audition scene, with “The Death of Queen Jane,” is probably my favorite scene in any movie I’ve seen all year. I don’t know why it should need to be uplifting; it’s not that kind of movie. Plenty of brilliant movies aren’t uplifting.

I’m not sure what reviews you’ve read, but I think the following are all pretty clear in terms of why the reviewers like the movie:

New York Times
Washington Post
The Dissolve

Pretty much, although there is a cross-country journey involved, so I suppose you could say that it literally does go somewhere. But it’s a wonderful snapshot of a time, a place, and a certain type of person that you’d find there. I’d be willing to bet that there’s a fair amount of crossover between people who love A Serious Man and people who love this one (as well as people who dislike both of them). A Serious Man is my favorite Coen movie, and the parallels between that and Inside Llewyn Davis are very visible.

Oh, my god. It is???!!!

That’s interesting. Because the way the OP describes this film is pretty much how I felt about Big Lebowski.

I was just about to say that. I find that Coen Brothers movies generally require at least one rewatch, especially if they didn’t click on first viewing. I absolutely hated the Big Lebowski the first time I watched it. Didn’t get it at all. A few years later I saw it again, and it just clicked, and I didn’t understand at all why I didn’t get it the first time. One of my favorite Coen Brothers films. So, while I have yet to see the newest one, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just a movie that requires a couple of viewings to settle down with you.

We just got back from this movie and liked it a lot. Very funny moments and some pathos.

Where’s the scrotum!?

If you weren’t around during the folky period of music, it likely won’t appeal to you on a musical level, though. A slice of life of a struggling artist in an unfriendly time.

He is kind of a dick, but so is Jean (Mulligan). And so are a number of other characters. Llewyn thinks of himself as an Artist, while those around him are just posers. But he’s irritated that he’s not as successful as he thinks he should be (I kept thinking he should have been giving a dressing-down by Sheldon Flender: “I don’t write hits. My plays are art. They’re written specifically to go unproduced.”)

But he not only misses out on multiple chances to be successful – he could have accepted residuals for playing on “Please Mr. Kennedy,” and Bud Grossman essentially offers to make him part of a trio (Peter, Paul and Mary, anyone?) – but the last scene shows why he’s not an Artist, either, as he’s followed on stage by a young Bob Dylan.

I love all of the Coen brothers joints, because they do this consistently well: they do Hollywood-type stories with characters who are average schmoes who nonetheless think that they are smarter and more talented than they are.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a music biopic about an average musician.

A Simple Plan was a film noir about a bunch of people who were kind of dumb.

Fargo was a caper movie where the villains weren’t competent, and the cop chasing them wasn’t a driven, hyper-focused action figure.

Burn After Reading was a spy flick populated by average people who think that they are Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, and George Smiley.

[nitpick]and isn’t a Coen Brothers film.[/nitpick]

Duhhh – I was thinking of Blood Simple :smack:

I saw Inside Llewyn Davis last week and liked it. It’s not my favorite Coen Bros. movie by a long shot, but it was entertaining and had its share of the quirky, enjoyable scenes you expect from one of their films.

There seems to be a meme among some critics about how the central character is “not sympathetic”, as though that was a significant defect of the movie. He’s not heroic, but he was trying to be a decent human being and semi-succeeding despite the frustrations he was faced with.

For some reason the “not sympathetic” meme reminds me of the ad nauseum criticism of Seinfeld - that its characters were “self-centered” (as though characters in previous hit sitcoms were constantly striving to end world hunger between gags).

“Not sympathetic” is the way I would put it. He is portrayed as being fairly self-centered, as in reacting to a situation without considering the feelings of the people he’s dealing with – take his reaction when the Gorfeins ask him to sing for his supper, first suggesting that it is an imposition, then becoming abusive to these people who have been nothing but kind and supportive to him. Or his comment to Jim about the inanity of song, even though Jim had gone out of his way to bring him into the studio, for pay, to perform.

He’s not without empathy – take his treatment of the cat, for instance. In the end, he’s just a guy with, perhaps, an inflated sense of himself as an artist but who is also mostly incapable of opening up emotionally except musically. His performances are full of emotion.

I said in the other Thread, I’d have rated this Excellent if it weren’t a Coen Brother’s movie. I went in with higher expectations given that it’s the Coens, and was a bit let down. I only rate it “Good” by Coen Brothers standards.

I like when “Asshole is His Own Worst Enemy” is done well and in this film it was done well. I liked the music, loved the “Please, Mr. Kennedy” scene, loved John Goodman.

The singer who he heckled looked too much like the friend who’s cat he lost. That was confusing to me at first. Annoyingly confusing.

Saw the movie on Friday and thought it was a first-rate character-study film.

It was gorgeously filmed in very subdued tones and I was astonished upon reviewing its nominations to see that it was not nominated for best editing, which I feel it very much could have won. Maybe the academy won’t nominate pseudonymous editors? :slight_smile:

The Coens in this film found a way to subvert almost everything I thought was about to happen. The only two developments I saw coming were the cat going out the window and John Goodman’s character being a junkie.


Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ‘cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

No, Roderick James has been nominated before, but has never won.

The question, of course, is if he were to, which of the brothers would take home the (singular) Oscar?

Are we supposed to think that Llewyn is stuck in a rut? Or are we supposed to think that everything between the “two” nights on the couch is a dream?

Or is the point that it doesn’t really matter, the journey may change (especially for the cat) but that the narrative does not?

I took the opening scene as a simple flashforward. The chronology of the film starts when he wakes up in Neelix’s apartment, an indeterminate length of time after his partner’s suicide. I particularly enjoyed how he went to Chicago and had horrible, big-city troubles, so he retreated to the safe and welcoming arms of … New York.

What I’m less sure of is his future. Much is made in the film about royalties. He’s making no money off his solo album. He signed away his royalties on a hit novelty song, and barely even seems to realize it.

But, if he wrote (or co-wrote) the song he sings that he used to sing with his partner, what he really needs is for someone to cover it. I want to believe that’s why they show Bob Dylan singing it at the end, to suggest that that’s what’s about to happen.

Though, in our universe, of course, I saw in the credits that that song was, in fact written by Bob Dylan.